The next generation of consoles has been out long enough that they have officially transcended their label. The PS4 and Xbox One are current-gen and that means it’s time for us to look at what the current best RPGs are. As luck would have it, virtually every game on this list is cross-platform, so no matter what flag you fly, there’s something here for you. Stay with us and I think you’ll agree, these are the best games for RPG lovers currently on the platform.
Before we dive in, let’s define our terms. At the moment, there are precious few true roleplaying games on either platform. That said, “RPG” for the sake of this column will also include action-RPGs. Clear? Then let’s get into the list!
I won’t mince words: Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is the definitive way to play Diablo. Not only does the game pack all of the good things that made the PC version great, it also sheds everything that didn’t. There is no online connection requirement, no auction house, no undermined gameplay loops. Add on to that a new controller-specific and game-changing dodge mechanic, as well as a brand new Nemesis System and you have enough motivation for fans to put down the keyboard entirely. Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is not only the best version of Diablo 3 to own, it’s also one of the best games currently available on either platform.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is the best Lord of the Rings game to release since 2002’s The Two Towers. It is also the first AAA game (that’s not about racing) to truly astound on this generation of consoles. Taking the role of Talion, players are let loose on a bloody revenge fantasy set in the lands of Mordor. What makes Middle-earth so exceptional is the dynamic Nemesis System which simulate the hierarchy of Sauron’s Uruk-hai army. Officers each have unique motivations and act on them all without your input. They can go to war, wrest power from one another and even hunt you down, all on their own. The story is interesting but the story you will make trumps it.
If you were to go on hype alone, you might believe that Destiny is worth avoiding. That would be a terrible mistake. While it seems likely that something went awry in the game’s final leg of development, what was actually delivered is still incredibly fun. It is a testament to the quality of gameplay that even with so many undelivered promises, players report logging in night after night to take on dungeons, gather reputation, and compete in tightly tuned PVP. Players who have found themselves in the grip of MMO endgame will be in for a treat, too, since Destiny features the same drive to gather and upgrade loot. Paradoxically, it is a disappointingly wonderful game.
Small and artsy, Child of Light is an unexpected gem. Helmed by the creative director of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Far Cry 3, this JRPG takes on a definitively light flavor when compared to longer games from the East, but critics and audiences alike swooned for its beautiful, hand-painted textures. Child of Light also uses poetry to deliver its dialogue, another quirk in an already quirky, loveable game.
Transistor is an isometric RPG starring a jazz singer who has had her voice stolen and must fight to retrieve it. From the makers of Bastion, it’s no surprise that the game is full of charm. It features a clever blend of real-time and turn-based combat featuring upgradeable abilities that dazzle on the screen. Add to that a spell-binding soundtrack and a talking sword that doubles as a circuit board and you’re set for at least half-a-dozen hours.
Some might argue that Ubisoft’s cyber-crime laden new IP doesn’t quite fall into the category of “RPG,” but I disagree. Watch Dogs is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and RPG masquerading around as an action game. Sure, there’s a whole lot of gunfire and explosions in this story, but there is also a deep upgrade system powered by experience points from completing the game’s many tasks. You may not make your own character but you certainly make the character your own. The setting is also rich and detailed; a playground for the gamer’s hacker fantasies. Most importantly, there’s nothing else out there quite like it and it’s well worth experiencing for yourself.
Games to Keep an Eye On:
The last game in a trilogy, and a follow-up to Bioware’s 2010 misfire, Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition has a lot to prove. Thankfully, it seems like Bioware knows it and has set out to take the franchise to new heights. It is easily one of the most anticipated games of the year.
CD Projekt Red has always been ambitious but The Witcher 3 redefines expectation. Featuring a massive, gorgeous open world, a tight yet deep combat system, and a dozens-of-hours-long campaign with countless side quests and a staggeringly large amount of endings, this is a game any RPG fan would be foolish not to miss. The Witcher series has also made its name on providing a gritty, mature fantasy world totally atypical from the usual Dungeons and Dragons fare, which makes it a unique offering in a flooded fantasy market.
Last but not least, we have a quizzical yet compelling racer which seems to have cracked the nut on how to make a true RPG racer. Will it? Only time will tell, but we already know that it will feature a fully traversable map of the United States, drop-in/drop-out cooperative play, and vehicle classes not unlike the holy trinity in MMORPGs. This is one to keep an eye on.
That’s all from us, but how about you? Let us know what you think in the comments below!