A good RPG is hard to find. It’s become significantly easier since 2014 (we’ll get to that), but otherwise fans of reactive storytelling and/or immersion don’t exactly have dozens of titles to pick from.

…Or so it was in 2018 when we’ve originally made this list. Since then, things have improved noticeably, so much so that we can tentatively speak of a genre revival. The list below includes both the original entries and ten new games, which launched in the meantime.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the newly expanded list of…

Divinity II: Developer's Cut 2012-10-29 Action & Shooter Larian Studios
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Obsidian Edition 2018-05-08 RPG Obsidian Entertainment
Monster Hunter World 2018-08-09 Action CAPCOM
Tyranny Gold Edition 2016-11-10 Adventure Obsidian Entertainment
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition 2011-11-11 Adventure Bethesda Game Studios
Solasta: Crown of the Magister 2020-10-20 RPG Tactical Adventures
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Legendary Edition 2016-10-27 Adventure Bethesda Game Studios
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt GOTY Edition 2015-05-18 RPG CD PROJEKT RED
The Outer Worlds 2020-10-23 Action RPG Obsidian Entertainment
Yakuza: Like a Dragon | Legendary Hero Edition 2020-11-10 RPG Sega
Disco Elysium 2015-10-15 RPG ZA/UM
Mass Effect Legendary Edition 2021-05-14 Action & Adventure Bioware
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition 2016-10-27 Adventure Bethesda Game Studios
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord 2020-03-31 RPG Taleworlds
Baldur's Gate 3 2020-10-06 RPG Larian Studios
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla 2020-11-10 Action RPG Ubisoft Montreal
Wildermyth 2021-06-15 Tactical RPG Worldwalker Games
South Park: The Stick of Truth 2014-03-06 Adventure Obsidian Entertainment
Undertale 2015-09-15 Indie tobyfox
FINAL FANTASY XV WINDOWS EDITION 2018-03-06 RPG Square Enix Business Division 2
Divinity: Original Sin - Enhanced Edition 2015-10-27 Adventure Larian Studios
NieR: Automata 2017-03-17 RPG SQUARE ENIX
Pillars of Eternity - Definitive Edition 2015-03-26 RPG
Persona 5 Strikers 2021-02-23 Action RPG Omega Force
Persona 4 Golden 2020-06-13 JRPG Atlus

Solasta: Crown of the Magister

Release date:2020-10-20
Genre:Turn-based tactics
Developer:Tactical Adventures

Solasta: Crown of the Magister is a treat for fans of the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. It strictly adheres to the rules of D&D 5e, in its limited open license version. While you don’t get all the class and species option you might be familiar with, the one that did make it in work exactly the way they do in the source material. And that’s just one part of Solasta’s good bits!

Solasta also features an interesting take on conversations. While it’s a singleplayer game it simulates group participation by letting party members be the voice behind certain dialog options. Benevolent lines could be spoken by a good-natured fighter, while a sketchy wizard would voice the more nefarious choices. It’s fun, and side-steps other RPGs common problem of a single speaker for the party.

Key features
  • You can build your own dungeons and share it with other players
  • You create a four-person party, complete with personality tags
  • Faithful recreation of D&D 5e rules, although on limited license
  • An original world and an interesting take on conversations

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Release date:2020-11-10
Developer:Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio

The Yakuza series already had shades of a role-playing game before: you could accept side-quests, and improve skills by spending money-exp. Yakuza: Like a Dragon went a step further, swapping action to turn-based combat. The best part is that it still works very well and makes for more of the engaging, over-the-top fights you might know from previous entries.

There’s also a new protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, who, in a true RPG fashion, gathers a few companions to join him on his quest. Indeed, a quest. Ichiban is a fan of old-school jRPGs, which colours a lot of how he approaches certain challenges. Despite that filter, the story is still a story about the Japanese underworld and engaging with weird people and their problems.

Key features
  • Turn-based battles replaced action combat, and they’re awesome
  • Ichiban Kasuga is a great new protagonist
  • As you gain levels you unlock new jobs, with new abilities
  • A rare RPG set in modern times

The Outer Worlds

Release date:2020-10-23
Genre:Action RPG
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment, Virtuos

Obsidian Entertainment’s The Outer Worlds is vibrant, funny, and very engaging science fiction action RPG. Not unlike Fallout, TOW takes place in the future of an alternate timeline. Hypercorporations have been able to grow unrestricted from the early 1900s and now hold planetary colonies. You are a colonist yourself, found in cryosleep aboard a spaceship lost decades ago.

The Outer Worlds, in a true Obsidian fashion features a ton of dialogues influencing the branching story, and several memorable companions. And, as a nod to the Fallout games, you can gain flaws which also confer a useful perk. These tend to reflect things that happened during your playthrough, a unique chronicle of your deeds and failures. There’s also a strong satirical undercurrent to the story.

Key features
  • Six companions, including a robot
  • As you play you collect traits reflecting your journey
  • Plenty of story- and companion-affecting conversations
  • Vivid, exciting setting

Disco elysium

Release date:2019-10-15

One of the most highly acclaimed RPGs of the recent years, Disco Elysium takes us to a politically, geographically, and supernaturally splintered world of Elysium, specifically: in the city of Revachol, the Martinaise district. You play the role of an amnesiac disaster of a detective who has to solve a murder case and force the insubordinate thought in his own mind to help him do his job.

The skills you develop are more or less NPCs and have their own points of view and motivations in addition to helpful input they offer on any given situation. You can also “equip” certain thoughts and start expressing one of the ideologies common in the setting. Disco Elysium is very thematically different from other RPGs, and despite mostly classic presentation feels fresh and interesting.

Key features
  • The first RPG that lets you speak with your own thoughts
  • An interesting setting with rich history predating the development of the game
  • Engaging story, involving murder and remembering your own name
  • Looks great

Crusader Kings III

Release date:2020-09-01
Developer:Paradox Development Studio

Crusader Kings III, like its predecessors, is both a grand strategy playing on the map of Medieval Europe and a unique RPG giving you control of a leader of a dynasty. And then the leader’s heir, and then the next heir, etc. You even get a very comprehensive character creator, which handles both your ruler’s robust statistics and their deeply customizable appearance.

After you’re done with the creator, you’ll be unleashed into the ultimate medieval European dynasty simulator. You’ll forge alliances with a dagger behind your back, arrange marriages, antagonise the pope, and do whatever else seems appropriate to do in Europe between 867 and 1453. It might be the most large-scale RPG with the least direct combat. And it is amazing once you get the hang of it.

Key features
  • Complex and rewarding
  • Detailed character creation
  • Believable simulation of medieval European dynasty politics
  • Your characters’ offspring will inherit their traits via simulated genetics

Mass Effect Trilogy

Release date:2012-11-06
Genre:Action role-playing, third-person shooter

The Mass Effect trilogy is one of the most beloved RPG series to ever grace our consoles and PCs. The galactic-scale story of Commander Shepard trying to fight against a primordial threat from the dark space between galaxies is an absolute genre classic. The Legendary Edition gathers all three games and all the DLC in one handy package, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on content.

It also features graphical updates, especially visible in the original Mass Effect. There are new textures, updated models, better shaders, and, of course, higher resolutions and better framerates. Especially ME1 shows clear changes, which verge on a remake category. The Legendary Edition is currently the best way to enjoy the trilogy, especially on modern systems and modern screens.

Key features
  • A beloved trilogy now with updated and upgraded graphics
  • Minor rebalances
  • There’s a photo mode to let you snap better screenshots of the galaxy
  • Mass Effect’s Mako now handles better, but you can return to classic controls

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord

Release date:2020-03-31
Developer:TaleWorlds Entertainmen

Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord falls more on the sandbox side of the genre, with a little simulation built in for good measure. While you start by designing a single character, your avatar in the world of Calradia, you’ll quickly start recruiting your own warband, earn reputation with the game’s various factions and characters, participate in open battles, and lay sieges to castles and cities.

You can also play around with the trade system, or even get married and have children. Where Crusader Kings III takes a grand scale look at Medieval politics, M&B2: Bannerlord is committed to a down-to-earth approach in all of its roleplaying aspects. Even battles put you on the field as one of the units, so you can participate, give orders, and even be captured by your enemies.

Key features
  • An immersive adventure in a quasi-Medieval world with no magic
  • A large map with several factions you can ally yourself with
  • Large action-filled battles giving you command of your recruited soldiers
  • You can fight other players in multiplayer

Baldur's Gate 3

Release date:2020-10-06
Developer:Larian Studios

Although it is still in Early Access at the time of writing, it already has the markings of a great RPG and a great adaptation of the D&D 5e ruleset, although not as faithful as Solasta, if that’s important to you. It also happens to be an indirect sequel to BioWare’s Baldur’s Gate games. It does not follow BG2 story, instead it benefits from two decades of D&D expanding the story of that city.

Due to substantial changes to the rules BG3 also features turn-based combat and benefits from a fully 3D environment, instead of isometric 2D of the original games. Conversations often include unique options based on characters’ species and class, and excellent graphics (and physics) make the world feel more real. Even just the first chapter available in EA offers dozens of hours of solid RPG experience.

Key features
  • Intensely story-driven
  • Engaging turn-based combat based on the fifth edition of D&D
  • Takes place a century after the events of BG2 and immediately after 2019’s big D&D campaign
  • Even in Ealry Access it’s already one of the best modern fantasy RPGs

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

Release date:2020-11-10
Genre:Action RPG
Developer:Ubisoft Montreal

While most of the Assassin’s Creed games are firmly in the action-adventure category, starting with AC: origins the series took a committed turn towards RPG mechanics. Valhalla is the third entry going that direction. In addition to plenty of loot (including legendary Isu artifacts like Excalibur and Mjlonir) and skills you earn by levelling up, there are also plenty of quests and thematic side-activities.

You could get drunk with other Norse warriors who travelled with you, and you could participate in flyting, a poetic contest of barbed wit. As true Viking settlers, you also set up and develop a settlement. If you don’t mind the “ancient aliens” side of things, Valhalla can be an immersive, beautiful, entertaining action RPG set during the age of the Viking conquest of England.

Key features
  • Become a Viking and pillage English towns
  • Several minigames themed around Norse customs
  • You get to develop your own settlement
  • Quests, equipment, skill trees make for a satisfying action RPG experience


Release date:2021-06-15
Genre:Indie, RPG, Strategy
Developer:Worldwalker Games

Wildermyth is a very charming game. It has a very well-realized pop-up book aesthetic, with 2D characters fighting 2D monsters in paper dungeons. It’s also mixes predefined and dynamic narratives to create unique playthroughs every time. Along the way you recruit more characters, who can add their own turns and twists into the story, including inter-party relationships.

Wildermyth will often ask for your input regarding the course of action, and the tactical, turn-based battles on the grid introduce a pleasant amount of crunchy combat to an otherwise story-driven game. It’s even worth replaying the game over and over because characters from previous playthroughs can appear in a new one, stronger and more capable. The stories can be fascinating, don’t miss out!

Key features
  • Unique aesthetic
  • Dynamic stories which can live on in future playthroughs
  • One of the most creative modern fantasy games
  • You’ll grow to care about characters appearing in your stories

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition

Release date:2011-11-11
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

Meme though it is, Skyrim is still incredibly immersive. Few RPGs, or video games in general, let you spend a stupid amount of time at a furnace smithing daggers or running around getting resources to build a home from the ground up. Add a couple mods or get a VR headset and you’re in a world, not just a game. A decade later it’s still easy to go off the beaten path because something undiscovered appeared on your radar.

If the game doesn’t accommodate the role you’ve set for yourself, there probably is a mod that does. It’s the epitome of a freeform roleplaying, as opposed to carefully crafted sequences of scripted storytelling relying on you having a predetermined character. Here, you’re a Dragonborn….so what. You can play the game just fine without ever taking on the main quest.

Key features
  • One of the most famous action RPGs of all times
  • You’re free to do whatever you want within the game’s fiction
  • Large map peppered with dungeons, mines, settlements, and old temples
  • You can ditch the main quest and pursue a life of craft if you want to

South Park: The Stick of Truth & The Fractured But Whole

Release date:2014-03-06
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment

South Park had never had luck for video game before Obsidian Entertainment rolled along. The Stick of Truth turned out to be a really well-made, cleverly written game that never fails to be a sincere homage to the cartoon, but also manages to poke fun at fantasy and RPG tropes. The Fractured But Whole on the other hand aimed at the superhero craze, mercilessly mocking both DC and Marvel cinematic universes.

Both games provide a very robust tour of the titular town, interactions with familiar characters taking part in the games the kids are running, turn-based battle systems, and some silly, crass, but also clever humour. It’s rather light on role-playing as such, but the games have the writing, worldbuilding, and mechanics to more than make up for it.

Key features
  • Two adaptations of the famous cartoon
  • The series pokes fun at fantasy and comic book cinematic universes
  • Turn-based battles, with grid movement in The Fractured But Whole
  • The show creators had an active hand in the games’ development


Release date:2015-09-15

See, Undertale knows what you did in previous playthroughs, and it judges you for it. A simple story about a child who fell into an underworld filled with magical creatures turns into a game where choices carry weight, and the story might unfold in different ways depending on which, if any, monsters you killed. It also cleverly breaks the fourth wall to play mind games with the players themselves.

Undertale is nothing like what we now consider to be traditional RPGs in terms of presentation, and many people may well bounce right off, but for those who stick around will probably find themselves somewhat less eager to just up and murder a bunch of goblins in other games. For a little while, anyway. Murder hobos gonna murder some gobbos after all.

Key features
  • Retro aesthetics
  • Reflex-heavy combat
  • The game reads your saves, it knows your secrets
  • Subversive story


Release date:2016-11-10
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment

Tyranny quickly gained a small but loyal following because it is refreshing for the character to be an utter bastard without devolving into a chaotic evil maniac who kicks puppies for no reason. The Fatebinder, Tyranny protagonist, can make law their weapon, and through clever loopholes pursue their mission and ambitions. The base game has four paths/allegiances, while The Bastard’s Wound DLC provides the fifth one: loyalty.

Within each path there are gambits you can play if you find the opportunity, and you may find yourself having to defend your actions against your boss, which is where being clever is rewarded. The game is in favour of calculated choices, and it’s the stupidity and chaos that are punished. Morality is fine as long as you follow the law, as far as your superiors’ opinions are concerned.

Key features
  • You can be judge, jury and executioner in one
  • Ally yourself with one of three factions, yourself, or prove your loyalty to the Overlord
  • Classless progression
  • Interesting setting explored through plenty of dialogues


Release date:2018-03-06
Developer:Square Enix Business Division 2

Final Fantasy XV probably won’t come down in the annals of the genre as its greatest achievement, but it remains a pleasant experience with likeable characters. There isn’t much reactivity to the plot, however what easily places FF15 in the RPG category are the moments of brotherhood shared between the protagonist prince Noctis Lusic Caelum’s three-man entourage.

The four lads are on the way to reclaim the throne fallen in Kingsglaive (a neat CGI prequel movie), and they interact like long-time friends would. It’s nothing ground-breaking, mind, but you likely will recall it fondly when you’re done hunting giant monsters and reclaiming your birthright. Especially with the dynamic, spectacular combat system making each battle look amazing.

Key features
  • A competent, open-world Final Fantasy game
  • Fast-paced combat
  • Appropriately large-scale story
  • True camaraderie between the main cast

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Release date:2015-05-18

Perhaps the most beloved action RPG in recent memory, with stunning visuals, frequently well-told story, and a solid overall plot. TW3 takes Geralt of Rivia, a professional monster slayer, on a quest to find his adopted daughter Ciri, once against pursued by the nefarious Wild Hunt and her own birthright. It puts a neat bow on many lingering threads, and the ones left dangling are tied in the expansions.

Expansions, it must be said, which are amazing, arguably much better than the base game. Hearts of Stone is inspired by a Polish legend about a man who tried to outsmart the devil, while Blood and Wine takes place in a faux-Tuscany region of the setting, full of vineyards, snotty aristocracy, vampires, and perhaps some decent retirement plan for Geralt. It’s it a fitting end of the trilogy.

Key features
  • Several large open world maps filled with things to do and monsters to slay
  • Dynamic combat utilizing swords, bombs, and potions
  • Engaging story
  • Excellent graphics

The Divinity series

Release date:2017-09-14
Developer:Elverils LLC

Larian Studios has been in the genre for a long time, but they truly hit their stride with Divinity: Original Sin 1, and excellent proposition for two-person co-op sessions. Then improved on THAT in Divinity: Original Sin 2, which instantly became one of the most respected RPGs of its time because of the scope of its maps, story, and flexibility of its turn-based combat and classless progression.

Before Original Sin games Larian Studios also made an interesting genre-mixer Dragon Commander, leaning towards the strategy genre. There’s also an action RPG Ego Draconis, which, in addition to typical third-person slashing, featured the main character transforming into a dragon. If you go way back, there are also isometric action RPGs Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity.

Key features
  • Excellent turn-based combat and world interactivity in DOS 1 and DOS 2
  • Several different takes on the genre across the series
  • The games don’t tend to take themselves too seriously to crack a silly joke
  • The series paved Larian’s way towards Baldur’s Gate 3

NieR: Automata

Release date:2017-03-17

NieR: Automata is a child of Platinum Games, founded by the creator of Devil May Cry, and Yoko Taro, a man who has turned exploration of possibilities into game-building philosophy. It’s certainly one of the most impressive games in recent years. There’s a good chance NieR: Automata’s story isn’t going to make much sense to you after a single playthrough because of its several sequential endings.

It’s certainly a non-standard New Game , because between some ending you might even play a different character. The game itself is an open-world action-RPG production about combat androids on a post-apocalyptic Earth. While the story had people confused and enthralled for months, the gameplay is a tight and diverse blend of slasher and bullet hell, occasionally diverting into something else.

Key features
  • A surprisingly existential action RPG
  • Intense combat
  • Nobody will stop you from removing the one upgrade that keeps you alive
  • Multiple endings gradually revealing the full story to you

Monster Hunter World

Release date:2018-08-09

Monster Hunter is a franchise that until MH World wasn’t wildly popular in the West. Of course, it had its loyal following, but Monster Hunter World was like the second coming as far Western audiences were concerned. At its most basic it’s a game about killing massive monsters for ingredients and cash, but there’s also mechanical depth to preparing your equipment for the coming boss fights.

It’s certainly better suited for the fans of stat-managing side of RPGs rather than conversation and weighty choices enthusiasts. When you’re not dodging claw swipes on a mission, you can take photos of wildlife, gather resources, or splash around in a hot spring and arm wrestle while you’re in the social hub. The robust character creator also helps to imbue your hunter with personality.

Key features
  • 14 different weapons with unique playstyles
  • Huge Iceborne expansion
  • A lot of room for build optimization
  • Many NPCs have something short, but flavourful to tell you

Pillars of Eternity 1 & 2

Release date:2015-03-26 / 2018-05-08
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment

It’s only reasonable that we’d put the game which revived the full glory of isometric story-heavy cRPGs somewhere on the list. PoE’s story sometimes gets drowned by exposition-intensive writing, but thankfully the world itself is really interesting, taking the classic D&D-variety fantasyland and adding some esoteric and metaphysical worldbuilding blocks to make it Obsidian’s own.

A great feature of PoE games is that the dialogues even pay attention to how people see you. If you’re known for Honesty or Cruelty some doors may close, while others may open, giving your character mechanically important personality. And since there are TONS of conversations to be had, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to define what kind of character you’re roleplaying.

Key features
  • The second game ditches solid land and goes on a nautical adventure
  • You can define your character’s personality through dialog choices.
  • Real-time with Pause combat, with a turn-based option in PoE2
  • Detailed, interesting setting with lots of lore to discover

Gather your party and level up

That concludes the list of modern RPGs you might well want to (re)play this year. We’ve deliberately omitted grey-haired classics to bring spotlight to newer releases. With the exception of Mass Effect, but it earned its place by getting a Legendary Re-edition.

Hopefully you’ve found a game you didn’t know existed, or you only heard a title of, but had no idea what it was like.