Many of us grew up playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It was the kind of game that spurred excited schoolyard conversations followed by feverish dreams of a sequel set in the Dark World. Instead, its legacy was carried on by the beloved Ocarina of Time, which was amazing in its own way, but it wasn't ALttP 2. Now, some twenty-plus years later, our dreams have been gloriously resurrected in a way we could never have predicted in the form of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. By breaking from the traditional Zelda formula and allowing players the freedom to tackle dungeons in any order, the game feels considerably less constrained than any series title in recent years. It controls perfectly, is set to a nostalgic musical score, and most importantly, is pure, unadulterated fun. Completely free of extraneous elements, A Link Between Worlds is the very portrait of action RPG excellence.
A great action RPG needs two things at the same time: have excellent combat and be a solid RPG. Actually accomplishing both of those things in such a way that they complement and inform each other is very difficult. Luckily for gamers everywhere, Path of Exile exemplifies what it means to be a great action RPG. With solid, skill-based combat, the game is fun from the get go, but the staggering amount of customization options turn the experience into something more personal. Your character grows with an expansive skill tree and can further modify skills with the materia-ish gem system. These skills give you more options and expand the already excellent combat. In this way, Path of Exile demands just as much attention outside of combat as it does inside. That is the sign of a great action RPG.