Too much time on your hands with nothing to do? These RPGs will let you sink your teeth (as well your time) into dozens, if not hundreds of hours of role-playing fun. Revisit old worlds and new worlds alike in this list of ten great RPGs you can right now — all of which are new. More or less.
Role-playing games have come a very long way since the golden era of the 1990s, when titles like Baldur’s Gate, Final Fantasy, and Fallout were all anyone ever talked about. It’s now the 21st century, and RPGs have sufficiently matured to actually offer good combat, quite unlike their predecessors.
Granted, you’ve probably played through The Witcher 3 multiple times, and World of Warcraft’s latest updates stopped winning you over since The Wrath of the Lich King. With that in mind, check out the following titles to add to your repertoire of experiences.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
Mass: Effect: Legendary Edition is a high-definition remaster of the classic Mass Effect trilogy that was once poised to be the “next Star Wars” before BioWare blew their chances with Andromeda. Despite their stumble, the franchise is far from over and remains as popular as ever.
This action RPG mixes role-playing elements like character development and player choice with third-person shooter mechanics as players take on the role of Commander Shepard and traverse the known universe with a group of human and alien commandos to save the galaxy from an ancient evil.
If you missed the originals back in the day, or even if you’ve never played any of the games before, there’s no better way to experience Mass Effect than by getting the Legendary Edition for the PC or the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5.
The new games come with all the bells and whistles one might expect from a remaster, as well as a much more cohesive experience that combines all three games into one. As a bonus, fans of FemShep can now play her the way she was designed to look in Mass Effect 3.
Baldur’s Gate 3 (Early Access)
More than a mere sequel to BioWare’s Baldur’s Gate series, this brand new RPG from the makers of Divinity: Original Sin promises to deliver a great role-playing experience replete with many different character classes and ways to progress through the story.
Set in the city of the game’s namesake, the series returns to the setting that first put BioWare on the map in an enthralling and faithful to the Dungeons & Dragons setting of the Forgotten Realms. Much like the Divinity games, players can interact with almost everything on the map and alter the fate of the world through their decisions.
Much like the originals, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a real-time-with-pause style game played from the top down, in which players find themselves aboard an Illithid (think Cthulhu) vessel that they must then escape, gather allies, and stop from overrunning the realms.
Baldur’s Gate 3 remains in early access for now, and promises to add even more character classes, origins, and gameplay features before it launches in 2022.
This JRPG from Namco Bandai eschews JRPG traditions to deliver action-packed combat typically missing from other games in the genre. Designed as an anime that has its story told in full in-engine cutscenes as well as manga panels, players dive into a cyberpunk setting rife with political intrigue and a rich cast of characters.
Scarlet Nexus plays as an action RPG with combat mechanics that plays like the Tales series, with teammates who join in the fray. You can level up your character to unlock new skills and abilities and compliment your fighting style with the team members you choose to take with you on your missions.
The story is divided into chapters and acts, getting increasingly complex (but in a good way) as you progress and uncover the truth. The cool thing about Scarlet Nexus is that the story is told from two separate perspectives, which you choose from before starting the game, each with their own set of supporting characters and story events.
Greedfall: Gold Edition
Greedfall may be Spiders’ best attempt at an RPG, and one in which they were actually successful. The developers created a rich, Age of Exploration-inspired setting, in which players travel to a mysterious island in the stages of colonization.
As a non-AAA action RPG, the game’s combat is serviceable and takes a back seat to the story, voice acting, and presentation, offering a tale of intrigue, adventure, and exploration. What matters is the core role-playing experience, and that’s where Greedfall shines. Choices matter here.
Combining strategy with role-playing, one might wonder why a game like Disciples: Liberation wasn’t made before today. The game’s strategic elements are borrowed from the previous Disciples series, which see players decking out their party with a host of units from one of the game’s different factions.
The role-playing elements kick in when you decide which faction to team up with, and whose missions to pursue. The choices you make have a direct effect on your playthrough and the development of your character.
Developed as a sprawling single-player campaign, the story is divided into three acts with five unique endings, one for each of the factions.
It’s as much of an RPG as it is a strategy game, so you’ll have to make alliances, build up a permanent base, and progress through the game in its turn-based tactical battles.
Tales of Arise
The Tales series has had its ups and downs, as well as the differences in setting and tone for each of its releases. Tales of Arise is one of the darkest, perhaps the most mature the series has gotten to date.
You take on the role of a slave with no memory (don’t worry, you’ll get it back later), you’re plunged into a world dominated by a race of highly advanced post-humans who harvest the life energies of slaves to power their civilization. It’s all pretty grim compared to the other titles in the series.
The real-time combat is the best the series has gotten, and sees the return of staple mechanics like the Artes spell-casting system and combo attacks. Players can also gather ingredients, recipes, and cook. Also returning are the vignettes — little bits of story that flesh out each of the characters.
All in all, a welcome addition to the franchise, and one that actually looks good on the PC, PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series consoles.
New World is a welcome change for those tired of World of Warcraft and can’t really seem to get into Final Fantasy 14. The game to be developed by Amazon Game Studios, New World takes the action to a magical island during the Age of Exploration.
For one, combat doesn’t suck. That’s kind of a big deal when it comes to MMORPGs, which have scarcely attempted to move away from the macro madness of World of Warcraft. While other games like TERA, Rift, Elder Scrolls Online and Black Desert Online have tried to innovate the genre somewhat, they’re not quite there yet — lacking whatever spark it is New World seems to have that they do not.
New World is rekindling the embers that were left cold by other mainstream MMORPGs.
Diablo 2: Resurrected
The much anticipated remake of Diablo 2 is finally out. It’s not just a mere remaster, but a graphical remake with some very important quality-of-life improvements like shared stashes and controller support.
Beyond that, not much has changed about the game. It’s still true to the Diablo 2 experience with its skill synergies, point-and-click combat, and even chat lobbies for PC gamers. Yes, this means that some of the less-than-pleasant issues that bogged the original title remain. But it’s part of the charm, I suppose.
It’s no Diablo 4, but it’s definitely better than Diablo 3.
Darkest Dungeon 2 (Early Access)
Darkest Dungeon II takes players on a deadly road trip akin to the Oregon Trail. Instead of traveling across the West to Oregon, players set forth on a wagon to navigate an uncharted and hostile medieval world replete with monsters, the undead, and other nightmare creatures reminiscent of the first Darkest Dungeon.
Rather than delving into dungeons with a roster of dozens of heroes, players have only four characters to manage this time around, dealing with their wants, needs, and managing the relationships between them.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to role-playing in Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. Offering perhaps the most options ever seen in an RPG, players can choose from 25 different classes, some of which are divided even further into numerous archetypes.
Throughout the game, players are confronted with myriad choices that influence the story, the characters they adventure with, and ultimately impact the world around them. To make matters even more complicated, you have to go down mythic paths and define your character through the choices you make the further you progress through the story.
Fortunately, the difficulty is fully customizable and you can opt for a story-based experience if you don’t want to trouble yourself with the challenge of the turn-based tactical combat. It’s complicated — but what do you expect from a Pen & Paper-based game?