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The Top 5 Action Role Playing Games (ARPG) for the PC

Updated on August 13, 2017
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David is an avid video gamer across multiple platforms such as PC, consoles, handheld devices, and mobile phones.

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Which ARPG Should You Pick?

There are so many action role playing games (ARPG) out there that the choice can be hard when you are trying to figure out which one to play. The list below narrows down the top 5 ARPG games out there, that each offer something different so that you won't ever find yourself bored. While some ARPG games can be found on console systems, they play best on a PC. So stick with a PC if you want a good ARPG to play.

Diablo II

Screenshot of the logo from Diablo II.
Screenshot of the logo from Diablo II. | Source

Which Diablo is your favorite?

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About Diablo II

  • Released on 06/29/00

  • Developed by Blizzard North

  • Published by Blizzard Entertainment

  • Holds a 88% rating based on the statistics from Game Rankings

All About Diablo II

There is a reason why so many games are referred to as a "Diablo clone". That's because Diablo practically invented the ARPG. While there have been three games released with the name Diablo, the second one is considered the best. Here's why:

  • Great gameplay. There are multiple classes that are all vastly different, but work well together. There is flexibility in how you play each class, however, as you progress through each difficulty, you need to pick the best abilities in order to survive.
  • The plethora of items. Never in any other game will you see so many random items drop with the most random of stats ever. Something that has totally different stats than what you are wearing could end up being an upgrade. You will keep coming back just to see if you can continue to upgrade your items.
  • The secret cow level. If you are after loot, and a good time, then this is the place. One of the hardest fights you will have is fighting cows in the secret cow level. While it's been replaced in Diablo III, this level is considered to be a classic.
  • The story could be better. Like most other ARPG games, the story is just there to get you to continue playing. It won't be remembered for the story, just for the gameplay.
  • The expansion made the game even better. While some expansions don't add a lot, the expansion to this game did. Two new classes, another act, and a bunch more items to be had. If you buy the original, you have to get the expansion as well.
  • It's the best of the three Diablo games. The first game is good, and can be fun to play, but isn't quite like Diablo II. Diablo III tried too much to be like Diablo II, and while it is fun, the auction house and connection issues ruined it for a lot of people. Diablo III has improved though, but doesn't rival Diablo II.
  • Areas are randomized. For the most part you won't play the same area twice. You may come across some similar looking areas, but the game does a good job of changing things up.
  • The graphics aren't too bad. Compared to Diablo III, the graphics in this game are aged. However, they still don't detract from the game, and in some ways make it feel darker than its successor.

This game is a classic, and probably always will be. There is little to question that. If you haven't played an ARPG before, I strongly suggest you start with this one. If you aren't sure which Diablo to get, then watch the gameplay video below showing a comparison between all three.

Diablo II Gameplay

Diablo II Gameplay

Diablo I, II, and III Gameplay

Dungeon Siege

Screenshot of the logo from Dungeon Siege.
Screenshot of the logo from Dungeon Siege. | Source

Do you like the idea of having multiple party members in an ARPG game?

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About Dungeon Siege

  • Released on 04/05/02

  • Developed by Gas Powered Games

  • Published by Microsoft Game Studios

  • Holds a 85% rating based on the statistics from Game Rankings

All About Dungeon Siege

This game isn't quite like most APRG's out there. In fact, some gamers don't consider it to be a true ARPG. There is hacking and slashing, and you do deal with item drops and skills. But there are some major differences to this game:

  • You will have a party of characters to control. This is actually one of the best parts of the game. Throughout your travels, you will encounter others who will join and fight with your party. That makes it much more fun. The game is somewhat boring until you get another character, so stick it out until then.
  • There is more of a story in this game. The plot isn't that bad, and while it isn't award winning, it helps push the game along and keep the adventure going.
  • The graphics look the worst out of all of the games on this list. When this game was released, the graphics were incredible. Now, the graphics are easily surpassed by other games. They are still okay to look at, but you won't be wowed by them.
  • Items offer some variety. You'll have items drop with frequency, but you won't see a huge variety of them. You'll end up using a lot of items as your party grows.
  • The skill system is very unique. The more you use your sword, you will gain levels in that. The more you cast a spell, the more levels will be gained in the type of magic that spell falls under. It allows you to build characters how you want.
  • It's dirt cheap now. I purchased my copy on Steam for less than a couple dollars. It was completely worth the price and isn't that much of an investment if you are looking for an old school ARPG to play.

Is it an APRG, or something else? I say it's a group ARPG, which makes it that much more fun, and also makes it more unique than any of the other ARPG's on this list.

Dungeon Siege Intro

Dungeon Siege Gameplay

Dungeon Siege Gameplay

Nox

Screenshot of the logo from Nox.
Screenshot of the logo from Nox. | Source

Nox is considered to be an underrated game. Have you heard of Nox before this article?

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About Nox

  • Released on 01/31/00

  • Developed by Westwood Studios

  • Published by Electronic Arts

  • Holds a 81% rating based on the statistics from Game Rankings

All About Nox

Nox was released before the famous Diablo II, and is considered to be underrated. However, this was a favorite of mine, and despite its age, it has held up very well over the years. Below is a basic overview of what this APRG is about:

  • The story isn't the greatest. Nox shouldn't be played for its story. While there is a story there and it's passable, the game is meant to be played and enjoyed. It's a typical hero plucked out of his own life to save the world type story. Enjoy it for what it is.
  • There are only three classes. The warrior uses melee weapons to deal damage and uses the most armor. The wizard has strong spells to use against enemies. The conjurer summons creatures to aid in his defense. The wizard tends to be the strongest, as well as the warrior. Unfortunately, some of the pets the conjurer summons aren't that useful at all.
  • Of all of the ARPG's on this list, it has the best line of sight system. The creators of the line of sight system dubbed it "Truesight". This incredible system completely blacks out areas the character can not see from his own eyes. If he passes by a window, he can see somewhat inside that building through the window. Or if a door is cracked open, only a small amount can be seen outside the door. This adds an element to this game that is not found anywhere else, and makes it that much more enjoyable.
  • There is very little variety in items. This is where the game falters. If you like massive item drops, comparing stats, etc., then you will be disappointed by this game. While items do drop, they won't have a huge variety. In some ways this can be a good thing, as you don't have to worry about searching for constant upgrades for your character.
  • Multiplayer is no longer available. One of the best ways to play this game was online with others, either co-op or in PvP. Unfortunately, the servers were taken down some time ago. The only way to play Nox online is through a LAN connection.
  • Very linear game play. There are no randomly generated maps in this game. Regardless of the game mode, you will always see the same maps. However, the maps are massive and I found myself always missing something despite how many times I played through a level. Fortunately, the game is nice to look at, so you won't mind seeing the same maps multiple times.

Despite how linear it is, and that there are not a huge amount of item drops, I definitely recommend this game if you are looking for something casual and different to play. The game has aged very well and still has quite the following.

Nox Gameplay

Nox Gameplay

Nox Gameplay

Torchlight II

Screenshot of the logo from Torchlight II.
Screenshot of the logo from Torchlight II. | Source

Do you think Torchlight is better than Diablo?

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About Torchlight II

  • Released on 09/20/12

  • Developed by Runic Games

  • Published by Perfect World, Runic Games, Steam

  • Holds a 88% rating based on the statistics from Game Rankings

All About Torchlight II

Torchlight II is the sequel to the game Torchlight, which was a direct competitor to Diablo, and is considered to be just as good, and in some ways, better. This could be the closest to Diablo that you could get. Here is what this game is all about:

  • The plot is all filler. The plot isn't that deep or interesting. Like other ARPG's, the goal is to kill monsters and get loot. Don't buy this game if you want a story.
  • Loot is just as epic as Diablo. Loot with random stats and combinations are just as plentiful as they are in Diablo. You will consistently get upgrades, and with the enchanting and gem system, you can turn an average item into a great item. There are lots of ways to get items in this game.
  • A lot of variety in how you can play the classes. I took my Embermage and made him just use wands, but causing all sorts of effects. My Engineer used primarily shields to push his way through any situation. There is a lot of ways you can play each class, so you can find your own unique style.
  • Randomized dungeons. This game probably does this the best out of any other ARPG games I have played. The areas are incredibly randomized each time you play, so you will never play the same map twice.
  • Pet companion. Other games do this, but Torchlight was the first to get it right. Your pet attacks, can take loot back to town to sell, and you can even equip your pet with spells to aid you during the fight.
  • Sometimes it's too easy. The game can be easy to get through, which is why you have a variety in how it can be played. On harder difficulties, it can be more of a challenge. But you won't die on a boss over and over.
  • Graphics are colorful. The game doesn't take itself seriously with the graphics, and that isn't a bad thing. It's colorful, almost cartoony. It won't look like Diablo.

Hands down I would choose Torchlight II over Diablo III. While Diablo III is darker, Torchlight II is much more fun to play. Plus, Torchlight II was much cheaper than Diablo III when it was released. You will log hundreds of hours in this game.

Torchlight II Intro

Torchlight II Gameplay

Torchlight II Gameplay

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

Screenshot of the logo from The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing.
Screenshot of the logo from The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. | Source

Did you think The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing was based on the movie?

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About the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

  • Released on 02/22/13

  • Developed by NeocoreGames

  • Published by NeocoreGames

  • Holds a 74% rating based on the statistics from Game Rankings

All About The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is the newest game on this list. The highlights of this game are:

  • It's not based on the movie Van Helsing. This is the first point I am making because a lot of people believe it's based on the movie - it's not. Some people love the movie, some hate it. But it's definitely not based on the movie.
  • One of the best game worlds of any ARPG. The dialog between Van Helsing and your ghost partner is funny from beginning to end. The story is interesting and doesn't feel tacked on just so that there is an excuse to play the game. The world looks incredible and the music fits right along with the scenery. This makes the game unique when compared to the other ARPGs on this list.
  • The skill system is unique, but limited. There are a large variety of skills to choose from, and ways to affect those skills. You only have two choices on which skills to use as your primary skills, but you can use the function keys to use other skills. Your companion also has skills to choose from. It's also easy to undo spent skill points.
  • Variety of ways to play. There is only one class - Van Helsing himself. But there are multiple ways the game can be played. You can be ranged while your companion tanks. Or you can have your companion give you a resistance bonus while you take all of the damage.
  • Item drops are average. You will have items drop an average amount of the time, but eventually the upgrades slowly stop coming. I spent most of my time combining items I wasn't using in an attempt to get an upgrade.
  • Limited replayability. The maps are pre-designed and won't change, and once you clear an area you can't go back and fight monsters for more loot and experience. There are multiple difficulties, which help, as well as multiplayer. Plus the developers are adding more content to the game. Just a week after release, high level dungeons were added so players could farm for gear.
  • The challenge is perfect. I found myself dying sometimes, but not too much. I would learn and adjust my tactics, but I wasn't dependent on my gear. Overall the game always felt like a challenge. I actually felt accomplished when I beat the game on the normal setting.
  • Multiplayer hasn't gained ground. There are very little people playing online, partially because it doesn't seem necessary to enjoy the game. If you plan to play online, I recommend bringing a friend along with you so you can enjoy the game online without having to wait for a game.

The best part about this game is that it's very cheap, so it makes it even more of a buy. The low rating comes from the UI being a bit clunky and that you can't replay previous areas. But the developers are working on that. So you may not play it as long as you would Diablo or Torchlight, but you will enjoy it thoroughly for its story and challenge.

There is also a sequel to this game which is pretty good. It offers more variety with more classes to play. So I recommend that one as well.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Intro

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Gameplay

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Gameplay

Honorable Mentions

There are some other honorable mentions that are worth bringing up:

  • Grim Dawn. This game isn't known for its story, but the game is great with the huge variety of items, great graphics, and solid gameplay. However, it's easy to make a bad character to the point where you need to start over.
  • Path of Exile. A free title, the money this game makes comes from cosmetic transactions. The two big downsides is that you can really spend a lot of money in the game and, if your character isn't going well, you have no choice but to start over. Expect to sink a lot of time in this game.

Do you have a favorite action role playing game that you would like to recommend? Do you disagree with my choices? Then leave a comment below.

Grim Dawn Review

Path of Exile Overview

© 2013 David Livermore

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    • davidlivermore profile image
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      David Livermore 7 weeks ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      For the most part it's worth starting over unless it's a high level character (and if it's high level the skills you pick should be working anyways). But yes, if they do resets or you use a bunch of Orbs of Regret, it can be done.

    • profile image

      jeff 7 weeks ago

      Path of Exile " if your character isn't going well, you have no choice but to start over" total lie... the game has a feature to rebuild your skill tree....at a cost

    • davidlivermore profile image
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      David Livermore 5 months ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      Oh I have a ton of hours in PoE, however, that doesn't mean it's considered to be a top ARPG. While it's great, it does have many faults. The RNG is a bit off, and the economy can be ridiculous at times.

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      zach 5 months ago

      you forgot path of exile

    • davidlivermore profile image
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      David Livermore 3 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      A sequel is coming out for Van Helsing, so I suggest picking it up before then. It's a solid game.

    • ilikegames profile image

      Sarah Forester 3 years ago from Australia

      Great article covering action RPGs. I voted for Diablo 2 on the poll and definitely agree with what you said about the game.

      I'm also a big fan of Torchlight and Dungeon Siege 2, I've never heard of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing before so that's going to be something I check out soon.