R oleplaying games (RPGs) time a lot of time and there’s no way around it. Whether your RPG involves fighting dragons, maxing out your materia, exploring the seedy underbelly of Night City or even just starting a fistfight with god, chances are it’s going to take you tens of hours to get good at it.
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While the settings and mechanics may be different, every good RPG shares the ability to grow your character in a way that’s meaningful to you. This usually involves stacks of loot, levelling a character and even grinding out XP by battering a few low level goons, too. So, with that in mind why invest all of that time into an RPG that’s rubbish when you can play on the of the best RPGs instead?
So, with you (yes, you. aren’t you special?) in mind we’ve dug up this list of some of the greatest and latest RPGs so that you’re only grinding away in the most worthwhile games out there, instead of indulging your loot goblin tendencies in other, lesser, titles.
These are the RPGs you absolutely have to play. And here’s why…
This list covers the very best RPGs you can play in 2023. They include modern classics, as well as new releases. As new games are released we’ll consider them for this list. In the meantime, check out the list below:
- FF7 Remake Intergrade
- Cyberpunk 2077
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Persona 5: Royal
- NieR: Automata
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Elden Ring
- Final Fantasy XIV: Online
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade
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 realised 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.
Look, Cyberpunk 2077 is always going to be a controversial addition to this list after its launch woes, but it is one of the better RPGs in the market after years of bug-fixing courtesy of developers CD Projekt Red. It’s a testament to this work that this time buffing out many of the game’s more egregious problems at launch has made it feel fairly polished after the launch woe.s
Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t quite as filling an RPG as anything else on the list, and with its Deus Ex styling and first-person shooter sensibilities you could be forgiven for thinking of it as an action game, but there’s deep progression and a rich world hidden beneath the slightly buggy exterior. With ray tracing on, the setting of Night City is a beautiful place to spend a few hours, while the situations you’ll find yourself often feel like they have a myriad of different solutions informed by your own skills and perks.
If nothing else, it’s the only game on the list that lets you cut someone in half with your cybernetic wrist-blade implants.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launched while I was at university, but somehow it’s still incredibly popular. Why? It could be the rich world that lets players explore and prod at the world, or maybe the fact you get to batter dragons and take their powers.
But, it could also be the fact you can dodge all of the actual “game” and live in a weird shack in the woods and hunt deer as you grind out your skills, letting you
Skyrim is one of the best RPG games not just because you can play whatever game you want to play, but because you can decide on whatever role you want to play. It has less freedom than some games: certain characters will be unkillable if they’re plot-relevant, and if you choose to dabble in the story you will end up saving the world rather than dooming it, but you can also throw yourself into a career in the thieves guild or the dark brotherhood (they do assassinations).
Persona 5 Royal
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 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 multiple endings.
Playing from three perspectives, you’re able to explore a dystopian city, uncover its mysteries all the while fighting hordes of robotic enemies with your trusty Pod and a wide range of weapons.
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 is a dream to play if you’re a fan of anything to do with fantasy because the game has it all, right down to 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.
A “visually and technically enhanced” version of the game (promising to add new content inspired by Netflix’s The Witcher series starring Henry Cavill) is expected to land mid-way through 2022.
Is it cheating to add two Fromsoftware games to the list? Maybe, but an exception has to be made for Elden Ring. By transporting the Souls formula into one of the best open worlds created in years, Fromsoftware’s latest hit creates the strongest RPG offering from the studio so far.
The Lands Between is ripe for exploration, and it’s hard to stay on the path to becoming an Elden Lord when there are so many goodies to dig up in the world’s countless forgotten catacombs and dingy caves. Elden Ring also allows players to tackle its plethora of bosses at their own rate: if an enemy is particularly tough, there’s nothing stopping players from retreating to explore for a little bit before coming back stronger.
When you combine all of that with a thorough character creation system and titanic opportunity for build customisation, you’ve got all the hallmarks of a great RPG – and as our five-star review of Elden Ring highlights, it’s nothing short of must-play.
Final Fantasy XIV Online
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 compliment 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!
That’s all we have so far for the best RPGs you can play in 2022. For a look at what’s still in store for this year, have a look at our upcoming games article.