Few PC game genres can match the gameplay variety found in role-playing games. RPGs come in many delicious flavors: Japanese, Western, action, strategy, dungeon crawler, roguelike, real-time, turn-based, and many other subcategories.
Sometimes your character wields traditional weapons, such as swords and arrows, in a medieval setting like Nihon Falcom’s Ys series. In other titles, your character carries big heat in outer space. Think Electronic Arts’ Mass Effect games. Regardless of the game and style, RPGs typically deliver rich narratives combined with character and/or equipment customization. That, in a nutshell, is what makes an RPG an RPG.
The role-playing game genre on PC is just as deep, if not deeper, than what you find on consoles like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch. The aforementioned Ys and Mass Effect series live on PC, as do the Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Final Fantasy, Xanadu, and Dragon Quest titles. There’s a huge PC RPG library, which makes this guide essential.
In this game roundup, you’ll find our favorite RPGs. Each title featured here has been thoroughly reviewed by our experts, so you can rest assured that the suggestions are varied and top-notch. However, you won’t find massively multiplayer online RPGs in this piece. The sub-genre’s unique online requirement, huge raids, and multiplayer components separate it from traditional RPGs. You can look for our roundup of the best MMO games in the near future.
With Dark Souls III, developer From Software returned to the Souls series after crafting the eldritch madness that is the PlayStation 4-exclusive Bloodborne. In fact, Dark Souls III borrows gameplay and design elements from Bloodborne and other From Software action-RPG titles. As a result, Dark Souls III has an action-focused flavor and gorgeous, haunting graphics.
That said, Dark Souls III has its own feel, particularly when it comes to battling monsters. The improved combat mechanics add more fighting depth, making the skirmishes more challenging and rewarding.
Dark Souls III (for PC) Review
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen may be an RPG, but it features action-driven gameplay not unlike Capcom’s Devil May Cry and Monster Hunter series. It draws inspiration from classic fables and myths, setting the game in a world burdened with the return of a destructive red dragon.
Dark Arisen’s combat is flashy and engaging, and the open-world environments are rich with detail, but the quest-driven plot and sparse character development weaken what would otherwise be an interesting story. The RPG leveling stalls combat, as well, so you won’t fight at your full potential until you’ve leveled your class sufficiently. These issues may turn off less patient players, but those hoping for a grand, long-lived adventure across an action-packed open world will find plenty to discover and enjoy.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen (for PC) Review
Square Enix’s Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster combines the beloved 10th installment of the main Final Fantasy line and its sequel into one package that series fans will adore. As the collection’s name implies, both turn-based RPGs have been blessed with a graphical overhaul that adds a better pixel resolution and facial animations during cutscenes. If you are a fan of these games’ original PlayStation 2 release, consider Final X/X-2 HD Remaster a must-buy bundle.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (for PC) Review
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, developer Mihoyo’s upcoming title is about as flattering as games come. In 2019, Genshin Impact made a splash in the video game world with open-world, action-RPG gameplay that’s heavily inspired by Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That is not to say it’s a cheap knockoff, however. The free-to-play game features numerous unique, element-based gameplay systems, charming story beats, and multiple playable characters that set it apart from its inspiration.
Genshin Impact (for PC) Review
Horizon Zero Dawn stood as one of the best PlayStation 4 exclusives, right up there with Bloodborne, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and the God of War reimagining. Now you can also enjoy its open-world, monster-slaying action on PC, thanks to this Complete Edition. This PC game contains the base game, plus The Frozen Wilds DLC (an additional area featuring more story content and collectibles). It easily holds up as a huge, dense, worthwhile adventure in the post-apocalypse.
Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition (for PC) Review
Mass Effect 2 continues the epic space saga from exactly where the first Mass Effect game concluded. In fact, one of the best aspects of this RPG, besides the incredible character development and customization, is that you can load the previous game’s character save directly into this one.
Mass Effect 2 expands on the original game’s feature set by including a revamped health recovery system lets you heal most wounds by camping out of harm’s way. Although the BioWare-developed Mass Effect 2 is much more shooter-like than the original title, role-playing is still at the game’s core.
Mass Effect 2 Review
Even the most die hard Monster Hunter fans admit that there’s a certain level of gameplay jank that you must overlook in order to enjoy the creature-slaying series; a jankiness that has turned many people away.
With Monster Hunter World, developer Capcom overhauled animations, streamlined gameplay, and made numerous adjustments designed to appeal to core and casual audiences alike. The changes work—big-time. Tracking and battling huge, snarling beasts with a variety of crafted armor and weaponry is an absolute joy, especially while doing so with friends in multiplayer mode.
Monster Hunter World (for PC) Review
Nier: Automata is an action-RPG that combines Yoko Taro’s outside-the-box storytelling with Platinum Games’ excellent combat chops. You play as 2B, an android tasked with defeating a robotic menace, and assisting other androids living in Earth’s wastelands.
Automata lets you earn 2B-enhancing computer chips by completing quests, defeating enemies, or simply buying them from shops. These help you take down the mechanical monstrosities by boosting a variety of offensive or defensive skills. If you dig the world that Taro created, you’ll be happy to know that you’re rewarded for multiple playthroughs with new revelations that further flesh out the game’s story.
Nier: Automata (for PC) Review
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a heartwarming adventure that resurrects the wonder and chibi-world aesthetic of old-school Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy titles. Developed by Level-5, in collaboration with former Studio Ghibli character designer Yoshiyuki Momose and composer Joe Hisashi, Ni No Kuni II is an audio-visual treat that leads you through a world seemingly crafted from a child’s imagination. The story, one involving a boy-king who’s ousted from the throne, sees you recruiting people from neighboring lands to unite the nations.
If you’re looking for a challenging experience, you’ll probably want to skip this game. But if you’re new to RPGs, want to share this whimsical experience with young gamers, or simply seek an light adventure through a beautiful world, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a worthwhile purchase.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (for PC) Review
Nioh represents developer Team Ninja’s first action-RPG, and the game shares a few superficial similarities with From Software’s influential Dark Souls series. The player-summoning cooperative gameplay, corpse-run death system, shortcut-rich levels, and enemy-respawning checkpoints will all feel familiar to Dark Soul aficionados.
However, Nioh is very much its own beast, and is filled with highly technical action and stronger narrative elements than the Souls titles. This Complete Edition includes the original console game, as well as all of the DLC content, so newcomers have dozens of hours of action to master.
Nioh: Complete Edition (for PC) Review
The sequel to The Stick of Truth, The Fractured But Whole is a turn-based RPG filled with South Park‘s topical, highly satirical, and utterly absurd comedy. It’s a refreshing RPG, if only because the gameplay, adult language, ridiculous scenarios, and show references will keep fans of the show smiling until the end.
Fractured slips up once in a while; the superhero-themed exploration elements utilize some highly tedious menu switching and quick time event (QTE) mechanics, and the game is surprisingly buggy. However, if you can look past these issues, you’re in for an enjoyable time.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole (for PC) Review
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a farming simulator/RPG hybrid that looks and plays much like the classic Harvest Moon games. That’s because it is Harvest Moon. A licensing spat between publishers forced a title change in 2014, but the game’s heart and soul—ranching in a quaint town filled with quirky characters—remains the same. In fact, Friends of Mineral Town is a remake of the series’ first Game Boy Advance entry, one that boasts new graphics and a remastered soundtrack. The polygonal visuals are a bit bland, and the controls are a touch clunky, but the PC game is wholesome, farm-sim fun about building businesses and relationships.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town (for PC) Review
The core of any good role-playing game is choice, and InXile Entertainment’s Wasteland 2 wholeheartedly embraces this gameplay element.
Set in an alternate universe where America and USSR exchanged nukes, Wasteland 2 lets you choose from a list of pre-made characters or create a more specialized and customized party by allocating skill points and attributes. There is no single protagonist; instead, you control a party of Desert Rangers that seeks to solve a murder mystery.
Wasteland 2 (for PC) Review
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the final installment in CD Projekt Red’s action-RPG series. In Wild Hunt, Geralt of Rivia slays mythological monsters, collects bounties, and protects the child of destiny.
Developer CD Projekt Red builds upon the preceding Witcher game by introducing a ridiculously large open world filled with evil of both the monster and human varieties. Witcher 3 also greatly improves the series’ combat by streamlining alchemy and tightening crafting. The Wild Hunt’s rich narrative—one of the best stories in video game history—drives the game’s tragedy, folkloric horror, humor, and intrigue.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (for PC) Review
Nihon Falcom’s Xanadu Next is an action-RPG that features basic keyboard-and-mouse controls and PlayStation One-era visuals. The simplicity, however, isn’t detrimental to the game.
Xanadu Next makes excellent use of its uncomplicated systems to deliver a fantastic dungeon-crawling experience that’s well worth checking out. In fact, Xanadu Next’s point-and-click gameplay makes it structurally similar to Diablo, with its crypts and treasures. Still, Xanadu Next carries its own identity thanks to its interconnected, winding pathways.
Xanadu Next (for PC) Review