The Best RPGs Of All Time

Role-playing games (RPGs) are one of the few genres that can be called timeless. The best RPGs of all time, whether from the West or Japan, are often just as playable today as they were when they first launched; take Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, or Baldur’s Gate as an example.

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The flexibility of RPG systems has found itself in online shooters, fighting games, and action-adventure titles. Even long-running series like Assassin’s Creed have moved into the open-world RPG genre. The last several years have seen an emergence of throwback titles paying tribute to the classics of the past. Games such as Octopath Traveller and Sea Of Stars are designed with classics in mind and are well-received by fans and critics. The best RPGs ever provide plenty of content, engaging gameplay, and compelling stories to keep you entertained for countless hours.

Updated on September 27, 2023, by PJ Molloy: Where would video games be without RPGs? The genre is among the most influential in gaming, producing some of the most impactful and innovative video games ever. The past couple of years have been phenomenal for RPG fans since some of the best RPGs of all time have launched recently. Whether you’re collecting gym badges in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, basking in the 90s nostalgia of Sea Of Stars, or exploring the vast world of Elden Ring, you must admit that RPGs are as strong as ever.If you’re looking for more RPGs to play, you’re in luck. The genre isn’t going anywhere, and new exciting titles launch all the time.

18 Persona 5 Royal Is The Most Stylish RPG

Joker, Morgana, Ann, And The Rest Of The Main Cast of Persona 5 Royal Posing

Genre

JRPG

Launched

September 15, 2016

Platforms

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC

You’d be hard-pressed to find a game as stylish as Persona 5 Royal. This JRPG features the most unique visuals in the genre, ensuring every second of the game is a treat for the eyes. The story follows a group known as the phantom thieves who use their powers to steal evil from someone’s heart and reform the most wicked people on Earth.

The gameplay is a nice blend of turn-based combat, dungeon crawling, visual novel story segments, and life management. While there’s a lot of text, the twist-heavy story and endearing characters keep you hooked until the next thrilling battle.

17 Disco Elysium Tells An Engaging Mystery

Harry And Kim from Disco Elysium Posing Next To Each Other

Genre

CRPG

Launched

October 15, 2019

Platforms

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC, macOS, Stadia

Disco Elysium has one of the most thrilling stories in the RPG genre. You play as Harrier Du Bois, a detective with a severe case of amnesia. He must investigate the strange murder of “The Hanged Man” while piecing together his own past to regain his memories.

Disco Elysium swept up at The Game Awards 2019, winning Best Role Playing Game, Best Independent Game, and Best Narrative. The fascinating mystery and gorgeous oil painting art style make it a must-play for RPG and puzzle fans.

16 Pokemon HeartGold And SoulSilver Are The Best Pokemon Games

Lugia and Ho-Oh from Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSIlver Flapping Their Wings

Genre

JRPG

Launched

September 12, 2009

Platforms

Nintendo DS

Pokemon is arguably the most legendary and iconic RPG series ever. If there’s one generation you should play, it’s Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver. These incredible remakes add a refreshing new coat of paint and quality of life updates to the Game Boy classics from Generation Two.

HeartGold and SoulSilver have you exploring the Johto and Kanto regions, catching Pokemon, and battling your way to the title of Champion. These remakes perfected the classic formula, and the lineup of Pokemon is one of the strongest and most iconic in the series.

15 Elden Ring Is A Must-Play If You Like Game Of Thrones

A Knight from Elden Ring Kneeling With HIs Sword While Orange Light Fills A Dark Sky

Genre

Action RPG

Launched

February 25, 2022

Platforms

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC

The developers behind the Dark Souls games and Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin came together to create Elden Ring. This epic fantasy adventure has you travel a vast open world to find the shattered pieces of a powerful ring that will grant you the title of Elden Lord.

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With so many dungeons and catacombs to explore, massive bosses to fight, and secrets to find, it’s easy to sink hundreds of hours into Elden Ring. The game received a staggering eight nominations at The Game Awards 2022, winning Game Of The Year and Best Role Playing Game. It’s a modern classic that everyone should experience.

14 Dark Souls Is As Satisfying As It Is Punishing

A Player facing a Dragon in Dark Souls

Genre

Action RPG

Launched

September 22, 2011

Platforms

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

How many games can say they created an entire subgenre? Dark Souls is part of FromSoftware’s famous Soulsborne series and a spiritual successor to the classic RPG Demon’s Souls. You play as a cursed undead character who escapes from an asylum to explore the kingdom of Lordran.

Dark Souls is known for its emphasis on exploration, stellar combat, and brutal difficulty. The game is so influential that it created a subgenre of action RPGs called Soulslike. If you’re looking for the best RPGs of all time, Dark Souls is worth a shot.

A Dragonborn from Skyrim In Armor While Holding A Sword

Genre

Action RPG

Launched

November 11, 2011

Platforms

Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC

It’s very easy to sink around 200 hours into The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. The game puts you in a vast open world where nothing is off-limits. You can go anywhere at any time, whether or not it’s relevant to the story. The world is bursting with lore, dungeons, and secrets, ensuring there’s something new and exciting around every corner.

The outstanding world design and dual-wielding combat make Skyrim one of the most immersive RPGs ever. It’s the perfect starting point if you want to check out The Elder Scrolls series.

12 Final Fantasy 7 Is The Best Final Fantasy Game

Cloud Standing Next To A Train In Midgar in FF7

Genre

JRPG

Launched

January 31, 1997

Platforms

PlayStation, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, Android, iOS

For many fans of the series, Final Fantasy 7 will forever be the greatest Final Fantasy game and even the best RPG of all time. It tells the epic tale of Cloud Strife, a mercenary bent on stopping a greedy mega-corporation from destroying the planet. The fantastic soundtrack, memorable characters, and vicious villain will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the adventure.

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Final Fantasy 7 was the benchmark for many RPGs and introduced a new generation to the JRPG genre. Additionally, FF7 opened the floodgates for titles like Suikoden and the Tales series that wouldn’t have seen the light of day in the West otherwise.

11 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Was An Inspiration For RPGs To Come

Geralt Riding A Horse Through City Docks in the witcher 3

Genre

Action RPG

Launched

May 18, 2015

Platforms

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC

Developed by CD Projekt Red, The Witcher series features a complex world that’s dark and real enough to do the Andrzej Sapkowski novels justice. The series’ dark fantasy reaches its full potential with The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, a perfect showcase of the developer’s towering ambition.

It’s an open-world RPG where the choices have real consequences. Even the game’s side quests and hunts can force you to face difficult decisions that will impact the story later. As one of the best RPGs ever, The Witcher 3 is one of those games that deserves to be played by everyone.

10 Mass Effect 2 Is A Space Opera Worthy Of The Name

 Commander Sheppard Shooting A Giant Robot in mass effect 2

Genre

Action RPG

Launched

January 26, 2010

Platforms

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

When BioWare stopped developing RPGs in the Star Wars universe, the excellent writers continued in their own space opera series. The original Mass Effect on the Xbox 360 is an evolution of the role-playing systems seen in Star Wars: The Knights Of The Old Republic, and things only get in the sequel.

Mass Effect 2 isn’t just a great game with good writing; it’s a fantastic sci-fi story wrapped in a great RPG. The gameplay is a perfect balance of RPG elements and third-person shooting. The galaxy is yours to explore and is filled with quests and combat missions that put your skills to the test.

9 Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic Is An Epic Space Opera

A Jedi Holding A Lightsaber While Using Force Lightning To Wipe Out A Hoard Of Monsters in Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic -

Genre

RPG

Launched

July 15, 2003

Platforms

Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac OS X, iOS, Android

BioWare’s Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic launched in 2003 on the PC and the original Xbox. Over two decades later, it remains one of the greatest Star Wars games ever. Much of what makes the Mass Effect series great can be found in Knights Of The Old Republic, including the character interactions, choices, and the growth system.

KOTOR has the benefit of taking place in the Star Wars universe and brings all the magic that can be expected from one of the biggest series in the world. Taking place 4,000 years before the films, you play as a Jedi who explores the galaxy in search of a way to defeat the dreaded Sith Lord Darth Malak. It’s a must-play if you like Star Wars or sci-fi in general.

8 Undertale Is A Heart-Wrenching Adventure

Frisk, Toriel, Sans, Papyrus, Undyne, Alphys, And Asgore from Undertale Standing Next To Each Other

Genre

Turn-Based RPG

Launched

September 15, 2015

Platforms

PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, macOS, Linux, Android

Undertale is an indie game known for its subversion of the RPG genre and quirky, dry humor. It loves to do the unexpected and asks you to think outside the box to resolve things the way you want.

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Every battle comes with a choice between fighting with traditional turn-based combat or finding a way to end the fight without violence. The decision is up to you, and your choices affect the story and ending. With its thought-provoking yet quirky narrative, it’s no wonder Undertale is one of the greatest RPGs of all time.

7 Chrono Trigger Lives Up To The Hype

Chrono And His Team Smiling And Posing in chrono trigger

Genre

JRPG

Launched

March 11, 1995

Platforms

Super Nintendo, PlayStation, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS, PC, iOS, Android

Chrono Trigger is a timeless JRPG that first launched on the SNES in 1995. This 16-bit title is still regarded as one of the greatest RPGs of all time. It’s been ported to several systems over the years, including the original PlayStation – complete with brand-new anime cutscenes – and the Nintendo DS.

The best of the best at Square Enix came together to create this epic tale about a group of adventures who travel through time to stop a world-ending calamity. The game was ahead of its time for mostly doing away with random encounters and featuring engaging turn-based combat. If you like retro games, you need to play Chrono Trigger.

6 Stardew Valley Is Everyone’s Favorite Farming Simulator

A Farmer Fishing On A Serene Lake in Pelican Town in Stardew Valley

Genre

Simulation RPG

Launched

February 26, 2016

Platforms

PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Linux, iOS, macOS, Android

It’s hard to talk about the best RPGs ever without mentioning Stardew Valley, a low-key option that only earns more fans every day. This adorable farming simulator might have softer themes than other titles, but it’s just as much of an RPG as any of them.

In Stardew Valley, you take the role of a young farmer who moves to their deceased Grandfather’s farm in the country. You spend time getting to know the locals, raising crops and animals, fishing, and exploring the natural magic that’s around you. There’s no better choice if you’re looking for an RPG to help you relax after a long day

5 Baldur’s Gate 2 Is Perfect For Dungeons & Dragons Fans

The Protagonists Fighting A Large Green Dragon in Baldur's Gate 2

Genre

RPG

Launched

September 21, 2000

Platforms

PC, Classic Mac OS, Android

Baldur’s Gate 2 more than lives up to its reputation as one of the best RPGs of all time. The game still feels as fresh as when it launched, largely thanks to its excellent writing. It’s set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe and has you completing quests and fighting bosses across the Forgotten Realms.

The character interactions and random party conversations never fail to entertain, and the story is engaging from start to finish. The world is full of things to do, NPCs to meet, and fantastical sights to see. There’s even an enhanced version available for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

4 Dragon Age: Inquisition Is High Fantasy With A Twist

 The Inquisitor Fighting An Enemy In Dragon Age Inquisition

Genre

Action RPG

Launched

November 18, 2014

Platforms

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

Dragon Age: Inquisition pushes BioWare’s Dragon Age series farther than it’s ever gone before. Dragon Age games are known for character-building, engaging NPCs, thrilling plots, and epic battles. Dragon Age: Inquisition delivers all that and more. It even won Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2014.

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You play the Inquisitor, a warrior tasked with sealing a mysterious tear in the sky that’s unleashing vicious demons onto the world. The adventure takes you across several semi-open worlds filled with quests, puzzles, and ferocious monsters. If you like action RPGs, you owe it to yourself to try this one.

3 Divinity: Original Sin 2 Is The Little Kickstarter That Could

The Protagonists Fighting A Giant Blue Dragon in Divinity Original Sin 2

Genre

RPG

Launched

September 14, 2017

Platforms

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, macOS, iPad

Next to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is the highest-rated game of 2017. It’s already considered one of the greatest RPGs of all time, which is quite the accomplishment for a game funded by Kickstarter.

Improving on every aspect of its well-received predecessor, Original Sin 2’s player-driven scope is without limits and the game world is huge. You play as a Sorcerer from an isometric point of view, exploring a vast fantasy world and completing various quests. It offers so many choices and is one of the few modern games that truly lives up to the meaning of role-playing.

2 Persona 4 Golden Defies Expectations And Perfects A Great Game

Teddie, Chie, And The Rest Of The Main Cast of Persona 4 golden posing

Genre

JRPG

Launched

June 14, 2012

Platforms

PlayStation Vita, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC

When it comes to the Shin Megami Tensei spin-off series, Persona, the award for best installment comes down to three games: Persona 3, Persona 4, and Persona 5. All of them are must-plays, but Persona 4 Golden, a remaster of Persona 4, stands out from the rest.

Unlike your average fantasy or sci-fi RPG, Persona 4 Golden has you balancing relationships, school, and dungeon crawling in a Japanese town – all of which work perfectly in unison. Plus, the game’s main storyline features an intriguing mystery that keeps you hooked until the very end.

1 NieR: Automata Is The Best RPG Of All Time

The Protagonist Facing A Robot With A Knife in Nier Automata

Genre

Action RPG

Launched

February 23, 2017

Platforms

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

NieR: Automata proves that video games are a true form of art. It’s not just because of the beautiful landscapes, character models, or soundtrack. The game’s layered and ambiguous message will send you into a YouTube theory video black hole unlike any you’ve experienced before.

NieR: Automata has a fascinating approach to gameplay. It refuses to be pinned down to a single genre. Gameplay ranges from puzzles to bullet hell segments. There are 26 possible endings, one for each letter of the alphabet. Some endings are tied into the main story, while others are for you to discover by pulling out your own Operating System or killing an important character. If you want the best RPG of all time, look no further.

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