The best RPGs: The best role-playing games you can play in 2021

Looking for an RPG to play? Well, any one of these titles is well worth your time

deciding to dedicate your time to a particular video game can be difficult when you’ve got an extensive backlog that just keeps growing, but if you want to master the best RPGs in the gaming world, you’re going to need to dedicate a lot of time to the cause.

Even if you’ve got a passing interest in the RPG genre, chances are you know how long some of these games can take. Whether you’ve got a 100+ hour save in your favourite Final Fantasy or you’ve maxed out every social stat in Persona 4: Golden, you’ve likely done this merry dance before.

But, if you’re starting down a backlog and wondering ‘what should I choose to dedicate myself to next?’ you’ve come to the right place. We’ve cut down that imposing list of all the best role-playing games you’ve not played and selected a handful of the best RPGs you can play right now – on both the last and current generation.

These are the RPGs you absolutely have to play. And here’s why.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade
Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Credit: Square Enix

Originally, Final Fantasy 7 Remake was going to be on this list but with the release of Intergrade, the next-generation version of the JRPG most definitely deserves to be here instead.

With 60FPS gameplay, FF7 Remake Intergrade feels just as good as the real-time combat that compliments it. Its newly realized narrative sets up the world and characters perfectly for old fans of the original and new ones alike, while also introducing a fresh new combat system that makes taking down bosses exhilarating.

Along with the main campaign, Intergrade also treats PS5 players with an extra piece of content in the form of Episode Intermission which adds more substance to the main campaign as well as the teenage ninja herself, Yuffie.

Bloodborne

Bloodborne
Bloodborne. Credit: FromSoftware

No matter how many times I revisit Bloodborne I always manage to have fun and that’s coming from someone who considers themselves to be barely average at Soulsborne games.

In this horror-filled journey, you play your own customisable Hunter tasked with ridding the ancient city of Yharnam of monstrous beasts while also attempting to uncover a deeper plot.

Traveling between gorgeous, gothic environments you’ll spend hours slashing and shooting away with a plethora of weapons, but that’s not a bad thing. One of Bloodborne’s strongest elements is allowing you to figure out those strategies with practice. It may feel exhausting at times, but the replayability of Bloodborne is there and will only make you better in the long run.

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Credit: Nintendo

The sense of freedom the player is given in Breath of the Wild is still astounding. The game takes such a massive step away from the other mainline games in the franchise that sometimes you forget that you’re actually playing a Zelda game.

This version of Hyrule is enormous and littered with secrets ready for the player to uncover, and best of all, everything is accessible. Breath of the Wild lets you climb up, quite literally, anything you set your eyes on whether it’s a snowy mountain peak in the distance or an island in the middle of the sea.

Beneath the surface, there lies a story you must solve yourself by piecing together Link’s forgotten memories 100 years after he awakes, driving you forward to solve the mystery. Its fresh mechanics, gear management system, puzzle-solving, and sense of exploration make this game a must-play in the Zelda franchise. Widely regarded as one of the best RPGs of all time, and for good reason.

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal. Credit: Atlus

The expansive version of Persona 5 is the absolute best way to play this JRPG. Not only does Royal include the original campaign, but it also includes hours of more story content with the addition of brand new characters and locations.

Royal’s best moments revolved around its main cast of characters, The Phantom Thieves, who are each unique in their style and turn-based abilities. It may take you up to 100 hours to complete the main campaign but each and every hour is worth your time.

Persona 5 Royal’s dungeon crawling might be its main appeal, but it’s just one of many things you can do in the game as it’s also a life sim. Completing activities, travelling around Tokyo Japan and gaining trust with other members of the Phantom Thieves is also a vital part of the game’s progression and your journey. Also, who would’ve thought attending school could actually be fun?

NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata
NieR: Automata. Credit: Square Enix

NieR: Automata has some of the best combat in any RPG, there’s no doubt. Its fluid combo-based, hack and slash gameplay accompanied by its emotional narrative and original soundtrack sweeps you up in a captivating journey that spans over multiple endings.

Playing from three perspectives, you’re able to explore a dystopian city, uncover its mysteries all while fighting hordes of robotic enemies with your trusty Pod and a wide range of weapons accessible to you.

Automata excels at telling a complex story while also making the gameplay addictive as hell, and it’ll be one you’ll be talking about for years to come. This incredibly existential piece of storytelling is one of the best RPG narratives out there, and you need to play it.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Credit: CD Projekt Red

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a dream to play if you’re a fan of anything to do with fantasy because the game has it all, including breathtaking visuals and incredible attention to detail which makes exploring the world as Geralt of Rivia a joy to play.

A fantastical narrative finds the player seeking answers across the many realms of The Continent resulting in a unique journey filled with some of the finest role-playing ever, even if it is considered to have a lengthy campaign.

Wild Hunt’s greatest RPG elements are in the form of boss fights, player choices, interesting NPCs and side quests that are just as immersive as the narrative, along with developed characters that are worth your attention. Even after you’ve finished the main campaign, the Witcher 3 DLC, Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine, expands the world even more with quests, locations, and characters that are just as memorable.

Final Fantasy XIV Online

Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV. Square Enix

By now, you’ve probably heard of the critically acclaimed MMO that has a free trial up to Level 60. Final Fantasy XIV is the culmination of everything great about RPGs with an adventure that spans across three expansions and some of the most stellar video game writing ever.

The characters, who have become as iconic as other notable Final Fantasy protagonists, are the heart and soul of the story and its passionate creators make it so the player gets to experience that in full. You aren’t an onlooker in the narrative but are instead actively involved in the overall outcome, making it a deeply personal journey to experience.

I don’t have enough words to even complement its diverse range of Job options, fantastic raid and dungeon design, enjoyable side quests for when you need a break, as well as hundreds upon hundreds of hours of more content to scratch the itch (I’m not kidding, there’s so much to do).

It’s no secret that FFXIV launched in a bad state, but put those thoughts aside because the game has evolved exceptionally since. Plus, there’s more to look forward to as the MMORPG’s final expansion in the decade-long story launches later this year. Also, bunny boys!

Feel like we’ve missed out one of your favourites? Let us know which game you think is one of the best RPGs, and we may add it to this list. 

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