Role-playing games, or RPGs, are one of the oldest genres in the history of video games. Its humble beginnings can be traced back to simple tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons, a classic that is still played by millions around the world today.
Since those days, role-playing games have branched out into other subcategories, such as LARPing and role-playing video games.
Today, we’re focusing on the latter. We rounded up 9 of the greatest RPG titles available on the Nintendo Switch and reviewed them for you below.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (2017)
The long-running Dragon Quest series is known for consistently putting out amazing titles, but they have managed to outdo themselves with their latest release. Dragon Quest XI is an RPG adventure with a lot of heart, laughs, and twists. (The monsters in this game are also some of the cutest monsters we’ve ever seen.)
Dragon Quest XI is a fantastic homage to classic Japanese RPGs. There’s even a 16-bit graphical mode if players want to switch to an old-school aesthetic. It will feel equally familiar and refreshing to anyone who has ever played an RPG before.
That being said, it’s not the most challenging RPG out there, but it’s certainly well-crafted. Sometimes you just don’t need to reinvent the wheel. And in this case, Dragon Quest XI excels at delivering a traditional JRPG experience.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition (2008)
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is an enhanced remaster of the 2008 classic Tales of Vesperia. The game follows Yuri Lowell, a former soldier who creates a guild called the Brave Vesperia, and their journey around the fictional world of Terca Lumireis.
Like other games in the Tales series, Tales of Vesperia is made to be played more than once. It’s just that good. Aside from the refined combat that opens up the farther you get into the game, the world is varied and offers plenty of exploration opportunities.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is an excellent remaster, and the additions of new characters and cutscenes make it a worthwhile investment.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019)
In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, your choices affect how the story pans out. At the very beginning, you’re asked to select a house, which will affect the narrative of the game. It’s also worth noting that the game makes use of a 5-year time skip, which is the second half of the game.
There are so many things about Fire Emblem: Three Houses that deserve merit, but the intimate relationships you can form with other characters is definitely one of the most praiseworthy elements of the game. The gameplay is also spectacular.
Whether you’re exploring the setting or getting to know the other characters, Fire Emblem: Three Houses encourages you to take your time with it. Definitely a must-have strategy game!
Divinity: Original Sin II (2017)
Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the most thoughtfully designed role-playing games that exist today. As a result, it is superb in just about every category. You are given absolute freedom on how to approach the game, including the ability to customize your own character or pick from a roster of pre-made characters. The game lets you invite up to three players, making it an excellent multiplayer game to play with friends.
There’s a steep learning curve at the start of the game, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be playing it for days on end. There’s a lot to do in the game, from side quests and puzzles that will take some serious dedication to complete.
Divinity: Original Sin II is one of a kind and a pure delight from start to finish.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (2018)
In Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, players take on the role of the Watcher, a figure who can read other people’s memories and look into their souls. After narrowly escaping death, the Watcher makes a deal with Berath, the god of death, and pursues Eothas, the god of light and rebirth, across land and sea.
The pirate-themed setting of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is extremely refreshing for an RPG. Each location you visit offers a ton of aesthetic variety too. Sailing around the Deadfire archipelago with your ship crew singing sea shanties is one of the highlights of the game, hands down.
The storyline is quite slow-paced, so don’t expect things to get crazy right off the bat. I do appreciate that they include a summary of the events in the first Pillars game to refresh old players’ memories and keep new players up to speed.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is an entertaining RPG set in an inspired world full of rich lore.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
Set in the kingdom of Hyrule, Breath of the Wild follows Link, the game’s hero, who discovers that monsters have overtaken the kingdom and that only he can save Hyrule from total destruction.
Much like the 1986 Legend of Zelda game, Breath of the Wild follows a nonlinear storyline and encourages players to explore the open world. It’s certainly not a requirement to explore, but you are rewarded for it in more ways than one.
It is truly more than just a video game; it’s an experience. It’s an open-world adventure RPG that the gaming community didn’t know it needed.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is often called one of the best video games of all time, and we are inclined to agree.
Perfect for: Open world game fans and Zelda series fans
Trials of Mana (2020)
In Trials of Mana, players control three out of six characters in a quest to acquire the Mana Sword. Throughout the exploration of the overworld, players engage in combat with enemy encounters and find various items that will aid them in their journey.
Trials of Mana is a 3D remake of the 1995 game of the same name. This remake stays true to the original in all the right ways, as most of the game’s original elements remain intact. The new additions, such as the abilities in the skill trees, provide much-needed depth to some of the original’s weaker elements.
Trials of Mana is an earnest, thoughtful remake of a beloved classic that does a great job of retaining the charm of the original while modernizing it for today’s audience.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017)
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes place in the fictional world of Alrest. The game’s hero, Rex, is a Driver who teams up with a powerful Blade named Pyra after she brings him back to life. To return the favor, Rex must take her to Elysium, a rumored paradise. The resulting journey that takes place is an enthralling, action-filled adventure that will keep players occupied for dozens of hours.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a story-driven game, unlike its predecessor, Xenoblade Chronicles X, which was more focused on open-world exploration. The relationship between Blades and Drivers is another notable change, as Blades provide support to Drivers during combat in the form of weapons and special attacks.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is an epic fantasy RPG with a well-written story, lovable characters, and a sweeping world to navigate.
Octopath Traveler (2018)
Octopath Traveler gets its name from its 8 playable characters. At the start of the game, players are asked to choose one of these characters to begin the story. Each of these 8 characters is pleasantly distinct, with different backgrounds, hopes, and motivations.
Though the 8 characters do interact at a later point in the game, they fail to do so meaningfully, which was a huge letdown. Still, it’s worth getting to know each and every one of these characters.
One of the most striking parts of the game is the art style, which uses a mix of 2D and 3D. It results in an interesting, textured environment with adorable pixel sprites for the characters.
The gameplay mechanics in Octopath Traveler make the combat challenging but a bit repetitive. The boost system, combined with the brake system, makes winning boss fights feel even more rewarding. The “Path Action” command also allows characters to get to know NPCs in any given town.
Overall, Octopath Traveler puts its own unique flair on traditional RPG elements without straying too far from the genre.
There’s a lot of creativity, exploration, and strategy involved in these games that you could spend upwards of a hundred hours playing any of the games above and still barely scratch the surface of the lore contained in these fictional worlds. While it’s true that role-playing games require a significant amount of patience and time, the payoff is so worthwhile that you hardly even notice it.
Let us know your favorite RPGs in the comments below!
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