Best RPG Games: The role-playing adventures you should play

From beloved classics that we return to countless times to huge, engrossing worlds that keep on giving, RPGs let us live out our wildest fantasies, whether that involves saving the world from ancient evil or vanquishing demons in-between making friends and attending high school.

We’ve compiled a list of the finest RPGs available right now, spanning a variety of different locations, characters and platforms as we venture across vast galaxies and uncompromising fantasy lands in search of true adventure. Just be ready to lose a lot of your free time.

Most of these games are available on a mix of systems – in case you’re looking for broader recommendations specific to your system of choice, check our recommendations for Best PS4 Games, Best PC Games , Best Xbox One Games or Best Switch Games.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, PS3 

Pros:

  • Huge scope
  • Many gameplay options
  • Exciting dragon fights
  • Massive lore

Cons:

  • Not the prettiest title, especially on last-gen consoles
  • More content than any human should ever be given to finish

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim has become the quintessential western RPG, having been released on nearly every platform under the sun since its original release in 2011, the most recent of which sees it grace Nintendo Switch. 

You are the Dragonborn, an ancient hero capable of absorbing the souls of dragons to unleash mystical powers once thought lost. Whether you decide to tackle the main narrative or bumble around the plains of Tamriel, Bethesda’s RPG is capable of absorbing hundreds upon hundreds of hours on a single save file.

While it hasn’t aged spectacularly well and still exhibits a number of iconic Bethesda bugs, it’s hard to find someone in the modern gaming landscape who hasn’t laid their hands on Skyrim, hence why it belongs on our list.

Buy Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim from Amazon UK

dragon age

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3

Pros:

  •  Great characters and relationship options
  •  Big world filled with nods to previous Dragon Age games
  •  Mostly excellent story  

Cons :

  •  Fiddly combat system
  •  Uneven levelling system
  • Some really boring quest types

Like its predecessors, Dragon Age: Inquisition, the third part of the Dragon Age series, is a sweeping adventure that is all about relationships. It’s another title that may not win prizes for its looks, but like other BioWare games, it’s the writing that draws you in and doesn’t let you go.

Each of the characters that joins you in your quest to both end a war and save the world of Thedas has their own story you slowly need to uncover. With their unique quirks many of them are bound to grow on you quite a bit.

DA:I’s big bad may be mostly hot air, but as you grow your armies to face him, each confrontation unveils the complex machinations of a real world in which diplomacy matters as much as the sword.

Buy Dragon Age: Inquisition from Amazon UK

Yakuza 0

Available on PC, PS4

Pros:

  •  Detailed rendering of 80’s Tokyo/Osaka
  • The story hits all emotional beats
  • Fun combat

Cons :

  • Disappointing boss battles
  • Overly long intro

Once you have made it through the probably longest intro sequence and are free to roam as you please, Yakuza becomes the next best thing to visiting Japan yourself.

Protagonists Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima seem scary, but don’t be fooled: Yakuza 0 is both as dramatic as a good gangster film and absurdly funny.

Nearly everything in Yakuza 0 is so over-the-top you can’t help but be roused by it. You’ll learn a lot about Japan and its people, many of which you’ll meet in sprawling sidequests, each a self-contained little story.

If it all feels too much, you have your choice of mini games ranging from baseball to karaoke. No matter what you do, everything is made better by Kiryu, who, far from a sophisticated gangster, often stumbles into adventure completely unawares.

Buy Yakuza 0 from Amazon UK

Dark Souls Remastered

Available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Pros:

  •  Great for those seeking a challenge
  • Vast and unique fantasy setting
  • Cool weaponry
  • Plenty of secrets to uncover

Cons :

  • Can wear on your mood and your patience

Dark Souls is a modern masterpiece, with FromSoftware having essentially created a new genre with its dense, dark action RPG. Now, in remastered form, there’s no better time for veterans to experience it all over again.

It’s also a perfect opportunity for newcomers to try their hand in the Land of Lordran, with the recent Switch release providing a way to experience the uncompromising challenge on the move.

Unforgiving in its challenge, diverse in its design and wondrous in its exploration, Dark Souls is arguably the pinnacle of a series that has gone onto define a generation.

Buy Dark Souls Remastered from Amazon UK

nier4

NieR: Automata

Available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One 

Pros:

  • Varied gameplay full of action and combos
  • Intelligent plot
  • Large set pieces
  • Marvelous music and sound design

Cons :

  • Slightly unfair save point system
  • Can feel repetitive as you hunt down the various endings
  • Bare open world

If you think JRPGs are all the same, wait until you’ve played NieR: Automata. Half close-combat action adventure half bullet hell, this is a game that likes to shift perspectives, literally and figuratively. For many battles, NieR: Automata relies on small shifts in perspective, such as bringing you closer, going top-down or simply making bosses impossibly huge, to make your change your tactic completely.

The story’s the real stunner. You have to invest plenty of hours to see all of it, not least due to the over 20 available endings, but Yoko Taro’s intelligent take on what it means to be alive is not to be missed.

Buy NieR: Automata from Amazon UK

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

Pros:

  • Large world crammed with engaging quests
  • Protagonist Geralt grows on you more than ever before
  • A story filled with believable medieval politics and intrigue  

Cons :

  • Combat can feel too easy, especially after many sidequests

It’s not quite clear how Witcher Geralt always ends up saving other people when that’s really the last thing he wants. Between hungry monsters and kings starving their own constituents, someone has to step in occasionally.

The Witcher 3 is a game in which everything seems to click. There are hours and hours of content and everything is equally engaging. It looks amazing and sidequests are frequently more than just transporting item A to point B. Most importantly, this is a game where a wealth of sidequests don’t exist to cover the lack of an engaging main story. In fact, The Witcher 3 has some of the best writing in an RPG to date and should be in every roleplaying fan’s collection.

Buy The Witcher 3: Game of the Year Edition from Amazon UK

ff12

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

Available on PC, PS4

Pros:

  • Strong storytelling
  • The best combat system of the series

Cons :

  • Slightly bland characters for a Final Fantasy
  • Requires periods of grinding

Later installments such as Final Fantasy XV let the fantastic elements of the long-standing Final Fantasy series take a backseat for something more modern, but FFXII’s world is still the one place where you can find anthropomorphic cat ladies and weapons of mass destruction powered by magic, all without it ever feeling weird.

The Zodiac Age, the remaster that brought the game to the PC, further enhances the combat system, a step away from the round-based battles that Final Fantasy XII broke with when it was first released.

Occasionally it’s a struggle to tell the game’s many characters and plot strings apart, but this is as much part of playing a Final Fantasy as visiting jungles, deserts and everything in between as you watch relationships form and secrets emerge.

Buy Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age from Amazon UK

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Available exclusively for Nintendo Switch

Pros:

  • The first open-world Zelda
  • Many crafting options to experiment with
  • Great boss fights

Cons :

  • You occasionally run into very difficult battles early on

Acting as a launch title for Nintendo Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is arguably the series’ best, delivering an adventure that is as vast as it is dense, providing jaw-dropping vistas and rewarding encounters around every corner.

Nintendo’s first foray in open-world game design has trumped its competitors immediately, innovating in a space that has since grown stagnant. It’s really something, and essential for any Switch owner right now.

Out of the many videogame franchises, Zelda is probably the last we expected to go post-apocalyptic. Thankfully Hyrule is still a lovely place, and while Princess Zelda holds down the fort in another castle, Link is busy both restoring his memories and some of the magic of his homeland.

Buy The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild from Amazon UK

Fallout 4

Available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Pros:

  • Great crafting system
  • Detailed base building
  • Great mix of funny and tense atmosphere

Cons :

  • Systems can take time to get into
  • Occasionally buggy

If you love complex systems that need you to balance everything, from how you modify weapons to the way you build your character’s skills, Fallout 4 is the game for you.

Keeping in tone with the previous Fallout games, this is an (often darkly) funny romp in an open world that lets you micromanage its systems to an astounding degree. Familiarising yourself with everything can take a while, but once you do, Fallout 4 gives you all the tools to make life in a radioactive wasteland worthwhile.

Buy Fallout 4: GOTY Edition from Amazon UK

Persona 5

Available on PS4, buy it from Amazon now  

Pros:

  • Stylish through and through
  • Great soundtrack
  • Plot and design give you proper anime feeling

Cons :

  • Some dungeons/battle sequences are overly long
  • May take newbies a while to get into

Those who know the Persona series will recognise certain elements, including much of the battle system. Those attracted to the series’ first current-gen title by the rave reviews may take a while to warm up to everything, especially if you’re not used to the anything goes-approach to storytelling of most JRPGs.

However, just like the Yakuza series, Persona 5 rewards you memorable with characters and stories that will stay with you long after you’ve finished playing, and if it’s just for how entirely unique they are.

Buy Persona 5 from Amazon UK

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

Pros:

  • Very well-written
  • Wicked sense of humour
  • Incredibly deep RPG systems
  • Lots of replayability value

Cons :

  • Can be hard to penetrate
  • Occasional graphical bugs

Designed to feel like Dungeons and Dragons, the tabletop grandfather of the RPG genre, Divinity: Original Sin 2 may not be as flexible as your dungeon master, but it certainly puts its best foot forward and there’s a remarkable amount of freedom offered here. Better yet, it can be played in up to four player co-op, so it’s the best role-playing experience you can have with friends without sitting around a table with some dice. 

There is hardly anything you can’t do, as long as you’re prepared to face the consequences. This way, you get multiple ways not only to finish every battle but to solve every conflict, making it a fantastically varied and personal experience. With a cast of memorable characters, deep customisation and an elemental combat system that can see you enveloping enemies in a flammable toxic cloud before setting it aflame, what’s not to like? 

Buy Divinity: Original Sin 2 from Amazon UK

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2

Available on PC, PS3, XBX360, buy it from Amazon now  

Pros:

  • Immersive story
  • The closest to Star Trek videogames have come (so far)
  • Inventive worldbuilding
  • Intricate relationships

Cons :

  • AI tends to let you down in battles
  • Some boring main quests
  • Ugly facial animations

The Mass Effect series certainly had its highs and lows. Mass Effect 2 represents its peak, a sprawling space saga that takes you to unknown alien civilizations and into battle against mechs, mercenaries and sentient robots.

Additionally, it introduces some of the most well-rounded characters in an RPG, making your relationship with your crew a central part of the experience.

Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Available on PC, PS4,

Pros

  • Lovely manga art style by former Studio Ghibli members
  • Heartwarming story
  • Interesting town-building elements
  • Lots to do

Cons

  • Pretty easy (try the patched-in additional difficulties)
  • Chaotic army battles

The sequel to Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is still a simple and cute affair. It’s great for when you’re looking for a JRPG with a classic feel and a story about friendship and empathy. In this regard, it’s not unlike what drew many players to JRPGs like Kingdom Hearts back in the day.

The story isn’t much to write home about, but with its vibrant art style and many options to make friends and build your own kingdom from scratch, this game can easily suck you in for up to 80 hours.

Buy Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom from Amazon UK

Fable 2

Available on Xbox One (backward compatible), Xbox 360    

Pros

  • Sprawling medieval world
  • Lots of things to explore
  • Awesome soundtrack
  • Lots to do

Cons

  • Some freezing and progression bugs

It’s easy to think that by now the likes of Skyrim have overtaken Fable II, the best part of the classic open-world adventure series.

Looking closer it becomes clear, however, that while many games have liberally nabbed from Fable, it’s uplifting tone and cute style still remain unique. From choosing jobs to taking care of your family and even maintaining a healthy weight and warding off illnesses, Fable II invests in the finer details without sacrificing any of the adventure.

Buy Fable 2 from Amazon UK

What are some of your favourite RPGs? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter @trustedreviews and it might just land on our list.