It’s easy to see why gamers remain interested in playing the best role-playing games year after year. RPGs are heralded for their flexible nature which allows them to seamlessly incorporate elements from other genres such as action, strategy, survival, and adventure to name a few. 

Here, we will be highlighting some of the most impressive RPGs available to play in 2019. Make sure to check back as we’ll updating this list in the future with new entries. If you would like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:

The Surge 2

Platform: PS4 / Xbox One / PC

The Surge 2 is a third-person action RPG developed by Deck13 Interactive and published by Focus Home Interactive. The sequel ditches the preset protagonist from the first game, allowing players to create a customizable character before being thrown into Jericho City, an urban wasteland brimming with dangerous mechanical foes.

It carries over the challenging, Dark Souls-inspired combat of the original while introducing new gameplay mechanics. Among these is a limb-targeting system which has been expanded, as well as new abilities, weapons, implants, and drones for players to take advantage of.

SteamWorld Quest

Platform: Switch / PC

SteamWorld Quest is card-strategy RPG developed and published by Swedish developer Image & Form, best known for the SteamWorld series, with Quest set in the same universe. The game has you guiding a party of courageous heroes through a hand-drawn world where you’ll encounter fierce enemies and make startling discoveries.

Along the way, you’ll build a deck from over 100 unique cards that can be used to deal damage, perform spells, and affect the flow of battle. The turn-based game wonderfully blends Image & Form’s staple steampunk aesthetic with traditional fantasy elements, making it stand out visually.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Platform: Switch

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the latest entry in Nintendo’s long-running fantasy strategy-RPG series. In it, players take on the role of a professor at a prestigious academy located in the heart of Fódlan, a massive continent comprised of three rivaling nations.

After swearing allegiance to one of three factions–the Black Eagles, the Blue Lions, or the Golden Deer, players begin training students out in the field while also managing their daily activities and interactions. In many ways, the game harkens back to the series’ roots, with weapon durability, permadeath, and combat arts making a return alongside updated visuals. 

Persona 5

Platform: PS4

Persona 5 is the most recent installment of the long-running JRPG series developed by Atlus. You play as a Japanese teenager codenamed Joker who moves to Tokyo for high school and has their whole life turned upside down when a series of supernatural events start to occur. 

In true RPG fashion, the game grants you a lot of freedom in how you decide to spend your days, who you decide to befriend, and how you plan on building out your team of Personas. Battling is turn-based and has you and your party engaging in a more complex version of rock, paper, scissors-style combat, with buffs and status effects factoring in. With its hundred-hour playtime, catchy soundtrack, and over-the-top story, Persona 5 is a whirlwind of emotions that’s hard to walk away from once you’re hooked.

Nier: Automata

Platform: PS4 / Xbox One / PC

Nier: Automata is a bizarrely wonderful action RPG that includes the lightning-fast combat we’ve come to expect from PlatinumGames. The game tasks you with hacking and defeating alien-created hostile machines to protect the future of mankind. However, to experience the full story, you’ll have to replay it multiple times, with each playthrough revealing more about the game’s world.

If this sounds like a weird way to go about making a game, it is; however, Automata’s quirkiness is what makes it stand out from other open-world games and feel entirely it’s own. Unconventional features, such as a fully-customizable HUD, offer players a level of control not typically found in games of this nature. While its story may feel convoluted at times, Nier: Automata is a one-of-a-kind game that’s not afraid to blend genres and break the fourth wall.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Platform: PS4 / Xbox One / Switch / PC

While Assassin’s Creed games had begun to grow stale in recent years, 2017’s Origins breathed new life into the series, delivering a refreshingly new story and approach to gameplay while keeping the streamlined combat and traversal the series is known for. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey looked to continue the momentum that had been built and thoroughly exceeded expectations.

The game blurs the line between realism and a power fantasy even more than Origins and is extremely ambitious in both its scope and RPG elements. Odyssey boasts a strikingly realistic depiction of ancient Greece while offering an epic adventure filled with enough quests to keep you busy for upwards of 70 hours.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Platform: PS4 / Xbox One / PC

While Monster Hunter games have typically always appealed to a much smaller community, Monster Hunter: World is Capcom’s biggest attempt, and a largely successful one at that, to introduce a Western audience to the creature slaying franchise. In addition to a year’s worth of free updates, the latest Iceborne expansion adds new story content, monsters to hunter, craftable weapons and armor, gameplay mechanics, and a host of QoL improvements to the base game. 

Although some parts of World can still feel cumbersome and confusing at times, the game does an excellent job of making you feel like you’re constantly improving. Whether it’s taking down a  tougher version of a monster you’ve already fought or crafting more powerful gear, progression is measurable and visually represented. Creatures and environments look stunning and each locale has several systems in place that make them feel like living ecosystems. 

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

Platform: PS4 / Switch / PC

Ni No Kuni II makes several refinements to the first game as well as drastically changing some aspects of gameplay. You play as Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, a young king who was dethroned from his castle and sets out to build a new kingdom. While you spend most of the time controlling Evan in the game’s overworld, battles let you take control of other members of your party.

During battles, characters use a variety of weapons and magical abilities to defeat enemies and support other party members. Additionally, elemental creatures known as “Higgledies” are used to cast spells and grant other bonuses during battles. Unlike the first game, Revenant Kingdom features real-time combat and more options for party customization.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Platform: PS4 / Xbox One / Switch / PC

Many people were pleasantly surprised when Stick of Truth, an RPG set in the South Park universe, managed to deliver a fun, player-driven experience. At first glance, The Fractured But Whole may just seem like a reskinned game, with the kids of South Park ditching fantasy role-playing in favor of superheroes. However, a shift in developers for the sequel has led to some interesting changes while maintaining the South Park identity.

While combat in Fractured is still turn-based, battles take place on a grid-based battlefield, allowing you to move party members freely and devise more unique strategies than the previous game. The game has you creating an original character and selecting from ten archetypal superhero classes, such as Speedster, Elementalist, and Cyborg to name a few. Where Fractured truly shines is its variety in character moves, with the game consistently introducing new abilities that encourage you to explore other playstyles.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Platform: PS4

While diehard fans have been waiting to play a new Kingdom Hearts game for over a decade, KH3 seeks to deliver something for everyone, even those that are new to the series. Although some parts of the games feel very dated, like awkward cutscene transitions and character dialogue, there are a myriad of elements that have been streamlined for a wider audience.

Combat and traversal feels more fluid and refined, offering more seamless keyblade transformations along introducing “flow-motion”, which allows you to interact with parts of the environment during battle. Additionally, the amount of variety in team-up attacks and Disney park-inspired “flow-attractions” moves help break up the game’s hack-n-slash combat. Although the story can be convoluted and hard for new players to grasp, KH3 does a great job at bringing you up to speed on the game’s events.

Divinity: Original Sin II

Platform: PS4 / Xbox One / Switch / PC / iOS

Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the best incarnations of a video-game approach to tabletop RPGs. The game has you and up to three party members exploring the fantasy world of Rivellon. You can create your character, choosing their race, gender, stats, and even origin story, or pick from a handful of pre-made ones.

The game truly shines in how many tools and possibilities it provides you with for tackling challenges. Usually, if you can think of a bizarre, out of the box solution for a problem, Original Sin II has a way for you to attempt it. The co-op version of the game is worth mentioning as well, which allows you and your friends to split up completely and perform actions that will affect the game’s world for every member of your party.

Octopath Traveler

Platform: Switch / PC 

Octopath Traveler is a turn-based RPG that uses an “HD-2D” art style, combining 16-bit SNES-style sprites and textures with high-definition 3D environments. The result is a game that feels both familiar and fresh at the same time. You play as one of eight adventurers, each of whom begin their journey in different ways and have unique “Path Ability” commands that can be used in NPC interactions.

Gameplay revolves around exploring various towns and caves, with battles instances taking place in between. During combat, players use an assortment of weapons and abilities to attack, debuff enemies, and buff party members. Octopath features a “Boost Point” system, in which party members gain a point at the end of every turn that can be stacked and used in interesting ways, such as granting the ability to attack multiple times or raise a character’s defense.

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