In many ways, role-playing games represent the absolute pinnacle of gaming as a medium. At the heights of its powers, the genre provides the ultimate opportunity to truly immerse oneself in a whole other world. Rather than simply living through the greatest hits of Nathan Drake or Max Payne's lives, in an RPG, the player has some say in the protagonist's behavior and future.
Admittedly, few titles actually deliver on this promise. RPGs are incredibly difficult to get right, with many seeming satisfied to waste the player's time with pointless fetch quests and mundane busywork. However, the genre's greatest achievers offer truly one-of-a-kind experiences! According to Metacritic, these are the best RPGs of all time.
10 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood And Wine
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an all-around brilliant RPG, one that set the standard when it comes to narrative-driven sidequests. CD Projekt Red's universe is fully realized, while the characters are generally memorable and relatable.
While the main game performed incredibly well with critics, the Blood and Wine expansion took things a step further by scoring an aggregate score of "94." Considering the expansion's campaign takes around 20 hours to complete, Blood and Wine essentially qualifies as its own game.
9 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Putting aside Bethesda's recent failing, the studio is responsible for developing some of the most influential and timeless RPGs of all time. Released in 2006, Oblivion arguably tells a superior story than its 2011 successor, while Cyrodiil remains a thrilling location to explore. With nuanced - for the time - NPCs and fun combat, Oblivion is the type of game that comes around once per generation.
Thanks to a highly active modding community, Oblivion's shelf-life was greatly extended, although the RPG's base game was more than good enough to justify a spot on this list.
8 Chrono Cross
Prior to joining forces with Enix, Square blessed the early consoles with a myriad of genre-defining hits that introduced many players to the wonderful world of JRPGs. As a sequel to the fantastic Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross is truly the full package.
Along with a genuinely interesting albeit occasionally convoluted plot, the turn-based battle system shakes things up with a stamina bar and a complex magic system that is tied to character abilities. While the PlayStation 1 graphics are obviously dated, the art and animation have actually aged quite splendidly.
7 Legend Of Grimrock (iOS)
In this case, we are specifically talking about 2015's iOS port, as 2012's PC version only scored an aggregate score in the low-80s. A throwback to old-school grid-based dungeon crawlers, Legend of Grimrock does not try to hide its influences, so much so, Almost Human's RPG often feels like a spiritual successor to Dungeon Master.
Compared to most other mobile RPGs, Legend of Grimrock is on a whole different level. That being said, this is one of those games that is designed for a niche audience.
6 Final Fantasy IX
Somewhat surprisingly, 2000's 9th entry is the only Final Fantasy representative to land on this list. Many wars have been fought to determine Square's "best" JRPG, but Final Fantasy IX tends to be in the running, even if Cloud's adventure is the most popular.
Final Fantasy IX's Active Time Battle system is among the franchise's best, while the class system allows each character to feel slightly more specialized. The story is well-paced and features a likable cast, with Kujo making for a pretty solid and nuanced antagonist.
5 Divinity: Original Sin II - Definitive Edition
Divinity: Original Sin II comes with a steep learning curve that is likely to push away those only familiar with more forgiving titles. However, this tactical-RPG is more than worth the effort. With the option to either use pre-existing characters or create your own, adaptive storylines, robust combat, and detailed environments, Original Sin II is a masterpiece that makes other RPGs look restrictive in comparison.
The Definitive Edition released for PC is unsurprisingly the best of the bunch, but the console versions are by no means disappointing.
4 Baldur's Gate II: Shadows Of Amn
Is this list causing anyone else to feel nostalgic for the days when BioWare and Bethesda's names prompted choruses of cheers rather than a wave of facepalms? Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn's main quest is around 60 hours long, although that is before taking into account the side quests and expansions.
Even in 2019, Baldur's Gate II is still the game to beat when it comes to isometric RPGs. While the minute-by-minute gameplay may feel somewhat antiquated in this day and age, the depth of the class system, fantastic lore, the expansive world (The Forgotten Realms), and rewarding storytelling guarantee that Baldur's Gate II never truly becomes obsolete.
3 The World Ends With You: Solo Remix (iOS)
The Nintendo DS' The World Ends with You presents a convincing claim for being the most unfairly overlooked JRPG in history, despite being co-developed by Square Enix. Set in Shibuya where the Reapers' Game is held to determine who recently departed soul will earn the right for a second chance, The World Ends with You blends music, an innovative combat system, and gorgeous graphics to create an unforgettable experience that has yet to produce a sequel.
The iOS edition is just as good as the original and arguably superior to the Final Remix version available on the Nintendo Switch.
2 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
What can be said about Skyrim that has not already been stated a hundred times over? Considering Bethesda has released the RPG on every device imaginable and, more importantly, people continue to buy copies in droves, it is safe to assume that The Elder Scrolls' fifth entry has carved its name into gaming folklore.
Skyrim's main campaign is nothing too special and can easily be completed in around 20 hours. Be that as it may, Skyrim's appeal lies in its engrossing world that just needs to be traversed in its entirety. The abundance of mods has also not hurt Skyrim's longevity.
1 Mass Effect 2
While the original Mass Effect is closer to a pure RPG, the sequel greatly improves on the gameplay, the visuals, and the side quests. Mass Effect 2 is primarily concerned with fostering a connection between the player and the Normandy's crew, culminating in a range of loyalty missions that are almost universally fantastic.
Mass Effect 2 refines some of its predecessor's ideas while placing a heavier emphasis on combat. The overarching plot is somewhat inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but the game absolutely shines when it comes to the crew's personal storylines.