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One of the best parts about gaming is getting lost in a whole new world. From alternate realities of our world to dragon-filled mountain ranges, there’s a wide range of role-playing games so well crafted that you will feel like you’ve truly entered the world.
In this list, you’ll find some widely loved RPGs, as well as some indie games that may be unfamiliar. Each game listed has extensive world-building that brings the game’s story to life, exciting character customization, and/or a world so beautiful you won’t believe that it’s not real.
14 Sunless Sea
This gothic horror game is set in the alternate reality world of Fallen London. Its tagline, “Lose your mind. Eat your crew. Die.” paints a pretty solid portrait of the gameplay as you fall deeper into the unexplored sea.
The game is played in a birds-eye, battleship-esc view that allows you to fully take in the vast sea and wonderfully terrifying art style. There’s a large cast of characters to interact with throughout the story, each with a chilling vignette that will guide you through the dark waters of this game.
Released in 2009, Infamous follows protagonist Cole MacGrath and takes place in the fictional Empire City. After getting caught in an explosion, you play as MacGrath as he discovers he has gained the power to harness electricity.
The true stand-out element of this game is the ability to choose how MacGrath will wield his powers: whether you’ll use them for good, or for evil. The choices that you make as you play will affect every aspect of the game–from the condition of Empire City, to how NPC’s on the street react to you.
This open-world game places you in the middle of the desert, and the rest is up to you. In Kenshi, you choose how to spend your time in the world, with options like rebel, trader, thief, or dinner for a cannibal–pretty good options all around.
If you can get past the awkward graphics, you’ll find yourself spending hours exploring this twisted world. The ultimate goal in Kenshi is essentially to build up a squad in order to survive within the world, but the way you do that is entirely up to you.
11 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
There are many, many installments in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, through crusades, pirates, and more. The games are (mostly) fictional stories set in real-world events, allowing you to play through intense periods of history.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey takes place in Ancient Greece and takes you through a Herculian “Zero-to-Hero” story arch as you explore a stunning environment. The story is under your control, as your actions will impact its direction and there are a few different endings to play to.
And if that’s not enough of a draw, you can customize your ship.
In this pixel-perfect adventure game, you play as Will: shopkeeper by day, hero by night. And the game has you play through both–you still have to work a 9-5, but in Moonlighter your job entails selling items you find on your journeys to interesting characters from the village.
When you’re ready to turn the sign and explore the world, you’ll find a variety of environments each with its own challenging enemies. You’re encouraged to interact with villagers and aspects of the world to discover its secrets.
9 Ghosts of Tsushima
Ghosts of Tsushima
Similar to the choice-driven story of Infamous (and developed by the same studio) in Ghosts of Tsushima, you play as Jin Sakai, a samurai protecting Tsushima Island during the historical first Mongol invasion. Sakai’s choice is between fighting with honor to defend his country or fighting dishonorably for the same cause.
The game features an unbelievably stunning open world of ancient Japan paired with a beautiful story. You traverse the world on a horse, who you will choose near the start of the game.
8 Kingdom Come: Deliverance
This story-driven RPG takes place in the Holy Roman Empire. Set in Bohemia, in Kingdom Come: Deliverance you play as Henry after he has lost his village and his family to the war. You join the resistance and travel the land to get your justice.
It’s a non-linear story that allows you to take the game at your own pace, exploring the gorgeous open world filled with castles, medieval villages, and real historical characters. Great for avid fans of the Renaissance fair!
7 Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II
Following the award-winning first game, this sequel is a game far ahead of its time. Released in 2005, this game has stood the test of time and remained a stand-out of its genre.
As the Sith are about to overtake the Old Republic, you are caught between the light and the dark as you play through the story. While the graphics are clearly of its time, they quickly become part of this game’s charm.
With a powerful story and an even more powerful franchise behind it, the game quickly immerses you into the Star Wars universe.
6 Disco Elysium
Set in Elysium, a world with 6,000 years worth of unique history, the RPG set out to redefine the genre. You could spend hours just diving into the lore of Disco Elysium, from individual characters all the way through intricate government systems.
You play as a detective with no memory (which helps teach you about the world), and set out to solve a series of crimes in Elysium.
The game features full voice acting–every line of dialogue is acted with full emotion to help you sink into this story. And the art style is unlike any other game, featuring an oil-painted-esc look to the characters and the world.
5 Persona 5 Royal
After the protagonist transfers to a new school, he finds himself waking up with new powers, soon thrust into the world of the Phantom Thieves. Their goal is to traverse a dream-like world of the subconscious to steal evil straight from the hearts of others.
Persona 5 Royal’s unique story sets it apart from other games in the genre. As a vigilante, you play in a day-night feature–high school student running through social interactions by day, heart-stealing dream thief fighting in dungeons by night. Typical high school story, right?
4 Red Dead Redemption 2
An epic follow-up to the award-winning original game, Red Dead Redemption 2 rises to the occasion. The realism runs deep within this game, going so far as to have a hair mechanism–the protagonist’s hair and beard will grow, and a feature of the game includes maintaining his appearance.
The story is set at the end of the Wild West era, with the characters fleeing from the police. You have to survive as you tear through the open world, hunting, fishing, and setting up camps along the way.
This stunning game will pull you in, and you’re sure to have a rootin’ tootin’ time.
3 Fallout 4
The Fallout series is filled with great RPGs, but Fallout 4 stands out as a unique installment in the franchise. In this game, you play as the sole survivor of Vault 111 who must find a way to live on their own in this nuclear-wrecked, massive open world.
Featuring a wildly in-depth character customization, a point-based perk system that determines your character’s strengths, and plenty of locations to explore and characters to interact with, the game provides a strongly immersive RPG experience.
2 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
You once again play as Geralt of Rivia in the third installment of The Witcher franchise. You are a mercenary monster hunter traversing the dark fantasy world of the Continent, set out to determine your destiny as you battle a variety of monsters.
This game features a beautiful, detailed open world so dense that you’ll find yourself getting lost in its beauty, and a rich world with complex and interesting characters to interact with that will further build this unique story.
Perhaps the game that truly exemplifies the open-world RPG, Skyrim is a stunning fantasy game. Taking place in the titular Skyrim, you are the Dragonborn set out to defeat a dragon that is prophesied to destroy the world.
You can take your time getting to your destiny, as the beautiful open world is hard to resist exploring, and you can keep busy with quests. An undeniable hit, Skyrim is full of customization and rife with riveting stories and exciting gameplay.
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