Best RPGs 2021

Looking for a new RPG to play? Here's a list of all best role-playing games available along with trailers and gameplay details.

It’s easy to see why RPGs have been around for so long and remain just as popular today as they were back when PC gaming was just finding its footing.

Role-playing games are also heralded for their flexible nature, making them the perfect guinea pig for blending elements of other genres, such as action, strategy, and survival, to name a few. 

Here, we will be highlighting the most exciting and immersive RPGs to play in 2021 across all platforms.

Make sure to check back as we’ll updating this list in the future with new entries.

Lastly, if you would like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:

Related:Best Upcoming PC Games 2021 (And Beyond)Best Upcoming Open World Games 2021 (And Beyond)Best Upcoming MMORPGs 2021 (And Beyond)

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Yes, Your Grace is a medieval kingdom management RPG that forces you to make tough calls as your country’s leader. The game is set in a fantasy world inspired by Slavic folklore and sees you taking on the role of King Eryk as he juggles his kingdom’s resources and battles rivaling nations. 

Each day, villagers will come to your throne looking for advice or solutions to their unique problems. While some of them are genuinely in need, others may have their own interests in mind. Since resources are extremely limited, it’s up to you to decide who’s being honest and who’s looking for an easy payday. 

The follow-up to Team Ninja’s samurai RPG Nioh leans even further into the ‘tough-but-fair’ Souls inspired combat of the first game while ditching its protagonist in favor of a customizable character.

Set during the late 1500s in Sengoku Era Japan, Nioh 2 serves as a precursor to the events of the original and sees you taking on the role of Hide, a half-spirit half-samurai being.

This time around, there’s an even wider selection of traditional Japanese weapons to wield, including odachi, kusarigama, and even dual katanas. They all fall into different playstyle categories and have their own quirks but are very effective at ripping into enemies, human and non-human alike.

In addition to a massive 50-hour story campaign, a new online co-op mode lets up to three players fight side by side as they try to take down suped-up yokai bosses.

Although The Witcher 3s main questline can be completed in roughly 50 hours, most players are going to need a lot more time to wander through the bustling cities, war-ravaged swamps, dense forests, and sprawling caves that make up the open-world known as The Continent.

This is because CD Projekt Red designed environments to encourage exploration by rewarding players for venturing off the beaten path and into the unknown.

Its uniquely designed locales and otherworldly beasts are further complemented by a cast of well-written characters and a gripping narrative centered on Geralt of Rivia, a for-hire monster hunter on a quest to find his adopted daughter and put a stop to an evil force known as the Wild Hunt.

If you’re a fan of RPGs and big open-worlds, The Witcher series is a great choice that’s sure to keep you hooked for hours upon hours.   

With the luxury of modding, playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in 2020 can feel like a completely different experience than you remember. Whether it’s removing many of the game’s notorious bugs, improving graphics, or adding new regions to explore, you have a lot of options for making Skyrim still feel fresh after almost a decade. 

Set 200 years after Oblivion, the game sees you on a quest to defeat Alduin the World-Eater, a terrifying dragon believed to bring about the end times. As a powerful Dragonborn, players are given access to a variety of spells in addition to wielding bows, swords, shields, and axes. 

The Surge 2 is a third-person action RPG and a follow-up to 2017’s The Surge. The sequel ditches the preset protagonist from the first game, allowing players to create a customizable character before being unceremoniously tossed into Jericho City, a sprawling urban wasteland brimming with mechanically-enhanced enemies.

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 in fast-paced melee battles.

SteamWorld Quest is card-strategy RPG from the creators of SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Heist, with Quest set in the same universe. The game sees you guiding a party of courageous heroes through a hand-drawn world where you’ll encounter fierce enemies and make startling discoveries in challenging turn-based battles.

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. SteamWorld Quest wonderfully blends Image & Form’s staple steampunk aesthetic with traditional fantasy elements, making it stand out visually.

The latest entry in Nintendo’s long-running strategy-RPG takes players on a lengthy adventure that sees you becoming 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, you’ll begin training students out in the field while also managing their daily schedule.

Players are granted plenty of opportunities to improve their students’ combat prowess to craft the strongest army possible. In many ways, Three Houses harkens back to the series’ roots, with weapon durability, permadeath, and combat arts making a return alongside updated visuals.

All these features contribute greatly to the game’s expected 48-hour+ runtime, depending on how you play. 

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 choose to befriend, and how you plan on building out your team of Personas. 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 is a bizarrely wonderful action RPG that includes the lightning-fast combat we’ve come to expect from PlatinumGames. The game tasks you with defeating alien machines to protect the future of humanity.

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 its 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 or even break the fourth wall.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is by far the best-looking entry in the historically-based action RPG, breathing new life into the now twelve-year-old franchise while telling an original story set in ancient Greece.

The game blurs the line between realism and power fantasy even further by providing players with new combat options and continued support for a more stealth-based approach.

In terms of visuals, Odyssey is a carefully-blended mix of confident art design and technical wizardry, the result being an immersive open-world game whose magic and wonder could rival that of the gods of Olympus. 

The game 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.

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, 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 makes several refinements to the first game as well as drastically changing some aspects of gameplay. In it, 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.

Unlike the first game, Revenant Kingdom features real-time combat and more options for party customization. During battles, characters will 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. 

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 combat in Fractured is still turn-based, they now 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 sees you creating an original character along with one of ten classes based on popular superhero tropes. 

Although diehard fans have been waiting to play a new Kingdom Hearts game for over a decade, Kingdom Hearts III looks to deliver something for everyone, even those that are new to the series.

And while some parts of the games feel very dated, such as the stiff character animations and dialogue, a lot has been streamlined for new players.

Combat and traversal feel more fluid and refined, offering more seamless keyblade transformations along with new “flow-motion” maneuvers. 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. 

Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the best incarnations of traditional tabletop RPGs, only in the form of a video game. In it, you and up to three party members explore the rich, fantasy world of Rivellon.

The game lets you create your character from scratch, choosing their race, gender, stats, and origin story, or pick from a handful of pre-made ones.

Where Original Sin II truly shines is its flexible quest design, allowing you to tackle challenges in a variety of ways. 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 is a turn-based RPG from Square Enix that stands out for its unique HD-2D aesthetic. In a nod to retro games, characters are represented by 2D sprites that are then set against highly-detailed environments with special lighting and particle effects. 

Complementing the game’s distinct look is a lengthy 60-hour campaign spread across eight playable characters that come from wildly different walks of life.

As you get to know each adventurer, you’ll find yourself exploring magical and dangerous lands throughout Orsterra, a massive content brimming with diversity. Octopath Traveler features an engaging turn-based combat system that sees characters using special class-based abilities and talents.

By the time credits roll, you’ll have grown fond of at least on adventurer whose experiences are part of a much bigger picture.

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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