The 2015 RPG of the Year
The RPG genre in the modern era is both more and less popular than it has ever been. While we may not see as many high-profile role-playing games in the classic sense on the market, what we do get is the blurring of genre lines and the spread of RPG elements into more games than ever before. Games like Arkham Knight and Metal Gear Solid V show that skill trees and base management can work wonderfully in the action game world, and the growing narrative game genre now covers much of the territory story-heavy RPGs occupied in the past.
With that said, 2015 was also a very good year for actual RPGs. From indie success stories to two of the very best games of the year, here are the top RPGs of 2015.
Runner-Up: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The first two games in The Witcher series had their passionate fans, but with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt the developers at CD Projekt Red created a landmark action-RPG that demands everyone's attention. Massive, hugely ambitious, and downright gorgeous throughout, The Witcher 3 offered players an engaging world full of bandits and monsters to encounter (and kill).
Intricate (and sometimes infuriating) crafting, interesting skill and magic trees, and a combat system that requires careful strategy combine to great effect in The Witcher 3, resulting in gameplay that can be challenging and even intimidating to new players, but that truly rewards those who take the time to learn. The game also offers a story full of interesting choices, dramatic twists and turns, and a healthy dose of different endings to encourage you to play through again and again. Even though Geralt might not be the most charming hero around, the success of The Witcher 3 as an RPG can't be denied.
For more on The Witcher 3, don't miss our full review.
Runner-Up: Pillars of Eternity
Do you have fond memories of Baldur's Gate and other classic RPGs from the developers at Black Isle? Well so do the folks who actually made those games, and they put together a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign to bring Pillars of Eternity to life. The game is unapologetically throwback in just about every way, with a look and feel that will be instantly familiar to any long-time fans of the genre.
Pillars of Eternity offers more than just nostalgia, however. It also serves up a compelling story, a wide variety of classes and companions, and a multi-layer bonus dungeon to challenge even the most dedicated RPG veterans. If you ever find yourself longing for the way role-playing games used to be, make sure you don't miss this one.
And the Golden Crate goes to...
Fallout 4 continues Bethesda's streak of high-quality single-player RPGs you can play forever and ever, even before you dip into the wild and crazy land of mods. It's a game you can play in all sorts of different ways, and that truly allows you to play your role as you see fit. A brainless bat-wielding brute healed by radiation? You can do that. A sadistic scientist with a laser rifle? Sure, you can do that too. How about a stealthy charmer sneaking and talking your way through trouble? Surprise surprise, that also works!
On top of its better-than-ever hybrid FPS/RPG gameplay, Fallout 4 offers some significant upgrades to its gameplay experience in the form of the settlement system, which actually manages to provide you with a reason to go exploring, and rewards careful inventory management and strategic scavenging runs. The game also offers a selection of endearing companions and a central narrative with some surprisingly powerful emotional beats along the way. Though of course, this being a Bethesda game, it's very possible to sink 50 hours or more into the title without really bothering to pursue the main story — and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Check out our review of Fallout 4 for more on what makes this visit to the Wasteland so special.
Did we miss your favorite RPG of 2015? Let us know in the comments.