When it comes to roleplaying games, whether they’re ARPGs, CRPGs, or those with hybrid elements, 2023 has been a fruitful year. Most of the AAA titles didn’t disappoint — with a few exceptions — and there were some masterful indie RPGs, as well. These are the Top 10 best RPGs of 2023.
The 10 Best RPGs of 2023 You Really Should Play
10. Final Fantasy 16
Up first we have FFXVI, the cinematic masterpiece by Square Enix. That’s exactly the crux of my impression of the game. It’s almost like a highly interactive and beautifully designed movie with superb world-building. How many times have you summoned Ifrit in previous titles? Well, now you can play as him.
While FFXVI has visually been one of the most amazing experiences of this decade in gaming, it does sometimes fall short on the mechanical side. Not all but some of mid to late-game boss fights can feel like you’re hitting a bullet sponge over and over. Everything’s flashy and looks great, but you’re essentially going in, doing your combo rotation, and going out while occasionally getting a stagger and repeating that as the boss’ vast HP slowly whittles down.
However, the biggest attractions are definitely the Eikon bossfights, which dwarf other encounters in comparison — literally. This is where you’re going Ifrit mode and the game turns into a spectacular interactable visual masterpiece that makes you forget the bullet-spongy combat encounters. While FFXVI doesn’t have the same mechanical depth as DmC 5 or GoW Ragnarok, this is probably the most hype I’ve been fighting giant kaiju bosses since Asura’s Wrath.
9. Remnant 2
Next up we have the apocalyptic Sci-Fi co-op masterpiece that is Remnant 2. This is exactly what a sequel should be, taking the ideas of the original and cranking them up to 11. Remnant 2 goes hard on its co-op system by providing two different players with a unique scenario and then allowing for a seamless drop-in co-op experience, where one can join the other’s encounter right away and help.
Furthermore, each class feels distinct with various supportive abilities, mainly Team Perks, that benefit your party as well as you. This creates a dynamic where traditional support classes like the Medic or the Alchemist are not the only ones contributing to the team overall. For example, the Hunter’s Team Perk allows their entire team to benefit from hitting weak spots.
While there are obvious Souls elements, taking down a boss with friends feels more rewarding than doing so in games like Dark Souls 3 or Bloodborne. That’s because the combat system rewards teamwork much more than in Soulsborne’s co-op, where each player is trying to do their own thing most of the time. Granted, melee combat suffers a bit in the sequel since a lot of the bosses tend to fly around a lot, unable to be hit, even the ones you don’t expect to, like the Huntress. I mean lady, can you please stand still so that I can hit you at least once with my sword? Thanks. Other than that, this game is probably one of the best Soulslike co-op experiences out there.
8. Hogwarts Legacy
On a more grounded fantasy scale, Hogwarts Legacy combines the best parts of previous Harry Potter games with action RPG combat. As a long-time fan of the books, this game is incredibly evocative and immersive of world of Hogwarts and beyond. And beneath this mystical exterior lies a decently complex fighting system with spell blocks, parries, combos, and deployable supportive items and gear.
Besides my positive thoughts on the combat system, it’s the little elements I really like in Hogwarts Legacy. Like how walking through Hogwarts triggers countless little NPC interactions that are happening independently from you. You can approach, listen, and interact, but the world keeps existing and breathing without you.
That said, I’m not a fan of how accessing certain quests is level-gated. And even if you engage with the harder content, Avalanche’s solution is simply to pump up the enemies’ HP until the fight feels like a slog. Other than those nitpicks, this is probably one of the best Harry Potter-based games out there. Still, it doesn’t even come close to Harry Potter 3 on PC from 2004. That game was a masterpiece, and we can throw hands over it.
7. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
CD Projekt RED’s incredible reputation from The Witcher 3 took a massive blow with the original launch of Cyberpunk 2077. However, with time and no small amount of effort, the update 2.0 for Cyberpunk 2077 and the Phantom Liberty DLC revitalized the game. No longer will you find randomly empty streets devoid of life and NPCs or encounter massive game-breaking glitches. Indeed, many of the previous issues have been fixed and this is now a AAA release that you can fully enjoy.
Even Update 2.1 brought exciting additions, like getting chased by gangs if you take an aggressive approach towards them or interacting with the vendors in nightclubs. The game keeps growing and introducing various quality-of-life changes.
Many of the RPG elements like skill trees have been revamped and the new story is nothing to scoff at. I consider Phantom Liberty to be what the original should have been, and I choose to look at it as its standalone game with the 2.0 Update. Both melee and range combat along with the cybernetic system can finally shine as they should have in the original without bugs preventing enjoyment or trivializing the game with broken AI. If you’re a veteran of the original, it’s definitely worth it to come back, and if you’re a newcomer, well lucky you. This is what Cyberpunk 2077 should’ve been.
6. Lies of P
Blending RPG and Bloodborne-inspired elements, Lies of P has taken the masochistic Dark Souls-loving crowd by storm, including myself. Neowiz has created a fresh new steampunk world where enemies haven’t ever heard of telegraphed attacks. I swear, every boss has a delay and then an instant hit that you’ll have to Sekiro-rhythm-parry.
However, once you get used to the fast-paced combat system that rewards parrying and aggression, Lies of P becomes a beautiful melody of violence. The gameplay flows smoothly and you can customize your build with various handles and blades. Most can be mixed and matched for unique weapon art combinations and that’s not to mention the customization of your arm attachments. Lies of P is a mechanical masterpiece with a grim and highly evocative story that shifts based on lying and telling the truth. Plus, exploring that P-Organ skill tree has been incredibly fun.
5. Warhammer 40K Rogue Trader
Owlcat’s success with superbly transforming Pathfinder the TTRPG into a CRPG continues with Warhammer 40K Rogue Trader. Even though I’m a huge fan of the WH40k universe and wargame, I never dove into the 2009 TTRPG. Playing through Rogue Trader makes me want to change that as the game is extremely detailed in its customization and combat systems.
Essentially, you’re getting a sci-fi Baldur’s Gate 3 experience with various forms of gunplay, Psyker madness, and power weapons. There are even playable Space Marines, and characters in general have numerous mechanically meaningful customization choices. Progression depends on a few origin choices for your character but mostly on the branching class system offering tons of active and passive abilities in how you approach either melee or ranged combat.
In addition, there’s also a spaceship management and exploration system as well as a deep story with interactive dialogue elements that change the narrative. If you like CRPGs and want a grim-dark space odyssey full of Xenos races and dying for the Emperor, get yourself a Warrant of Trade and dive into Warhammer 40k Rogue Trader.
4. Armored Core 6
After Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, Sekiro, and Elden Ring, From Software is finally getting back to their sci-fi mecha-piloting roots. Armored Core VI is a haven for Mech lovers and those who like incredible amounts of RPG customization. Essentially, each part of your Mech is modular, from its power source to movement capabilities and melee and ranged weapons. And the more you play the game’s hauntingly immersive story enhanced by way of From Software’s titular world-building, the more Mech parts and weapons you’ll unlock for nigh-endless builds.
Furthermore, this game has some of the best level design and movement options of any From title. There are tons of options on how you can approach the vast and spanning areas of the game. Replayability is through the roof, especially when you consider that your mech designs won’t always move the same. Some are better at boosting and maneuvering in the air while some are more grounded. This mobility system also enhances the combat where you’ll choose to tackle bosses with light speed-focused builds or slow heavy-hitting ones. Armored Core VI is everything you want in a Mech-piloting game and more.
3. Clash Artifacts of Chaos
If you haven’t heard of Zeno Clash before, take a leap of faith with me and dive into Clash: Artifacts of Chaos and the weird yet fascinating punk fantasy world of Zenozoik. While the visuals in this game are an acquired taste, the satisfyingly complex fighting system with RPG customization must be experienced by everyone.
You’ll be playing as Pseudo, a master martial artist running from a vicious gang of mercenaries to protect a mystical, magical child. If you like The Last of Us and The Mandalorian, you’ll feel right at home. Pseudo’s fighting style depends entirely on you. You can customize his fighting stance for different attack patterns, outfit him with unique special moves, and tinker around with stats and equipment to fine-tune your build.
It’s quite similar to Absolver — but on acid, and I’d love it if ACE Team were to implement a multiplayer mode. Testing out different builds and playstyles is the fun of the game but what makes it unique is that everything is about martial arts. Wait until you jump into the first-person mode for exciting finishers and executions. This is a masterpiece third-person open-world fighting game RPG.
2. Sea of Stars
Sea of Stars is a whimsical nostalgia trip RPG with modernized pixel art graphics and an incredible magic system. It gives Octopath Traveler a run for its money mechanically, visually, and story-wise, and it does so at a lower price point. The pixel art and music in this game are beautiful and will keep you engaged for hours.
Returning to that magic system, the game’s combat makes use of following the character’s animations and hitting quick-time prompts to boost your abilities. You can combo-attack with multiple characters and there’s even a system to interrupt enemy attacks if you’re skilled enough. I find myself awaiting each new panel of a level just to admire the work Sabotage put into each area.
1. Baldur’s Gate 3
You’ve probably seen BG3 coming on this list. There’s not a lot to say here but to praise Larian for stuffing the $60 price point chock-full of content. Not counting the masterful adaption of the D&D5e TTRPG, there’s so much to do in this game. We’re not even talking about class builds. Just the absurd amount of unique and engaging quests, character interactions, and narrative decisions that alter the story and fates of NPCs.
I can play through Baldur’s Gate 3 twice — or perhaps even thrice — with different characters and classes and almost experience three drastically different playthroughs. Each Companion has their custom-crafted story, each class has tons of combat options to explore, and each fight can be approached in a myriad of ways thanks to the interactable combat environment.
As a fan of D&D5e, I have to commend Larian for fixing most of the problems with classes from the tabletop version. Especially Monks. You don’t even have to like D&D, just liking RPGs in general makes buying this game a no-brainer. It’s even fully worth it at its base price without discounts. It even edges Solasta: Crown of the Magister in my book.
And that’s my Top 10 best RPGs of 2023. Before I leave you, I want to leave a small note. While I strive for objectivity, these entries are ultimately based on my personal playtime. If you don’t see your favorite RPG above, chances are I didn’t get a chance to give it the attention it deserved. To address the elephants in the room, I wasn’t a huge fan of Starfield or Diablo 4, as they have tons of potential but didn’t quite manage to meet today’s standards. At least D4 has some nostalgia points and the potential to improve.