Action RPGs really began when Diablo launched in 1996. Since then, there have countless games that offer their own take on the formula. Some are pretty good, and some aren’t, but these eight are the ones that are definitely worth your time.
Way back in 2000, Westwood Studios (of Command & Conquer fame) released Nox. It cast you as Jack, a young guy from Earth you gets yanked into a parallel dimension. In this high-fantasy world, he has to defeat an evil Sorceress and her Necromancer followers in order to get back home. Not only did it offer a singleplayer story, but you could go head-to-head with friends, and a later expansion added a cooperative multiplayer mode.
Path of Exile
Path of Exile landed on the scene in 2013, bringing a free-to-play framework to the genre in a big way. Its dark fantasy world shows a heavy influence from Diablo 2, and offers a deep skill system for both the player and his equipment. There are microtransactions, but they largely don’t affect gameplay, instead offering convenience, like additional character slots, cosmetic items, and the like.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
While this may seem a bit of a strange choice, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is basically Diablo plus X-Men Legends. You get a sprawling roster of Marvel heroes, ranging from Captain America to Wolverine, and including Ghost Rider, Deadpool, and Spider-Man, among others. Since it’s been released on PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, XBox 360, Xbox One, Wii, PSP, and even the Game Boy Advance, odds are you have a system you can give this one a whirl on.
Dungeon Siege 2
Although Dungeon Siege 3 moved away from the formula, the first two games in the series had their roots in Diablo. Dungeon Siege 2 adds hero powers to its party-based gameplay. Players can use weapons to improve their skill with them, and there are two types of mages to choose from as well. There’s no multiplayer in version now available on Steam, but the singleplayer story is worth experiencing.
Crate Entertainment’s Grim Dawn had an eventful journey to success. The Victorian-era dark-fantasy game began as a Kickstarter project that ended up selling a million copies. You can choose a class, move into dual-classing, and hunt up a huge amount of weapons and armor. Not only can you play the 25 hour singleplayer campaign, you can go head-to-head with friends in PvP.
Rather than copy the dark fantasy theme of Diablo, Titan Quest went with an ancient mythology theme. Players travel through ancient Greece, Egypt, and China trying to take out the Titans, who have escaped from their imprisonment. As you fight your way through, you earn experience points that can be spent for upgrades in the in-game store. An expansion titled Titan Quest: Immortal Throne was released in 2007. A tenth anniversary edition of the game launched last year.
If you’ve played either of the Torchlight games, you’ve probably seen the roots of Diablo in there. That’s because Runic Games, the developer behind the game, was founded but two of the co-founders of Blizzard North. Torchlight II‘s dungeons are randomly generated and filled with monsters to take out for loot and experience. You’ll be able to pick from four classes and three specializations within each class. The gameplay is solid, and the art style is great as well.
The newest entry in the Diablo series has had a turbulent life. From its launch and the technical issues players encountered (Error 37, anyone?) to the removal of the real-money auction house, there’s been plenty to complain about. But since then, the game has gotten much, much better. The Reaper of Souls expansion added Adventure Mode, new NPCs, a fourth act, and more. Now there’s a new character – the Necromancer – on the way.