Action RPG games are one of the most popular genres in the gaming industry. Disengaged from CRPG (Computer Role-Playing Game), they quickly won the acclaim of a mass audience, acquired legendary games and star franchises.
Reasons for popularity lie on the surface: Action RPG games combine elements of action and RPG genres, allow developers to mix different mechanics, and players enjoy dynamic gameplay without having to delve into the intricacies of character development inherent in CRPG. If classic RPGs require careful selection of characteristics and skills, hoping for the favor of the system responsible for throwing virtual “craps” (like in Neverwinter Nights for example), then action RPGs give gamers the opportunity to contribute to the battle due to the reaction speed, reducing the hard dependence on leveling.
As practice has shown, the second approach is more in favor among the gaming audience, so the Fallout New Vegas demonstrates much greater sales than the Pillars of Eternity (small note, I love this game more than new Fallout games), with an equally good level of the development of the world and plot. Moreover, the focus on action allows developers to implement a wide variety of dynamic scenes, create real blockbusters that players will remember for a long time.
Best RPG Games
One of the first RPG games containing action elements was the 1982 Dungeons of Daggorath: in it, the player had to enter commands on the keyboard for the character who explored the dungeons and fought enemies as quickly as possible. For several decades, a huge number of projects have appeared in the genre, including those that have received “GREAT GAME” status among gamers. We will not be able to cover them all, but we will tell you about the best representatives of the genre in this best RPG games list of 2020.
1. Mass Effect Series – one of the best RPG games in history
One of the most iconic franchises in the Action / RPG genre, which even has its own World N7 Day. In 2007, the first game of the series was released, with an amazing combat system, graphics, a stunning exploring of the world and a fascinating storyline. Although the masters from BioWare called the beginning of the trilogy “Defective Masterpiece”, most fans consider it and the second part as the best games for the last 20 years.
The last game, the Andromeda spin-off, completely changes the concept of combat and adds “vertical” gameplay, which was not present in the trilogy. A huge number of combinations, the largest selection of weapons, make it the best combat system in the series, however Andomeda didn’t find a lot of fans.
Great gameplay in Mass Effect has always been accompanied by interesting companions, an amazing story about saving the world and a ton of moral dilemmas. Of course, the fourth game in the franchise turned out to be not quite what the fans expected it to be, but if you choose the game solely because of the shooter component – it becomes tolerable.
2. The Witcher Series
Probably everyone who considers himself a gamer knows about the trilogy dedicated to the adventures of the witcher Geralt. The Poles from CD Projekt RED were able to create a large-scale universe with bare enthusiasm, which was based on the eponymous fantasy cycle authored by Andrzej Sapkowski.
Interesting facts: The founders of CD Projekt made the initial capital for selling pirated products, purchased the license for the Witcher games from Sapkowski for a penny ($4000), and the engine for the first part of the game was kindly lent them from BioWare.
The Witcher game became a peculiar (and very successful) “breakdown of the pen” for developers, the sequel secured success, but the third part, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, can rightfully be considered one of the best games not only in the genre, but throughout the industry. An excellent storyline that puts an end to the whole cycle (including the books), interesting quests, gorgeous graphics and an incredibly charismatic protagonist – all this makes Wild Hunt an almost perfect adventure (yes, there are flaws everywhere, and here too, but they are too slight) for every gamer.
3. The Elder Scrolls Series
A series of games in the role-playing sandbox genre. The dubious start with TES: Arena led the franchise to the iconic Skyrim. Bethesda perfectly plays the role-playing component with Action and Sandbox elements, and therefore it is never boring to explore the game world while having fun.
The huge number of modifications that have accompanied the series since Morrowind support the franchise’s popularity so far, although since 2011 there have not even been new games announced.
A straightforward plot, atmospheric side quests and complete freedom of action are the main elements of success. Battles take place in real time and give great scope for experimentation. Necromancer and the Healer all rolled into one? You are welcome. A heavily armored mage of destruction? Everything is in the hands of the player.
You can always defeat the enemy, on several levels superior to the main character, with the help of reaction and ingenuity. Bethesda always skillfully creates game worlds, where you start to get used to your role, and after that you stay in it for a while and live like a real person (except for Fallout 76 :D). Elder Scrolls series can be easily considered as the best RPG games in the world.
4. Dragon Age: Inquisition
An experiment from BioWare studio, where a greater roll goes towards the action elements. The first experience of developers in creating a pseudo-open world and a turning point in the studio on the topic of RPGs. Canadians abandoned the purebred genre, and the Inquisition turned out to be a kind of hybrid, as it was in the first Mass Effect. The experiment did not go without consequences, and the game in the community was not accepted as warmly as Origins, but community did not criticize it as much as the second part in the game series.
A mediocre plot and a dubious combat system discord with great characters and a fascinating story that, alas, is often told to us through the text rather than cut scenes and gameplay. In all other respects, we still have the same Dragon Age, with a unique atmosphere, amazing graphics and great musical accompaniment.
5. Fallout 3D generation series
Following the closure of Black Isle and the bankruptcy of Interplay, the Fallout franchise was acquired by Bethesda. From that moment, the series passed into the 3D generation of games and degenerated into Action / RPG form. Fallout 3, like New Vegas, had a very mediocre combat system, so more often players fought through V.A.T.S. – An analogue of turn-based combat system in real time. Although the shooting itself was so-so, the genre showed itself on the right side, where we could already deal with the Death Claw even at the starting levels, not relying heavily on the characteristics of our character, when in the first two games it was almost impossible to kill Death Claw.
6. Diablo Series
Did Blizzard know that Diablo will not only be the standard for all action RPGs and, without exaggeration, will bring together a multi-million army of fans, but will also become a new milestone in the history of computer games in principle? Maybe they didn’t knew, but they did everything to make this happen. The second game of the series completely broke all sales records, for which it ended up in the Guinness Book of Records.
The gloomy Gothic atmosphere, the eternal confrontation of the forces of light and darkness, dynamic battles, leveling of the character in the best traditions of PC RPGs, an interesting history of the world and heroes – all this made millions of gamers inflame with tender feelings for the immortal brainchild of Blizzard Entertainment.
7. Dark Souls Series
Darkness, death and hardcore – these three words quite accurately describe Dark Souls. The world is plunged into chaos, everywhere some kind of tin is happening, dragons fly, zombies and other personalities of an unpleasant appearance roam.
If you take the death of your hero hard and ready to bang your head on the keyboard/controller every time you died, Dark Souls is not for you. Uber-hardcore game, but when you understand that mobility is the best friend of your character game becomes pretty easy to beat.
8. Fable Series
The legendary game designer Peter Molyneux loves to tell fairy tales, praising his games – the name of the series of role-playing action games Fable has become somewhat symbolic: most of the developer’s fables about the “Fable” turned out to be unrealized.
But even what we got in the end, made the franchise famous and beloved by gamers. Moreover, Fable 2, which became exclusive to the Xbox 360 and did not get to the PC, was considered sufficient motivator to buy this console.
What makes Fable valuable? First of all, the influence of almost all the player’s actions on the character and the surrounding world. Feed the hero meat and pies – get a fat man. Get damage from the NPCs – the protagonist will be covered with scars. You wave your sword a lot – the warrior will build muscle. Do bad deeds – your character will get pretty horns and glowing red eyes. In addition, each part of the series boasts an engaging storyline, home ownership system, the ability to care for NPCs, start a family and children, and many, many other gameplay opportunities.
9. Gothic series
The main competitor of the Elder Scrolls game series. More hardcore, most unfriendly to the player and with a huge number of technical problems, this series has won the hearts of millions of gamers. Particularly this game was in huge demand at home – in Germany, when at the same time, in the West players preferred the more casual Elder Scrolls games.
10. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
Imagine a world like ours, but darker, populated by supernatural beings for whom humans is just annoying insects or food. Local vampires are not empty-headed monsters like in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not arrogant aristocrats like in Dracula, and not unhappy martyrs like Lestat de Lioncourt. Each vampire clan has its own character and characteristics. And you decide which clan is closer to you.
Immediately after turning into a vampire, the local prince will start to push you around, other prominent figures of the Camarilla will try to use you in their intrigues. The action will take place in an ominous, and sometimes not seriously frightening atmosphere. On your way you will meet many interesting characters.
And remember, in this game everything depends on the choice of the player. There is 7 different endings + 4 with community patch, which can be found here. I highly recommend to play this game with the community patch, since it removes most of the bugs and glitches as well as adds the parts of the in-game quests which wasn’t released by developers.
11. Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a hardcore, intolerant, most uncomfortable for the player simulator of life in a war-torn medieval country. Here you can die by eating a rotten apple, almost guaranteed to die in a battle with more than one opponent and lose all the respect of others if you do not wash in time. But at the same time, the game gives a nowadays forgotten feeling of freedom, makes you puzzle over how to complete quests and does not cease to amaze you with the large and small events that filled Bohemia of the 15th century.
12. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
This action RPG was released on PCs and consoles of the last generation and, unfortunately, failed in sales, depriving gamers of hope for possible continuation. The thing is that the authors radically changed the concept during the development process: initially Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was conceived as an MMORPG, but later it was decided to make it single-player game. That is why there are a lot of kill/deliver and repeat quests in this game.
However, the game also has advantages, and it is for them that numerous fans love it. Firstly, a very interesting universe is realized here, authored by the famous writer Robert Salvatore. Secondly, sweeping locations from monsters is accompanied by very spectacular battles. Thirdly, there is A LOT of items for your character. So if you are a fan of grinding and equipment for your character – this one is definitely for you!
13. Two Worlds II
What to do if Skyrim and Oblivion are completed 10 times, and the thirst for Action RPG in the open world is still not quenched? Well, you can download lesser known counterparts, such as Two Worlds II. Even with the considerable age of the game, the creation of the Poles from Reality Pump is still able to please fans of the genre, which means it deserves its place in our list.
This one is a lot like Elder Scrolls not only by the “soul” of the world and gameplay mechanics, but also by a skill system. Skill System consists of categories that are not tied to any of classes. In this regard, gamers are free to run with a sword, throwing fireballs, or secretly destroy opponents from the shadows.
14. Divinity II: Ego Draconis
Larian Studio has repeatedly experimented with the Divinity series. Their various releases were Diablo-style hack-and-slash, a mix of TBS and RTS in the spirit of Total War, turn-based RPGs and, of course, Action RPG. In the last example, we are talking about Divinity II: Ego Draconis – a rather unusual game in which you can read thoughts, collect zombies from body parts and turn into a dragon.
The developers, in a manner peculiar to themselves, gave the players complete freedom of action. Here you can develop your character at your discretion (a warrior with a couple of fireballs in stock is a common thing), you can complete quests in different ways (reading NPC thoughts and finding out important information is priceless).
15. Dungeon Siege
A successful Diablo clone, to which the famous game designer Chris Taylor (known for the projects Total Annihilation, Supreme Commander and Demigod) had a hand. Dungeon Siege offered a seamless world unusual for its time, a teammate system, tactical pause, and a leveling system where skills improved as they were used.
16. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Action RPG Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen has long been a console exclusive, but in 2016 it was released on PC. And the wait was not in vain: it is an exciting adventure in a picturesque open world.
The game differs from other projects in the genre at once in several points. Firstly, here you will find an unusual story about a hero who preys on a dragon who took his heart. Secondly, the developers have prepared many incredible monsters with which you can fight along the way. Finally, Dragon’s Dogma implements a unique AI pawn system whose abilities and style of play are based on the combat skills of real players.
17. ELEX – Last but not least in the Best RPG games list
A role-playing game from the creators of Gothic and Risen, in which post-apocalypse, science and magic intertwined in an amazing way. Here you will find a relatively compact, but saturated with activities and events world, the fate of which you can influence with your actions.
ELEX is a game about freedom of action and the right to choose, decisions and their consequences, humanity and cold machine calculation. Although the game is not perfect in everything, it will definitely leave a mark in your memory.
Best RPG games list – Conclusion
This of course is not a complete list, I will make more articles like this one to give you a scope on the best games available at the moment. This will help you to save the money and enjoy only the good games on your PC or Console. If you are more of a fan of strategy games, you can check the list of the best strategy games here. Happy gaming everybody!