RPGs such as Mass Effect 2, Skyrim, Final Fantasy IX, or even the recent Disco Elysium, are rated highly and are among the top 10 RPGs of all time, according to Metacritic. Although they all belong to a single genre, the games vary greatly in gameplay and themes, with mixtures of adventures in the far future, in space, in medieval times.
The presentations are also completely different, with first- and third-person, isometric, and even old traditional RPGs with turn-based battle systems. In the following list, Techidence brings the top 10 games by an aggregate score from Metacritic.
It is noteworthy that, in the selection, were left out some famous games, such as the historical The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and the fun Undertale – but, adding 94 and 93 points respectively, they tie with other titles on the list. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, with a score of 99 and considered the “best of all time”, are classified in other genres, such as action and platform adventure, and therefore do not appear here.
1. Mass Effect 2 – 96 points
The second game in Bioware’s trilogy arrived in 2010 and appears as the best RPG game listed on Metacritic. The Xbox 360 version of the game, which would also have PC and PlayStation 3 (PS3) versions, has an aggregate platform score of 96 points. Mass Effect 2 is praised for its story in which the player must interact with other characters to build bonds and gain their loyalty.
The gameplay of Mass Effect 2 also deserves to be highlighted due to the focus on third-person action, as well as side quests capable of generating the same impact as the main campaign quests. Released exclusively for Xbox 360 in 2010, Mass Effect 2 would come to PS3 in 2011 and will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (PS4), as well as Xbox Series S/X and PlayStation 5 (PS5) on May 14.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 96 points
The fifth game in The Elder Scrolls series would be so successful in front of players and critics that it would become known only as Skyrim – and became, for many players, even greater than the entire series that originated it. Bethesda’s production arrived in November 2011 with a wide-open world. The title is full of locations to explore, as well as bringing a balance of action-adventure with an immersive story.
In Skyrim, the player lives the adventures of “Dovahkiin”: the “son” of dragons, told in millennial prophecies. The protagonist comes into the world to fight and eliminate the threat of destruction from the return of the dragons. Besides the main story, Skyrim is rich in side quests and hidden history in the setting, in character interactions, in forgotten books in caves and castles, and much more. In the Metacritic, Skyrim has a score of 96, considering the Xbox 360 version.
3. The World Ends With You: Solo Remix for iPad – 95 points
The World Ends With You is an RPG originally developed by Square Enix for the Nintendo DS, but which was successful on iOS. The remastered edition of the 2007 title for the iPad came to the tablet in 2012 and scored 95 on Metacritic’s aggregate scores – a rating that puts the game in third place among the platform’s highest-rated RPGs of all time.
Unlike the two previous games, The World Ends With You is a JRPG that applies systems and gameplay typical of this sub-genre, as it leaves aside the action of Mass Effect 2 and Skyrim to bet on more traditional battle systems. Designed for the DS, the game involves the use of two screens to create a combat system that splits the action in the scenario into two points of view. This novelty fit well with the proposal of touch screens more than a decade ago, which helps explain the great success of the game on iOS.
4. Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadow of Amn – 95 points
The success of 2000, Baldur’s Gate 2 is another game from Bioware in the list. With 95 points in the PC aggregate scores, the RPG offers gameplay with isometric graphics and a real-time combat system that allows for pauses, as well as group formation with up to six characters. Quite long – the story can take up to 60 hours, while the completion of all quests can exceed 300 hours – Baldur’s Gate 2 is praised for its combination of gameplay and engaging story.
Another element that earns praise is the graphics which, although isometric – and not 3D – are rich in detail. The visuals feature an art direction that contributes to building the context in which the narrative unfolds. Much more than one of the best RPGs of all time, Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadow of Amn is among the 10 best PC games in history, according to Metacritic.
5. Divinity: Original Sin 2 – 95 points
Released in 2017 for PCs (with editions for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in 2018 and 2019), Divinity: Original Sin 2 was a huge success. The game sold over one million copies in one month on the market – a significant mark for a niche release that only arrived for PCs at first. Fans and critics alike appreciate the game’s complex and time-consuming combat system and its high level of interactivity.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 was even rated as a “masterpiece” in reviews by critics and fans alike. In addition to the combat system, the game is celebrated for its engaging story, varied and creative quests. Another positive aspect is the possibilities for different choices and alternative points of view for the story.
6. Disc Elysium: The Final Cut – 95 points
Disco Elysium: The Final Cut is the complete version of the 2019 RPG and that, in Metacritic’s aggregate accounts, adds up to 95 points. By betting on a mix of traditional elements of the genre – such as the isometric graphics – with innovations, such as gameplay that does not rely on any kind of combat, Disco Elysium quickly became a big hit. The title won four different categories at The Game Awards 2019, including best narrative and best indie.
In Disco Elysium, the story takes place in a large city recovering from a past war. The player controls the actions of a detective with amnesia tasked with investigating a murder. He must solve the mystery as he proceeds through the story by exploring the main character’s dialog, choices, and abilities.
7. Persona 5 Royal – 95 points
A Japanese RPG (JRPG) from Atlus, Persona 5 (the Royal version is the most complete, bringing extra content) is a 2016 PS4 exclusive that has become a reference among fans of JRPGs. Scoring an aggregate score of 95 on Metacritic, the game has become a huge hit due to its unique story, presentation and graphic style, soundtrack, and art direction. Including the regular and Royal versions, the game has sold over 4.6 million copies – a very impressive number for a niche genre.
In Persona 5, the player controls the actions of Joker, a student transferring to a new school. Joker and other students are given special powers that allow them to explore the Metaverse, a supernatural realm born out of humanity’s secret desires. The player must combat manifestations of the adults’ evil desires. The game also mixes elements of dungeon crawlers with social simulation.
8. Final Fantasy IX – 94 points
Last Final Fantasy for PlayStation (PSOne), Final Fantasy IX is considered one of the best games of all time. With a score of 94 on Metacritic’s aggregate, Final Fantasy IX is also the highest-scoring game in the franchise, celebrating the game that was originally released in 2000 and would receive several re-releases for various platforms, including last-gen consoles, PCs, and even smartphones. Final Fantasy IX, including all releases, is estimated to have totaled more than 5.5 million copies sold.
In the game, the story involves the consequences of a war between different kingdoms of a fictional world called Gaia. Set in medieval times, the premise revolves around the struggle of Zidane, the main character, and other characters in overthrowing Queen Brahne, who is responsible for the war.
9. Chrono Cross – 94 points
Chrono Cross is another PlayStation JRPG released in 2000 and responsible for a score of 94 points on Metacritic. Set in the same universe as Chrono Trigger, another hugely successful RPG, Chrono Cross tells the life of Serge, a teenager who discovers an alternate reality in which he died as a child. Serge then begins to investigate the differences between the two realities.
Re-released digitally on the PlayStation Store in 2011, Chrono Cross has sold over 1.5 million copies – when considering only the original PlayStation edition. Much beloved by fans for its story, characters, and innovative combat system, Chrono Cross is a constant figure on lists of games that fans would like to see remastered or even continued in new games.
10. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt – 94 points
For many the best game of the last generation, The Witcher 3 – in the PC version – totals 93 points, a number that puts the title among the best RPGs of all time. The conclusion of the trilogy based on the story of Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter for bounty from a fictional world, was acclaimed for its ambitious graphics, a complex story full of interesting characters and quests, and high production quality.
If it weren’t for technical problems at launch, such as bugs and graphical performance inconsistencies on consoles, The Witcher would probably score to challenge games like Mass Effect 2 and Skyrim.
The great critical success translates into sales, with estimates of over 28 million copies sold across all platforms to date. With versions available for past generation consoles, PCs, and Nintendo Switch, The Witcher 3 is expected to gain a native version for PS5 and the new Xbox Series S/X later in 2021.