There used to be a time when a hero of an RPG was nothing more than a small set of pixels moving across a 2D plane. Anything long and sharp was a sword and a black square often represented a cave entrance. But what about halberds or spears, with engravings along the edge of the blade? Or environments with intricate design differentiating them from one another?
Think of older titles from the Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star, or Ys series. While undoubtedly fascinating for the time, they lacked in terms of scope; our imagination always pictured something more. Thankfully, today we seldom struggle with technological limitations, and most titles of today surpass the games of yore, at least in the amount of detail involved. Today, if you notice a crumbling tower way off in the distance, then you can probably travel there in real time and watch the hours of day progress right in front of your eyes. And if you can imagine a particular piece of equipment with a specific set of parameters, then you can more than likely craft it at the local blacksmith’s.
Lately, we have been treated to some spectacular JRPG re-releases: Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X, Tales of Vesperia; just to name a few. To celebrate this barrage of RPGs, we have compiled a list of 6 of the Best RPGs to Play on Your Xbox One Right Now, in alphabetical order. Ladies and gentlemen, here we go…
As a 2D dungeon crawler, Darkest Dungeon might seem lacking in comparison to the RPGs on the main list. But don’t let its deceptive simplicity fool you. With 15 unique classes to choose from (not including DLC), Darkest Dungeon lets you gradually build a strong roster of characters and conquer… the darkest dungeon.
From there, you must manage a party of four characters and guide them through increasingly difficult dungeons, defeating often disfigured monstrosities and gathering shiny loot. Over the course of each trip, characters succumb to hunger, stress, and even darkness itself. Overexert their mental capacity, and they will go loco; mismanage the scarce amount of food at your disposal, and they will starve to death; fail to bring enough torches to light the dark hallways and enemies may ambush your quartet of heroes. And to make matters worse, once a character dies they stay dead, so don’t get too attached.
Darkest Dungeon boasts a steep learning curve and punishing losses, it often infuriates, but persevere and you will come to discover an immensely rewarding RPG experience. An experience where every stat point, every seemingly minor upgrade, every equipped trinket and each singular decision matter. And with a multitude of additional content — including new characters and levels — it provides enough to challenge even the most tactical minds. Thanks to its rewarding progression and uniquely dark presentation, Darkest Dungeon deserves the attention of every RPG aficionado out there.
Dark Souls: Remastered
When FromSoftware released Demon’s Souls in 2009 exclusively for the PlayStation 3, it forever changed the landscape of modern RPGs. Despite gaining mainstream appeal, Demon’s Souls never got ported to other platforms. In 2011 however, Xbox players similarly got a taste of self-punishment with the release of its spiritual successor: Dark Souls.
At that time, most big titles focused too much on holding a player’s hand and dragging them through long sequences of needless tutorials. But not Dark Souls; while it gave certain basic hints on how its world worked, most of it was up to the player to discover. It perfected everything established by Demon’s Souls and became one of the most challenging RPG experiences of its time.
With its dynamic class system and epic boss battles, Dark Souls constantly upped the ante by presenting the player with an even greater adversary. Nothing could surpass the ecstatic sensation of downing an imposing boss after numerous exhilarating attempts; the rapid heartbeat, the sweaty palms: it was all part of an immeasurably pleasurable process. And you went through it only to become surprised by the next seemingly insurmountable challenge 30 minutes later.
This title may be solely responsible for countless broken controllers, but also, why many game reviews nowadays begin with “Dark Souls-like” or “inspired by Dark Souls”. If you’re yet to visit this landmark in the history of RPGs, then check out our review of Dark Souls Remastered. It comes packed with all downloadable content, as well as updated visuals, and is by far the best way to experience this title.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
As much as I would like to include my personal favourite, Final Fantasy X, which tells a much more emotionally engaging story, Final Fantasy XII surpasses it in terms of combat complexity and the sheer amount of optional activities. While its story often came off as too serious and politically-oriented, a great cast of characters helped it retain intrigue. More importantly, Final Fantasy XII shone when it came to combat and character development.
With the new Gambit system, players were able to fine-tune the actions of each and every member of the squad. Players could decide when characters should perform specific actions — such as casting buffs or using healing potions. And with enough tweaks, the party acted on its own, requiring almost no additional input from the player.
Likewise, the License Board allowed for the acquisition and application of new combat abilities, further broadening the battle spectre of each character. And with almost 50 hunts of powerful monsters, many of which were much stronger than any boss during the main plotline, Final Fantasy XII provided enough opportunities to test your combat abilities and tactical prowess.
With the recent release of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on Xbox One, there’s no better time to delve into the world of Ivalice and become a sky pirate. After well over a decade on the market, Final Fantasy XII may seem dated, even in its remastered state. But give its excellent combat system a chance and it won’t disappoint.
Nier: Automata – Become as Gods Edition
Games like Nier: Automata don’t see the light of day very often; sequels which possess little to no name recognition to drive sales and justify production costs. However, when the cover of that game features the name of a beloved developer — Platinum Games — it already draws attention. Known for their work on Bayonetta, the Osaka-based developer possessed the know-how on the creation of an engaging action universe and exceptional character design. So, when Nier: Automata released in 2017, it sparked interest in almost everyone and quickly became one of the defining video game experiences of the current generation.
Revolving around three androids — 2B, 9S, and A2 — it tells a complex story about humanity’s ongoing struggle against an invading army of machines. Taking place within a post-apocalyptic world, it provides an unforgettable environment for taking on mechanical foes of often massive proportions. And to provide an equally amazing theme for each encounter and event, Nier: Automata also features one of the best soundtracks you’ll ever hear, which by itself earned it numerous awards. Just listen to tracks like “Bipolar Nightmare” or “Song of the Ancients” and you’ll soon understand why.
It took a while for an Xbox One release, but as an added bonus for the wait, Nier: Automata — Become as Gods Edition includes all previously released additional content. Our very own Richard Dobson did a review on it and explains what he did and didn’t like about it. Oh, and 2B’s succulent six left such a lasting impression that we even featured Nier: Automata on our Best Xbox One Games of 2018 list.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
We’re all probably sick of hearing about this game; by now, we’ve played it on every platform under the sun (under this sun, at least). But Skyrim garnered its notoriety for a very good reason, and it also coincides with how many of us imagined going on an adventure growing up. Playing as a buff warrior with a sword and shield in hand, or a sorcerer wielding powerful spells, or a thief who, instead, focused on stealth and surprised enemies from behind.
Skyrim gave us an opportunity to become the hero our younger selves dreamed of, and it didn’t stop at that. An expansive fantasy world ripe for exploration? Check. Dragons of gargantuan proportions for you to take on? Check. An epic orchestral score to supplement each and every adventure? Check. A nearly impeccable gameplay experience with hardly any irregularities? Che… well, nothing’s perfect. But for all of its minor flaws, Skyrim offered something unique to every RPG fan.
An assortment of classes, equipment and skills to choose from; a seemingly endless quantity of side-quests and additional activities to delve into. Not to mention the main storyline involving dragons and the development of rather powerful abilities. Some might argue that Oblivion, and even Morrowind, achieved many of those things years earlier. But Skyrim filled in the blanks in an unfinished recipe and is, perhaps, why we play it and talk about it almost 10 years after release.
Our review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition will tell you why exactly why you should play it.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Remember me saying nothing’s perfect? Scratch that. No list describing top-tier RPGs would be complete without The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. While CD Projekt Red was relatively well known before that, the third entry in Geralt’s saga brought the Polish developer to the pinnacle of AAA studios.
Earning hundreds of accolades and endless praise from critics and players alike, The Witcher 3 focused on Geralt’s struggle against his former posse — Wild Hunt — who were after his apprentice, Ciri. Geralt’s quest took him all across the lands of the so-called Continent: lush forests, long-forgotten underground caverns, mountains clad in a thick blanket of snow.
This picturesque world had it all and dynamic weather conditions made exploring it all the more exciting. But you wouldn’t travel long without encountering a point of interest and some of the side-quests were so engaging that they constantly forced you to deviate from the main story. One such optional activity, a card-based mini-game Gwent, became so popular amongst players, that developers made it into a stand-alone free-to-play game just a few years later. How often does something like that happen?
With one of the most emotional stories ever and hundreds of gameplay hours, The Witcher 3 should reside at the very top of every RPG fan’s to-play list. And if that doesn’t suffice, then two packs — Hearts of Stone, as well as Blood and Wine — were released to add even more hours of quality content. For more insight, read our review of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and find out everything about it.
With these 6 great RPGs, we bow out and conclude our list of 6 of the Best RPGs to Play on Your Xbox One Right Now. Many compromises were made and many heavyweights of the genre were missed, so by all means, let us know of your favourite RPGs in the comments below.