Hear ye, hear ye. RPGs here are pretty great I guess. Hopefully, we didn't miss too many. Happy reading. Or skimming, for you terrible people only looking for the top 3.
The past decade in RPG releases has been fascinating to watch. Early in the decade, even as many other games were adopting keystones of the genre (like more involved stories and stat progression), it felt like RPGs were on the decline. Sure, there were still some quality releases, but they always felt like a big event, and they were often few and far between. Getting your hands on a "traditional" RPG was even more difficult.
However, as the decade progressed, RPGs saw a huge resurgence. Now we are awash in an unbelievable number of amazing games, both Japanese and Western, along with an incredible lineup of indie titles.
The games that truly moved us over the last decade did so for almost as many reasons as there were releases: some refined the classic, turn-based RPG experience to a fine point, others presented an unbelievable amount of choices, and many told engaging, grand and emotional stories.
So it should come as no surprise that our list of the 25 best RPGs (plus graphic adventures and visual novels) of the past decade reflects that same variety. There is one constant in our list, though: these are all games that did at least one thing that truly distinguishes them from their peers.
Without further ado, we present to you RPGFan's Top 25 RPGs of the 2010s!
Bethesda probably thought they knew what they were doing when they lent the Fallout franchise to Obsidian Entertainment. After all, Fallout 3 was a hit. Hopefully, Obsidian could quickly create a money grab spin-off that would capitalize on its popularity. Instead, Obsidian took the framework of Fallout 3 and created a game that improved on it in every way, setting the standard for open-world RPGs for the past decade. Restoring much of the classic Fallout sense of humor and tone to the series, New Vegas throws players into a world where their choices have real consequences. Happy endings are never guaranteed, and one mistake in judgment can result in broken alliances, tragic massacres, or just pure silliness. The spirit of New Vegas lives on in its spiritual sequel, The Outer Worlds, which was released just a few months ago. But if you want that pure, undiluted Nuka-Cola-flavored gameplay, you need to check out Fallout: New Vegas. Um, just make sure that you download a fan-made patch that fixes most of the many bugs first.
Write-up by Jonathan Logan
In the span of this past decade, Fire Emblem has gone from a franchise on the verge of death to one of Nintendo's darlings. This decade of Fire Emblem has culminated in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, one of the best Fire Emblem games to date. Those of us at RPGFan who have found the time in the last few months to play the game since its release have been sucked into a world we have fallen in love with. A fun and well-written cast of characters, great music, and the amazing gameplay that's been tweaked and refined for the last ten years — this is the definitive Fire Emblem experience, and it's the only SRPG to crack our list.
Write-up by Nathan Lee
Every now and then, a new game comes along that completely takes you by surprise. In 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn was that game. Even though it is Guerilla Games' very first RPG (and an open-world RPG at that), Horizon does so much right. The world is utterly gorgeous, main character Aloy is one of the strongest female protagonists in the past decade, combat is fun and dynamic, the story develops some fascinating lore and intrigue, and the music is beautifully atmospheric. There's even an excellent expansion that adds 15-20 hours of snowy exploration, powerful enemies, and great story quests. Horizon Zero Dawn is the total package, and with a sequel possibly underway, it may be the beginning of a top-tier franchise.
Write-up by Caitlin Argyros
While any of Falcom's Trails games could sit proudly amongst this list, Trails of Cold Steel III carries the weight of seven previous games and does an outstanding job balancing the characters and the stories from all of the preceding entries. Following Rean Schwarzer a year after he graduates from Thors Military Academy, Cold Steel III doesn't reinvent the wheel but makes many vital tweaks to improve the gameplay overall. Combat is fast and addictive, with many new tools for players to experiment with. The New Class VII are perfect additions to the Trails canon, and it's delightful to meet all of Rean's old friends, along with some familiar faces from Crossbell and Liberl, all over again. It's pure joy for long-term fans of the series, and yes, while there are seven other games for newcomers to play through (including two not-yet localized), Cold Steel III is the perfect reward at the end of it all.
Write-up by Alana Hagues
Danganronpa centers around a cast of unique high school students bearing "ultimate" abilities who find themselves trapped inside the institution they so proudly attend. Although certainly not the first ontological mystery in the video game scene, Danganronpa has done its fair share to popularize this niche genre. Some may balk at the fanservice and starkly proportioned female characters, but at its heart lies a riveting mystery filled with macabre and insight into the human psyche when everything is at stake. Don't let the cute bear fool you: Danganronpa intellectually satisfies as much as it tastefully horrifies.
Write-up by Bob Richardson