The role-playing genre has been the home of great games for decades. Sometimes the games are good enough that they spark a sequel (or sequels). The settings may vary, but the greatness of the games does not. These franchises have also left their mark on the genre, as many of them introduced concepts that are still used today. These eight franchises have not only stood the test of time, they continue to be held up as paragons of the RPG genre.
Think we missed one? Tell us what it is in the comments!
Putting Bioware’s action-RPG on this list may make some purists upset, but you can’t deny the profound effect the games had on the genre. Successfully merging engaging storytelling with great characters and player choice, the Mass Effect games let you feel like you were Commander Shepard, and you were really out to save the galaxy. Even though the the trilogy was weakened somewhat by the poor ending to third game, it still stands tall.
With a fifth Fallout game coming next week, it’s not hard to believe that the post-apocalyptic series made the cut. Fallout drops you into an unforgiving wasteland and challenges you to not only survive in it, but to thrive. You’ll need to master combat, conversation, and a wide variety of other skills to get by. You’ll negotiate, cajole, and threaten your way into alliances that let you achieve your goals. With a wide array of character customization perks and items, Fallout lets you make the character your own. It’s a shining example of a great RPG.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Although there are only two games in the Knights of the Old Republic franchise, those two games are some of the best Star Wars titles ever made. The games had clear-cut stories to follow, yet always managed to make it feel like they were telling your story. Because of the immersive story and strong characters, the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games are still held up as shining examples of the RPG genre, even though it’s been over a decade since the second game was released.
The Pokemon series is unique among RPGs in that you don’t level yourself up. Instead, you capture a plethora of creatures to fight for you. Each one gains experience and unique abilities, and there’s a depth to the titles that many never explore. Not only can players customize their captured Pokemon, but they can even evolve or breed them For many gamers, a Pokemon title was their first RPG, and they’re still going back to them years later.
Although there had been plenty of RPGs before the Baldur’s Gate series came along, their appearance was a watershed moment in the genre’s history. The first game included numerous technical advances, including being the first game released on the Infinity Engine. Both titles offered an immense amount of customization to players, alongside a storyline that was varied enough to allow for replayability. Both titles had strong effects on the genre, and sparked a run of great isometric RPGs, including both the Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights series.
One of the most successful franchises in all of video games, Final Fantasy titles have sold over 100 million units throughout the years. Square’s flagship series has always featured great graphics, intriguing characters, and enjoyable combat. For console gamers of a certain generation, the Final Fantasy series [Strong]was[/strong] RPGs. Despite the stylistic changes the series has gone through, it has managed to continue appealing to fans across the world for years.
In the early 1980s, Ultima was the computer RPG industry. The series dominated the market as it established many elements that are still in use today. They were some of the first games to use written narrative to tell a large story, as well as being one of the early pioneers of morality systems. The series spawned not only nine core titles, but also the World of Ultima series, the Ultima Underworld series, and of course, Ultima Online.
The Elder Scrolls
Without question, the powerhouse franchise in the RPG genre is The Elder Scrolls. First launched in 1994 with Arena the series has been a staple in the industry ever since. Although Arena was a cult hit and Daggerfall was more popular, the series finally exploded with the release of Morrowind in 2002. Oblivion was released in 2006, and only grew the series’ fanbase even larger. Five years later, the most successful title in the series so far – Skyrim was released. With its large worlds and support for countless player mods, The Elder Scrolls series seems destined to continue its success in the future.