The RPG genre is arguably the most immersive and timeless in gaming. Players tend to care more about narrative, exploration, and stats than they do about the combat. For many RPG fans, fighting was a necessary evil to raise their character’s strength and fighting stats until they become strong enough to breeze through later battles like a god decked out in armor.
Yet so many RPGs force the player into scenarios where battles can’t be avoided, which is why it is odd that there are very few RPGs with a truly good combat system. Thankfully, in recent years there have been open-world RPGs that seem to bring a complete package for gamers to sink their teeth into. Not only have several RPGs improved when it comes to fighting they have inspired many pure action games to improve on the fighting systems.
10 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim never had very polished combat when compared to other action RPGs in the open-world RPG genre. Its execution is fairly simplistic and aside from the addition of brutal finishers Skyrim feels like a very limited hack and slash.
However, Skyrim’s combat feels tailor-made for VR. It is responsive, uncomplicated and on the PlayStation VR doesn’t have any rivals when it comes medieval sword fighting. In addition, taking the stealthy bow and arrow approach is also very satisfying in VR.
9 Borderlands 3
After the disappointing Borderlands: The Prequel, Borderlands 3 is the return to form that series fans were hoping for. The series blend of Diablo-style looting and chaotic shooting has always been a welcome change of pace from the likes of most open-world RPG shooters.
Pulling off headshots is both satisfyingly brutal and amusing. The guns are excellent with varying abilities like transforming weapons that are just as crazy and quirky as the characters that inhabit its world.
8 Division 2
Division 2 is an unusual mix of RPG stat-based combat and a military shooter. In the original game, these mechanics often felt at odds with each other especially players used to other shooters in the Tom Clancy universe opt for a more traditional style of shooting.
Division 2 felt more balanced and realistic with the addition of armored enemies, but more importantly, the strategic combat was more effective than ever. When bullets connect they feel more punchy and satisfying and players will spend hours upgrading and customizing their guns.
7 The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is, without a doubt, one of the greatest RPGs ever made. For such a huge game with an incredible amount of depth, it would have been forgivable if the developers underdeveloped the combat system.
This wasn’t the case, however, because The Witcher 3’s real-time combat is fantastic for those who master it. The parrying system and the ability to repel attacks with magic require skill and timing. Developers CD Projekt Red clearly worked hard to make the player feel like they’re the most dangerous warrior in a hostile land.
6 Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen was originally released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 but was later remastered and improved for current generation consoles. Sadly, it wasn’t a major hit for Capcom in either gen, but the game has gained a cult following for its character creation tools and of course, its combat.
Dragon’s Dogma was developed by the same team behind the Devil May Cry series so that it is of little surprise that the same pedigree would transfer over into this game. Doing battle with monsters is always a very dynamic and epic experience and there’s very nothing more satisfying than climbing the back of a giant Cyclops or Chimera and targetting their weak spots.
5 Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey's combat system continued and improved on the new system in Assassin’s Creed: Origins. The focus on timing dodges, attacks, and parrying felt weighty and more in line with Bloodborne and the Dark Souls series than it did previous entries like Syndicate.
Where Origins used a more Dark Souls style combat that relied heavily on defense, Odyssey required the player to be far more aggressive by using speed to their advantage like Bloodborne and even the more recent Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
4 Dark Souls III
There is no getting around the fact that the Dark Souls games are difficult. Yet the unusual appeal of these games along with others made by the same developer is for that exact same reason. This is because of the tough but fair battle system which is surprisingly accessible for most players.
The combat then has never been better or more polished than it has in Dark Souls III. The emphasis on timing blocks, parries, and attacks is vital for success and incredibly satisfying once the player has grown accustomed to its playing style. So successful is the series fighting system that it has inspired combat improvements in Assassin’s Creed series from Assassin’s Creed: Origins onward.
3 Divinity: Original Sin II
Developed by Larian Studios and further expanding upon their Divine Divinity universe Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the most complete and flexible RPGs ever created. It is one of the few games where the player is given choice in everything they do in the world and that extends to the combat too.
However, the combat in Divinity: Original Sin II is just as deep and complex as the rest of the game. The strategic turn-based combat system plays very similarly to X-COM where positioning, terrain, and the elements all play an important role in achieving success in enemy encounters. The next game in the franchise Divinity: Fallen Heroes is a pure tactical RPG using Divinity: Original Sin II's combat system but will have more in common with XCOM.
2 Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
It says a lot for a game when it still considered to have one of the best and most accessible combat systems in an RPG across two generations and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning certainly lives up to its reputation.
Its arcade-style combat is accessible and is easy to pick up and even non-RPG fans and can dive right in have fun with this game. Reckoning's combat is as good action titles like God of War and Darksiders. It’s also totally customizable and the player can craft and arrange their character’s skill sets and load-outs to their liking.
1 Kingdom Come: Deliverance
If Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is easy to pick up play for virtually any player, Kingdom Come Deliverance could be accused of being less accessible and difficult for those who are just used to swinging aimlessly with a sword. However, gamers willing to learn the game’s combat mechanics will find one of the deepest and technical medieval sword fighting games ever made.
Players that love the timing based parry, counter and deflect fighting system seen in For Honor should feel right at home with Kingdom Come: Deliverance. During combat, the player needs to work on creating openings with a physics-based system providing 30 points target points on an enemy’s body. The game was developed to be as close to a medieval RPG life simulator as possible and this extends to the combat too, but with enough practice, players will be surprised by just how flexible it is.
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