For a long time, PC games were the cornerstone of the RPG market. While they didn’t always boast the fanciest graphics or the biggest named series, they instead offered massive, 80+ hour experiences that were so in-depth and detailed that they’ve since been compared to virtual novels at times. In recent years, PC games no longer have the private identity that they once did and instead, the majority of console games either release simultaneously on PC or make their way there shortly after. With that fact in mind, all of the RPGs on consoles usually come to the PC games which gives all kinds of flexibility with where you will want to play your games.
While in the past, super-powered PCs were not really required to play classics like Torment, Baldurs Gate, and Diablo 2, today, you’re going to want something resembling a good graphics card to handle most of the top RPGs out there right now. While you can play great ones at lower settings, you’ll be missing out on part of what makes modern RPGs so enthralling.
In terms of my RPG background, I was brought up on Final Fantasy games with my first being Final Fantasy 7 and my favorite game of all time is Final Fantasy 8 (I feel your anger at that statement, just stay with me here).
I eventually went back and played the majority of the Final Fantasies before moving to Darker RPG fares like Diablo, Mass Effect, and more. It’s easily my favorite genre in gaming by a long shot. RPGs generally create incredible worlds that take hours to explore and the freedom you’re given in these games is really just second to none. In this list, we are going to explore the games that make owning a gaming PC the thing to do in 2022. These will generally be games from the last 5 years, though some will be listed that still hold up from beyond that time period. Let’s jump in.
- Well written games with fantastic gameplay
- Lengthy experiences that give you plenty to do while respecting your time with enjoyable content
- Impressive graphics and art style
- Engaging combat systems
- Fun progression systems that make it feel like you’re progressing
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
Let’s start off with a bang, shall we? Although Bioware has fallen far from grace in fans’ eyes due to the debacles that were Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem, they gained some goodwill back this past summer when they released Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. Mass Effect is one of my favorite game series of all time and to have all 3 games fully remastered and upgraded is an absolute dream come true.
If you’ve never taken the journey before, this is undoubtedly the best way to do so. Mass Effect is about Commander Shepard, a male or female member of a specialized space task force that is chosen to hunt down a rogue member. What starts a simple bounty hunt turns into the revelation of an ancient cycle being enacted and the fate of the entire universe at stake.
As is Bioware’s calling card, your decisions in the game affect everything that happens from plot shifting to characters being killed and more. You’re free to play the game any way you see fit, so if your Shepard is an arrogant jerk, you can make them that way and the same goes for if you view them as the typical kind hero type. The gameplay is that of a third-person cover shooter with some tweaks added to it.
During the majority of the 150+hours you’ll be spending with the three games, you’ll have a squad with you. You can send commands to them in combat such as powers to use, places to cover, and when to fall back or go all out. Speaking of powers, part of what makes Mass Effect so different from other cover shooters is your suite of powers to choose from. See, in this universe, Mass Effect fields have given the power of Biotics to certain individuals and you happen to be one of them.
These powers vary from game to game, but they can be as mundane as adding fire to your weaponry or as insane as dashing 100 feet in a split second to obliterate your opponent at close range. The powers are a mix of Star Wars esque force powers and other clever ideas like Singularity, which draws all the enemies into one spot for you to ideally blow up with a grenade.
While it’s not an open world, the universe is yours to explore at your will. The first game takes advantage of this more than the following two in this regard. You’ll be able to use your Mako vehicle to traverse strange, foreign planets to discover their secrets and often this is just available without being tied to any story mission. One of the best parts of the Mass Effect trilogy is the ability to traverse the universe in your ship and the wild worlds you will discover.
None of those worlds are worth much without a great crew to explore them with and thankfully, you’ve got one of the all-time casts of characters here to join you. Characters will live or die throughout the three games depending on your decisions and those decisions carry over from game to game making everything you decide feel like it really matters. Some of the standouts in the cast are Garrus, Wrex, Miranda, Tali, and Liara, but all the characters that join you will have tons to say, their own side missions to complete, backstories to explore, and bonuses to unlock.
If you like space, RPGs, guns, explosions, world-ending stakes, and impactful decisions with consequences, Mass Effect: Legendary edition is absolutely the game for you. It’s also gorgeous visually and while it doesn’t really look next-gen, it looks perfectly at home in the previous-gen which ended just a year ago, so the upgrade worked pretty great in that regard.
Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition
I told you I was a Final Fantasy fan, didn’t I? Even though it was a rather polarizing game at its launch, I appreciated what it was and largely enjoyed my time with what felt like an unfinished game. The initial release was strange and felt like it was missing huge, story-altering parts to it and it makes sense considering the tumultuous development cycle that caused it to take 10 years to actually release. That all changed when I replayed it in its Royal Edition form. While I felt a little bit ripped off that I didn’t get to experience Final Fantasy XV like this the first time around, I was still blown away by what felt like its final form (see what I did there?).
Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition is the story of Noctis, a stubborn and moody prince who is being sent away to find and marry his childhood sweetheart who happens to be a very important figure for a neighboring country. The alliance between them is vital to Insomnia’s (weird city names, Final Fantasy vibe on track) survival. As things heat up, you’ll discover demon plagues, vicious political feuds, crazy monsters rising from the ground, and more of your standard Final Fantasy craziness.
On your trek will be your 3 best buds in the world. Your bodyguard Gladio, your best friend Prompto, and assistant/butler-type/most ride or die videogame character of all time, Ignis. The dynamic formed between the 4 characters is awesome to watch and they feel like a real group of friends who have been together for a long time. This is a unique dynamic for a Final Fantasy game which usually shoves many strangers together from different walks of life to complete a shared goal.
Combat-wise, you control Noctis at the start and Noctis is a joy to fight with. He can teleport, use four different weapons at the blink of an eye, parry, do air attacks, and is pretty much the jack of all trades character in this game. In the base game, this is all you had. Noctis was a fun character to control, but watching your teammates fight with their different styles was kind of torturous.
Shortly after the initial release, 3 DLCs came out with each one featuring one of Promto, Ignis, or Gladio as the main characters. These DLCs have been added into the Royal Edition is fully organic fashion and on top of that, you can now play as any character you’d like! This flexibility is tremendous and each of the 4 characters is a completely different experience to play as. Gladio is a greatsword-wielding beast who can charge up multiple levels of his sword arts to eventually unleash a devasting combo and is my favorite character to play as.
Ignis uses daggers and can imbue them with different elements and is the fastest character when it comes to his attacks. Prompto is the only long-range character and he can use his guns and rockets to cause some crazy explosive damage while staying out of harm’s way and comes with some very cool special techniques as well.
When you add all of that to the additional bosses, areas, and characters tacked on by the Royal Edition, you’ve got an RPG experience that feels complete, epic, and fun in one package. It’s often discounted as well, so don’t hesitate to pick it up.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
For the majority of media, the third is always the worst. Everyone loves to hate Return of the Jedi, Return of the King, Mass Effect 3, and so on and so forth. That’s why The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is such a booming achievement in every way possible. While The Witcher 2: Assassin’s of Kings is a fantastic game in its own right, it didn’t become the mega-hit that CD Projekt Red envisioned and so they went back into the lab and started developing an open-world game that would take everything from their previous game and make it bigger and prettier. Released initially in 2015, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was a breakout success and became the most awarded game in videogame history. Believe it or not, it deserves every one of those rewards, and here’s why.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt tells the story of the Witcher Geralt, a superhuman monster hunter who is tasked by Emperor Emyr Von Emries to find his daughter and Geralt’s ward, Ciri. Meanwhile, the spectral force known as the Wild Hunt is hunting her for unknown reasons. This amounts to a wild goose chase across the continent to find her before its too late.
Gameplay-wise, the combat is fast and furious as you wield a sword and take on a massive cast of enemies in the world. The key to timing and dodging as well as preparation. Witchers survive their wicked encounters by using potions and magic aka Signs to enhance senses, deal more damage, or even slow time and you’ve got all of that at your disposal here too. Sometimes it won’t be your skill that helps you win a fight, but your research in the bestiary instead. This makes you think about each fight in a way most other games haven’t achieved yet and it’s a unique and rewarding experience.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s quests are broken down into Main Quests, Secondary Quests, Witcher Hunts, and Treasure Hunts. Your main quest is the main story, secondary quests are generally longer side quests, Witcher Hunts involve you hunting down a monster for someone, and Treasure Hunts send you on quests to collect Witcher Gear.
The side quests in Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are particularly incredible as each one tells its own story and some can be tragic, shocking, or hilarious depending on what you come across. The main quest is a long winding road as well and while it doesn’t tell the most interesting story ever told, the way it’s executed is brilliant and engaging the full way through.
Accompanying all of this are some gorgeous graphics that hold up against the best titles out there to this day and if you’ve got a good PC, amp this up to Ultra settings and watch one of the most graphically amazing game worlds come to life. I’m currently on my 4th playthrough and it still isn’t getting old. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a timeless masterpiece and there is a reason that every new RPG that comes out is inspired by it or rips it off completely.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
I don’t like CRPGs. There, I said it, shun me if you must, but I just never got the appeal of clicking every half second to move your character forward, reading through endless conversation, watching the combat from a birds-eye view so that your characters looked like ants, I never got it. That was until I finally played Divinity: Original Sin 2, which I read was one of the best RPGs of all time. Now, I played Divinity: Original Sin, and I hated it.
The tone was goofy, graphics unimpressive, and the combat system while unique was just way too basic for me to get into. As soon as I jumped into Divinity: Original Sin 2, I sensed a difference. the writing was sharper, the tone darker, the graphics more appealing and the combat system was just incredible. I quickly became enthralled by this massive experience and the story it told. you play as either one of several characters or you create your own to make your own story. I created my own and those other characters subsequently ended up being possible party members.
What makes Divinity: Original Sin 2 so special is the branching paths it takes. You can finish an objective in multiple ways and you’re never forced down a single path or even told how to complete an objective. For example, you are given a magical leash at the start of the game and once you reach the initial island, you need to find a way to get it off. There are multiple ways to do this and each one has you starting a separate quest, but it’s all up to you how to achieve it.
The combat is turn-based, but it’s far more complex than your average turn-based combat system. You’ve got action points that let you perform attacks, but you can stack these by limiting your movement during combat. You can also use the environment to your advantage and this often turns the tide on many combat scenarios.
Story-wise, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is incredibly original. It has several characters with each following their own path and depending on how you treat them and the decisions you make, you could lead them to their doom, have them turn against you, have them ultimately survive over you and so many other permutations that it’s impossible to count. This inspires multiple playthroughs as each outcome can change depending on how you play it.
If you’re looking for an RPG that feels old school while still playing like a modern game, one that will take 100+ hours to finish, and one with an incredible combat system and storyline, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an awesome change of pace.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
You knew it was coming, right? I mean, you don’t just sit near the top of the Top Ten Most Played Chart on Steam for almost a decade for no reason, right? While it’s become almost a joke at this point with how many re-releases it experienced in recent years, one fact remains. Skyrim is one of the greatest games ever made any way you look it.
From the start of the game, you have the freedom to wander anywhere in the world. There are no invisible walls to stop you, no NPCs telling you to turn back. If you want to go somewhere, that’s where you’ll go. Now, whether you survive your trip or not is a whole other story as you can easily wander into areas that prove a bit too dangerous for your current level, but that’s part of the fun exploration at play here.
You have the freedom to play any way you want in combat as well. You can be a mage, archer, warrior, rogue, or a combination of all of them whenever you’d like and while the combat is admittedly pretty weak, the freedom in the combat system gives it the juice to support the overall experience. You will never be bored playing Skyrim as you’ll come across new quests organically just by wandering the world and the more you play, the more you will discover.
If the main quest doesn’t grip you, you can join several guilds like the Thieves Guild, The Companions, The Dark Brotherhood, The Imperials, The Stormcloaks and so many more which all send you on lengthy questlines themselves and take up hours worth of gameplay. Whatever you want to do in Skyrim you can do, it’s the truest sense of RPG you can think of.
Skyrim is one of those games that has reached legendary status and even 10 years later, there is no virtual world I’d rather spend my time in.
Dark Souls 3
To all the masochists out there, Dark Souls 3 is calling your name. Now 5 years old, Dark Souls 3 is still the ultimate medieval/horror/action RPG hybrid out there. With the additional content available with the full edition of the game, you’re looking at 70+ hours of some of the most challenging gameplay out there. In typical From Software fashion, you are fed a breadcrumb story that slowly reveals itself over the course of your wondrous journey and the 3rd in the trilogy introduces some of the most epic and difficult bosses in the series.
Dark Souls 3 is all about the combat and here you have a ton of choices on how you want to do battle. New to Dark Souls is the ability to unleash special attacks and each weapon has a different one for you to experiment with. It adds a ton of variety to the poke and roll combat that the series is known for and instead creates some exciting fights and an overall quicker pace than the series is used to. You use your collected souls to level up your character and as in previous games, you can focus on various stats to bolster which gives you flexibility for multiple playthroughs.
The bosses are usually the standout of any Souls game and here is no exception. The Nameless King is still discussed as one of the hardest bosses you can face in a game the Two Princes fight toward the end of the game is one of the more epic fights in the series. The DLC adds some even tougher challenges into the game and if all of that isn’t enough to sate your appetite, you’ve got the mod community which adds things to the game daily that change a number of things to keep things fresh.
You’ve also got multiplayer to experience the game with friends or strangers as you see fit. There might be a feeling of sameness for veterans of the series which is understandable considering the way each of the games in the series work is largely the same, but if you like this type of strategic gameplay and love anything From Software puts out, you’ve got to try Dark Souls 3.
Nier was initially a game that didn’t do all that well when released it in 2010. It was criticized for weak graphics and frankly ugly characters and a bit of an unfocused combat system that felt like a lesser version of other games it was trying to emulate. One thing it was praised for though was its incredibly unique story that had multiple endings and required multiple playthroughs to see the entirety of. Despite the disappointing sales, Nier became a cult hit and fans begged for a follow-up. Nier: Automata released with fairly little advertising and what seemed to be just a love letter to fans of the original instantly became the breakout hit of 2017.
Nier: Automata is an RPG, but that doesn’t mean the gameplay is limited by classic RPG tropes. You’ll experience everything from a bullet hell shooters to a side scroller and even some mech combat in this one and you’ll never know what gameplay style awaits you when you’re exploring a new area. The start of the game is one of the more brutal that I’ve ever played as you cannot save any progress until you beat the first boss which is due to story reasons.
Because of this, I advise playing on easy at the start of the game to save you some major frustration and change it after you can save. The combat system you have to work with here is incredibly varied and uses melee weapons mixed with teleporting and the help of a floating gun that you can control as well. The result is something that looks like Devil May Cry meets Bayonetta while having the depth of an RPG.
The story has you start as 2B an android created by humans who have made their last stand on the moon. You are tasked with defeating the aliens that have taken over planet earth and to help you along the way is 9S, a seemingly younger and more happy-go-lucky android who joins you on your quest.
As things escalate, the aliens you were sent to destroy being to learn from humanity and slowly start becoming fully sentient and intelligent as well and the lines between right or wrong blur heavily as themes like reincarnation, existentialism, and identity are thrown into a blender and strap you in for the ride of your life. I kid you not, there will be several OMG moments throughout your playthrough and you might even shed a tear or two.
Nier: Automata has so many different endings that the creator Yoko Taro had to code them with different letters of the alphabet to keep track of them. In order to reach the true ending of the game, you literally have to play through it two times as two different characters which eventually unlocks the third completely unique playthrough.
If you’re tired of the normal fantasy fare that RPGs have to offer, Nier: Automata will introduce you to a weird and quirky world with some unforgettable characters and one of the most devastating and brilliant stories gaming has ever seen.
While it’s been criticized for not being a “true RPG”, Fallout 4 is still one of the most remarkable experiences you can have on PC. You start off with your family in a normal town living a normal life until nuclear alarms sound off and you’re hurried into a bomb shelter called a vault. From there, you awaken 200 years in the future with your family missing and nothing in front of you but the sprawling wasteland of what was once Boston.
The wasteland is a harsh and brutal place and luckily for you, weapons, armor, and health items are all over the place for you to collect and defend yourself. Immediate threats to you will be raiders, mutated creatures, and even zombies, but things get a whole lot scarier when plumbing the depths of some dangerous areas and you’ll encounter some truly terrifying and gruesome things the more you explore.
The Commonwealth area of ruined Boston is a joy to explore and one of the cooler touches is Diamond City, which is actually a city built inside what remains of the famous Red Sox stadium Fenway Park. Similar things are done around the map that are nice touches for anyone who is familiar with the Boston area and that attention to detail goes a lot into creating a very immersive experience.
You’ve got a leveling tree that unlocks several cool abilities, but perhaps the best feature of the game is the V.A.T.S system. Fallout used to be a turn-based game in the 90s and this is a call back to those times as activating it pauses time and lets you target specific enemy body parts to shoot. This is crucial because while a headshot may seem like the obvious choice, sometimes your percentage of hitting the shot is too low or your enemy is wearing a helmet and that can make taking safer shots at the arms or legs a far better idea.
Fallout 4 has shades of horror games a lot of the time and you’ll be exploring some very creepy places and encountering things like radiated ghouls who are basically zombies and even crazier fair like Deathclaws which are monstrous beasts that roam the higher-level areas of the game and are very tough to take down.
Luckily, you have a large arsenal to do damage with and weapons range from guns and grenades to barbed wire bats and rocket-powered sledgehammers. The variety is awesome and combat can take place in the first or third person which is a new touch to the series that makes it feel more modern.
Like previous Fallout games, your choices matter here and you’ll have four choices to choose from in every conversation with various outcomes happening depending on what you say. Along for the ride are several Follower characters to choose from and each offers their own benefits as well as storylines and specialized missions to follow. There are also multiple DLC quests to take on, factions to join, and most importantly mods to try out which can add almost infinite length to the game so you’ll never run out of things to do.
There aren’t a lot of apocalypse-flavored RPGs out there and Fallout 4 continuously scratches that itch.
Tales of Arise
Tales of Arise is the latest in a long series that dates back to the early 90s and in many ways, it is its best effort. First off, it’s one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played and the graphics are a unique blend of cel-shading and anime style that creates a striking effect that is only bolstered by high-power PC’s. The environments you’ll experience have some fascinating design to them and the combat is a bombastic mix of color and particle effects that make for some of the most dazzling visuals in any game I’ve ever played.
You start off as Iron Mask, an anonymous slave trying to escape his predicament, and shortly after you do, you meet Shionne, a woman whose mere touch can kill and from there you embark on an epic journey to defeat the 5 Lords of the world and reclaim your home country.
Along the way, you will acquire more party members, each with a unique flavor to their combat style. The combat is some of the best of any RPG out there and you’ve got combo attacks, special finishers, and all kinds of over-the-top action taking place during every scenario. Each character can map 4 special attacks at once for the ground and air and creating combos through these is the best way to damage enemies.
If you’ve played other Tales games in the past, know that this one is far darker than usual and some of the events that transpire here are shocking and it feels like a more mature version of the series we’ve become used to. In a lot of ways, this is a revival of a great franchise that always felt one generation behind gameplay-wise. That feeling is now gone completely and Tales of Arise easily stands with the top RPGs of this generation.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed didn’t start out as an RPG. It was actually a stealth action game that slowly grew into an RPG over the years with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, it pretty much reached the pinnacle of what it was trying to be. While there are people who may prefer Assassin’s Creed: Origins or the more recent Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is the only game in the recent trilogy that feels like a true RPG.
You begin your journey as Alexios or Kassandra, a mercenary and descendant of the legendary Spartan Warrior Leonidas. Though the start of the story has you taking on various quests and helping out around your home isle of Kephalonia, you quickly get sent on a task that spirals into a massive story that ties into the franchises ancient lore and is one of the best storylines the series has to offer.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is appropriately named as this is a quest of gargantuan proportions with so many quests to take on that it can become overwhelming at points. Aside from the normal side quests, you can take place in massive battles that sway the control over areas of the maps from Athens to Spartans and vice versa. Though strange, you can take up arms for either side at any point and fighting as the weaker side often grants you greater rewards.
Combat-wise, it feels like a mix of the Witcher 3 and God of War. You have access to 8 abilities at once between your bow and melee attacks and while some of the attacks are somewhat grounded in reality, a bunch of them are completely unrealistic and feel straight out of a fantasy game.
While some took issue with this approach, I found it refreshing and it fit the tone of the game well. If I’m going to be fighting Medusa, I think I should have a few tricks up my sleeve when I do and Ubisoft felt the same. Combat is bloody and brutal here and some of the finishing moves are just plain vicious. one big change here is you cannot block. This creates a Bloodborne- esque style of combat that encourages aggression and dodging as well as the parrying ability.
The writing here is very sharp and a high point for the Assassin’s Creed series. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey will easily take you over 70+ hours to finish and when you add in the DLC added as well, it’s a truly sprawling adventure that very much lives up to its name.
Darkest Dungeon is a punishingly original experience that just really should not be missed by any RPG fans. The setup is simple, you create a party of four characters from a selection of character classes and take them through dungeon after dungeon on your quest to prevent the end of the world. There is no real character development and the story is barely there, but none of that matters in this one-of-a-kind journey.
You start your adventure in a creepy, gothic town and are quickly thrust into your first dungeon. It’s here you’ll experience Darkest Dungeon’s combat system which is a unique spin on the turn-based combat system. You have your HP and all the typical RPG fare, but after that, things change quite a bit. Your character position matters a ton for starters and some attacks only work in certain spots, so you’ll have to keep that in mind as you manage encounters.
In between combat, you have to look out for things like traps, plagues, sickness, and other hazards that can be managed at a campground. Your characters will each have a personality that needs to be managed as well and you can often see characters be too prideful to accept healing, ones that force their way to the front of your combat formation and more bizarre happenings.
Darkest Dungeon is one of the toughest games I’ve ever played, but it’s insanely addictive and the bosses you take on here are disturbing and terrifying despite their modest, 2D look. The art on display here is just brilliant and matches the tone perfectly and the narrator that accompanies all of the action couldn’t have been cast better.
The great thing about Darkest Dungeon is that just about any computer can run it these days, so if you’re looking for a unique RPG that will challenge even the most hardcore gamers, Darkest Dungeon is a trip worth taking.
I know, Cyberpunk 2077 has been a complete disaster since its launch with everything from bugs to unfinished content being part of the global outcry, but hear me out. As a person who experienced no bugs and didn’t care about the cut content, Cyberpunk 2077 is still an incredible experience worth giving a shot in 2022. First things first, you’re going to need a monster of a PC to play this thing.
Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in the futuristic Dystopia called Night City and this place is a fully lived-in and energetic view of what our future could eventually be. You play as V, a mercenary who can start in several different areas, though Night City is quickly where you end up anyway. You can play as male, female, or anything in between here and the vast amount of customization is amazing.
Once you’re unleashed into Night City, you have the freedom to do whatever you want. You will constantly be getting called for side quests, or you can roam and explore on your own and find fun that way. The movement here is slick and fast and you’ll be doing some futuristic parkour a lot of your time here.
Combat is an interesting mix of melee and gunplay that feels right at home here. You can alter your body to have claws come out of your hand shoot missiles from your wrist, equip a katana, a sledgehammer, tons of different guns, and a wealth of different upgrades as well. Combat is hectic and hard to keep track of as you are in danger from everything from guns, melee attacks, and even your own mind.
That’s right, enemies can hack your mind and cause you constant damage that way, but luckily you have the same abilities too. The “powers” of this game are in your hacking system and by upgrading yourself this way you can become a cybernetic force of mass destruction by turning enemies on each other, frying their systems, and more interesting ways to cause havoc.
The story is a twisting and turning road that takes you to some unbelievable-looking locations and even launches you into the past for flashbacks where you control Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhands himself and the result is a tight and focused tale that is intriguing and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Horizon: Zero Dawn is one of the most unique RPGs I’ve ever played. It doesn’t share traits with the majority of RPGs but instead carves out a niche all of its own. HZD stars Aloy, a seemingly primitive girl part of a tribe that prays to a mysterious door that appears to be sentient. Right away, you know not all is as it seems. As you explore more, you find gigantic, robotic dinosaurs roaming the world and all sorts of futuristic technology that gets unearthed as you progress too. The story that unfolds here is kind of by the numbers on the surface, but under that surface is a crazy backstory that is one of the more interesting ones I’ve ever seen.
The gameplay in HZD is an intriguing mix of melee and bow combat and the highlight comes with fighting these monstrous, robotic dinosaurs. The encounters are over the top insane and these creatures feel like actual beings that you have to outsmart to take down. While the majority of your weaponry involves your bow, you’ve also got the ability to make traps, blast off weapons on the robot dinosaurs to use against them, and several arrow upgrades that change things up as well. Things get a little less interesting when fighting human enemies, but that’s because the combat system was generally designed for the big dinosaur encounters.
On the RPG side, you will gain experience, level up, engage in conversations that can have multiple outcomes, do sidequests, etc. It’s not the most in-depth RPG out there, but if you want a great story with some fantastic visuals and a truly unique feel to the overall game, Horizon: Zero Dawn is a great start.
Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord
Although the game seemed like a myth for the longest time, Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord finally released in 2020 and while it’s still technically in Early Access, it’s got hours and hours of gameplay at the ready. For those who missed out on the cult classic Mount and Blade: Warband, this series is all about building an army from the ground up all while interacting with a very realistic medieval society. There is a full economic system, trade routes to exploit, kings to betray, generals to ally with and so much more that it can take a while to get a grasp on everything you can do in this game.
You’ll be leading armies around the world in Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord, and that means you’ll have full control of them on the battlefield. Formations, tactics, specific unit instructions, shield walls and more are available to you in this incredibly realistic depiction of what medieval battle was like.
Armor types matter, helmets matter, and most importantly, how you attack matters. Melee combat is unique here as it emphasizes a sort of rock paper scissors approach. You can swing your weapon in any direction as well as block in any direction and if you block an attack at the right time you can get a faster follow-up attack because of it. The combat system is a bit awkward at first, but it makes sense and if you can get over the somewhat weird animations, you’ll have a great time fighting here.
Combat is only one slice of the cake though as there is so much more to explore on the map and you can visit towns, castles, start your own house, visit the taverns, recruit new soldiers with specific traits, upgrade your armor and weapons at blacksmiths and even become a king yourself.
Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord is one of those games you can get lost in and it’s not uncommon to see players put 100’s of hours into this series and keep coming back for more. It’s addictive and deservedly so.
If Fallout 4 just didn’t feel like the Fallout games of yore to you, then I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. The bad news is those kinds of Fallout games where you’re given tons of options with how to solve any number of situations is now extinct. The good news is Wasteland 3 remembers just how Fallout used to be and it has brought it into the modern generation of gaming.
Classic top-down, isometric perspective and all, the Wasteland series is a love letter to the RPGs of yesteryear. While it’s obviously going to get the comparisons to Fallout given its post-apocalyptic feel, Wasteland 3 is a different beast entirely. For one, it’s not just about controlling one character as you’re in charge of a full team here. That team has tons of interchangeable characters to choose from as well and each one has its own personality and backstory to discover.
Combat here is done similar to how the XCOM series works. It’s turn-based, position-based, and skill-based. Think of combat as a chess game with some very deadly consequences. Knowing your enemy is just as important as knowing your team here and figuring out when to attack and when to lay low is an interesting strategic balance that leads to some very challenging encounters. You have a ton of options for class customization and weapons and armor as well.
Exploration is mostly on foot, but you get access to a massive truck that can be customized to be a weapon of its own and it never gets old exploring this beautiful and nightmarish world. The real hook of the game comes with a twisting story that has a ton of different outcomes depending on how you approach certain scenarios. You’re given many different options when it comes to finishing missions and your creativity is often rewarded here in a great way.
For this with weaker PCs, Wasteland 3 is the perfect way to get a dose of the modern RPG and for those with high-power PCs, it’s a gorgeous isometric experience that is only bolstered by playing with ultra graphics enabled.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
If you loved the approach The Witcher 3 had to RPGs, then Assassin’s Creed: Origins might just be for you. Origins represented a rebirth of sorts for the series which introduces a fully open world to the Assassin’s Creed series for the first time alongside a gripping if not confusing storyline.
You play as Bayek, a Medjay (defender of a city) who has his son killed by a mysterious organization, and from there, you set out on a massive quest to avenge his death. Along the way, you run into famous figures such as Cleopatra and Julius Caesar and experience some of the most thrilling visuals in the franchise’s history. You’ll be exploring the ancient pyramids of Egypt and scavenging tombs while facing off against, snakes, bandits, cult members, and even wildlife like Hippos and Alligators.
The combat in Assassin’s Creed: Origins is different than the older games and it focuses on a new system that resembles Dark Souls and emphasizes aggression and timing. You’ve got a large number of weapons to use and they all have unique movesets and finishing moves too.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a massive game and while the story will take around 30 hours or so, there are tons of side quests to explore, sights to see, animals to hunt, and even multiple DLCs that take the story in some surprising new directions. You can find tons to do here and it’s one of the most beautiful and alive game worlds I’ve experienced.
God of War
God of War was a winner of many games of the year awards when it was released in 2018 for PS4 and since then it’s made its way to PC to take advantage of even better technology to create an even more visually incredible experience than before.
God of War stars Kratos, an iconic character in the video game world who has found a new home away from ancient Greece and instead has wound up in Norweigian lands under the watch of the gods of Norse mythology. Kratos has settled down with a new family and has recently lost his wife, so you and your son Atreus set out to fulfill her dying wish and bury her on the highest mountain top you can find.
This starts out as a mundane quest and quickly turns dangerous when the gods take notice of your activity in their land. You’re soon pitted against Baldur, the brothers of Thor, and thwarted by Odin himself as you try to complete your quest and in the process, stop an oncoming apocalypse in the form of Ragnarok.
The combat in God of War is incredible. It’s a brutal mix of the old games and a new more strategic style which results in some fun combat that has the over-the-top finishing moves of old mixed with the timing and ability heavy combat of newer RPGs. You get several weapons to learn tons of moves too and you can switch to them on the fly to create new combos on your own. The bosses here are all insanely over the top as you’d expect and some of the most epic fights in God of War’s impressive history take place in this one.
You’ve also got side quests, tons of upgrades to find, optional bosses, and even an entire challenge world to visit. It’s a great experience that won’t last as long as some games, but it knows exactly when to end and delivers a fantastic time along the way.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Although people had plenty of cause to be concerned about when they realized EA would be producing this game, we luckily were treated to one of the best Star Wars games in existence instead.
Cal is the newest Jedi in the Star Wars world and this story takes place shortly during the original trilogy the lore introduced here fits in perfectly canon-wise. You travel from planet to planet, taking on various missions from different characters including a few surprise appearances from characters in the movies.
The highlight is the combat here. It’s never been more fun to be a Jedi and this is all brought to life with the slickest visuals a Star Wars game has ever had. You can play with a few kinds of lightsabers here and you’ll unlock multiple moves throughout to make combat even more varied. It’s all about timing here and you can parry and dish out some devastating finishers here.
Your enemies are pretty varied as well and you’ll face off against the typical Stormtroopers, but also a ton of original enemies and of course, lightsaber-wielding enemies as well.
This is a tough game that has several optional routes and an engaging story, but it’s incredibly rewarding and has one of the best endings for a Star Wars game yet.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Everyone knows about the Witcher 3, but not everyone has played its predecessor and that’s a shame because it’s one of the best RPGs you can play today. Despite its age, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is still a technical wonder to behold and it has dare I say even a better story than its more popular sequel.
The Witcher 2 again follows Geralt, who has been framed as a king killer and sets out to defend his name after the discovery at the end of the first game saw a Witcher make an attempt on a king’s life. What follows is a winding story that will see Geralt run into several acquaintances from the 3rd game, take part in massive battles and fight some awesome monsters in the process as well.
The combat is a little different here too and the parry system is utilized a bit more heavily here than in The Witcher 3 and the result is a more up close and personal style vs. the freewheeling, dodge heavy combat of its more popular sibling. You also have to prepare for combat prior to the fight starts, so potion allocation and oils have a huge emphasis here comparatively.
It’s not an open world here like The Witcher 3, but rather a several large and explorable areas for each chapter, and to me, this is a much more satisfying way of going about things as it keeps you more focused on the story at hand and makes everything feel that more urgent.
Speaking of the story, there are two entirely different paths you can choose to follow at a certain point in the story which completely changes the missions you do and the characters you encounter as well as the areas you explore. All roads do lead to the same final encounter, but everything you do and discover up to that point will give you a different perspective on how to handle that final boss as there are several endings involved as well.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is a bit shorter of a game, but it’s every bit as good and if you can’t get enough of Geralt and friends, this is a great game to try out and it’s usually pretty cheap as well.
The Outer Worlds
Obsidian is one of those companies that embrace old-school tendencies like none other. When they release a game, they want you to know that they’ve played hours and hours of Dungeons and Dragons to cut their teeth on. Their role-playing games are the most hardcore out there, so if you like tons of choices, tons of dialogue, and multiple paths through every mission, The Outer World’s is next on your list.
The Outer World feels like a Fallout game set in space, and with that, you can expect quirky characters, multiple companions and hours of main quests and side quests to push you along in your journey. The graphics are a beautiful mix of bizarre-looking space planets and futuristic wastelands and it tells the story of humanity’s current circumstance, as well as the story, does.
You’ll be busy for hours here and in true, old-school RPG fashion, you’ll need to pass skill checks, make sure you’re leveling up properly and be able to access certain areas that would otherwise be inaccessible depending on your character build.
Combat-wise, this is a first-person shooter and just like a Fallout game, you can slow time to take precision shots the effect is an awesome one that doesn’t get old. Your companions are very helpful as well and they each have unique abilities to use during combat that will help you out along the way.
The Outer Worlds isn’t a massive RPG, but it’s a tight and focused one and for anyone who loves the RPGs of old, this is a love letter to those players and they shouldn’t think twice about picking this one up.
Question: Where do I buy all of these games?
Answer: While it varies from game to game, the majority of PC games are available on the Steam Store. Certain games like Mass Effect: Legendary Edition though are only available through the EA Origin platform and others like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey require the Ubisoft launcher to work, so there will be some additional downloads involved.
Question: What are the graphics requirements for these games?
Answer: Whenever you buy a PC game, they generally list the graphics requirements and suggested graphics cards to run it. While most games will at least work on the lowest settings, it’s not recommended to play games this way as the low frame rate and blurry visuals are quite rough to look at.
Question: Why are RPGs so long?
Answer: Great question! RPGs generally last anywhere from 40-100 hours and the reason is because there is so much content in them. The majority of RPGs have tons of side quests, huge worlds to explore with secrets around every corner, and massive stories that play out through a combination of dialogue, combat, and cutscenes. It’s the most epic video game genre there is and it’s sized appropriately.
There are tons of RPGs on the PC these days that you can sink hours and hours into. This list is filled with some of the biggest names out there though, so if you’re new to RPGs, these are a great place to get your feet wet.
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