earthbound rpg

Top 5 Modern RPG Games

As the years have passed, the number of quality RPG titles has sharply declined. With the industry moving towards short and sweet AAA action titles, the era of the 50 hour, text-bloated RPG adventure seems to have passed. However, that does not mean that the age of the RPG has ended. On the contrary, developers have adapted to the changing times and have actually used this to their advantage. In the past five years alone, there have been games released which, in my opinion, can be held up there as some of the best RPG games of all time.

The following lists my top five modern RPG games, with modern being defined as having been released in the past five years. All of these games are titles that any gamer should put upon themselves to experience, and are some of the best that the genre has to offer.

5. Fire Emblem: Awakening (2013)

Fire Emblem Awakening

Fire Emblem: Awakening is a Tactical-RPG title released for the Nintendo 3DS in February of 2013. The game is the latest in the Fire Emblem franchise, which has been ongoing since the release of the first game in 1990. Awakening is arguably my favourite title in the entire franchise, as it has a host of minuet yet important features which really made the game enjoyable. The game included a casual mode for the first time, which offered newcomers and casual fans a way to experience the game stress-free and not have to worry about the game’s signature permadeath system. The game featured a completely customizable main character, including gender selection, which impacted the story and the possible romance options in the game.

The romance system, as mentioned, added a whole other level to the game, as each character could romance another and have a child. These children would inherit the skills and traits of their parents, and would eventually become much stronger than their parents. The levels of replayability that this added to the game was huge, and the interactiveness between spouses and children were excellent. Awakening featured a strong story with even stronger characters, and the gameplay was extremely fun and deep. The game was critically acclaimed by all, and sold well, and the title’s main characters will even have an appearance in the upcoming Smash Bros. game. 

4. Dragon Age: Origins (2009)

dragon age origins

The party members available to you in Origins were all very different and interesting characters, dog included.

The first of the Bioware games to appear on my list, Dragon Age: Origins is a pretty classic RPG when all things are considered. The game takes place in the medieval world of Ferelden, a land in turmoil. Demonic creatures named darkspawn have invaded the land, and it is up to you, the last of the Grey Wardens, to save the world. Joined by a colourful cast of characters of differing races and personalities, Origins level of customization and its memorable choice and consequence system make it a game that all RPG fans should experience.

The combat, while a little clunky, was generally fun and relied on a tactical overhead view for most of its battles. The story was pretty standard save the world fare, but it was the choices it presented to you that made it so engaging. At the time, I had never played a game which had me make such impactful choices as Dragon Age: Origins. I still remember the outcome of my first play through, which ended pretty tragically and even brought me to tears. With the ability to create your own back-story, which impacts a lot of the game to come, Origins made your created character feel more unique than any other I had ever created. This also translated into my interactions and conversations with others, and I really embraced the role-playing aspect of the game. The game also received a full-fledged expansion, a rarity for modern RPG games, and was very well done.

3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)skyrim

If you needed any indication of its quality, Skyrim is a title that I still play regularly to this day. The game was a technical marvel at its time, and still looks really impressive, especially on PC where a host of graphical mods help it creep its way to outshining the real world. The game prides itself on its impressive open world, and literally gives you the option to spend hundreds of hours just exploring and doing its massive amount of side-quests. You are thrown into the land of Skyrim, and are then let loose to do whatever, go wherever, and meet whomever you would like. Although the sheer size of its world and amount of quests is its obvious attraction, Skyrim is a quality RPG game in itself. With tons of skills to level, armour to craft, and loot to find, you can create and play your character in absolutely any style that you like.

2. Mass Effect 2 (2010)

Love them or hate them, all of these party members will make a big impact on you by the end.

Love them or hate them, all of these party members will make a big impact on you by the end.

To be fair, the entire Mass Effect series deserves a place on this list. However, in the interest of time and to not fill 3/5 spots with Mass Effect titles, I chose to represent the best of the series, Mass Effect 2. Another Bioware title, Mass Effect hosts one of the best stories told in video games. With an eccentric cast, who are wonderfully voice acted, Mass Effect 2 will not let you forget a single member of your party. The series is renowned for its interpersonal relationships, romances especially, and has really set the bar for other RPG titles on how character interaction is supposed to go. All of the characters have deep back stories, and even exclusive quests which will be given once you get to know them well enough. Their interesting and witty banter while on missions, and their deep and personal private conversations with you, will have you sweating and making sure to do your very best throughout Commander Sheppard’s epic mission, as every single one of them could meat a bleak and deathly fate. Fans of RPG games, story-driven games, or games and general, you need to play Mass Effect. 

1. Persona 4: Golden (2012)

Persona 4

And finally, we reach the best RPG title of the past five years. In fact, I would go as far as to argue it is one of the best games, regardless of genre, of all time. Yep, I love Persona 4 that much. While the original title was actually released in 2008 for the PS2, the 2012 PS Vita re-release is the definitive edition of the game. It is a game unlike any other, and mashes elements of murder-mystery, dating sim, monster collecting, and RPG into one. The game is witty and interesting, with a host of interesting characters to befriend and even date. The battle system is extremely fun, and revolves around the use of “Personas”, which you can collect and fuse to make more powerful creatures. You buy equipment, fight monsters, train and level up your character while also doing your homework, working part time jobs and participating in after school clubs and activities. It sounds weird, and different, but that’s what makes Persona 4 so unique. If you can only choose one of the above titles to try out this year, this is the one I reccomend.

There are so many other titles I have left of this list, and the five-year release restriction also hampered my choices. Are there any games that you would replace on my list? Let me know in the comments section below, and keep it here at Leviathyn for all the latest news, reviews, and opinions on video games.