The 50 Best RPG On PC

An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC RPGs ever released. Covering the entire history of computer role-playing games is a daunting task and attempting to place the best games in such a broad genre in any kind of order is even more daunting. Thankfully, we are equal to all tasks and below, you will find the best fifty PC RPGs of all time.

Creating this list involved a great deal of debate and disagreement, primarily over what we mean by the term RPG. A game in which you play a role. In Doom do we not play the role of a space marine? In Football Manager are we not one with the fictional football manager who represents us in the game’s world?

For our purposes, as with all of our Best Of features, the scope of the genre is considered to be broad rather than narrow. Character development is important, as is a world with interactive qualities other than things to kill. Inventory management of some form is preferred, as is a setting that establishes a solid sense of place in which to play the role you develop and inhabit.

With that said, here are the games. You can click the links below to move through the feature or read through in sequence so that tension and indignation can reach a peak as your favourite game fails to appear (and then is, inevitably, either in the top 5 or ended up being 51st on our master list). There are additional notes below the write-up for each game, informing you where you can buy it (or download it for free in several cases), what else we’ve written about it and where to look next if you’re hankering for something similar.

50-41

40-31

30-21

20-11

10-6

5-2

Number One

Complete List & Postscript

Sponsored links by Taboola

More from the web

From this site

509 Comments

  1. DeepFried says:

    OK I haven’t seen the list yet but I DISAGREE WITH EVERYTHING.

    That should cover it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      Yeah it’s a good thing us RPG fans are so completely laid back and chill about these things. Yep.

      • DeepFried says:

        You have no idea… my blood pressure is probably somewhere near the “immanent stroke” level right now.

        FTL!!!????

        • Rannon says:

          Sounds like me every time I look for Strategy Games in Steam! ^^ For some reason they’ve decided to place RTTs (Real Time Tactics) games like Dawn of War II or other kind of games because you apparently might need some kind of overall strategy in that game. >.>

          • Ancient Evil says:

            I get your point, but “Tactics” and “Strategy” are too subtle distinctions for Steam to bother putting in an entirely separate category. It’s more akin to the differences between the sub-types of RPGs.

          • Rannon says:

            @ Ancient Evil (because your post didn’t have a reply button for some reason)
            I agree to some extent and it’s because I have a pretty narrow view on how to class things. But I get irritated when I find Tactics games and farm simulations when looking for Strategy games (oh my, what a disappointment Dawn of War 2 was). Honestly I know one can argue (and rightly so) that they do indeed contain strategic elements but then, someone who’s persuasive enough could probably get (E.G.) both Space Invaders and Morrowind classified as Strategy games by the same criteria.

      • Ancient Evil says:

        @Lars
        Some of us are, it’s just the rest that give RPG fans a bad name.

      • MadMinstrel says:

        Fallout 2 is not on the list instead of in first place, your list is invalid.

    • johnnyan says:

      I especially disagree with number one but I might have some different ideas about RPG means I guess…

      • kevinspell says:

        I would say a TPS like Mass Effect 2 and a stealth/shooter like Deus Ex:HR shouldn’t even be on the list if we are talking about RPG games. Not even if it is a list of 50 worst RPG on PC.

        • Ancient Evil says:

          There’s a website for people like you who use a narrow definition of “RPG”, and feel compelled to push this definition as the only valid one at every possible opportunity: http://www.rpgcodex.net

          RPS is using a broad definition, as they explained in the intro.

          • kevinspell says:

            Nope, don’t agree with them. I just think having RPG elements does not make you an RPG. Those two games are imo primaraly something else. They are still damn good games, HR beeing one of my favorite games ever.

          • jrodman says:

            “people like you”

          • Phasma Felis says:

            THERE’S A PLACE AND A TRUCK FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

    • Greggh says:

      *Claps so hard hands start hurting*

      I couldn’t be bothered to read the comments, but I’m tired of this kind of bile and vitriol :s

    • Apocalypse says:

      I have seen the list and I agree.

      Who would thought that someone can be insane and brave enough to put freaking PC Dark Souls over Planescape: Torment

  2. biggergun says:

    No Gothic? Risen is 50% lousy indeed, but Gothic 1 was near-perfect for 2001 (and rather innovative – it was, I think, the first RPG with NPC timetables – what TES marketed as “Radiant AI” 6 years later and haven’t managed to do right to this day).

    • Brosecutor says:

      My first thought too, though I prefer Gothic II.

      • biggergun says:

        I like it for the setting – how the world is limited not by invisible walls or the sea or closed bridges, but by a thing that makes perfect sense story-wise. Same with progression and your objectives. You’re not saving the world from some arbitrary menace, you’re trying to get out of prison.

    • biggergun says:

      Also, NPCs reacted to unsheathed swords quite aggressively. And you could choose to leave defeated enemies alive. And it had a fun (if a bit convoluted) skill-based swordfighting system.

    • GameCat says:

      Risen over Gothic is really an offense.

      • GameCat says:

        offence*

        rofl

        • Ancient Evil says:

          No one would have known it was a typo if you hadn’t pointed it out, they just would have thought you were American.

          • phlebas says:

            Maybe some of us would rather be thought incompetent typists.

    • Khatuum says:

      Some of my best gaming memories are from Gothic 2 and i consider it a perfect RPG for many reasons. Like many others i think its the best game Piranha Bytes have made so it should probably be on this list instead of Risen..

    • baozi says:

      Agreed 110%.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I’m playing Risen right now for the first time and I think it’s really good. Sure, it’s frustrating sometimes and the game seems to encourage exploring by not telling you where to find stuff needed to complete quests, but I always go on searching for stuff on my own, so no biggie.

      I’ve used the Risen wiki several times to be able to see who trains what, where they are and to find out other stuff, so it’s not great on that point, but it’s good that it doesn’t point out everything in advance and hands everything on a plate. Very atmospheric and really good, while also vague and frustrating.

      While I’m surprised at the placement of some games, I was able to find almost all of the games I’ve enjoyed and expected to find here. Sorry RPS, you won’t get me nearly as angry as Risen sometimes do.

    • jrodman says:

      “the first RPG with NPC timetables”

      I believe that would be Ultima V, which shipped in 1988, followed by Ultima VI, and Ultima VII which also contained this feature. There might be earlier ones.

    • Arkan01d says:

      Maybe it’s because I attempted to play Gothic 1, 10 years later, but Risen was a much better game for me. Even after 10 hours into Gothic I still had difficulty with the control scheme. It’s what turned me off from the game.

  3. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Wow, Revan has really let himself go.

  4. Paul says:

    Number one – Dark Souls ? Really ? Don’t get me wrong, it is a great game, I finished it, the sequel as well and enjoyed them. But to me they are much more action games with stats then RPGs.
    Anyway…my TOP 3 would be:
    1)Witcher 3
    2) Fallout+Fallout 2 (might as well be one game)
    3) Vampire Bloodlines
    4) Deus Ex
    5) Gothic 2 Night of the Raven

    Where the hell is Gothic, anyway ? :/

    • DeepFried says:

      Yeah I’m having serious problems seeing Dark Souls as an RPG but then I ask myself what is it?… Hell I guess it is an RPG. Its just far from the classic WRPG archetype. Its a great game, its definitely something special, but best RPG? Is it the most RPG that any RPG can be? not by a million miles, by most counts its barely an RPG.

      • Paul says:

        Yeah. I mean, to me an RPG should have, you know, some choices, with consequences, some storyline interaction. In Dark Souls you kill a lot of monsters and that’s it. I mean, yeah you can kill few NPCs (sometimes by mistake, pressing wrong button, yay), but I would hope that’s not the RPG standard we should strive for.

        • Alice O'Connor says:

          Dark Souls has a lot of choices and consequences, but it doesn’t tell you they’re choices or that there’ll be consequences. I like that an awful lot.

          • Popitop says:

            A fascinating and noteworthy point, which is worth actually putting in to the declaration of DS as #1.

          • ThinkMcFlyThink says:

            That’s one of things I also like about Beyond: Two Souls as well as Dark Souls. Didn’t care as much for DS2 for some reason.

          • Cronstintein says:

            I love that it has one autosaving file so when you make a decision to kill someone, it sticks. No save scumming which is the real breaker of many western-style rpgs imho.

          • jrodman says:

            You can savescum still, even with systems like that. It’s just a bit more work.

          • fish99 says:

            It doesn’t really though does it. Sure you can kill or help a few NPCs along the way but it makes no difference to anything. There’s only one real choice and it’s right at the end, and nothing before that impacts the options you have available.

          • Johnny_B_80 says:

            I wouldn’t say “a lot”. It has some choices and consequences, but compared to the average RPG, its amount of dialogue, choices and NPC interaction is tiny. It’s really more of an action game with RPG elements than a proper RPG.

        • Dale Winton says:

          Go back and play it again , it is the best game I’ve ever played RPG or otherwise. And it is a role playing game , it has leveling up and everything

          • DeepFried says:

            If you give me this list of 50 games and ask me which is the best, I might well say Dark Souls. But which is the best RPG is a whole other question to which the answer is not “Dark Souls”.

          • Dale Winton says:

            Of course it’s an RPG , you are playing the role of the chosen undead
            You can even help NPC’s or not and do their questlines

          • DeepFried says:

            I’m not saying its not an RPG, i’m just saying its not in the central CRPG genre, its a form of action RPG, and personally I’d never rate action RPG’s over CRPG’s in terms of their quality “as an RPG”, “as a game” is a different thing, but “as an RPG” sets some expectations and requirements that Dark souls fall short on in many areas.

            I mean, how can you even compare planescape torment and Dark souls in the same list in all seriousness? Apples and oranges.

          • GameCat says:

            “I mean, how can you even compare planescape torment and Dark souls in the same list in all seriousness?”

            Dark Souls doesn’t have any fed-ex quest and you’re not playing a role of a Personal Problem Solver For Hire. Therefore it’s better than any other RPG.

          • Dale Winton says:

            CRPG means computer role playing game by the way…

            “Dark souls fall short on in many areas ” really ? Because it is far more detailed than any other RPG I know off. How many other games do you know that spawns a creature in other persons game due to your actions ?

          • Geebs says:

            Dark Souls shares a lot of themes with Torment, I think. It’s the ultimate RPG for people who have a low tolerance for dialogue.

          • Premium User Badge

            The Borderer says:

            My favourite action game is Civilization IV. It absolutely is an action game because you need to make actions to play it.

            Seriously though, while I do consider Dark Souls to be an RPG, ‘playing a role’ does not necessarily make a game an RPG. An attempt to replicate the mechanics of pen and paper RPG does though.

        • Adam Smith says:

          I’m off to the pub now so won’t say too much but Dark Souls is definitely a type of RPG. I’m glad every single RPG isn’t like the Souls games but, equally, I wouldn’t want every RPG to strive for choices, consequences and conversational interactions. It’s a game about a dying, haunted world and it’s a marvelous thing.

          • Myrdinn says:

            Yes because Dark Souls is a better rpg then Fallout 2, BG2 and Planescape Torment. Great list. In other news, GTAV is missing from this list, I mean, it’s basically an RPG.

          • Paul says:

            Thank you Adam, for proving my point :)

          • BethesdaEmployee says:

            Dark souls cant even be compared to Gothic 2, yet the latter isnt even on the list let alone near the top

          • blastaz says:

            Dark souls is not an rpg. It’s an action adventure game.

            Queu tony Harrison – This is an outrage!

          • jrodman says:

            Having now watched around 5 hours of Dark Souls play, it’s definitely not a role playing game.

            it does take some role playing elements, and makes an interesting melange with them. However the focus is squarely in the same places as games like Halo or God of War would put them, as are the control elements, structure, etc.

        • draglikepull says:

          Paul says “to me an RPG should have, you know, some choices, with consequences, some storyline interaction.” That definition would suggest that the vast majority of JRPGs are not RPGs, which is certainly not something that I agree with.

          • Paul says:

            JRPGs are like their own subgenre. But…wouldn’t they be more interesting to play if they did offer it ?

          • Akbar says:

            @Paul
            Not necessarily, the more choices and branches in the story you have the less control writers do. Regardless, “wouldn’t it be interesting if they had [x]” isn’t criteria to disqualify something from being an RPG. Looking Glass Studios may have completely ignored my furious letters demanding they write opening dialogues in dactylic hexameter, but UU2 is still an RPG.

          • Tuco says:

            Well, they aren’t.

          • ansionnach says:

            JRPGs aren’t RPGs. They’re cut-down console versions of Ultima III with little in the way of choice, fused with nonsensical animé teen-angst plots. Usually. Some of them are fun, but that’s often dependent on the combat system and perhaps a relatively unintrusive story that doesn’t absolutely love itself.

        • Ancient Evil says:

          “Yeah. I mean, to me an RPG should have, you know, some choices, with consequences, some storyline interaction. In Dark Souls you kill a lot of monsters and that’s it.”

          By that logic, though, shouldn’t you scrub most of the roguelikes and ARPGs from the list as well?

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Yup. I’d have done so. I would say roguelike and hack and slash games are genres in their own right. Of course, I really enjoy games which approach the tabletop rpg experience and see the genre ‘rpg’ in that light.

            But it’s not a bad list when seen by RPS’ definition.

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            Trouble is how broad the definition is they’re using, if anything with a few RPG elements counted where are the Far Crys (3 I guess?), Assassins’ Creeds (2 obviously) and Just Cause 2?

        • Fenixp says:

          I don’t believe choices and consequences are quite why inclusion of Dark Souls at no1 feels weird, I think it’s far more than that. Dark Souls is an incredibly unique game, but that also makes it very difficult to compare it with others – Should be more of an honorable mention and not even included in the ranking itself as far as I’m concerned. I’m having difficulties putting this into meaningful words as I usually do, but let’s just say that claim of “Discussions and declarations about the difficulty of Dark Souls tend to undermine the discussions and declarations that we should be having about the quality of Dark Souls.” made me go a bit “Huh?” That’s because most RPGs that I have ever played put the biggest emphasis on player choice of all genres that I know, whereas Dark Souls does the exact opposite.

          Let me elaborate a bit: When creating a character in Pillars of Eternity, it tells you which attributes are important for what, and the game gives you a hand in creating a character. When you’re playing the game, vast majority of decisions you are making can be based on information NPCs have given you and lore you have discovered. Player choice is at the front of the experience of that game – the mental process a player goes trough will be significantly different player to player, and the game allows this.

          When it comes to Dark Souls, you need to play for at least 10 hours or so to even realize which choices you have in creating a character, and 15 hours and 5 online guides later you may even end up creating a functional one. It’ll get you at least two playtroughs to realize there even is such a thing as choice and consequence system, in case you have your crystal ball at hand and figure out what does the game even want you to do to finish the side NPC storylines. There’s no such thing as difficulty selection, free saving system or anything of the sort. While there is a lot of player choice in Dark Souls, no doubt about that, for the vast majority of players a lot of that is just doing a lot of random things and grasping at straws – which is exactly how the game wants you to feel. When you have no idea what’s happening and feel desperate, that’s when the game is at its strongest. And… Well, that’s also why player choice is not nearly as important as the experience for which the game was crafted and which it is trying to present to its players.

          I hope I have voiced my view clearly enough – there’s an essential difference between traditional RPG, which focuses on giving player options and allowing him to choose amongst them, and Dark Souls, which forces players to play for dozens, perhaps even hunreds of hours when they’re capable of making such choices – and even then the game largely dictates what kind of experience is player going to have, not player himself.

      • silentdan says:

        Without weighing in on whether or not DS counts as an RPG, Extra Credits is doing a commentary-laden DS Let’s Play that’s actually pretty interesting. If you never “got” Dark Souls, it’s worth a view.

        • jrodman says:

          Thanks for this. It’s giving me all the fun of seeing that game without the unpleasantness of playing it.

          (That is, I know it would be unpleasant for me specifically.)

      • Spacewalk says:

        Dark Souls is what I imagine the real D&D experience to be like so I say that totally makes it an RPG.

        • jrodman says:

          You realize that there’s a necessary layer over indirection in the phrase “role playing”.

          I mean obviously it’s still a game, so there is still SOME kind of indirection, but we don’t mean a game like pac-man, so some level of indirection is not sufficient. I mean like if you were actually in a fantasy dungeon crawling universe, it wouldn’t be role-playing, nor a game.

          Seperately, dungeon crawling may be a common trope in many RPGs, but it is absolutely not essential. You can have a role playing game about being a baby-sitter etc.

    • sg1969 says:

      Dark Souls is not RPG but Witcher 3 is your number one? I don’t really see a difference, they are both action based, third person RPG games.

      • Myrdinn says:

        Yeah, just like Shadow of Mordor. You can even level up in that game!

        • Premium User Badge

          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          You don’t level up in Mordor, you unlock skills.

          • Myrdinn says:

            So it’s a RPG with a skill-based progression system. Like Ultima Online!

      • Paul says:

        I like dialogues, interactive ones, in my RPGs. I like scope of interaction that is more extensive than killing thousands of monsters. I like branching storylines that reflect my choices and affect the world around me. So to me, Witcher series, while undeniably having action combat mechanics, belongs to an RPG genre lot more than Dark Souls does. Nobody is saying Dark Souls is a bad game. It is fantastic. But I wouldn’t put it on top of BEST RPGs of ALL TIME list, above Planescape Tormen, Deus Ex, or indeed, Witcher 3. Still, I understand, opinions and all that.

        • Kitsunin says:

          And I like immersion in my RPGs. Strange worlds which I can explore, that unravel in fantastical but horribly daunting ways, games which really make you feel like a part of that world, going so far as to manipulate your emotions through the gameplay itself in order to set the tone. No other game does immersion like Dark Souls, so as far as being a game in which you fill a role (so, a role-playing game…), Dark Souls is better than any other game that exists. The vaguely action-game-like combat only serves to draw you in more, because if you are a person and not a mind-blob, that’s kind of how fighting works, it sure doesn’t involve picking the word “attack” from a menu.

          Maybe I’m completely wrong, but I always thought immersion was what made an RPG an RPG.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Oh, and er, I didn’t mean for this to seem aggressive. I get that Dark Souls is a pretty…different…game, but it sure as heck belongs way less by Revengeance’s side than The Witcher’s.

          • HopeHubris says:

            Lots of games in various genres strive for immersion, that doesn’t make every game an RPG.

          • Kitsunin says:

            I guess that you are right. RPG doesn’t really mean what it stands for. Nonetheless, if you have to put Dark Souls into any genre, it makes little to no sense putting it in any genre other than RPG.

          • baozi says:

            There’s this genre called action-adventure.

          • Kitsunin says:

            You mean like Devil May Cry, God of War, maybe Assassin’s Creed? Nah, that seems wildly inappropriate.

          • baozi says:

            Yeah, most of those are combat games. So, not at all inappropriate, considering here Dark Souls is in a category that contains games like Planescape: Torment.

          • baozi says:

            Closest game to Dark Souls in terms of gameplay to me always was Blade of Darkness.

        • meskus says:

          Dark Souls may be superb game, I played it amd loved it, but RPG it sure is not. By that standard many action games would be RPGs. Immersion in game world is a must for ANY good game not only RPGs, in that regard and by that standard even Call of duty,Resident evil, Assassin creed, GTA, Thief, Bioschok or even Quake III and Doom III could be RPGs as well, and lets face it, in essence some of those have more in common with DS than other games on list. DS might be taken as RPG in most widest meaning of the term, I mean,some may say if Diablo goes there then sure why not. But saying that playing the role of protagonist in a game makes it RPG is shallow. Player plays that role in any game be it Mario, Predator, Alien, Julius Caesar, Stalin, Nameless one, Geralt or some other, but not all games are RPGs. Any way putting DS in front of Fallout, Planescape , BG2 and other legends is just plain mistake. Great graphics, swords and magic, monsters bosses and good story don’t make it RPG, all that you could find in God of war and such. Role playing asks for more of choices, both in development of character/s and game story, and yes even dialog or interaction with world. Also I must say that for almost reason FF7, GTA or Assassin creed are not RPGs ( I played and loved them all but …), just getting new powers and toys as you go along or having limited control of that is not RPG.

          • killias2 says:

            meskus, are you sure you played Dark Souls? Because it doesn’t feel like you did at all: “ole playing asks for more of choices, both in development of character/s and game story, and yes even dialog or interaction with world.”

            Dark Souls has all of that, often to a greater degree than many other games in the genre. If you did play it.. did you just ignore the NPCs? The side-stories? The HUGE progression system that, frankly, puts most of its competitors to shame? I mean, sure, the game doesn’t hold you by the nose and say, “Here is the plot! Here are your choices!,” but Dark Souls is very much an RPG if you explore the world and the progression systems.

            meskus says:

            Dark Souls may be superb game, I played it amd loved it, but RPG it sure is not. By that standard many action games would be RPGs. Immersion in game world is a must for ANY good game not only RPGs, in that regard and by that standard even Call of duty,Resident evil, Assassin creed, GTA, Thief, Bioschok or even Quake III and Doom III could be RPGs as well, and lets face it, in essence some of those have more in common with DS than other games on list. DS might be taken as RPG in most widest meaning of the term, I mean,some may say if Diablo goes there then sure why not. But saying that playing the role of protagonist in a game makes it RPG is shallow. Player plays that role in any game be it Mario, Predator, Alien, Julius Caesar, Stalin, Nameless one, Geralt or some other, but not all games are RPGs. Any way putting DS in front of Fallout, Planescape , BG2 and other legends is just plain mistake. Great graphics, swords and magic, monsters bosses and good story don’t make it RPG, all that you could find in God of war and such. Role playing asks for more of choices, both in development of character/s and game story, and yes even dialog or interaction with world. Also I must say that for almost reason FF7, GTA or Assassin creed are not RPGs ( I played and loved them all but …), just getting new powers and toys as you go along or having limited control of that is not RPG.

        • killias2 says:

          “I like dialogues, interactive ones, in my RPGs. I like scope of interaction that is more extensive than killing thousands of monsters. I like branching storylines that reflect my choices and affect the world around me. So to me, Witcher series, while undeniably having action combat mechanics, belongs to an RPG genre lot more than Dark Souls does. ”

          It’s funny that, up until the final sentence, I had no idea whether you were defending Dark Souls or attacking it. I mean, seriously, Dark Souls may not have a Bioware-style interaction system, but it has branching storylines, choices and consequences, dialogue chains with divergent outcomes, etc. It just lets you discover them if you want to. It’s amazing how much ignorance there is in this thread about Dark Souls.

          • Paul says:

            Well sorry, I only finished both DS games and remember 95% of my time being slaying monsters.
            I mean, a bit of that RPG stuff may be there, but the focus is squarely elsewhere, namely on combat. Not to mention that for most of the lore and understanding, you have to read item descriptions, which i really do not consider compelling narrative. Most people just read wiki anyway to even know what the game is about. I did not feel any emotions during DS games, aside from anger or satisfaction during boss fights.

          • killias2 says:

            That’s your experience, but it doesn’t speak to Dark Souls’ validity as an RPG at all.

            Here, let me just give quick outlines of some of the NPC sub-plots in Dark Souls:
            1. Solaire wants to be like the Sun. He’s a hero, but he’s also a bit daft. If you let him help you prove himself in various boss battles, you’ll see his quest continue until its end. At some point you have to do something.. unexpected to keep his journey going. Or else he achieves in goal in a sort of sad, roundabout way.
            2. Princess Rhea is on a pilgrimage. First you bump into her and her party in Firelink Shrine. Eventually they move on but (spoilers!) are tricked by Patches into a trap. Both of her allies are dead. You can either save her or she is killed by… well.. the game implies it is another NPC in the game. If you save her, she is still eventually killed by the same NPC, or, if you kill them, she’ll live.. but eventually find the same fate as everyone in this setting.
            3. Siegmeyer of Catarina, another fellow looking to prove his worth as a hero. Again, you can help him achieve that task, but it often requires odd choices on your part. Sometimes heroes need to risk it all if they’re to prove their worth to themselves. You’ll also have to save his daughter, who is frozen in a strange land.
            4. Lautrec of Carim awaits you in a prison cell above a murdered firekeeper. If you choose to free him, he comes back to Firelink Shrine and stays.. for a while. Eventually he disappears and the firekeeper for Firelink Shrine dies. However, you find an odd item: the Black Eye Orb. Red Eye Orbs allow you to invade other players’ worlds, which suggests something similar. Eventually, the Black Eye Orb begins to shake. If you use it.. you invade Lautrec’s world (in a darkened Anor Londo). If you defeat him and his allies, you’ll receive the firekeeper’s soul. You can either use it empower your precious Estus Flasks or to gain humanity. Or you can bring your firekeeper back to life, reinvigorating the Firelink Shrine’s bonfire.
            etc. etc. etc.

            Dark Souls is filled with these sorts of sub-plots and side-quests. You just don’t get giant gold exclamation points with promised rewards at the end. A lot of the time, the reward is learning something about the world and the people who inhabit it. But these are RPG plots with narrative, choices, consequences, and world-building.

            It doesn’t have to be to your taste to be an RPG. It just has its own approach. But it’s just absurd to claim it is anything but an RPG.

          • mattevansc3 says:

            @Killias2

            I am going to have to disagree with you about Solaire (and for me this quest shows why Dark Souls is one of the better RPGs out there). Continuing his quest is the sad result.

            My wife work in mental care and told me about a particularly disturbing bit of legislation, the DOL Act. Its proper name is Denial Of Liberties Act and it allows the government to make decisions for you, without your consent, if it feels you are incapable of making sound judgement and its the government (or person representing the government) that gets to decide whether you are capable or not. You can likely see where I’m going with this.

            Yes the end to Solaire’s quest is sad but it is Solaire’s choice. With hindsight (or foresight if you are checking GAMEFAQS or the Wiki) you can alter Solaire’s personal quest, without his consent, because “you know what’s best”. What is Solaire’s response to this? It definitely isn’t joy or gratitude.

            Most RPGs put you in a decision making role. Bioware is awful for this, just look at the baby gene therapy sidequest in Mass Effect 1 to see how bad they are. Now its the vogue thing to do shades of grey, where there may not be a perfect answer. Dark Souls gives that entire notion the middle finger. All your interfering does is leave Solaire a broken man who did not get what he wanted. You never warned him, you never asked for his opinion or gave him the option to make the decision for himself. You knew what he wanted but because you didn’t agree with it you used the DOL Act. To make matters worse by removing his ability to make choices you literally turn him into your slave who you can order him to fight your enemies to complete your goals.

          • meskus says:

            DS has a good story, story branching and NPCs do exist, character progression is there, no doubt, so does a lot of other games that surly are not RPGs, and for me it simply doesn’t feel like true RPG should. That it has a lot of RPG in it I agree, but I see it as hybrid game. Great one in every aspect, but not RPG per se. Just to be clear I hate games that lead you buy hand. I started playing RPGs in late 80s. Trust me at that time there was very few such games of any kind, you had to draw maps on paper or to have real good memory, puzzles usually were hard and so on in ALL games, save pure arcades. I like DS a lot in good part because it reminds me of some games from that time, not so much in look and technics as in ” right kind of feeling” it delivers, but for me its not feeling of true RPG. I must say that, for me , ARPG or MMORPG games like Diablo III, Borderlands, DA Inq., Neverwinter ,their clones and such, where reflexes and speed-clicking count for a lot also present borderline cases in regard of being RPGs at all, depending how deep and relevant story, dialogs, choices and skills are for game experience. Although while writing this I must admit that in some of regards I mentioned Dark Souls IS just as or even more of RPG than DA: I or Diablo III are for example , but does it make DS more RPG or DA:I and Diablo less of one? Not sure. Be that as it may, I can not see DS as number one on a list, just as I don’t see on that position Diablo or DA:I etc. , or many of JRPGs, although I like them all a lot. Game must have true and pure RPG feeling and maximum of it to be on that position.

          • meskus says:

            As I wrote having subplots and NPCs stories, skill tree and character development isn’t enough. Assassin creed, HOMM, Warcraft, Starcraft Space marine, Dawn of war and God of war have whole lot of it but no RPGs there. Fantasy or SCFI setting and mythical or alien monsters also abound in those games but RPG feeling takes second place to something else although it is present and you feel it all the way while playing.

    • Zenicetus says:

      If Dark Souls is an RPG then so is Wolfenstein New Order. Just because it’s a fantasy gameworld and a guy wielding a sword doesn’t automatically make it an RPG. I think the fantasy background probably skews things.

      And I’d rate Witcher 3 a lot higher. It might be “new car shine,” but I think it’s a masterpiece of writing and execution, compared to basically all of the recently released games on the list.

      • Fenixp says:

        Eh… I’m really enjoying Witcher 3, but I think it completely fails in its progression mechanics, and CDP didn’t really design a great open world experience. The game is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, it’s just… I suppose it ties to the progression mechanics. So far it feels like the weakest of Witcher games TBH, but I do hope experience CDP gained here will be translated into Cyberpunk. Oh please let them actually create Cyberpunk.

    • Anders Wrist says:

      Dark Souls might be an RPG, but then it’s not the kind of RPG I enjoy. It might be good game, which most accounts attest to, but it holds none of the qualities I look for in computer RPGs. There, that’s my opinion which you totally didn’t ask for! Now someone go enjoy Dark Souls for me. :p

      By the way, Adam, I agree with you with regards to Daggerfall being the best Elder Scrolls. You’re not alone!

    • baozi says:

      A game where 99% of what you do is combat isn’t an RPG to me. I like Dark Souls, but it’s more of an action game with a few RPG elements. Like Borderlands.

    • Johnny_B_80 says:

      I think Dark Souls is a good game too. Its atmosphere, combat and lore are especially very well done. But top RPG? Above the likes of Baldur’s Gate 2, PS:T, Morrowind, or the Witcher series? I can’t agree with that.

  5. dontnormally says:

    “In Football Manager are not one with the fictional football manager who represents us in the game’s world?”

    This sentence is wonky.

  6. crazyd says:

    Woo, more low effort, cracked.com / buzzfeed Top X nonsense. I don’t get a site that eschews scores, as a game experience cannot be encapsulated well in a numerical form, but puts out lame lists like this that just says X experience is superior to Y. It’s just as arbitrary and meaningless as review scores, but even stupider as it’s directly comparing diverse experiences.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Please go and write 15,000 carefully-considered words about your favourite RPGs then get back to us about this ‘low-effort’ thingy.

      • DeepFried says:

        Its a good list, apart from one or two contentious choices. Every RPG fan would order the list differently, take a few out, put a few others in, but essentially this list gets it mostly right.

      • DrGonzo says:

        He was very rude, but he did have a good point that I’d like to hear your opinion on –

        “lists like this that just says X experience is superior to Y. It’s just as arbitrary and meaningless as review scores”

        To me, that makes perfect sense, You don’t approve of review scores, and I agree, and in fact I find this kind of list even worse. For example, Planescape Torment vs Dark Souls, how can these games even be compared to each other?

        Also, to respond by saying, ‘you trying writing an article’ basically. Does that mean next time you review a game and don’t like it, it’s a valid response to say to you, ‘well you try developing a game then’?

        • Jockie says:

          I think it’s up to reader to decide exactly how important a games placing on the list is. If you are absolutely outraged by someone deciding that X game is 4 places better than Y than that’s your problem rather than the person who wrote it.

          The counter point to that would be ‘well why do a numbered list in the first place then?’ and I suspect the answer is, the format brings in a lot of traffic. I think it’s a good list with some interesting choices and it’s far from lazy with every single game linking to further reading. The Arcanum omission does feel like a bit of an oversight though,.

        • JB says:

          “Does that mean next time you review a game and don’t like it, it’s a valid response to say to you, ‘well you try developing a game then’?”

          Sir, You Are Being Hunted?

        • Premium User Badge

          cbn says:

          Note the response was to the claim of “low effort”, not quality. Its perfectly reasonable.

        • Scripten says:

          With regard to that second point, I would say that the response was directed at the “low effort” jab, to which it is a perfectly reasonable response.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Articles, reviews, scores and lists are all just opinions. RPS uses the writers’ opinions to start conversations, this list has started a lot of conversations. Review scores only foster pedantry and “Better than HALO” posts.

    • Cederic says:

      I like the fact that RPS are giving us a nice simple reference, on a regular basis, covering different genres, and just releasing it on a Friday evening as ‘just another feature’ rather than drawing it out, trying to keep us hanging three days to see the top ten, actually clickbaiting with it.,

      You call it lazy, I call it games writing that I came here to read. Thanks RPS.

    • Hebrind says:

      Opinions, my friend, are like arseholes: Everyone’s got one, and they all stink.

      Read into that what you will.

      • Premium User Badge

        Risingson says:

        No: some opinions are better than others because they have some background, justification, context. And I see this opinion as completely valid: it is a lazy way to attract visits and generate hundreds of comments of “YOU DID NOT PUT MY FAVOURITE GAME AT NUMBER ONE”, which is exactly what RPS tried to do here.

        That the reaction to this criticism, the low quality of articles that I see from RPS lately and these lists among them, are answered etiher by fans like Cederic saying that this is “variety” (!!!!!!!! and more !!!1) and by the own Adam Smith saying that we should do the same and write (we’d do it, and many of us better than you, if we got paid for that, just because no-cost journalism is against journalism itself) is a sign of infantilization of RPS itself. I know you guys, writers, are successful and RPS is in its better state of readers ever, but as an opinion that you will use as a toilet paper, this is just going down the hole in quality. And that is the reason why I am not a supporter.

        Thanks all, bye, I’ll keep on reading anyway until I get tired definitively.

        • Hanban says:

          “which is exactly what RPS tried to do here.”

          As far as opinions on things go, this one would by your own categorization rank pretty low. Unless you’ve pried open the brains of the authors and looked into their true intentions.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      It’s even stupider.

  7. ChairmanYang says:

    It’s spelled “Anachronox”, not “Anachranox”.

    This is a generally good list that covers most of the essentials, although seeing Dark Souls at #1 is weird.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      To be fair, any list that doesn’t end with Ultima 7 in spot #1 is weird.

    • subedii says:

      No it’s “Uhnachranox”. Man you guys are dumb.

  8. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Dark Souls is an RPG? Who knew. Nice to see Hand of Fate and Space Rangers 2 get some love, though.

    • sg1969 says:

      If Witcher 3, Deus EX, and Fallout are RPGs, then why not Dark Souls?

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        I have the same questions about both DX games and NV. Thanks for asking?

      • blastaz says:

        Because of genre conventions!

        An rpg has quests and conversations, some choice and tells a story.

        If dark souls is an rpg is assassins creed?

        • Dale Winton says:

          Dark souls has quests , tells a story and offers choices

          • Myrdinn says:

            So does AC. Well, maybe not story-changing decisions, but is that the main prerequisite for a RPG?

      • killias2 says:

        I never had any idea there were so many people trying to say Dark Souls wasn’t an RPG. I mean, even RPG Codex gave it a high ranking (14th) in their ‘best of’, and they’re practically the most pedantic RPG site on the web.

        I mean, how is Dark Souls not an RPG? Not only does it have a progression system, but it’s easily one of the deepest in a modern RPG. You can take a weapon and upgrade it down like half a dozen different upgrade paths, which will work best with different archetypes. There are four different magic systems with different capabilities and stat affiliations. There are like 8 different types of damage with different properties. I mean, seriously, I could spend all day just talking about the progression system. Compare that with, say, Dragon Age or Diablo 3… or Assassin’s Creed (troll of the day: blastaz).

        In terms of story and “quests” and narrative choices.. Dark Souls has all of it! In fact, all of the NPCs have their own little stories that you can take part in, end prematurely, or just ignore entirely. A big part of the appeal is to help each NPC realize their fate, even though these fates tend to be “melancholy” at best. Beyond that, you can choose which covenant to join, whether or not to.. darken Anor Londo, whether to stick with Kingseeker Frampt or to take the side of his seeming rival, and how to end the game. I’d argue that Dark Souls has at least as much “choice and consequence” as many of the games in its genre.

        The difference is that Dark Souls doesn’t shove any of it into your face. You can play the whole game without really engaging with the plot or the NPCs at all. You could play the whole game like that and not even realize you’re missing so much. And that’s part of why it’s such a great game (in such a great meta-series): it rewards your curiosity mechanically but also.. emotionally and narratively.

        The simple truth is that Dark Souls is 10x the RPG of any Diablo-like or any other “action RPG” out there really. It doesn’t let the narrative drive the gameplay, but there is still a lot happening in terms of narrative/plot structure/choices that isn’t always so obvious.

        • blastaz says:

          10x the rpg of an action rpg = 1/4 of a real rpg.

          Action RPGs aren’t RPGs.

          • mattevansc3 says:

            How?

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            I’d argue that quests, combat and stats do not an rpg make. A world in which the player character(s) can make significant choices with similar consequences, does.

          • DeepFried says:

            aRPG is a sub-genre, personally i’d of created separate lists with a whole list just for aRPGs. The trouble of mashing them all together is you end up comparing things like Torment, Dark Souls, and FTL… which frankly have very little on common.

          • blastaz says:

            I would suggest that there is a thread of dungeon crawler/action rpg/hack and slash genre that stands separate from what some here would consider proper RPGs.

            The dungeon crawler, starting with dungeon master or earlier, puts the focus on killing, puzzle solving and survival. The environment is important exploring is fun and there are a lot of monsters to kill.

            This is different from the rpg. Where there are towns, npcs, conversations, quests.

            Both genres share mechanics like classes inventory levelling.

            But they are quite different genres.

            And claiming that the best hack and slash is better than the best talkie is fighting talk!

          • Premium User Badge

            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            Right. The common factor being that they are all RPGs.

        • meskus says:

          You got it right, DS may be more of RPG than Diablo, but my friend moding a WEAPON in 255 ways IS NOT definition of RPG, unless you are role playing a sword, God of war is prime example. Also “having nice little stories, somewhat sad true” for NPCs is not definition of RPG. Even Mortal com., Warcraft, God of War and Call of duty all have those (and few are even better and more gray, tragic and melancholic than some in DS, Warcraft has a lot of it and RPG elements too but RPG it is not). As I wrote earlier DS is more of a hybrid game, action with RPG elements. I agree that if you take Diablo and such as RPGs there is maybe space for DS too, but BEST RPG it simply isnt. If you compare it with ARPGs only, just maybe. It is a great game and I loved playing it but it doesnt make it best RPG. There were other games like it before,first and third person fantasy action games with rpg elements. Just because DS does almost everything much better than those games doesnt make it RPG, best one even less.

    • Zephro says:

      I think it is an RPG probably, but relies too much on my skill. So I’ve never gotten anywhere with it as it’s just too hard/fiddly for my ageing eyes. Loving the rest of the list wouldn’t make me recommend Dark Souls to the same players I think. I’d suggest Dark Souls to players of Bayonetta or Metal Gear Revengence.

  9. XhomeB says:

    Haven’t checked the list yet, because it fails to load atm, but if I find Betheda’s games in the top 40, other than Daggerfall and Morrowind, I’m going to openly question RPS’ competence.

    • ansionnach says:

      On seeing your comment they hurriedly re-edited the article to put Daggerfall and Morrowind in the place of Oblivion and The Terminator: Skynet…

  10. The True Turrican says:

    Albion? Arcanum? Are they really that forgettable? This is a sad day.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      No Arcanum is a crime.

      • moreaboutcrows says:

        Arcanum is the only RPG I know of in which it was perfectly viable to play a character that never learned – or even used – any combat ability, relying only on social skills to get the job done. If that’s not role playing at its best I don’t know what else is.

    • KillahMate says:

      No Albion is a real shame. A unique little gem, that was.

  11. ButterflyRogers says:

    You completely forgot about OMIKRON: THE NOMAD SOUL!?
    That game has more soul than Dark Souls!

  12. acheron says:

    Ok, Zangband and ADOM and Brogue but not Nethack? Geez.

    Also, Star Control 2 is objectively the best game of all time, and you didn’t include it in either Adventure or RPG, so I’m not sure where it’s coming. I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily call it an RPG either, but it needs to be somewhere.

    • jrodman says:

      I’ve played tons and tons of Angband in my life, but wouldn’t have put any version of it on here. It’s basically a combat game. it’s the turn-based template upon which Diablo is based (another game I wouldn’t put on a best RPGs list).

      Nethack is probably a better game overall, though I think for a smaller audience (I mean how many potential players would appreciate, not how many active players it has). ADOM is just cruel.

  13. Popitop says:

    I’m stunned. The complete absence of Geneforge, or anything from Spiderweb, period, is disrespectful to the history of PC RPGs.
    As someone who has only observed Dark Souls, and not played it, I’d really like to hear a more detailed description of how one plays a role in the game. The laurels you give it rest primarily on the execution of its action-based gameplay, which means it’s a great… fighter.
    It’s a fighting game.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Spiderweb was one of the first words we wrote down when we started the long-list. Take another look!

      • Popitop says:

        Yep, just realized Avernum was on there. (oops)

        • Adam Smith says:

          It would have been a sad list without Spiderweb. And Geneforge was the first pick but I prefer the second to the first and would rather recommend the first in a series.

          Lovely, intelligent games, all of them.

          • BethesdaEmployee says:

            its still a sad list and it could very well do without spiderweb if you had actual rpg’s in there like Arcanum instead of mass effect

          • DeepFried says:

            They’ve cast a very broad net on what they’re prepared to consider an RPG, then they just ranked them by how good the games are with no consideration to how good an RPG they are… its one way of doing it, not a way I would do it though.

          • Juan Carlo says:

            Which didn’t seem a problem with Baldur’s Gate 2. Or Mass Effect 2.

            I love all things Spiderweb, but the Avernums are really just pleasant, combat heavy, Ultima clones. They are comfortable, bread and butter, RPGs you can slip on every couple years like old shoes.

            Geneforge is their real masterpiece and should have been included in Avernum’s place. Geneforge 4 and 5 do choice and consequences better than 99% of the AAA studios (I personally see Geneforge 5 as Spiderweb’s best game…only problem is I don’t think most people, even some fans, make it that far into the series).

      • Vesperan says:

        I literally just finished Avernum: Escape from the Pit before opening up RPS and reading this story – and I think the Avernum screenshot is the wrong game?

        Maybe its a Geneforge game? (I’ve only done Avernum so I’m unsure, but I never encountered that screen/character pics)

        • Vesperan says:

          Ah, have found it on Spiderweb website – the picture is from the second Avernum game: Crystal Souls.

          …now I just want to buy that.

          • DeepFried says:

            Do yourself a favour and play the original Exile games, especially Exile 3; the Avernum games are basically dumbed down remakes. You’ll need a tolerance for 256 colours and 640×480 res though.

            link to spiderwebsoftware.com

          • Vesperan says:

            Tempting, I grew up on the old SSI Goldbox games (glad they got a mention) and so old graphics are no problem. Makes you appreciate modern resolutions once you’re done.

  14. teshia says:

    No Gothic or Gothic 2? Come on dude, you’ve missed out big time.

    Also, you claim that “FTL is about as close as anyone has got …(to)…producing truly interactive stories in games”. Don’t get me wrong, I love FTL, but how can you even say that with a straight face and not just burst out laughing? That is truly the craziest thing I have ever heard somebody say in relation to RPGs in a long time.

  15. BethesdaEmployee says:

    Mass effect 2 on the list but no gears of war or uncharted? :facepalm:

    • Geebs says:

      Mass Effect 1 was the only one with thematically appropriate chest high walls, which makes it automatically the best.

  16. DeepFried says:

    Hang on a minute… there are no Spiderweb games in this list! Exlie 3 is one of the best RPG’s i’ve played, and I’ve heard good things about the geneforge series, not played it yet though.

    • BethesdaEmployee says:

      Uhh can’t you see Avernum on the list?

      • DeepFried says:

        My bad. However IMO Avernum: Escape From The Pit isn’t a patch on Exlie 3.

        • BethesdaEmployee says:

          well its basically exile 1 remake

          • TillEulenspiegel says:

            With completely different game mechanics. I love Exile, but Avernum simply bores me. Especially the latest re-remakes.

  17. MaXimillion says:

    Three other ARPG’s on the list but no Path of Exile, not even as a mention alongside Diablo 2? Not only is it the worthy successor to D2, it’s also one of the best examples of a fair free-to-play model.

    • BethesdaEmployee says:

      its shit, greedy new zealand cunts

    • JeCa says:

      I have to agree, I personally found Path of Exile more enjoyable than Torchlight 2 in almost every single way.

  18. BethesdaEmployee says:

    WHAT IS THIS SHIT WHERE IS FALLOUT3 SKYRIM OBLIVION TOP 3, DIDNT YOU GUYS RECEIVE OUR HEFT CHEQUE THIS MONTH

  19. Gassalasca says:

    I really like these lists of yours, but this one is probably the worst one yet (still it’s mostly good, because you’re awesome).

    – No Arcanum.
    – Fallout is is no. 10 *behind* FTL (btw, FTL totally should be on the list)
    – No Gothic games
    – NO ARCANUM?!?!?!?!

  20. shrieki says:

    dark souls on first ? … hm maybe i should try to play that game one day i wasnt expecting it to be so good. i never tried it because it seems to be insanly dificult,frustrating 3rd person action combat a lá god of war which i really dislike in rpg´s – but maybe i´m wrong and i shall try it one day.

    • Paul says:

      Dark Souls is not insanely difficult. It requires good hands-eye coordination and a bit of patience, but it is pretty fair for the most part. And if you get really, really stuck at some boss, you can get help from someone else. It’s a great game, even if I completely disagree with putting it to the top of this list.

      • shrieki says:

        sounds good i should really try it then. :)

        • Rivx says:

          Please make a youtube series about it, its very enjoyable to watch blind playthroughs of it lol.

          J/k. The last guy I watched took 4 months to complete it, with a 30-60 minute episode every day :o

      • Zephro says:

        Hand Eye coordination is the thing. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say Dark Souls isn’t an RPG, but I played it for 20 minutes and decided it wasn’t the game for me. I have awful hand eye coordination and generally prefer things I can take at my own pace/style.

        So I’ve played almost all the games on this list and love lots of them. But I wouldn’t take my love of those as recommending Dark Souls to me. Not that it isn’t an RPG but just that the hand eye coordination makes it impossible for me.

  21. DrMcCoy says:

    A lot of your links are broken. It looks like the href attribute to the a tags are wrapped in smart-quotes instead of ” in many places. For example, the “it might not be too late” link in Anachronox. The “Have you played Anachronox?” link also has a space between the ” and the http in the href.

    The heading text for Din’s curse, after the image, is also broken. And Mask of the Betrayer has the wrong image.

  22. felipepepe says:

    List could really use Gothic II and Arcanum. Otherwise, good work.

    Also, including FTL already breaks the mold enough to include Jagged Alliance 2 and X-COM. AND King of Dragon Pass, since you’re so keen of new approaches to storytelling.

    • BethesdaEmployee says:

      Good work? they have mass effect 2 and witcher 3 on the list.

      and a completely random order

  23. Mark Schaal says:

    No Final Fantasy?

    • ansionnach says:

      Yay!

    • Frings says:

      Final Fantasy Tactics will always be in any top RPG list in my heart.

      • jrodman says:

        Despite that I ultimately found Final Fantasy Tactics unsatisfying (too railroaded, no sense of exploration etc), it was a fantastically constructed game, and certainly better than much of the dross on this list.

        • SaintAn says:

          You must have been playing the wrong Final Fantasy Tactics then.

  24. BethesdaEmployee says:

    Dark souls number 1 but no god of war or bayonetta on the list?

    • karthink says:

      Read the title.

      • BethesdaEmployee says:

        Dark souls is as much an rpg as god of war, sorry

      • carewolf says:

        Dark Souls was a terrible game on PC, it never really worked. I expect they dropped the “on PC” requirement in the end or at least made an exception with DS.

        • killias2 says:

          Not only did it work fine (even at launch without the mod), but it’s still the best version of Dark Souls there is (even without the mod). On the PS3, the game is laggy as hell, and loses frames like crazy, especially in certain areas like Blighttown.

          Of course, I always prefer ports that take advantage of the PC’s capabilities, but that doesn’t change the fact that Dark Souls PC is the best Dark Souls and Dark Souls is the best game.

          • carewolf says:

            Having to be fixed by user mod, is not working fine. Even after users fixing the game it still never worked well on a PC. It simply was not designed for keyboard and mouse. It is a console game, and doesn’t work when not played as a console game. You can pretend your PC is a console and connect it to a low-HD TV and connect a controller and then play DS, but then it not really a PC anymore and you are not PC gaming.

  25. Yhamm says:

    you have the same sshot for Wizardry VIII (#38) and Neverwinter Nights II (#35)

    • Yhamm says:

      what does that mean?

      it’s also the same image for daggerfall (#30) and kotor (#22)

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        I tried to point that out above, but everyone ignored me. :(

    • Frank says:

      Thank you. I was wondering about that one.

  26. BloatedGuppy says:

    Zany list.

    There’s a lot of stuff on there I’d barely consider an RPG (most particularly the rogue-likes and FPS hybrids with lite RPG elements at best…Dwarf Fortress is an especial head scratcher), and some of the placings seem to border on a piss-take (Skyrim is astonishingly low…I’m aware of the backlash but the game’s popularity and longevity are hard to ignore).

    On the flip side, it’s very nice to see a list where the existence of franchises like Ultima and Wizardry have not been forgotten (although Ultima IV and V were probably the watershed games in terms if the former franchise’s importance), along with other hoary old classics like Betrayal at Krondor or the old gold-box Pool of Radiance. Just missing Magic Candle and Legacy of the Ancients for the full nostalgic circuit!

    Also happy to see Witcher 3 placed highly…I’d have placed it at #1 myself, but I can appreciate a certain reluctance to push a freshly released game to the top of such a list over venerated and “safe” picks like Planescape Torment or Deus Ex.

    On the subject of Dark Souls as a contentious #1…although I am not a Souls fanatic, I do recognize it as a pretty special game. It is a masterclass of exposition free world building and atmospherics. As a game it can occasionally trend towards the pedestrian or mundane…yes, it’s precise and challenging and has some robust mechanical virtues, but it’s fundamentally a wash/rinse/repeat dungeon crawl that bears more than a passing similarity to MMOs. It’s difficult to find games that can match it in atmosphere, though. Witcher 3 at its best maybe. STALKER. Not very many.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Oh! S.T.A.L.K.E.R.! How could I forget? If FO:NV is up there, CoP should be too.

      Regarding your comment about the Ultimas, I’d agree that IV-VI is where Origin hit their stride, but U7 is their magnum opus. I think RPS made the right call by including VII in the list but recommending IV-VI in the text (it still belongs at #1, though).

      • BloatedGuppy says:

        Ultima as a series probably still belongs at #1 on any RPG list, due to how ahead of its time it was and the enormous impact it had on games coming after, to say nothing of its extraordinary longevity. Just throw all the Ultimas, World of Ultimas and Underworlds in a sack and stick a first prize ribbon on it.

        Could even toss in Ultima Online too, if you were feeling saucy.

    • DeepFried says:

      Dwarf Fortress can be played as a rogue-like in “adventure” mode, as well as the more well known fortress building mode.

      • BloatedGuppy says:

        I know, but it still feels like more of a strategy game to me. As someone else noted, if you relax the definition that far you look at clawing in games like Jagged Alliance 2 or XCOM (hell, even Medieval 2), and that way lies madness.

        • DeepFried says:

          Yeah if we were to go down that rabbit hole who knows where it would end… we might end up with FTL on the list!!

        • nearly says:

          To be fair, the inclusion of a game on the lists suggests that it’s one of the top 50 RPGs (on PC), but the absence of a title doesn’t at all preclude it being an RPG. A bigger list might very well include XCOM, or it might not. If you can make an argument for Y game being an RPG, then make that argument, and if you want to make an argument for it being one of the top 50, make that argument too. If you think you can make an argument for a game not belonging, go for it.

          It’s a genre, a game with turn-based strategy and base building mechanics can qualify as well as a game that relies on any other mechanics. It seems like a poor excuse for conversation to say “It’s a slippery slope” and then not really engage with any of the actual discussion.

  27. Wormerine says:

    35. Icewind Dale wasn’t Bioware’s. It was developed by Black Isle. It used Bioware’s engine though.

  28. karthink says:

    Why’d you have to order them numerically? Planescape: Torment and Dark Souls are such disparate experiences that aim to do things so differently I don’t understand how one can be considered better… or better executed.

    Also, I don’t hold games near enough to my identity to feel slighted if my tastes don’t align with yours, but I can’t help feeling a little glad that Fallout 3 isn’t on your list.

    Anyway. I hope to see a list someday of RPGs that excel at world-building, because that is the crucial factor determining my engagement with them. I can grapple with rubbish and overly busy interfaces, fiddly combat and terrible graphics if the world is coherent and reactive enough to suck me in. On that count, I’d discard about twenty games from this list, make some replacements (Mass Effect handily beats Mass Effect 2), add Arcanum to the list… and not present them in numerical order.

    • HopeHubris says:

      The combat in Planescape is terrible, the rest is great, but damn that combat…

  29. DeepFried says:

    I’m offended that STALKER call of Pripyat isn’t on the list.

    • BethesdaEmployee says:

      its a shooter, but you are right. the list has mass effect and dark souls

  30. Jockie says:

    I can’t believe you left out Geoff’s Hairy Adventures, what the hell is wrong with you?!

  31. Ufofighter says:

    I’ve played every single one of them.

    Wtf I’m doing with my life.

  32. Freud says:

    I’m fine with Dark Souls being first because it’s a superb game but I think The Witcher 3 should probably be ahead. It’s such a triumph in world building and storytelling. It sucks you in and keeps you there for 100+ hours.

    • nearly says:

      I think the negatives outlined in the article are why it’s not higher. I, for one, was really put off by the tediousness and some of the more bizarre design choices / mechanics. I wouldn’t say I’m closed to being sucked in, but there were definitely a lot of things that prevented such from happening.

  33. shrieki says:

    love to see betrayal at krondor on the list ! that game was probably my first rpg on the pc … memory.
    i remember the alchemy system was so awesome – no game after krondor had an alchemy system like that

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Mine too. I still love the idea of swords having a stab and a swing stat, regional weapons and accidently blowing up my party by striking a light.

  34. thekelvingreen says:

    Wow. I was certain the overhyped Skyrim would be at the top, or top ten at least. I am impressed, RPS. Well done.

    Good top five too. Ultima 7, yes! Baldur’s Gate 2, yes! Planescape, yes!

    I can’t agree with Dark Souls but that’s because it’s too based on reaction speed, of which I have none, where I prefer the Championship Manager approach of building up numbers and synergies and stuff to win through superior maths.

    • Cronstintein says:

      I would argue Dark Souls is a lot less dependent on reaction speed and more reliant on patience, care and attention to detail. Carefully peeking around corners will save you much more consistently than reaction speed.

  35. rexx.sabotage says:

    ♥♥♥ UnReal World ♥♥♥

    this is why I can’t give you up, RPS. no matter how much you irk me sometimes.

  36. draglikepull says:

    I’m a big fan of all the Mass Effect games, but ME2 is easily the weakest game of the series. The Illusive Man storyline (as well as Shepard’s early game death and resurrection) is a dumb distraction from the important business of fighting the Reapers.

    ME1 has the best story of the bunch (unravelling the mystery of the Citadel is fun, and identifying Saren early on as the key villain gives the game momentum and purpose), as well as some neat gameplay mechanics that they sadly nixed in the sequels, like the “heat” element of guns and much more interesting customisation of characters.

    Yes, ME3 has a dumb ending, but the 20-25 hours that precede it improve significantly on ME2. It moved the game a bit further back towards feeling like an RPG after ME2 felt mostly like an action game with dialogue trees, and it sidelines the Illusive Man story in favour of the much more interesting battle against the Reapers.

    • BethesdaEmployee says:

      See? even a fan has hard time considering Ass defect 2 an rpg, its pure trash

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      I also felt that ME2 was the weakest of the bunch.

    • karthink says:

      > the 20-25 hours that precede it improve significantly on ME2.

      The Krogan arc was good and the Quarian arc was okay, but nothing else about Mass Effect 3’s structure or plot made sense. And everything to do with Cerberus or Kai Leng was just awful, sloppy writing much worse than ME2’s.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, that was definitely a bad call. But it seems impossible to find anyone in the games media that isn’t madly in love with ME2 both as its own thing and over the rest of the trilogy (PC Gamer put it as #2 PC game of all time on year, IIRC), and at least they got the right Dragon Age and the right Elder Scrolls game…

    • Christo4 says:

      Not sure if i agree that it’s the weakest of the series, since i enjoyed it more than ME3, but compared to ME1 it definitely is a weaker RPG.
      The first game just feels a lot more like a sci-fi saga to me at least and it feels more like an rpg first shooter second while the second game feels more like a shooter first, rpg second (can i also add that the fact that weapons had a cool-down in the first game and you had flying grenades actually, in my perspective, added a lot more towards immersion).

    • Seraphithan says:

      …and much more interesting customisation of characters.

      ME1 does not have much more interesting customisation than ME2. Whether it is skills or equipment ME1 is chock-full of meaningless filler. The only advantage it has are its weapon mods.

      What does it matter if a skill has 12 levels if only 3 of those have a meaningful impact on the game. The different classes also play much more similarly than in ME2, with Vanguards and Infiltrators barley distinct from Adepts and Engineers.

      The item system is a mess with hundreds of “different” weapons that effectively behave the same, even across types and that’s ignoring the strictly superior spectre gear.

      ME2 reduced the raw number of different character builds but not the number of actually distinct ones. Hell with the addition of a choice for the fourth tier of skills it actually increased it.

      • malkav11 says:

        ME2 completely eliminated distinct builds because there are enough points to spend them on everything, and made the various classes feel much more similar because it made the skills largely ineffectual and removed individual cooldowns so there’s no reason to do anything but spam your most effective skill (if there’s any reason to even do that) and shoot. And the only hint of weapon variety absent the overpriced DLC are the heavy weapons, which are shared by all classes.

    • Cronstintein says:

      Funny I thought the reaper thing was a huge mistake and the worst aspect of the series. I would love a galaxy-spanning rpg space-opera but the end-of-the-universe alien invasion was poop. For this reason I liked ME1 the best. You traveled to diverse(kinda) locations investigating what as going on.

      I liked the gameplay in 2 but the last boss fight… (>.<)

      I wish they had removed that and had a bit more nuanced main plot line. Something political maybe, they had plenty of opposing factions to work with.

  37. macaronies says:

    Yay Dark Souls! It’s the first and last game I’ve played in a decade that has the same replay-ability for me as Super Mario World did when I was a kid, where visiting different parts of the game world was as fun as progressing through the game itself.

    I think Serpent in the Staglands would have edged out one of the newer titles in the 40’s, but it seems like just about everyone missed its release. There were also some large bugs on its release, but the 2-person dev team managed to fix all of the major ones in the first week or two. Ah well.

    • Amazon_warrior says:

      A friend of mine kickstarted Serpent, and gifted me a copy when it was released. Although I love the general premise of a “new” old-school cRPG, I haven’t managed to play much more than the first 10 minutes, in large part because of the really bad writing (in terms of both the content and the horrendous quantity of spelling and grammatical errors it contains)* and the confusion over the main character’s gender. “You can be a girl or a guy? YAY! Owait, the main character is very clearly canonically male. NOT YAY AT ALL.” I’m left wondering if my (female) character is supposed to be a lesbian (which would be interesting and awesome) or whether I’m merely playing a guy wearing a woman-face mask. Which is just…. ugh. And no amount of “Menz and wimmenz is equal hereabouts!” is going to lessen that initial “wait, what?” moment. Serpent has shown me very clearly that you can have a canonical main character or you can have completely flexible player-driven character creation, but it is very hard to have both.

      *I’m a professional copy-editor, so maybe it bothers me more than it would most people. But it REALLY REALLY grates in a game that clearly plans to throw vast quantities of text at me and ask me to care about it. I just wish they’d found someone competent to proofread everything before release. Ideally someone with little or no familiarity with the game, but really anyone with a basic grasp of grammar would have done. :(

  38. Goodtwist says:

    That was GabeN’s face alright carved in in the stone in The Banner Saga!!!

  39. Freud says:

    I’m not sure I would call Deus Ex or Space Rangers 2 RPGs. Having some sort of basic leveling/item upgrade system seems like a very low threshold.

    If those are RPGs, is Shadow of Mordor one? Assassins Creed? Darksiders? Borderlands?

    Many games these days are hybrids but I think Deus Ex is more first person stealth/shooter game than a RPG. Space Rangers 2 are lots of things, but much of it isn’t very RPG.

    • BethesdaEmployee says:

      mass effect 2 is the worst offence

    • Wormerine says:

      Deus Ex recognizes your character (especially early stage of the 1st one.) The way game remembers your actions and has NPC respond to that is brilliant. I think it is one of the most RolePlayRPGs out there, even though it is far different than the pen&paper inspired ones.

      But I think that is a problem in defining what RPG is. I, for example, don’t consider Diablo as an RPG. There is just no way to define who your character is, nor interact with the world in any interesting way. For me it is less about upgrade/stat thing and more if you can “play” the character. and if the game responds to what you do.

    • Christo4 says:

      Actually, in Space Rangers 2 you had a lot of RPG parts.
      Items (space ships, weapons, droids, radars etc.), some character stats which did matter, then you had reputation with the space rangers, then you had reputation as a pirate/trader/mercenary etc., then you had reputation with different planets, you could play as different races which each had their likes and dislikes for others and some other stuff.
      As per ROLE playing game, actually space rangers 2 is a pretty damn good one and gives you plenty of opportunities to do so. If you want, search for the rusty nail on google and see a really interesting blog regarding this.

  40. TillEulenspiegel says:

    I really appreciate that someone remembers Daggerfall. It’s been almost completely brushed aside ever since Morrowind came out.

    OK sure the graphics are horrific pseudo-3D, the controls are bad, and it still has quite a few bugs. But it’s jam-packed with wonderful ideas which further installments of the series have merely sampled from. More than anything, I’d really like to play a modern sandbox-y RPG that leans heavily on procedural generation, but without the “roguelike” structure.

    • AriochRN says:

      I’m quite looking forward to seeing what gets made using Daggerfall Tools for Unity – I believe a remake is in progress of the original game, with some of the new-fangled graphicals seen hither: link to youtube.com

    • Kala says:

      I REMEMBER.

  41. Wormerine says:

    I think I will never understand why people enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins so much. I felt it failed in every possible way.

    I wasn’t return to Baldur’s Gate as promised. The combat and character creation system was very basic which led to very boring battles (and the game consist entirely of combat and dull writing.) If you wanted to play it tactically you had to disable all the automated control and micromanage all of the skills yourself which was super tedious. You can rely on the manual scripting (which is cool) but then it plays just like an MMO. Which is horrible. I hate MMO combat.

    The attempt for the darker fantasy just didn’t work out. Bioware doesn’t know how to write morally challenging stories. Characters feel flat and “unhuman.” There wasn’t a single choice I was conflicted or invested in (well, maybe except choice between sparing Loghain and keeping Alistair.) There are clever ideas in there but they feel very stiff. There is a lot of very generic lore in the game and no thematic or character development after the Battle of O.

    It seems what they really tried to do is allow your character to have a place in the world. And I admit the opening of the game always has my interest. Giving your character background and backstory is a great idea. Too bad it completely forgets about it afterwards. I always forget who I play as (wait… I am a dwarf?) and I think it is due the lack of ability to align your character with anything what happens in the world. After you become Gray Warden your past and who you are just doesn’t matter. You can’t use your position to help elves. Being human won’t make elves distrustful. That sort of stuff. If the game recognizes your heritage it is for the purpose of explaining why it doesn’t matter anymore.

    Shame. Dragon Age is KOTOR with poor story, and way to much boring content. I wish it was shorter but packed more depth and choice. I always enjoy it until the end of Battle of O. and afterwards it just becomes a boring chore. Especially talking to companions who are too busy explaining what interesting spins on archetypes they are, instead of talking like living, thinking people.

    • Merlin the tuna says:

      The origins do matter eventually – mages & elves get slightly different remarks across the world, and all tie in to a quest down the road. E.g. one of the guys running for Dwarf President is your brother if you’re a dwarf, and the guy that’s poisoning Arl Eamon is an old colleague of yours if you’re a mage. Even this ends up mostly failing though, because what it does in practice is make all but one of your main quests impersonal and unengaging.

      Still with you on not getting the appeal of Dragon Age: Origins though. It’s hugely overstuffed, and even its strongest points are C- material.

    • silentdan says:

      I’m pretty sure it’s just a simple taste thing. I’m really, really harshly critical of … almost everything. And yet, I loved DA:O. I played through it, start to finish, 5 times, including the expansion, and loved every second of it. I loved the combat. I loved the writing. I loved the characters. If I were making a list of the top 50 RPGs, DA:O might not make #1, but it’s in my top 5 RPGs of all time. I vaguely recall thinking that there was a 2-3 hour stretch that I found less than inspiring, but otherwise, I consider it superlative from beginning to end. No accounting for taste, huh? :)

      • Frank says:

        I agree. I didn’t love it enough to play it all the way through, but DA:O is a lot of fun and I thought the combat was good.

  42. Myrdinn says:

    Can someone filter out the console-shared titles in this list? I’d probably agree aheckuvalut more if they were absent (not that they’re not great games, but like someone else said in this thread… how the heck are you going to compare a game like Torment with a game like Dark Souls, it’s like asking if FIFA or Need for Speed is the better game).

    • Anym says:

      The 30 Best RPG On PC Not Shared With Consoles:

      Planescape: Torment
      Baldur’s Gate II
      System Shock 2
      FTL
      Fallout
      Legend of Grimrock II
      Ultima Underworld II
      Dwarf Fortress
      Pillars of Eternity
      Zanbgand
      Vampire: Bloodlines
      NEO Scavenger
      Anachranox
      Avernum: Escape From The Pit
      UnReal World
      Din’s Curse
      ADOM
      Sunless Sea
      Daggerfall
      Titan Quest
      Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer
      Shadowrun Dragonfall Director’s Cut
      Wizardry VIII
      Betrayal at Krondor
      Darklands
      Brogue
      Torchlight 2
      Space Rangers 2
      Recettear: An Item’s Shop Tale
      Diablo II

      • Myrdinn says:

        Thank you. You are my hero. That’s one glorious list.

      • meskus says:

        I fully support this list, maybe with some changes in order or game or two more , but its right one by my reckoning.

  43. TheManko says:

    Where’s Final Fantasy 7 PC port? Or any Ys game? I guess they’re nr 51. But seriously Gothic 1 & 2 wipe the floor with Morrowind and Risen.

    • Wormerine says:

      Yeah, Absence of Gothic 1&2 surprises me.

    • Kala says:

      I love Final Fantasy 7, but it’s a bit desperate to try and claim it as a PC title, isn’t it? Sure, it was ported, but it’s a playstation game through and through.

      • Laurentius says:

        Well Dark Souls is also ported so what ?
        Final Fatasy VII came out on PC before Baldur’s Gate, it has PC version for soe many years, it’s legit PC title.

        • Kala says:

          I didn’t say it should be disqualified for the basis of being ported, I said “sure, it was ported” as in “sure, you can play it on the PC” – but it is clearly developed specifically for a console, both in how it looks and plays.

          (The 1998 PC port for FF7 was also terrible. The modern re-release is much better, but…it is 15 years later).

          I haven’t played much of Dark Souls; but aside from the really annoying controller instructions in the beginning giving it’s origins away, I wouldn’t really have been able to tell if it was developed for a specific platform, cross-platform, or port.

          • Kala says:

            …By comparison, I would say exactly the same (but inverse) about Baldur’s Gate. It is a PC game through and through.

      • Myrdinn says:

        Hey, if Dark Souls is a legit PC title, so should FF7 be. FF7 has mods and everything. Dark Souls had to be modded to even friggin play the game in 1080p.

  44. Epicedion says:

    Arcanum, Quest for Glory, Might and Magic.

    Of all games, though, Icewind Dale probably deserves a spot — I’d even argue that it’s superior to the Baldur’s Gate series due to its presentation and its refusal to follow the ‘poor orphan becomes world-saving god-being’ pattern. Icewind Dale is the closest of that era’s games to an actual pen-and-paper tabletop D&D game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      Was Quest for Glory on the adventure game list? I can’t remember if it was left off because it was “obviously an RPG”, and if so it should certainly be on this list!

      • jarowdowsky says:

        Really saddened me to see Quest for Glory missing. That first game embraces the kind of freedom in player choice I’ve almost never seen outside of a pen and paper RPG.

        Not only are the larger plot points approached in multiple ways, pretty much every object, right down to a humble tree represents different player options.

        That’s before even thinking sbout the remarkable setting of the second game and it’s sprawling Arabian world and time constrained tasks.

        A genuine shame to see the seties excluded from two lists, both of which could have hiven the games some much needed exposure.

        Harumpf!

  45. DrHuge says:

    I’ve read RPS for years and never registered but finally did to say this.

    All in all, great list, and everyone’s opinions are different so I don’t really have a complaint (though I think Dark Souls for top spot is really odd, to my mind it’s barely an RPG and more of an action game).

    But I am very surprised not to see Mount and Blade there. Yes, it can be shonky, but it provided an incredible of systems, combat, levelling and a believable, low fantasy setting. Not to mention the incredible richness of the modding scene, which has brought to the table the worlds of A Song of Ice and Fire and Warhammer Fantasy, a slew of original ones (Prophecy of Pendor comes to mind), and various historical settings (including the splendid, now that it’s largely fixed, Viking Conquest).

    Not a gripe, but a recommendation to fellow RPS readers to one of the best RPGs made in the last decade.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      M&B Warband is fantastic, and definitely worthy of a place on this list (quite high up, in my opinion).

    • Myrdinn says:

      I feel ashamed for not noting it wasn’t on the list. You’re right, M&B:W should be at least in the top 15

    • Christo4 says:

      Yep, i agree.
      It had pretty good role-play capability even in the base game, but with mods? Oh god, there’s just so much. Especially with stuff like you being under a lord and fighting as a low class soldier and rising through the ranks.

    • vlonk says:

      M&B:W is probably THE most open world you can roleplay in with procedural generated world bits and bytes. It’s many layers give you so many choices. You can play a lone robber pushing around farmers and raiding their villages, start a tournament career and court the women of the world or become a henchmen to a NPC or you can even found your own kingdom and defend it against the world. All unique and radically different experiences formed only by your very own wishes.

      This list – we must dissent.

  46. Laurentius says:

    Now I am super chill with this list. These are great games so it’s all right. A few games raised my eyebrows, like FTL, I adore this ( Steam says 140 hours in ) but I would never call it a RPG. Also I know I am in minority but both from Witcher and Mass Effect trilogies I would pick actually the first installments. Now my two best and most favourite cRPG are already so revered generally that I don’t need RPS to validiate these picks but I must say I am genuinely suprised that they even make it to top 50s. For me that stand on a top of cRPGs and maybe on a top of all computer games in some way, I can’t pick one over another as thay are best in their own way : FALLOUT 2 and FINAL FANTASY VII. They came to PC almost the same time and blew me away for ever, and not even in top 50, Iam not mad at all, just genuinely suprised, really.

  47. d00d3n says:

    I love that backtracking when it comes to New Vegas. The density of people in casinos and the number of plants in the NCR sharecropper farms are apparently sufficient after all.

  48. Montavious says:

    Dark Souls, number one? Lol.

  49. thvaz says:

    Dwarf Fortress must be the only game to make two of these lists in RPS (50 best strategy and this one). Though I would have a hard time considering Fortress mode as an RPG, adventure mode is very certainly an RPG (although very unfinished yet). It is the best game ever, so any position is fine.

    Dark Souls is certainly an RPG, though I wouldn’t put it at #1 as an RPG. Shadow of Mordor should have make it. FTL is an absusrd, though.

    • Anym says:

      Both Rising Storm and Arma III were on both the FPS and Simulation lists.