The 8 Best PlayStation 4 Role Playing Games to Buy in 2017

Play RPGs with the best graphics, expansions, characters and more

Role playing games (RPGs) have come a long way in the last three decades, especially since Sony released the PS4. In that time, some of the best games released for the PlayStation 4 have been RPGs — titles that allow the player a deep degree of customization, hundreds of battles against creatures of varying sizes and adventures in magical lands. To help you decide which ones to buy, check out our best RPGs for the PS4.

The best role playing games both guide the gamer through their well-crafted story and make them feel like they’re writing it themselves at the same time. The Witcher 3 has that balance of authorship and world creation that role playing gamers seek. It's the story of Geralt of Rivia, a legendary monster hunter traveling a war-torn land being destroyed by the Empire of Nilfgaard when a dark force known as the Wild Hunt emerges. Over 100 hours of storytelling (and that doesn’t even include the expansion packs), Geralt travels across one of the biggest gaming worlds ever created. It’s the kind of game that really immerses the player in its universe, forcing them to keep playing just to explore every corner of it.

Sony's exclusive Bloodborne is one of the best games of the ‘10s on any platform. One of the main reasons that Bloodborne is so memorable is the dark vision of its developers, who transport gamers to a living nightmare where man-creatures roam the streets. There’s a sense of menace down every dark alley and in the eyes of every enemy coming to destroy you. You wake up in the city of Yharnam, a place overrun by enemies. In fact, the very first wolf-like creature you meet will likely kill you. Much has been written about the difficulty of the games of FromSoftware (this and the Dark Souls series) but they don’t get enough credit for their incredible design. It wouldn’t be so scary if it didn’t look so amazing.

The latest nightmare creation of FromSoftware is also the most challenging game of the PS4 generation. Role playing gamers appreciate a challenge more than most gamers who love genres that are easier to “pick and play.” They are the kind of players who will spend an hour just crafting the right character, explore every corner of an environment for secrets and study their enemies in search of a weakness. Dark Souls III rewards that gamer by killing them…over and over again. And yet that’s also inherent in the brilliance of this series and why it’s been so acclaimed. Because when you’ve spent hours just trying to find the right balance of moves, weapons, armor, spells and items to defeat a creature so large that it takes up your entire widescreen TV, there’s no feeling as rewarding in gaming as when you finally take it down.

BioWare (Mass Effect) has always focused heavily on characters and how you interact with them, and this is the element that separates a game like Inquisition from most of the RPG competition. Across the many fantasy-driven lands of other games, players meet NPCs (non-playable characters) who often have little impact on their arc. It certainly didn’t matter until relatively recently how you chose to interact with them. But Dragon Age is a series in which the way you deal with those you encounter has game-changing impact. Not only are interactions informative and narrative-building, but you can convince people to join your party, creating a merry band of travelers across this fascinating land. In Dragon Age, you start as a relatively inexperienced, weak character, but it is the dynamic relationships that you form with other characters that define the experience more than the enemies you slay, and it is those interactions that make you stronger.

Role playing games are often solitary experiences, designed for single player adventures across fantasy worlds. And yet Blizzard figured out a way to make an RPG that really only opens up when you get some friends to play with you. They did so by merging the Gauntlet, co-op, top-down action game with something a bit more RPG-centric. You are one of the last defenders of world overrun by demons (isn’t that the plot of most RPGs?) and you have to pick a class for your character that will give you different strengths and weaknesses. You pick up items throughout the game that require you to manage your inventory. You level up. It counts as a role playing game, even if it’s not quite like any other one out there. Well, at least not since Gauntlet.

The widely adored franchise from Bethesda are adored mostly for their transportative power to bring gamers to another world, one that looks much like our own, twisted through a vision of a post-apocalyptic future. At the beginning of Fallout 4, you and your family take shelter during a nuclear fallout that destroys the world. When you awaken, your family is stolen in front of your very eyes, encouraging you to scour every inch of this virtual Earth to find them. Fallout fans are devoted to world exploration, looking in every corner (someone once found a way to explore every inch of the ocean floor in this virtual world) for a new secret, lootable item, etc. And Bethesda encourages that kind of gamer interaction by putting secrets around every corner.  

Every RPG players knows that part of the experience has always been about expansion packs. Even back in the heyday of Dungeons & Dragons, gamers loved it when the company released expansions that allowed further adventures in worlds they already knew and loved. To be blunt, it’s not really a major RPG, if it doesn’t have an expansion. The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 have great ones, but it was the return to the world of Bloodborne that wins this by a hair, allowing gamers to find out more about the history of Yharnam, even meeting hunters from the past who tried to save it and failed. This isn’t a traditional expansion pack, which can sometimes feel like deleted content from the full game. This is an enriching new chapter to one of the most fascinating games of the PS4 generation.

This downloadable game may not qualify in some gamer’s eyes, but it fits enough of the RPG tenets (fantasy storytelling, manageable parties, special powers, etc.) that it’s certainly close to the genre. And it’s fantastic. It’s one of the best games that you could possibly buy if you’re looking for an introduction to the genre. Conceived as a “playable poem,” Child of Light tells the story of Aurora, the daughter of the Duke of Carniola. Cut from the same cloth as Alice or Dorothy, this girl runs away from her protective world and is transported to the fantasy land of Lemuria, where she’ll make friends and enemies, and learn that she was more powerful than she ever imagined. It is a beautiful, memorable adventure for kids of all ages.


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