In this article, we’ll take a look at the Top 10 ARPGs to play in 2021 for PC, Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo Switch. This list includes timeless classics as well as award-winning and emerging ARPGs inspired by their predecessors. You can play them on any modern computer or console.
Top 10 ARPGs You Should Play in 2021 | PC, Xbox, Playstation, Switch
ARPG is a genre that’s known for its high adrenaline action, loot farming, and more importantly, character customization. Players end up spending countless hours to obtain the best gear and to upgrade stats and skills in order to make the best builds possible. Although story isn’t a strong suit compared to CRPGs, some ARPGs are able to deliver lore that makes an impact to the community for years to come.
The Top 10 ARPGs of 2021 on our list, no matter how old they may be, are still the best that the genre has to offer. All of them can be played solo or with friends, making these games highly accessible. Without further ado, let’s talk about the Top 10 ARPGs you should play in 2021.
Top 10 ARPGs of 2021 | Diablo 2 (June 2000)
Despite being released 21 years ago, you often hear fans of the ARPG genre talk heavily about their love of Diablo 2. I remember how frightening the enemies and locations were, how fun combat was, and how satisfying it felt to collect loot. There are a lot of stories to be told that this article alone wouldn’t be enough to talk about them all. Diablo 2 is a hack-and-slash action RPG by Blizzard Entertainment. It continues to be at the top of our list because of how genre-defining this game is so much so that it’s being touted as the Father of ARPGs.
Diablo 2 has started it all by introducing the Diablo universe like no other game for its time. The lore is deep enough to make us think more about the demons that haunt Sanctuary and why they do so. Coupled with this superb storytelling are the dark landscapes, dungeons and caverns, which can terrorize players for days on end. It’s more about how Diablo 2’s gothic theme ties perfectly well with the lore and its environments. To be honest, slashing my way through each act felt dreadful since bosses dominated the invasion and destruction of the world.
What really sets Diablo 2 apart is the amount of customization and builds you can create per class. In total, there are 7 classes to choose from, each with their own skill trees. Every time you level up, you have to carefully allocate points to the skills and attributes you want the most. Unlike some games nowadays, you don’t have an option to respec, which makes run completions and progressions that much more meaningful and rewarding. Furthermore, there’s hundreds and hundreds of build-defining gear, runes and enchantments to hunt and to farm for so expect to spend countless hours with the game.
Additionally, not long after its release, ladders were introduced as a way for players to start fresh, to further experiment with other builds, and to fight their way to the top of the leaderboards. After the ladder season ends, you can trade the rare items you’ve obtained on non-ladder. It’s for these reasons, Diablo 2 is one of our Top 10 ARPGs of 2021. Diablo 2 will be remastered as Diablo 2: Resurrected this coming September 23. It will be playable on PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, and Nintendo Switch.
Diablo 3 (May 2012)
Diablo 3 follows nearly 12 years after the release of its predecessor. Fans of Diablo 2 weren’t as thrilled because of the newer combat mechanics, which weren’t as complex as the one that came before. The world and the character design are much different and brighter, which feels closer to Warcraft compared to the gothic and horrific theme of Diablo 2.
But for those who enjoy the grind of testing out different builds, this game may be for you since swapping skills and passives can be done easily. It’s combat and skill trees are streamlined, polished and user-friendly with a straightforward and fast-paced gameplay loop. As such, you’re able to progress faster and feel more powerful even at lower levels. Additionally, dungeons and enemy placements are often randomly generated so it’s always a surprise as to what you’ll find next in your succeeding runs.
Diablo 3’s base game has seen a huge improvement to endgame experience with the release of its expansion, Reaper of Souls, which has given rise to seasons. Seasons continue to keep the game interesting by changing some mechanics that impact the way you build your characters. These usually last for 3 months or so. Similar to Diablo 2’s ladder, you also start from scratch to chase after the loot you want and to gain a spot in the leaderboard. It’s for these reasons, Diablo 3 is one of our Top 10 ARPGs of 2021. Diablo 3 is playable on PC, MacOS, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
Top 10 ARPGs of 2021 | Path of Exile (October 2013)
Unlike Diablo 2 and Diablo 3, Path of Exile is a free-to-play action RPG by Grinding Gear Games. The only money you’ll spend is if you want to enhance the cosmetics of your characters or to avail of extra stash tabs in order to hold all of the items you’ve been hoarding. Apart from that, you can opt to play for hundreds of hours without spending a single dime. The game is sometimes referred to as the true successor of Diablo 2 because of its dark art style and heavy customization features.
Path of Exile is known for its character customization, specifically the Passive Skill Tree, and this is the reason that draws people in. While the combat mechanics of this game are more complex compared to Diablo 3, players can still find joy in the gameplay because of how in-depth its systems are and how rewarding character progression is. You can either follow the specialties of your chosen class or deviate to build in-depth and unique characters instead. For the specializations, there’s the Labyrinth System, which are trials you have to complete in order to ascend. Ascendancies are specialized classes that allow you to boost your damage or survivability.
Path of Exile has Leagues, which is similar to Diablo 3’s Seasons. Leagues bring in significant changes to the game’s mechanics, bosses, or crafting. Some of these get retained while the others are completely removed after the event. Additionally, the game also has a unique trading system via their website. This lets players interact with the community to find the gear they need the most. It’s for these reasons, it is one of our Top 10 ARPGs of 2021. Path of Exile is available on PC, MacOS, Xbox One and PS4.
Titan Quest (June 2006)
Like Path of Exile, Titan Quest is also a Diablo-esque type of game. What sets it apart however, is the setting. It’s set in ancient Greece, Egypt and Asia where the gods are seeking your help to stop the titans from destroying Earth. If you’re worn out by the bleakness of dark fantasy and you’re looking at getting into a game where Age of Empires and Age of Mythology meet Diablo, then this may be for you. The locations are fascinating, from distinguishable landscapes that vary from one area to the next to lush and sprawling valleys and mountains, which make you feel like you’re inhabiting a real, mythological world.
Although Titan Quest’s gameplay may feel clunky from time to time, it’s still worth getting into because of the classes you can create. With the Masteries System, you’re able to mix and match abilities and skills from two base classes to build your own specialized class. One example is combining Nature and Earth Masteries to unlock the “Summoner Class”. It’s for these reasons, it is one of our Top 10 ARPGs of 2021. Titan Quest is playable on PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch. If you have the original game on Steam, you can get the Titan Quest Anniversary Edition remastered version for free.
Top 10 ARPGs of 2021 | Grim Dawn (February 2016)
Next up is Titan Quest’s younger brother, Grim Dawn, which is a dystopian ARPG set in the Victorian Era where humanity is nearing its destruction. The game was developed and published by Crate Entertainment. This is an indie studio founded by Titan Quest’s Lead Gameplay Designer.
Grim Dawn features a Dual Class System that allows you to mix and match two classes however you want. Investing in a skill tree gives you access to more abilities to further enhance your builds. Additionally, there’s another tree in the form of constellations called the Devotion Skill Tree, which is akin to the Passive Skill Tree in Path of Exile. This lets you customize your characters further by unlocking powerful passives. Compared to Titan Quest, Grim Dawn is a faster-paced game so you can expect to level up quicker and gain much more loot.
One of the combat mechanics that I enjoy in Grim Dawn is how challenging encounters become because of the Reputation System. Slaying the same type of monsters earns you the “Hostile Reputation” and as a result, they spawn more in the world and ramp up the difficulty.
When it comes to endgame content, Grim Dawn offers a lot of different modes. With Crucible, you can defeat waves of enemies in the shortest amount of time possible and then claim your loot after every few waves. With Shattered Realm, you can participate in killing mobs in selected areas of the map, similar to running Greater Rifts in Diablo 3. It’s for these reasons, it is one of our Top 10 ARPGs of 2021. Grim Dawn is available on PC.
Victor Vran (July 2015)
Victor Vran differentiates itself from this list of ARPGs in that it’s completely classless and it has no skill trees. Developed by indie studio Haemimont Games, Victor Vran relies on loadouts to define your character. By swapping weapons, choosing demon powers, equipping outfits, and selecting consumables such as potions or bombs, you’re able to change your demon hunter build and playstyle. But character customization doesn’t end here. You also have Destiny Cards to consider because these contain passive abilities that can boost your damage or critical hits.
In terms of combat, Victor Vran lets you engage in dynamic actions like dodging attacks and leaping from one point to the next. You can also tweak the difficulty settings of encounters by equipping cursed hex items that buff enemies in the areas you’ve selected. Overall, this game is best played with friends and you can even play it using your Xbox controller because it has excellent controller support rather than being limited to the usual mouse and keyboard. Furthermore, if you want to find out who’s more powerful, you and your friends can participate in the PvP arena. It’s for these reasons, it is one of our Top 10 RPGs of 2021. Victor Vran is playable on PC, MacOS, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
Top 10 ARPGs of 2021 | Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr (June 2018)
3 years after the release of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut, the same developer, NeoCore Games, introduced the first sandbox ARPG in the Warhammer universe. Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr experienced a rocky launch due to server issues and bugs. However, with the release of Patch 2.0, the game has improved a lot in terms of the combat, pace, leveling and itemization.
Each class has two loadouts, which you can easily swap between to change your playstyle. What defines your build are the attacks you’re able to do that’s associated with the weapons you’re wielding. Due to the types of enemies you encounter, combat is tactical such that you have to manage your character all throughout. You always have to think about the steps you’ll do next to succeed in these encounters whether your shots line up before you perform AoE attacks or if you’re ready to tackle your enemies at this very moment.
The most unique thing about Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr though is how it perfectly captures the look, feel and sounds of the 40k universe. Visuals are carefully crafted to resemble the imposing forces of Chaos, the swarms of the Tyranid hordes, and even the brutal Space Marines and Inquisitors. Combat is meaty and gritty. Killing enemies is very fulfilling as they explode into mists of blood when they die. This is definitely one of the most gory ARPGs around. The environment is also destructible, which you can use to your advantage. It’s for these reasons it is one of our Top 10 ARPGs of 2021. Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is available on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.
Last Epoch (April 2019)
When it comes to ARPGs in Beta, Last Epoch continues to be a very strong contender. This game has been in Early Access since April 2019 and it has significantly grown since then. Last Epoch is a sprawling ARPG by Eleventh Hour Games that encompasses multiple time periods. You get to revisit the same locations at different points in time such that you see how these areas flourished or degraded.
What makes Last Epoch’s customization unique is its 100+ skill trees because each active skill has its own special tree. You’re limited to a select number of points so you’ll have to choose wisely. You’ll be able to pick a specialized class from a ton of base classes.
Last Epoch’s endgame content is referred to as the Monolith System. What this does differently is you get to choose your path in order to obtain the type of gear you want. Although the individual stats are still random, this web-like system offers some degree of control rather than hopelessly farming for the equipment you need.
For an Early Access game, Last Epoch is very polished. It’s not as simple as Diablo 3 yet it’s not as complex as Path of Exile. At the moment, Eleventh Hour Games has been consistently providing major updates every 2-3 months. It’s for these reasons, Last Epoch is one of our Top 10 ARPGs of 2021. Last Epoch is expected to fully launch late this 2021 or early 2022 and it will be available on PC, MacOS, and Linux.
Top 10 ARPGs of 2021 | Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem (February 2020)
Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is a very ambitious ARPG developed by Wolcen Studio. The game launched at the beginning of 2020 and it boasted beautiful visuals so much so that it can be considered as one of the best looking ARPGs. This isn’t surprising given that Wolcen was built on the Cryengine game engine, which is known to have good graphics.
Despite its rocky start, Wolcen was a very enjoyable experience that tried to mix and match Diablo 3’s Skill Rune System with their own smaller version of Path of Exile’s gargantuan Passive Skill Tree. Your newly created character has no predetermined class, enabling you to make specialized heroes or extremely hybrid ones. It’s possible to learn the majority of skills in the game on a single character but of course, you wouldn’t be able to use them at the same time nor be proficient in all.
Each skill could be outfitted with different runes that change various aspects of it. You can have something as simple as enhancing damage and range, or you could fundamentally change the way the skill works by causing damage over time instead of inflicting burst damage.
The release of the free Wolcen: Bloodtrail expansion late last year brought a lot of fixes that included balance changes as well as new skills and the new Chronicles game mode. This allowed players to participate in special events to gain valuable rewards.
Another unique feature that Wolcen brought to the limelight is its Town Building Endgame System called Wolcen: Champion of Stormfall. The goal is to rebuild the titular town of Stormfall by expending gold and various resources you’ve collected in your travels. As a reward for assisting its citizens, you’re given passive bonuses like Magic Find. You also gain hunters who automatically seek out magical and rare items for you as well as a fifth active skill slot. This meta system gave the game a rather different way to unlock bonuses for your character. It’s for these reasons, Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is one of our Top 10 ARPGs of 2021. Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is available on PC.
The Ascent (July 2021)
When we talk about ARPGs, we don’t usually think of a twin stick shooter game. However, developer Neon Giant is adamant on making that change with the release of their first game, The Ascent. In The Ascent, you play as an enslaved worker, endlessly toiling on the cyberpunk planet Veles until the corporation that you work for suddenly closes down without any explanation.
The Ascent is an open world top-down ARPG that focuses on gunplay and cover mechanics. It can be played either solo or multiplayer either online or via couch co-op. You’ll be able to collect a large variety of weapons, armor, skills and other augmentations during your quest to discover the mysteries of Veles. Additionally, you can customize your character in a number of ways as there are no pre-defined classes in the game.
The Ascent features high action and quick combat with all the stats and numbers we’ve all grown to know and love in RPGs. While the main story is linear, you’ll have the option to tackle many different side objectives and missions that you would not otherwise encounter if you do not explore everything there is to know about this dystopian world.
What’s more is how impressive it is to know that this game is being developed by only 12 people. It’s for these reasons, The Ascent is one of our Top 10 ARPGs of 2021. The Ascent will be available on PC, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One on July 29, 2021. It will also be on Xbox Game Pass on the first day.
That ends our list of ARPGs to play in 2021 with memorable titles to try out. What is your most favorite ARPG? What are you hoping to play next? And what did you think of this list? It’s certainly incredible to see how capable indie studios are when it comes to creating impactful games. Stay tuned for our video covering the 10 best Souls-like games this year!
If you enjoyed this list be sure to check out the Top 10 Metroidvanias To Play In 2021 and Top 10 CRPGs You Should Play In 2021. Don’t miss out on our latest reviews and previews, read next Monster Hunter Stories 2 Review: When Pokemon Meets Monster Hunting and The Ascent Preview And Gameplay Impressions: Everything We Know So Far (Shooter, Looter, RPG).