Action RPG – a hybrid genre that mixes the best elements of both action and role-playing. Expect to spend a lot of time fighting monsters and trying to survive while looting valuable items that can be used to further increase your character’s strength. Earn experience, learn new skills, and conquer whatever world you’re currently in. Check out some of the best action RPG games on our top list down below.

Top 20 Action RPG Games of All Time [2020]

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

PC
Xbox
Mac OS X
Release year:2004
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperObsidian Entertainment

Let’s start by clearing something out. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, The Old Republic MMO, original Battlefront games or even The Force Unleashed and both Jedi Knights games are all very good Star Wars video games. They realistically portray the SW universe and most capture the feeling of being a part of an epic sci-fi story. But there is one game (actually two, but the sequel is better and everyone knows that), that is both a great Star Wars video game and one of the best video games of all time.

STAR WARS Knights of the Old Republic II - lighting

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and its predecessor are both fantastic examples of how storytelling should be done in video games. They are part of a larger universe, where everyone can spot some familiar traits from the SW movies such as races and planets, but have their own story and characters. Because the setting takes place thousands of years before Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker would even be born, Chris Avellone and his team had no restrictions and full creative freedom in designing a very interesting story placed in an amazing universe. Set 4000 years before the action of the movies, The Sith Lords tells a story of an exiled Jedi knight who must choose which side of the force he must follow and by doing that decide the fate of the entire galaxy.

Key features
  • An intriguing plot full of twists, betrayals and surprises
  • Some of the best-written characters in video games history
  • One of the earliest character choice-based paths in gaming
  • Pretty awesome gameplay and customization options for the time it was released

Fable

PC
Xbox
Xbox 360
Mac OS X
Release year:2004
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperBig Blue Box Studios

Another underrated and maybe even forgotten game is Fable – a famous fantasy game that has its own story to tell and offers high-quality gameplay and meaningful moral choices that impact how other characters perceive yours.

Fable is one of the classic games we loved to play for some of the introduced innovations. The most notable one is the morality system that constantly checks and rates our decisions – good deeds will move our character’s personality in a brighter direction of the moral spectrum, while bad ones will make our character more evil. The system is so impactful that it does not only changes how people we meet react when we’re in their sight, but also how our character looks – those who follow the way of light will eventually get a glowing halo of their own while the evildoers will grow terrifying horns that scream “I’m a bad guy”.

Key features
  • All-round RPG experience with satisfying combat and engaging story
  • An epic fantasy world where magic is just as common as steel swords
  • A well-designed and polished moral system
  • Character progression that allows players to try different play styles

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

PC
Xbox
Release year:2002
Genre:Role-playing
DeveloperBethesda Game Studios

Morrowind is a class of its own. A huge open-world filled with artifacts and hostile creatures – are you ready to unravel the biggest mysteries that the land of Morrowind jealously hides?

morrowind redoran guard

We all know Skyrim, but some of us, especially the younger ones, may not be aware that there were other Elder Scroll games in the past, including the legendary Morrowind. For obvious reasons, it may not be as visually appealing as newer games are, but don’t let this fact discourage you from playing – in fact, Morrowind did some things better than Skyrim. It’s a much more immersive title and puts more emphasis on the role-playing part. You couldn’t be, for example, a master at everything – you have to focus on developing certain skills and actually think about what you want your character to be.

Key features
  • A legendary RPG set in an iconic fantasy universe of Elder Scrolls
  • A vast open-world environment full of treasures, hostile creatures, and interesting places
  • Reasonably difficult gameplay that doesn’t hold player’s hand but also doesn’t cause frustration
  • Complex character progression with dozens of different skills to improve

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

PC
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Nintendo Switch
Release year:2011
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperBethesda Game Studios

Speaking of Skyrim, here it is. If Morrowind feels too clunky and complicated for your taste, then Skyrim is arguably the best entry in the entire franchise to try. Not only because it simplifies gameplay and drastically flattens the learning curve, but it also still looks gorgeous.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Legendary Edition - fighting with the spider

Skyrim takes place in the titular land of Nords and focuses on two main events happening simultaneously – a mysterious return of the thought-to-be-extinct dragons, and conflict between Skyrim natives and the Imperials. As a Dragonborn, a mortal having a soul of a dragon who is also capable of using powerful dragon shouts, you will be tasked with addressing both issues, forcing you to not only choose your side in the said conflict but also to investigate the source of power that brings dragons back to life. Explore the world, join renowned guilds, hunt the most powerful creatures, and tailor your own story.

Key features
  • Medieval fantasy setting, where magic is just as common as a sword
  • Beautiful snowy landscapes in an open world environment
  • Smooth gameplay that strikes a balance between difficulty and accessibility
  • Character progression that allows your character to eventually learn all available skills

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Nintendo Switch
Release year:2015
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperCD Projekt Red

You can’t write about the best action RPG titles and not mention The Witcher on the list. The final installment in the series brings a lot of improvements in terms of both gameplay and visuals – it’s definitely one of those must-play entries.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - fighting

The Witcher tells the story of a genetically enhanced mutant who, thanks to his superhuman abilities and sword arts experience, excels at hunting down dangerous creatures and breaking curses. The thing is, he is as scary for common people as other monsters are – they consider him nothing more than an apathetic eye-glowing thug for hire. The game draws a lot of inspiration from Slavic and Scandinavian folklore, but it also borrows certain elements from other cultures as well. Expect an epic fantasy adventure in a huge, open, and believable world, that will easily steal dozens of hours of your life.

Key features
  • A breathtaking fantasy world that lives its own life and is opened for exploration in its entirety
  • Addictive story and dozens of unique and well-written quests
  • Satisfying combat that encourages the use of blades, concoctions, and witcher signs
  • Character progression with a skill tree and loadout customization

Torchlight II

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Nintendo Switch
OS X
Release year:2012
Genre:Action role-playing, hack and slash
DeveloperRunic Games

A large part of action role-playing games are also the titles of the isometric hack and slash genre, so let’s take a look at some of these now, starting with incredibly fun Torchlight II.

Torchlight II - gameplay

Torchlight II is a classic formula but adds its own flavor to the isometric action role-playing mix. The first notable thing is the game’s low-poly graphics, thanks to which the production can not only be run smoothly even on older machines, but it also looks great even after all these years, because this specific art style doesn’t get old that easily. 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 filled with dangers and excitement
  • Satisfying gameplay and smooth animations
  • Four unique playable classes, each with numerous possible different ways to play them
  • Tons of randomly generated items for your characters to wear

Titan Quest

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Nintendo Switch
Android
iOS
Release year:2006
Genre:Action role-playing, hack and slash
DeveloperIron Lore Entertainment

While we’re at hack and slashes, let’s also mention a few other important titles that have all the rights to appear on the list of the best action RPG games of all time – please welcome Titan Quest. Titan Quest is a game that draws a lot of inspiration from mythology – there is a huge and clearly visible Greek, Egyptian, and Asian influence, so expect to see not only some of the most recognizable wonders of ancient architecture but also real historical characters.

What makes the game stand out from the crowd of hack and slash genre is its physics-based world – hardly anything can beat the feeling of making your character strong enough to be able to punch a hostile satyr in the guts and send it flying only to watch it fall off a cliff or bridge shortly after. It’s also worth noting that creatures usually only drop items they wield and use themselves, so if you see a skeleton with some glowing sword, go for a kill as it’s probably some legendary gear right there.

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 effects of ragdoll physics

Grim Dawn

PC
Release year:2016
Genre:Action role-playing, hack and slash
DeveloperCrate Entertainment

While Titan Quest is undoubtedly a fun game to spend some time on, it’s not without flaws – thankfully, creators of TQ were able to learn a lot while developing it, and the experience they’ve got allowed them to make their next hack and slash, Grim Dawn, better suited for the modern audience.

Grim Dawn Steam

To say that Grim Dawn is simply a Titan Quest in a dark-themed world inspired by the Victorian era would be a huge punch in the face of every Titan Quest fan. Both games are amazing, but it’s hard not to see all the improvements and quality of life additions we’ve got here, making Grim Dawn much more accessible to new generations of players. It borrows lots of elements from TQ, as it would be silly to redesign mechanics that worked just fine – instead, we’ve got a much bigger stash to store all your hard-earned goods, several factions you can be an ally or an enemy of, but most importantly, a huge constellation map that serves as an additional skill tree on top of the trees provided by character classes, resulting in a seemingly infinite number of possible builds to try.

Key features
  • Dark-themed war-torn world inspired by the Victorian era
  • 6 playable classes, from which you can pick two and create your very own hero
  • Huge piles of randomly-generated loot of varying rarity
  • Several factions present – work hard to gain their trust and enjoy their unique services

Path of Exile

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
macOS
Release year:2013
Genre:Action role-playing, hack and slash
DeveloperGrinding Gear Games

If you didn’t live under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably already heard about this free-to-play game that is now considered Diablo’s fiercest competitor. A free game competing against a paid one – how is that even possible?

Path of Exile - gameplay

PoE is a perfect example of a well-executed hack and slash – blood, gore, dark atmosphere, engaging gameplay, hordes of enemies, several available classes, huge passive skill tree that should be rather called a skill forest, and unique active skill system that allows you to use whatever skills you want, as skills are represented as gems that can be slotted into equipment items – just slot your favorite spells into your armor and you’re ready to go. 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 blood and elements of gore designed for 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, some of which being available only temporarily

Diablo II

PC
Classic Mac OS
macOS
Release year:2000
Genre:Action role-playing, hack and slash
DeveloperBlizzard North

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 2

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 he’s left behind. This made it possible to make the game enjoyable not only for those playing with friends but also for those who prefer to play alone and tackle all the challenges by themselves.

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
  • Online multiplayer for parties of up to 8 players

Dark Souls III

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2016
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperFromSoftware

Let’s take a break from the hack and slash genre and return to a more immersive third-person action. Dark Souls III. If you are a hardcore type of gamer, then this game is made for you.

Dark Souls 3

Although not as hard as the first two entries in the Dark Souls franchise, it will still surprise you on several occasions, forcing you to watch the famous “You died” screen over and over again until you master the problematic sequence. It can be frustrating at times, 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 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 difficult bosses
  • Lots of unique pieces of armor and weapons to find and utilize
  • Rich lore, but hidden in form of item descriptions
  • Online features, including cooperation and skill-based PvP duels

Bloodborne

PlayStation 4
Release year:2015
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperFromSoftware

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 different? When it comes to differences, players often mention a smooth combat system and memorable characters as two reasons for why Bloodborne is far superior to Dark Souls.

bloodborne-playstation-network-game

Level design and the game’s story were also commonly noted, while lore was often cited as the best of all FromSoftware’s games. The high difficulty level and demanding boss encounters are still present, so all of your hardcore needs should be satisfied when you’re busy figuring out how to beat the next seemingly untouchable baddie. However, 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 it’s 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 2

PC
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release year:2010
Genre:Action role-playing, third-person shooter
DeveloperBioWare

Some third-person shooters can also be found among the best action role-playing games, and Mass Effect is an example of such game. Mass Effect is a sci-fi game that combines shooter with role-playing elements and it does it well – it’s a perfectly balanced mix, unlike the first ME that was much more focused on the RPG part.

mass-effect-game-2-04-11-2019.jpg

Some of the most important features of the game include moral choices that affect the story and may impact future events, character progression, memorable characters, and detailed visuals, as well as a variety of landscapes, due to the fact that the game takes place on several different planets, each having its own unique scenery.

Key features
  • Sci-fi setting that takes place on several unique planets
  • Gameplay focused on the exploration and fighting hostile aliens and other evildoers
  • Impactful moral choices that can affect the story
  • Satisfying combat that involves the use of guns, tech abilities, and biotics

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

PC
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release year:2012
Genre:Action role-playing, hack and slash
Developer38 Studios, Big Huge Games

If you love epic adventures in fantasy worlds that are full of might and magic, dangerous wildlife, and valuable treasures hidden in the most inaccessible places, then this title is for you. Kingdoms of Amalur is a commonly overlooked title when it comes to action RPG, which is a shame because it fully deserves to be mentioned among the best ARPG titles.

Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning game like skyrim for pc

It does everything you would expect from this kind of game – it has an open world environment you can freely explore, it has lots of skills for you to master, it even has a crafting system, but most importantly, it gives a lot of freedom when it comes to character progression. The game’s huge world might be overwhelming for some at first – this is due to the fact that the game was originally planned to be an MMORPG, but developers changed their minds and turned KoA into a single-player experience. If you want to try the game, check out the recently released Re-Reckoning version, also available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Key features
  • An intriguing story that focuses on a fallen soldier who was mysteriously brought back to life
  • Huge open world environment full of adventures to be had
  • An extremely fun combat system that allows players to use traditional melee and distance weapons, as well as magic spells
  • Character progression that doesn’t force players into one particular playstyle

Fallout 3

PC
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release year:2008
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperBethesda Game Studios

You surely do know the Fallout series. It’s hard to say which game was the best, as every game was unique, and everyone has his own taste, but we went with Fallout 3, as we feel it was the most impactful of them all. A post-apocalyptic setting was always a good source of inspiration for the creators of games, books, and other works of art.

Fallout 3 2008

Fallout is one of the best known post-apocalyptic game series, and the third entry in the franchise does some things very differently than its predecessors did. The most notable change is the transition from 2D to 3D, which significantly improves the immersion and allows players to better sink into the Fallout universe. The game’s defining gameplay feature is its combat system – it allows you to shoot your gun in real-time, or approach the encounter tactically and use a special GUI to choose which part of the enemy you want to shoot at. The second option will show you the hit chance percentage and the choice will be calculated in a turn-based fashion.

Key features
  • Post-apocalyptic setting – a vision of a world that suffered from a nuclear war
  • Fascinating open world environment you can freely explore
  • A hybrid combat system that allows the use of either real-time action or a turn-based approach
  • Complex character progression with lots of useful skills to learn and improve

Bastion

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Mac OS X
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation Vita
iOS
Release year:2011
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperSupergiant Games

Bastion, an award-winning indie game that shows how important it is to have an interesting way to present the story. The game’s dynamic voiceover is its most recognizable feature, but gameplay-wise it’s also incredibly addictive.

Bastion - fighting

Bastion is an isometric game where you will be controlling 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. It’s worth noting the game’s appealing stylized visuals and a voiceover that occurs dynamically – the narrator speaks as you travel, which results in developing a natural bond between you and him.

Key features
  • Fast-paced combat system with a strong arcade feeling that rewards fast reflexes
  • Dynamic voiceover, where a voice narrates 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

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2017
Genre:Action role-playing, hack and slash
DeveloperPlatinumGames

Some games focus more on the story, some favor gameplay, some prefer to catch your eye with breathtaking visuals, and some try to strike a balance between them all. NieR can be definitely considered a “jack of all trades” game without the “master of none” part. Nier: Automata at first appears to be simply a marriage between anime and the real world, but the more you play, the deeper it turns out to be.

nier-automata-game-04-11-2019.jpg

The title takes place in a distant future and tells the story of a pair of human-made androids who participate in a war against mysterious machines that invaded the world. Gameplay-wise you can expect a lot of melee action and numbers floating above enemies’ heads as you damage them – which can be oddly satisfying. It’s worth mentioning that the game has over 20 possible endings, one for each letter of the alphabet – sure, some of them are just silly ones, such as killing yourself in a certain way or simply refusing to complete a certain mission, simply resulting in a game over screen appearing shortly after, but the number is still amazing for this kind of game.

Key features
  • Futuristic setting that perfectly blends the real world 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

PC
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
OS X
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation Vita
Android
Release year:2012
Genre:Action role-playing, first-person shooter
DeveloperGearbox Software

Speaking of floating numbers, you must give Borderlands a try if you didn’t already. You can start right from the best game of the franchise, which, to our knowledge, is probably Borderlands 2 – but not by a huge margin, so don’t quote us on that.

Borderlands 2 - shooting

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 having his 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 – visually Borderlands looks like a living comic book, except there’s no speech bubbles and 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

PC
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
OS X
Release year:2014
Genre:Action-adventure
DeveloperMonolith Productions

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 order to learn more about the orcs that have a higher position in the hierarchy, allowing you to weaken the enemy forces.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - figting

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 tactics.

Key features
  • An unforgettable adventure in 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

Monster Hunter: World

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2018
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperCapcom

For the final game on the list, we’ve got something for those who love some good hunting action – a game focused on fighting huge monsters and obtaining valuable materials to craft useful items and equipment. In Monster Hunter every fight is an epic adventure. Every battle is different, and every creature requires different tactics if you want to not only defeat the monster but more importantly, to not die during the encounter.

One of the core gameplay mechanics here is obtaining carvings from monsters – collectibles that can be used to craft weapons and armor to make your character stronger. What makes the carving system 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 a variety of different tactics to overcome challenges
  • Stunning graphics and visual effects
  • Multiplayer for parties of up to 4 players

Action Role-Playing Games That Are Worth Playing

You may be wondering what is an ARPG. It’s simply the abbreviation for action role-playing games, a sub-genre of action that incorporates certain role-playing mechanics, with the most common ones being character stats and progression system as well as equipment management that lets players choose their weapon, armor, and other items from a countless number of available ones, usually with randomized stats to give you a sense of accomplishment when you finally drop that legendary sword you’ve been farming for an entire week.

More often than not, an action RPG comes with dynamic gameplay that doesn’t give players much time to rest and take a breath – tense real-time action is what defines the genre, but there may be some exceptions to the rule, such as games that were made in a way that mixes real-time sequences with turn-based ones, giving players a chance to think about their next move.

Action RPG is a very wide term that can be mixed together with many other genres to give players some new and fresh experience. ARPG titles can be played from a first-person perspective, third-person perspective, or can even have an isometric view. They can be 2D or 3D – it doesn’t matter that much for the genre. They can be shooters, hack and slash games, platformers, or action-adventures, to name a few possible options. They can have a rich story or have no story at all, although the role-playing half of ARPG would suggest the existence of some simple narrative at least.

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 our best to pick only the best action role-playing games and you can see our choices on the list above – this way we hopefully saved you some time, allowing you to go straight after the productions that received the most favorable reviews.

You should also keep an eye on the upcoming action RPG games, as there are at least several interesting titles that look very promising, including the long-awaited Cyberpunk 2077.