The 26 best computer and console RPGs

From Chrono Trigger to Fallout 3, these are the RPG games everyone should play!

  • #20: Deus Ex

    Featuring a cyberpunk conspiracy-addled storyline worthy of a Philip K. Dick novel and an astonishing first-person narrative, Deus Ex was more of a revolution than it was a game. Deus Ex took the gaming world by storm with its FPS approach to classic role playing storytelling, immersing you into a world that had real consequences to your actions. With a wide array of weapons, abilities, and plot-paths, it was almost guaranteed there was no way you could play Deus Ex the same way twice.
  • #3: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

    With four 3-D console iterations of The Legend of Zelda, it's surprising that the first is still considered the best by many. Nintendo did a masterful job of keeping the grandeur and spirit of the series alive while creating a great new gameplay engine. The young-old world concept was second only to the light-dark dichotomy in Link to the Past, and the Ocarina has become a series staple second only to the Triforce. The one thing that's missing? The classic overworld theme, which wasn't redone until Majora's Mask.
  • #19: Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness

    There's never been a series more tongue-in-cheek, satirical, and just as downright fun as Disgaea. With its PSP remake, Afternoon of Darkness, the game was loaded with extra content, including wi-fi multiplayer, not to mention a completely new campaign. With an utterly hilarious script, endearing characters and addictive gameplay, Disgaea fired on all cylinders. Players took on the role of the sinister-ish Laharl, Prince of the Netherworld!... or, he was, until he accidentally took a two year nap. In the time it took for Laharl to get his beauty sleep, the order of the Netherworld had changed, his father assassinated, and his throne up for grabs! With your sarcastic yet trusty vassal Etna and an army of explosive Prinnies at Laharl's disposal, his journey to the throne still resonates in the hearts of thousands of gamers to this day.
  • #14: Super Mario RPG

    Super Mario RPG started out like any other Mario game: Bowser kidnaps Princess Toadstool once again, Mario gives chase, and a giant talking sword shatters the heavens and takes over Bowser's castle, sending you on a quest to restore order to the land... Wait, what? Yep, right from the first hour, a simple mission for Mario turned into a quest to save the entire world outside of the Mushroom Kingdom. Of course, Shigeru Miyamoto's influence pushed Mario's first RPG into various awards and many top selling lists, making Super Mario RPG the last must have Mario game for the Super Nintendo. Wii owners are in luck, since the hotly demanded game is available on the Virtual Console, and the original boxed SNES cartridge can run you a good $100-$300 on eBay.
  • #22: Planescape Torment

    Developed by Black Isle, the same company responsible for the first two Fallout titles as well as the Baldur's Gate series, Planescape: Torment offered up one of the more complex and memorable story-lines ever seen in a video game. Cast in the role of The Nameless One, an immortal god who suffers from amnesia, gamers had to travel far and wide in order to solve the ageless question: Who am I? The terrific writing and storytelling is what elevates Planescape: Torment above its peers but it wasn't just a one trick pony: with compelling quests and plenty of action, it did just about everything right and rightfully claims a place on our list.
  • From Chrono Trigger to Fallout 3, these are the RPG games everyone should play!

  • #23: Skies of Arcadia

    Although the ill-fated and underappreciated Dreamcast met an early end, its gaming library still shone with plenty of solid hits. Skies of Arcadia was one of those hits, putting you in shoes of Vyse, a cutlass wielding pirate who sailed the open skies with his massive airship and sassy female sidekicks. Not only did you contend with rival pirates and imperial soldiers in (several) impressively animated hand-to-hand turn-based combat, but you also had the chance to sink entire enemy ships in aerial battle. Back in the day, Skies of Arcadia was known as one of the most graphically polished RPGs you could find anywhere, and it's still a treasure classic. Play the original Dreamcast version over the GameCube port any day, and you'll be treated to a fun, exciting story with plenty of slick special effects and memorable music.
  • #16: Pokemon Diamond and Pearl

    The original Pokemon titles, Red and Blue (or Green, if you lived in Japan), launched an international phenomenon that the gaming world never saw coming. With Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, the fever was hitting Pokemon Trainers everywhere like a tidal wave. A refined battle system, wireless challenges via the Nintendo WiFi network, and 493 species of Pokemon to catch made this game the ultimate DS title for any RPG fan to have. Pokemon D/P alone quickly became the best selling games of last year, going on to sell 15 million copies worldwide. If you're going to catch 'em all, start with the best Pokemon game yet (or pick up the upcoming Pokemon Platinum later this year).
  • #12: Earthbound

    Plenty of SNES gamers who could get beyond the game's graphics received a real treat when they first fired up Earthbound. What seemed to be the simple story of a boy saving the world turned out to be an RPG that played off of US culture and RPG cliches. Between calling your deadbeat dad, swinging a baseball bat at hippies, or taking on your next door neighbor in a battle to save the world, Earthbound wasn't your average RPG. It's a shame the US didn't appreciate it back in its day, since the GBA sequel still hasn't arrived stateside.
  • #13: Final Fantasy XII

    This conclusive Final Fantasy game for the PlayStation 2 is considered by many RPG fans to be a series pinnacle of storytelling, combat customization, and graphical beauty. Taking place in the world of Ivalice, gamers were treated to a rich tale of magic, war, and revolution with one of the most memorable video game casts yet. Not only did Final Fantasy XII introduce the Active Time Battle and Gambit systems, but it also changed a tried and true RPG standard by eliminating random battles entirely. It sold like crazy in Japan, with over 1 million copies in its first week (as well as a coveted perfect score from Famitsu Magazine), and the U.S. sales quickly established FFXII as the tenth best-selling PS2 game in history. Final Fantasy XII is still one of the best titles around, with a style that challenges even the most modern, high-tech video games today.
  • #24: Grandia

    The story of a young adventurer named Justin featured incredible music, an epic story, unique characters brought to life with superb voice acting, and a combat system unlike any other before it. This game's name was Grandia. The world of Grandia was unlike anything gamers had seen before on the PlayStation, with large and colorful 3-D cities and dungeons, filled with treasure, people, and monsters alike. While some RPGs had combat systems that would let you lazily hammer on a single button, Grandia refreshed the entire concept of turn-based battles by having every character and enemy attack each other at the same time. What really drove the game was how you timed your magic and melee moves — in the best cases, you could preempt your foes entirely with nary a scratch on your party. When you made your way to so-called "End of the World," Grandia's story reached a new height, and more surprise still laid in wait for eager adventurers.
  • #11: Mass Effect

    Bioware is a company that knows how to make quality RPG titles and Mass Effect is one of their best efforts to date. A deep and satisfying adventure set in a sprawling universe, Mass Effect had a little something for everyone. A complex story with far reaching consequences, compelling action sequences, tons of "phat lootz," characters you actually came to care about and a deep dialogue tree were just some of the reasons why Mass Effect was hailed by critics and gamers alike.
  • #15: Suikoden III

    While Suikoden was indeed stellar during the 32-bit era, we're going to ultimately give the duke to the first PS2-era Suikoden title. The first two were definite charmers with great sprite-based graphics, but Suikoden III's superb storytelling pushes it over the top. Viewing the game's events through the eyes of three major characters and then picking one of them as the game's ultimate hero not only does wonder for the narrative, it also shoots the replay value through the roof. Thankfully you've still got your pick of dozens of playable characters amongst your 108 recruits. Equal parts Rashomon and Pokemon, Suikoden III is an amazing, unique, and extremely accessible RPG.
  • #18: Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn

    In 1998, Bioware set the RPG world ablaze with its AD&D based dungeon romp, Baldur's Gate. For some companies, that would be cause enough to feed their audience a long line of rehashed sequels for decades to come, but not for Bioware. Just two years later, they managed to refine the experience in every possible way with Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn. Telling a tale far too expansive to summarize or spoil here, BG 2 sees you and your fellow heroes from the first title waylaid, sacked and imprisoned for the purpose of a mad mage's torturous experiments - and that's just where the game begins. Bioware's trademark real time turn based combat, later made famous in Knights of the Old Republic and the more FPS-centric Mass Effect, finds its roots here in the BG series, as you can let your party members carry on as their AI defines or tap the space bar to pause the action and issue more specific orders. All in all, Baldur's Gate 2 is a must have title in every serious PC RPG player's collection.
  • #21: Persona 3

    Released seven painstaking years after Persona 2, the third installment in the franchise set new standards as to what to expect from a JRPG — from its incredibly in-depth story to its unique combat system, Persona 3 was a masterpiece. In a sleepy bay-side town in rural Japan, you take on the role of a mysterious new transfer student at Gekkoukan High. Living in a dorm with a colorful cast of high school students, you're tasked with having to juggle your academic and social life during the day... that is, until the clock strikes twelve. Once midnight hits, the world of Persona 3 is embraced by the Dark Hour — a hidden time where demons known as Shadows run free, unaware to the unsuspecting townsfolk. Using a special power known simply as "Persona", you must take to the mysterious tower of Tartarus with your party by your side in hopes of defeating the Shadows once and for all.
  • #2: World of Warcraft

    Love it or hate it, World of Warcraft has become a cultural phenomenon in ways that its MMO predecessors like EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot could only dream of being. And with its user base recently passing the 11 million mark, there is no sign of Blizzard's money printing juggernaut going away in the foreseeable future. Story wise, World of Warcraft picks up ten years after the conflict depicted in Warcraft III, and opens the entire world of Azeroth up for players to explore as they see fit. Then in 2007, The Burning Crusade expansion pack sent players through the Dark Portal into the broken world of Outland. With the second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, set to release within the next week, the harsh continent of Northrend will be open as well, bringing the total amount of game content for players to experience up to mind boggling proportions.
  • #6: Diablo II: Lord of Destruction

    Though not a full-blown RPG, Diablo II's hack-and-slash adventure makes our list. Why? Because it's an insanely fun game that weaves in RPG elements. Diablo II pits players against the Lord of Terror, the monstrous demon Diablo, in a quest that hops across the lands of Sanctuary. The gory action and loot collecting is the real draw to Diablo II, and has influenced countless games since its release. Diablo II also set new standards in online cooperative play, enabling up to eight players to battle the hordes of Hell together. It's the most action-oriented RPG title on this list, but Diablo II is a monstrous innovator with lasting appeal.
  • #25: Kingdom Hearts II

    Square and Disney did more than merely prove that they could pump out a decent RPG. They gave life to a grand, genre-changing experience featuring classic tales, heroes, and villains from our childhood. Kingdom Hearts had a lot to live up to in its second act, and Kingdom Hearts II completely blew us away. Only a year had passed for Sora, Donald, and Goofy, but the worlds were bigger, the Keyblades were badder, and the entire scope of the battle between the Heartless, the Nobodys, and Organization XIII had grown to epic proportions. All we can do now is wait for the magic to return in Kingdom Hearts III, but at the very least, we'll get to revisit the series in the PS2 remake of Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories this winter.
  • #4: Chrono Trigger

    Role playing games were a vast source of wealth for the Super Nintendo, but not many could match the charm and wonder of Chrono Trigger. From the optional side stories starring the likes of Frog, Lucca, and Robo, to the unprecedented amount of alternate endings, Chrono Trigger was one RPG that would warrant months of playtime, with each story becoming a little different. Crafted by Square's "Dream Team" — including Final Fantasy veterans Hironobu Sakaguchi, Kazuhiko Aoki, Nobuo Uematsu; famed writer Masato Kato, leading composer Yasunori Mitsuda, plus Dragon Quest designers Yuuji Horii and Akira Toriyama — Chrono Trigger was destined to make a timeless impact on the gaming world. Time travel was never more fun, and with a new release on the Nintendo DS, the adventure is still as new as ever.
  • #7: The Ultima Series

    The brainchild of Richard "Lord British" Garriott back before computer graphics had more then two colors to work with, the Ultima series defined party based PC RPGs in their early formative years. As each subsequent title came out, the series constantly reinvented itself to make use of the latest gaming technology available. The series tells an over arching story: Ultima 1-3 establish the enchanted world of Britannia, and introduced the tenants of heroic Virtue. Ultima 4-6 thrust players into the role of The Avatar, a human from Earth that becomes the embodiment of those eight Virtues. Ultima 7-9 tell of the fall of the Avatar, as a mysterious entity calling itself The Guardian comes to Britannia to defame everything the Avatar represents. The final game in the series, Ultima X, was canceled part way in to development, so ironically enough, there is no ultimate Ultima to tell the final chapter of the series.
  • #1: Final Fantasy VII

    Final Fantasy VII was, is, and probably always will be the most important RPG of all time. It proved that RPGs don't have to be medieval-set tales of lore, nor do they have to read like children's bedtime stories. FFVII featured mature themes in a modern industrial setting and both fit the RPG genre like a glove. With plenty of stylised characters, an innovative story, and an intuitive and enjoyable battle system, Final Fantasy VII redefined the RPG and brought the genre to the masses.
  • #17: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

    The fourth game in Bethesda's action-laden RPG series, with its gorgeous environments, addicting sidequests, and open-ended gameplay, is the RPG to make non-RPG fans believers. Ask anyone who's experienced the game for themselves and they'll agree that not only is Oblivion a milestone in the role-playing game genre, it's also one of the easiest games to get completely immersed in. Even two years after its initial release, the game is still a feast for the eyes and is proof that game companies need to make more first-person RPG games.
  • #26: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

    Like most MMORPGs, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has two primary playable factions with character customization, quests full of Warhammer lore, characters of various races who are comprised of a number of archetypes, and career paths to specialize in a craft of some sort. With an already established fan-base of the Games Workshop's tabletop game, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning provides its players with a dark and humorous experience that penalizes unfair advantages between higher and lower level players in Realm vs. Realm combat. We especially enjoy capturing Victory Points in the Player vs. Player gameplay which involves random PvP encounters, objective-based encounters, and other campaigns and scenarios.
  • #10: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    There are two things gamers have always wanted to do when it comes to Star Wars. The first is to swing a motion-controlled lightsaber, and the second is to choose between light and dark side. While we still haven't quite seen the former done justice, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is exactly what fans wanted out of the latter. With a style and story better than the last three movies, and a real-time role-playing system that wisely buries its D20 roots under layers of lightsabers and blasters, KOTOR is a Star Wars fan's wet dream. Declaration: Knights of the Old Republic is the best RPG of the last generation.
  • #5: Fallout 3

    The Fallout franchise has always been known for its incredibly in-depth gameplay, fantastical character customization, and, of course, its trademark sense of humor. All of these aspects have been ramped up to 11 for Fallout 3, an amazing adventure through the Capitol Wastelands of post-apocalyptic Washington by the team that brought you the Elder Scroll series. Fallout 3 is one of the few games I've played that really let me feel like I could go anywhere and do anything, and it would always have in impact on the world around me — from the way people reacted as I passed by to setting off a deactivated nuclear bomb in the middle of a city. Fallout 3's unique V.A.T.S. system is another astonishing step for the series, incorporating Action Points in combat, so the game never feels like a generic first person shooter. Deeper, bigger, and better than ever, Fallout 3 may be recent but has already carved out its niche in RPG history.
  • #8: Xenogears

    With giant robots, kung fu fighting and a religiously charged plot backed by some impressive 3-D sequences, Xenogears quickly went from sleeper hit RPG to an international bestseller on the PlayStation. Even if you didn't fully comprehend the complex story's several philosophical references, being able to shift from your 2-D sprite to a fully 3-D Gear was exciting in its own right. So deep was the customisation and maintenance required for your Gear, and so rewarding were the results of adding parts and upgrades, the combat of Xenogears was almost another game within a game.
  • #9: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

    It was more than just the advent of 3-D technology that took Mario, Link and Samus out of the 2-D realm. All three starred in titles that were the very definition of 2-D perfection during the SNES era. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was far more epic than the two previous 8-bit iterations, in both size and story. No longer limited in speaking to shopkeepers, old men, and hungry monsters, A Link to the Past featured an amazing cast of characters and an engaging story to complement the refined fighting and exploration style of the first. It's a testament to the game's perfection that Nintendo has by and large kept 2-D Zelda titles away from consoles since A Link to the Past perfected it. Unless you count Four Swords, but really, who does that?
Show Comments

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?