Co-Optimus - Community Blog - The Internet Has Spoken: The Best Ever RPGs, as Rated by Gamers
by bapenguin
Blog

The Internet Has Spoken: The Best Ever RPGs, as Rated by Gamers

Roleplaying games have often been referred to as the gateway genre to hardcore gaming thanks to their addictive nature and the high levels of immersion often found within them. The category frequently makes it into the top five types of game in surveys, and this is partly thanks to the unlimited scope of the titles. Players have voted for their favorite offerings of all time, and there are four series that always garner the greatest number of votes. Here are the top four best RPGs ever, as rated by gamers.  

Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons is the seminal RPG and is credited with inspiring everything that came after it. It’s one of those games like blackjack, chess, and dominoes, that have managed to survive for decades despite technological advances around them. Online RPGs are hugely popular in the modern age, but many players still enjoy sitting around a table and playing D&D. Similarly, blackjack online has blown up, but this hasn’t stopped players from seeking the game in its original form. Indeed, it’s for this reason that live casino games have become so popular, with players able to play the traditional version of blackjack via video links to live dealers.

D&D set the standard for RPGs when it burst onto the scene in 1974. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s game gave people the chance to envisage themselves as fantastical characters on imaginary adventures. The limitless possibilities of the game meant that it could be interpreted in different ways, and this extended its shelf life massively. To keep it fresh, though, publishers TSR (between 1974 and 1997) and Wizards of the Coast (since 1997) have kept releasing new sets and editions to give players novel ideas about characters and settings.

The Witcher

Many people have heard of the Witcher now thanks to the hugely popular Netflix series that began in 2019. Henry Cavill has made Geralt of Rivia a household name, but book readers and gamers have known about the emotionless monster hunter for much longer. Andrzej Sapkowski began writing his Witcher stories in 1990 and finished the series in 1999. They are set in a fantasy world known as The Continent and feature various monsters and magical creatures.

CD Projekt Red identified Sapkowski’s works as the perfect inspiration for games and developed The Witcher in 2007. This was the Polish developer’s first-ever game, but it received critical acclaim and helped the studio grow massively. This enabled it to release The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings in 2011 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in 2015. The latter is considered by many to be one of the greatest games ever made.

Not only is the landscape in CD Projekt Red’s 2015 title stunning and responsive, but it is also made highly immersive by the attention to detail in the characters. The game features skilled voice actors such as Doug Cockle, and these help to bring the world to life. The title was also lauded for its decision-making elements, where players could have a massive impact on how the storylines play out based on the choices they make throughout the adventure.

Caption: Trailer for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

The Elder Scrolls

The Elder Scrolls is one of the most influential digital RPGs of all time, and the series from Bethesda Softworks and Bethesda Game Studios has been going since the release of The Elder Scrolls: Arena in 1994. The five main games with their various expansions have sold more than 58 million copies worldwide and picked up multitudes of accolades along the way. Indeed, Morrowind in 2002, Oblivion in 2006, and Skyrim in 2011 all received Game of the Year awards from countless publications.

The latest release was Skyrim, which had three expansion packs before the release of The Elder Scrolls Online in 2014. In 2021, a special Anniversary Edition of Skyrim was released to great fanfare, and the studio is preparing to bring out The Elder Scrolls VI soon. There is a lot of excitement about the direction the new game could head towards, and how it will make use of next-generation graphics. The past games have always pushed the limits of what has been visually possible, and the next one is expected to be similarly beautiful.

These games have earned massive sales figures and critical acclaim for various reasons. One of the key elements of their success has been in the way they have set the tone for the fantasy genre for the last two decades. They have done this by merging elements of realism and fantasy to great effect. In the fictional world of Tamriel, there are plenty of magical elements. There are also aspects that are clearly derived from medieval times and other historical periods. For example, there is a civilization similar to the Roman Empire.

Fallout

The RPGs mentioned in this list so far focus on fantasy worlds, but the Fallout series from Interplay Entertainment imagines the real world. The only catch is that it is set in the distant future after a nuclear war has ravaged most of the world. It uses a retro-futuristic approach, with post-apocalyptic elements combined with memorabilia that was left over from the time before the end of the world.

It all began with Fallout in 1997, released on MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, and OS X. It was one of the first-ever games to use open-ended gameplay and complex character systems. This led it to receive high critical acclaim and various awards. It inspired three sequels in 1998, 2008, and 2015, along with the spinoff games Fallout: New Vegas in 2010 and Fallout 76 in 2018.

Caption: Trailer for Fallout 4.

The latest in the main series was Fallout 4 in 2015, developed by Bethesda Game Studios. It was lauded for its world depth and attention to detail. This included side quests such as hunting for copper to use to build a radio. The fact that it made $750 million in the first 24 hours of its launch highlights how popular this series is.

It's hard to argue with these selections when it comes to the best RPGs of all time. Of course, there are plenty of others that have been major hits, but none have made quite as big a mark on popular culture as these.