The PlayStation 5 is here, hooray! And out of its launch lineup, there's only one RPG: Demon's Souls. It's an incredible RPG, sure, but outside of that, it's a bleak slate often par for the course with new consoles.
Fortunately, while we wait for Final Fantasy XVI, Tales of Arise, and whatever else might be in store, the PlayStation 5 is still in a pretty good position for RPGs thanks to backwards compatibility with PS4 games.
Some of the best RPGs are free with the PS Plus Collection, some are expansions of older games, but they’re all top in the genre and definitely some of the most noteworthy PS4 RPGs you can play on the PS5 right now.
Final Fantasy 15: Royal Edition
Final Fantasy fans have no shortage of options on PlayStation 5, from the ambitious Final Fantasy 7 Remake to the magnificent Final Fantasy 14. But you’ve just spent hundreds of dollars on a new console, and if you’re looking for the best value for your money, the PS Plus Collection on PS5 brings you Final Fantasy 15: Royal Edition for no extra charge (you do have to subscribe to PS Plus to get it).
FF15 is a twist on the series’ usual, with a dudebro car adventure taking place in the middle of the franchise's standard political dramas.
We’d be lying if we said it was flawless, with its too-simple combat and somewhat disjointed story. However, the Royal Edition goes a long way in making FF15 feel whole with all the additional story episodes giving new life to the world of Eos. Then there’s the food. Just look at the food!
Persona 5/Persona 5 Royal
You’ve got two options for Persona 5 on PlayStation 5, and both are easily some of the best RPGs available for the system.
PS Plus subscribers get the original Persona 5 for absolutely freesies through the PS Plus Collection. The original Phantom Thieves saga and all the intertwining character stories that made it a top RPG on the PS4 still hold up now, along with the series’ trademark Persona fusion system and the countless customization options that entails. It’s all wrapped in the most stylish package in gaming too.
But if you’re fine with spending a bit of extra dosh, then go for Royal. It augments the original’s winning system with a wagonload of quality of life upgrades, new Confidants to hang out with, more battle options, and an entire new semester carrying the story to a surprising and touching conclusion.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition
Saying Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a modern Baldur’s Gate is true, but this rich, unique gem of a game is far from derivative. There’s a core story in DoS 2, and it’s a good one with plenty of fantasy flair, treachery, and surprise murders. The real narrative is the one you make along the way, though, and that’s not just a meme thing to say.
DoS 2 is the Romancing SaGa of Western RPGs in that so many choices you make shape the game in ways you don’t always see right away.
A seemingly offhand response to a Seer has you fight her to the death, where you could have just chatted. Your bloodthirsty elf friend wants to kill the slave trader for obvious reasons, yet you need him alive for info… It’s utterly engaging with a complex, yet rewarding combat system and some gorgeous visuals on PlayStation 5.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition
CD Projekt RED kinda sorta shafted reviewers and consumers alike with Cyberpunk 2077 on consoles, there’s no denying that. But rejoice, ye lovers of massive RPGs, because there’s another option in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
If you’ve yet to play this hulking behemoth of a game, the PlayStation 5 is one of the best ways to experience it. Apart from faster load times taking the sting out of fast travel, there’s a next-gen upgrade in the works giving it some extra visual polish.
The Witcher 3’s vast, open-world houses secrets galore if you feel like finding them. The combat might be stilted, and your choices don’t matter near as much as in Divinity. But the story is pure candy for lovers of high fantasy. Geralt’s world and those who inhabit it gradually absorb you the more you play, and the complete edition boasts two of the finest expansions in RPGs.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age — Definitive Edition
Maybe you played Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age already, but if you haven’t played DQ XI Definitive Edition yet, you haven’t experienced the game at its best. You get new story chapters for every protagonist plus new story segments where the party travels to the worlds of previous Dragon Quest games to resolve issues popping up there.
It’s the ultimate series tribute, and the scenarios are designed so well, they’re enjoyable even if you haven’t played every game before. You can also play the entire game in 16-bit style 2D if that’s your thing.
If you’ve never played Dragon Quest XI before, then get ready for one of the best RPGs of the generation. The story starts out basic before turning in on itself and making you question the nature of heroism and goodness, making it bolder than previous DQ games. And in true series fashion, XI has a sizeable cast of outrageous and fantastically well-written characters to fall in love with.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 1-4
Why settle for one RPG when you can buy and play a four-part series on the same system? As of 2020, PlayStation 4 has all four Trails of Cold Steel games, and if you’re looking for an epic RPG saga like few others, these are definitely worth checking out.
Despite sitting mid-way in the overall Trails series, Cold Steel tells its own story, one of warfare and political intrigue in the aggressively expansionist Erebonian Empire. You play as Rean Schwarzer, son of a minor noble and new student at Thors Military Academy. All is not well in the empire, however, and as Erebonia gradually spreads its influence over the continent, its dark history repeats itself and threatens to consume the entire world.
Like all Trails games, Cold Steel uses a unique combat system where placement and stat augmentations matter more than most RPGs, and the worldbuilding is unparalleled, with countless side stories developing alongside the main plot.
Tales of Berseria
We’ll have to wait a while yet for more Tales of Arise news, but meanwhile, there’s Tales of Berseria to hold you over on PlayStation 5. While it’s designed as a prequel to the somewhat contentious Tales of Zestiria, Berseria works perfectly well as a standalone game and shakes up the series’ usual storytelling style.
Gone are the obviously good heroes with primarily good motives. In their place is a ragtag bunch of ne’er-do-wells seeking their own ends. Their motives don’t always align, but they share one thing in common: an unquenchable desire for vengeance.
Berseria feels like a culmination of the series’ combo-based fighting begun with Xillia, with fast-paced battles that require much more than just mashing buttons until you win. It’s a solid package and one that’s frequently on sale too.
If you like it when stories mercilessly toy with your brain, then go play NieR: Automata immediately. This bizarre and wonderful game brings together the best parts of Yoko Taro’s scenario writing and Platinum’s peerless action combat for an experience that really is like no other.
In this post-apocalyptic world, where Shakespeare-spewing technology ran humans off the planet, you play (mostly) as 2B. You’re a robot fighter created by the human resistance to destroy the invading menace in action that switches seamlessly between fast-paced 3D fighting and top-down bullet hell across the game’s gorgeous environments.
Once you’re done — you’re not done. You have to beat NieR: Automata several times to get the full story. And don't fret if you think you have to play the upcoming NieR: Replicant to understand it either. The two are completely separate stories.
There’s so much Yakuza to choose from on PlayStation 4, but your best bet for getting started is Yakuza 0. Yakuza 0 is where it all begins, hence the 0. It’s the height of the bubble economy in 1980s Japan, and you play as newbie yakuza Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima.
While the story is good, as ever it’s the side stories and characters that steal the show, with some of the best writing and wackiest scenarios in gaming. It’s also one of the most refined combat systems in the series. If you want to jump into the latest Yakuza, though, check out the next entry.
Yakuza 7: Like a Dragon
Yakuza 7 is a reboot of sorts following a new character in a new gameplay style. This time, you play as optimist Ichiban Kasuga on his quest to bring some semblance of order to an unjust world. “Quest” is key here because Ichiban sees his world through the lens of his favorite series, Dragon Quest.
That means turn-based battles, job classes, and plenty of retro RPG references mixed in. It takes the series’ usual heartfelt story and dials it up to 12 with some surprisingly on-point observations about society.
Really, both Yakuza games are some of the best RPGs on PlayStation 5, so you can't go wrong either way.
The Outer Worlds
If you really like the idea of a futuristic RPG where your choices (kind of) matter, give Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds a chance. You play as a human taken out of cryogenic stasis to investigate what happened at the Halcyon colony, a corporate-owned space experiment with no end of shady deals attached to it. But you’re free to do… whatever really.
Be a good person, be a stooge, take the middle road, and whatever you choose, watch as your actions shape the lives of everyone around you and determine what ending you get. It's more Fallout-esque than what Obsidian has developed in a little while, but that's definitely not a bad thing.
Sure, Demons’ Souls is great (it really is), but have you played Bloodborne? If not, now’s your chance to get it for free with the PS Plus Collection. While the power of the PlayStation 5 doesn’t boost Bloodborne to 60fps, it’s still a remarkable game.
Set in the gothic city of Yharnam that’s just oozing atmosphere from every flying buttress, you play as a fighter injected with special blood by the city’s ruling organization, the Healing Church. It’s supposed to offer protection against a plague turning everyone into monsters, but surprise! It doesn’t.
Now you have to kill them in spectacular style while hunting for a cure. It’s Dark Souls-adjacent, but fast-paced and exhilarating in both visual design and action.
Monster Hunter: World
The original Monster Hunter: World is also free in the PS Plus Collection, making it easier than ever to get into Capcom’s long-running franchise. World redefined Monster Hunter by smoothing over the edges and making it more accessible in a number of ways, from seamless world design to easier tracking.
There’s still plenty of challenge on offer from World’s biggest and baddest monsters, though. You’ll need to keep up with your gear — with the help of MonHun’s adorable Palicoes of course — back at the gorgeous base camp/city if you want a shot at the Elder Dragon causing so much chaos in the world.
Once you’ve done all that, the fun is only just beginning. Monster Hunter: World Iceborne adds new regions, monsters, and gear plus a series of new events. Even better, Capcom’s making these events available again for those who missed them before thanks to a new rotating cycle, so everyone can join in the fun.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch returned to PlayStation 4 in remastered form with updated visuals, which is really just a good excuse to dive into Studio Ghibli and Level-5’s heartwarming (and breaking) masterpiece again.
Young hero Oliver travels to another world to save someone dear to him and mends the shattered hearts of those he meets on the way. It’s part Pokemon, with little familiars you “catch” and train, part action RPG, all wrapped in a package that’s like you’re playing a classic anime series. There's even more where that came from too.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
There’s Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom if you can’t get enough of Level-5’s world. This one follows Ding Dong Dell prince Evan as he struggles to regain his sense of self following a bloody coup.
Fortunately for him, and us, he meets a charming band of misfits along the way, as well as a gaggle of Higgeldies, giving the sequel as much charm and character as the first Ni No Kuni. There’s even a robust kingdom-building simulator and some extra DLC to round out the experience.
That's it for our list of the best RPGs playable on PlayStation 5 right now. In the coming months and years, the PS5 will naturally get its own hefty library of top-notch RPGs. For now, we hope these are enough to tide you over until then and offer a chance to fall in love with a world you've never experienced before.
What RPGs would you add to this list? Sound off in the comments below!