June 17, 2024

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Best RPG games on PC 2023

Looking for the best RPG games on PC? As one of the oldest game genres out there, the diversity of these beloved games is hard to express. You can have everything from interplanetary exploration, lightsaber duels, and bloodthirsty vampires to irradiated mutants who need to be beaten with golf clubs, lizards who can talk to cats, and a whole lot of dice rolling if that’s your jam.

The scale and scope of RPG games are like never before, with tech finally catching up to developers’ ambitions, enabling vast, open worlds previously unseen. As a result, some of these adventures are among the best PC games ever made. So, dear traveller, gather your party and head out. We’re about to bear witness to the best RPGs available on PC.

The best RPG games on PC are:

Neverwinter

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way first. Yes, Neverwinter is a free MMO, but it’s also one of the best free RPG games around. If you have a soft spot for the lore and history of D&D’s Forgotten Realms, then it’s also a great Dungeons and Dragons game. You can pick one of eight possible classes covering all of the classics, from rogues and rangers to wizards and paladins.

Across the main campaign, dungeons, and raids, you’ll get to embark on some truly memorable adventures, whether finding a disgruntled demon somewhere to rest where they won’t be disturbed or engaging in a 12-part campaign to defeat Baphomet. Almost every key location you’ve heard of in the Forgotten Realms, from Ravenloft to Chult, and all content in Neverwinter, old and new, is free. Just be ready for a grind when it comes to some high-tier items.

Best RPG games - Ciri from Witcher 3 is standing on a cliff face overlooking a castle on a hill.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3 takes all the moral ambiguity, challenging subjects like racism and bigotry, and, of course, monster hunting from the previous games and puts them in a massive world with saucy scenes to rival the most salacious of sex games. The result is an extraordinary RPG that sets the standard for open-world adventures, as seen in our The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt review.

Every quest is an opportunity not just to learn more about the war-ravaged lands and their inhabitants but also to be drawn into the knotty drama. A simple contract, such as directing series protagonist Geralt to slaughter a monster, can transform into an elaborate series of consequence-laden stories that span several hours, making this one of the best single-player games of all time.

Navigating this dark, complex fantasy world being brought from book to screen is a delight, even with its occasionally oppressive and miserable locals who need problems solving. Even better, CD Projekt Red produced arguably the best DLC ever made with Hearts of Stone and Blood & Wine (our Witcher 3: Blood & Wine review is here), which has even better quests than those in the base game. The Witcher 3 is meant to be devoured until nothing remains. Since we’ll be waiting a while for The Witcher 4 release date, you can try replaying this third entry with a selection of the very best Witcher 3 mods.

Best RPG games: Elden Ring. Image shows a knight slashing a weapon against a creature in a dark environment.

Elden Ring

Elden Ring is a great RPG game, but it also ticks a ton of other boxes. It’s a top-tier open-world game and a wonderfully vivid fantasy game. It’s got hardcore combat as a key part of the gameplay loop, so it skews more towards the action-RPG side of the spectrum if that’s important to you. But don’t just take our word for it; not only can you read our glowing Elden Ring review.

As one of the ‘Tarnished’, you must explore the Lands Between and unravel the mystery of what’s transpired, but you must also take on the realm’s fallen heroes to become the Elden Lord. You’ll need to find and wear the fabled Elden ring to begin a new age. If you’re going to brave the horrors of this land, you’ll want to arm yourself with some Elden Ring beginner tips, as well as guides to all of the Elden Ring bosses, the best Elden Ring weapons and armor, and you might want to read up on Elden Ring Great Runes as well. You know, just in case.

Best RPG games - A kid is climbing a fence to reach the people investigating a pile of scrap.

Disco Elysium

When you awake in Disco Elysium after an obliterative night of drinking, you’re so hungover you can’t even remember who you are. From thereon out, it’s up to you exactly what type of dishevelled, dysfunctional, disturbed detective archetype you want to be in this secret detective game.

Unlike many RPGs, Disco Elysium eschews any conventional combat and entrusts all its interactions to dialogue screens. As the game’s opening makes clear, your rapidly assembled psyche isn’t exactly stable. Disco Elysium lets you play with each strand of thought, expand them, and use them to your advantage as you seek answers about a grim murder case. Check out our Disco Elysium review for a more in-depth analysis of why this game is so good.

Best RPG games: Divinity 2. Image shows the powerful character creator in the game.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Like the original – which we love, as it happens – Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a love letter to classic pen-and-paper RPGs. It’s a tactical RPG that, unlike many modern RPGs, refuses to give you simple binary choices, sucking you utterly into an enticingly detailed world.

The extensive freedom you will have begins with the character creator, which teaches us to roleplay as someone other than ourselves. You can, of course, design your hero, but there are also six unique origin characters to choose from with their backgrounds – from the arrogant lizard, the Red Prince, to the new undead race. Every decision matters, as you’ll have to live with the consequences that give every tricky dilemma an unnerving gravitas. Gameplay is no less punishing: you will need to learn and exploit the contours of the terrain to gain an advantage in combat. Prepare for a spanking if you fail to get to the high ground to deal greater damage.

In our Divinity: Original Sin 2 review, we said: “Divinity: Original Sin 2 stands as a remarkable example of three genres: the classic roleplaying game, the online arena battler, and the tabletop-style adventure enabler.” We haven’t even gotten started on the multiplayer aspect, including the Game Master mode, which really brings the Dungeons & Dragons inspiration to the fore.

Best RPG games: Cyberpunk 2077. Image shows a feminine person with a futuristic chic to their style.

Cyberpunk 2077

To say Cyberpunk had a bit of a rocky launch would be an understatement. CDProjekt Red’s massive Cyberpunk RPG has great potential, as noted in our Cyberpunk 2077 review, but its first year was rough. The good news, though, is that eventually, it got good, and the game’s finally ready to take its place in our compendium of top RPGs.

You play as highly customisable protagonist V, a mercenary outlaw tasked with chasing down a one-of-a-kind implant that may hold the key to immortality. You explore the gigantic metropolis Night City, meeting a whole array of quirky characters as you embark on countless main and side quests. Once you’ve sampled the city’s delights to your heart’s content, you can then check out some Cyberpunk 2077 mods to enhance things even further.

Best RPG games - several people are fighting against giant spiders and other monsters near a cave in Pillars of Eternity.

Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity is an exceptional RPG. It evokes the best parts of old games using the Infinity Engine, like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment (both found elsewhere on this list) while digging its path with a compelling fantasy yarn and a richly detailed original world. No wonder we found it one of the best games of 2015.

This is Obsidian Entertainment at the top of its game, with the beautiful writing the studio is known for wrapped up in a polished adventure – a combination that the team has struggled to nail in the past. Despite Pillars of Eternity being a massive RPG with many options and boasting plenty of choices and consequences when interacting with the many Pillars of Eternity characters, everything is crafted with so much care, down to the smallest detail. Religion, philosophy, class warfare, and the world of Eora overflow with conflict and crises – every region on the map is filled with problems waiting for nosey adventurers. Even the most seemingly mundane quests can offer insight into the world or the chance to create a reputation, good or bad – as we discovered in our Pillars of Eternity review.

Instead of cashing in on the popularity of its spiritual predecessors, Obsidian builds on those strong foundations to create an experience that doesn’t rely on nostalgia to deliver its hits. It’s a solid step forward for this type of RPG, and the overall experience is even more reminiscent of tabletop RPGs than many of those rooted in D&D. It might have been a more iterative sequel. However, our Pillars of Eternity 2 review finds that it loses no sense of adventure that the original game established.

Best RPG games: Wasteland 3. Image shows a run down camp in a snowy locale.

Wasteland 3

Set in a frozen and bleak Colorado, the inhabitants of this apocalypse game fall into two camps: helpful and well-meaning townsfolk or psychopathic monsters out for blood. There’s no real middle ground, and everything has a price. Combat is turn-based, like in previous Wasteland games, and it can be tough to survive out there in the wilderness, but it’s a rewarding experience once you get into good habits.

This means conserving resources where you can, picking unnecessary fights is the fastest way to drain your ammunition, use up medkits grenades, or lose one of your best fighters to a bullet to the head. Doing favours for NPCs puts you in good standing with some factions and provides valuable resources, but you risk rubbing other people up the wrong way, so striking a balance is paramount to finishing the game.

Our Wasteland 3 review says it’s a game that “takes you on a moral journey and corrupts you, making everything you thought was so unfeasible about an apocalypse seem so normal”. With plenty of different companions to recruit, you can outfit your squad with all the best Wasteland 3 builds, but quick thinking can keep your group alive. If impending peril sounds up your street, this RPG is well worth picking up.

Best RPG games: Fallout: New Vegas. Image shows a person whacking someone with a golf club while someone watches in the background with a gun.

Fallout: New Vegas

Obsidian took the format of Bethesda’s 3D, first-person Fallout. Then it reinstated the theming that made the original isometric games so great, blending it with features that make it resemble some of the best Western games. You feel like you’re fighting through the wastelands instead of being nudged along by an invisible director.

Fallout: New Vegas makes you one of the unfortunate survivors of this world. After the first hours, your mission runs out of leads, leaving you to venture where you like: interacting with whomever you want, being good, evil, or anything in between to make New Vegas the most adventurous Fallout game. You can team up with the New California Republic, join the slave-loving Legion, stand up for the sleazy people of New Vegas, or be a self-serving asshole. You can also build your own game by combining the best Fallout: New Vegas mods should you exhaust the main game’s offerings.

The writing, worldbuilding, and black comedy are all spot on in New Vegas – Fallout: New Vegas’ Come Fly With Me quest remains one of our favourites. While we are on the subject, what will it take for Bethesda to let Obsidian take another crack at the universe?

Best RPG games - Baldur's Gate II. Image shows a dragon in a dungeon.

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn

D&D’s lands of the Forgotten Realms are meticulously recreated in Baldur’s Gate II. It’s filled to the brim with gorgeous environments, just waiting to be explored. And, within them, quests! So many bloody quests. Hundreds of hours of saving villages, delving into mines, fighting mad wizards, slaughtering Gnolls, and even a trip to the Planes – explored in more detail in Planescape: Torment – and a deadly adventure into the Underdark.

Elevating these many quests is exceptional writing and dialogue from the legendary Chris Avellone. Baldur’s Gate juggles wit and satire with solemnity and gravitas, drawing players into even ostensibly simple quests. It’s the party of adventurers that join you who get the best lines, of course, and none more so than Minsc, the infamous Ranger who talks to his cosmic space hamster, Boo.

Baldur’s Gate II also has the distinction of having one of the best antagonists in any game: Jon Irenicus, expertly voiced by David Warner, a top-notch player of villains. Arrogant, powerful, deformed, and with a hint of tragedy, Irenicus has all the hallmarks of a classic villain. Even though he is not present throughout most of the game, his influence seeps into everything, which is as great a testament to his manufacture as any.

Best RPG games: Mass Effect Legendary Edition. Image shows a feminine human standing between two alien creatures.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

It’s hard to say which Mass Effect game is the best, and luckily we don’t have to, thanks to EA’s ‘legendary’ compendium of all three. According to our Mass Effect Legendary Edition review, this is the best way to play the space saga. It has everything you could ever ask for in an RPG: thrilling battles, epic storytelling, and many Mass Effect Legendary Edition romance options across all three games. You can play all three games in order, keeping your relationships with characters across the entire trilogy, or jump into the game you choose.

Mass Effect also perfectly marries the sub-genres of speculative fiction and space games and is BioWare’s greatest achievement in terms of world or, rather, galaxy-building. The exploration and pseudo-science of Star Trek, the cinematic action of Battlestar Galactica, and the fantastical elements of Star Wars are all on show, artfully combined in this tense (and ultimately, suicidal) mission to save the galaxy.

BioWare’s typically excellent dialogue punctuates dramatic set-pieces and workmanlike squad-based combat. Simply wandering around alien locales, sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong – because that’s what humans do in space, apparently – adds to the overall package. With all of the Mass Effect Legendary Edition mods now available, it’s the best way to play the trilogy.

Best RPG games: Skyrim. Image shows someone getting ready to fight a dragon in a snowy environment.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim isn’t just one of the best RPGs on PC. It’s an institution that remains relevant and eminently playable long after its 2011 debut – tirelessly tugging players back in by their mage robes. With the help of many Skyrim mods and Skyrim console commands, of course.

The atmosphere is infectious, aided by perhaps the finest musical theme of any videogame. Whether you’re battling gargantuan dragons atop the Throat of the World as its frosted mountain peaks pierce the sky or simply answering the enigmatic chime of the Nirnroot plant by a river’s edge, Skyrim is a game that implores you to unravel every narrative and leave no stone unturned.

The Elder Scrolls V doesn’t just offer you an engrossing fantasy tale or satisfying freedom of choice – it endures because few other games nail how an adventure should feel quite like Skyrim does. If you’ve done everything there is to do in this fantastical land, here are some games like Skyrim that might scratch that magical itch – you’ve certainly got some time to kill before the Elder Scrolls 6 release date.

Best RPG games: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2. Image shows a Jedi attacking two foes with force lightning.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II

Where its predecessor – made by BioWare and not Obsidian – is a fantastic addition to the Star Wars universe, complete with a twist worthy of comparison to the famous one in The Empire Strikes Back, KOTOR II takes the venerable IP and pulls it in a completely new direction to make it one of the best Star Wars games on PC. No longer is the focus on the constant battle between the Light and Dark sides of the Force. Republic versus the Empire. Instead, we’re treated to a narrative that explores the nature of the force and what it means to be cut off from it. Its story of misfits and traitors feels like Star Wars through Planescape: Torment.

Shades of grey permeate the entire adventure, as the Exile – KOTOR II’s protagonist – is forced to think about every action and how good deeds can beget evil, being pushed further towards pragmatism. An often depressing and bleak game, it’s as much about personal exploration as it is about gallivanting across the galaxy, getting into lightsaber battles, and using the force – though there is certainly plenty of that, too.

Perhaps the best aspect of KOTOR II is Kreia, the Exile’s secretive mentor. As the impetus for much of the game, she pushes the Exile, berates her, and attempts to teach her important lessons, all while presenting the force in much more interesting ways than any of the films manage. It makes the pupil-mentor relationship between Luke and Yoda, or Ben Kenobi, exceptionally dull in comparison.

Best RPG games: Shadowrun: Hong Kong. Image shows a street in a dark, urban street.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Shadowrun: Hong Kong is a welcome throwback to the ‘90s. Based on the classic tabletop roleplaying game, it’s a neo-noir cyberpunk mystery with plenty of magic, fantasy elements, and combat reminiscent of strategy games like XCOM. It ticks a lot of boxes and, somehow, manages to deliver on all these features. Set on a future Earth where science and the realm of the arcane struggle to coexist, and beings like elves and trolls walk the streets alongside humans, you find yourself in the shoes of a Shadowrunner – a shady mercenary proficient in espionage.

A freeform character creator lets you make all sorts of unusual classes, from spirit summoners who can enter a digital realm and fight computer programs to samurai who run around with many remote-controlled robots. Dumping some points into charisma also unlocks affinities for different types of people; corporate security, other Shadowrunners, or street gangs, opening up new dialogue options and avenues in your investigation.

Hong Kong builds on the previous two games, lavishing improvements upon the series like overhauled decking (hacking) and fully realised likeable characters. It’s a more intimate game, too, as you investigate the death of your foster father with a rag-tag group of Shadowrunners and find yourself embroiled in conspiracies, mystical events, and a mystery involving dreams that plague the entire city.

Best RPG games - the president of the United States is addressing an audience on the Statue of Liberty.

Deus Ex

Ah, Deus Ex. More of a stealth FPS/RPG hybrid and one of the best cyberpunk games on PC, it’s still more than deserving of a place on this list – even 18 years on, it’s a joy to play and one of the best PC games ever devised.

We could expend much energy reminiscing about the dramatic narrative that weaves themes of conspiracy, terrorism, and transhumanism together with intriguing characters in a believable dystopian future. Equally, we could go on and on about the breadth of character customisation, letting you hone the trenchcoat-wearing J.C. Denton into a cybernetically enhanced soldier, expert hacker, or a ghost who lurks in the shadows. But what we want to discuss is the incredible level of design.

Every map represents a complex sandbox ripe for experimentation, whether you playing this as one of the best FPS games or as a straight stealth game. Every combat encounter has the potential to play out in remarkably different ways, should you participate in said encounter rather than slinking past it. Secret paths, hidden caches, informants waiting to be bribed, and confidential information opening up new routes litter the levels. If you happen to talk about your experiences with another player, it’s like you are talking about two different games. Newer games in the series haven’t captured what makes the original Deus Ex so special.

Best RPG games: Diablo 3. Image shows a magical ritual being carried out in a dark cavern.

Diablo 3

Blizzard initially lost its way with Diablo 3, creating a ridiculous economy and removing the need to look for the best pieces of loot. Playing it at launch wasn’t satisfying. We couldn’t be further away from the original Diablo, one of the most important PC games of all time. Then suddenly, everything changed.

The build-up was massive, with systems being overhauled completely in the years after release. And then the expansion threw in so many novel features that it became hard to remember why Diablo 3 was to be avoided. The game gained a new lease of life, and now you would be loopy not to pick it up if you love your ARPG clickfests. All these additions came for free, too. Diablo 3 is a classic zero-to-hero story. We can’t wait for the Diablo 4 release date to see what it will bring.

And there you have it, our list of the best RPG games on PC. It’s certainly not a short list, but how could it be when there are so many gems out there? For more 100% accurate lists, why not explore our list of the best JRPG games, or for something completely different, try out some great racing games or even management games if you’ve got your thinking hat on?

Additional entries by Joe Robinson.