Skip to main content

The best Bethesda games of all time

Bethesda is one of the rare cases of a game developer finding so much success that it branched out to become one of the biggest publishers in the Western gaming market. While not quite as gigantic as the likes of Activision or EA, Bethesda has a great stable of developers, itself included, that have made some of the most ambitious games on the market. Whether it’s the cutting-edge technology coming out of ID Software, the high-octane FPS action of Machine Games, or even the more experimental titles from Arkane, Bethesda’s name is attached to far more than just its high-profile RPG series.

Since it was acquired by Microsoft, all of Bethesda’s games, including the games made by the studios under it, will be console-exclusive to the X-box platform moving forward. However, there is a long history of games already released for multiple platforms, and between all the studios Bethesda is in charge of, there are games of all types to check out. You will obviously know the major players here, such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, but there are way more Bethesda games that are just as good. That’s why we’ve rounded up this list of the best Bethesda games of all time.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
88 %
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release November 10, 2011
What is there to say about Skyrim that hasn’t been said already? This massive game is not only the pinnacle of the Elder Scrolls series (at least until the untitled Elder Scrolls VI releases), but it also shattered all expectations. It wasn’t just a critical hit but a sales juggernaut as well. The game originally came out in 2011 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, but it has been ported almost as much as the original Doom and has sold well every time it was released after that. It makes sense why — the world Bethesda created, or rather this region of it, is just brimming with unique and dynamic events to experience. The number of things to do and see and ways to play make it feel like a true RPG experience in ways most other games could only hope to be. Yes, Skyrim is not immune to the usual bugs and glitches that Bethesda games are known for. In this case, though, none of them are really game-breaking, unless you’re playing on the PS3, and the game was so ambitious for the time that many people were willing to overlook a few rough edges. The plot isn’t much to write home about, and many people never even saw it through, but that’s just a minor fraction of the content on offer in Skyrim. Side quests are everywhere, caves and dungeons to explore are around every corner, and interesting characters populate all the cities. Skyrim is a game where you can easily spend 100 or more hours never touching the main quest and still have plenty to do.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Full Trailer

Starfield

Starfield
48 %
3.5/5
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox Series X|S
Genre Shooter, Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release September 06, 2023
The newest Bethesda game, and also the studio’s first new IP in over a decade, isn’t perfect by any means. Starfield may not quite earn the same reputation as Skyrim, but if you take it for what it is, you will still find a great RPG experience. Set in the future where humanity has colonized planets across the galaxy, you join up with a group called Constellation to try and uncover the mystery surrounding enigmatic objects called Artifacts. As you track more down and learn more about the secrets they hide, as well as get to know your cast of characters, you will find perhaps the strongest main plot the studio has crafted yet. That’s not to say side content is lacking here. For every hour of main story content, there are a dozen more side missions, activities, and randomly generated events to draw your attention.
Read our full Starfield review
Starfield – Official Announcement Teaser

Hi-Fi Rush

Hi-Fi Rush
90 %
4.5/5
T
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox Series X|S
Genre Music, Platform, Hack and slash/Beat 'em up, Adventure
Developer Tango Gameworks
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release January 25, 2023
We’ll talk more about Tango further on, but the last thing anyone expected from this studio was what we got in Hi-Fi Rush. Not because it’s a bad game — it’s fantastic — but because this traditionally horror-focused team came out of nowhere with this stylish, rhythm-action game that was announced and released with no warning. Following Chai, you embark on a funny but heartfelt journey infiltrating a large tech company after an accident fuses a music player with your heart. Visually, this game is stunning. The cell-shaded look matches perfectly with the rhythm combat that rewards you for attacking and dodging on the beat. Speaking of, the soundtrack is equally impressive, with a great mix of original and licensed tracks to punctuate the intense boss battles.
Read our full Hi-Fi Rush review
Hi-Fi Rush - Reveal Trailer | Xbox & Bethesda Dev Direct 2023

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas
87 %
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre Shooter, Role-playing (RPG)
Developer Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment, 1C/Cenega, Bethesda Softworks
Release October 19, 2010
While it was Bethesda itself that took the old Fallout series and brought it back to life as a more modern 3D RPG, it was actually Obsidian Entertainment, also purchased by Microsoft by the way, that really blended the old-school RPG mechanics and tone of the original game with the gameplay mechanics Bethesda revived the series with. Fallout 3 was a great game, don’t get us wrong, but the fans of the older titles certainly had some problems with it. While it was an open-world game, it was far less open in terms of player choice and influence and not quite as strong in the writing department. Many just assumed that was the price we had to pay for bringing the game into a fully 3D open world with voiced NPCs. That was until Fallout: New Vegas arrived. An unfortunate trend with Obsidian is that it is constantly given criminally short development times to produce what are expected to be blockbuster hits, and Fallout: New Vegas is a great example of that. Eighteen months is almost no time at all to create a game, let alone a massive open-world RPG that players expect to have deep systems, dozens of quests that can be completed in multiple ways, tons of weapons, and strong writing. The fact that Fallout: New Vegas manages to accomplish basically all of those things without falling apart at the seams is nothing short of miraculous. That said, it does have more than its fair share of bugs and glitches, even for a game made on Bethesda’s engine, but playing on PC with some mods essentially cleans all those problems up.
Fallout: New Vegas Trailer - E3 2010

Dishonored 2

Dishonored 2
85 %
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre Shooter, Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer Arkane Studios
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release November 11, 2016
Arkane Studios is, in our opinion, one of the most underrated studios out there among gamers. Critics have been praising its games for the near masterpieces they are, but for some reason, sales have never matched up to the quality of the games it puts out. Dishonored 2 should’ve been a breakout hit. It was an improvement over the original in almost every way while still sticking to what made that game and world so much fun in the first place. Every mission lets you loose in a systems-driven mini-hub world with tons of secret paths, side quests, and optional ways to accomplish your goal. They were essentially the natural progression of a level from Dues Ex, but even more elaborate. Oh, and you had an awesome kit of powers and weapons. This time around, Dishonored 2 let you pick between two playable characters: Corvo, the protagonist from the first game, and Emily. While there are plenty of overlapping elements, they are different enough in how they play to warrant going back for at least a second playthrough. We say at least a second playthrough because there are just so many ways to tackle each mission that you’re going to miss out on at least a handful of things on any given playthrough. Seriously, this game would be worth playing for the level design alone, but the fact that it is so much fun to actually interact in that world, plus see how the world reacts to you, make it an all-time great that few people have played.
Dishonored 2 - E3 2016 Gameplay Trailer (Official)

Doomori: Eternal

Doomori: Eternal
4.5/5
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), Web browser
Genre Shooter, Indie
Release January 14, 2022
Sometimes gaming doesn’t have to be much more complex than blasting demons with your super shotgun as heavy-metal guitars celebrate the carnage and gore. While Doom Eternal can be just that, a raw action, incredibly satisfying gore-fest, play on anything higher than the lower difficulties, and you’ll find that this game has way more depth in its combat than basically any shooter released in the past decade. ID made combat a multilayered puzzle of sorts, with a genius design that forces you to stay mobile, aggressive, and strategic all at once. Each enemy has a weakness you can exploit, but ammo for each gun is limited, forcing you to use your entire arsenal as well as your chainsaw to refill. Enemies hit hard and fast, so you’ll need to make sure to weaken enemies for glory kills to restore your HP, but also utilize your flamethrower to make them drop armor to preserve that health. All those pieces make each combat encounter both mentally and physically challenging, or at least in terms of execution, exhausting (in the best way). Successfully taking out the most dangerous threats, double-jumping and dashing to avoid damage, keeping your health up, and perfectly dispatching smaller foes with brutal glory kills for just a brief second of reprieve, all while the drums and guitars ramp up with the action, leads to feeling like an absolute beast when the final demon is splattered against the wall. The game could’ve been just that, but under the hood, there are wide maps you can platform through for collectibles that show up on your ship between levels, as well as even more challenging optional fights to unlock. Doom Eternal is the full package in ways no other single-player FPS has been in years.
Read our full Doomori: Eternal review
DOOMORI ETERNAL Official Launch Trailer

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
85 %
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer Bethesda Game Studios, 4J Studios
Publisher 2K Games, Spike, Bethesda Softworks
Release March 20, 2006
This will be the oldest entry on the list, but even with so many years removed, we can’t ignore how much The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion changed the console RPG landscape. Yes, Morrowind did come first and established a lot of the systems Oblivion would build upon, but it is far, far harder to go all the way back to Morrowind on the older hardware of the original Xbox. The skill system of leveling up specific attributes by actually performing those actions felt so intuitive and right, despite being a bit exploitable. The world was the biggest we’d ever seen, especially on a console, and the amount of content packed in felt truly endless. The plot was also a great tale. Your created character is given the mission of stopping a group called the Mythic Dawn from opening the titular Oblivion Gates, thus preventing the Daedric horrors inside from invading the world. Of course, that was just one such story to follow. All the major groups were present and had their own individual questlines, including fan favorites like the Dark Brotherhood or the Thieves Guild. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is basically the prototype for Skyrim but a little stronger in terms of RPG systems and elements, though weaker in looks and actual moment-to-moment gameplay.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Longplay (Main Quest) Walkthrough (No Commentary)

The Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online
72 %
4/5
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia
Genre Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer ZeniMax Online Studios
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release April 04, 2014
The world of Tamriel seems tailor-made for an MMO, and Bethesda obviously thought so too when they created The Elder Scrolls: Online. However, things weren’t quite so perfect when the game first launched. The famous Bethesda bugs were there, most notably broken quests, but only exacerbated when playing in a shared world, though it was really the design that was at odds with itself. It was an MMO, obviously, but the main story almost pushed you to play the game solo. There just wasn’t a cohesive marriage of what we loved about the single-player Elder Scrolls experience and MMOs. There’s also the fact that the reused voice actors, and even specific lines, become grating far quicker in a game where you’re encouraged to do tons of quests to level up. On the plus side, The Elder Scrolls: Online has seen a lot of improvements. Bethesda continues to support the game with new content and expansions. The world was already big when the game first came out, but with even more regions to explore, the game has really made good on the promise of allowing you to explore the entire world of Tamriel. The combat has always been solid, at least by MMO standards, and PVP is actually quite exciting. It will never be as immersive in the same way Skyrim is, but The Elder Scrolls: Online has worked itself into a very good MMO wearing an Elder Scrolls coat of paint.
The Elder Scrolls Online - PvP Trailer

Fallout 3

Fallout 3
84 %
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre Shooter, Role-playing (RPG)
Developer Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release October 28, 2008
Bethesda’s first stab at making a Fallout game after purchasing the rights also remains its best. Fallout 3, as touched on, took the classic CRPG and reinvented it as a more action-heavy FPS-RPG hybrid. To translate the old turn-based, dice-rolling combat of the originals, Bethesda innovated in some creative ways that would go on to define what the series would be going forward. VATS are the big one in this regard, allowing you to slow down time and select where you want your next attack to be aimed at an enemy, with hit chances shown for each body part just like they would be in the old games. Skills and perks also carried over, but they’re more streamlined for the console market. Your created character has a very basic motivation for leaving the vault and heading into the desolate wasteland that Washington, D.C., has become: find your father. You do get a little bonding time with him, played by the awesome Liam Neeson, no less, before getting kicked out to roam the ruins, but the real game is all the other things you can do. Even though this game came only two years after Oblivion, it looked like a huge jump graphically. Yes, the world is as gray and brown as the memes about games from this time poke fun at, but it was still one of the best-looking open worlds out there at the time. The gunplay, aside from when you used VATS, also left a lot to be desired.
Fallout 3 - Trailer (Official)

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein: The New Order
82 %
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre Shooter, Puzzle, Adventure
Developer MachineGames
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release May 20, 2014
Before ID brought Doom back, Machine Games started the trend of reviving an old series and injecting it with strong character writing, plot, and modern gameplay that still felt true to the original. In the case of Wolfenstein: The New Order, not many people would even know the original well enough to tell if this reboot-sequel hybrid strayed from the conventions of one of the first FPS games ever made. Either way, based on the simple premise of one man shooting Nazis, Wolfenstein: The New Order managed to craft an excellent single-player campaign as well as make the otherwise blank slate BJ a deep and relatable character. No one would’ve predicted that a new Wolfenstein game, without any multiplayer, mind you, would turn out to be such a massive hit. Wolfenstein: The New Order isn’t just story and character, though. The majority of the game remains true to that original premise of shooting Nazis in the face. Only now, you can do it with more guns and in full HD across tons of locations. Every gun, from pistols and assault rifles to shotguns, can be duel-wielded without any negatives except not being able to aim down sights. Combine that with the overcharging health system, where you can go above your maximum health temporarily, and you’re free to run and gun your way through most of the game. That’s not even touching on the perk system or stealth mechanics, either!
Wolfenstein: The New Order - Announcement Trailer

Prey

Prey
80 %
4/5
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre Shooter, Puzzle, Adventure
Developer Arkane Studios
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release May 04, 2017
The second Arkane game on this list befell the same sad fate as its Dishonored games, only this time with a much stranger history. Prey, the original, was a weird sci-fi FPS that had some fun portal and gravity mechanics but was otherwise forgotten about by basically everyone. A sequel was announced with a gripping prerendered trailer promising a unique bounty hunting-type game set on an alien world. The IP then came to Arkane, which decided to reboot the series (can it be called a series with just one game?) by basically just making its own game with the same name. All that weird stuff doesn’t matter, though, because Prey is a great game regardless of what it’s called. Prey puts you in the shoes of Alex Yu, who can be male or female, on a space station infested with creatures called the Typhon. The small, black, goo-like creatures come in many forms, but the most famous are the smallest ones that can disguise themselves as any object in the environment to ambush you. They can be a lamp, coffee cup, or random chair knocked over on the floor. The constant threat keeps you second-guessing everything in your environment, which is genius because it leads you to appreciate just how great Arkane’s level design is. You have just as much freedom with the RPG elements as a game like Dishonored, but the gunplay isn’t quite as responsive or fun, and while they do a great job with what they have, the environments can get a little repetitive to look at.
Read our full Prey review
Prey - E3 2016 Reveal Trailer (Official)

The Evil Within 2

The Evil Within 2
83 %
4/5
M
Platforms PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre Shooter, Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer Tango Gameworks
Publisher Bethesda Softworks
Release October 12, 2017
The first Evil Within game put itself in a terrible position. Not only did the name have a clear reference to the Resident Evil series, with a perspective, atmosphere, and gameplay style just as obviously trying to evoke feelings of Resident Evil 4, but it was also directed by former Resident Evil director Shinji Mikami. That first game, while by no means the masterpiece that Resident Evil 4 was, still turned out to be a solid survival horror game that just happened to be bogged down by technical issues and a not-all-that-great plot. It just had too high of expectations put on it for anything less than another Resident Evil 4 to be seen as a disappointment. Fast forward to the sequel, and many people had written the series off, but a new writer and director had taken the reigns to make a game that punches way above its weight. Sure, that means the game does creak under its own weight at times, specifically in how it can’t quite manage to quickly transport you between vastly different locations like it clearly wants to, or how the plot kind of splits in the last quarter of the game. However, the new semi-open-world structure, with side quests, collectibles, and surprise encounters with unique enemies, is just plain fun. Sneaking around the shattered world, as well as navigating more linear sections, all form a game that, while not a master of horror or action, does both well enough to be a really good (but not quite great) time.
Read our full The Evil Within 2 review
The Evil Within 2 - E3 2017: Announcement Trailer (Official)

Editors' Recommendations

Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He knows the names of more…
10 best gaming monitors of 2024: tested and reviewed
Overwatch 2 running on the LG OLED 27 gaming monitor.

There are a ton of options if you on the hunt for the best gaming monitors, but for us, Alienware's 34 QD-OLED still takes the cake in 2024. It's not the display for everyone, though, and after reviewing dozens of the top gaming monitors, we've settled on a list of displays with great gaming performance for any budget or purpose.

We're focused specifically on gaming monitors here, which come with higher refresh rates and adaptive sync features like G-Sync and FreeSync. If you're looking for an all-around display, make sure to browse our list of the best monitors.

Read more
The best PC games for 2024
Monster Hunter Rise armor set.

Even with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X offering up next-level visuals, PCs remain the home for high-end gaming for many players. Games usually look their best on PC, and there's a massive selection to choose from. From indie darlings to AAA blockbusters, our roundup of the best PC games has something for everyone.
RPGs

Baldur's Gate 3

Read more
The best open-world games
The Witcher 3-Wild Hunt

Just like you probably enjoy getting to choose your own path in real life, you want to have the same freedom in your favorite video game. Open-world games like The Division 2 have only continued to grow in popularity since their release. 

While this genre of gaming can be a little intimidating for anyone without tons of experience in gaming, there are plenty of great open-world games to chose from. Ranging from first-person shooter games to RPGs and action-adventure titles, our list will have something for everyone.

Read more