The PlayStation platform has always been home to some of the best RPGs on the market. Whether they’re JRPGs, action RPGs, tactical RPGs, or any other variation, there’s never been a shortage of games that allow you to live out a new experience in nearly any type of setting you could imagine. RPGs were initially a more niche genre, catering to the old school Dungeons and Dragons players, but have steadily grown in popularity as they have become more accessible and widespread. These games offer narratives and gameplay styles you can’t find anywhere else.
The PlayStation 5 hasn’t been around for too long, but came out of the gate strong with a number of high-quality RPGs. Since then, the library has only grown as newer titles find their home on this powerful console. No matter what type of RPG fan you are, preferring either turn-based or real-time combat, fantasy, sci-fi, or modern settings, linear stories, or ones that incorporate your choices, the PS5 has an RPG that will fit your tastes. To help find your perfect fit, take a look at this roundup of the best RPGs for PS5.
Final Fantasy 7 was arguably the most important JRPG at the time of its release, and was only possible thanks to the original PlayStation’s discs as opposed to Nintendo’s reluctance to move off of cartridges. The result was a game that many consider to be one of the greatest of all time, regardless of genre. Since then, fans have begged for a remake, despite Square-Enix’s insistence that it wasn’t possible. Eventually, they relented and gave us Final Fantasy 7 Remake on the PS4, with an upgraded version, packaged with extra DLC, called Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade. This version didn’t need to make any of the technical concessions the previous-gen version did, such as with resolution or frame rate, making this already award-winning JRPG even better.
In a risky move, this remake ditched the ATB system of the original for a more action-focused gameplay style, while adapting all the major components to fit this new way of playing. You attack, dodge, and move in real time, but can slow time down to a crawl to select your magic, skills, items, and summons or limits. The result is something between the combat of an action RPG like Kingdom Hearts, with tactical elements from, well, a tactics game. The story does cater to those who’ve played the original, deliberately playing with expectations, but is still engrossing for new players. It seemed like an impossible task, but this first chapter in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake series somehow lived up to just about every expectation set for it.
Read our full: Final Fantasy 7 Remake review
Technically the 7th mainline Yakuza game, Yakuza: Like a Dragon smartly rebranded itself to appeal to new fans because of the massive change in gameplay. While the Yakuza games have always been RPGs of sorts, with more action brawler combat, the latest game tossed all that out in favor of a turn-based combat system. Not only that, but the game introduced a brand new protagonist, leaving Kazuma Kiryu, the star of the previous six mainline games, to rest and introducing us to Ichiban Kasuga. What remains is the combination of incredibly serious, gripping, and often dark story set in the familiar Kamurocho, set side by side with the wacky, off the wall, and hilarious characters, dialogue, and side quests ever depicted in games.
Initially being shown as an April Fool’s joke, the turn-based combat of Yakuza: Like a Dragon ended up being an amazing fit for the series, and incredibly satisfying to play. The new protagonist and story make it a perfect entry point for RPG fans looking for something wholly unique in the genre. What other RPG is set in the modern day, following middle-aged men using umbrellas and bats as weapons and throwing birdseed at enemies to summon pigeons as spells? Aside from the lengthy main story, the amount of content in this game easily matches any traditional JRPG. Plus, the developers have already confirmed that the Yakuza series proper moving forward will stick to this turn-based style of combat, with improvements and changes obviously, but make this a safe investment for RPG fans looking for a new series to dig into.
Initially, Disco Elysium was a PC exclusive title back in early 2019. It was kind of a cult hit, earning incredibly praise from everyone who played it, but didn’t quite reach the wider audience. Fast forward to the release of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut for PlayStation 5, and this already immaculate game became even better. The base game’s main strength was its writing, and that remains true in the PS5 version. There are lines written for everything. Not only does every character have something to say — and of course they’re all deep and well written — and your character has multiple options for what they will say or do, but every skill you have also talks to your character. Depending on what you invest in, you will only see a fraction of all the writing in this game in a single playthrough.
If that sounds like a ton of reading, well, it was. But, the final cut pulled off what might as well have been a miracle in voicing every single line of dialogue in the game. Considering how wide open this game is in terms of how you build your character, skill-wise and personality-wise, and how adaptive the game is to all of those choices, you could play this game at least two or three times and get essentially unique experiences every time. There is a mystery at the center to solve, but the way you go about it is totally up to you. There’s nothing else quite like Disco Elysium: The Final Cut, and odds are there won’t be anything like it ever again.
While Yakuza swerved left into full-on turn-based RPG territory with Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the developers didn’t just leave fans of the established gameplay style out in the cold. Judgment continues with the more action-heavy, brawling systems of Yakuza proper, and brings us back to the familiar streets of Kamurocho, but also introduces a brand new protagonist and story. This time the game revolves around Takayki Yagami, a lawyer turned private detective who gets more than he bargains for when starting to investigate a string of murders. While you’re playing on the other side of the law, this game still has the heart of a Yakuza title, and is the natural progression for those who want more of the old style of game.
What Judgment adds to the Yakuza formula is what makes it rank on this list. You’re playing as a detective, so the game introduces a ton of new gameplay systems to really make you feel, and think, like a detective. Sure, there’s plenty of street fights, heat moves, and exploration, but you’ll also spend plenty of time tailing targets, examining crime scenes for evidence, interviewing witnesses, and other authentic detective work. The main story, again, is about as serious as it gets, but the spin of being a detective doing these outlandish and bizarre side quests just puts a fresh spin on the formula that makes this a complete package.
Not only were we blessed with a fantastic, yet brutal, RPG right at the PS5’s launch, but it also just happened to be a remake of the cult hit that essentially birthed the souls-borne genre. Demon’s Souls Remake is both the most accessible, and inaccessible souls game for different reasons, but stands as a must-play for just about everyone. Yes, if you know what type of game a Souls game is and aren’t into it, this game probably won’t change your mind. If you love the difficult, slower, and more methodical style of RPG then this is the perfect one to start with, or experience for the first time if you missed it on PS3.
Obviously this game is a remake of the old 2009 game, but BluePoint didn’t just give it an almost unbelievably good-looking new coat of paint, but also sanded down some of the original’s sharper edges. Gameplay-wise, Demon’s Souls Remake is nearly identical to the original, save for multi-directional rolling and a few other minor tweaks. As an RPG, this one fits the genre more for how it allows you to build your character. Sure, you can influence the story in numerous ways, in fact, more ways than you would think or even know without a guide, but the gameplay is the main draw here. You can build yourself to be a quick spear user, smash enemies with a giant two-handed sword, or cast spells or miracles from a distance. The world is such a beautifully bleak place, and designed so specifically, that you’ll want to give a new build a try just to go through it all again.
Ubisoft took the Assassin’s Creed series in a new direction starting with Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Rather than sticking to the same combat formula the series had been iterating on since the beginning, they revamped it by injecting many more RPG systems, such as leveling, gear, and skill trees. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is the third game to follow that new design philosophy and is the best one you can pick up on your PS5. The combat is slick, brutal, and satisfying, the world is vast and beautiful, and new management systems help make your character feel like a true Viking leader. The main story itself is on the weaker side, unfortunately, but you can still get dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of enjoyment just exploring everything else the game has to offer.
If you’ve played Origins or Odyssey, the basics of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla will be familiar to you. You fight to level up, learn new skills, get new gear through exploration and as rewards, and slowly expand across a massive map with increasingly strong enemies. While this game probably has the lightest RPG elements on the list, you essentially just need to worry about your character level and gear to make it through, it’s everything surrounding the core system that make it a great RPG. The amount of work and detail packed into this historic setting, and as much adherence to real history as you could expect from a game, really sell the feeling of being a Viking.
Read our full: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review
If you like your action RPGs to have a more anime flavor to them, then Scarlet Nexus will be right up your alley. Bandai Namco makes a ton of anime style, and actual anime, RPGs, but this new IP for the PS5 managed to surprise just about everyone with its fantastic combat, creative and well-realized world, and a great roster of personalities. They invented a new term for this style of game they call “brain-punk”, and while that probably won’t be a term ever used again, it does fit the themes of Scarlet Nexus quite well. Everything from the plot to the enemies, and your character’s own abilities, all stem from psychic abilities that manifest within certain people’s brains.
The plot is a mix of over-the-top nonsense and drama that could so easily be a weekly TV anime. That will be an immediate turn-off to some, but also reason enough for others to jump in. If the plot of brain-eating aliens just called “Others” doesn’t grab you, and it does go deeper than that, then don’t pass on this game without at least checking out the gameplay. This is one of the most fluid, fast-paced, and technically satisfying action RPGs on the PS5. Between the psychic powers you have, flashy combos, and different party members to bring into battle, combat remains fresh the entire game. Plus you can run through it twice thanks to two separate campaigns, each featuring a different character’s story with their own weapons and playstyle.
Read our full: Scarlet Nexus review
Swinging way back to the JRPG side of the genre, this one may sound like we’re speaking a different language if you’re unfamiliar with this series. Atelier Ryze 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy may not roll off the tongue, but this is one of the most classic, warm blanket feeling JRPG you can find on the PS5. You take on the role of Ryza, an alchemist who is dedicated to learning the secrets hidden within a ruined city. There’s no world-ending threat, or ancient evil threatening to take over the world here. So many JRPGs have taken on this grim, overly dramatic, and generally bleak storytelling style that it is refreshing to have one that is actually uplifting.
Atelier Ryze 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy is a mix of JRPG mechanics and a robust alchemy system, which is essentially just crafting. You will find and combine different ingredients to make different things, some required for progression, and others for new weapons and gear to upgrade your party. The actual combat is done in real time, but utilizes a kind of ATB system where you, your party, and the enemies need to wait for a Wait gauge to fill up before you can perform an action. That gives you a bit of time to strategize, but not so long that you can’t still slip up in the heat of the moment. As you land hits, you build up AP to spend on skills. It’s nothing terribly unique, but it is fun and never becomes a mindless grind. If you liked the first game, Atelier Ryze 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy is an easy recommendation.
Time travel in games, for whatever reason, seems to be done more often, and better, by smaller, indie titles. Cris Tales decides to use the mechanic of time travel in a way we’ve never really seen done before, yet makes so much sense for a JRPG. The world it’s set in is your run-of-the-mill fantasy world, complete with talking frogs, but also with a twist such as robots and boats made of giant shoes. The art style really speaks for itself, and makes this game a treasure for the eyes from beginning to end. Every place, person, and environment looks lovingly crafted and like it really belongs in this world.
The time mechanic, which is the primary draw, is used in very creative ways. You would probably expect it to be used for puzzle solving, and you’d be right, there are plenty of time-based puzzles requiring you to flip between past, present, and future, but they also incorporated it into combat. Just like in puzzles and exploration, you can shift time during combat between past, present, and future for various effects. Some enemies will be stronger or weaker depending on if you shift them forward or backward in time, for example, but you can also use it to poison an enemy and then shift them to the future for tons of damage. It all makes sense, has a lengthy story with extras, and is a great pick for a unique RPG for your PS5.
We’ve branched out to a lot of genres with RPGs, mostly action-based, but Outriders is the strongest pick for an RPG shooter. Sure, even Call of Duty has had RPG elements for years now, but that doesn’t count. Outriders is as much an RPG as it is a third-person shooter. You choose your class, each with its own skills, skill trees, strengths, weaknesses, and appearance. Guns are your most consistent form of damage dealing, but your abilities are where things really get fun. The Pyromancer, for example, has tons of flame-based attacks, while the Trickster bends time and space to deal highly damaging attacks at close range.
The story is lackluster, we won’t even pretend it’s not. This is an RPG you’re playing because you want to play an RPG. That means you like leveling up, building your character, and finding and upgrading loot. Guns and armor are the other main component of this game, like a Destiny 2, but unlike a live service game, Outriders wasn’t made to keep you playing forever, and we appreciate that. You can hit max level, do everything in the game, and actually feel accomplished at the end of it. Thankfully the game has been patched since launch and runs much better, and has basically all the bugs fixed, plus can be played co-op. If you’re looking for some mindless fun in a somewhat Diablo-like style of game, Outriders doesn’t waste your time.
Read our full: Outriders review
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