There’s something oddly satisfying about sitting down and chewing through a bulky quest, isn’t there? There’s that almighty feeling that courses through our veins as we step forth and take on the weight of the world. As gamers — we love nothing more than to feel that heroic spark hit us right between the eyes as we launch a new journey. Even after we’ve played through an entire chunk of stories; RPG games always seem to offer something new with every playthrough. Whether it be a new hook of characters that we instantly feel attached to or the wide-open world filled with picturesque backdrops and fascinating lore; every journey has its special ingredient. And, for these ten enormous franchises in particular, we’ve had nothing but millions of combined hours of pure adventure.
It takes many years to craft a wondrous setting to a worthy tale, but chances are if it’s done right — then it’ll be remembered for all eternity. These ten, although in the ballpark of thousands of other potentials, are a few that will leave a legacy. Although, now that I think about it — I think we’ll need a second part to this list.
10. Kingdom Hearts
Fusing an entire Disney roster with all the ingredients that make an RPG succeed is, of course, Kingdom Hearts. With countless titles in its series as well as several movies and crossovers, Kingdom Hearts easily snags the tenth place on our list of greatest RPG franchises of all time. Even gamers who despise the Mickey Mouse domain often find something to love about Kingdom Hearts. We can’t really blame them — seeing as there is always something to grow emotionally attached to. I mean, if not for the plotline or characters — then for the classic RPG elements that every gamer draws back on for entertainment.
Kingdom Hearts follows the story of Sora, who is tasked with locking the many connected worlds from invading Heartless. Thanks to the gift of the keyblade, Sora and friends are trusted with hopping from Disney franchise to Disney franchise in an attempt to banish the darkness and restore tranquillity to the lands. And, honestly — that’s as basic as we can probably put it. Playing it, on the other hand, and you’ll notice one or two additional stories that words simply cannot explain. However, it is most definitely worth picking up.
9. Final Fantasy
It’s almost impossible to keep track of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy portfolio these days, to be honest. With their twenty-plus games including not only major instalments — but also spinoffs, crossovers and side-stories; Final Fantasy has more content than Cloud has hair gel. And boy, don’t even get me started on the separate Chocobo series, which, by the way — is actually a thing.
Final Fantasy has always been a top-runner in RPG gaming and has continued to show other triple-A developers how it’s done. With a brand new world and selection of unique characters with every launch, Final Fantasy always leaves players with enough memories to last a lifetime. Whether you’re new to to the timeline or an old follower is, in ways, kind of irrelevant. It’s irrelevant because Final Fantasy finds ways to bring every player together and entwine on a shared experience that leaves identical imprints. And, honestly, that’s the beauty of it.
8. The Elder Scrolls
Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series has always been a prime example of perfect fantasy role-playing. Combining vast worlds crammed with cloaked mountains, dusty deserts and luscious meadows; The Elder Scrolls ingenious design always leaves a mark even when the pad has been put down. Plus, with oceans of secret content, quest chains and memorable characters — every game brings a new deck of cards to the table. Even since the dawn of the franchise debut in 1994, The Elder Scrolls has avoided a clash in concept for each passing chapter and built from the ground up every time.
We’ve all tucked into the likes of Oblivion, Skyrim and even dabbled in The Elder Scrolls Online — but there is so much more to the Bethesda platform than we think. In fact, there are eleven chapters to the renowned timeline; each being as unique as the next — and all worth biting into. Whether slaying dragons atop The Throat of the World or fending off a Kwama Queen in Morrowind; The Elder Scrolls always delivers a stunning experience that never grows stale.
Throwing in some of the most memorable post-apocalyptic landscapes we’ve ever seen is, of course, Fallout. With incredible attention to detail on all the nooks and crannies of the wide-open wastelands, the mounding sequences to the Fallout series continue to impress gamers all over the world. There’s also a pretty neat combat system that we don’t see very often, and it makes every kill feel strangely satisfying.
Surviving the fallout has never been an easy task, that’s for sure. There’s always the fear of picking up radiation poisoning or eating food way past its sell-by date. Of course, there’s that — and then there’s trying not to get diced up by a lurker in the depths of an abandoned mining town. Either way, Fallout has always kept its players high on their toes with survival at the very peak of priorities. Throw in an iconic soundtrack, an in-depth customization element and a rucksack of weapons — and you’ve got yourself a successful RPG.
6. The Witcher
It doesn’t matter what list we write, because if it has something to do with success — then it has to feature The Witcher. I mean, how can it not, seeing as it is one of the greatest video games of a generation? There will always be a place for the CD Projekt franchise here on our platters, and we’ll never grow tired of talking about it. But what is it that makes The Witcher successful, and what attracted such an impressive scale of people to follow the series like sheep? Well, it isn’t just about the games — but more the books, spinoffs and lore that has been evolving for decades.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt might have snatched the eyes of every gamer in 2015, but the fanbase dates back to the very origins around 1992 with the book series. And, since then we’ve gone on to see merchandise lines, a Netflix show and several other crossovers, as well as a bunch of enormous open-world games. So, to say The Witcher is renowned for its ingenious approach to role-playing would probably be an understatement.
5. Monster Hunter
Combining a mouthwatering roster of colossal monsters with a teeny hero with a sword has always made for great entertainment. Playing as that teeny hero, on the other hand, has never been more intense. As Monster Hunter has shown with its collection of games — bosses are big, and they are most definitely brutal. But then, managing to defeat them and retrieve the spoils of war could never feel more satisfying, either. And that’s where Monser Hunter pitches in and finds its niche.
Scouring a world flooded with creatures as an ant-sized protagonist could never feel more threatening. But honing your skills and learning to bring down your enemies as you advance is like an achievement in itself. And, with Monster Hunter — it expects you to die, but progress in spite of it. It grants players the chance to take on the world and prove that no matter the size or strategy — skill will always win the battle.
Similar to the likes of Monster Hunter; Souls looks to reward its players by adapting to the enemies strategy and learning to overcome it. Of course, with any Souls game — you are expected to die. A lot. But patience is key when looking to navigate through the dark and crooked pathways of the many dreary worlds. And, it’s overcoming the enemy in a last-ditch effort that makes us feel the overwhelming sensation of accomplishment in our chests. Even the smallest creature in the room that barely moves provides some level of achievement.
The Souls series has often been both praised and criticized for its serious difficulty curve. Unlike other franchises that hold your hand through the opening segments — Souls just drops you in the deep end and says “go”. And that’s all well and good — providing you know where you’ll probably end up a million times before finding the ladder. Sure, you’ll die a whole bunch of times, but Souls always makes sure to give the player a pat on the back for standing up and persevering.
3. Ni No Kuni
Taking a lunge back from the shadows of the Souls games for a moment, and we suddenly find ourselves touching noses with the beloved Ni No Kuni series. Admittedly, Ni No Kuni doesn’t share the same end of the podium as Souls — but deserves a place on the list regardless. Perhaps it’s due to the joyous setting or fluid combat and kindhearted plotlines. Or, maybe it’s because of the addictive city-building elements that make us want to slave away for days without ever switching the game off. Whatever it is, Ni No Kuni has it. We don’t know what it is exactly — but it has it.
Dabbling between turn-based combat and all-out warfare, Ni No Kuni toys with RPG elements like no other franchise out there. And, it also treads waters in various other pools that we don’t often see in the role-playing genre, too. Say, a life simulator, or a tycoon type of game, for example. Ni No Kuni can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages, and can still make just as much of a splash as some of the top-tier contenders in the RPG universe.
2. World of Warcraft
How could we forget to include the MMO that once reigned supreme in the early noughties? World of Warcraft, although hosting a smaller player base since its 2004 launch, is still the sanctuary to five million players. With new content being produced all the time, and plenty of fancy expansion packs to bolt-on to the package; World of Warcraft still knows how to develop an RPG experience like no other. And, where it may lack in outdated graphics — it sure as heck makes up for in fresh spools of material.
Blizzard has been treating their favourite franchise with nothing but respect for almost two decades now. That’s two decades with almost twenty million players worldwide since launch and enough interaction with their audience that World of Warcraft still feels like a fresh contender. That’s something us, as gamers, can only admire. World of Warcraft still has it, and we think it rightfully deserves a spot on this list.
If time is on your side, and you adore RPG’s — then Persona is probably your next punchable ticket. That’s because, with every entry to the Persona timeline, there is more than likely a hundred playable hours at a minimum and a whole heap of replayable content that finds a way back into our brains even after completion. Plus, with more than twenty games in its series, chances are you could lose a great deal of time to the cross-genre domain of Persona. But hey — that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Persona mixes a trickle of everything into one bucket, which has proven to be a successful method since its tinkering period around 2006. With a dash of social simulation, a pinch of customization, and a whole barrel of combat— Persona keeps players ploughing on for hours in anticipation of the next night where the battles commence.
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