The 2010s have come and gone, and with it some of the best RPGs ever made. Games like Dark Souls, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Mass Effect 2. You’d have to be insane to try to narrow down the best of them, and in this article that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Join us as we attempt the unthinkable, and probably get it very very wrong in the process. These are the Top 10 RPGs of the last decade.
Top 10 Best RPGs of the Decade (2010-2019)
Before we get into our list I’d like to note here that there are several games not included that were either just on the fringe of “RPG”, we felt weren’t quite good enough, or they were made by Nintendo and they copyright strike everything, so they didn’t make it into our list. These are Red Dead Redemption 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nier: Automata, Elder Scrolls Online, Monster Hunter World, and Diablo III. With that out of the way, the first title may come as a surprise to some of you, and to others it’ll likely be too low, but coming in at number 10 is Pillars of Eternity.
10. Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity comes in at number 10 on our list because it is partially responsible for a resurgence in Classic RPGs in a market saturated with Action role playing titles. Its fantastic writing and excellent mechanics reflect those of of the golden era of RPGs, and have given it the title of “spiritual successor” to the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dales series. If you grew up playing those games, or they made you into an RPG fan then odds are you’ve likely played Pillars of Eternity.
It was successful enough to spawn a sequel in May of 2018 (Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire), which was also very popular with the CRPG community, if only to a lesser degree. Surprisingly, Pillars of Eternity was even more well received than Divinity: Original Sin, which came out just 9 months earlier, and is the other franchise responsible for the return to traditional western RPGs. Will there be a Pillars of Eternity III? Time will tell, but we can only hope this exceptional franchise, one that is likely a huge part of making Baldur’s Gate III a reality, gets one.
9. Persona 5
Coming in at number 9 is Persona 5. What Pillars of Eternity has done for CRPGs, Persona 5 has done in spades for JRPGs. It is widely regarded as one of the best JRPGs of all time by its critics, and even scored a 9.5/10 by our user Forum Pirate in his review of the game back in April of 2017. Featuring over 100 hours of gameplay, with exceptional combat and story telling Persona 5 has captured hearts around the internet, and has spawned several spin offs as well as various version of the game.
If you missed it, have no worries, the latest version is called Persona 5 Royal and is coming in March of 2020, featuring more goodies and support for PS4 Pro. And, if that’s not enough, Atlus has already confirmed that there will be a Persona 6, which is likely to debut on PS5 sometime in 2022.
8. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Coming in at number 8, it’s a game that needs no introduction: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. What can you say about Skyrim, and where do you even begin? It’s nearly a decade old at this point, coming out in November of 2011, which seems like a very long time ago. Despite this fact, Skyrim, much like Dracula, never seems to age. Skyrim is not a game that revolutionized RPG mechanics, but simply did many of them better and on a grander scale than had ever been done before. It has become a solid benchmark for all Open World RPGs ever since, and it’s hard to review any Open World RPG without some comparison to it.
The story telling and breath taking environments were exceptional for it’s time, and even the Remastered version of the game still holds up fairly well even in 2020. It’s a game that’s managed to stay relevant for a decade in some form or another, and is responsible for an insane amount of hype and mods! It’s sold over 30 million copies, and that didn’t happen by accident. Who’s hyped for The Elder Scrolls 6? Anybody? Yeah you know you are…even despite Bethesda’s recent “failings”…
7. Fallout: New Vegas
Coming in at number 7 is Fallout: New Vegas. I’m sure many of you are wondering how this game made it onto the list, and some of you are like “FUCK YEAH!”. Fallout: New Vegas is on our list because it is the only first person Fallout game to date that actually encompasses and “feels” like the original Fallout games, which are some of the best RPGs of all time. The whole game has a very Fallout 2 vibe that you just can’t shake while playing. Sure it’s lacking the grandiose universe that Skyrim has, but the immersion and nostalgia are just too strong, and I can’t even tell you how many playthroughs of the game I’ve done!
The game itself sold over 11 million copies, which is nothing to shake a stick at. If that doesn’t convince you, then the fact that it has a 95% positive rating on Steam should, and as you might have guessed is actually higher than Skryim! Fallout: New Vegas will turn 10 years old this October, and is the second oldest game on our list, barely squeaking onto the list by a matter of months. Thank god too, because I don’t want to have the Fallout 3 vs. New Vegas debate, and I don’t have to since Fallout 3 came out in 2008. If you haven’t played this game yet, you really should, or wait for (prays) a Remaster. Just be sure to have a big iron on your hip!
6. Dragon’s Dogma
Coming in at number 6 on our Top RPGs of the Decade is Dragon’s Dogma. It’s an extremely interesting and well put together RPG that blends western and JRPG elements, and is both like and unlike anything I’ve ever played before. Dragon’s Dogma is one of those games where you can spend hours on convoluted RPG mechanics that you had no idea existed if you want, or you can bypass them entirely and just play more casually. Much like Dark Souls, the deeper you dig, the more you find…but you don’t have to.
Dragon’s Dogma, like many other games on our list has been Remastered, and released in various forms over the years. Releasing originally on PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2012, you can now play its enhanced form (Dark Arisen) on PS4, Xbox One and PC. It was so popular in Japan that it spawned it’s own MMO: Dragon’s Dogma Online, which sadly never came to the west, and has since shutdown its servers. While unfortunate, the good news is that this only increases the chances of a Dragon’s Dogma 2. Something fans have been clamoring for for years. PS5 title anyone? Calling it now.
5. Mass Effect 2
Coming in at number 5, get into your way back machine, it’s Mass Effect 2. Mass Effect 2 released in January of 2010, and is the oldest game on our list. Not only is it one of the highest rated RPGs of all time, it is one of the highest rated games of all time. Holding a Metacritic average of 94/94/96, and a 95% on Steam, it is was simply one of the best games of the previous console generation. Players had freedom to go and do pretty much whatever they wanted, and decisions they made had long lasting impacts in their story, some of which were hard to predict (RIP Wrex).
Commander Shepherd is still one of the most recognizable faces in gaming, even today, and belongs in the character Hall of Fame with the likes of Kratos, Nathan Drake, Laura Croft and others. And, the companions themselves were so well written that you actually got attached to them,cared about them and what they thought. Remember when Bioware used to make good games?
After the downfall of Mass Effect: Andromeda, you might think that the series has come to an end. However, Kotaku reported in November of last year that a new Mass Effect is in the early stages of development. Hopefully, it leans more to the Mass Effect 2 side of things…
4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Coming in at number 4 on our list is The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I’ve been an avid Witcher fan ever since the original game launched way back when and actually made me pick up the novels and read, but The Witcher 3 took RPG gaming to a whole new level. Not only did it feature a living breathing landscape that is 3.5 times larger than Skyrim, it has some of the best questing and story telling of any game ever made. The Witcher 3 is littered with tough decisions, some that you have little time to make, and where you often find yourself choosing the lesser of two evils instead of a clearly good option. No other game to date emphasizes the moral ambiguity that is life, and teaches players that even when they have the best of intentions, sometimes things don’t work out the way they wanted.
After several delays, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was finally released in May of 2015, and sold over 20 million copies. The franchise’s success put Polish Studio CD Projekt Red on the map, and even prompted the novel series’ author to sue them, having sold the rights them for a pittance. And, the Witcher has become so popular that it recently spawned a spin off card game: Gwent, and its own series on Netflix, which I found to be quite good.
The Witcher 3 currently has more active players than at its launch 4.5 years ago, which is virtually unheard of outside of the MMOverse! I’ve literally never seen it before, and I can’t think of a game that has more hype surrounding it…except for CD Projekt Red’s other game, Cyberpunk 2077 which comes out this April. If you can’t get enough CDPR, then good thing you don’t have to wait long!
3. Divinity: Original Sin II
Coming in at number 3 on our list is Divinity: Original Sin II. Taking home our Game of the Year Award, among a slue of other awards in 2017, Divinity: Original Sin II spear-headed the resurgence of CRPG games and even innovated by adding 4 player co operative play, along with split screen local co op. Few games in recent memory have as much customization and RPG mechanics that drive players to push the boundaries of what is possible, and fewer still feature co operative play, let alone a Game Master Mode. If you’re looking for an RPG with it, odds are Divinity: Original Sin II has it! Unless it’s real-time combat…
Divinity: Original Sin II was one of the most successfully funded Kickstarter projects of all time, reaching its original goal in less than 12 hours. Larian Studios has continued to support the game by releasing the Enhanced Edition free to PC players, as well as publishing the game on consoles. There have been several subsequent quality of life patches, even adding an enemy randomizer, and the modding community has made an ungodly amount of mods for the game. Seriously, it’s an insane amount!
Divinity: Original Sin II was so successful that it propelled Larian Studios into superstardom nearly overnight, and landed them with the rights to develop the sequel to a game many thought would never come to fruition: Baldur’s Gate III. Would this game even be in development if not for Larian’s success? Odds are it wouldn’t, and that speaks volumes about Divinity: Original Sin II by itself.
2. Dark Souls
Coming in at number 2, Dark Souls! Fextralife and Dark Souls have become synonymous through out the game’s life span, so it’s really no surprise this game takes the number 2 spot on our list. A sleek blend of old school RPG gaming, combined with sexy appeal of the action-RPG, Dark Souls captures the things that make both so good. If you grew up in the 90s, and miss the golden era of RPGs, Dark Souls was made with you in mind.
Perhaps the the most impressive thing about Dark Souls is the freedom it provides the player. Not only are you free to create your character exactly as you see fit with a classless system, you are free to go just about anywhere you can see in whatever order you choose. There are easier paths of course, but players can brave the harder areas anyway for fame and fortune is they wish, since the entire map is connected and there is no loading between zones. The level design is heralded as the apex for the genre, and you’d struggle to find another game that does it as well or better.
If that’s not enough, Dark Souls features the most compelling and original multiplayer mechanics of any action-RPG to date (except for maybe Demon’s Souls). Co-operative play and PvP are both seamlessly woven into the very fabric of the game, allowing players to play alone one minute and play together the next. There’s also that moment of your first invasion that was quite special, if not visceral.
Dark Souls is an industry classic, and one that any RPG gamer or developer knows, and many are inspired by. Originally releasing in September of 2011, with the Remastered version launching on current gen in 2018, Dark Souls has spawned not only a franchise, but also its own genre “Souls-Like”. It’s nearly impossible to create or review an Action RPG without some comparison to Dark Souls, so much so in fact it’s become a meme about the internet…This article is the Dark Souls of lists…
Our Game of the Decade: Bloodborne. Now, after saying all that about Dark Souls…. how is Bloodborne Number 1!? Just bare with me as I deftly explain. To begin, Dark Souls was a refinement of Demon’s Soul’s ideas, and a superb realization of concepts that has truly created a new subgenre. When Sony Japan Studio and FromSoftware got back together to create Bloodborne, they did the unimaginable: they delivered a fresh and fluid re-imagining of their original Demon’s Souls formula, that was as good if not better.
Not only did they take a completely new approach to combat with the removal of blocking (for all intents and purposes), and the addition of quick dashes and the trick weapons; they delved deep into the Lovecraftian mythos and brought it to terrifyingly compelling life in ways that few horror games achieve, all while maintaining their trademark multiplayer mechanics and the epic nature of their Boss battles.
Built for the specific purpose of selling Playstations, Bloodborne is an Action RPG that compressed some of the expected upgrade and advancement mechanics but expanded on atmospheric impact, with lore and myth well beyond the confinements of FromSoftware’s item descriptions, relatable to a much larger, much explored and always interesting study of the alien, the supernatural and the nature of dreams, nightmares and terror.
The fantastic musical score, phenomenal setting and level design, engaging combat, memorable bosses and the overall polished feeling of the game, has seen it downloaded by 11 million users and platinumed by 630,000 of them. The game has spawned it’s own comic and board games, along with a plaethura of merchandise, not to mention lore theories and discussions, some of which are so insane that we can’t even read them here. But, if that doesn’t convince you just listen to what Hidetaka Miyazaki had to say about the game when speaking to Gamespot Brazil just last year:
But if I were to say which one stayed in my heart the most, it’s Bloodborne. It’s the one that marked me the most. I believe I did it my way, the way I wanted – Hidetaka Miyazaki
After changing gaming forever with Dark Souls, Fromsoftware proved they could outdo themselves, and carry that amazing formula over to new titles (Elden Ring anyone?), forever ensuring their legacy. Bloodborne delivered the gold standard Souls-like, staying close enough to the souls tenets to feel familiar and cozy, and straying far enough to completely challenge and surprise me in many more ways than I can recall. It is for this outstanding delivery of reinvention that Bloodborne is Fextralife’s game of the decade!
Thoughts on the list? Did we get it right? What were your favorite RPGs of the last decade? Let us know in the comments below.
If you want to know our top picks for this year watch/read Fextralife’s Top 10 Upcoming RPGs Of 2020. Interested in finding out more about upcoming RPGs? Be sure to check out Everything We Know About Dark Alliance: Couch Co-Cop & More and Everything About New World, Amazon’s Atypical MMORPG.