Life is full of surprises, so why would games be any different? Being able to perfectly predict all the outcomes can kill the fun, so it’s important to add some RNG variables to the equation to slightly alter the result.

Today we’ll take a look at some of the best RNG games out there and, who knows, maybe you’ll find something new to play.

GameReleaseGenreDeveloperTrailer
XCOM 2 Collection 2016-02-04 Strategy Firaxis Games
Dark Souls III 2016-04-11 Adventure FromSoftware
Darkest Dungeon 2016-01-19 Indie Red Hook Studios
Baldurs Gate 3 2020-10-06 Larian Studios
Cyberpunk 2077 2020-12-10 Action RPG CD PROJEKT RED
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition 2016-10-27 Adventure Bethesda Game Studios
Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction 2001 RPG Blizzard North
The Binding of Isaac 2011-09-28 Adventure Edmund McMillen
FINAL FANTASY VII 2013-07-04 RPG Square
Borderlands 3 2020-04 Action RPG Gearbox Software

Introduction

RNG can make or break the game, but what is RNG, exactly?

It stands for a random number generator and it refers to simply picking a random number to decide the outcome of a certain action or event. If it’s made right and balanced correctly, it can enhance the experience by introducing an element of surprise and uncertainty, making each playthrough different than the other. If it’s done wrong, it can be a source of frustration, where you feel like you don’t have any control over anything, and everything is completely random, no matter what you do.

Making a game that utilizes RNG in a way that benefits gameplay is not an easy task, but there are titles that did that with great success. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some video games and game series that masterfully utilize RNG to make gameplay more interesting.

XCOM 1 & 2

Release date:1994-03-01 (First release) / 2016-02-04
Developer:Mythos Games / Firaxis Games

XCOM is a turn-based strategy video game series where you have to lead your team of trained specialists to combat the alien threat. Here RNG plays an important role in several aspects of gameplay, from generating random encounters to generating characters for you to hire, but most importantly, it’s the most crucial element of combat.

Most actions you take during the fight have a certain chance of success, which means you can never be sure of the outcome and thus you should be always prepared for the worst-case scenario and plan accordingly.

One of the most popular XCOM memes that circulate in the community refers to situations where your soldier misses a shot at an alien standing right in front of him. While it does sound hilarious and silly, and in fact may occasionally happen during your playthrough, it may actually be the game’s secret sauce that makes the game better – not worse. It’s one of those cases where you think it’s bad for the game, but it may be beneficial.

After all, the XCOM series is showered with praises and compliments, so there must be more to it than first meets the eye, and who are we to say that this particular thing doesn’t add extra value to the whole experience? Maybe this burst of frustration after missing a hit that shouldn’t miss, causing us to permanently lose our veteran soldier, is exactly what motivates us to keep playing. Kinda like gambling addiction, where you want to beat the odds and win back.

Dark Souls III

Release date:2016-04-11
Developer:FromSoftware

Combat that relies on RNG to a certain degree may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so having games like Dark Souls is a godsend. Dark Souls III is an action role-playing game of pure skill, where the biggest advantage comes from learning how to play and how the various game mechanics work.

Sure, having better gear or a higher level is also extremely helpful, but your own skill is invaluable, especially in PvP scenarios. DS3 is known for its unforgiving difficulty level, but the difficulty comes mainly from not knowing what moves the bosses have, or where the enemies are hiding – once you figure it out, it becomes infinitely easier. There’s no RNG in combat – it’s fair and rewarding.

However, there’s RNG when it comes to loot. Enemies you kill have a chance of dropping various items, most notably weapons or pieces of armor. If you’re a collector, you’ll probably want to get them all. If you’re not, you’ll only hunt for what may be of use to you.

The best part, however, is that you don’t actually have to farm the enemies for gear because you’ll find a lot of useful stuff in chests or scattered around the map anyway. There’s also always a chance that you’ll get a lucky drop just by playing normally. DS3 makes it exciting for players to find new pieces of gear but doesn’t penalize those who don’t want to spend time repeatedly killing the same enemies over and over again.

Darkest Dungeon

Release date:2016-01-19
Developer:Red Hook Studios

Speaking of difficult games with RNG elements, Darkest Dungeon also deserves a mention. It’s a turn-based title with a unique, dark comic art style, where you have to lead your party of adventurers through the dungeon, collecting treasures and eliminating enemies as you go.

In terms of combat and RNG, it’s a much more hardcore and unforgiving version of XCOM. Just like in XCOM, if any character dies, it stays dead, which can make it extremely frustrating when the death comes as a result of a failed imaginary die roll. What makes things even worse is the sheer amount of bad events that can happen during the game – your role as a player is to adapt to the fact that all odds are against you. Embrace it and overcome the difficulties.

There’s a lot of thinking involved, but even the best strategy won’t save you if the enemy keeps dodging your attacks while precisely bashing your skull with each consecutive hit. However, as you learn to play better, you’ll learn to deal even with the worst scenarios. And if you still keep failing, then just start over – it’s a dungeon crawler, after all. It’s part of the fun.

Baldur's Gate 3

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

Tabletop role-playing games can be extremely fun to play, but what if you don’t have friends to sit and play with?

Baldur’s Gate III comes to save the day. Based on the Dungeons & Dragons rules, BG3 allows people to experience a traditional epic adventure in a fantasy world without the need to rely on other people. If you do have, however, someone to play with, there’s online co-op as well, so there’s nothing stopping you from taking a friend with you.

Dungeons & Dragons is often dubbed as the king of RNG games and not without a reason – virtually any action in D&D can be resolved by throwing a proper die and comparing the results. With Baldur’s Gate III, you get a taste of all that randomness in a more approachable fashion for newcomers.

Sure, you don’t have a human game master who could turn even the worst dice rolls into some hilarious events here, but it’s still a valuable experience and a worthy alternative.

Pokemon

Release date:1996 (first release)
Developer:Game Freak

RPGs are probably the games that have the most in common with RNG – from random loot tables to some randomness in combat, hit chances, critical strikes, lockpicking success…

It’s simply impossible to have a good role-playing game without some sort of RNG element involved. And what’s one of the most iconic RPG series out there? Pokemon.

Pokémon Violet (Nintendo Switch)

RNG in Pokemon games is mostly tied to the monsters you will encounter in the wilderness. As you most likely know, Pokemon is all about catching wild Pokemon, training them, and battling other trainers. To catch one, you’ll have to visit a specific area where it can be found – but finding and catching one is only part of the success.

If you want to become the ultimate Pokemon trainer, you’ll have to spend some time grinding the same Pokemon type over and over again, because they all come with slightly different stats, and you naturally want the best one you can get.

Other Games

RNG is widely used in video games to achieve various goals, but the ultimate one is always the same: to make gameplay more exciting. RNG is extensively used in Warframe to determine loot drops, calculate critical hits, or even generate random missions.

In Fortnite, RNG determines what weapons and items you’ll find in the explored locations – finding a legendary weapon early can set you for the entire match. No Man’s Sky uses RNG to generate entire galaxies for players to explore. The list of RNG uses in video games can go on and on.

Borderlands 3
Borderlands 3

Conclusion

RNG can be a valuable component of a video game, but it should be used carefully, as it can easily turn the gaming experience into annoyance. Players should still feel they’re in control – it’s always nice to have some randomness when it comes to the possible outcomes, as it adds a bit of surprise and excitement, but it’s easy to cross the thin line, where players start wondering if their actions even matter at all or is it all down to chance and imaginary dice rolls.

Various games come with various amounts of randomness, so choosing the best RNG game revolves largely around personal taste and preferences. Slight randomness can yield some unexpected – good or bad – results, while with higher randomness you can test your luck; being able to beat unfavorable odds can also feel rewarding.