RPGs date back to the humble days of pen and paper games, where dice rolls determined your fate. Once computers started becoming more widely available, translating all those character sheets and dice rolls into a digital format to automate those processes, RPGs took on a new life. These were among the first games ever made, and as technology has advanced, good RPG games have become almost synonymous with the PC platform. Even as the genre itself has expanded to include action RPGs, turn based, MMO, and more, the PC has always been the best place to enjoy the deepest, most advanced games that other platforms just can’t support.Contents
Fun RPG games are not hard to find these days. From the best action RPG to free single-player RPGs for PC, there’s no shortage of games to sink your teeth into. At the same time, most of these titles ask for dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of your time. As good as so many are, there are plenty you won’t want to invest in. Others that are considered great might not fit the type of RPG you personally find fun. We’ve scoured the PC library, old and new, for a range of the best RPG games PC has to offer, and why. Here are the top 15 RPGs you can play right now on your PC.
Starting off with a recent title that the PC community has only grown more fond of over time is the pinnacle of CD Projekt Red’s Witcher trilogy The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. For the studio’s third game ever developed, the level of quality this game reached is almost too good to believe. It is not only a graphical showpiece, even holding up very well over five years later, but also set in one of the largest fantasy open worlds ever seen. The scale of this game isn’t just in the scope of how much space there is to explore, either. There are nearly endless amounts of secrets, treasures, monsters, quests, and side activities to partake in outside of your main quest.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt benefits from being based on the established world and lore of a novel series but also stands on its own since it doesn’t adhere to the plot but rather expands upon it. As a Witcher, you hunt monsters, solve mysteries, and often get dragged into political and personal troubles despite your best efforts. The writing here is really what sets The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt apart from other open-world RPGs. Not only is the dialogue and performances fantastic, but the choices and situations you’re put in are genuinely interesting and difficult. If you’re sick of games providing you with simple black and white, good and bad choices, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt bucks that trend in nearly every turn. You are playing as a character here, the Witcher Geralt, and not a blank slate, though, so don’t expect to be able to go completely off the rails.
Modern RPGs have typically gotten a lot more streamlined and simplistic from the days when they were trying to replicate the more complex rule sets from Dungeons and Dragons. That’s why it was such a welcomed return to form when the original Divinity: Original Sin came out and was a true, dynamic, and reactive RPG that called back to those days. Divinity: Original Sin 2 takes things even further, pushing the limits of what PC RPGs had become to nearly be as open ended as sitting down at a table with your friends and playing a campaign. If something makes sense logically, there’s a very good chance it will work in Divinity: Original Sin 2, and the game gives you plenty of opportunities to feel smart by trying them.
The world and lore of Divinity: Original Sin 2 is full of magic, Gods, monsters, and all the usual fantasy trappings you know and love. Even if you find some of those concepts cliche, the way you can manipulate the progression based on how you build your character and how you act will make you far more invested. You can either pick from some pre-made characters or design your own from scratch, outlining their race, gender, backstory, and stats, of course. You can also bring up to three party members, either as NPCs you take direct control of in battle or play in co-op either online or locally. These party members also can change how interactions with NPCs will unfold. This game feels about as close as you can get to playing a pen and paper game with a human DM who needs to react to whatever crazy idea you come up with.
Where does one even begin trying to describe Disco Elysium? I could say its a detective game that focuses on narrative, dialogue, and stats, and that would all be true, but at the same time would only tell you a fraction of the story. As a detective game, you will be engaged in questioning and speaking to everyone, and in some cases everything, to solve one murder. As with the best mystery stories, though, that one murder ends up having ties to much larger players and events happening in the world around you, which leads to uncovering your own character’s personal history and traumas. Or it doesn’t. This game, more than almost any other ever made, allows you to push it to the extremes in terms of what you do or don’t engage with, but also how you do or don’t engage with it.
The only thingyou could consider cliche about Disco Elysium is the fact that you begin with amnesia. Everything beyond that is so unique and refreshing that even that narrative device feels earned and appropriate rather than like a crutch. All your stats, of which there are 24, are also essentially fellow characters. The more points you have in them, the more they will speak up in different situations, as well as increase your odds of succeeding when you need them. With 24 stats, though, you can’t be good at everything. This lends to wildly different possible outcomes to just about every conversation and situation in the game, without even mentioning your political and moral alignments. Seriously, there are just so many moving parts in Disco Elysium that it should crumble under its own ambitions, yet somehow manages to be a masterclass in narrative RPGs, and one that you will immediately want to replay with a different build to see how different things can be.
Fantasy, and even sci-fi, RPGs are basically a dime a dozen these days. What’s rare is for an RPG to be set in modern times. What’s even less common than that is for and RPG to star a party of characters all in their early 40s to late 50s, but that’s exactly what Yakuza: Like a Dragon does and is all the more impressive for it. The Yakuza series prior to this game, the seventh mainline entry, were all action brawler games with light RPG elements. After an April Fool’s Day joke, the team decided they would actually follow through and turn the series into a full-on Dragon Quest-inspired turn-based RPG. This was also the introduction of the series’ new protagonist, Ichiban, so would be the perfect time to shake up the formula, but also incredibly risky since they had never done anything like it before.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is such a treat in every way. If you were a fan of the Yakuza games before, rest easy knowing the writing, characters, and side stories are all exactly as they were. The main plot is deep, full of twists, and essentially a season or two of high-quality drama, while the side stories are one-off misadventures with wacky characters and situations that almost always leave you with a smile on your face. As an RPG, Yakuza: Like a Dragon goes full-on turn-based. It incorporates jobs, but instead of things like thief, warrior, and paladin, you have homeless guy, idol, and foreman. Weapons are bats, umbrellas, purses, and guns, and spells are spitting alcohol over a lighter for fire attacks and spraying champagne. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is full of heart, whether its during the most serious moments or full of levity.
PC players used to be out in the cold when it came to the majority of the Final Fantasy series, but in recent years, a good chunk of the mainline games have all made their way onto the platform. Even so, the game specifically made for PC has undergone a monumental recovery from launch that we’re sure you’ve already heard dozens of times. Final Fantasy XIV, the MMORPG, has earned its praise and status as the most popular and profitable game in the entire Final Fantasy franchise. Even if you’re not typically an MMO player, if you’re a fan of the series or just great RPGs in general, there’s a reason for you to at least check out Final Fantasy XIV. That’s because, at its heart, this is an RPG through and through, but it just happens to be an MMO too.
That doesn’t mean the MMO part of Final Fantasy XIV is tacked on or anything. If you’re into that aspect, then this is still perhaps the best offering on the market. You can create guilds, do raids, trade, PvP, and all kinds of activities with friends. Unlike other MMOs, though, this game doesn’t skimp on main story content. In fact, that’s maybe the driving force behind its insane popularity. Starting with A Realm Reborn, the story has been consistently improving in writing and production while building up to a culmination in the most recent expansion, Endwalker. If you ignored everything else and even just played the game like a normal, single-player RPG, Final Fantasy XIV could easily become an hours-long narrative RPG that becomes your favorite in the franchise.
Like Divinity: Original Sin, Legend of Grimrock 2 looks to bring back an old style of RPG to PC players. This time, it’s a tile-based dungeon crawling experience similar to Dungeon Master, though far more advanced than its inspiration. If you haven’t played a game like this, it may seem like an odd mix. You control an entire party of four characters moving through a dungeon in, as mentioned, tile-based actions, but from a first-person perspective. You play as your entire team at once, choosing which unit to attack or use their skills or spells with in real time. Legend of Grimrock 2 expands on the original in major ways, too, most notably by not limiting the environments to dungeons and showcasing a huge range of environments, both underground and on the surface.
One thing Legend of Grimrock 2 doesn’t shy away from is maintaining that brutal difficulty curve of the old dungeon crawling games. Every step you take needs to be thought through, considering traps, puzzles, and, of course, monsters that can easily drain your party’s HP if unprepared. Thanks to the far greater scope of the sequel, there’s an element of exploration and discovery that this specific genre hadn’t really ever seen before but works wonderfully well. You can also swap out your party for different compositions for more variety and reasons to jump back into this challenging title. It’s more of a mechanics driven experience, with the narrative essentially just being the setup of you controlling a party of prisoners who are stranded on an island, so don’t come expecting a deep or gripping tale with this one.
If a unique, touching, and slightly personal tale is something you’re seeking, then the indie darling that has won the hearts of gamers around the world known as Undertale is worth more than a passing glance. Graphically, you might brush this game off as being a lazy RPG maker game with not much to it, but one of the main points of this RPG is to not judge a book by its cover. This is a game that takes heavy inspiration from the Mother series, or Earthbound, as it was called in North America, but takes it to a level beyond those already subversive RPGs. Without spoiling much, it is pretty much impossible to have not heard of Undertale and not also hear about how it breaks the fourth wall to incredible effect. It has become the inspiration for many games that do similar things, but none of them succeed quite as will as this charming RPG.
Set in the world of the Underground, Undertale stars a human in a world of monsters. These monsters, however, are not all evil creatures. In fact, nearly all of them are quirky, fun, funny, and endearing characters both in and out of battle. Battles take the form of different styles of mini games depending if you’re attacking or getting attacked, but there are also ways to spare any enemy you encounter and avoid killing them if you want. That is the main choice you make in Undertale, and a huge reason to replay the game, but far from the only trick it has up its sleeve. If you somehow dodged all the spoilers this game has, enjoy turn-based RPGs with charming character writing, and like a story that has a strong chance of pulling hard on your heart strings, take a trip or two through Undertale.
There are only so many times we can play and replay Diablo 2, even with the remastered version, and even Diablo 3 has been stagnant for a while now. The fourth game is promised but with no clear window of when it will actually come. Thankfully, another game picked up right where that series left off but turned it into a living game that, at this point, is almost overflowing with content. Path of Exile started out as a simple clone but with a firm understanding of the action RPG systems, loot economy, and multiplayer fun that made the Diablo games so popular. It started out a little light on content during the beta period, but over the years it has become a huge game that introduces new expansions multiple times a year.
The Diablo comparisons are obvious from the moment you see Path of Exile. The perspective is an identical isometric view and sends you off into a variety of randomly generated zones to complete quests, find loot, and kill hundreds of monsters. The hub zones, known as encampments, are almost MMO in nature, but unless you team up with a party, each time you go out into the world proper it will be a fully instanced area. There are seven classes to pick from, and each has a skill tree so big they might as well be called forests at this point. Plus, consider all the gear, upgrades, and leagues that cycle in for unique challenges and rewards, and you have a game that almost makes you relieved Diablo 4 is so far away. Oh, and did we mention it’s totally free?
It wouldn’t be worth bringing up a game just for having a different setting than most RPGs without it also being a stellar game in its own right, similar to Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is Obsidian firing on all cylinders. The first game was a Kickstarter darling for players, and the team got a chance to show that, given time and budget, they can make one of the best RPGs out there. The sequel continues on where the first left off, kicking you out onto the high seas in a more pirate-style adventure. The ship is more than just a vessel, though, and adds in a new layer of mechanics to this already deep RPG. Gameplay wise, anyone who is a fan of the Infinity Engine games will feel right at home, but the story and setting are uncharted lands for all.
If you know Obsidian games, then you have an expectation when it comes to the writing and quests in their games. Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire somehow might be their most impressive game in both regards. There’s tons of text, lore, and details on just about everything in this game, but it knows how to keep it all manageable. With any RPG, you need to learn a ton of new terms, names, alliances — basically a new language. What Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire does so intelligently is give little refreshers on specific terms in the text so you can get a quick refresher on what it is and why it is important. The writing also does more than just let you do what you want — provide tons of roleplaying opportunities — but actually reacts to how you’ve been playing when making your next choices.
While we’re on the Obsidian train, why not also dive into the best Fallout game since the old school originals. The story of Fallout: New Vegas’ development is painful, like many of Obsidian’s games back in the day, which makes the end product we got even more impressive. It’s technically a spinoff title to the core series, built on the same engine as Fallout 3, but what they did with those same tools was what Fallout always should have been when translated into a fully 3D FPS RPG. Fallout 3 did do a lot right, but Fallout: New Vegas brought it home with a much richer role-playing experience, more interesting and thought-provoking quests and characters, and a world that felt so real despite being set in the post-apocalypse Nevada desert.
For older games, PC players get the unique advantage of being able to easily mod titles. Since Fallout: New Vegas was made in such a short time, a lot of rough edges had to be overlooked to focus on the core experience and get the game out the door. Thankfully, there’s a wide spread of fan mods out there that can not only fix up this game into a much smoother and better looking experience, but even re-balance or add content and systems to keep you going for a few more dozen hours. Even without mods, the world and quests you will experience in this wasteland and the way you can influence them, all delivered through great writing, is still worth playing. Gameplay is a bit dated, but thanks to the VAT system, it’s never too difficult — unless you want it to be, in which case you can turn on survivor mode or add in some mods.
Technically, this would be categorized under the immersive sim genre before RPG, but no one would say Dues Ex didn’t belong on any list of the best PC RPGs. For as legendary a place as this game has among the gaming community, perhaps even more within developer circles, there are still a huge number of people who haven’t experienced this highly influential title. Dues Ex has spawned many sequels and even more spiritual ones, but only a handful of those even come close to achieving the level of systems and reactivity this game allows you to manipulate. It’s a marketing term we’re all sick of now, but this was essentially the first game where you really could approach any situation however you wanted and the game would allow it. Want to be sneaky? Find a vent or stack some garbage to reach a high ledge. Want to smooth talk your way in? Give it a shot.
If you, like many of us, were burned by Cyberpunk 2077, Dues Ex is the dynamic, dystopian, conspiracy filled sci-fi RPG you deserve. Well, as long as you can look past the admittedly ugly graphics and fairly dated and clunky controls, anyway. The two other Dues Ex games (we don’t talk about Invisible War here), Dues Ex: Human Revolution and Dues Ex: Mankind Divided, are great in their own right but don’t quite hit the same levels of freedom or narrative cohesion as their ancestor. They are also prequel stories, so jumping back from these newer games wouldn’t be spoiling anything. And this is a story you will get invested in, being full of politics, philosophical concepts of humanity, and conspiracies. If you enjoyed those newer entries, or basically anything that Arkane has developed since Dishonored, Dues Ex will be right up your alley.
Action RPGs are still RPGs, and just because you can beat Dark Souls: Remastered without leveling up at all if you’re skilled enough, it does still have a decent amount of things going on. You just have to work a little harder to uncover it, is all. Like a few other big names on this list, Dark Souls: Remastered probably needs no introduction. Yes, it’s where the memes were born, the souls-like subgenre was born, and discourse around difficulty in games stemmed from. All of that doesn’t make this game any less of a good time for those who click with the slower pace, careful combat, and subtle world building, lore, and story.
Dark Souls: Remastered takes the somewhat broken and buggy initial PC release and finally makes it run like it was always meant to. The graphics are updated, the frame rate solid, and it includes the amazing Artorias of the Abyss DLC. There’s no need to go over how combat works in the Souls games even though they all have slight variances from one to another, but to many fans, this game is where it balanced everything best. Magic is a bit wonky, but otherwise, there are really no bad builds you can make, and everything can be viable. The only major negative is how obtuse a lot of the systems are. This is endearing to some when it comes to working out the obtuse side quests, lore, and even plot of what you’re actually doing in the game, but not so much when it comes to knowing how upgrades or stats really work. Having a friend or a guide handy for these instances can be helpful, but the core is still a great action RPG that will leave you feeling accomplished each and every time you topple a boss you thought was impossible the first time around.
A common thread among almost all the games on this list thus far has been strong narratives. The best RPGs typically all have very strong writing, characters, and options for influencing the story to some extent. Even in a genre packed to the brim with excellent writing, the 1999 classic is still often held up as perhaps the best written game of all time. Planescape: Torment really does rely on its writing, too, because there’s almost no other gameplay to it. It’s technically a Dungeons and Dragons-style game, but for the most part, it is more of a choose-your-own-adventure book, but far deeper than any that could physically exist. Rather than engage in physical combat, Planescape: Torment is more of a battle of words and ideas. That ends up being just as engaging to play but will also give you plenty to chew on even when you’re not playing.
You play as an immortal known as The Nameless One in Planescape: Torment, who, you guessed it, awakes with amnesia. You will adventure through various places on a journey to not only piece together fragments of your past but grapple with the nature of humanity as someone who cannot die and come to grips with whether or not things you did prior to getting amnesia should dictate who you are as a person now. Honestly, few games even skim the surface of concepts like this, but Planescape: Torment dives in head first and forces you to fully engage with them. As long as you’re OK with a massive amount of high-quality writing and less sword swinging and spell casting, Planescape: Torment is a game that might just leave a larger impact on you than you first expect.
Another newer entry, and our final isometric RPG on the list, is the excellent Wasteland 3. Again shaking up the setting, this series began under a different studio way, way back in 1988 before inXile revived the series by Kickstarting a sequel and following it up with the even larger third game. These latest two games have taken major inspiration from the first two Fallout games, though in reality, those games were inspired by the original Wasteland — but you get the point. Outside of combat, fans of early Fallout games will feel right at home. The setting is post-apacolyptic; you build a party of characters and distribute skills, attributes, and perks; and engage in plenty of branching dialogue and side quests. Because it centers on created characters going to a new location, playing Wasteland 2 isn’t required, but a few characters and nods to previous events are littered around for those who know.
When fights start, however, is another story. Wasteland 3 is much more akin to the modern XCOM games than anything else but with all those RPG elements taken into account. Basically, imagine if every unit in an XCOM game had different action points, costs for moving, distance they could move, hit chances, and everything else dependent on their builds and equipment. It isn’t quite as unforgiving as XCOM, but it’s still a great challenge. The story and non-combat aspects are just as strong, too. Skill checks show up in nearly every conversation as well as in exploration, forcing you to make hard choices on which ones to invest in, but also making you want to do second playthroughs to see how things could go differently if you could’ve passed all those skill checks you see in red.
Rounding out this list is the other Obsidian game that ended up punching far above its weight. Somehow struggling through an even worse, more constrained development cycle, they were able to create a game that surpassed not only a BioWare game, but one that others had already considered one of the best Star Wars games ever made. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 is what happens when the Star Wars license is given to a team that wants to tell a mature story in that universe and is given the freedom to explore concepts only ever alluded to in other media. This is almost the exact same situation with Fallout: New Vegas, where Obsidian was given a framework and gameplay system to start from, leaving them just enough time and talent to craft a story that is essential for anyone who craves a deeper exploration into the philosophies of the light side, dark side, and the implications of the Force as a concept on a galaxy.
Technically, you really should play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic before diving into this one. Despite playing as a brand new created character and having a mostly unique party, the entire plot revolves around the events and twist of the prior game. That being said, the first game is also fantastic, so that’s not a hard sell, but just wait until you hit this one. The gameplay is largely, if not completely, unchanged here, for better or worse. Whether you like the weird mix of real-time or turn-based action, queuing up attacks and abilities or not, it’s the subject matter, characters, and narrative that defines Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2. You can spend upwards of an hour just in a conversation with one or two characters but be so engrossed it will feel like no time at all has passed. It takes the lore of Star Wars seriously but also puts it under a critical lens and raises pretty profound questions that are clear metaphors for things in our own world.