Expect spending lots of time fighting monsters, looting valuable artifacts and making your characters even more powerful. That’s right: these games are all about gaining experience, learning new skills and braving various worlds.

Simply put, action RPGs are a sub-genre of role-playing games that maintains pretty much every aspect of RPGs, but blends them with segments and combat that are more like action-adventure titles. All the classic stuff is there: creating your character (or an entire party), managing your equipment and stats, exploring the world and making various choices that have an impact on the outcome of your playthrough. So, you might have a game that is pretty much like Baldur’s Gate, but plays like a first-person shooter or a slasher, for example.

Still, action RPGs often offer you moments of respite during tense combat. A lot of these feature a mode called “active pause” (or something along these lines) during which you can review the battleground, issue orders, change your tactics accordingly and simply catch a breath.

There’s also the still ongoing debate whether hack and slashes are RPGs or not. Some say that despite their simplicity, yes, they are role-playing games. Others say they’re just glorified action games that are all about mass murdering monsters and there’s very little of RPG stuff in them. As you can see, there is a division here, but we decided to include some of the best hack and slash titles on this list, anyway.

GameReleaseDeveloper
Hogwarts Legacy 2023-02-10 Avalanche Software
Cyberpunk 2077 2020-12-10 CD PROJEKT RED
Elden Ring 2022-02-25 FromSoftware
Fable Anniversary 2014-09-12 Lionhead Studios
The Elder Scrolls III 2002-04-29 Bethesda Game Studios
Middle Earth Shadow Of Mordor 2014-09-30 Feral Interactive (Linux)
Borderlands 2 2012-09-20 Gearbox Software
The Witcher 3 Wild Hun 2015-05-18 CD PROJEKT RED
Torchlight 2 2012-10-02 Runic Games
Titan Quest Anniversary Edition 2016-08-31 Iron Lore Entertainment
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim 2016-10-27 Bethesda Game Studios
Grim Dawn 2016-02-25 Crate Entertainment
Diablo II: Resurrected (Xbox Series X/S) 2021-09-23 Blizzard Entertainment
Dark Souls III 2016-04-11 FromSoftware
Mass Effect 2 2010-01-27 BioWare
Mass Effect Legendary Edition 2021-05-14 BioWare
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Anniversary Edition 2021-11-11 Bethesda Game Studios
Kingdoms Of Amalur Reckoning 2012-02-08 38 Studios
Fallout 3 2008-10-28 Bethesda Game Studios
Bastion 2011-08-16 Supergiant Games
Nier Automata 2017-03-17 PlatinumGames
Tales Of Berseria 2017-01-26 Bandai Namco Studios
Monster Hunter World 2018-08-09 CAPCOM
Assassins Creed Odyssey 2018-10-05 Ubisoft Québec
The Outer Worlds 2020-10-23 Obsidian Entertainment
Horizon Zero Dawn 2020-08-07 Guerrilla Games
Middle Earth Shadow Of War 2017-10-10 Monolith Productions
Fallout 4 2017-09-26 Bethesda Game Studios
Fallout New Vegas 2010-10-21 Obsidian Entertainment

And now, without further ado, let us dive straight in, shall we? This list has some of the best action RPG games on the market. Be sure to check them out!

Hogwarts Legacy

Release:2023-02-10
Developer:Avalanche Software

This one is certainly a reason for the fans of Harry Potter to rejoice. Hogwarts Legacy is a fine addition to the universe created by J. K. Rowling. So, if you were expecting a letter from Hogwarts, this is it.

Set 100 years before the events from the novels and movies, Hogwarts Legacy puts you in the shoes of an aspiring young wizard, ready to master the art of magic. So, you choose one of the Houses (which gives the player access to exclusive quests and stuff), attend classes to learn how to cast spells and brew potions, make new friends along the way, and propel the story forward. You soon find out that the Wizarding World has an ancient secret that just screams to be discovered.

Gameplay-wise, you play the game from a third-person perspective. It’s an open-world game, meaning you can freely explore both the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and its surrounding areas. Combat obviously involves a lot of spellcasting; over the course of the game you develop your own style in this regard.

All in all, Hogwarts Legacy is certainly one of the most interesting games for aspiring sorcerers. It may not be the most original open world title on the market, but it’s certainly a quality addition to the Harry Potter franchise.

Key features
  • A prequel to the Harry Potter series
  • A detailed recreation of the Wizarding World
  • Satisfying combat – over time you will develop your own style
  • Easily the best Hogwarts simulator released so far

Cyberpunk 2077

Release:2020-12-10
Developer:CD PROJEKT RED

Now that it’s been largely fixed, we can easily include one of the most anticipated games of all time on this list. Cyberpunk 2077 might be somewhat rough around the edges, but it’s still one of the greatest cyberpunk-themed releases available on the market.

You play as V, a customizable mercenary who ends up with Keanu Reeves messing with his (or her) head. Yeah, V has to remove their new biochip somehow if they want to survive or else Johnny Silverhand will take over. Well, that’s not exactly the most enticing perspective, is it?

As far as gameplay is concerned, there’s a whole lot of action in Cyberpunk 2077, as well as a whole lot of role-playing. You can choose from one of the three primary playstyles and if you’re against killing, you can resort to non-lethal solutions instead. You also get to explore various locations in and around Night City, either on foot or by one of the available vehicles.

There’s also an expansion titled Phantom Liberty, which gives you access to a whole new storyline and plenty of new content for your enjoyment.

Key features
  • One of the finest cyberpunk games available on the market
  • You can pretty much customize V as you see fit
  • Three different endings (plus a bonus one, courtesy of the Phantom Liberty expansion)
  • Keanu

Hades

Release:2019-12-10
Developer:Supergiant Games

Now, if you always wanted to know what it’s like to be a son of a Greek god trying to escape from the underworld, here’s your chance to find out.

Now considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time, Hades is a mixture of a hack and slash/dungeon crawler and roguelike. You play as Zagreus, the prince of the Underworld and a son of the titular deity. Having such an unloving father is certainly tough to bear, so our hero attempts to escape from his pops’ hellish kingdom. He is aided by the Olympians sympathetic to his cause. They grant him special Boons to aid him in this perilous quest.

Naturally, once you are defeated for good during your run, you are returned to the House of Hades where you can prep for your next escape attempt. You can also romance certain NPCs and accept quests for extra rewards. There are even options which let you adjust the difficulty level to your liking. Want to make the game easier? Sure thing. Want to make things a lot tougher for extra challenge? No problem!

Hades is definitely one of the best options on the market, especially if you love roguelikes. Be sure to give it a shot if you’re up for some hack and slashing.

Key features
  • One of the finest action RPGs released in the last couple of years
  • You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, plotting to escape from the Underworld
  • Roguelike mechanics
  • You can tailor the game’s difficulty to your liking

Diablo IV

Release:2023-06-06
Developer:Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo III might have been somewhat disappointing for the fans of the franchise, but Blizzard tried their best to make up for it with the fourth installment in the series.

You see, a lot of people thought that Diablo III was a bit too colorful for their taste. Diablo IV brought back the universe’s trademark darkness and grimness, so if you’re into that, you should be pleased. Anyway, the game pits you against the daughter of Mephisto, Lilith. You can pick from one of the character classes, each returning from the previous installments. This time, however, you can customize the appearance of your character, instead of having a fixed one for each class.

Diablo IV boasts an open world environment where you can visit and complete the game’s five regions in any order you see fit. Procedurally generated dungeons are also featured. After all, why wouldn’t they, since they’re a staple of the series? Since D4 is an online-only game, you can expect interactions with other players. You can form parties, you can engage in PVP, you can also ignore all that altogether and just focus on your individual quest.

Blizzard keeps updating Diablo IV with fresh content and there’s a new expansion in the works, titled Vessel of Hatred, so there’s always something new to do in this game.

Key features
  • It’s pretty much good, old Diablo
  • Five different classes to choose from
  • Open world which you can explore as you see fit
  • Unfortunately, the game is online-only

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

Release:2024-02-29
Developer:Square Enix Creative Business Unit I

One of the most iconic video games of all time, Final Fantasy VII now serves as a basis for a trilogy of remakes. The second game in the series, Rebirth, is mind-blowingly good, just like its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Rebirth picks up where Remake left off. Our hero, Cloud Strife, and his friends from AVALANCHE have escaped from Midgar. Their quest against Shinra continues. If this evil corporation is not stopped, the Planet (the, uh, planet serving as the game’s setting) will die. This cannot happen! Naturally, there’s a whole lot more going on here, but we’ll leave discovering all that to you.

Gameplay-wise, the game features real-time exploration and combat. The latter makes use of the “Synergized” mechanic which lets the party members synchronize their attacks. The Active-Time Battle system also makes a return from FF7 Remake. The game looks great and is full of excellent content. What a way to re-experience FF7 or experience it for the first time!

Key features
  • A fantastic second installment in the Final Fantasy VII remake trilogy
  • Excellent, fast-paced combat
  • Incredible audiovisuals
  • An amazing re-imagining of the original classic

Starfield

Release:2023-09-06
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

Skyrim in space. This is basically what Starfield, Bethesda’s first new IP in around 25 years, is. And that’s great!

Naturally, there’s so much more to this game than that. You play as a miner who uncovers an ancient artifact. It turns out that there are more in the universe, so you join the Constellation, a famous organization of space explorers, in order to uncover the mysteries of the cosmos.

As far as gameplay is concerned, the game sort of feels like No Man’s Sky meets Skyrim. You get to explore the Milky Way, land on various planets, including procedurally generated ones, participate in space combat and various other activities, etc. You can also recruit NPCs to your crew, build outposts, romance certain characters, and so on. Starfield offers a huge degree of freedom and lots of possibilities. So, if you’re looking for something more, for lack of a better word, “serious” than No Man’s Sky or a good space exploration game in general, this one might be a great pick.

Key features
  • It’s sort of like Skyrim in space, but not really
  • Over a thousand planets that you can land on
  • You can craft stuff, build outposts, and commandeer various different starships
  • Atmospheric soundtrack by Inon Zur

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Release:2002-04-29
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

This one’s a class of its own. A huge, open world full of artifacts and hostile creatures beckons. Are you ready to unravel the biggest mysteries that the land of Morrowind jealously hides?

Everybody knows that there is something called Skyrim. Not everyone knows that it had its predecessors, though, including the legendary Morrowind. It is a bit dated, so it might not be as visually appealing as the latest game, but don’t let this discourage you from trying it out.

In fact, Morrowind did some things a lot better than Skyrim. It’s much more immersive and there’s more emphasis on role-playing. For example, it’s impossible to achieve mastery in every single thing. You have to make choices here and focus on what matters to you and your strategy the most.

Key features
  • A legendary RPG set in the iconic Elder Scrolls fantasy universe
  • A vast open world full of treasures, hostile creatures, and interesting places
  • Reasonably difficult gameplay: no one’s holding your hand here, but the game doesn’t want to frustrate you, either
  • Complex character progression system with dozens of different skills to improve

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Release:2016-10-27
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

Speaking of Skyrim, here it is! then this is arguably the best entry in the entire franchise for you to try. And it’s not just because of a simpler, more accessible gameplay, but also because it still looks gorgeous. Oh, and one more thing: MODS!

Skyrim takes place in the titular land where Nords live and bad things started happening all at once: the dragons mysteriously returned, plus there is a conflict between the locals and the Imperials.

As a Dragonborn, a mortal with a dragon soul, capable of yelling FUS RO DAH to blast enemies with immense power, your task is to clean up this mess, of course. Your task it not just to choose a side in this conflict, but also investigate what caused the fire-breathing reptiles to re-emerge. And so you explore the world, join renowned guilds, hunt down the most powerful creatures that roam Skyrim, and weave your own tale. Plus, you get to mod things.

Key features
  • A medieval fantasy setting with magic just as common as swords
  • Beautiful, snow-covered landscapes and an open-world environment for you to explore
  • Smooth gameplay that strikes a good balance between difficulty and accessibility
  • The character progression system in this game lets your character learn and master all available skills, eventually

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Release:2015-05-18
Developer:CD PROJEKT RED

A list of the best action RPGs without The Witcher would certainly be a bad one. The final installment in the acclaimed series offers tons of improvements here and there, making this one a must-play.

The Witcher tells the story of a genetically-enhanced mutant bounty hunter who excels at hunting down deadly monsters and breaking curses, all thanks to his superhuman strength and impeccable swordsmanship. Too bad he’s one of them monsters to the common folk. People see him as nothing more than a freaky thug for hire.

The game draws plenty of inspiration from Slavic and Scandinavian folklores, as well as other cultures. It’s bound to suck you in for dozens of hours. You’ve been warned!

Key features
  • A breathtaking fantasy world with a life of its own – you can freely explore it!
  • Addictive story and dozens of unique and well-written quests
  • Satisfying combat that lets you employ swords, potions and simple magic spells, known as signs
  • Character progression with a skill tree and loadout customization

Torchlight II

Release:2012-10-02
Developer:Runic Games

Hack and slash titles share quite a lot of traits with the action RPG genre, so let’s take a look at some of these games, shall we? We’ll start with the incredibly fun Torchlight II.

It’s undeniably a cartoony take on the formula introduced with Diablo, but it has its own flavor.

First off, its visual style, rather cutesy and more on the low-poly side, not only makes this game run more smoothly even on older machines, but also look great even to this day, courtesy of an art style that doesn’t age that easily.

Second, the game features a day and night cycle, a weather system, four unique character classes, tons of valuable loot and equipment pieces, and lots of hidden secrets for you to discover.

Key features
  • A beautiful low-poly fantasy world rich with dangers and excitement
  • Satisfying gameplay and smooth animations
  • Four unique playable classes, each offering numerous options and opportunities
  • Tons of randomly generated items for your characters to hoard

Titan Quest

Release:2016-08-31
Developer:Iron Lore Entertainment

While we’re at it, it’s worth mentioning a couple other great hack and slash games that totally have the right to appear on such a list. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Titan Quest!

This one draws a lot of inspiration from Greek, Egyptian and Asian mythologies. Expect to see some of ancient architecture’s most recognizable wonders, legendary monsters you know from myths and some historical characters as well.

What makes this game stand out from the hack and slash crowd, though, is its physics engine. Hardly anything can beat the feeling of punching a satyr in the guts and sending him flying and then watching him fall of a cliff or a bridge. Another interesting thing about Titan Quest is that creatures usually drop items they use themselves. So, if you see a skeleton wielding a glowing sword, kill the sucker and you’ll probably grab some legendary gear.

Key features
  • Beautiful world inspired by mythology and ancient culture
  • Addictive gameplay focused on hunting hordes of animals and evil creatures
  • Several masteries to choose from – pick two and craft your own unique class that fits your playstyle
  • Satisfying ragdoll physics

Fallout 4

Release:2017-09-26
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

Despite the fact that RPG elements were somewhat simplified and streamlined in this game, Fallout 4 still stands as one of the best post-apocalyptic action RPGs, topped only by Fallout: New Vegas.

Set 10 years after the events of Fallout 3, Fallout 4 puts you in the shoes of the Sole Survivor – a dweller of Vault 111 who witnesses the death of their spouse and kidnapping of their son. So, the Sole Survivor sets out to find their missing progeny on an epic quest to the so-called Commonwealth, a region encompassing Boston and its surroundings.

What’s new here? Aside from a fully-voiced protagonist, there are new settlement building and crafting mechanics, meaning there’s plenty to do for those who love to scavenge and create stuff. And if you’re into running your own little communities, well, you’re in for a real treat here!

All in all, Fallout 4 is a great choice for all fans of science fiction-themed action role-playing games. It’s also probably more accessible than the aforementioned Fallout: New Vegas, so it might serve as a good practice before you take on Obsidian’s classic.

Key features
  • Lots of new mechanics, such as crafting and building settlements
  • The RPG aspect has been somewhat simplified, however
  • War, war never changes
  • The protagonist is now fully-voiced, which is a first for the series

Path of Exile

Release:2013-10-23
Developer:Grinding Gear Games

If you haven’t heard of this free-to-play game dubbed the “Diablo killer,” then you must’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years. Is it possible that such a title can be the fiercest competitor of Blizzard’s classic?

Path of Exile
Image credit: Grinding Gear Games

There’s lots of blood and gore, there’s a dark atmosphere, there’s engaging gameplay, hordes of enemies, several classes to choose from, as well as a massive passive skill tree that should be called a skill forest instead, as well as a unique active skill system with skills represented as gems that can be inserted into the slots in your items – your armor, for example.

To think it’s entirely free to play and doesn’t have any intrusive pay-to-win mechanics is mind-blowing. It doesn’t mean, however, that the game doesn’t offer anything to make the game more enjoyable. There are some paid quality of life additions, notably extra stash tabs that can be used to safely store more of your valuable items, which is a huge convenience.

Key features
  • Dark atmosphere with tons of blood and gore, aimed at a mature audience
  • A seemingly infinite number of builds, thanks to a massive skill tree, customizable spells, and thousands of available items
  • Addictive gameplay focused on slaying hordes of enemies with lots of additional possible activities
  • Constantly developed and updated with new content (sometimes available for a limited time)

Diablo II + LoD

Release:2000-06-29 / 2001-06-27
Developer:Blizzard Entertainment

You didn’t think we would forget to put this retro classic on the list, did you? Fat chance. It’s a genre-defining title. Most modern hack and slashes look the way they do just because of this one particular game.

Diablo II was influential on several levels. Although the majority of its game mechanics wasn’t necessarily new, it was the combination of all of them that made the game unique and popular.

With Diablo II developers tried a different approach to H&S and RPG genres. The core idea was to make every character class equally strong, complex, and fun to play, so no player would ever feel like they’re left behind. This made the game enjoyable not only for those playing with friends, but also those who prefer going solo and tackling all the challenges on their own.

Key features
  • A dark fantasy world and a classic nostalgia-filled adventure accompanied by top-notch music
  • 5 different classes with their own strengths and weaknesses
  • Randomly generated locations and equipment items
  • Diablo 2 Resurrected – 2022 Remastered version is available

Dark Souls III

Release:2016-04-11
Developer:FromSoftware

Let’s take a break from the hack and slash genre and return to a more immersive third-person action. If you’re a hardcore gamer, then Dark Souls III is just the thing.

Although not as difficult as the first two entries in the Dark Souls franchise, Dark Souls III will still surprise you on several occasions and force you to watch the famous YOU DIED screen over and over again until you either give up or finally beat a problematic sequence.

It can be frustrating at times, of course, but it makes it much more enjoyable and exciting when you finally complete a difficult challenge, be it a powerful boss or a series of jumps where quick reflexes and precision are required. The game focuses on the single-player mode, but it does allow for online multiplayer – you can, for example, call other players to help you or invade and disturb others as they play.

Key features
  • Extremely difficult but rewarding gameplay focused on slaying increasingly tougher bosses
  • Lots of unique pieces of armor and weapons to find and use in combat
  • Rich lore, but hidden in form of item descriptions
  • Online features, including cooperation and skill-based PvP duels

Bloodborne

Release:2015-03-24
Developer:FromSoftware Inc.

Bloodborne is quite similar to Dark Souls, but it’s different enough to earn its own place on the list of the best action RPG games. So, what makes it so special?

Bloodborne
Image credit: FromSoftware Inc.

Its fans often mention a smooth combat system and a memorable cast of characters and say these two traits make Bloodborne far superior to Dark Souls.

The game was also often commended for its level design and plot. Bloodborne’s lore is considered to be the best among FromSoftware’s works. High difficulty and demanding bosses are still presentm so all of your hardcore needs should be satisfied when you’re busy figuring out how to beat the next seemingly untouchable baddie. Still, the game does have its flaws. Bloodborne’s biggest issue is the fact that it’s a PlayStation 4 exclusive, so you need to grab a console to enjoy this gem, but this is money well spent!

Key features
  • Third-person perspective action in a dark and Victorian era-inspired world
  • Difficult gameplay that puts emphasis on boss fights
  • Dynamic combat that encourages the use of both melee weapons and firearms
  • Complex level design

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

Release:2021-05-14
Developer:BioWare

One of the greatest space opera trilogies among video games, the Mass Effect series has received the Legendary Edition treatment, for a legendary franchise it sure is.

Mass Effect rocked the gaming world with its fine blend of BioWare’s brand of RPGs and third-person, cover-based shooters. It introduced the now iconic Commander Shepard, the first human to join the elite ranks of Spectres – special agents recruited from various races. His or her mission (you can customize the character as you see fit): prevent an ancient cosmic threat from returning to extinguish all life. Mass Effect 2 streamlined RPG elements and is more of an open-ended third-person shooter. The final installment in the trilogy, Mass Effect 3, further expanded upon this gameplay model.

The Legendary Edition unites the entire trilogy under one installer. Aside from a graphical overhaul, these games have all received various updates and changes, including a more robust character creator. This is a perfect opportunity to either revisit these cult classics or experience them for the first time.

Key features
  • The entire trilogy in a single package
  • Overhauled visuals and tons of other changes
  • Various bugs have also been fixed
  • It’s still an outstanding space opera

Horizon Forbidden West

Release:2024-03-21
Developer:Guerrilla Games

Zero Dawn is a fantastic game in its own right, but obviously the developers wanted to top that with its sequel. Forbidden West is even more spectacular, with fresh additions to the gameplay, new lands to explore, and never-before-seen machines to defeat.

This unique post-apocalyptic action RPG once again offers a huge open world, larger than what we’ve seen previously in the franchise. And now you can do some underwater exploration, too! There are also new traversal options: aside from an improved climbing system you can now mount flying machines and use a gizmo known as the Shieldwing, which lets you glide in the air and drop on unsuspecting enemies. There are also numerous new machines, i.e. animal-like robots based on dinosaurs and other extinct fauna. Battles with these are pretty much always memorable, especially if you’re taking on bigger beasts. Horizon Forbidden West is gorgeous, to boot. Pretty much each location you discover in the game is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

The PC version of the game, Complete Edition, comes bundled together with a bunch of goodies and the Burning Shores DLC, which, much like The Frozen Wilds, adds a side campaign to the main plot. It comes with a bunch of new quests, machines, and various items, including weapons and outfits.

Key features
  • Bigger than its predecessor
  • Phenomenal visuals and outstanding design
  • Excellent new additions and improvements to the gameplay
  • The Burning Shores DLC adds a fun side campaign and a handful of new content

Fallout 3

Release:2008-10-28
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

Everybody knows Fallout, that’s for sure. It’s hard to say which one of these games is the best, but we chose Fallout 3 for the purposes of this list, as it shaped the future of the cult classic series.

The third major entry in the franchise does quite a lot of things differently compared to its revered predecessors. Most notably, it shifts from 2D to 3D and is presented from a first-person perspective. This significantly improves immersion and arguably allows you to sink deeper into this post-apocalyptic universe.

Fallout 3’s defining gameplay feature is its combat system. It lets you to shoot your guns in real time, but you can also handle each encounter tactically and use a special system to choose which part of an enemy you want to shoot at, which feels closer to the series’ original turn-based spirit.

Key features
  • War…war still hasn’t changed one bit
  • A fascinating open world that you can freely explore
  • A hybrid combat system that allows the use of either real-time action or an active pause-based approach
  • Complex character progression with lots of useful skills to learn and improve

Bastion

Release:2011-08-16
Developer:Supergiant Games

This award-winning game shows that unique story presentation surely is important. The game’s dynamic voiceover is its most recognizable feature, but gameplay-wise it’s also incredibly addictive.

Bastion is an isometric game where you play as the Kid, a silent protagonist tasked with investigating and, hopefully, reversing the destructive and catastrophic effects of certain events that occurred lately. The gameplay revolves around exploring the floating islands, fighting hostile creatures, and upgrading the titular Bastion, where players can construct new buildings, each serving a different purpose.

Worth noting are the game’s stylish visuals and dynamic voice-over. The narrator speaks as you travel, which makes you develop a natural bond with him.

Key features
  • Fast-paced combat system with a strong arcade feeling that rewards fast reflexes
  • Dynamic voiceover, where a voice narrating the player’s actions
  • Lots of RPG elements, including upgradeable weapons and city buildings
  • A new game plus mode that allows players to continue playing after finishing the game

NieR: Automata

Release:2017-03-17
Developer:PlatinumGames

Some games focus on the story, some favor gameplay, some prefer to dazzle you with breathtaking visuals.

Others try to strike a balance between all these and NieR does just that. It’s definitely a “jack of all trades,” but luckily without the “master of none” part.

At first, it appears to be simply an anime-meets-realistic-art-style type of game, but there’s so much more to it than meets the eye.

Set in a distant future, the game tells a story of a pair of man-made androids who participate in a war against mysterious machines that invaded the world. There’s lots of melee action and numbers floating over enemies’ heads as you damage them (which can be oddly satisfying). An interesting thing about the game is that it has over 20 possible endings, one for each letter of the alphabet. Sure, some of the are silly, such as killing yourself in a certain way or just refusing to complete a particular mission, which results in the GAME OVER screen appearing shortly after, but it’s still quite a number.

Key features
  • Futuristic setting that that perfectly blends realistic looks with anime
  • Dynamic and fast-paced combat with lots of melee-based combo attacks
  • Lots of character customization options, thanks to the introduction of various types of enhancement chips
  • An engaging story with over 20 possible endings for you to discover

Borderlands 2

Release:2012-09-20
Developer:Gearbox Software

Speaking of floating numbers, you must give Borderlands a try if you if you haven’t already.

If you’re new to the franchise, you can totally start with Borderlands 2, probably the best game in the franchise, but don’t quote us on that, because other games in the series are also awesome.

Borderlands 2 takes place five years after the events of its predecessor and focuses on a new team of Vault Hunters. There are 4 playable hunters, each with their own unique skills, allowing players to choose a character that fits their taste and playstyle best.

Gameplay-wise you can expect to spend a lot of time shooting some highly advanced firearms that have randomized stats – some guns excel at long distances, while the others can be better suited for close combat. The game is most recognizable for its unique stylized graphics. Borderlands looks like a living comic book, except that there are no speech bubbles or all those silly SPLONK onomatopoeias.

Key features
  • An epic adventure in a sci-fi semi open world environment
  • Tons of randomly-generated loot, including guns and equipment parts
  • Stylized comic-book-like visuals
  • Fun cooperative multiplayer mode for parties of up to 4 players

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Release:2014-09-30
Developer:Feral Interactive (Linux)

Fans of Tolkien’s works also have a reason to rejoice, as one of the games based on his works found its way onto the list.

Shadow of Mordor’s most notable feature is its Nemesis System that allows players to invigilate enemy ranks. Sauron’s army is led by several powerful orc creatures such as warchiefs and grunts. Your task is to hunt down and interrogate the weakest links in the chain of command in order to learn more about the orcs that have a higher position in the hierarchy, allowing you to weaken the enemy forces.

Generic orcs met during the game can advance in the hierarchy if they perform a notable action, such as killing your character. The title combines dynamic action with stealth sequences – most of the time you will be able to explore the open world freely and choose either silent or a less subtle approach to taking down the enemy generals. You will be even able to turn them against each other and finish off whoever remains, which opens up some interesting possibilities.

Key features
  • An unforgettable adventure in the Tolkien’s well-known legendarium
  • Huge open world environment that can be roamed and explored at your own pace
  • Well-designed Nemesis System with procedurally generated orc generals who may get stronger over time
  • Character progression with unlockable skills and upgradeable weapons

Tales of Berseria

Release:2017-01-26
Developer:Bandai Namco Studios

We’ve already had an anime-style game on the list, but there is one more action RPG title that is worth mentioning here.

Tales of Berseria is a story-driven, emotional game that allows you to embark on a journey in an anime-inspired world. It’s played from a third-person perspective and shares some similarities with the JRPG genre, but it’s not a typical gather-your-party turn-based game.

It does have some difficult encounters that will require you to focus on the fight, but they shouldn’t be too hard to stop you from unraveling the story. If you’re looking for some casual gameplay that serves more as an addition to the narrative, then Tales of Berseria is exactly what you’re looking for.

Key features
  • Third-person action in a fantasy universe
  • A story-driven game with lots of dialogues and cutscenes
  • Anime-inspired visuals that don’t age that easily
  • Fast-paced combat that puts emphasis on combo attacks

Monster Hunter: World 

Release:2018-08-09
Developer:CAPCOM

If you’re itching for some kaiju-hunting, we’ve got something special for you. Monster Hunter is, as the title suggests, a game focused on fighting

Monster Hunter World
Image credit: CAPCOM

Every battle here is an epic adventure. Each encounter is different and handling each monster requires a different approach.

One of the core gameplay mechanics here is obtaining carvings from beasts: collectibles that can be used to craft weapons and armor to make your character stronger. What makes this system so cool cool is the fact that it’s deterministic to a certain degree. For example, if you want to get a monster’s tail, you can significantly increase your chances of getting one if you manage to cut off the tail during the fight. Although it’s a single-player game, it does have online features, allowing parties of up to 4 players to hunt together and tackle the most difficult challenges.

Key features
  • Demanding and exhausting boss fights that will test your wits and reflexes
  • A dynamic combat system that encourages trying out all sorts of different tactics to overcome challenges
  • Stunning graphics and visual effects
  • Multiplayer for parties of up to 4 players

Elden Ring

Release:2022-02-25
Developer:FromSoftware Inc.

FromSoftware did it again, there is no doubt of that.

Their latest Souls-like offering is pretty much the crown jewel of what the company released over the last ten years, a very successful tribute to the Souls series, Bloodborne and Sekiro, as well as a competent remix of the themes and gameplay mechanics found in the previous games.

It’s essentially a punishing open-world action role-playing game that certainly doesn’t care what you think or feel. Combat requires you to be patient, careful and observant. You’re, of course, required to master the blocking and dodging mechanics as well, otherwise you’re going to fail miserably.

The game’s world lets you explore it freely, roaming the Lands Between on your trusty mount, but it won’t help you in any way. If you want a map, you need to find it first. If you want all sorts of markers placed on it, you have to discover the said places beforehand, etc. The story and lore are both really murky and they are not going to be spoon-fed to you, either, so you’ll need to talk to characters inhabiting the game’s realm, read flavor text and infer stuff from your own observations.

Ultimately, Elden Ring is a fantastic game that revitalizes the decade-old formula with all sorts of refinements and additions that make it a perfect starting point for newcomers to the series.

Key features
  • It’s a punishing game, just like the Dark Souls series and the like
  • A memorable open world to explore, without the game bothering you with tons of info
  • Yes, you need to decipher the lore for yourself, no one’s going to help you here
  • Summonable spirits to help you in combat

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Release:2018-10-05
Developer:Ubisoft Québec

Speaking of refreshing stuff, AC Odyssey is essentially refining the formula previously introduced with Assassin’s Creed Origins: a game with a large open world that is more of a role-playing than an action game (although you’ll find plenty of the latter in here).

Odyssey changes the setting from ancient Egypt to equally dated Greece and gives you two protagonists to choose for your playthrough, either Alexios or Kassandra. And so you explore the world, complete all sorts of quests, participate in attacking or defending various regions, help out the faction of your choosing and hunt down the members of the evil Cult of Kosmos.

You also have various dialogue options to pick from. There are also moments where you get to make choices that have an impact on the storyline. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey looks and feels wonderful. It’s just super fun to play, so if you’re interested in a fantasy/alternate-history tinged storyline set in the ancient days of mankind, you should be in for a real treat.

Key features
  • Lots of mercenary fun in ancient Greece
  • Plenty of side activities and quests to keep you busy for hours on end
  • Combat on both land and sea
  • It’s a pretty beautiful game, too

The Outer Worlds

Release:2020-10-23
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment

Here is a yet another “alternate history” fantasy, set in space this time around.

Stylistically, this game looks like a mixture of the modern Fallout games and, say, Borderlands or No Man’s Sky, perhaps? There’s also quite a lot of Mass Effect thrown in, it seems.

Anyway, it’s an open-world action role-playing game set in a small star system of Halcyon that consists of six planets in total. You get to explore different areas, interact with tons of NPCs in lots of ways, make moral choices and tough decisions, as well as participate in combat using both melee and ranged weapons, gain better skills and abilities, etc.

The game features quite an interesting mechanic dubbed flaws. You gain these if you repeatedly fail in certain segments of The Outer Worlds. There are drawbacks to these, of course, but you also gain certain bonuses through them. It’s basically a trade-off.

Obsidian’s latest magnum opus is a great sci-fi game with fun characters voiced by the best talents in the industry and fun gameplay mechanisms. If you’re done with either Fallout or Mass Effect, this one’s a good choice.

Key features
  • You get to create your own character, own a ship and make numerous decisions that matter
  • Plenty of weapons to utilize in combat, both melee and ranged types
  • Fail enough times and you’ll receive a flaw that give you some disadvantages, but also bonuses
  • You can also use the Tactical Time Dilation mode to gain tactical advantage over your enemies

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Release:2020-08-07
Developer:Guerrilla Games

Forbidden West might be bigger and perhaps better, but we went with the original instead, since it’s now available on a wider array of platforms, including personal computers.

And it’s still an amazing and beautiful game. As Aloy, an outcast skilled in hunting, archery and everything else outcasts do, you explore a vast open world full of wonders and beauty, complete all sorts of quests and – first and foremost – fight the game’s most prominent characters, animal-like machines that range from small beasts that can be killed in seconds with ease, especially when your character levels up enough, to giant creatures that are insanely deadly and take a long time and effort to take down.

These battles are truly memorable and complex. You can utilize stealth, traps and explosives, as well as bows and other weapons to eliminate your foes. Each beast has its strengths and weaknesses, as well as weak points that can help you kill it faster.

Horizon: Zero Dawn is a fantastic game. While its plot, writing, side quests and climbing segments are nothing special, the rest is simply a masterpiece. There’s also an expansion pack, The Frozen Wilds, that lets you explore the titular, well, Frozen Wilds and battle some new monsters. It’s a fun DLC that should give you from ten to fifteen hours of extra gameplay. It’s actually better and more beautiful than the base game, for the most part, even if its story isn’t exactly the most captivating thing there is.

Key features
  • Incredible battles with robotic beasts, especially the big ones
  • Fantastically designed open world, full of beautiful sights and wonders
  • Breathtaking visual style
  • Lots of toys to employ in combat

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Release:2017-10-10
Developer:Monolith Productions

The first game, Shadow of Mordor, was an interesting title. Expanding upon the legendary lore crafted by Tolkien, it served as a sort of an interquel between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

The main character, a Gondorian Ranger named Talion, embarked on a journey to the land of Mordor in order to avenge his loved ones. Bonded with Celebrimbor, a wraith of an Elf Lord, he was able to use special powers to fight and manipulate his foes populating the dark realm ruled by Sauron.

Released three years later, in 2017, Shadow of War is your typical sequel that does pretty much the same things the predecessor did, but better. It’s also a shift from hack and slash to action RPG.

One of the things that received a major upgrade was the famous Nemesis System. It lets you gain allies, such as Ologs and Uruks, but also make some powerful enemies in the process, depending on your interactions with them. The races inhabiting Mordor have also been made funnier. It’s hard not to root for your favorite orcs, that’s for sure.

In general, this seems a much better game than the previous one, however, fans were disappointed with some disputable changes to the official Tolkien lore, as well as microtransactions and loot boxes that were unfortunately included here as well. Still, you can ignore these and just have fun.

Key features
  • Improved Nemesis System that lets you find good buddies among them orcs, Uruks and Ologs…
  • …and also make some fellas hate your guts very much
  • The powers that being bonded with Celebrimbor gives you let you mess with your enemies’ minds to either a hilarious or pretty sad effect
  • It’s just better than the previous game, with more emphasis on role-playing and planning out complex strategies to complete quests and missions

There are tons of interesting action role-playing games to play right now. Some of them can be found on Steam, some are available exclusively on consoles, and some may be even distributed elsewhere. We tried to pick only the best action role-playing games. We hope we saved you some time, so that you can go straight after the titles that received the most favorable reviews.