Epic and Unmissable: Top 5 AAA RPGs of All Time

There’s a lot of RPGs out there, but when it comes to the best of the best of what everyone can play, these are the absolute must play from the 1990s to today. We’re talking the absolute top tier when it comes to games you should have under your belt if you’re an RPG fan at all. These are the games that have defined the genre, changed the meta of RPGs and are what many of the top RPGs built their games upon.

We’re looking at the very best here. Many of these games, if you’re an RPG fan, you should have played. If not, it’s highly recommended to get them to the top of your list. It really helps you appreciate other RPGs knowing what really has driven discussion the last few decades.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

One game stands out at the top and deserves a spot on the list. One of the best RPG games of all time is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Released in 2011, this open-world masterpiece from Bethesda Game Studios continues to captivate players and relaunch itself onto every new platform. It’s consistently a stable of RPG gaming. Fallout 3 (and Fallout 4) are interesting and come into play, but Skyrim is just replayable.

In Skyrim, you can make whatever you want and mod it however you want. The game’s non-linear storytelling allows players to shape their own destinies. You’re off making choices that not only impact their character’s journey but also influence the fate of the entire realm.

Unlimited archetypes come through modding the game. The base game in itself is wild but when you add in modding things change drastically.

With its immersive gameplay, richly detailed world, and a vast array of quests, side activities, and secrets waiting to be discovered, Skyrim stands as a testament to the unparalleled depth and escapism that RPGs can offer. Skyrim takes and transports players to a realm where imagination knows no bounds and that mountain in the distance – you can likely climb it.

  • Known for a world that’s more fun than the main story.
  • Many players don’t even play the main story and instead spend their time exploring the world, doing side quests and managing their houses.
  • Skyrim has been remastered over and over, brought to the latest consoles just out of shear demand for the game.
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It’s on everything from the 360 to the Switch to PC.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, launched by CD Projekt Red in 2015, totally rocks the RPG world. You get to be Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter with super cool powers, adventuring through a dark and intense fantasy universe. The game’s massive open world, detailed settings, and morally tangled quests make it super engaging. You’re thrown into a war-ravaged land full of political drama, freaky creatures, and tough choices that really shake things up. The Witcher 3 totally nails it with its top-notch storytelling, where your choices really change things and morally grey characters always keep you guessing. With its jaw-dropping graphics, gripping story, and deep character growth, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is up there as one of the best RPG games ever.

  • The Witcher 2 isn’t anything to sneeze at, but The Witcher 3 really shocked everyone when it launched at just how good it was.
  • The Witcher 3 is so good that Cyberpunk 2099 was always known to never be able to live up to the masterpiece that The Witcher 3 was.
  • The main story and the sidequests are all notable, the game are known for having decisions that make meaningful impacts on the world while providing some of the best fantasy combat you’ll sit on the list.

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII, released in 1997, revolutionized RPGs with its cinematic storytelling, emotional depth, and stunning visuals. The game follows Cloud Strife, a former soldier turned mercenary, embroiled in a planet-threatening conflict. Its epic battles, complex themes, and memorable moments make it a timeless masterpiece. From exploring Midgar to battling foes in the planet’s depths, it offers a journey of heartbreak, triumph, and self-discovery.

  • Every Final Fantasy game has been mostly genre defining, but FF7 stands out of the crowd due to the large fanbase and ageless story.
  • FF8 is often compared to FF7 as being as good, with arguments through time on which is better.
  • FF7’s “Remake” is exciting.
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The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, an iconic RPG game, was released in 1998 for Nintendo 64. The game, featuring Link on a mission to save Hyrule and Princess Zelda, set new genre standards. Known for its immersive world, memorable characters, and innovative gameplay, it required players to explore dungeons, solve puzzles, and use the Ocarina of Time to defeat Ganondorf. Its impact on the RPG genre is profound.

  • One of the very first 3D RPGs that really resonated with the market.
  • Puzzles, combat and a mysterious story was major hooks of the series.

Mass Effect

The original Mass Effect, released in 2007, introduced the world to an RPG with guns, sci-fi NASApunk-esq world and an expansive lore filled story. Mass Effect was both creepy yet magical, everything emotional you could think of would happen in the game and its subsequent sequels which build to make the schematic that gun based RPGs would follow in the future.

  • Just really good.
  • Decisions matter.
  • The remakes help smooth over some of the 2007 roughness.

In Conclusion

RPG games are like your personal teleporter to crazy cool worlds, packed with epic adventures and stories that totally suck you in. You could be exploring the massive landscapes of Skyrim one minute, then getting tangled up in the tricky quests of The Witcher 3 the next. Or maybe you’re crying your eyes out in Final Fantasy VII, being the hero in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or saving the day in Mass Effect 2. These games have seriously changed the game (see what I did there?). So, grab your controller or keyboard and get ready for some epic adventures where you get to call the shots and totally lose yourself in the awesomeness of RPG gaming.

David Piner, an accomplished video game journalist since 2001, excels in developing comprehensive guides and engaging content to enrich the gaming experience. As the esteemed former Managing Editor at TTH (as David "Xerin" Piner) for over a decade, David established a strong reputation for his perceptive analysis, captivating content, and streamlined guides. Having led skilled teams of writers and editors, David has been instrumental in producing an extensive collection of articles, reviews, and guides tailored to both casual and hardcore gamers aiming to enhance their skills. Dedicated to player-centric content, David meticulously crafts guides and articles with the players' interests in mind. He is a proud member of OUT Georgia and fervently champions equity and equality across all spheres.