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The best RPGs to play on PC

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Featured post Best RPGs 2020

The best RPGs have always found their home on PC, but it’s a big genre and it can be difficult to know what you should play next. That’s why we’ve put together this list.

As always, we take a broad definition of the genre rather than trying to split hairs over what is and isn’t an RPG. Hopefully that means you should find something to play here that is to your tastes, whether you want party-based dungeon crawls, a dozen novels-worth of dialogue trees, or a hundred hours of stats-based combat. You’ll also find games both old and ancient, though we’ve favoured those games that we’d still recommend you play today. Everything here should run easily on modern PCs, even if the game is old enough to drink.

Don’t find your favourite RPG among the 50 we’ve chosen here? We feel your pain: we had to exclude many games we love from the list, as well. Rather than vent your frustrations in the comments section, considering using the space to write about why you love the absent game. You might consider us or someone else to start playing it.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a different kind of game entirely, check out our list of the best PC games to play right now. There might be a new RPG on the list, but there are lots of other genres represented as well.

Best RPGs

The full list of the best RPGs is below, split into pages for ease of navigation. You’ll find the page links at the bottom of each page. Onwards!

Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom - Best RPGs

50. Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

More often than not, the best JRPGs on PC first enjoyed life on other platforms. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, however, feels like it was born for it. On the surface, it looks like your standard anime JRPG, what with its cute Studio Ghibli-inspired characters, cat-eared protagonist, world-ending plot and bright, colourful art style. But underneath all that is a game that taps straight into the veins of all the classic PC staples, from town-building to real-time strategy battles.

Naturally, it doesn’t go so deep into these elements that it’s going to trouble the very best games from those genres, but building up your titular kingdom, recruiting villagers from other towns to come and man special buildings and occasionally setting off to defend your lands from unwelcome intruders are all welcome additions and diversions to this otherwise fairly traditional JRPG. They’re also way more engrossing than the Pokemon-style monster battling / collecting of its predecessor, which recently came to PC in the form of Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch Remastered.

Revenant Kingdom also improves on the shortcomings White Witch by giving your AI-controlled companions an actual brain when it comes to taking care of themselves in combat, and making you more invested in its swathe of sidequests. After all, what better reward is there than cheering up someone so much that they want to immediately up sticks and follow you back to your brand-new town (especially when their all-important potion knowledge means you can finally open that shop you’ve been hankering after)? Much better than a pouch of coins and some bananas, right? Its wider plot may tread familiar ground compared to other JRPGs on this list, but with so many PC-friendly nods feeding back into its core systems, Revenant Kingdom remains one of the most refreshing JRPGs we’ve played in years.

Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

What else should I be playing: Few games come close to matching Revenant Kingdom’s broad spectrum of ideas (except maybe Nier: Automata), but if it’s more strategic battles you’re after, Valkyria Chronicles should be your first port of call. Fancy a bit more town-building that you can customise the nth degree and only have to deal with a smattering of real-time battling? Check out Dragon Quest Builders 2.

49. Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask Of The Betrayer

It’s odd that Neverwinter Nights 2 tends to get forgotten when listing Obsidian’s RPGs. Although it’s likely for the finest of reasons – it’s so close to the glorious work of BioWare and Black Isle that you’d think it was theirs. With Chris Avellone behind the pen, it took BioWare’s much more DM-focused original and developed it into an elaborate, enormous single-player RPG. Seeking silver shards, and an ancient baddie called the King Of Shadows, it closely followed D&D’s 3.5 edition, and indeed came with the tools for people to play their own campaigns. But where it shined the brightest was its companions. The star is Khelgar Ironfist, a furious dwarf who is probably the best RPG companion to have been written. But tiefling Neeshka and sorcerer Qara also stand out. It is a stunningly funny game.

Then along came expansion Mask Of The Betrayer – more of a sequel than anything – and was perhaps better than the main game. Split into two mirrored worlds, it borrows rather heavily from Zelda as it lets you explore two versions of the same areas. Spirits are devoured, gargoyles kidnap, and the soul of the Founder is up to naughty business. The companions aren’t nearly as fun, but the story is epic and compelling, exploring themes of religion in a deep and intelligent way.

Where can I buy it: GOG

What else should I be playing if I like this: Dragon Age: Origins for sure. If you’re after something that’s hardcore D&D, have a look at Black Isle’s Icewind Dale.

Hand Of Fate 2 - Best RPGs

48. Hand Of Fate 2

Hand Of Fate’s Dealer is the best attempt games have made at a virtual dungeon master: a goading, hooded figure who lays down cards from a deck of narrative events, building short-form RPGs across a table top. Maybe the next draw will be a brawl, played out in simple third-person hack-and-slashery, or perhaps a mystic glade, full of replenishing balms. Knowing the bastard in the hood, it’ll likely be whatever you don’t want to happen. But at least there’s less chance of repetition in Hand of Fate 2 – the Dealer can screw you in many more colourful ways.

What elevates the sequel, beyond more polished combat and greater event variety (including companion cards granting you sidekicks with their own side stories to explore), is a twist to each miniature campaign. In one you might be sniffing out the culprit of a murder, hoping to find evidence hidden in the cards laid on the table. In another you’re protecting a lovestruck fool, his injuries eating into the resources needed to carry you through the adventure. These wrinkles lay extra layers of strategy on an already diverse deck of encounters, giving the game a much needed hook missing in the first.

Alas, the Dealer dealt a bad hand to his creators – Defiant Developments ceased all game development in 2019 – but Hand Of Fate 2 remains a testament to their considerable talents.

Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG

What else should I be playing if I like this: The first game previously had a home on this list and is still excellent. Or go play some pen-and-paper roleplaying games with your mates.

Dwarf Fortress - Best RPGs

47. Dwarf Fortress

A great game. So much is written about Dwarf Fortress as a development curiosity, or Dwarf Fortress the strange two-person passion project, or Dwarf Fortress the anecdote generator. Very little is written about Dwarf Fortress the great game. It’s a fantasy simulator which doesn’t just do a lot, it does a lot well.

It’s not simply that it generates a vast fantasy world with history, culture and enormous landscapes; it’s that choosing your starting location within that world works like a kind of granular difficulty setting, letting you pick the level and type of challenge you want to face. It’s not simply that its physics simulation allows for the creation of complicated machinery; it’s that the game incentivizes those creations as dynamic goals in a way that suits the in-game fiction, sending nobles with increasingly grand demands to stay in your colony. There’s so much that’s weird and intimidating about Dwarf Fortress, but there’s also a lot of game design behind the stories of mourning pets and the simulation of growing finger nails.

And if fortress mode doesn’t appeal, there’s always adventure mode, which lets you explore those same generated worlds – and your own failed fortresses – as a single explorer in a traditional roguelike experience. Dwarf Fortress may have twenty years left in its development, but it’s very much worth playing today.

If you’re looking to get into Dwarf Fortress, download a starter pack from here, which will set you up with a pre-installed tileset and some useful third-party applications for managing your fortress. Then hit the Dwarf Fortress wiki.

Where can I buy it: You can’t, because it’s free. A cleaned-up version is coming to Steam with its release date marked as “time is subjective”.

What else should I be playing if I like this: If you can overcome the initial learning required to play Dwarf Fortress in Fortress mode, then you can learn to play anything. Why not pursue similarly grand and human anecdotes in Crusader Kings 2.

Diablo 3 - Best RPGs

46. Diablo 3

Diablo 2 is still an atmospheric treasure worth revisiting, but 2012 brought a third entry in Blizzard’s famous dungeon crawler. Despite DRM, and thus an unfortunate always online policy locking it off to anyone with a shaky connection, Diablo 3 has become the definitive way to play a Diablo game.

Diablo 3 takes everything you love about the series and polishes it up a bit. Controls are simpler, enemies more menacing, locations more beautiful. Updating the style from a 2D isometric game to a 3D game but viewed from an isometric angle gives so much more depth to the world. The introduction of new classes like the Demon Hunter and Monk made ranged and melee RPG characters fun. Imagine an RPG where you don’t default to a spellcaster as the most enjoyable class to play! Imagine!

Diablo games are meant to be played repeatedly, and in groups, and Diablo 3 is the best version of the game for that too, with better random encounters and loot drops. It’s still a game where you can spend hours theory-crafting the best builds with guides open on a second screen, but you can also lean back and let it wash over you while you chat and blow apart skeletons with friends.

In a clever move, Diablo 3 also leverages the tyranny of nostalgia, most especially in the soundboard. Potions glug in exactly the same way you remember from the old Diablo. Treasure makes the same bright shiny ting! when it drops. And, of course, everything starts off in Tristram, a town once again overrun with the undead. Home insurance there must be through the roof at this point.

Where can I buy it: Battle.net

What else should I be playing if I like this: Diablo 2 reigned supreme in previous versions of this list, and we still prefer it in lots of ways.

Chrono Trigger - Best RPGs

45. Chrono Trigger

They really don’t make ’em like they used to. Indeed, when Chrono Trigger’s long-awaited PC port finally teleported onto Steam in 2018, there was absolute anarchy. What should have been a celebration of one of the best JRPGs of all time turned into an uproar over font choices, audio bugs, and other assorted technical hitches. We’re almost surprised Chrono Trigger didn’t just disappear entirely and go back to the rosy SNES-filled heyday where it came from. Something had clearly gone wrong in an earlier timeline.

Thankfully, a couple of repeat trips to the past (or, err… patches) have corrected the course of this time-travelling epic, and have left it in a much better shape than when it first launched. And what an incredible journey it is, too. Born from some of the best JRPG minds in the business, Chrono Trigger was truly ahead of the curve compared to the Final Fantasies and Dragon Quests of its day (which is ironic considering the creators of both those series were spearheading this one), telling a story that spanned thousands of years, from prehistoric times right up to the flying cities of the future, with multiple different endings.

Then there was its exquisite active time battle system. Part turn-based, part real-time, Chrono Trigger let you combine certain party member’s attacks for even greater damage, adding a welcome layer of strategy to the mix as you chopped and changed characters. Other games have tried to ape it since, most notably Tokyo RPG Factory’s I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear, but there’s no topping Square’s original and best.

Where can I buy it: Steam, Humble

What else should I be playing: Sadly, Chrono Trigger is still in a class of its own when it comes to its time-travelling story-telling (at least until Nintendo DS gem Radiant Historia makes its way to PC). I Am Setsuna will scratch a similar battle itch for a while, but you’re probably better off going full Final Fantasy. VI is made by the same team, but the PC version is sadly a port of the ‘HD’ mobile version, not the original SNES game. If you can stomach the art style, go for it. If not, stick with IV, whose PC port is based on the excellent DS remaster. Also check out Octopath Traveller if you dig Chrono Trigger’s huge cast of characters.

Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines - Best RPGs

44. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

A broken mess in many ways, but as, if not more, timeless than anything else here. This adaptation of the modern-day vampires pen ‘n’ paper RPG is steeped in sex, grime, horror and manipulation, and despite some pulp sensibilities it still goes to places other mainstream games dare not. To places other vampire fiction dare not, too. Though it boasts a particularly excellent haunted house sequence and the option to play as someone capital K “Ker-azy”, it’s the game’s dark exploration of sex, control and dependency which prove most memorable. It’s this, rather than the outright horror elements, which makes Bloodlines’ Santa Monica such a sinister and destabilising place – and one in which you get to experiment with your own dark side.

But yeah, bugs: Bloodlines comes from that grand tradition of uncommonly ambitious RPGs which shipped before they were finished. The worst ones are fixed now, but expect a bit of a rough ride unless you install the robust fan patch, which polishes a lot and completes some unfinished and cut content. (You should install the fan patch.)

Where can I buy it: Steam and the second-hand market.

What else should I be playing if I like this: The original Fallout games are Bloodlines’ ancestors – though lacking the gothy or erotic aspects, the amorality’s there.

Din's Curse - Best RPGs

43. Din’s Curse

If somebody were to tell you that ARPGs in the Diablo mould are clickity-click fests with nothing to recommend them beyond the slot machine of loot gathering, you could point them toward Soldak’s library of games to prove them wrong in an instant. For more than ten years now, Steven Peeler’s company has been producing games that examine, explore and expand the possibilities of the ARPG. All are worth playing but Din’s Curse is still the crowning glory. It’s Diablo set in a fully randomised world, in which townspeople and monsters alike act independently when you’re not on the screen. It asks a very simple question – “What would happen if the monsters really were plotting something and the town of Tristram could fall in real-time?” And then it provides the answer.

Where can I buy it: GOG, Steam.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Soldak’s other games offer interesting takes on action-RPG mechanics, most notably the dynamic sci-fi adventures of Drox Operative.

Kenshi - Best RPGs

42. Kenshi

A “free-roaming squad-based RPG” says the Steam page, somewhat underselling this laughably complex supergame. Kenshi begins as many other open world fantasy roamer might. You create an average schmuck in a tough post-something desert world. Maybe a slave, maybe a farmer. But it soon turns out to be deeper than that. It’s about stealing food to survive, or getting fatally mugged on the road to the next town. It snowballs into a management game about a small group of misfits (mercenaries, settlers, explorers – your call). Stick with the weirdo interface and puzzling world of rice paddies and dive bars and you may eventually be building a whole town for your clan by plopping down huts. Or, more likely, you will be lying in the dunes, playing dead among the corpses of your family. Death in Kenshi comes quick, whether by starvation or by the club of a bandit. This is a harsh RPG that often doesn’t stop to explain itself, but to those who fight through the repeatedly fatal learning curve, it will give you stories far unlike the usual quest to become a common world-saver.

Where can I buy it: Steam, GOG, Humble.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Fallout 4 has companions and settlement building in its familiar nuclear post-apocalypse. Rimworld is a colony management game with a similar story-making quality.

Avernum: Escape From The Pit - Best RPGs

41. Avernum: Escape From The Pit

If Spiderweb Software didn’t exist, somebody would have to invent it. The studio, led and operated by founder Jeff Vogel, has been responsible for some of the finest RPGs of the last twenty years. When Kickstarter kickstarted their “old-school” RPG revival, anyone clued in to Vogel’s work would have been entitled to raise an eyebrow in wry amusement. Through several series and one standalone game, Spiderweb have never shifted from their recipe of wide-ranging plots, turn-based combat, isometric graphics and detailed worlds. Avernum: Escape From The Pit, the latest revisit to Spiderweb’s original Exile trilogy, is a great starting point into these wonderfully well-crafted non-linear behemoths.

Where can I buy it: Direct from the studio, Steam.

What else should I be playing if I like this: Vogel has been making RPGs under the Spiderweb moniker for two decades and there’s plenty in the back catalogue to sink your +4 teeth into. The Geneforge and Avadon series are both fantastic, and the former contains unusual gene-splicing.

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