Simon is a content writer and has a great deal of knowledge about video games.
What Is an RPG Game?
An RPG is a Role-Playing Game. The concept of RPGs originated in the '60s and '70s, with the creation of tabletop games like Tunnels and Trolls and Dungeons and Dragons. The idea was that you created a character and role-played as this character in worlds full of danger, monsters, treasure, and adventure.
As these games became more complex, it was inevitable that they would begin to appear on the computer. Early games were simplistic, providing the user with a 3D maze with various encounters along the way. Early games on the PC included many AD&D type games, and one of the more detailed games is The Bard’s Tale. These games featured poor graphics, far too many random events, and not much storyline.
Eventually though, as the games became more sophisticated and the industry began to produce true 3D games like Doom, the genre took off. When The Elder Scrolls appeared on the PC, the world of computer RPGs changed forever.
Today, you are able to enjoy the depth and beauty of RPGs by yourself or with hundreds of other users online. This article covers some of the best RPGs on the Xbox 360. It is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully, it gives you some insight.
1. Dragon Age Inquisition
Dragon Age Inquisition by Electronic Arts is perhaps one of the most well-rounded RPG games of all time. While the graphics might not be as great as the Elder Scrolls series, the game makes up for that by having a very good story, some brilliant voice acting, and a very good crafting system that allows you to create some amazing weapons!
That's not to say that the graphics are poor—even on the Xbox 360, they are pretty awesome—each area features its own distinct atmosphere with some amazing touches like realistic waves, super effects for fog, etc.
The gameplay is varied and can keep you busy for over 100 hours if you complete every side quest (which I did)—even after I finished the game I still had a lot of mini-quests to finish, as well as four or five dragons to tackle.
I've been playing RPG games for 20+ years, and I can honestly say that this is the first game that I have completed without getting bored at some point!
Great graphics, super sound, intriguing plots and subplots and plenty of moral choices make this one of the best RPG games of all time.
2. Final Fantasy XIII
While some will argue that FF XIII was too linear initially, it eventually provides many opportunities to explore. With stellar graphics and an intriguing gaming system that became better in XIII-2 and probably will improve in XIII-3, it was one of the best Final Fantasy games of the series.
The game becomes immersive as you find yourself identifying with the characters and their struggles—Square Enix set the standard for this type of game, and many have emulated the format.
3. Mass Effect Trilogy
The Mass Effect trilogy tells the story of an elite soldier, Commander Shepard. It is one of the best cross-genre games available. With super action elements, a great interactive story and some compelling graphics you have one of the best science fiction RPGs.
With team-building elements, this becomes one of the more strategic RPGs available, as you have to choose the best team for each individual mission. Overall, this is one of the most compelling and satisfying series of all, and with over 75 hours of gameplay, it will keep you very happy.
4. The Fable Series
The Fable series bridged the gap between arcade-style games and hardcore role-playing games. Each game in the series had its own flaws, but overall, the games were very playable, contained good graphics, had easy and intuitive controls, and were not too difficult. They are a great introduction to RPG gaming, and most gamers can complete each entry without too much trouble.
This trilogy was one of the first to provide mundane options like crafting, buying houses, changing the look of the character, etc. to allow for a vast amount of customization. While the plots are not the most complex, the games give enough variety and choices to make the games re-playable several times. If you have to pick one game from the series, I’d recommend Fable II.
5. Tales of Vesperia
Tales of Vesperia is a stunning and sprawling high definition RPG that has a great storyline, some brilliant characters, and a pretty addictive battle system. This perhaps is the first of the Tales games to actually become popular in the US, as the prior titles really only gained traction in Japan—and that’s a shame as it’s a very well crafted series in the grand traditions of Final Fantasy and many other anime type games.
If you want to move away from traditional "D&D" type RPG games, then this is a good game to try!
6. Fallout 3
I played the original Fallout games on PC back in the '90s and enjoyed the strategic elements and adventure that they provided. Fallout 3 took those elements to the next level by creating a game that combined first-person shooting, role-playing, strategy, and adventure. The result was fantastic and remains one of my favorites. Fallout 3 is a truly vast game that gives you many choices that will change the game—with excellent graphics and a superb atmosphere it is one of the "must-have" RPG games.
7. The Elder Scrolls Series
I first encountered the Elder Scrolls series in the late '90s on the PC. It was probably the first RPG game that had a truly open world that allowed you to travel anywhere in the world whenever you wanted. At the time the graphics were cutting edge providing the PC game with the ultimate RPG experience.
There were many flaws in the game and much repetition, but it signaled a change in the way RPG games would be created and promised much. As the series progressed the games got better providing more complex quests, decent plots, and state of the art graphics—it became the flag-bearer for RPG genre and set the standard for what RPG games should be like.
Many modern RPG games contain many of the elements of the Elder Scrolls series but there are not many that can truly challenge them—Skyrim, a more recent Elder Scrolls game, was one of the most anticipated games of any genre.
What sets the series aside is the attention to detail—swaying grass, cascading waterfalls, and views to die for makes the whole game an incredible experience. Skyrim is the only game in which I’ve climbed a mountain simply to look at the stunning view! The ability of the game to provide an atmosphere on several levels combining scenery, weather effects, and sound effects is simply stunning and makes this a very immersive series. Is it perfect? No. But it’s very, very close!
8. The Witcher 1 and 2
The Witcher series is one of the most original. Despite being a true hero, you’re not considered to be one, and instead, you are effectively shunned by many. Set in a very atmospheric medieval world, the game reeks atmosphere and draws you into one of the best plots of any RPG series.
The combat systems is unique and can be quite challenging. For many, the second game was too difficult, but overall the Witcher series is one of the most compelling RPG series of all—it may not have the best graphics or sound, but the overall game is excellent.
Please note that both of the Witcher games feature nudity. They are not suitable for children.
9. Dragon Age 1 and 2
Dragon Age: Origins is one of my favorite RPGs. With stunning graphics, a combat system that requires a strategy to be used, and sublime sound, it captures everything that is good about RPG games. The sense of adventure is very prevalent and you’ll find yourself playing the game more than you should as you move through the quests and sub-quests.
The game was one of the best and compares favorably with my personal favorite Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Dragon Age 2 wasn’t as good as the first game—it changed the combat system making it more like an arcade game and became far more linear—it is still a decent game but didn’t quite reach the prestige of the first game. Hopefully, Dragon Age 3 will rediscover this excellence.
10. South Park: The Stick of Truth
Before you buy this game, you should be aware that it's not really aimed at hardened RPG gamers. Having said that, South Park: The Stick of Truth is one of the most well-written games I have come across, especially since it stays very faithful to the characters of South Park.
Let's be honest, the graphics are, well, South Park-ish, the plot is relatively simple, the RPG elements are basic, and the overall RPG experience isn't the greatest. But what makes this game stand out is that it exists totally in the world of South Park, and if you're a fan of the show, then you are going to love this game.
The game is very funny. Though it's a little irreverent at times and combat perhaps gets a little repetitive, it's definitely worth playing once, if not simply to experience the humor!
- Eternal Sonata is a very interesting and unique Japanese RPG that delves into the history of music and tackles many real-world issues. It is well worth buying.
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is more of an arcade adventure. It features a good plot and decent graphics.
- Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom has great visuals, the puzzles, and fun boss battles—though it is not the best RPG out there.
- Dragon's Dogma has some superb combat situations and very interesting monsters. This game keeps you on your toes at all times; it is very atmospheric, but has a few flaws.
- Lost Odyssey is the game for you if you like the Final Fantasy series. The story is very good, and the skills and spell development are excellent. Aside from that, it’s a pretty standard Japanese RPG game.
- Star Ocean: The Last Hope is another very good anime-based RPG that is fun, with decent graphics and a good plot. It’s not the best RPG, but definitely worth getting at a discount price.
Scribbling Geek from Singapore on June 05, 2016:
So many great titles that I missed out. :( Time to get them, esp with the end-console life prices.
Sarah Forester from Australia on February 07, 2014:
Fallout is the only other RPG here that I've been able to get into. I loved Skyrim but I just can't get into its cousins like The Witcher or Dragon Age, don't really know why!
Will English on May 01, 2013:
Great list. ^_^.
Nemetos on April 25, 2013:
I couldn't agree more with you on this list of best rpg games. Played all of them and loved all of them. Great hub.