The idea of „classes” in gaming is older than video games themselves, but thanks to its extreme usefulness has made the jump to the digital medium seamlessly and smoothly. In fact, it works so well that it found home in several different genres, not only in role-playing games.

The nitty-gritty of what a class is changes from game to game, but, generally speaking, it’s a specific role your character can fill during gameplay. In some games classes are quite rigid, a locked set of tools and abilities you can’t tweak at all, while in other games each class features a pool of options you can gradually unlock as you progress. Some games don’t feature classes at all, and instead feature flexible progression and specialization, but that falls outside of this article’s theme.

The Best Class-Based Games
NameReleaseDiscount
XCOM 2 2016-02-04 -91% Read more
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen DLC 2017-08-28 -73% Read more
XCOM 2 Collection 2016-02-04 -83% Read more
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous 2021-09-02 -24% Read more
Battlefield 1 (Origin) 2016-10-21 -59% Read more
Diablo II: Resurrected (Xbox Series X/S) 2021-09-23 -25% Read more
Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls DLC (Battle.net) 2014-03-25 - Read more
Diablo 3 Battlechest (Battle.net) 2016-11-28 -21% Read more
Diablo 2 (Battle.net) 2000-06-29 -28% Read more
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen 2016-01-15 -68% Read more
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire 2018-05-08 -84% Read more
Mass Effect Legendary Edition 2021-05-15 - Read more
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn 2014-02-18 - Read more
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward 2015-06-23 -39% Read more
Final Fantasy XIV - Stormblood 2017-06-20 -52% Read more
Deep Rock Galactic 2018-02-28 -21% Read more
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 2018-03-08 -81% Read more
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 - Grail Knight Career 2020-06-23 - Read more

With the basics established, let’s move to the games themselves.

XCOM 2

Release: 2016-02-04
Genre: Action & Shooter
Developer: Feral Interactive (Linux)

XCOM 2 is a game about fighting back against alien occupation of Earth mostly through sending your troops on turn-based tactical missions and scanning the world for resources and crises. Incidentally, your soldiers come in four basic classes: Ranger, Specialist, Grenadier, and Sharpshooter, plus a Psionic class unlocked with research, and each class has a unique role to play on the battlefield.

XCOM 2

Given the number of robotic units in the game especially the Specialist built for hacking (instead of healing) can be a godsend. Every core class lets you specialize into one of two roles, but you can also pick from a different track each time. DLC War of the Chosen brought three more classes, all very mobile, and a way for your soldiers to get extra abilities semi-randomly drawn from other classes.

Key features
  • Several interesting classes with unique niches to fill on the battlefield
  • You can mix specializations to diversify your soldiers
  • Cool science fiction-action story about humans overthrowing alien overlords
  • An excellent War of the Chosen expansion adding new classes and extra complexity

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Release: 2021-09-02
Genre: RPG
Developer: Owlcat Games

There are layers of legacy to this game. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is based on a tabletop RPG Pathfinder, which, in turn, is based on evergreen tabletop RPG Dungeons and Dragons. The resulting video game is complex, filled with numbers, and features whopping 25 classes right away and then adds nine more which turn you into a creature of mythic power, like a lich or a dragon.

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

In addition to plentiful classes and absurd number of character build possibilities, Wrath of the Righteous is also a robust, epic-scale roleplaying game putting you in control of a vast military operation trying to push back against a demonic incursion. You’ll delve dungeons and interact with your companions on one level, on another you’ll direct armies and fight for your world.

Key features
  • 25 classes and an amazing multiclassing built potential
  • 9 mythic paths you discover during the game, transforming you into a living legend
  • Based on a respected tabletop roleplaying game
  • Looks beautiful, especially when spells and abilities start flying around

Battlefield 1

Release: 2016-10-21
Genre: MMO
Developer: EA DICE

Usually, it’s the RPG-adjacent games that are associated with distinct classed, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t any class-based shooters. One of the best examples is the Battlefield series, including its recent entries. Battlefield 1, the entry which brought the series back to the World War settings. BF1 classes are divided between infantry, vehicles, and elite classes.

Battlefield 1

While the infantry classes are the core, available anytime, the latter two types require either choosing to spawn in a vehicle, if available, or finding a token during a game. The game itself is set during World War I and features a highly engaging Operations multiplayer mode which can play over several maps if the defending team can’t push back the attackers’ offensive.

Key features
  • A class-based multiplayer-first World War I shooter
  • Plenty of multiplayer modes to choose from
  • The singleplayer campaign is an anthology of war stories
  • Several substantial DLCs

The Diablo series

Release: 2021-09-23
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

The Diablo games are about picking one of several classes and unleashing untold mayhem on malevolent legions serving demonic overlords. Diablo III, for example, features a total of 7 seven classes (two of which come in the Reaper of Souls expansion), each catering to a different playstyle. Within each class there’s a multitude of possible builds thanks to skill trees and plenty of equipment.

The Diablo series

Whether the class you pick is a mighty Barbarian leaping into the fray with reckless abandon or a Necromancer protected by minions and skeletal armor, each class can carve through hordes of enemies in their own way. If the style of Diablo III doesn’t appeal to you, you can check the remaster of Diablo II, a game still widely considered the best in the genre.

Key features
  • Diverse classes with many interesting, powerful builds
  • Tons of loot
  • Diablo IV restores the darker, grittier atmosphere to the series
  • Diablo II Resurrected brings Diablo II to modern systems

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

Release: 2016-01-15
Genre: Adventure
Developer: CAPCOM

At the beginning of the game a dragon eats your heart, and all kinds of weird things start happening. Dragon’s Dogma features a simple, but satisfying and impactful class system. There are three basic, three advanced, and three hybrid vocations to choose from, and while you can’t exactly multiclass, you CAN switch classes more or less freely and share certain passive abilities (augments) between them.

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

Each vocation has a different combination of available weapons, armor, and/or magic spells, making each class feel very different from others, even on the same axis. Warrior is an advanced Vocation of a Fighter, but with a hefty two-handed weapon has an entirely different playstyle to its sword-and-board predecessor. Importantly: each class is effective, and core ones can easily compete with others.

Key features
  • Nine distinct vocations with different weapon specializations
  • You can climb on giant monsters to strike their weak spots
  • Deep character customization, and your chosen height and weight influence gameplay
  • Spectacular spells and impactful melee

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Release: 2018-05-08
Genre: RPG
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment

Although it’s not directly related to Dungeons & Dragons, the Pillars of Eternity series takes clear inspiration from the classic tabletop RPG. Its classes are either taken straight from D&D or visibly inspired. In the sequel, PoE2: Deadfire, in addition to the already familiar selection of classes we also got a unique approach to multiclassing, including unique titles and a special level progression.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Although not ALL classes can be mixed, the mixes that are available have a unique title, such as “Sage” for a Wizard/Monk combo. Since classes also have ability trees this time around, a multiclass affects the skill point distribution. Each class also has several optional subclasses, tweaking some fundamental mechanic of the class for extra mechanical and narrative flavor.

Key features
  • Your choice of class can unlock certain dialogue options
  • An interesting multiclassing system
  • Takes place five years after the events of the original Pillars of Eternity
  • A nautical adventure on a tropical Deadfire archipelago

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Release: 2021-05-15
Genre: Action role-playing, third-person shooter
Developer: BioWare

Classes available to Commander Shepard come in three basic specializations: combat, tech, and biotics. This in practice gives us three pure-focus classes (Soldier, Engineer, and Biotic, respectively), and three hybrids, such as the Infiltrator dipping into both tech and combat. In ME2 and ME3 each class also has access to a unique power, even the hybrids which didn’t have any unique skills in ME1.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Your companions have their own classes and abilities, some of them unique, some drawn from the same combat/tech/biotic pools as your own. While you can’t decide which class they follow, you still can control their progression, shaping them to your tastes. The system as a whole works perfectly: gives your Shepard cool abilities, but doesn’t distract you from the epic-scale, story-heavy experience.

Key features
  • Six classes, three specialized and three hybrids
  • One of the best science fiction games in memory
  • You can transfer your character between games
  • ME Remastered updates the somewhat dates graphics to modern systems

Final Fantasy XIV

Release: 2013-08-24
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Square Enix Business Division 5

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a MMORPG that has been on a rise for quite some time, on no small part thanks to substantial, well-received expansions, such as Heavensward or Stormblood. There are nine base classes, all of which can develop into advanced Jobs. There’s also a number of Jobs independent from Classes, unlocked by reaching a specific level and having a relevant expansion.

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV’s class system Is interesting, because not only can you advance in all the classes and jobs as a single character, but you can also change your class simply by swapping one weapon for another. While you wouldn’t switch mid-combat if you have the necessary equipment at hand, you can change freely between encounters. It feels nice to be able to check out other classes without generating alts.

Key features
  • Plenty of classes and jobs, each with a specific role to play in combat
  • Surprisingly captivating story
  • Excellent expansions
  • You can easily switch between classes

Deep Rock Galactic

Release: 2018-02-28
Genre: Indie
Developer: Ghost Ship Games

Deep Rock Galactic is a class-based, cooperative shooter exploring caves, mining minerals, and eradicating deadly monsters. DRG features four classes, Gunner, Driller, Scout and Engineer, each with a very specific role to play of course. The game puts a lot of emphasis on letting players create paths through the levels, be it with new tunnels and deployed platforms, or ziplines and grappling hooks.

Deep Rock Galactic

Even the Gunner, the most heavily combat-oriented class, can aid mobility and deploy energy shields, extremely useful against the monsters dwelling in the caves. There’s little progression and most of it is cosmetic, but the narrow focus of each class is satisfying and requires good cooperation to complete each excursion into the dark caverns in good health and with a good haul.

Key features
  • Four classes with unique abilities for both a combat and exploration
  • Inherently cooperative
  • Deep cosmetic customization
  • Procedurally generated cave systems

Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Release: 2018-03-08
Genre: Cooperation
Developer: Fatshark

The first Vermintide could arguably be described as a hero-based game, because you played as specific people and you just decided on their equipment. Vermintide 2, however, is very much a class-based game, because each of the five characters comes in at least three variants. There are also prestige classes available through DLC, at the time of writing available to three out of five characters.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Each class is naturally geared towards a specific role by a different selection of compatible weapon types as well as by unique passives and perks. For example, Marcus Kruber can be a ranged-first Huntsman, versatile Mercenary, tanky Foot Soldier with a mighty charge ability, or a melee-only, divinely empowered Grail Knight. Each class also has unique appearance and cosmetics, which is nice.

Key features
  • Five characters with several class variants each
  • Four-player co-op, but can be played solo with bots if you want to
  • Classes have their own backstories, and characters chat a lot
  • Linear, very well-designed missions

Level up

And so our list of the best games with class systems, and against all odds it’s not even limited to just role-playing games! Hopefully you’ve found a game, or a class system that sounds interesting. All of these games are solid and worth checking out, so you can just decide what sounds cool and jump in!