The 10 Best PC RPGs of 2021

Take a peek at some of our favorite titles you should play next

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The Rundown
"Everywhere you go in the game world, you’ll be faced with dazzling detail, remarkable design, and fantastic creatures to battle."
"This Viking-inspired history RPG takes you from the cold mountains for Norway to the brutal battlefields of medieval England."
"Watch Dogs: Legion takes the series to futuristic London, setting you up in a battle against the increasingly oppressive government."
"There is a massive storyline and plenty of side stories that offer nearly endless gameplay."
"As you explore, you’ll face monsters, explore dungeons, and make use of a wide assortment of spells and weapons."
"If you love an old-school RPG with lots to do and see but just can’t get behind dated graphics, this is a great option for you."
"You’ll get to enjoy lightsaber battles while you explore the galaxy along with multiple companions."
"The power of your choice runs through all your quests, interactions, and even most dialogue across the game."
"Planescape: Torment, the Tides of Numenera similarly puts you in a rich D&D campaign setting."
"The crowdfunded sequel captures and updates the best parts of the trailblazing original Wasteland from 1988."

Best Overall: CD Projekt Red The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
What We Like
  • Massive open world and story

  • Exciting real-time combat

  • Excellent, detailed graphics

What We Don't Like
  • Best with strong graphics hardware

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a stunning role-playing game from beginning to end. Even if you haven’t played the previous titles in the series or read any of the books from which the franchise is based, you can dive right in with The Witcher 3 and enjoy the rich fantasy world.

Everywhere you go in the game world, you’ll be faced with dazzling detail, remarkable design, and no lack of fantastic creatures to battle. While you’ll play as Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher specialized in combating magical creatures, and Ciri, you can customize your weapons, armor, abilities, and some aspects of your appearance.

The base game offers a massive story, woven together with plenty of engaging and delightful characters and an expansive world. There’s also a wide array of side quests, and with multiple endings, you can play it multiple times making different choices. And, all of that is before factoring in the major expansions, which add on new areas and plots to follow, making The Witcher 3 an even better RPG than it already is. Since the graphics can scale up with your PC, the game just gets that much more stunning when you pair it with a powerful gaming rig.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Ubisoft Assassin's Creed: Valhalla

What We Like
  • Huge and detailed open world

  • Exciting and varied gameplay

  • Intriguing storyline

  • Graphically spectacular

  • Interesting historical setting

What We Don't Like
  • Poorly optimized on PC at launch

  • Microtransactions

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla takes this venerable third-person action-adventure franchise to Norway and England in the Middle Ages. As with previous Assassin’s Creed games, you get to explore a vast open world, fight hordes of enemies or murder them stealthily from the bushes, and jump from high places into tiny little piles of hay. 

Though the regions of Norway and England you explore in Valhalla are ridiculously huge and sprawling, they are also packed with fascinating stories, intriguing mysteries, and hidden treasure. Every square inch of this landscape is worth investigating, and there’s always something new around every bend. Combat is intense, and there is a deep level of cosmetic customization, item upgrades, learnable skills with which to customize your character.

Our reviewer found the attention to detail taken by the developers in creating this detailed medieval setting to be particularly impressive. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is graphically spectacular with immense sweeping vistas and vibrant, living cities and towns. The main story arc is also engrossing and well written, weaving realistic historical fiction with Assassin’s Creed trademark sc-fi elements.

Whether you’re looking for the latest Assassin’s Creed game, a deep and compelling RPG that is comparable in tone and setting to Skyrim, or the best game about Vikings ever made, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is easy to recommend. 

"Ubisoft has truly mastered the mechanics of boats, and sailing is just pure joy with your loyal crew singing their way down the fjords as the wind whistles in the rigging, your ship riding the realistic swells." — Andy Zahn, Reviewer

Best Open World: Ubisoft Watch Dogs: Legion

What We Like
  • Visually interesting

  • Permadeath feature available for extra challenge

  • Effective use of humor

  • Good attention to detail

What We Don't Like
  • Online play not available on release

  • Missions felt redundant

Watch Dogs: Legion is an open world game with a lot of the same tropes you’ve probably seen before—travel through the world, complete missions within the main storyline, and get distracted with side missions. This game does, however, have a neat feature you don’t see in too many other titles: a play as anyone engine that allows you to play as any character you encounter in the world. This adds an extra layer of intrigue to Watch Dogs: Legion, and it makes the game more fun.

This is an action-adventure game, and it’s reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto. You steal cars, drive around the world to travel to missions, fight bad guys, and encounter police. There’s not really a leveling up engine in the same sense as you’d see in a traditional RPG. The only leveling up is a tech tree of sorts, which allows you to unlock different skills and abilities for multiple characters. The skills allow you to hack different drones, which makes your in-game life a bit easier. There are 12 upgrades and 12 gadgets, and several upgrades and gadgets have three different levels you can upgrade to. You level up by collecting tech points and completing missions.

The storyline, while entertaining, is a bit bland. You’re part of a group called dedsec, and your group was framed for a terrorist act. However, that terrorist act was really performed by a group called Zero Day. In addition to Zero Day, you have other enemies in the game, and your ultimate goal is to give London back to the people.

"Watch Dogs: Legion looks incredible, with great draw distances, and an incredibly detailed world." — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best First-Person: Bethesda The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
What We Like
  • Massive open world and storyline

  • Strong character customization

  • Extensive mod support

What We Don't Like
  • Can encounter some bugs

  • Scope can get daunting

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim takes place in an entirely different part of the world from Morrowind and at a very different time, but fans of the series can catch hints of events from the past and events yet to come, furthering the sense of immersion in the game world.

The Elder Scrolls V lets you create your own character and explore the Nordic world of Skyrim. The world is massive, and the graphics are a lot less dated than Morrowind for folks that care about that. Similar to Morrowind, there is a massive storyline and plenty of side stories that offer nearly as much gameplay. Unlike Morrowind, for better or worse, Skyrim doesn’t let you kill characters that are necessary for the story to unfold. That said, Skyrim really does let you do a lot, choosing from a variety of classes, leveling up to tackle the most daunting challenges however you prefer.

Best Isometric: Bioware Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
What We Like
  • Classic D&D-based gameplay

  • Hours of replayability

What We Don't Like
  • Dated graphics

  • Not fast-paced action

Baldur’s Gate is a classic RPG franchise based in the Forgotten Realm setting of Dungeons & Dragons. When it comes to role-playing games, D&D stands out. So, it should come as no surprise that Baldur’s Gate also stands out as an excellent RPG franchise on PC. The best of the franchise is Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn.

In the game, you’ll create your own character, choosing class, abilities, appearance, and alignment. You can also use pre-made characters. You’ll ultimately build out a team and explore the country of Amn and its capital, Athkatla. If you don’t want to play alone, friends can join, taking control of extra characters or the NPCs you’ve recruited. But even without other friends to play, this can give you the D&D experience without the need to find a Dungeon Master or a host of other players committed to a campaign.

As you explore, you’ll face monsters, explore dungeons, and make use of a wide assortment of spells and weapons. And, with hundreds of hours worth of gameplay, you won’t run out of things to do quickly. Unsurprisingly, this classic RPG masterpiece comes from none other than BioWare.

Runner-Up, Best Isometric: Larian Studios Divinity Original Sin II

Divinity: Original Sin II - Definitive Edition
What We Like
  • Fresh graphics with classic gameplay

  • Co-op with up to three others

  • Rewarding, well-written story

What We Don't Like
  • Isometric perspective not for everyone

  • Complicated menus

Since advanced 3D graphics have allowed for immersive RPGs in first- and third-person perspectives, it may seem like the old-school isometric game perspective has been lost to a forgotten time or obscure games. But, as Divinity: Original Sin II demonstrates, the isometric perspective still has life in modern video games, and excellent ones at that. And, the Definitive Edition improved on an already excellent game.

In Divinity: Original Sin II, you’ll create your own character, choosing their origin, appearance, skills, and more. Together with a crew of NPCs or other human players online or locally, you'll explore the beautifully rendered and highly detailed world of Rivellon.

You’ll get to engage in advanced combat that will let you get a lot more clever about how you take down enemies than just hitting them in the head with a sword. If you love an old-school RPG with lots to do and see but just can’t get behind dated graphics, this is a great option for you.

Best Old School: Bioware Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

What We Like
  • Impactful dark/light side choices

  • Great for Star Wars fans

  • Low price

What We Don't Like
  • Dated graphics and gameplay

Licensed properties used to make video games can be a dicey prospect, but Star Wars fans got incredibly lucky with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The role-playing game takes players into the early days of the Star Wars universe, well before the events of the original Star Wars trilogy and even the prequel trilogy.

In Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic, you will create your own character, choosing from multiple classes and picking skills. Your character will wake up with amnesia, unsure of who they, and all that mystery will play out over the course of the game. Of course, what fun would it be if there wasn’t the opportunity to become a Jedi.

You’ll get to enjoy lightsaber battles while you explore the galaxy along with multiple NPC (non-player character) companions. As you make decisions in the game, your character’s alignment with the light and dark sides of the force will also change. Want to be a Sith Lord or a Jedi Knight? This game gives you the choice amidst a giant world and epic storyline.

Best Character Customization: Obsidian Entertainment The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds
What We Like
  • Detailed stat-based customization

  • Unique, vibrant worlds to explore

  • Engaging companion relationships

What We Don't Like
  • Amount of conversation options not for everyone

  • Shorter game than open-world RPGs

A first-person sci-fi RPG with a satirical sense of humor, The Outer Worlds isn't only about building up your strengths. Your hero can also pick up gameplay-affecting "flaws" based on your weak points as you play the game, balanced out by an extra perk of your choice. Beyond this unique mechanic, an expansive stat point system lets you customize and progress your character in distinct ways to suit your preferred playstyle, much of which will be familiar if you've played Fallout or similar action RPGs. You can specialize in an assortment of melee or ranged weapons, ammo types, and skills such as persuasion, stealth, or technical abilities. These can improve your effectiveness in combat or avoid it altogether.

Though it's a single-player experience, The Outer Worlds doesn't make you take the trek alone. Much like in the Mass Effect series, you'll meet and take aboard a crew of companions during your planet hopping, each with their own combat abilities, hidden backstories, and complex motivations. But your goals don't necessarily have to remain aligned—you can choose whether to help them on their missions or have them serve your own purposes. The power of your choice runs through all your quests, interactions, and even most dialogue across the game. Your decisions aren't always clearly right vs. wrong or good vs. bad, but you see the results in the world and characters around you.

Best Story: inXile Entertainment Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment: Tides of Numenera
What We Like
  • Imaginative world blending sci-fi and fantasy

  • Freedom in quests and exploration

  • Streamlined character creation

What We Don't Like
  • Combat is minimal and slow

  • Requires quite a bit of reading

  • Some parts can get confusing

What does one life matter? That's the central question posed by the sweeping sci-fi/fantasy story of Torment: Tides of Numenera, and it's an epic, engrossing journey to seek the answer. As a spiritual successor to the influential Planescape: Torment, the Tides of Numenera similarly puts you in a rich D&D campaign setting as a somewhat immortal but amnesiac being with great influence on the world around you. In fact, your actions affect the push and pull of forces known as Tides, a color-coded sort of alignment system with nuances beyond simply good or evil motivations. These ultimately impact what your character can do and how companions and NPCs treat you.

If you're looking for fast-paced action, though, Tides of Numenera's classic isometric RPG gameplay based on pen-and-paper mechanics likely isn't for you. Combat doesn't kick in often, and when it does, it's the slow-paced, turn-based variety. There's also no avoiding the amount of dialogue and exposition to read through. It can get pretty dense and philosophical, and some of the themes and characters can feel a bit "out there." But if you're willing to take the dive, you'll find yourself immersed in a world and storyline that's more original and existentially complex than others dare to be.

Best Tactical Combat: inXile Entertainment Wasteland 2

What We Like
  • Challenging turn-based tactical combat

  • Fully customizable player-controlled party

  • Engaging writing and story

What We Don't Like
  • Can get buggy

  • Graphics not always very detailed

  • High difficulty with poor party builds

More than a quarter-century later, the crowdfunded sequel captures and updates the best parts of the trailblazing original Wasteland from 1988. That game influenced the original Fallout and many other RPGs after it, and now Wasteland 2 throws back to the challenging, text-heavy post-apocalyptic mayhem.

You lead a squad of Desert Rangers in the year 2102, with freedom to determine the stats, skills, and weapons of the four party members you control in battle. You'll need just about every tool in your arsenal, too, with turn-based tactical combat that pits you against vicious foes in dynamic settings. New wrinkles are constantly being thrown your squad's way, so hopefully you've assembled a crew diverse enough to handle anything. (You can adjust the difficulty settings if the going gets too tough for your liking.)

Outside of combat, your skills matter just as much in how you tackle quests, navigate the landscape, and interact with the quirky characters you come across. Almost every encounter is a memorable one, adding up to a cleverly written and original story that you've genuinely shaped—as well as survived. 

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