11 Great PC ARPGs to Play Instead of Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem

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Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, touted as the next big thing in the ARPG universe, launched in pretty rough shape. Despite being in Early Access and making its presence known in Steam's top-selling games category, Wolcen is full of bugs and glitches. 

For what it's worth, the game is actually a fantastic entry in the ARPG genre — when it isn't glitching out. To its credit, the Wolcen team is working hard to fix the game, with a plethora of issues slated for tweaks in the coming weeks and months. 

As it stands, though, it's probably better to wait on Wolcen and start playing it after all the bugs are fixed. You don't want to get soft-locked out of your character, after all.

So if you're itching for a new ARPG experience but don't want to take the plunge into Wolcen, the good news is that you don't have to look very far. There are dozens of action RPGs to try out on PC, and they cover all kinds of subject matter and just about every sub-genre. 

For our look at the 11 best ARPGs to play while Wolcen gets patched, we'll stick (mostly) to games you can grab easily through digital platforms and start playing today. We won't cover the likes of Diablo because, well, you've probably played that already. 

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Grim Dawn

Until Wolcen gets the patches it deserves, I have no reservations in saying this grimdark action RPG is currently the king of the genre. It's everything Diablo 3 should have been, and then some.

The number of possible Grim Dawn builds is staggering between the game's dual-class system and the devotion constellation paths. That's not to mention that the lore is a genuine pleasure to dig through.

If you're a fan of cosmic horror, you'll dig the background story of an apocalypse centered on blood-drinking Lovecraftian horrors duking it out with ghostly atherial monstrosities summoned by overly-confident wizards.

While the base game and its multiple expansions can be played repeatedly at different difficulty levels, there's an even bigger longterm investment available in the game's truly diabolical "uber bosses."

Those challenges are for committed players who have considerably more devotion to maxing out character builds than I do. After four years of playing Grim Dawn, I still can't beat Mogdrogen on normal difficulty. The thought of tackling him on in ultimate mode causes eruptions of insane, uncontrollable laughter.

If you've done it, then my hats off to you.

Harbinger

There's no question the ARPG genre is heavily skewed towards fantasy, and there aren't that many sci-fi action RPGs that take advantage of the Diablo style. Other than Space Siege and maybe Hellgate: London, I can't think of anything better than the forgotten gem that is Harbinger.

Coming out at exactly the wrong time in gaming history, Harbinger was quickly forgotten as other titles crowded it out. Luckily, this underappreciated ARPG still holds up with a captivating story and Diablo-esque dungeons. That's even when you consider the shooting mechanics are a tad clunky and there are only three classes to choose from. 

Sadly, Harbinger hasn't yet made it to Steam or GOG, but you can still find discs floating around on Amazon and eBay. It's also a good bet that some abandonware site has the files if you're willing to go that route. 

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Torchlight 2

Improving on the original game in just about every conceivable way, Torchlight 2 is great for those who aren't fans of the overly-dark and bleak tone found in Grim Dawn

It's colorful, fun, and addicting. TL2 features compelling pet upgrade mechanics and is infused with an exploration element that pushes your forward to "just one more area." There's nothing quite like getting a better piece of loot for that perfect set of gear.

After years of waiting, there's another entry in the series finally coming soon, and it's got genre fans buzzing. If you weren't excited about the F2P model of the previously-announced Torchlight Frontiers, then you are in luck: the developers have shifted gears, making Torchlight 3 a full game unto itself. 

Book Of Demons

While ARPGs typically stick to a tried and true combat formula, some entries buck those trends and try something different. Book Of Demons goes that route, starting with a typical Diablo story before taking a number of major twists and turns.

Book of Demons deftly incorporates deck-building elements and interestingly puts procedurally-generated dungeons on rails. It gets extra points for graphics done in the style of paper tabletop minis.

If you've played every other hack 'n slasher out there, be sure to give this refreshing entry a try.

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Warhammer Chaosbane

Those Gotrek And Felix novels made it very clear that the Old World is ripe for a frenzied hack 'n slash experience, with millions of demons, skaven, and other beasties needing to be destroyed. Warhammer's latest excursion into action RPGs might work off the Age Of Sigmar update, but it takes its cues from those classic action stories.

While the enemy types are unfortunately repetitive (before you get to the Tomb Kings DLC, anyway), Chaosbane is an otherwise fun way to kill a few dozen hours while hacking apart thousands of fetid nurglings and crab-clawed daemonettes.

The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing 3

The fabled vampire hunter has seen three main ARPG titles already, and all of them have fairly similar gameplay that will please fans of Grim Dawn or Diablo.

I'm personally a fan of the third entry as Helsing and his ghost companion Katarina explore Borgovia with more class options and some fun tweaks to the crafting and pet systems.

Got a couple of hundred hours to spare and want to play the whole thing from beginning to end? The Final Cut version on Steam puts all three titles together into one massive ARPG journey.

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Victor Vran

Does that guy above make you think of Van Helsing? Well, he should, because he's saving the people of Zagoravia from a horde of demons overrunning the land. 

Despite the clear inspiration, Victor Vran plays quite a bit differently from the Van Helsing games. For starters, there are no classes in this unique take on the ARPG style, and you can radically change your playstyle just by switching weapons, similar to how Wolcen's class system works.

Every area also features specific challenges that will force you to tackle levels in different ways, which really adds to the overall experience and replay-value of the game.

Sacred

This old-school ARPG takes you across the lands of Ancaria, and while the graphics are dated, they aren't without their charm.

Sacred is one of the first games I truly remember being wowed by. Some of the effects, like craters left in the ground after casting meteor spells, are still damn good looking.  

Sacred's gameplay is solid, squarely falling into standard hack 'n slash archetypes. However, the game's class options are more varied than you might expect, from an angelic seraphim to a blood-sucking vampiress.

While the sequel to Sacred is still a good time, don't bother with the third one. It pretty much killed the series.

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Dungeon Siege 2

Upgraded in a number of important ways from its predecessor, Dungeon Siege 2 is still a good time 15 years later. This follow-up to the classic still sees your party leveling skills by using them, but it improves nearly everything else.

With a better story, more interesting characters, and less repetition, this is a fantastic way to lose 40 to 50 hours.

As with Sacred, it pains me to say that there's not much reason to try the third entry in Dungeon Siege series, even though it was developed by the normally-good Obisidan Entertainment.

Aarklash Legacy

Aarklash is a unique entry on this list because it melds two usually disparate genres into one: turn-based strategy and hack n' slash. It's worth checking out for that fact alone, but it has some other unique factors that make it a must-play. 

Instead of making your character from the ground up, Aarklash starts off with four pre-generated characters coupled to specific classes. There's also a tactical level added to the game's combat encounters because party members must work in tandem to survive, forcing players to pause to issue orders.

That might not sound much like an ARPG, but trust me: the rest of the experience, from the loot system to leveling and how combat plays out, is everything you're looking for in a Diablo clone.

Plus, this crew of hardened mercenaries is just plain fun to follow around as they valiantly try not to die. 

Nox

It's hard to believe, but Nox is somehow 20 years old. In ARPG years, I think that makes this the great-granddad of the genre.

An extremely charming piece of ARPG history, Nox features three different stories, all dependent on which class you pick. Of course, it has plenty of hack 'n slash fun whether you want to play the warrior, the summoner, or the spell-slinging wizard.

Playing Nox is a great way to look back at how gameplay norms have changed in the intervening decades (you can wildly cheat the game by playing the wizard and just standing next to mana-recovering crystals). It's also an excellent pick if you want a game that doesn't take itself too seriously.

We've barely scratched the surface of what's available in the hack 'n slash action RPG genre with these entries. Inquisitor, Divine Divinity, Siege of Avalon, Path of Exile are also fantastic picks filling out a genre with too many games to list in one place.

What's your personal favorite action RPG, and what did you think of our list of the best games to play while waiting on Wolcen to get patched up? Sound off in the comments below!

Published Feb. 21st 2020

Featured Contributor

Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.

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