Question Must Play RPGs

Jan 14, 2020
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All time classic isometric rpgs (this are the best of the best, I recommend starting with these holy trinity):

1. Fallout 1 and 2
2. Baldur's Gate 1 and 2
3. Planescape Torment

Classic Action Rpgs:

1. Deus Ex (great setting, writing and quest design)
2. Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines (great setting, arguably the best writing in a crpg, terrible combat)
3. The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind (the best TES game, with amazing exploration, setting and lore, but terrible combat mechanics; it's a huge game with 200+ hours of gameplay)
4. Gothic 2 (amazing exploration, but european janky controls and production)
5. Star Wars KOTOR 2 (amazing story writen by the master Chris Avellone, author of Planescape Torment)
6. Fallout New Vegas (amazing world, choice and consequence and writing, terrible combat)

New Tactical Rpgs with a good narrative or Setting :

1. Pathfinder: Kingmaker (very buggy in release, PC Gamer gave a poor review, but the game now is very stable and is almost a BG3 game, very strong in the character creation and progression department, one of the best rpgs of the decade).
2. Divinity: Original Sin 1 and 2 (Great turn based rpg, play only for the great combat system, because everything else is only serviceable)
3. Pillars of Eternity 1 and 2 (my favourite new franchise, with excellent combat system and setting)
4. Battle Brothers
5. Wasteland 2 DC
6. Lords of Xulima (exploration a la wasteland 1 or Ultima, but the combat uses the classic blobber first person view like the wizardry series always used)
7. Expeditions: Viking

Honorable Mentions:

1. Arcanum (the best reactivity in a rpg)
2. Temple of Elemental Evil (the best D&D conversion to a pc game since the marvelous gold box from the 80s)
3. Knight of The Chalice (only for the hardcore audience that just want an excuse to play a hard and extremely tactical D&D rpg)
4. Shadowrun Dragonfall (nice setting, turn based and the writing is not bad)
5. Dragons Dogma (action rpg with a party of adventures done right)
6. Mount and Blade: Warband (sandbox + empire building with rpg elemnts in the mix)
7. Dragon Age: Origins - the last good bioware game.
8. Icewind Dale: just a Baldurs Gate spin off but with heavy approach on the combat part of D&D tradition in the RTwP combat system.
9. Neverwinter Night: Mask of The Betrayer (the setting, the tone, the wiritng, the reactivity is all here, just a great fantasy story all around)
10. UndeRail> great exploration, very difficult, only for the strong.
11. Atom RPG, but wait the new expansion/DLC
12> Age of Decadence/Dungeon Rats.
13> Wizardry 8 (best dungeon crawler of all time, very complex mechanics, this game is very hardcore to master)
14. Ultima VII , but its really old, not everybody can play this gem (here, you will have lots of good narrative, tone, mistery and work to get clues from npcs)

This is only a short list with the masterpieces.
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Dec 9, 2019
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Unless you're either a young teenager or independently wealthy, you will be dead long before you finish that list.

(Which isn't to say that it's not mostly great games, but man, who's got that kind of time?)
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Jan 14, 2020
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Show us your must play rpgs, Andy. ;)

I gave some tips to play more in the "I dont have time to play rpgs anymore" thread, but basically we need to manage better our time if we want to engage in our hobby with more passion. It works for me, I have a difficult career to follow, but, OTOH, I dont have children.

That's a basic list to play, but one will finish a list like that in some 2 or 3 years if playing 3 hours a day, let's say. This approach will still make room to read our essential novels, watch our golden age movies and hear our symphonies, ie.

Let's not limit ourselves. Cheers, man.
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Jan 14, 2020
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I will try to make a very short list covering the essential, must play CRPG's. But behold! Rpg is a genre that needs focus and carefulness. You simply can't play a rpg and another 3 games, i.e, because the chances are that you will lose focus and will tend to dump the game in the middle of the campaign. I think this is a serious error if the game is good enough to warrant a completion.

I tend to play only one game (and, sometimes, It's worthy to focus on only one souce of entertainment at a time, so, if I am watching a great TV series or reading a exceptional historical book, maybe it's better to focus only in one thing, because you will finish quickly and you will dive deeper)). So, you should really question yourself if you want to focus that kind of attention demanding undertaking.

1) Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn. This game represents the isometric approach of rpgs, which is my favourite one because it covers a nice tactical perspective. The combat system is very good here, it uses the glorious 2nd edition of AD&D and have one of the best mage battles in computer history. The narrative is on point. The exploration is not as good as the first one, but it's there. The character progression is very nice, you really start to feel that you are becoming a god chosen one. If you want a newer title in the same vein, you can try out Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire.

2) Fallout: New Vegas. Forget Bethesda, the best newer Fallout was created by Josh Sawyer from Obsidian Entertainment. This is a huge rpg experience, with momorable npc's and factions. The exploration aspect of the classic rpg's characteristcs is here, and it's one of the best, if not simply the best, of the newer generation games. Your choices will have consequences later on (and this is a great statement, since the majority of titles that claim to have a C&C system is simply a scam or borderline cosmetic flavor). The combat is not tactical, which is a huge downside in my book, but everything else is simply the best the genre can offer.

3) Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen. Do you want a good action combat in your rpg? With a rare open world feature that it is actual worth exploring? What about a action combat system with a party? This games has it all. Dark Souls has the better action combat, but doesnt have the other rpgs mechanics worth mentioning, and Dragon Age: Origins, although very good, sometimes is just too simple to follow up. Both are great games though, but if a short list should be made, I think Dragons Dogma is the better RPG.

4) Wizardry 8. We simply cant make a list of must play rpgs without mentioning the worthy dungeon crawler with first person perspective niche subgenre. This game is very difficult to a novice, but this is a great thing to me. Who cares about easy, bland games, right? Here, you will need a mod to speed things up, because this game is all about dungeneering and battles, but animations make things slow here. Wiz 8 has the best party creation and party progression in the crpg genre (maybe wiz 7 is even better, but too damn old for novices to care). You will need lots of resolve to finish it. This is a great thing, because newer games, with great and rare exceptions, almost play themselves to the end, without any real challenge. A rpg should be challenging.

5) Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Well, we need a good story/narrative-heavy rpg to put in this list. The best story in a rpg is definetly Planescape Torment. But I already focused on Baldur's Gate to represent the infinity engine rpgs. And even Planescape, althoug having the best global story, does not have a better classy on point writing as this game. I think the setting is better here too. Bloodlines will let you role play your character better as well, since you will need some playthroughs to see most things, which screams what a RPG should always convey to me. You really should read more about this game, because in few lines I will not accomplish much. But, as all three troika games, this game is a broken mess riddle with bugs. You will need some fan made patches. Just understan this. If you want to watch a video about it, I recommend this:


Unpopular opinion: The Witcher 3 is a great cinematic experience (especially the DLC's), but the rpg elements are extremely bland and the quest markers with a gps make the exploration simply non existent in this game, which is a shame. The combat becomes uber easy later on (attack, roll, stun with ward rune, repeat), but some enemies are fun to kill, like that Griffins in the beginning. The story is nice, but if you want story, read the books or watch the Netflix series imo, if you dont have much time.
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As in the title, what are some of your suggestions on RPGs that everyone should try to play at least once? What about these titles in particular made them stand out to you above the rest?
"Everyone" is too many. I can't think of any RPG that my mom would like, for instance. I've really enjoyed RPGs for decades but there are a bunch on Judge's list (errr, Judge's FIRST list) that I wouldn't touch myself and definitely wouldn't recommend even to most RPG fans unless they were interested in the gaming history aspects. So I'll do the politician thing and just change it to a question I would rather answer: what are your favorite RPGs that you think many other gamers might want to play and why?

Mass Effect Series: If you're coming from shooters, this is a great set of games to make your first RPGs. Very cinematic, lots of good stories and characters - just all around fun. A pity you can't just buy the whole set with its DLC in one bundle.

Dragon Age: Origins: Best game from BioWare, IMHO. Modern graphics and a really intense story. Dragon Age 2 wasn't so good but wasn't as terrible as people say - it's an average game standing next to a giant. The third game was a good bit better, though still not as good as the first.

Final Fantasy 7: This one is weird right now. The original game is excellent but pretty old. Some mods will help the graphics a bit but the controls... ouch. But it's got one of the best stories I've ever seen and the music works incredibly well, despite being ancient bleep/bloop sounds. It definitely deserves to be on this list but what makes it weird is that there's a HUGE remake that's about to show up on PS4 in a few months then (almost certainly) on PC sometime later. The signs are all good for the new game but it's hard to tell if it's best to wait or not right now.

Skyrim: The modding is what makes this game great - though the graphics are sure nice, too. Don't like some aspect of the game? Mod it out. Want more of something else? Mod more in. Want a fantasy land full of bimbos? No problem - your PC won't judge you in any way that you'll be able to discover. Or maybe you're more of a My Little Pony fan - got that, too. Really, a lot of the fun I got out of this game was in changing it into the game I wanted.

The Witcher 3: Top game, IMHO. It's got the best writing I've ever seen in a game, the graphics are awesome, the battles are fun, and you get a lot of game for your money. The first Witcher game doesn't have the graphics but it's also pretty good.
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Every PC gamer should try a roguelike at least once. That's in the classic definition of roguelike, my favourites being the Slash'EM variant of Nethack and the ZangbandTK variant of Angband. Zangband comes with a selection of graphics tiles so it's perfect for anyone not keen on the ASCII style. Also for anyone who wants to make a mindflayer knight or fairy necromancer.

All Elder Scrolls fans should play Daggerfall to see where a lot of the familiar mechanics had their genesis, it's still very playable with the Unity port and mouse+keyboard controls that are very modern. Just ask @Krud, he and I seem to share a brain regarding RPGs.

Anachronox used to always get a mention in discussions of PC RPGs but it doesnt seem to have stayed in the zeitgeist like the fallouts and Baldur's gates of the world. I only played it briefly myself but it's a cool example of jrpg mechanics in an otherwise very western rpg.
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As in the title, what are some of your suggestions on RPGs that everyone should try to play at least once?
What about these titles in particular made them stand out to you above the rest?

"Try to play" being the operative phrase here. I'm with Zloth in the sense that there's no RPG that everyone will like, but the beauty of a "try to play" list is you get to sample different ones and see if it works for you. (At least, I assume that's the goal. Perhaps I've read too much into the wording.)

First, as Mazer said, Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, the Unity version in particular. It's free, the system requirements are low, and it is at the very least a bit of RPG history at this point. For best results, keep the Wiki on-hand to help with some of the more esoteric and fiddly bits, as it hails from the bygone era of "we assume you've read the manual beforehand." Its original form was often unforgivingly random, but there are numerous QoL mods out there now to make the experience more enjoyable to the modern gamer, while retaining the bulk of the original's scope and variety.

Second, I would try at least one of Interplay's top-down RPG's from the 90's. They made a fairly wide variety, ranging from Fallout 1 & 2 to Planescape Torment and the DnD/Forgotten Realms games. I might be biased on this, but I think the Fallouts are easier to get into, whereas with the fantasy games it helps to have a grasp of the underlying rulesets (which I lacked at the time of their release. To this day I'm still not 100% clear on how THAC0 works, much to the shame of my Geek Cred.)

Thirdly and finally, if neither Daggerfall or the Interplay games have scared you off, I would like to introduce you to Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura. Released by Sierra but made by a team that included Tim Cain of the Fallout series (and who also went on to work on Vampire Bloodlines, another one worth checking out), this game is my platonic ideal of old-school RPG's. It manages to combine fantasy and sci-fi (albeit steampunk sci-fi) in an intriguing setting that I only wish were more fleshed out. It is not a perfect RPG by any stretch, but I very much wish they could have made a sequel (or even prequel) to it, as I think there is still a lot of potential to be found.

The basic premise is -- and here I apologize if I botch this, it's been a while since I've played -- a world where magic and an industrial revolution collide, and the two are not compatible, and you have to decide if you're going to be mechanically inclined, magically inclined, or some sort of middle ground (a difficult feat and not as rewarding as I'd hoped). You get to create a somewhat elaborate character, skill and background-wise (the actual character visuals are a bit limited unless [and even if] you install mods/custom content), with the sort of perks and flaws I missed in the latest Fallout game. There are ogres, elves, humans, halflings, half-elves, half-orcs and dwarves, but they're all in a sort of Victorian context.

You can be pacifist or murderous or in-between, you can be stealthy, guns-blazing, diplomatic, or magical versions of same. Like so many games, you are a "Chosen One," but it seems impossible to get away from that back then, so... *shrug* ANYway, now I want to reinstall this game, even though there is one caveat, and that is the interface can be finicky. Even in 2001 the interface was a bit clunky, and it hasn't improved with age. There might be mods now to fix that, I don't know, I haven't looked into it. I know the game is available on GOG, so at the very least it's still playable today. If you can catch it for dirt cheap during a sale, I would recommend giving it a try. If you don't like the first, say, two or three hours of the game, the rest of it probably won't change your mind. Don't go into it expecting to be wowed with amazing visuals -- or a lot of spoken dialogue, really (though there is some) -- and you just might get caught up in the machinations of what I'm dubbing "Cyberpunk 1877." =D
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Nov 25, 2019
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If you have a roommate or significant other that you'd like to play with, I highly recommend Divinity 2: Original Sin.
I was initially turned off by the top down 3/4 view aspect (never been a fan of that in any game), but my husband insisted I give it an hour, and within 15 minutes I was HOOKED, big time.
There are four characters in total, but two people can easily control two each. The storyline, the challenging battles, the fun of developing the character skills... it's just fantastic.
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Feb 3, 2020
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I just want to drop the entire Trails series here (especially Trails of cold steel). I mean yeah, the game has the most cliched premise of "a group of heroes goes and save the world". But at least every other NPCs reacted appropriately when I do it, instead of eternally standing on the city gate, welcoming you, despite a group of terrorist that just terrorized the populace.

The game basically has a "Love or Ignore" situation. Either you love it and always get hyped every time a western publisher localized the next installment, or ignored it and forget that it ever existed.
I want to add an RPG which I played for the first time only last year, and which may actually be in my top ten despite being a custom module for Neverwinter Nights made by a single person, RogueKnight333.

Swordflight chapters one through to four (with two to three more modules on the way) is a continuous adventure set in the forgotten realms universe like Baldurs Gate and Icewind Dale. The bulk of the game takes place in and around Calimport, a massive middle-eastern styled city, and the series takes a character from level one up to about level 37 so far.

It's tough to readily describe how good this module is. It's not just the professional-level quality of the writing and design, but the obvious knowledge that the author possesses of both FR lore and NWN's mechanics. The first chapter contains maybe the best dungeon crawl I've played in an RPG, and the second chapter is a freeform adventure in the city of Calimport with class-specific content, dozens of quests and easily 40-50 hours of gameplay. These modules put both the OC and DLC campaigns for NWN to complete shame, in fact chapter two could stand comfortably next to BG2 in my mind. The modules are extremely challenging however, unless you know the game well you'll have a hard time getting through it which is sort of a shame as the role playing and exploration are impeccable.

I haven't made it through chapter three yet as I've been getting distracted by other games, but I'm sure when chapter five drops I'll rush back to get up to date. If you've got NWN then this is free, and you'd be crazy to skip it.

For another great module you could also try The Aielund Saga, which is another multi-module adventure but set in an original universe. Great writing and quests, in fact the author has gone on to release a series of fantasy novels based on the game. It's not quite Swordflight's level, but the quality still makes a mockery of most of the official NWN content.

I was put on to both of these modules by a 'renaissance-era RPG' blog written by Lilura1. Lots of good content there for classic RPG fans.
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