Joseph has always loved computer games, which was a springboard for their ongoing love-hate relationship with computer hardware.
I don't take much pride in being a lifelong CRPG (Computer Role-Playing Game) 'enthusiast'. It's more of a vice than an addiction that, once you're hooked, a game will consume at least 30 hours of your life.
Speaking of which, here are a few of my personal favorites from the past decades. I started out in the late '80s, so I'll sort them chronologically instead of by overall greatness (but don't worry, they are all superb).
To further narrow the list down, all of them are single-player games and for the PC, though most of them have appeared on other consoles.
1. Bard's Tale (1985)
If you remember the original Bard's Tale, then you may also fondly remember the days when monitors had a fully-adequate 320x200 pixel resolution and you didn't need glasses to see the contours.
In any event, this game was originally released for the Apple II, but was ported to all—and I do mean all—other platforms eventually. With its revolutionary grid-based 3D dungeoneering, the game looked quite amazing at the time. By the way: the 2004 Bard's Tale is neither a sequel or remake of the original series, although it's a somewhat amusing parody of classic RPGs.
2. Pool of Radiance (1988)
Pool of Radiance was the first CRPG to make use of actual Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) rules. It also introduced computer gamers to the popular Forgotten Realms setting—a fantasy world created by Ed Greenwood in the '60s, which has since been polished to perfection in fantasy novels by authors such as R.A Salvatore.
The game was, of course, a rather simplistic experience by today's standards, but compared to what was available at the time it took PC gaming to a new level. Pool of Radiance was followed by the equally great Curse of the Azure Bonds, among others.
There's also a rather uninspiring sequel of sorts, from a much later date (2001) called Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor.
3. Eye of the Beholder (1990)
A "beholder" is a classic Dungeons & Dragons monster composed of a disgusting heap of flesh and floating tentacle eyes. It is also the antagonist of Eye of the Beholder—a classic that made its debut on the PC, which was still a low-profile gaming platform in 1990.
It's a classic grid-based dungeon crawl, based on 2nd Edition D&D rules, in which the lords of Waterdeep (a city in the Forgotten Realms) hire you to investigate some strange ongoings beneath the city. Once you enter the sewers to take a look, the walls collapse behind you and the only way forward is down.
Trivia: Westwood, the developer of Eye of the Beholder I & II, later left SSI, D&D and the Forgotten Realms to create the abominable Lands of Lore series.
4. Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992)
The Ultima series' creator, Richard Garriott—aka Lord British—is perhaps a more interesting character than any of those he created. And although the series concluded with the bug-ridden mess known as Ultima IX: Ascension, earlier games were superb—and perhaps mostly so Ultima VII. It was divided into two parts: The Black Gate and The Serpent Isle, each of them with their own expansion packs. It's an amazingly well-balanced RPG for its time, with an equal emphasis on storytelling and exploration.
5. Betrayal at Krondor (1993)
Unlike most RPGs from the same period, Betrayal at Krondor doesn't rely on leveling up or reaching the next dungeon to spur players on. It's divided into chapters much like a book, and as a matter of fact, it is based on Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar novels. The 1998 sequel Return to Krondor was also well received and is probably worth a look.
6. Fallout (1997)
Fallout isn't just one of the best RPGs, it's one of the best games ever made in any category. Sure, the graphics in the original are very simplistic compared to Bethesda's later instalments, but the heaps of gore and melting bodies are easy enough to distinguish.
And like any true masterpiece, this one stands the test of time. The game is presented in the tried-and-tested isometric perspective, and the combat is fully turn-based (those were the days). Just like all the later games, the first Fallout centers around a Vault Dweller who has to leave the safety of Vault 101 and head out into the untamed post-nuclear wasteland of the early (alternate-history) 22nd century.
7. Might & Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven (1998)
The Might & Magic series was an RPG staple for a long time, with the first game appearing in the late '80s for 8-bit platforms, including the NES. Except for some of the later outcroppings—such as the rather mediocre Dark Messiah and the horrible Crusaders of Might & Magic—all of the games have been turn-based and all of them presented in 3D.
Might and Magic 6: The Mandate of Heaven broke away from the grid-based confinement of the previous games to offer a completely free-roaming world. Like most M&M games, it doesn't have much in the way of a plot, but it is also (perhaps for the same reason) about as non-linear as a game gets. You can take your four characters and wander off to the final dungeon right away. Obviously you'll never make it, but that's part of the concept.
8. Baldur's Gate (1998)
Baldur's Gate was and is a benchmark for story-driven role-playing games. In my opinion, BG 1 and 2 really only compete with the Fallout 1 and 2 for the top spot in isometric RPG history.
The characters in Baldur's Gate live and breathe as much as a couple of dozen pixels can. Moreover, the game draws from the intricate lore of the Forgotten Realms setting to add even more depth.
What makes it even better is that you get to keep and evolve the same characters throughout the subsequent games in the series, via the first expansion Tales of the Sword Coast, to Baldur's Gate II and the concluding Throne of Bhaal.
It's even possible to export your BG character to Neverwinter Nights and continue on from there, but that transition is hardly seamless, unfortunately.
Trivia: Don't mix up the original Baldur's Gate 1 and 2 with the later, console-based Dark Alliance spinoffs, which are just unoriginal hack-n-slash action RPGs.
9. Final Fantasy VII (1998)
Although it was originally a PlayStation game and the PC conversion is a rather mediocre one, Final Fantasy VII is still one of the best RPGs ever created and clearly worth including on this list. It's quite playable on PC, but a gamepad is recommended.
At the time, this was one of few Japanese RPGs to even reach the PC. It could have been even better had Square Enix made an effort to improve upon the original and take advantage of the (by then) much more capable PC hardware.
10. Planescape: Torment (1999)
For Planescape: Torment, Black Isle tweaked the Infinity Engine from Baldur's gate and adapted it to the Planescape D&D setting. The game tells a story about the Nameless One—an immortal who wakes up in a morgue somewhere in the city of Sigil.
Interestingly, the protagonist is immortal and can't be killed permanently. In fact, having the character die is even necessary at times. Like Baldur's Gate, it's strongly story-driven, but there's still a liberal amount of fighting using AD&D 2nd-edition rules.
11. System Shock 2 (1999)
Lots of games try desperately to be original, but System Shock 2 is undeniably unique. The game borrows its 3D engine from the successful 'sneak 'em up' Thief (the first one), meaning that it has very effective and spooky light management considering its age.
The game is a sci-fi RPG/FPS hybrid that takes place on the abandoned starship Von Braun, which has been attacked by some sort of aliens. Also, there are zombies!
Compared to the later, 'spiritual successor' Bioshock, there are more RPG elements in terms of character building/development in SS2, although the games have a lot in common—including hacking skills and psionic abilities.
System Shock 2 was one of the first games with a dedicated modding community, and amazingly (unlike many later games), this one is still active.
12. Icewind Dale (2000)
Following in the footsteps of Baldur's Gate and using the same Infinity Engine, Icewind Dale puts you in the northernmost regions of the Forgotten Realms.
Unlike Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale lets you create an entire party before setting out to kill goblins and orcs. The game is more combat-focused and offers less of a story than said games, but it's still great and particularly enjoyable if you've read R.A. Salvatore's trilogy with the same name and setting.
13. Deus Ex (2000)
Deus Ex has a lot in common with System Shock 2; it's a futuristic RPG/FPS hybrid that lets you take the game in different directions by augmenting your character's abilities. Although it can be played more or less like a regular first-person shooter, skills like hacking and stealth allow for very different ways of completing the game's challenges.
In Deus Ex, you play the more conventional hero, JC Denton, who works for some form of anti-terrorist organization in a relatively near and dystopian future. As the game progresses, Denton gets mixed up in a rather interesting plot.
14. Diablo II (2000)
The first Diablo became an instant classic for its addictive hack 'n' slash gameplay, and Diablo II improved on the winning concept.
Although there is little to customize and the game mechanics are extremely simple, it's hard to put your mouse away until you've leveled up again or reached the next dungeon.
15. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000)
I guess I have a weak spot for these old BioWare. It's obvious by now.
In any event, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn picks up right after the Tales of the Sword Coast Expansion, with your character imprisoned by a mad (elf) scientist in Athkatla, south of Baldur's Gate. As it happens, so are some of your old friends from the first games.
The plot continues to explore your character's divine heritage and takes you across a huge and beautifully hand-drawn world until you get to face off with your nemesis.
The Baldur's Gate saga eventually concludes in the Throne of Bhaal expansion, where you make the final decisions about what to do with your godly/demonic heritage.
16. Wizardry 8 (2001)
So, I've come this far without mentioning the Wizardry series at all, and omitting it would be a shame. The first Wizardry game—Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord—came out as early as 1981, and the early parts of the series have inspired many of the classic RPG series like Might & Magic and Eye of the Beholder.
Wizardry 8 was the last part of a trilogy that includes 6 and 7, but it was released much later after a long and tumultuous development process. Combat in Wizardry 8 is turn-based and there are lots of stats and character classes to play around with.
17. Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (2001)
Arcanum is a wonderfully unique game set in a less-than-traditional fantasy/steampunk world, complete with both magic and gunpowder.
In spite of being extraordinarily buggy at launch (I was unable to finish it on the first try), the game was praised by nearly all critics for its immersive atmosphere and Fallout-style turn-based gameplay.
Many patches later (some unofficial fan patches since the developer went bankrupt), the game is fully playable nowadays and should be tried by anyone who enjoys a great RPG.
18. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)
Arena, the first game in Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls series, was innovative but not overly successful. Daggerfall offered a taste of what was to come with a huge game world and free-roaming gameplay, but it also had a fair share of game-breaking bugs.
With The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Bethesda had all but perfected the concept. They also put the most powerful graphics cards of the time through torture with amazing visuals such as pixel-shaded water.
Basically, Morrowind realized the grand ideas behind the previous games, but with fewer bugs. With the expansion packs Tribunal and Bloodmoon, Morrowind is a huge game—only the in-game text is said to comprise six average novels.
19. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
In my humble opinion, KotOR is still the best Star Wars game ever (not that the competition is overly stiff, but still). On the other hand, one expects nothing less from a BioWare logo on the box. The game's role-playing elements are similar to the 3rd Edition D&D rules, meaning that the combat is divided into rounds and may be auto-paused at the end of each round (optional) to assign new actions.
As the title implies, the game takes place before the Empire—some 4,000 years before to be slightly more precise. Depending on your choices in the game, you will gradually lean either toward the light or the dark side of the Force.
20. Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines (2004)
The Vampire: The Masquerade PC games are often overlooked for some reason, but these games suck in a good way. Bloodlines is set in the rather mature Vampire: The Masquerade world from the original pen and paper RPG. It's s a sequel to the lesser-known Vampire The Masquerade: Redemption from 2000, but uses the more modern Source engine from Valve's Half-Life 2.
When starting the game, you pick your Vampire clan, and this is only the first of many choices. The game's storyline is highly dynamic, and there are several different endings depending on the paths you choose.
21. Gothic 3 (2006)
Gothic 3 was quite bug-ridden upon release, but was subsequently patched to near perfection. Another issue that somewhat hampered the game initially was that barely any hardware was sufficiently powerful to run the game.
The third part of Gothic picks up where Gothic II left off, with our Nameless Hero having arrived on a new continent to be greeted by ugly orcs closing in for the kill. The rest of the story is basically yours to create. You can side with different factions or none at all, instead roaming the countryside killing and looting whatever comes your way until you get bored. In terms of free exploration, Gothic 3 is similar to Oblivion, albeit on a smaller scale.
22. Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006)
Neverwinter Nights 2 is a great RPG that comes with a bonus feature in the form of a complex toolset that lets you create your own adventures. There are lots of excellent community modules that will potentially add hundreds of hours to the game.
The Neverwinter Nights games are spiritual successors to the Baldur's Gate series, but take place on the northern end of the Sword Coast. Like its predecessors, it offers an interesting story, which is divided into separate acts. NWN 2 uses D&D 3.5 Edition rules, and all the classes, spells and abilities that come with it.
23. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
Oblivion is an amazing game in many ways, but the most impressive part is perhaps its sheer size (about 16 virtual square miles/41 square kilometers, apparently), coupled with the fact that you can just ignore the main quest and go out and explore a seemingly infinite number of dungeons.
Similar to Morrowind, you don't level up in a conventional way by gaining experience points through completed quests or kills, but by using the skills that you want to improve.
24. The Witcher (2007)
The Witcher is based on a series of fantasy novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski about genetically enhanced monster slayer Geralt of Rivia. It's an action RPG that uses a heavily modified version of BioWare's Aurora engine from Neverwinter Nights 2, although this is hardly noticeable. (The Witcher looks a lot better.)
What separates this game from the rest of the genre is that it doesn't shy away from excessively rude language and gratuitous nudity. This aspect alone makes it well worth checking out. There's also an Enhanced Edition available with improved textures and some new adventures.
25. Mass Effect (2008)
Here is yet another BioWare game that will be remembered as a classic; Mass Effect takes place in a future where humanity has finally—through the discovery of technology left over by ancient aliens—been able to move out into the galaxy, make contact with alien races, establish colonies and all the usual space stuff.
Your role is that of Commander Shepherd, who can be male or female and is highly customizable in other ways, too. The game is somewhat similar to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but is built around a proprietary combat system, and of course, takes place in an entirely different setting created entirely by BioWare.
26. Fallout 3 (2008)
It was pretty farfetched at the time that Bethesda would be making Fallout 3. Fortunately, it wasn't quite the "Oblivion with guns" that many initially feared, but a rather good modern adaptation of the previously isometric post-apocalypse.
This time it's set on the east coast of the US, now known as the Capital Wasteland, and there are a lot of new places to visit and folks to mutilate.
27. Dragon Age: Origins (2009)
With Dragon Age: Origins, the Awakening expansion and lots of considerably-better-than-average DLC, Bioware has yet again created a world-class PC role-playing experience.
While it's a bit sad that they have moved away from the Forgotten Realms setting in recent years, Dragon Age offers an immersive atmosphere in Bioware's homemade mythology, which is more than OK. As any true RPG, this game takes you through a complex world where there are many choices to make, with different outcomes to all of them.
28. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (2011)
Sequels sometimes fail to live up to expectations (Dragon Age 2 comes to mind), so it's refreshing to see that some developers continue to raise the bar instead of the other way around. At the time of release, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was likely the best-looking game ever made.
Other than the visual bliss, it manages to balance an engrossing storyline with somewhat (not entirely) free-roaming, traditional western RPG gameplay, which is where many other contemporary games fail.
Once you get past the game's unnecessarily steep learning curve you will no doubt enjoy it. It's worth mentioning that the story picks up right after the first game, so it helps to have played that one.
29. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
Skyrim is an exceptional game and perhaps Bethesda's best yet. In spite of its console interface and the fact that PC users get more or less the same graphics as those playing it on their five-year-old consoles, it is still up there among best PC games ever made, not just counting RPGs. In other words, this game is an absolute must-have—not only for the RPG enthusiast but for everyone and his uncle. On my wishlist for next year is an illegitimate love child between Skyrim and The Witcher 2.
30. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
I may have said this before, once or possibly twice, and it's conceivable that I will say it again sometime, but in my humble opinion:
The Witcher 3 is the best game ever created—and not just the best RPG but the best game in the history of the universe.
This magnum opus by Poland's CD Projekt (who are also responsible for gog.com) has to be experienced by anyone who enjoys an extremely polish(ed) game. In the third instalment, you'll really get to know and like Geralt and the Witcher world, which I since found out is based on a series of novels by Andrzej Sapkowski.
The Metacritic user score of 9.3—the highest ever for a PC game at this writing—is on the low side. What keeps it from reaching the pinnacle of perfection is that it, unfortunately, ends eventually, after well over 100 hours of rock-solid content.
As of 2019, CD Projekt Red is busy with Cyberpunk 2077, but has at least hinted that additional games set in the Witcher universe may eventually appear. But it won't be a Witcher 4, since this was apparently supposed to be a trilogy.
SomeGamer on August 29, 2020:
I'm 40 yrs old. I've played every game on this list. All great games! This list brought back a lot of gaming memories! I would mention Kingdom Come.
Gothic 1 is the best on December 22, 2019:
you recomend Gothic 3 but not gothic 1 or 2? As hardcore gothic fan i can tell you gothic 3 is garbage compared to its previous two instalments, whose storytelling, atmosphere, opennes and great, funny quests and dialogues are top shelf even today.
Menice on September 24, 2019:
Personally I would have to have 2 old school games on here. For PlayStation "Legends of Legaia", and PlayStation 2 "Legend of Legaia 2". Back in the day when grinding to progress on turn based fights took actual hardcore gamer dedication (co-dependent/addiction/insanity). If anyone else can relate to what I'm saying then you fully understand my experience.
neurotrauma on August 30, 2019:
no dark souls?
acchan on May 25, 2019:
Thank you! I was searching for an old game I couldn't remember it's name (it was Might and Magic)
necro on December 11, 2018:
lionheart legancy of the cursader 2003 less known good rgp for its time. subjectively mine best
Vlad the Impaler on March 31, 2018:
"Wtf The Elder Scrolls V:Skyrim on the 5th place?!
You can't find better Rpg's than a TES game!!!"
That's where I stopped reading. I played Skyrim and I liked it but it's not even close to the best RPG ever. You need to grab some cash and hit the GOG. Get cultured, son. This list a great starting place, the creator knows his stuff... you casual.
Someone (whooooo) on December 15, 2017:
Thanks for the list.
killermichi on October 29, 2017:
Wtf The Elder Scrolls V:Skyrim on the 5th place?!
You can't find better Rpg's than a TES game!!! Skyrim has a Instant Combat + Superskilling system and it's has the best stories+side storys.
The only company that has just as good games as the The Elder Scrolls series are Valve's games and Valve is the giant who is about games!
And you want to say that Bard's Tale is better than Oblivion or Skyrim? Your ranking is your opinion but your opinion is crappy!
Skow on February 24, 2017:
"On my wishlist for next year is an illegitimate love child between Skyrim and The Witcher 2."
And he got it. A bit later, but i guess it was worth waiting.
I am talking 'bout Witcher 3 of course ;)
selusia on December 16, 2016:
No, Kings quest mask of eternity was epic i think its an honorable mention , yet its a hybrid , action rpg.
Eoin on August 31, 2016:
Try Pillars of Eternity for modern BG style gaming
Royce on January 12, 2015:
Great list! Definitely have to study the classics on here I haven't heard about. Mass Effect For The Win!
Game Gamut on September 19, 2014:
Elder Scrolls Morrowind beat Oblivion and FF VII made the list. Really good list here sir. I think Diablo 2 deserved to be in the top 10, but when you consider all RPGs on the PC, it's all arbitrary within the top 15
Seymour Clearlly from Las Vegas on September 01, 2014:
Great list, I especially liked that you included Baldurs Gate, those games were amazing and often overlooked.
reginatotheb on September 01, 2014:
I have a ton of these games listed - like new in the box with instructions booklets and codes. A gaming place for people to play these went out of business and gave me most of their inventory (quite a lot) - I also have tons of other PC games new in box like half-life series and others I have forgotten the names of - but, a lot of the older ones that first came out. If anyone is interested in buying them (for cheap) - post me your email and I will get back with you.
Samuel Franklin on August 26, 2014:
Love the list you've put together here, so many fond memories on many of these games.
Sean H from USA on August 25, 2014:
darnn! These are all awesome games. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself for thousands of hours on these gems. For people who loved playing games similar to Diablo II, Titan Quest is certainly a very strong recommendation. Anyways, thanks for such an awesome article Gazook!
Ron Wilkins on July 02, 2014:
List is nice but I was under the impression FF was first released on NES. I remember playing it on NES
JOC from Syracuse, NY on June 22, 2014:
Alex on June 21, 2014:
I disagree on The Witcher 1. It's gameplay was clunky and horrible. The Witcher 2 and 3 may be great, but #1 definitely doesn't belong in a top #25 ever list.
Juan Palomo on June 19, 2014:
Great list, but I would included Divine Divinity instead of Diablo II and Fallout New Vegas instead of Fallout 3.
David Hamilton from Lexington, KY on June 18, 2014:
A Bards Tale (the new one) was a entertaining game. Not a shadow compared to the original, tho!
Evgueni Goloubev from Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa, Japan on May 14, 2014:
Very nice list. I just reviewed Betrayal at Krondor actually..
Rpg lover on May 09, 2014:
I like rpgs and have huge collection in many different platform like snes, gba, sega, playstation, ps2, wii, and most of all PC (i cant justify myself to invest in new consoles such as ps3 or ps4 or xbox 360 or one, i would rather upgrade my pc ^__^) anyway, as much as i like to love the elder scroll oblivion, i found the game very boring. I tried very hard to like it, i installed and reinstalled it so many times, but i always stop playing it after 3-5 hours. If you have any tips on how to enjoy this game, please let me know. Otherwise, you have a very nice list of games here. Please keep on updating it with recent games that you have played. Really enjoy reading this page and everyones comments :)
Zidane78 on May 09, 2014:
What a great list of games. I have only played few of the games you listed as i dont have as much time as i used to. I have finished fallout 3 few weeks ago and now playing deus ex human revolution. I reckoned deus ex hr should be on the list as well. It is an action rpg like skyrim but with gun in a futuristic setting. I am planning to play fallout 1 and 2 after this :)
Croc on May 04, 2014:
Great list (but what do I know, I've even enjoyed Faery Tale 2 :)
My personal favorite is Might and magic 6, glad it made it into your list. But can't help to notice in every review or mention I've read, there are modified screenshots. At gamespot (they have the same as yours) not a single screenshot is from the original game. Why's that?
to Jeff's 2 year old comment (I can't help it :) You remember wrongly. You can always rank up in skill (even if you're already master), therefore spells can get more powerful at any level.
Kako on April 24, 2014:
Having played most of these games i agree to the list! :D ...
Missing only, but as its been mentioned ; Shining Force, Geneforge and Exile ... while not mentioning Jagged Alliance as i think doesnt fit into this category.
Also, try outMount & Blade and Eschalon series.
Faerus on February 23, 2014:
Wow, i thought i was the only one who knew about arcanum, glad to see it get recognition, it was the first game of its kind i ever played & enjoyed, i found its story, and unique quirky world more appealing then diablo 1 & 2, and the skills etc had a great setup.
hopefully at some point in the future someone tries to make a sequel, and makes it well, hint hint bethesda!
Sarah Forester from Australia on February 01, 2014:
Huge list of games! thanks for listing all these RPGs. Some of them are fairly new to me so I'll have to dig through them carefully to find my next game.
I'm glad to see Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura got an inclusion though since it's definitely one of my favourites!
Jay from Europe on January 05, 2014:
I was hoping you had included Lands of Lore: Throne of Chaos. I searched the document for it, hoping to find a reference... only to find out that you think it's a miserable series. :P
Well, as a series... Lands of Lore is indeed miserable. But Throne of Chaos, the first one, just totally rocked in my opinion.
I have a special place in my heart for that game. It was one of the first games I played on a PC ever. The graphics, the music, the atmosphere... they all got me hooked in no time.
Now I understand that LoL had a very simplistic statistics mechanism. Some people don't even count it as an RPG. But at the time I was playing it, it was the first 'RPG' I had ever played. I never noticed that the stat system was too simple. I only learned that later, when playing Diablo, Fallout and others.
LoL's pixelated cutscene graphics are of outstanding quality for its time. The graphics designer behind it, Rick Parks, was famous for his pixel magic. Rick Parks has been dead for a long time already. This is a small tragedy to me, because I really enjoyed his work.
LoL1 was great!
LoL2 was playable, but couldn't hold a candle to Lol1 because of its outdated 3D engine and its crummy real actor cutscenes.
Lol3... never mind.
Jessica Peri from United States on December 16, 2013:
I love the original Fallout! I just got my hands on Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics for free and I am so excited to play again.
hughesy on December 11, 2013:
Brilliant list, but bg1 was nails after the first hub area. My team of 4 got destroyed by a single wolf. Retried it a few years back and it happened again! Ff7 was awesome. All the mass effects great. In fact this list is the best! But those first enemies in bg1 took hard by far.
Abraham on November 24, 2013:
Well..I'm not too fond of where the RPG games are going these days..I've never been fond of action RPGs..to me its not RPG, just a FPS game, or action game, or worse, fighting game..well, I guess if we go strictly by meaning, ANY game is an RPG..but for me, turn based is RPG..then again, I'm always fond of strategizing behind the scene, where it's pure tactics unmarred with adrenaline...I think in real life its important to be able to think calmly because you are more able to see different perspective when you do, and subsequently make better decisions..and these action games are not teaching children that way of thinking anymore..I see my 14 year old cousin playing mostly action games, and he would switch game every 15 minutes because hes bored, and im thinking..what will he be in the future with that kinda attitude..?
Lex Neal on November 19, 2013:
Great hub! really loved the Mass Effect Trilogy and the Final Fantasy series.
Hugo Furst from Australia on November 04, 2013:
Awesome, awesome list, pal! Will make sure to check out some, if not all, of those RPGs. Thanks for sharing :) Voted up!
Shadeus on October 01, 2013:
I agree with Estevacio. Albion was an awesome game. I didn't care for the combat so much, but it had a decent storyline.
Estevacio on September 01, 2013:
What about Albion the 1995 DOS game???
i loved that game , if you guys are fans of dungeon crawler,this is a must try
Jimbojones on August 23, 2013:
About time that Pool of Radiance and Eye of the Beholder got a little respect on a "top" list.
Jason Benedict from Boca Raton, Florida on August 09, 2013:
Mass Effect FTW! :D Would like to see Final Fantasy 7 on the list. I believe they released that for PC :D
ketage from Croatia on July 10, 2013:
I used to be an avid gamer and have played all on your list accept for gothic and vampires masquerade , i surely do miss my gaming days. great list, brings back memories of the good ole gaming days :)
ud1093 from ? on July 09, 2013:
witcher 2 is still one of the best but skyrim just bets it in some aspects looking forward to witcher 3
faruk on May 20, 2013:
İ am 32 , and started playing rpg with Amiga..up to now i have played all the RPG games (only fantastic ones). There is no frpg i havent finished :)...Your list is incredible. İ agree most of them. Actually i have also played games which were rated as 2.0 3.0....and finihed them also :)
İ think everyone have their own bests. İ loved gothic 2 in series, i think it was much better then oblivion, skyrim or gothic 1 or 3. Witcher was a really good game but witcher 2 was a fail for me like skyrim...Elder scrolls series i agree with you %100 , morrowind was the best.And i can say that from my experiences try risen...risen is a really underrated game, i can say that its better then any game out there. Most of the people checking out the ratings of a game before they buy, yes you can check out a game but you cant check out a RPG...you will go wrong like that..you can only see graphics and playing style not the playebility imo. Listen to me and try risen ;)
Also Two Worlds 2 was a good game, its just overrated, its really addictive
Baldurs gate series were ok, but not my stuff, i think planescape torment was a much better game...
Fallout 1-2-3-nw were all good games and they were so addictive
İf i put a list here it will definetely be like that
1-Gothic 2 (masterpiece)
3-Risen (it has something very special)
6-Return To Krondor
7-Might &Magic 6
8- Pool Of Radiance
9 - Neverwinter Nights
11-Baldurs Gate 2
13- Fallout 3
17- Betrayal At Krondor
18- Eye Of The Behoulder
19- Two Worlds 2
Amber Myers on May 12, 2013:
What!! Although i agree with your list, Dark Messiah was not TRASH. In fact, it was very satisfying and i enjoyed playing every minute of it. It could have been a bit more polished though and the ending was not good at all. At least the ending where you leave Leanna alive wasn't. It was too short and boring.
Gavin on April 15, 2013:
Hi again, Gazook.
Since you've asked for input regarding incoming update, I would recommend you:
- Fallout: New Vegas (Obsidian made a good work of it and IMO it's a great game, with tons of fleshed-out, living and breathing characters and mature humour - something Bethesda obviously cannot do well. And, as always, mods make an already great game Epic.)
- possibly Star Wolves series (it's not in the league of BG/Torment, etc..., but it still did captivate me for some reason - perhaps it would do the same to you. And yes, it is in my personal top 30 cRPGs)
- possibly Mount and Blade: Warband (it's a rare bird at the genre's crossroad. But still, it has most of cRPG attibutes, except there is no main plot. I've played the Prophesy of Pendor mod and had greatly enjoyed it.)
- definitely Albion and Ultima Underworld II (yes, I haven't given up hope yet! :-) )
Sup bra on April 06, 2013:
Why y no put warcraft 1,2 and 3?:(
John on April 06, 2013:
Great list. I'm a huge fan of BGs but also like the Icewind dales. I liked the FF7 and FF8 but the way the (random) fights were taking place was not my cup of tea. What I don't see from comments is one of the best RPG I've ever played in SNES and is the secret of mana.
nick on February 14, 2013:
nice list :)
" On my wishlist for next year is an illegitimate love child between Skyrim and The Witcher 2." Witcher 3 coming ;)
skrat on February 02, 2013:
Shining Force is now availiable on Steam for 3 bucks !!
Gastao on January 27, 2013:
No Crono Trigger in the list? But have FFVII there instead of VI?
This list is worthless.
Ciobi on January 20, 2013:
Where is Gothic 2???
Aaron on January 13, 2013:
Great list! Every one that I've played I agree with. I have to admit I haven't played most of these as I didn't really start PC gaming until about 10 years ago.
You mentioned Deus Ex HR. It was the last game I played. I was and am happy to see that type of game produced. Some of my all time favorite games (the KOTOR's and Mass Effect 1) are sci-fi RPG's and the genre is severely underserved. I enjoyed it, but sadly don't think it deserves to be here. Great story. Great acting. Pretty cool mechanics. You just don't feel as capable by endgame as I like to feel. The levels were a bit repetitive too and got boring by endgame.
For me Amalur deserves a spot. I know some people hated it. I just can't understand why. It was beautiful, free roaming, had a great story, superb leveling choices. I easily spent more time on that game than any other EVER. I can't remember better combat and it is absolutely a hardcore RPG. It was outstanding. Easily in my top 10 (or higher) and I've been gaming for 2.5 decades. The only down side is that the difficulty is too low by endgame, especially on the pure classes. But if you didn't have a problem force storming twice to kill everything in the room in KOTOR you won't have a problem here.
Also check out the Geneforge series, especially 3 or 4. Sucky graphics. Fantastic and original story and gameplay. Definitely deserves to be here if you can get past the look.
Baisho on January 08, 2013:
Diablo 3 ... no,no,no. In fact, I recommend Diablo 2 over it´s younger brother. Diablo 3 relies too much on equipment to make DPS... It´s not really bad, but it´s not comparable. The skill tree on D2 was excelent, as you could focus on habilities and sets, with a little calculation and planning of the leveling process. Really, a vicious game. D3, can be fun for hours, but it´s more washed.
Also. PC cRPGs. I must say I grew with the Baldur Saga, playing in multiplayer with friends of yester years. A real nice experience.
M&M VI. Darn good game. Great mix of party management, mastering progression, dungeon exploration, and also fantastic music to boot. The world of the game is HUGE, be aware of it.
I introduced Kotor 1 & 2 to a younger friend, who never touched RPGs. He´s hooked like hell to the story. So yah, kudos for mentioning these games. Very good, and accesible.
By the way, recently my brother has lend me Fallout 3 for PS3. I´m going to give it a try.
Jesper Berg (author) on December 06, 2012:
Thanks for the tips and comments! @Lolz: It does say PC in the title ;)
Pitrs on December 03, 2012:
Nice list, thanks for it. If it was top 25+, other great games could be added. e.g. Dungeon Master, Lands of Lore I(!!!), Gothic series, Ravenloft(!!!) ... and dont forget the most popular MMO-RPG games (Ultima Online, WoW, Lineage..)
add Wizardry, I think that WVII is much better then 8 ... addiction guaranteed, but no offense
LoLz on December 01, 2012:
This is the cRPG list. Not a RPG list. What a load of bollux.
zd84 on December 01, 2012:
I have come by dozens of these lists, just like many others. By fact this is the best list out there (most likely as it includes all my favourites). I read your lis a year ago, but didn't bookmark and have been looking for it ever since. Now it get into the bookmarks for sure.
Great job, thanks
dimsam on November 25, 2012:
absolutely the best critic of game ever read,well done
Duechtin on November 08, 2012:
so i noticed daggerfall wasn't on here...loved it...actually still playing it endless fun.....@all the graphic sluts out there to be honest i would sacrifice graphics any day for quality game play now adays games focus entirely too much on graphics and miss what games are all about.....story and gameplay. Perfect example compare FFVII to any of its sequals still untouched in my opinion 8 9 & 10 were all right but i noticed the better the graphics got the narrower the games got i love endless worlds of constant adventure and blah blah Gazook well played sir there is a few on here i haven't got around to and it seems i have some gaming to do
Jesper Berg (author) on October 29, 2012:
Thanks a lot for all the great comments! Yes, @uri, @jb and others, it's definitely time for an update. Deus Ex HR and Diablo 3 seem fairly obvious, but I'm open to suggestions. Just remember that it's PC only (so no Phantasy Star etc.) ;)
Justin on October 29, 2012:
This was exactly what i was looking for. I set out on a nostalgic trip to uncover the best of the best from the yester years to torrent and download to add a nice collection and this definitely pointed some out for me and gave me other ideas. Wonderful page except for Skyrim, Skyrim was a disappointment at best saying that was the best of bethesda is like saying fat trailer park women coated in ketchup . sweat and cheap wine are the picture of perfection. ( my opinion)
Chad on October 26, 2012:
I can't believe the NES Dragon Warrior series or the Sega Master System and Genesis Phantasy Star series is not on this list
Skoobaba on October 19, 2012:
Babuya....if you read the list. Really closely. Check the top of the list. Really closely. Read slowly. You will notice that the list is sorted by YEAR, not by score.....Thats why BG2 is at 15th place.
jb on October 14, 2012:
Agree with the list (have the same probs many others do with picking Gothic 3 but not 1 or 2 - as I recall when Gothic came out, it had to compete with the much more visible Morrowind - comparisons were pretty harsh, but what the series invented was a new way of looking at RPGing, particularly with the emphasis on relationship-building and territory.)
Anyway, I don't personally see Diablo/Torchlight/Borderlands as classic RPGs, they are action-RPGs, which is a great genre, just not really the one this list really accentuates. You also don't find MMORPGs on here, that's another category of game and has it's own very distinct flavor. For classic RPGs, I am delighted to see the old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games on here, Bard's Tale (of course), the Bioware chest, etc.
A few sleepers I'd like to mention (a few others may have mentioned as well, I couldn't possibly read all the comments) - the Drakensang series is good and flew way under the radar. Also, the Divine Divinity series is good, and I think will make a big resurgence (or maybe just be noticed for the first time ever) since Steam is featuring Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga at a really low price. This latter series was an exceptional experience, and still holds up mighty well even against the powerhouse releases (Skyrim, Witcher 2) of the day. There was a lot going on, particularly in Divinity II - the ability to build up a small army of followers who collected resources for you, the ability to mindread almost any NPC in the game and gain valuable information or even skills, the ability to transform into a dragon for a unique experience - all this plus great looking visuals, a hilarious sense of humor, some pretty decent puzzling - this is a game that will one day be respected for what it did, without anyone noticing. Great game.
Great list. I hope you keep updating it.
Renzore101 on September 20, 2012:
Also, I would like to address some peoples claim that diablo isn't an rpg but merely a hack-and-slash game. What is an rpg to you? In my mind any game that has some sort of level progression and skill tree/character building/inventory management is an rpg.
Renzore101 on September 20, 2012:
Skratt on September 10, 2012:
Awesome List !!
as others have said the fact that it is still up and running/getting veiwed after so long is crazy cool.
one game i think you should add is Divine Divinity... it was released in 2002 and is similar to the BG and NWN in that it is turn based and can be paused. it is FAR more expansive in plot and overall size of world than the BG and NVN games though. with truly impressive depth to the story as well as genuinly hilarious and well done voice acting
it was originally released only in europe so it took a while for people in the US to catch on to it.
thankfully it recently became availiable for purchase and download on steam for only 6 bucks! WIN
diverko on September 03, 2012:
I think it's time to add Deus Ex: HR :)
AC on September 02, 2012:
@Teppik Diablo is a RPG, plain and simple. If it was a hack and slash, it would have been made like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden.
Babuya on August 29, 2012:
BG2 is No.15 ????
You got be kidding me !
boyet on August 18, 2012:
diablo 3 must be included, although it's on process of fixing bugs. :-)
Locust on July 29, 2012:
I would have to say this is a decent list. I still play all these games to this day. Also, I like to add that if you can get a PS emulator to work, like I did, FF8 graphics looks superb. Alot better than PS1. Icewind dale, heart of winter, and Icewind dale 2 I'm playing now, still. Reading all of R.A. Salvatores books helps with that. Baldurs gate is still fun to play, but it makes you made that you can talk to Drzzt only... damnit. They have Magic:The Gathering also on PC. I still got my cards... all 10000 of them... haha yeah I know. Honestly in my opinion, these 3d games now-a-days can't hold out to the stories of the classics or gameplay. Yeah ooooo 3d cool... um who remembers playing zelda link to the past? hmmm? Non 3d. Addictive. Awesome story. Didn't even need 3d. If it had 3d it would've taken away room for gameplay just for looks?? booo. I do like the 3d however on some games, but not all. It takes up too much memory. World of Warcraft wasn't mentioned I see. that's a prime example. 3d... neverends basically, always something new, play with friends world-wide, similar to Diablo2 and Icewind dale or a cross of both. Good story. Quests. Seasonal. Real time. Holidays I mean come on the list goes on...
Skoobaba on July 28, 2012:
Oblivion IS in it...maybe you should read more closely...
Both Drakensang games should be on the list, though. Classic rpgs both of them. They look alot like Neverwinter 2, i guess. Damn good games.
wytse on July 21, 2012:
Skyrim is in it but oblivion isn't..
Is a bit off by my opinion
brianjensen666 on July 17, 2012:
A lot of those games are good, but BG1+2 and planescape:torment are classiscs.. The Dragon Age Origins was made, the only good game since those imo... modern 3d gfx with wonderful combat mechanics (pressing space planning the combat like BG series and MM6).. They've tried to make RPG games into arcade games like DA2 with machine gun hitting mages and teleporting scouts to backstab.. RPGs is about depth, not hack and slash arcade action.
Stop making shallow, 3D games that bore you after 100-200 hours of gameplay.. Having played all through BG2 with all character classes and and various grp setups, DAO + awakenings 15-20 times and never being bored shows what games should be about.
1: Gameplay and in-depth story and well-mde characters works
2: Neglecting everything apart from gfx makes for a game without longevity.. If you're bored with a game after 50-100 hours, the game sucks
Bap on July 11, 2012:
I'm 30 years old and I'm still having dreams about "Maniac Mansion". Indiana jones and monkey island also are captivating. If you died in these, you had to go all the way to the beginning
HAHAHA on June 28, 2012:
First of all, no Arcanum. For a PC snob that you are that should be a priority game. Than, after all, you've ONLY played on PC a.k.a you've missed around 5000 Japanese RPG's including Tactical and Action ones. At least you should place Dark Souls.
But I don't blame you, it's not like you grew with both PC and console systems.
Clickypen on June 23, 2012:
Huge FF fanboy here. FF6 and 7 were the pinnacle of the franchise and it's gotten progressively worse in quality since then.
With that confession out of the way, I'm not sure it belongs on the list as a 'best pc rpg'. It seemed like a quick-port afterthought to make more money for those who didn't like consoles.
It's akin to adding Halo in a list of the best PC shooters.
boodoo on June 15, 2012:
Thanks for the info dude. Loved diablo 2, played baldur's gate 2 but got a bit tired of it after a while. keen to try witcher bro, looks awesome. the only fable i liked and clocked over and over was the original. that game was doooope!! the others (including lost chapters) seemed to be a dulled down, not as raw version that i enjoyed alot less.. :)
776568 on June 05, 2012:
how about dragonfable
uri on June 02, 2012:
[quote]"Long overdue update: People are still reading and commenting on this page, which is awesome, it's just that it was published more than a year ago, and these things get dated fast. At the very least, a couple more game should be added to the "Best Ever" list"[/quote]
Then Update your danged web page seriously.... I'm not saying "do it every day." But honestly once a month at least... People read these top of lists to get an idea of what games they may have missed or recommendations in genre's that appeal to them more.
If you cant keep it updated then remove the page altogether. There's no purpose in it, If its just old and worthless...
I believe I can honestly say, That newer games vastly improve on the older games. No, not just with graphics also with game-play and interactivity. A great Story is a great story and i value that.
I also highly value being able to control a character well and being able to tell the difference in a characters gender and the clothes/weapons a character can change, the amount one can wear and or use.
The fallout Series, The mass effect series, The baldurs gate series. Vampire the masquerade is a great game but its not a great game on its own the only reason its even a great game now a days and so widely known now is that Fans patched the hell out of it and fixed what the developers could not or would not do.
Considering Also, That you have Action Rpg's on here why not put Kotor 1 ,2 ?? there others even that are just plain not listed that should be or possibly removed i guess if it was not your intention to add action rpg's like V.T.M.
Something to think about when making a list like this.. (is it a Solid RPG or is it more? if so should i make it a broader list?) Just saying.. i see to many of these Hodge podged lists. It gets annoying when your just trying to look for game suggestions.
These are things to take into account when making a top of list however... not just remember games fondly from your youth back when you were wearing those rose colored glass's and had an extremely jaded view of the world.
I fail to see how Bards tale or D&D held up to the test of time they may have been great games back in the late 70's - mid 80's but were in 2012 now...
You could do a top list of the 1980's to put them in but theres lots to take into account when doing a top list of anything and while i agree with some of what's on here I believe that if your going to do something do it right or plain and simple don't do it.
I'm sorry if you fill my post is offensive. I believe I am right and possibly ranting a bit... You can put The Fallout series for example instead of just Fallout. Considering that theres 1, 2, 3, Fallout tactics.. and most recently new Vegas.
Boronguy on May 20, 2012:
the fact that gothic and NN was in there just made me cry out of happiness (best games evah)
John on May 17, 2012:
How did you not see morrowind?
Tim on May 17, 2012:
oblivion and no morrowind? what a crappy list.
Dudicle on May 13, 2012:
Yeah, Arcanum FTW! I'd love to see another game set in that world, but with less bugs and balance issues.
Adam M. Hanson from Mankato, MN on May 13, 2012:
I can't believe you have Arcanum on here......no one I talk to has ever heard of it, but it is one of my all time favorites growing up! Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale too?? Definitely a great list of games and I agree fully!
Nightstyle on May 04, 2012:
Gothic 3 doesn't belong. It was a failure in so many ways, and Gothic 1 & 2 were superior in anything but graphics. Seeing how many older games make the top of this list, it's pretty much a crime to list Gothic 3 here.
Khal Blogo from A gas station on the yellow brick road on May 02, 2012:
Missed the "sorted by year" part... My bad.
Rawgrim on May 02, 2012:
Seriously, Blogo...it says clearly that the titles are sorted by year. Also, Diablo 2 is arguably NOT an rpg. The only thing rp about it is that you level up. You have zero conversation choices, or choices on how to finish missions. The only thing you get to chose is how to deal damage to respawning enemies.
Khal Blogo from A gas station on the yellow brick road on April 17, 2012:
Diablo 2 is on the 14th spot... Dude, seriously... Diablo 2 is the best RPG ever made, there is no competition...
Jesper Berg (author) on April 09, 2012:
@quiett42: Very cool! Looks like it's doing pretty well.
XHunter on April 08, 2012:
Best "PC" RPGs... i feel dumb :P
Anyway, Dark Souls will have a PC port with new bosses (confirmed), so get ready to add it ;)
XHunter on April 08, 2012:
Where is Demons and Dark Souls? O_o
They are just my favorite RPGs (and i played lots of them)
j-m-g on April 08, 2012:
Witcher 2 and Skyrim are the 2 best games ever :D
Sherlock on April 07, 2012:
Totally missing the Drakensang series in this list. Both Drakensang games (Drakensang: The black Eye and Drakensang: river of time) are top RPG games and are in my opinion far better than the Dragon Age series.
Quiett42 on April 05, 2012:
Just trying to spread the word on this. Hope I don't offend anyone.
It's worth checking out if you enjoyed the original wasteland.
DeGorro on March 29, 2012:
None believe me, but I finished ultima 8 in my 14 years old, and I'm not even UK or american, which mean I'd to play the game half blinded because my english vocab were just basic. The game was hard for me but challenging, especially when the hero has to jump from a platform to another when the avatar need to meet the wind guardian. ;)
Eric A. Smith on March 26, 2012:
My bad - this is the proper link:
Jm on March 25, 2012:
shit yeah i played 90% of these games. another good one was lionheart
Giannis on March 25, 2012:
Bioware didn't want to pay any more to Wizards of the Coast and thats why stop to create D&D games.Also Obsidian is a company created by some members of Black Isle after the disband of the company.But as always Obsidian didn't deliver any serious game.NWN 2 was not so good as NWN 1 by far.Also Bioware after she got bought by EA is not the same company of the past.Many games created by Bioware lately are just lame....like Dragon Age 2,Star Wars The Old Republic,Mass Effect 2.Bethesta also did good job only in Fallout 3:Las Vegas and Skyrim is not the game that all expected.To be honest,its a good RPG,but not far at all to be named as legendary.Same goes to The Witcher 2,exept the amazing graphics,the game is short,has bad story and silly combat system