Wccftech’s Best Roleplaying Games of the Decade – Innovation at Every Turn

Jan 2, 2020
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The very best roleplaying games of the decade all feature a certain something that keeps them in the back of our minds year after year. Whether it's a story that surprised or amazed you, or simply a bunch of characters that you grow attached to, each of these roleplaying games still hold up after years and years no matter when you decide to jump back in and give them another playthrough.

Previously in Wccftech's Games of the Decade: Indie, Adventure, Strategy & Simulation

Fallout: New Vegas

Obsidian's storytelling prowess might have hit its pinnacle for the 2010s with their interpretation of the Fallout universe. Widely regarded as the best title in the Fallout series, Fallout: New Vegas offered players choices that mattered when it came to deciding the fate of that tiny little slice of the Mojave Desert. There's even a Fallout 4 New Vegas total conversion mod project in the works which is supposed to remake the whole game in the newer Fallout 4 engine, though as always in these cases, there's no telling when it'll release.

Dark Souls

It's undeniable that Dark Souls, and specifically the rise of streamers and loreseekers on PC, was one of the most innovative roleplaying games of the past decade. FROM Software had been making its own unique brand of cryptic role-playing games from the PlayStation 3 era with Demon's Souls, but it was the adventures in Lordran that finally got the developer the recognition they deserved. Since its release, many developers have tried their own approach to the Souls-like genre but few have managed to capture the same high-risk gameplay loop that Dark Souls has become synonymous with.

The game can now be revisited in an even more impressive rendition thanks to the remaster.

Persona 5

The highly awaited Persona 5 landed, after quite a few delays, in Spring 2017. The good news is that the wait was more than worth it, as the game managed to redefine the JRPG genre thanks mainly to a memorable story and cast of characters.

If you're still waiting to play it, though, you may want to wait for the enhanced edition that is Persona 5 Royal. Already out in Japan, this new version adds a new palace, a new Phantom Thief member, additional plot elements and PlayStation 4 Pro support; it'll release globally on March 31st.

Mass Effect 2

Say what you will about the conclusion to the Mass Effect saga, but the second entry was Bioware firing on all cylinders. It took the gunplay that was set up in the first game and transformed it into an RPG shooter that was satisfying no matter how you built your Commander Shepard. The story wove together loose ends from the prequel and set up story threads that would pay off in the final act, although some moments were still left unexplored. Few games on this list offered as brutal of a choice as the infamous Suicide Mission that brought this second act to a close.

NieR Automata

Even if you've never given Yoko Taro's previous works (NieR Gestalt, Drakengard) a look before, NieR Automata was a perfectly self-contained experience that explored many themes common to his unique style of storytelling. When you marry his bizarre auteurship with the combat designers at Platinum Games, suddenly you're looking at a title that found its way into many 'Best of' lists. Five story routes and sixty hours all culminated in an ending that left me in tears and a perfect send-off for one of my personal favorite roleplaying games of all time.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The impact that Wild Hunt had upon the series and open-world RPGs as a whole cannot be overstated. Whether you want to play through Geralt's story on the couch, at your computer desk, or on the go with the recently released Nintendo Switch version, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of those roleplaying games that's impossible to put down, an amazing feat for a game that easily surpasses the hundred-hour mark by the time the story wraps up. This is another great RPG that's elevated by the quality and depth of the writing of basically everything in the game, down to the most minor of side quests. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is considered by many to be one of the best games ever released and led millions of gamers to anticipate with bated breath CD Projekt RED's next epic RPG, Cyberpunk 2077, due in a few months.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

When you finally awake after trying to cross the border and walking into an Imperial ambush, the world of Skyrim opens with a fiery overture and sends players out into the frozen tundras to explore however they want. There was a sense of freedom that The Elder Scrolls series has been known for and Skyrim was the pinnacle of character development. Whether you wanted to play as an unstoppable mage, an immovable warrior, or a cunning thief, how players wanted to explore was without limits and unique to however you wanted to play. The modding community has kept Skyrim alive with new mods and enhancements, but the vanilla experience still holds up as a piece of open-world greatness.

Divinity: Original Sin II

Larian Studios' long-running Divinity series only recently made the jump to consoles with the two Original Sin titles but each are phenomenal in their own ways. Getting a cRPG to be an enjoyable experience on consoles is a challenge in its own right, but the Definitive Edition for Divinity: Original Sin II was more than just a port with some new flashy effects. New characters and dialogue choices round out the package but it's the changes to the third act and beyond that polish out any negative marks of the original release. What was already one of the absolute best roleplaying games became an utterly unforgettable experience from the origins of your hero all the way through the final epilogue.

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

When Capcom isn't creating new wyverns for players to hunt, their focus shifts to the more mythological beast. By creating not only your own player character but also an NPC 'pawn', players were given a teammate that could do more than just add in a few extra hits. Other players could recruit your pawn, and by going on adventures around the world, your own pawn would return and impart knowledge on how best to tackle a particular foe or other secrets of the world. Dragon's Dogma is among the best action roleplaying games of the last generation that's seen new life with ports to all of the modern platforms including a recent release on Nintendo Switch. No matter which platform you decide to play Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen on, they're masterworks all, you can't go wrong.

Honorable Mentions

Roleplaying games have been one of the most florid genres in the decade that just ended. As such, there are many, many other RPGs worthy of your time. Here's another fifteen on top of our main picks.

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