Role-playing games (RPGs) are rich with fantastic stories, memorable characters, and in many cases, offer a way for you to play the way you want. RPGs often let you assume the role of a character, with the ability to make choices that impact the story — all with customization at the forefront. The genre is filled with some of the most beloved games of all time, ranging from action RPGs to ones that feature turn-based mechanics, and everything in between.
There are so many to choose from — meaning it can get overwhelming when deciding which ones to play. Because of that, we’ve decided to round up a list of the absolute best in the genre, while emphasizing modern role-playing games you can easily play today. These are the best RPGs you can play right now.
Demon’s Souls (PS5)
Arguably one of the first “true” next-gen experiences is the remake of Demon’s Souls for PS5, a game that builds upon the original for PS3. Developer Bluepoint Games took the foundation of the original PS3 classic and rebuilt an entirely new game from the ground up with PS5 in mind. Nearly everything is redone, from the jaw-dropping visuals, to the music, animations, and a slew of quality of life improvements that make it easier to play.
What’s impressive about Demon’s Souls on PS5 is just how faithful it is to the original. Almost everything is exactly the way you remember, including enemy placement and even some of the glitches — for better or worse. The game itself is incredibly fun and notoriously difficult, featuring impressive level design, terrifying creatures to defeat, and a satisfying gameplay loop that will keep you coming back for more. It’s easily one of the most accessible Souls games, thanks to its linear structure — while still offering the challenge the series is known for. This is the launch game to get with your PS5.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch)
What a game. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an absolute spectacle, with such a rich story full of wonderful characters. Exploring the world is immersive, partly because it feels lived-in, with NPCs wandering around, living their lives. This game feels fully fleshed out, steering away from the traditional quests you might be used to in fantasy RPGs. One of the things that makes The Witcher 3 so memorable is its art direction, blending realism with an almost painterly color palette.
Getting through this game is a journey. It tells many stories, some of which are silly and lighthearted, others are downright depressing, and some that will stick with you for a long time — all while the protagonist, Geralt of Rivia attempts to track down Ciri, the daughter of an important emperor. Despite some of the criticisms with its combat, it’s fun to play and will likely sink its teeth in you within the first hour or so. You’ll then realize you’ve “accidentally” put 100 hours into it.
Read our full The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review
Undertale (PC, PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch)
Undertale is one of the most important games of the generation, thanks to its writing, combat system, and the ability to complete it without killing anyone. The wild thing is that it was developed by one person, Toby Fox, who managed to complete the game thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. This game is great at subverting expectations, roping you in, and then surprising you in ways you didn’t think were possible.
It does what Earthbound did in the ’90s, giving you clever writing and fun turn-based combat. Only, in Undertale, you can talk your way out of battle, playing as a pacifist and completing the game without hurting anyone. As cliché as it sounds, the choices you make do matter and those decisions have a clear impact on the story. The witty writing, catchy music, and smart design all help to make one of the most important RPGs of the past decade.
Persona 5 Royal (PS4)
If we had to pick one word to describe Persona 5 Royal it’s this one: Stylish. This JRPG tells an incredibly dark story that almost seems at odds with its vibrant, upbeat art and music. But the two blend in a way that works, giving you an unforgettable experience that unwinds over the course of 100 hours or so. The Persona games have become famous for the way they tell stories while encouraging you to develop relationships with its cast of characters. These relationships impact the way your party performs during the game’s dungeons, where the Pokémon-style turn-based combat takes place.
Persona 5 Royal is an enhanced edition of the original Persona 5, featuring extra gameplay and quality of life improvements. Because of this, we recommend it over the original, as it’s a far better version. The story takes you through the events of a calendar year, with each day giving you a slew of choices for how to spend your time. You can hang out with friends, develop your skills, partake in a new hobby, and attend classes. Nearly every one of these activities play a part in how you and your team performs throughout the dungeons, where things get intense and climactic. If you’re looking for something like Pokémon with more adult themes, Persona 5 Royal is the game for you.
Read our full Persona 5 review
Monster Hunter: World (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
The thing that Monster Hunter: World does so well is that it absolutely nails its gameplay loop, making it hard to put down. As the name suggests, it sends you to fantastical worlds to hunt monsters and each one you slay gives you resources. These materials can be used to craft gear and the better the equipment you have, the easier it is to take down tougher monsters. Monster Hunter: World does an exceptional job of keeping you coming back for more, and offers enough variety to ensure you’re never bored.
Speaking of variety, there are tons of areas to explore, lots of different weapons to experiment with, and a breadth of monsters that all have different weaknesses. There’s something so immensely satisfying about taking down a giant creature, especially when you do it with friends. “One more hunt” is probably something you’ve said while playing, and thanks to the way World has streamlined the formula, you’ll likely spend dozens and dozens of hours with it. Monster Hunter: World is Capcom’s bestselling game, and it’s easy to see why.
Read our full Monster Hunter: World review
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch)
We don’t typically classify Zelda games as RPGs, but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is different — and thankfully so. We’re sure you’ve heard many critics and fans sing its praises over the years, but it cannot be overstated just how good this game is. It throws you into a sprawling open world, full of life and things to do. What’s really impressive about Breath of the Wild is its physics, giving you numerous ways to solve problems. You can tackle problems in a wide variety of ways, and it rewards you for experimenting, especially when it comes to manipulating the world around you.
It’s beautiful, challenging, and even to this day, players are still uncovering its secrets. While you don’t get the traditional dungeons you might have fallen in love with in the Zelda series, Breath of the Wild features 120 shrines, each offering their own set of puzzles for you to solve. The game throws so much at you, from cooking, to upgrading gear, and tons of secrets — it definitely leans into what we love about RPGs. The sense of wonder while exploring this version of Hyrule is unparalleled, and we cannot wait to see how its sequel mixes things up.
Read our full The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review
You can’t talk about modern RPGs without mentioning Bloodborne. While this game is built upon the mechanics of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, it does a lot differently, making it feel unique — and in many cases, better than its predecessors. For starters, its visual aesthetic is probably unlike anything you’ve seen. It starts out in a Victorian Gothic setting, but quickly gets weird, throwing creatures and themes you’d only find in an H.P. Lovecraft novel.
Bloodborne’s combat is designed in such a way that feels much more aggressive than the Souls games that came before it. Everything feels faster and more fluid, with an emphasis on staying on the offense. This, combined with the wild creature designs, interesting “trick” weapons, exceptional levels, and grotesque visuals are enough to make it one of the best RPGs of the past decade. Oh and be prepared for a lot of blood. There’s a reason it’s called Bloodborne, after all.
Read our full Bloodborne review
Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)
To be frank, it’s amazing Final Fantasy VII Remake exists. This is a remake created with the fans in mind and it’s clear Square Enix put so much love and care into it. Remakes are often hard to pull off because it’s easy to alienate fans. One camp might want the remake to stay true to the original, while others might prefer a faithful reimagining with modernization in mind. Final Fantasy VII Remake definitely feels like a reimagining, more so than a one-to-one recreation, but it does so in a way that makes sense.
Particularly, the combat stands out, effectively blending real-time with turn-based mechanics. The other star of the show is its visuals, which are breathtaking in many cases. What’s great about this game is that it’s quite linear, allowing its story to shine without weird pacing issues you often see in massive sprawling RPGs. While Final Fantasy VII Remake only covers a portion of the original, what’s there is absolutely worth your time. Square Enix has announced that a second part is in the works, so you’ll have another chance to return to the world of Final Fantasy VII — whenever that may be.
Read our full Final Fantasy VII Remake review
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC)
You saw this coming. The quintessential RPG — maybe of all time — is, of course, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It may not be the best-looking game anymore, but there’s no denying the importance of Skyrim, even nearly a decade later. Part of what makes this game so fun is that it truly lets you play how you want. You can be a charismatic sorcerer, or perhaps a sassy archer. Exploring the world of Skyrim is still awe-inspiring, with tons of little secrets and things to do.
Sure, its combat is a little dated, but even in 2020, it still feels satisfying to play. The feeling of taking down your first or hundredth dragon is unlike anything else and is easily one of the most memorable parts of the game. We also really enjoy the diversity in the world’s locales, ranging from densely populated cities to underground sewers, and more. If you’re a fantasy fan, you must play Skyrim.
Read our full The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim review
World of Warcraft (PC)
When it comes to MMO RPGs, it doesn’t get much better than World of Warcraft. It’s one of the most important of its kind — and for good reason. It popularized creating and developing your character in an online setting and has done so since 2004! It has undergone a number of changes since its release but is now more streamlined to make it easier to play. With over 100 million accounts, and over $9 billion in revenue earned, World of Warcraft is truly unmatched.
There’s so much to do in WoW, from leveling up your character, experiencing the story, partaking in massive raids, and hanging out with friends. The social aspect is what makes this game shine, and thanks to its gargantuan player-base, you’ll always find someone nearby. It’s also worth mentioning that Blizzard should be commended for the ongoing support of WoW, including constant updates to make it better, and its numerous expansions. These expansions have offered more content over the years, giving players new areas to explore, and interesting stories to enjoy. If not for World of Warcraft, we probably wouldn’t have games like The Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars, or the fantastic Final Fantasy XIV: Online.
- The best RPGs for PS4
- The best upcoming PS5 games
- The best PC games for 2021
- The best single-player games
- The best MMORPGs