That clock =never= rings.
July 11, 2015 2:46 AM   Subscribe

It's time. PC gaming supersite Rock Paper Shotgun with their thoughtful, well-argued top 50 role-playing games on PC. Disagree away, Argunauts! 41-50 31-40 21-30 11-20 6-10 2-5 FINAL BOSS MONSTER
posted by Sebmojo (184 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
The only game I see there which sticks out as obviously wrong is FTL. FTL is not a roleplaying game, its story makes no sense at all and your ability to act out a role within the game ( I admit it is great for letting you act out the one role of Captain Han Luc Kirk of the rebel alliance in your head) is almost 0. A "broad" scope but one that excludes MMORPG games but includes FTL seems an odd choice. Mostly I am looking at this list and realising that RPG games mostly are not that good though. I mean there are a lot of very mediocre games in the list - the fact that Deus Ex Human Revolution (A pretty forgettable AAA game in my view) is 21st says a lot.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 3:06 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


OK, #10 and #3 let me know that this is my kind of list, and after years of saying that I'll play #1, I have to finally get serious about making sure I do it this year.

The rest I will queue up so that I can wander through them when I enter serious bodily decline, waiting for death in the retirement home!
posted by ignignokt at 3:12 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ugh, I shouldn't fall for the clickbait troll, but it's like a moth to the flame.

1. Planescape Torment
2. Baldur's Gate 2
3. Elder Scrolls: Morrowind
4. Dark Souls
5. Deus Ex
6. Fallout 1
7. Ultima 7
8. Fallout 2
9. Witcher 3
10. System Shock 2
11. Vampire: The Masquerade
12. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
13. Knights of the Old Republic
14. Divinity: Original Sin
15. Mass Effect 2
16. Dragon Age: Inquisition (Origins? Are you fucking kidding me?)
17. Skyrim
18. Fallout New Vegas (swap with above if you prefer deserts to snow)
19. Pillars of Eternity
20. Avernum
21. NEO Scavenger

The top 20 isn't even a particularly close contest. Despite the there-for-show combat system, Planescape Torment is the single best story told in the medium by lightyears - nobody's even come close, and it's the only thing in this genre up there with Shadow of the Colossus for "Games as Art" exemplars.
posted by Ryvar at 3:28 AM on July 11, 2015 [13 favorites]


Bummer that RPS is doing multi-page listicles now, that can't be a good sign.
posted by selfnoise at 3:35 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Human Revolution is a mediocre shooter, but in the same way that Theid was a mediocre shooter. If you ever find yourself having to shoot someone aware of your presence, it might as well give you a game over screen because you done fucked up.

Also maybe I finally need to play Planescape.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:37 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fair warning on Planescape: the combat system is a bad joke meant to inject some energy between pages and pages of Chris Avellone's career-best writing. Seriously play with Wisdom 17/18, Int 15-17, and Charisma as high as you can go without literally crippling your character.
posted by Ryvar at 3:43 AM on July 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


At what point did role playing game stop meaning what I thought it did? Does this question make sense? I feel like somewhere around the Playstation 2, the RPG was coopted by games that are not, to me, RPGs.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:48 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


i played skyrim for a bit over an hour before i got bored and realized i just ached in my heart to play morrowind again and dang there is just nothing else out there like that game. its worldbuilding is so weird and cool and alien in the way that's usually more a sci-fi thing than a fantasy one. i love each and every one of its enormous mushrooms
posted by NoraReed at 3:56 AM on July 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


Who cares about the story? I'd rather have a delicious turn-based combat system. Divinity Original Sin for #1.
posted by sfenders at 4:32 AM on July 11, 2015


Brouge is 42nd, Darkest Dungeon is 34th, Sunless Sea is 29th, ADOM is 28th (see below), UnReal World is 26th, ZAngbandTK (really?) is 18th, Dwarf Fortress is 15th, FTL is 9th.

NetHack, Rogue and Crawl Stone Soup don't even rank. I leave it to you to determine what that says about the rest of the list. It does have a number of good choices, sure, but a game they state in the first couple of sentences is between 50 and 70% lousy is 48th.

What order would I put RPGs in? Simply, I wouldn't. This is a field to which the Greater Than sign generally does not apply.

(And really, ZAngbandTK? Better than NetHack, Crawl and Brogue? Really??)
posted by JHarris at 4:32 AM on July 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


FTL is a roguelike(like, if you prefer) and not an RPG.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:33 AM on July 11, 2015


Roguelikes very often are RPGs. Probably like 90% of them. Those descriptors are not mutually exclusive at all.
posted by JHarris at 4:36 AM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's a very odd mix of new and old. Everything I've heard about Wasteland 2 has made it sound mediocre and disappointing. Why not Wasteland 1?

South Park was pretty fun, I would probably include that on the list somewhere.
posted by graventy at 4:44 AM on July 11, 2015


Good list. I'd argue a few points, and there are a few games on the list that I haven't played, but a solid introduction to the genre and its history.

I will now argue a few of those points:

I must admit that a list of RPGs that includes FTL, but doesn't include a single MMO reads a little strange to me.

Having quite so many pure roguelikes (never very big on characterisation) strikes me as weak - have one, sure, to represent the genre, but there's no need to have more than that.

Good call, graventy, about South Park, they really did a great job on that one.

Wasteland 1 is more about what it inspired than what it was, I'd say.

If you're willing to ignore / forgive the ending, Mass Effect 3 is better than Mass Effect 2. So many interesting choices, brilliant set piece moments.

Thief was robbed.

Bioshock too, really.

Eh, I could keep going, but I need to go shopping.

Edit: oh, and Dishonored!

Okay, I really need to go now.
posted by YAMWAK at 4:49 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a very odd mix of new and old.

All these kinds of lists are like that. There is a process to writing a list like this, and actually trying to rank according to objective quality is less of it than you might think.
posted by JHarris at 4:52 AM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


The question of "what is an RPG" has gotten really weird since all games now contain experience points apparently and I'm not sure I care enough, but to my old school biases... If the game doesn't allow you to create your own character completely then it's not an RPG. This nicely excludes most games I don't think of as RPGs.

If it's a role playing game I want to choose my role, including background, appearance, skill set, etc.
posted by selfnoise at 4:58 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Roguelikes very often are RPGs. Probably like 90% of them. Those descriptors are not mutually exclusive at all.

I would disagree and say that Roguelikes are almost never RPGs; FTL is probably as close as a Roguelike comes to what I would consider to be an RPG.

(Then again, I would also categorically deny that JRPGs are roleplaying games, so maybe I'm the one out of step.)


If it's a role playing game I want to choose my role, including background, appearance, skill set, etc.

For me it's the ability to choose my characterization. Who is my character as a person? If I can't choose, it's not roleplaying. It's just a movie that plays as a reward for doing minigames.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:00 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would disagree and say that Roguelikes are almost never RPGs

Whereas I would say that classic roguelikes are much more like the original, pen-and-paper RPGs than most computer games that get called that.
posted by JHarris at 5:02 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Saints Row for life!
posted by Literaryhero at 5:16 AM on July 11, 2015


For me it's the ability to choose my characterization. Who is my character as a person? If I can't choose, it's not roleplaying. It's just a movie that plays as a reward for doing minigames.

I agree and I'd say further that there are two ways in which games do this; through in game systems like dialog selections that allow you to choose how to respond, and through the ability to customize your character and approach so you can find characterization in your own mind. So for instance, you can choose to be nice or an asshole in Mass Effect, but either way you're still Shepard. In a game like Skyrim the dialog selection isn't as good in terms of choice, but the freedom of character and goal allows me to play a character that suits my imagination of who I would like to be in this world.
posted by selfnoise at 5:17 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would put Mount & Blade on the list.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:19 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just skipped to #1, Dark Souls, which I love, but I consider it more of an action adventure game than an RPG. Lots of games allow you to take on a role, and many games include systems like experience points and character stats, but in my opinion, the inclusion of those things does not make it an RPG. Sure, the lines are blurry, and there is so much fun in mixing genres, but awarding Dark Souls the top spot makes me hesitant to trust the rest of the list. It's great if you love really intense combat and exploring a fascinating world, but if you really enjoy role playing, you are not actually going to find any of that in Dark Souls.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 5:37 AM on July 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


For me it's the ability to choose my characterization. Who is my character as a person? If I can't choose, it's not roleplaying. It's just a movie that plays as a reward for doing minigames.

In a roguelike, you do not create your character, but you make choices that decide what they experience and can do. You can usually tell a more interesting (and unique) story about a roguelike character's run than you can about, say, your Mass Effect character.
posted by ignignokt at 5:54 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


System Shock 2 should be higher, so should Fallout. I'd put them both in the top five, along with Bioshock. The only thing keeping me from being more adamant is that I haven't played a lot of those games.
posted by Beholder at 5:54 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


If the game doesn't allow you to create your own character completely then it's not an RPG.

That's a very narrow definition of a RPG. Most RPG's (e.g. Baldur's Gate) have an existing background story for the main character so those are not really RPG's ?
posted by Pendragon at 5:57 AM on July 11, 2015


They're wrong.

They are so very wrong.

They shouldn't be allowed to exist being that wrong.

I guess I should go read the list now.
posted by eriko at 6:00 AM on July 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


That's a very narrow definition of a RPG. Most RPG's (e.g. Baldur's Gate) have an existing background story for the main character so those are not really RPG's ?

Baldur's Gate allows for a totally custom character with only a vague background pre-determined. So I'll allow it.

That said, please don't take my criterion too seriously; it was meant in fun.
posted by selfnoise at 6:15 AM on July 11, 2015


if you really enjoy role playing, you are not actually going to find any of that in Dark Souls.

But do any single player CRPGs actually have any room for roleplaying in the significant sense that tabletop games allow? With the overwhelming focus on world detail and character customisation, I sometimes think that the definition of RPG that is employed for Western CRPGs is much more closely associated with the experience of reading an RPG rulebook than with that of taking part in an actual roleplaying game.
posted by howfar at 6:20 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


This doesn't include many of my favorites, but it does give some good suggestions. That's worth something: apparently Witcher 3, Pillars of Eternity, and Divinity Original Sin are worth picking up when they go GOTY or whatever.

Inquisition and New Vegas were the best games I've played since Planescape. The Mass Effect series was also pretty amazing, and I agree 2 is the best even if they're largely incomprehensible in isolation.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:20 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Bummer that RPS is doing multi-page listicles now, that can't be a good sign.

Eh, I think that's invoking the spectre of bullshitty pagination where it doesn't really apply. RPS has done these multipage articles several times, but it's always specifically this sort of thing: a long-ass list with image and non-trivial writeups on every item, where serving all 30 or 50 on a single page, with image/video embeds (and with a non-AJAXy comment system that requires an extra pageload or three) on a Wordpress install would be asking for poor performance on the server and the client side both.

They have as far as I've seen shown good judgement and restraint on this front, and only use pagination occasionally and where it makes sense.
posted by cortex at 6:23 AM on July 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


NetHack, Rogue and Crawl Stone Soup don't even rank. I leave it to you to determine what that says about the rest of the list. It does have a number of good choices, sure, but a game they state in the first couple of sentences is between 50 and 70% lousy is 48th.

I've noticed that RPS has a bit of a blind spot in terms of classic roguelikes, and in particular I've never seen evidence that they even know much about DCSS. So my guess is that the three that someone there had happened to play a bit were, ADOM, brogue, and zangbandtk (I agree, wtf on that last one), and so those made the list because they wanted some classic roguelike street cred (and failed, rather miserably).
posted by advil at 6:23 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


That said, please don't take my criterion too seriously; it was meant in fun.

Yes, it's definitely important to not take this stuff very seriously, but it's still interesting to talk about. Nothing important hangs on how we define, or don't define, RPGs, except maybe indirectly helping us move towards more fun and interesting RPGs through the process of discussion as members of the relevant culture.
posted by howfar at 6:25 AM on July 11, 2015


(Also, #1 plotless rpg, by far: DCSS. Not necessarily the graphics winner though.)
posted by advil at 6:27 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Dark Souls is not an RPG. It's an action game with some leveling-up options. And its "story" is a Rorshach ink-blot test. Not a criticism.

Putting swords in a game does not make it an RPG.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:54 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


All games are RPGs. No games are RPGs.

All games are RPGs: you play a role in nearly every one of them, whether that role is fighter guy, sorceress, wasteland survivor, mayor, or hungry yellow circle. If you identify with some character or entity express or implied, it fits the literal meaning of the term role-playing game.

No games are RPGs: if it doesn't have a referee (a.k.a. a "gamemaster") then the game's world cannot currently be simulated to a degree of verisimilitude where you never have to think about overcoming the machine nature of the engine. You can't literally do anything you would think your character could, not even in NetHack or Dwarf Fortress.

Whether you claim one game or another is or isn't an RPG, they all fall somewhere along an axis. It's not a binary state.
posted by JHarris at 7:00 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


All games are shooters.

Whether you aim your reticule at an alien or aim at words that move the game in your preferred direction, one is always "choosing" by pulling a trigger at pixels... bullets or dialog choices, it's all shooting and exists along a continuum.

/game threads
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:05 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The nice thing about Planescape: Torment's combat system is that it's not only a terrible system but also really really easy, so you just have to click on stuff for a while and eventually it'll die and you can get on with properly playing the game.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:20 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Checkers is an RPG. One takes on the role of the Red Army, doing desperate battle with the Black Army, and the Game Master is a rigid set of rules and a deceptively simple looking grid, or "battlefield"...

Ad infinitum...
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:21 AM on July 11, 2015


I like FTL, but if you're going to open it up like that, why not Terraria? That has stronger RPG elements. Hell, why not Minecraft? That has a semi-full story mode, at this point.
posted by graventy at 7:21 AM on July 11, 2015


(Also, I'm continually confused by the fact that people generally acknowledge the bad combat in Torment yet claim that Baldur's Gate and Pillars of Eternity, which use exactly the same system, are somehow worth playing for the fights)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:25 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Enjoying Witcher 3, but am having a really hard time considering it an RPG. I started "role playing" as in, doing what I felt I should be doing at the time as situations arose. But I soon found myself way over-levelling for any of the main story quests, to the point that it became silly.

So here I am, reacting to situations as they pop up, and finding the game to be a bore. It becomes a meta-game of "I better finish these main quests before I do ______, otherwise the game balance is completely whacked out"
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:32 AM on July 11, 2015


Pillars manages to wring a lot of depth out of that combat system. Torment doesn't. Pillars also doesn't have a modron cube dungeon, which helps avoid some of the repetitiousness.

I'm not a great fan of Baldur's Gate 1 combat, mainly because the final fight is so silly. Apart from anything else, the final boss can hit -19AC on a 2. It's been seventeen years, and that still annoys me.
posted by YAMWAK at 7:32 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Your favorite *band sucks.
posted by nom de poop at 7:36 AM on July 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


At its core, Tic Tac Toe is an RPG, in that it pits a player against another sentient being in a set of challenges that both sides recognize to be simple, yet ultimately self-defeating. A classic PnP RPG that cannot fail to ignite the feeling of the triumph and tragedy of being fully human - and trapped in a world one did not make, yet cannot change.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:43 AM on July 11, 2015


I would legit love to see someone build a class-based metagame around playing match after match of Tic Tac Toe in a dungeon crawl context. Carefully meting out various limited-use abilities across a series of game boards against monsters and dungeon dwellers with their own specific playstyle quirks to keep your health and armor up and dig deeper into the depths where the really good treasure is. Class abilities that let you move symbols around, play twice, flip a symbol, etc. Bronze, silver, and gold Xs and Os that act as trumps to the previous respectively.
posted by cortex at 7:51 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


At its core, Tic Tac Toe is an RPG

Are you familiar with the pitfalls of reducto arguments? One of them is that humans don't categorize things in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, but rather gradient categories with exemplars and outliers. This means that it is uninformative to perform reducto arguments on human categorization schemes; the fact that this is uninformative is known (among other ways) as the sorites paradox and is thousands of years old. Please, give it a rest.
posted by advil at 7:52 AM on July 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


Sheesh, I'm having a bit of fun with the subject, Sir Canttakeajoke
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:53 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like maybe there's three Tic Tac Toe boards active during each encounter: an attack board, a defense board, and an item board. And both you and your opponent are playing all three boards at once, choosing which to play on each turn back and forth one symbol at a time. Whenever one side gets a three-in-a-row, they "do" the action for that board (damage the other side, or refill their shields, or get/steal an item) and that board is cleared. Continue till battle ends.
posted by cortex at 7:58 AM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


There's many "match 3" type RPGs that are along the same lines.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:03 AM on July 11, 2015


If it's "time spent" as a main criteria, ADOM wins for me. Hands down. I can say I've ultra-endinged with every class and every race but Troll, and I won't even open it now lest the addiction return. That needle has some substantial damage done.
posted by delfin at 8:07 AM on July 11, 2015


I can just about accept Ultima VII as #5, though in my personal pantheon it's clearly #1. That game (or two games) gave me a feel for being a part of an existing world that's completely unparalleled in my gaming experience. More than any other game I've played, I felt like I was visiting a living, breathing world. I really thought that's where gaming, or at least CRPGs, were headed. But instead we have landscape walking simulators with combat and cut scenes. I guess I should check out Divinity: Original Sin.
posted by Kattullus at 8:10 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


All games are essentially abstract contests, but lately RPGs in particular have taken it to extremes. From Puzzle Quest to Puzzle & Dragons, I'd like it if we'd just get back to using imagine die rolls to determine life of death please thank you, instead of Tetris or Bejeweled or Puyo or whatever.
posted by JHarris at 8:11 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, hardly anyone ever remembers Star Flight 1 & 2 when making these lists. Those were phenomenal role-playing games.
posted by Kattullus at 8:13 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, hardly anyone ever remembers Star Flight 1 & 2 when making these lists

Yes! Those games are amazing. Star Flight 2 is actually the first game I ever bought with my own money (at Radio Shack) and it's basically Mass Effect except the way an RPG purist would want it to be. Huge, mysterious galaxy to explore.

I don't remember how much character building you did beyond just picking the races of your crew? It's been ages.

I played some other really old PC RPGs basically because this guy who ran a trains/wargames hobby store had bought them thinking they were PNP games and wanted to offload them on somebody. I remember playing Phantasie and Wizard's Crown that way, both of which blew my mind at the time.

I think we're getting to the point where there just aren't enough people left interested in these sorts of things who played really old games, especially if those old games weren't Ultima or the SSI games.
posted by selfnoise at 8:21 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is an awesome Saturday read. Thanks so much.

My three favourite rpgs are still Daggerfall, Fallout 3 and STALKER. Above all I need immersion and a sense of control over character build. All three provide me with that and feel far more alive to me than Dark Souls. DS felt like an action game to me. The enemies were always just fairly static combat bumpers. I did not often feel like the Dark Souls enemies were alive in that world if you know what I mean. For all it's issues, the residents of F3 were also living in tht world as well as myself and the many enemies.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 8:39 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Eye of the Beholder games over the Gold Box AD&D games? No. In the EotB games you don't even have a party, really. You can't send your thief around the fight to backstab the Baddises you're fighting. You don't need to worry whether your clerics can get to your other characters soon enough to heal them. All you have is one character who can inexplicably do six things at once.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:40 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oooh! Categorization of game genres! This came up a couple years ago when I posted my (extremely rough draft) Roguelike/Dorflike/Craftlike spreadsheet to compute how various games SCIENTIFICALLY rated in each category.

one interesting highlight was:
"Crawl and Nethack both scored 1.05 compared to Rogue. MORE ROGUE THAN ROGUE"

basically, comparing Crawl and Nethack to the archetype of the RL genre resulted in those two games rating higher than Rogue itself.

Obviously, there's a ton of subjectivity, but it was a fun framework to put together. Each "feature" gets a different weighting on how important it is for each genre. Then each game is scored on how well it embodies that feature. Then you can multiply each feature-score by the genre-weight and sum up the numbers to see how a game rates for each genre.

This thread is making me want to add a couple additional genres like "DnD-like", "JRPG-like", "RPG-like", etc, to address many of the observations in the comments.
posted by johnstein at 8:40 AM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dark Souls would be #1 on a ranked list of sports games, dating sims, match 3 apps, or enterprise-scale database tools

It's that good

But I was totally expecting Planescape when I clicked the link
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:58 AM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Elder Scrolls: Oblivion was one of the first RPGs I ever played to completion on a PC. Many fond memories of that game. Damnit, now I want to go home and install it again and do a replay. Thanks a lot MetaFilter!?!?!
posted by Fizz at 8:59 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just to muddy the "what is an RPG" waters further: Red Dead Redemption is one of my favorites of the form. Maybe I wasn't choosing how many points to put into John Marsten's DEX and CON, but I was damn sure playing that role. WWJMD?, constantly.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:05 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wish someone would unroll the list so I don't have to CLICK-CLICK-CLICK to check each number.
posted by grobstein at 9:48 AM on July 11, 2015


Like, I already read it, I'm a good customer; I just want to be able to refer back to it more easily.
posted by grobstein at 9:49 AM on July 11, 2015


Mostly I am looking at this list and realising that RPG games mostly are not that good though. I mean there are a lot of very mediocre games in the list - the fact that Deus Ex Human Revolution (A pretty forgettable AAA game in my view) is 21st says a lot.

This seems right to me.

There are a bunch of games on the list that I have loved. Betrayal at Krondor, FTL, Deus Ex, Fallout. And there are a bunch more that I suspect I would love, like Dark Souls, Dark Lands, Torment. Dwarf Fortress can't be mistaken for mediocre, whatever it is.

And then some that are both very good (if not amazing) and also historically important, like Diablo 2 or the Baldur's Gate game.

But there's a lot of stuff that feels to me like just pretty good efforts. Sunless Sea I thought was initially intriguing but quickly eh. Darkest Dungeon is cool but not very deep at all. Banner Saga again is very nice, but, like, All Time very nice?

And then there's a bunch of games that I haven't played but that just stink of "extruded fantasy (or sci-fi) product." The Divinity game, Deus Ex: HR, the Dragon Age game, Mass Effect, Shadow Run. I bet Legend of Grim Rock II is good but I feel like, how good could it be?

Dunno.

Them's my opinions.

Some people fuckin' love those latter-day Bioware titles, I know.
posted by grobstein at 10:00 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe the issue is not so much that RPGs are not that good, but that the RPG audience is not very unified. The most-celebrated games in "the genre" don't have that much in common. So people (like me) who are really impressed with FTL and the original Fallout are gonna feel like other celebrated games are generic and mediocre. The people who like those games maybe feel like my favorite games are boring.
posted by grobstein at 10:00 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I might disagree with the order, but they did hit the games with moments that stick with me years later: the failure to save a companion at the end of Mass Effect 2, the relationship with Heather in Vampire, the feeling of many possibilities in solving a certain level in Deus Ex, the interaction with Ravel in Planescspe, the growing sense of attachment to my little @ that made me savescum in ADOM, the incredible twist in KOTOR, and even the little narratives that played in my head in FTL (which, I am now convinced, was an RPG.) It has been a good couple years for RPGs: I have enjoyed Dragon Age Inquisition, Divinity, PoE and Wasteland 2, but they haven't created the same memories, though they were really good games.

What they are missing are some proper old-school RPGs: Ultimas IV and V, Bards Tale, Etc.

And if they have system shock, they should have Thief and Bioshock. But overall, not bad.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:03 AM on July 11, 2015


What are some RPGs that I've liked lately?

Most of the ones that come to mind are only sorta RPGs: Don't Starve, Invisible, Inc., Crusader Kings II, Dungeon of the Endless?

XCOM?

Maybe I'm forgetting something.

Oh, wandering away from PC I have liked some stuff that is more obviously RPG. All Atlus-developed and -published IIRC. I loved Persona 3 and 4. I liked Etrian Odyssey IV, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Devil Survivor 2.
posted by grobstein at 10:08 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Eh, I think that's invoking the spectre of bullshitty pagination where it doesn't really apply. RPS has done these multipage articles several times, but it's always specifically this sort of thing: a long-ass list with image and non-trivial writeups on every item, where serving all 30 or 50 on a single page, with image/video embeds (and with a non-AJAXy comment system that requires an extra pageload or three) on a Wordpress install would be asking for poor performance on the server and the client side both.

They have as far as I've seen shown good judgement and restraint on this front, and only use pagination occasionally and where it makes sense.

This is fair BUT! BUT! The really solid-citizen thing to do would be to present an ordered list of all items, with links to the full discussions. It could go after the article or whatever.
posted by grobstein at 10:14 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mass Effect 2, DA: Inquisition and Fallout: NV are personal favorites. Also Skyrim. TBH, I wanted to like ME3, and the gameplay improvements are wonderful, but it was so endlessly morose (combined with my knowing how it ended) that I lost interest before the end & never finished it. DA: Origins offers a great story & setting, but the gameplay killed it for me early on.

I'm greatly frustrated by how rarely I'm interested in other RPGs because of their concepts and/or look. I want to play more RPGs, but it's the same thing I experience every time I pick up a video or a book and read the back cover text: by the time I'm done with the summary, I just don't care.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:17 AM on July 11, 2015


I think I understand your point of view, grobstein, but of the games that you list, I think 'Betrayal at Krondor' is far more of an 'extruded fantasy product' than a lot of the other games you listed.

I loved BaK, played it through several times. It left me a lot of memories. There's a sack of flour that takes up four squares in your inventory, but you can trade it for a massive buff to your defence. Tuning forks drive off otherwise practically unkillable trolls. The best spell in the game was 'Mad Gods Rage'. The migration of birds book gave a small boost to every skill, and was well worth finding. For all that, it was a standard fantasy story, told in a standard fashion.

I feel that Mass Effect actually tried to say something about ideals, teamwork, and toothbrushes. I'm not saying it was perfect, but it tried to use the genre to tell a story, and make that story worth telling. Even if the ending was awful.

You really should try Dragon Age, and Shadowrun Returns, and Mass Effect. They are excellent games, whatever else they are. Even DE:HR, while not in my top 50, is a good game in it's way.

And you did notice that page 9 had the full list, right?
posted by YAMWAK at 10:18 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just reading through the top ten, I get the feeling that their selection criteria (mainly story, character, and place) and what they value in RPGs is so flawed as to be meaningless for actually ranking games. Granted, RPGs are the one game genre where "pretend the only important aesthetic metric for games is how well they pretend to be other forms of media, ignoring ludic aspects and the other forms of aesthetics unique to games entirely" makes even a tiny little bit of sense, but it's still overall a stupid way of approaching game criticism and will always be a stupid way of approaching game criticism, not unlike praising the sculptural qualities of oil paintings. I mean, sure they have some, and yet: Not Even Wrong.

Also, putting Diablo 2 so low and behind Torchlight is just nonsense, and Bastion is a huge glaring omission. It's not even accurate by their own vision of goodness.

Dark Souls would be #1 on a ranked list of sports games, dating sims, match 3 apps, or enterprise-scale database tools

It's that good


Nah, it's a decent game but it's pretty much all hype beyond that.

Crime and Tonic and I had a long conversation about it a while back. We both grew up huge RPG players, but she's played a lot more console games generally and single-player RPGs than I have since we both reached adulthood, including all the dumbed down stuff like more modern Zeldas, Prince of Persia etc, whereas I basically stopped except for blockbuster titles like DA and Skyrim and the obligatory Final Fantasies more or less the moment that internet multiplayer became A Thing and never looked back. Her thesis was essentially: of course you don't get it, you didn't really experience the games it's reacting to, and in fact if DS had come out in the very early aughts, no one would have given a fuck about it or seen it as particularly exceptional in the realm of action RPGs. Maybe a bit on the difficult side, but not uniquely and amazingly so to the degree it's fawned over. A step or two up from something like DMC, but not a quantum leap. But in the intervening years, everything console and action RPG had started to become so dumbed down, user friendly, "you can hold down one button and see everything in the game and win every fight" pants-on-head-stupid easy, and that the contrast gave it a sense of exceptionalism beyond what's actually there.

I mean, it's a good game, but in terms of difficulty, I don't think mechanically it's actually much harder or more cryptic if you're playing without a guide than, say, Vagrant Story.

Oh, wandering away from PC I have liked some stuff that is more obviously RPG. All Atlus-developed and -published IIRC. I loved Persona 3 and 4. I liked Etrian Odyssey IV, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Devil Survivor 2.

Invest in an emulator if you're not lucky enough to have something that can play PSX and/or PSP games, and play both of the Persona 2s if you haven't.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 10:19 AM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I loved BaK, played it through several times. It left me a lot of memories. There's a sack of flour that takes up four squares in your inventory, but you can trade it for a massive buff to your defence. Tuning forks drive off otherwise practically unkillable trolls. The best spell in the game was 'Mad Gods Rage'. The migration of birds book gave a small boost to every skill, and was well worth finding. For all that, it was a standard fantasy story, told in a standard fashion.

Yeah, the, like, plot and characters were somewhat generic. But the game world and systems were just so immersive for me.

And you did notice that page 9 had the full list, right?

No! That's exactly what I wanted, thanks.
posted by grobstein at 10:21 AM on July 11, 2015


You really should try Dragon Age, and Shadowrun Returns, and Mass Effect. They are excellent games, whatever else they are. Even DE:HR, while not in my top 50, is a good game in it's way.


Do you recommend the first Shadowrun Returns, or should I hold out for the Dragon one? I ask because I got the first one cheap on sale, and I don't want to buy the Dragon one for full price.
posted by grobstein at 10:22 AM on July 11, 2015



Do you recommend the first Shadowrun Returns, or should I hold out for the Dragon one? I ask because I got the first one cheap on sale, and I don't want to buy the Dragon one for full price.


I've got to admit that the first one was just okay. Dragonfall was much better. That being said, the combat mechanics don't change that much between the two, so if you have the first one I'd say give it a go and see if you like it. If you don't like the combat / gameplay, don't waste your money on Dragonfall. If you say, this is a fun game but the story is awful, maybe think about looking for Dragonfall on sale sometime.
posted by YAMWAK at 10:28 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


XCOM?

I was going to say that one.

I spend a lot of time fretting over how to nurse my people along.
posted by Trochanter at 10:34 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh man, NEO Scavenger (#20) sounds fantastic to me.
posted by grobstein at 10:43 AM on July 11, 2015


Add a dating sim to XCOM and POW, it would be perfect.

Also, why haven't that fixed the typo where they keep saying Ultima VII instead of Ultima IV?
posted by GuyZero at 10:44 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


For those who've only played a few names on the list: drop everything and buy Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines. It's on the list, but it's one of the few that aren't set in Standard Medievalland nor in SF-land. (As the RPS list notes, you'll want the modern patches, though I played it without them.) And for you RPG purists, it's based on a tabletop RPG.

The engine is old, the combat is quirky, but it's wonderfully gothic and dark. You can be a fairly nice vampire, but you're still a friggin' vampire who has to drink humans' blood. (If you're fighting humans, you can do this in combat.) Great voice acting, multiple completion paths, and really interesting choices and quests.

As for games not on the list, I'm sorry they missed Jade Empire. Middle era Bioware game, with a great wuxia setting. Plus it has a John Cleese cameo.
posted by zompist at 10:46 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Arcanum was robbed. There, I said it. Yes, the game is broken in ways that not even KOTOR2 can match. Yes, some parts are utterly ridiculous. On the other hand, it has one of, if not the, best worlds to play in ever. It had quests that even when you succeeded, you found out that the world just didn't care. It had amazing characters, a fundamental conflict not just in magic/technology, but what that meant for the world. It is by no means in the top 10 RPGs ever. But it deserves to be recognized as one of the classics.

With that said, System Shock 2 was rightly recognized over the Bioshock games. I loved SS2 and was incredibly psyched about Bioshock coming out. Then I played it. It was fun, but such a disappointment. I didn't even bother to pick up 2 or Infinity.
posted by Hactar at 10:47 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


Add a dating sim to XCOM and POW, it would be perfect.

Fire Emblem is a bit like this.

Speaking of "add a dating sim," Persona 3 is one of those games whose systemic innovations lead me to imagine dozens of other possible games. So many stories could be told this way! Crusader Kings II is another example. I really want someone to make Crusader Kings II-but-with-slow-interstellar–trade-voyages.
posted by grobstein at 10:48 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would absolutely buy a Star Flight Remastered Compendium, of the rightsholders happen to be lurking here.

I need to go back and re-play/finish Planescape with all the newfangled patches, too, after hitting the Ravel bug and giving up when it first came out.
posted by Kreiger at 10:54 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Several traditional game genre types have changed so much over the years that they seem almost useless. The terms RPG and Adventure Game in particular communicate no useful information to me whatsoever about what sort of thing a game is and whether I might be interested in it.

Trying to argue at this point whether Dark Souls or FTL should be considered RPGs seems utterly pointless to me. No matter what you decide, you're still never going to be able to use your personal idiosyncratic definition of RPG to communicate with so much additional elaboration that the term 'RPG' isn't doing any actual work.
posted by straight at 11:01 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dark Souls number 1? Hell no. Planescape: Torment.
posted by Splunge at 11:07 AM on July 11, 2015


I could use some more Steam friends!

Lately me and Internet Fraud have been playing Don't Starve Together (together), which has been amazing!

I would like to try Dungeon of the Endless co-op.

We can compare TIS-100 scores! Maybe there are some other multiplayer games too.
posted by grobstein at 11:22 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jade Empire was wonderful, and its fighting system was really interesting and well put together. I liked it better than KOTOR, which was from around the same time. The scenery was really interesting and beautiful too.

Elder Scrolls: Oblivion was one of the first RPGs I ever played to completion on a PC. Many fond memories of that game. Damnit, now I want to go home and install it again and do a replay. Thanks a lot MetaFilter!?!?!

Do yourself a favor and play Morrowind instead. Once you get past how awful and ugly all the people look, the world is just SO MUCH COOLER
posted by NoraReed at 11:24 AM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Jade Empire is wonderful. I'm mad it never got any kind of sequel or further development.

It goes against the grain of why people mostly like Bioware RPGs, but I really liked that the main PCs were limited in scope, even though obviously you could make choices and there was some degree of customization. Having completely fixed NPCs and a totally arbitrary PC has never actually appealed to me, and even though obviously part of the appeal for a lot of folks is having your own particular Shephard/Warden/Hawke/Inquistor/Whatever, I feel like the self-inserty-ness is actually kind of limiting in a weird way, it feels a bit like breaking the fourth wall because it reinforces the NPC-ness of the NPCs. It's more engaging to me to have some sense of the character I'm playing as.

I also thought they handled the Dating Sim stuff fairly well/realistically, particularly the queer characters. All of which is to say, Scholar Ling/Silk Fox 4-EVA!!
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:41 AM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nah, [Dark Souls] a decent game but it's pretty much all hype beyond that.

Dark Souls managed to make skeletons and zombies uncanny and scary again. It made a bog-standard fantasy enemy (the Hydra) seem mythic. I've never had a game's landscape and architecture so vividly lodged in my head. Other games have tried to tell me when my character was encumbered by a huge sword or a heavy suit of armor, but Dark Souls made me feel the difference between leather armor and chainmail, between a buckler and a tower shield, between a bastard sword and a falchion.
posted by straight at 11:50 AM on July 11, 2015 [16 favorites]


C:\POOLRAD

List verified as accurate.
posted by zyxwvut at 11:51 AM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


i love each and every one of its enormous mushrooms

There are also enormous mushrooms in skyrim...they are hidden.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:20 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ok. Here's my disagreement: THE ULTIMA MAP IS THE BANNER FOR THE ARTICLE. But Ultima is not listed as #1. They decided it was the most iconic thing they could show. But didn't name it #1.
posted by kernel_sander at 12:21 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, everyone knows the teaser image for a listicle should be something that doesn't appear in the list at all.
posted by straight at 12:45 PM on July 11, 2015


Crusader Kings II is probably the best role-playing game of recent years, but RPS had it in their top 5 strategy games list, so they probably couldn't also stick it in their top 5 RPG list, even though they should. There are some fabulous mods out there, like personal favorite Crisis of the Confederation, which is a space opera total conversion. In that way it's starting to resemble something like an RPG ruleset that is adapted for different game worlds. No sandbox game I've played has made me lose myself in a role in the same way that CKII does.

The story I usually tell is of how once I was playing a Polish noble family that rose to the kingship. Under the rule of my family Poland became a strong, unified country, and when the Golden Horde started tearing through the Russian steppes, I felt confident I would be able at least give them a fight. And then the King of Hungary declared war on me, called in a fuckbunch of powerful allies, managed to grind out a victory, and put an idiot cousin of mine on the throne. I knew idiot cousin was never going to be able to stand up to the Mongol Invasion, and dammit, that throne was mine! In the ensuing series of civil wars, Poland got torn to ribbons, but I kept plugging away, knowing I was Poland's only hope. Somehow, after a couple of decades, I found myself allied with the Khan, getting ready to retake Poland... for the Golden Horde. This wasn't at all what I had meant to do, but a combination of pique, mechanics and getting caught up in the story had led me to do the opposite of what I had intended to do. Oh, and bringing death and ruination on my people. Anyway, it helped me understand a lot about human nature and the course of history, which isn't something I can say about many other games.
posted by Kattullus at 12:49 PM on July 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


Hactar: " With that said, System Shock 2 was rightly recognized over the Bioshock games. I loved SS2 and was incredibly psyched about Bioshock coming out. Then I played it. It was fun, but such a disappointment. I didn't even bother to pick up 2 or Infinity."

I didn't even get that far. About an hour into Bioshock, I started getting deva-vu and realized that it was basically just a re-skinned SS2 and quit.
posted by octothorpe at 1:03 PM on July 11, 2015


'They wouldn't possibly recycle the whole Polito thing with Atlas,' I said to myself, early on in Bioshock.

Ah well. Happy to see the Starflight 1/2 love upthread, as well.

The veloxi will have their day again, I am sure of it.
posted by mrdaneri at 1:12 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Add a dating sim to XCOM

Just thinking about it, if you were playing ironman, that could get pretty poignant.
posted by Trochanter at 1:33 PM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is fair BUT! BUT! The really solid-citizen thing to do would be to present an ordered list of all items, with links to the full discussions. It could go after the article or whatever.

Given that you've complained about this in two separate comments, you should probably take a look at the link BECAUSE THEY DO EXACTLY THAT!
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:45 PM on July 11, 2015


Throw in some relationship-based special moves and such and you've got a full on love-in-wartime drama. Like maybe if two active troops on a mission are in love, one of 'em gets a one-time-only megaboost in AP if the other is critically injured. Or heartbreak-related downtime back at base if someone doesn't come home. Or or or.
posted by cortex at 1:46 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I always though Legend of Grimrock II looked pretty incredible, and have been patiently waiting for a Linux port.
posted by rosswald at 1:48 PM on July 11, 2015


Dark Souls would be #1 on a ranked list of sports games, dating sims, match 3 apps, or enterprise-scale database tools

Dark Souls may have better graphics and more easily-interpreted lore, but for the really hardcore gamer nothing beats that scene in classic DB2 where you finally slay the license demon.
posted by sfenders at 1:55 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh man, NEO Scavenger (#20) sounds fantastic to me.
posted by grobstein


There are demos. for the game, including a version you can play directly in your web-browser!
posted by rosswald at 1:56 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Given that you've complained about this in two separate comments, you should probably take a look at the link BECAUSE THEY DO EXACTLY THAT!

I have two comments:

1. See supra.
2. You and I both say they do "exactly" that, but they don't, quite. They present the whole list, but not links to full entries.
posted by grobstein at 1:58 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wanted to reiterate NoraReed's comments re: Morrowind - it's not the best in the series graphically by a long shot but the setting is so completely different from the standard LOTR rehash that it results in a world that is actually *worth* getting immersed in, which is far more than I can say for Oblivion. Skyrim was a remarkably solid course-correction for the franchise - especially with all the DLC and Frostfall installed - but it's still standard fantasy with a nice Norse coat of paint.

On the subject of Bioshock: I worked on Bioshock, and I couldn't begin to tell you why I feel like it's just barely on the FPS side of the RPG/FPS line - or why I think that this is also true of Dishonored, but not of Deus Ex or Shock 2... maybe Inventory Tetris is the deciding factor?
posted by Ryvar at 2:00 PM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just as a note, a lot of the games that people are disappointed to not see on this list actually got categorized into other genres for RPS's other best of lists (Bioshock, for example, got shunted off to FPS, X-COM to strategy, Crusader Kings for either strategy or 4X, don't remember).

Some stuff appeared on multiple lists, but for the most part they seem to be keeping it to one appearance on each list for whatever reason.
posted by Tikirific at 2:02 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Morrowind - it's not the best in the series graphically by a long shot but the setting is so completely different from the standard LOTR rehash

Aha. I think that's what I love about Dark Souls. It feels like it comes from a timeline where Tolkein never existed and modern sword & sorcery is based entirely on stuff like Dunsany, Leiber, Burroughs, Howard, and Vance.
posted by straight at 2:40 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Now that I've had a chance to look through a lot of the comments: everyone is entitled to their own opinions of course, and mine is that Dark Souls is absolutely a RPG, and I'm completely ok with it topping the list. A lot of RPGs fall into the trap of "tell, don't show," beholden to storytelling and aesthetic techniques common in movies and books. I don't believe that this is the most effective way to utilize the unique properties of games as a storytelling medium. DS absolutely avoids this pitfall, from the world-building to the gameplay mechanics, and while I don't want to say that it's the only game that does this, I am really struggling to confidently name another that does this just as well.
posted by Tikirific at 2:41 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Picking Dark Souls as the best RPG of all time is absurd. It's pure trollery.

It may be a great game. Maybe it's the the greatest game of all time (spoiler: it isnt). But there's no universe in which it is the best RPG of all time.

I was very happy with the list until I got to #1. Then I exploded with the fire of a million burning suns.

Insanity.

It's like picking Pirates! as the best RPG of all time. I mean...

I think this has broken me. At long last I am finished.
posted by Justinian at 2:47 PM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Throw in some relationship-based special moves and such and you've got a full on love-in-wartime drama. Like maybe if two active troops on a mission are in love, one of 'em gets a one-time-only megaboost in AP if the other is critically injured. Or heartbreak-related downtime back at base if someone doesn't come home. Or or or.

You should play Fire Emblem. It's not exactly what you describe, but characters who fight beside each other build a relationship over time, and gain bonuses.
posted by JHarris at 3:14 PM on July 11, 2015


It's like picking Pirates! as the best RPG of all time. I mean...

Hey, it's not a bad game, and was just thinking how it feels a bit like a traditional RPG. Did you play the 2000s era remake?
posted by JHarris at 3:18 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I didn't think the remake was nearly as good.
posted by Justinian at 3:24 PM on July 11, 2015


Now do it again but with RTS.
posted by srboisvert at 3:31 PM on July 11, 2015


I've noticed that RPS has a bit of a blind spot in terms of classic roguelikes, and in particular I've never seen evidence that they even know much about DCSS. So my guess is that the three that someone there had happened to play a bit were, ADOM, brogue, and zangbandtk (I agree, wtf on that last one), and so those made the list because they wanted some classic roguelike street cred (and failed, rather miserably).

All these kinds of lists are like that. Listen.

When movie critics compose lists of the best movies of all time? Those are people who went to college to study cinema. Large groups put lots of thought into the question, and you end up with things ranging from the America Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest movies of all time, to the Oscars, which has become infamous for snubbing great movies. And you'll still find people chatting in forums saying how Weekend At Bernie's was robbed.

If such brainpower can't satisfy everyone, then how can Rock Paper Shotgun, when writing about a field with a ton more desultory knowledge and clueless fandom floating around, and the examples of which generally take 20+ hours to complete instead of one or two and so very few people can claim comprehensive knowledge, yet in which everyone acts like, if you don't know their personal favorite game, you must be some kind of ignoramus, how can they hope to do it? And, I mean, I seriously like NetHack, but I don't really blame people who don't know of it, people's experiential radars only go out so far, ya know?

But then, if you really can't speak exhaustively of the field (and at this point really only people like the CRPG Addict are seriously making an attempt), then what are you doing, claiming to make a list of THE n-best somethings of all time? Yet lots of people do it. IGN, VG247, PC Games, Giant Bomb, PC Gamer, that's just the first page of Google results.

All this is to say: n-best item listicles are bad. They're far too many of them, they're way too subjective to be accurate, and they're all just a shallow excuse to talk about games anyway. So why not just talk about games that are good, rather than trying to pretend you can directly compare them? Instead of posing such a list as some impossible objective ranking, why not just say "Here are 50 interesting games, try them!" Or maybe frame the article like a series of lessons, and give examples through the genre's history, rather than making a statement in your title that implies you have some great authority to judge objective worth?

(BTW, I tried both these strategies when Gamasutra paid me to write lists for them.)
posted by JHarris at 3:48 PM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Do yourself a favor and play Morrowind instead.

Yes to this. I love RPS' take on it here, as the Last Weird Elder Scrolls. I loved the followups but they weren't the same. Morrowind's willingness to let you break the world was gone, taking with it something the series won't ever get back. It's one of those games where the graphics don't matter because they're not what you're really seeing after a couple of hours. (spoilers for a ten year old game to follow, kinda)

My favorite Morrowind character was a Wood Elf Nightblade variant who got in a life or death fight over a Colovian fur hat within her first few days on the continent. She moved on to odd jobs and petty thievery in Balmora and Ald Ruhn, learning how to sneak through a dungeon long before she learned how to fight through one. Even after she learned how to shoot a bow and swing a short sword, she still depended on tagging foes with debilitating spells before engaging them for a long time. She cleaned out two rival Great House vaults in Vivec and never worried about septims again.

As she took control of the Mage's Guild, she spent a small fortune building gadgets to bend and break the rules of the world. A ring that let her leap for miles but demanded a timely healing spell before hitting the ground. A set of armor that, when stacked with a decent chameleon spell, made her all but impossible to spot. When an assassin from Mournhold came at her, she stripped the mask from his body and enchanted it to let her see in the dark and breathe underwater. When she finished putting things to account in that city, she had killed and trapped a god. Soon as she returned to Vvardenfell, she made that god live in a ring that would heal her every moment that she wore it. She took this, her leaping ring, her mask and her three favorite weapons to Solstheim. When she came back from that snowy island, she could become a werewolf at will but could scarcely find a worthy enemy on the mainland again.

Her savegame still exists in the Xbox in my closet. She's in the Ashlands right now, casually working her way through the latter half of original game's main quest. The towns and cities don't see much of her anymore - she flies where she needs to fly and teleports home when it's over. When she walks, she usually has on an amulet that keeps her invisible at all times. She strolls past dungeon and temple guards, engaging only when there is no other choice because the weapons she has built take all the sport out of a fight. She knows spells that drop everyone in any room. When she learned she was a reincarnated demigod, she was already wearing another god as jewelry. She wears it with another bit of jewelry that lets her gather up the power and influence she knows to be her destiny, unseen and unchallenged.

Morrowind is the best role playing game I have every played because it let me become Sauron so gradually that I hardly noticed.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:50 PM on July 11, 2015 [21 favorites]


EatThe Weak's story makes me want to play Morrowind far more than the article's piece saying why it's X better or worse than other games.
posted by JHarris at 3:58 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's so weird to see a PC-centric "best-of" list that has Dark Souls at the top. Not that it isn't a good game, it apparently is very good. But it was so busted upon release and it doesn't feel right to praise a developer who ultimately released a shoddy port. The only reason I don't feel so bad about it is at least From cleaned up their act for Dark Souls 2, and because it gave rise to Durante.
posted by chrominance at 5:10 PM on July 11, 2015


It's so weird to see a PC-centric "best-of" list that has Dark Souls at the top. Not that it isn't a good game, it apparently is very good. But it was so busted upon release and it doesn't feel right to praise a developer who ultimately released a shoddy port. The only reason I don't feel so bad about it is at least From cleaned up their act for Dark Souls 2, and because it gave rise to Durante.

I was thinking about this, and it's not just weird for that reason.

It's also weird because of the ever-changing relationship between PCs and consoles. They've decided, as a PC gaming website, to make a list of 50 games that came out on PC. The PC, back in the era of the NES/SNES all the way up to the PS2 or so, did not receive a wealth of console ports, and most of them were roundly ignored. Then, with console development being increasingly PC-based and the rise of steam, a lot more games started to come over. In particular, we saw a decent increase in the number of games from Japanese developers, including stuff like Street Fighter that it's hard to imagine back in the day.

As a result, if you bring games like Dark Souls in to this list, you end up comparing them to a bunch of PC games from an era with a very different relationship with the console, and they are stripped of their context and relationship with other console games. IE, thematically if you are going to bring in Dark Souls, you might as well bring in Dragon's Dogma, or Vagrant Story, or Ys III or a million other games. The fact that they were not released on PC seems a lot less important than their content or design.

You also ignore the fact that Japanese console RPG developers were very heavily influenced by games like Wizardry and that many of their games should be considered as evolutionary from the ideas of early RPGs as much as a game like Skyrim or Legend of Grimrock.
posted by selfnoise at 5:30 PM on July 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


Aaaaah selfnoise such a great comment.
posted by JHarris at 5:51 PM on July 11, 2015


I've been enjoying Sunless Seas experimental linux build. The writing is great.
posted by gryftir at 5:54 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are many mods that make Morrowind look "better." Better Bodies, Better Faces, Better...um... Graphics? Skins? And stuff. It's a game I keep coming back to and sometimes dream about. Also the music. The music fits the world so well.

I also found Dragon Age: Origins really drew me in. So much that I was absolutely flabbergasted when I got back to camp one time and Alistair yelled at me. I wanted to apologize to him. (this was also the first game I've ever played where males and females both were making passes at me. I mean, like, DAMN.)
posted by merelyglib at 5:58 PM on July 11, 2015


Some people are Alistair people and some people are Morrigan people. I am a Morrigan people.
posted by Justinian at 6:55 PM on July 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


If I were 15 years younger, I would make TEAM MORRIGAN jokes.
Probably with hashtags.

Instead, I will point out that my brother (also a member here) tried to convince me that Morrigan's Ritual was the 'evil' ending, and we had words.
posted by Kreiger at 7:34 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm fine with them defining "PC game" as a game available for PC gamers to play (and I understand why they wouldn't include emulators even though there are lots of great console RPGs I've only ever known on PC). Skyrim and Mass Effect were clearly designed primarily with consoles in mind (and Skyrim in particular felt like it before modders fixed the interface). Dark Souls today on PC is as good or better than it was on the PS3 (unless you think the abysmal frame rate in Blightown was intended to be part of the aggravation and challenge of that place).
posted by straight at 7:44 PM on July 11, 2015


Instead, I will point out that my brother (also a member here) tried to convince me that Morrigan's Ritual was the 'evil' ending, and we had words.

My character was like "sorry, all I heard was 'blah blah blah sex blah blah blah" and Morrigan tried to explain and I was "No, I have heard enough, let's do this."
posted by Justinian at 8:32 PM on July 11, 2015


And this is why calling DS the best RPG ever is a travesty. I couldn't tell you the name of a single character, much less an extended description of all my excellent conversations and interactions with them. It's all dudes who speak one or two sentences in halting, translated English who sell you junk. That's it.
posted by Justinian at 8:37 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm really happy with the top 5. Absolutely spot-on.

Genre-policing is boring. Let them have their broad definition that leads to some idiosyncratic choices. The concept of an RPG is so porous at this point because thoughtful, innovative design often means getting your influences from unexpected places. It's a good thing.

Couldn't be happier with Dark Souls at #1. Though (in a console-inclusive world) it's telling that I constantly go back and forth on which is the best title in the series: Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, or Bloodborne. On most days I choose Demon's Souls, since it's the first title I played, and in some ways still the weirdest and purest Souls experience. But Dark Souls is probably the objective masterpiece. And then there's Bloodborne, which is too recent of an experience to judge properly. Bloodborne is a fantastic experience to play, but it simplifies much of the beautiful complexity of the series. In any case, writing them off as glorified action games couldn't be further from the truth. They require as much intelligence, thought, and preparation as any other RPG I've played.

Is Witcher 3 really top 10 material? I was already planning on playing the hell out of it, but it really says something if it outranks so many of my all-time favorites.
posted by naju at 8:42 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


IMO Witcher 3 is clearly and obviously top 10 material. But then I think DS at #1 is crazypants so take that as you will.
posted by Justinian at 8:50 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


For where I am coming from, I would probably slot DS in at #20. Mostly because of its importance and laudable refusal to handhold.
posted by Justinian at 8:52 PM on July 11, 2015


I for real thought that Morrigan's ending was the 'good' ending. Still do, actually. Returns untainted Old God, blah, blah...what's not to like here?
posted by Kreiger at 8:57 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


In a roguelike, you do not create your character, but you make choices that decide what they experience and can do. You can usually tell a more interesting (and unique) story about a roguelike character's run than you can about, say, your Mass Effect character.

By that standard, Warhammer Fantasy Battle (as opposed to WFRP) is an RPG.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:17 PM on July 11, 2015


Guys, there are not going to be necessary-and-sufficient conditions for what's an RPG. Trying to insist that someone's example "in principle" commits them to a bunch of obvious non-RPGs being RPGs is a non-starter. It's not that kind of category. (Very few word meanings are.)
posted by grobstein at 9:23 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can usually tell a more interesting (and unique) story about a roguelike character's run than you can about, say, your Mass Effect character.

I never understood people who tell their own stories about their characters. If I'm going to tell my own story I don't need the game in the first place. I can just do it in my head.
posted by Justinian at 9:39 PM on July 11, 2015


kernel_sander: "Ok. Here's my disagreement: THE ULTIMA MAP IS THE BANNER FOR THE ARTICLE. But Ultima is not listed as #1. They decided it was the most iconic thing they could show. But didn't name it #1."

And being pedantic, the map they show is clearly the one from Ultima 5 (the little villages around LB's castle is a dead giveaway), and yet it's Ultima 7 in the list!

Also, Dark Souls is a ludicrous choice for #1. I'm with Justinian on this one.
posted by barnacles at 9:40 PM on July 11, 2015


Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you.
posted by Justinian at 9:41 PM on July 11, 2015


grobstein: "Oh man, NEO Scavenger (#20) sounds fantastic to me."

grobstein, I actually went and downloaded the demo on Steam after reading about it and then ended buying it. It's mighty interesting. It's essentially a roguelike survival game with combat, exploration, and crafting. I put two hours into it yesterday, lost track of time and was late for a party. So far, I'd rate it high above FTL.

Grab the (free) demo; it does a good job of introducing the core conceits.
posted by barnacles at 9:43 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Justinian: "Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you."

*throws Dark Souls down the reactor shaft*

Ooh, that felt good.
posted by barnacles at 9:44 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


For me, the platonic ideal of an RPG is: narratively-driven, party-based, and turn-based combat. Sadly, in this benighted age the last of those has become a scarce commodity. Ah, well, allowances must be made for this fallen world.
posted by Justinian at 9:44 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


thank god. turn-based is basically the worst. i think i've played 1 game ever that was turn-based where i was like, oh, i am okay with this kind of turn-based combat, this doesn't make me want to punch any walls

and that game is the steven universe mobile game
posted by NoraReed at 10:08 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pausable real-time with order queues like in Dragon Age: Origins is acceptable, I guess.

I can't stand how they messed it up in DA:I though. They removed the complicated party AI and stopped you from queuing a bunch of actions! Why? WHY?
posted by Justinian at 10:42 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like turn-based tactical combat, like in Fallout or Arcanum or Shadowrun. Turn-based "let's stand face to face and take turns hitting each other" combat like in Final Fantasy is the worst.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:48 PM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I agree with that but then I've never played a jRPG I've enjoyed.
posted by Justinian at 11:05 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


How meaningful are genre borders anymore? Seems like most of them are blendable flavors now. CoD has XP, war games contain dating sims, 4x games contain card battles. We live in the Chipotle Ranch Era of Gaming.

I'm fine considering any game under my RPG umbrella if it has that magic combination of world texture, character growth and meaningful choice that flips my engagement with it over from just viewing a character doing stuff (I will never deeply identify with my CoD shooty man, no matter how many feats he unlocks) to wanting to identify and engage with that character like I would as an actor. Not that I'm larping my computer games, obviously, but that I'm engaged personally, not passively.

I guess Red Dead was an action adventure but man, the choice to stay in the saloon on a stormy night playing cards felt like mine. And runs into the desert to hunt and earn back my losses were sometimes my consequences.

On the other hand, I'm playing Torchlight on and off lately, and it's plenty fun but it feels like more of a straight shooter than Red Dead ever did. The gem system amounts to Inventory Bejeweled instead of Inventory Tetris, which is a nice touch.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:15 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


So much grump! JRPGs are delightful, for all their flaws. Though I wish someone would make my dream game: a JRPG with no normal enemy encounters, random or otherwise. The combat system is taken seriously, but the only battles are major boss battles, so things never get stale and repetitive. If this exists let me know. (Otherwise I'll have to fire up RPG Maker, and no one wants that.)
posted by naju at 11:16 PM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Finally.

Dark Souls and Skyrim came out on the same day, you know.

One is one of the best games ever made, a true classic in every way, that is a puzzle box of consistently beautiful design and world building overlaid by an amazingly precise and nuanced combat system. One is a hollow shell of a horrible awful boring mess of a stupid cake that you realize is made of plaster once you try to bite it.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:21 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I want that!! (It's in the humble bundle! Do the thing!)
posted by NoraReed at 11:21 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


FTL creates great internal stories. I guess if we call that an RPG for that reason, we can call XCOM.. da best game of all time, an RPG.

All hail XCOM! Our new lord commander and savior!

Some of my favorite games are games I can watch my best friend play endlessly and get an entire narrative we construct in our heads. Dwarf Fortress, Captain Forever and Kerbal Space Program did that when I watched him play.

I think he watched me play a lot of XCOM and FTL and heard the tales of my squad and crew.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:24 PM on July 11, 2015


I love FTL but if FTL is an RPG then the term has lost all meaning.
posted by Justinian at 11:34 PM on July 11, 2015


thank god. turn-based is basically the worst. i think i've played 1 game ever that was turn-based where i was like, oh, i am okay with this kind of turn-based combat, this doesn't make me want to punch any walls
and that game is the steven universe mobile game


I disagree about turn based combat, but if you liked Attack The Light (which is pretty good!), the combat was inspired by the first two Paper Mario games, which are even more streamlined. The first was an N64 game now available on Virtual Console for both Wii and Wii U, the second is a sought-after Gamecube game. (I used to own a copy, but a relative borrowed and lost it. ARGH.)
posted by JHarris at 12:02 AM on July 12, 2015


Can I just say Please Let XCOM 2 Be Awesome?
posted by GuyZero at 1:02 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, maybe it can make the next BEST RPG EVER list!
posted by Justinian at 3:10 AM on July 12, 2015


I agree with that but then I've never played a jRPG I've enjoyed.
posted by Justinian Almost 4 hours ago [+]


I am of course fond of Chrono Trigger and Earthbound, as well as Chrono Cross. I actually have a soft spot for Final Fantasy 12, where you couldn't directly control your party but had to program them in a stimulus/response way.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:13 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I own both Shadowrun returns (which is now called Dead Man's Switch) and Dragonfall, and I think Dragonfall is much more engaging. The combat is the same, but the UI is improved, and the story is more interesting and better told. Also the Matrix is made completely optional which is nice because as usual its implementation is pretty dull.

On a related note, SNES Shadowrun or Sega Genesis Shadowrun?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:16 AM on July 12, 2015


Like any list, it has its failings. If Planescape:Torment is #2, the only acceptable #1 would be Fallout 2, Ultima VII/VI or something like Pool of Radiance. Objectively ;)

More seriously, there is some recent-ism in the list, as well as reluctance to put multiple games from a series, which makes some kind of sense, but it's ludicrous to claim that Witcher 2 or Diablo doesn't belong on that list more than Risen does. Said recent-ism prevents, say, Gothic II to get the same spot. I get the impression that 30-50 were chosen kind of haphazardly and I'd certainly add Nethack and Final Fantasy VII/VIII (pc version). On the other hand, Ultima Underworld II ranks well.
posted by ersatz at 6:16 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lost Odyssey is a sorta recent JRPG that I really enjoyed. I found it enjoyable enough to grind to the optional boss. It has a strongly drawn world, sense of urgency and enough of the jrpg Complex Emotions. Great soundtrack too.

I mention this to stop the conversation from waning.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 7:13 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I bought Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 in a bundle (PS3) and haven't played any of them yet. I wonder if I should play through all three, or just jump to 3...
posted by sidereal at 7:33 AM on July 12, 2015


Mass Effect 1 is fun, but the UI is wonky and the elevator rides are long. 2 is an improvement in every way. I actually haven't played 3 yet, so I can't help you there.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:39 AM on July 12, 2015


I am guessing the elevator rides aren't so bad on the PS3, since they're just loading times.

I'd say give ME1 a shot and see if you have fun with it? It gives a lot of useful context for the following 2 games. ME2's pacing isn't nearly as good as in ME3, but it's still pretty solid, and the emotional punch of ME3 is largely dependent on ME3.

Make sure you're careful about who you choose for the missions in the final dungeon of ME2, since it is possible to get pretty much everybody killed on the suicide mission, and that'll just make ME3 even more depressing than it already is. In all the games, make sure you spend time talking to everybody on the Normandy between missions; that's where a lot of the interesting stuff happens.
posted by NoraReed at 7:44 AM on July 12, 2015


Another pretty great recent JRPG: Bravely Default, a rebranded old-school Final Fantasy game with a sprawling, synergy-rich job system and an approach to classic JRPG combat that acknowledges and deftly plays off the frustrating rote-grindiness nature of a lot of the defining entries in the genre by essentially allowing and encouraging the player to automate and fast forward most battles.

I bought Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 in a bundle (PS3) and haven't played any of them yet. I wonder if I should play through all three, or just jump to 3...

I'd definitely play the trilogy. Back to back it'll be a bit odd to see how they change UI and game mechanic stuff from title to title (most significantly from 1 to 2), and if you're gonna go through all of 'em it may be reasonable to be a bit less completionist about each game than you might otherwise be inclined to be. But it's a big, long, character-driven story that arcs from one entry to another with some meaningful party/NPC consequences (and some maybe not super meaningful but still interesting larger narrative alternatives) that makes the whole thing more than the sum of its parts.

If I'd picked up the franchise with 3, there's no chance I'd have had the same sort of gut-wrenching sense of attachment and commitment to my FemShep by the end that I had as a result of spending time player her from the start of the first. Whatever other issues it may have, Mass Effect as a trilogy really pulled off a hell of a thing with its main character and its string of party member narratives.
posted by cortex at 7:45 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


sidereal: I bought Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 in a bundle (PS3) and haven't played any of them yet. I wonder if I should play through all three, or just jump to 3...

Well, Mass Effect is more than any other series I can think of a series that is designed to be entirely played from beginning to end. The later games are designed to bank on the investment in the characters you built up in the first ones. Plus, the second game is generally considered the best of the series, and I think the first game has some absolutely fantastic moments that make it worthwhile as well.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:45 AM on July 12, 2015




Play all three, Sidereal. The best part of ME is seeing your decisions reflected much later.
Ex: make sure Conrad the superfan lives in ME1, then pull the renegade trigger in ME2.
posted by Kreiger at 7:59 AM on July 12, 2015


I had no idea ME character appearance and decisions/consequences can carry over from one game to the next - that's how little I know about it. Guess I know what I'm doing tonight. Thanks for the helpful responses!
posted by sidereal at 8:07 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Make sure you're careful about who you choose for the missions in the final dungeon of ME2, since it is possible to get pretty much everybody killed on the suicide mission

It's possible but always seemed kind of difficult. You have to refuse to do a bunch of loyalty missions that NPCs specifically ask you to do, or refuse to buy the rewards that the loyalty missions give, and then ignore the game's advice about who to assign to what role in the last mission.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:13 AM on July 12, 2015


cortex: "Another pretty great recent JRPG: Bravely Default ..."

If we're talking non-PC RPGs, we're all remiss not to mention the absolutely underappreciated awesomeness of the Paper Mario Series. And the internationalisation team for 1000-year door did a brilliant job, with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments and bits of cleverness.
posted by barnacles at 8:22 AM on July 12, 2015


I never understood people who tell their own stories about their characters. If I'm going to tell my own story I don't need the game in the first place. I can just do it in my head.

The reason people can tell stories in their heads is that they see things happen in real life (or maybe even in fiction) that they could not predict. Systems can generate very rich surprises that humans have trouble coming up with. For great examples, see Kattullus's comment or one of the many good Dwarf Fortress recaps.

In a way, even if you're playing a game with a scripted plot (even one with many branches), you are still telling a story in your head. In fact, to shove over the edge along this line of thinking, even if you are reading a book, you are still telling a story in your head. That's why people have different interpretations of the same book.

When you are playing a game that creates an emergent story, there is just sparser imagination guidance. And usually, those games make up for that by providing greater unpredictability and uniqueness of events per playthrough.
posted by ignignokt at 8:58 AM on July 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Some people are Alistair people and some people are Morrigan people. I am a Morrigan people."
posted by Justinian

How could anybody NOT be a Morrigan person?
posted by merelyglib at 9:02 AM on July 12, 2015


sidereal: I bought Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 in a bundle (PS3) and haven't played any of them yet. I wonder if I should play through all three, or just jump to 3...

I'd also recommend picking a female avatar - the voice acting is considerably better.

If we're talking non-PC RPGs, we're all remiss not to mention the absolutely underappreciated awesomeness of the Paper Mario Series. And the internationalisation team for 1000-year door did a brilliant job, with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments and bits of cleverness.

And the Mario & Luigi games for the DS, which are top notch.
posted by ersatz at 9:13 AM on July 12, 2015


I'd also recommend picking a female avatar - the voice acting is considerably better.

I agree with that. She was great.

I wasn't much on the story though. And I don't know if I'm much on the idea that the plopped-on-top story writing you're going to get when you just hire somebody to plop story on top of a game will ever be that good.

(Edit: Better put a spoiler alert.)





Even highly lauded ones like Last of Us... like, killing off his daughter. Is that not hacky?
posted by Trochanter at 9:24 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Trochanter, having a spoiler alert is all well and good, but if you don't tell people what you're spoiling, and you're spoiling something that hasn't even come up into conversation by now, you might want to clarify a bit.

That being said, I liked the ME story. Nice bit of space opera.
posted by YAMWAK at 9:58 AM on July 12, 2015


If the list fails to include SSI's implementation of Steve Jackson's Car Wars called Autoduel and you've never played it, it is an insane piece of RPG glory from the mid 80s.

On top of that, yes U7 was the best, but damn if U4/U7 don't belong on the list as well.

Going further on, scan through some old electronic arts catalogs and find Sentinel Worlds.

Also Bauldur's gate 3 is iconic
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:12 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Autoduel

Waiting for that one to come back around. It was crushed by the tech. It could be great.
posted by Trochanter at 10:42 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


How could anybody NOT be a Morrigan person?

My first ME1 character ever is now named Morrigan Shepard.
posted by sidereal at 12:28 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know if there are good high-resolution mods for ME1? I really should replay from the start with FemShep. I was one of those deluded fools who played MaleShep in the first one and then stuck with it.
posted by Justinian at 12:30 PM on July 12, 2015


I have a soft spot in my my heart for my BroShep. He was a total Boy Scout, but even he had his limits. Bro Shep works if you think of him as Riley from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:12 PM on July 12, 2015


I maintain that Tali is an acceptable reason to BroShep because Tali reminds me of Michelle Meyrink in Real Genius.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:17 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's a straw, Tali.

Emmmmerrrgency induction porrrrt.
posted by Justinian at 6:15 PM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


BroShep is the best when he gets to be a jerk, screaming at people or cutting off the Council. I really love Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. ME3 had a great multiplayer which I still pick up from time to time and it's a pretty active community.

Going back a ways, StarFlight and StarFlight II let you name your characters and your ship, but that's about all the customization. The Humna Humna remain my favorite gaming races of all time which is to say they are the best and also place highly in my estimation.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:36 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also glad to see KOTOR on the list, it's the game that made me like Star Wars again.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:37 PM on July 12, 2015


ME1 HD Texture mod. I've used it, it's a massive improvement. Installation is .. not for the faint of heart, but I didn't run into any issues with it personally.

Also, VtM: Bloodlines is much too low on that list. I know it's hard to pare down a top 10 list, but that game is pure gold.
posted by ashirys at 7:24 AM on July 13, 2015


Also, VtM: Bloodlines is much too low on that list. I know it's hard to pare down a top 10 list, but that game is pure gold.

Actually, thanks to this thread/rps I tried to get vtm:b working on wine on a mac, and it ran successfully for a while and then tried to murder my computer (hard-crashed OS X in a way that I've almost never seen). Which seems consistent with the game's approach to bugs. (But I did get STALKER, not here because it's on the RPS FPS list, working, and it seems to work great!)

For those bringing up star flight, have you seen Ur Quan Masters? It's an open source re-creation of star control 2, which is the spiritual successor to star flight. Also, you can buy a wrapped cross-platform version of star flight 1+2 on GOG.
posted by advil at 8:28 AM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait, "hard crashed?" What do you mean by that?
posted by JHarris at 11:40 AM on July 13, 2015


Wait, "hard crashed?" What do you mean by that?

Kernel panic, i.e. I got the 10.10 version of this message (deep linked from this article). I assume that something between wine and vtm:b caused something to be done to my (integrated) video card that should never be done, but I didn't really look into it further.
posted by advil at 12:16 PM on July 13, 2015


Sentinel Worlds: Future Magic fell into an interesting Sci-Fi / RPG-ish niche that had the pleasure of receiving positive reception from Orson Scott Card. It's what every PC-based Star Trek game should've been or improved upon, but alas no. I played a bunch of $10 RPG PC games like gold box AD&D but my favorite true RPG was Tele-Arena for Major BBS, essentially a dial-up MUD with lots of depth and customizations. The game was more fun if the BBS you were dialing into had 8-16 lines, though there was plenty of PvP bullying going on. For single-line BBS's (i.e. you are dialing into some kid's basement computer through an extra phone line their parents eventually broke down and added due to the constant ringing and busy signals) LORD and Usurper had a nice balance of casual-mindlessness to them that inspired me to write similar games for the TI-85 calculator and the Apple II computer (my middle school was pretty broke in 1992).

Someone mentioned Street Fighter ports -- I remember actually having the port for the original Street Fighter on my 286 PC, and the characters were like cartoonish weeble-wobble versions of the real sprites, sort of like a bootleg SNES to NES "backport" (which incidentally happened with SFII). It had EGA 16-color graphics similar to the NES, though my PC could handle 256 colors and I was sad by how hard it was to throw a hilariously slow ha-dou-ken, especially with the goofy joystick which happened to be awesome but a precision calibration-heavy srs bznz tool, which my dad first got for his PC. You're thinking "just use the keyboard" but somehow all 90 degree of perfection were needed to launch that fireball and you had to be a Zen Mothafuckin' Master to pull it off.

A year or two after Street Fighter II hit the the SNES, a port was released for the PC, which required a 386 or higher processor and 2MB of RAM. It naturally ran terribly on my 286 but was a total flop specifically because the "jump height" for all of the characters was totally off-kilter, way too high*. Kind of an integral part of the SFII experience, having different jumping abilities between characters.

Eventually a port of Super SFII Turbo Taco edition or whatever hit the PC, and wasn't bad at all, in conjunction with an Advanced Gravis Gamepad amirite

* it's fun finding corroboration of old memories like this:

PC MS-DOS [PC port of Street Fighter II] - Looks great in stills, then you see it in motion. As with the Amiga and ST ports, physics are completely broken (although in different ways in this port). Jumps can catapult you straight off the screen, even further than Chun-Li or Vega could jump in the original! In addition, all jumping attacks will last from the moment you tap the button until right before you land (this is only supposed to happen on certain moves for certain fighters ). Hit priorities are completely screwed up. Although these reasons alone are enough to completely devastate the SF experience, there are many more gameplay related problems with this version. Avoid.

posted by aydeejones at 8:34 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also it turns out that the Orson Scott Card link above is the 10th anniversary issue of Computer! Magazine, and there's a prescient letter here, the first one shown and an example "Gold Box" AD&D game here.
posted by aydeejones at 8:44 PM on July 14, 2015


I feel like I'd be very happy to play the Gold Box games if they were ported into a modern engine (I especially liked the feel of gradually retaking Phlan in Pool of Radiance), but I just can't bear to play them anymore- the interface just kills it for me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:23 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


aydeejones: Holy fuck. I honestly thought I was the only person to ever play Sentinel Worlds: Future Magic. First game my parents bought for our first PC when I was ten. The box - floppies and instruction manual intact - is sitting in the closet behind me alongside Buck Rogers: Matrix Cubed, X-Wing, the original Sim City, and (speaking of fighting games) One Must Fall 2097.
posted by Ryvar at 1:49 AM on July 15, 2015


aydeejones, the magazine Card had the column and that you linked to is "Compute!", not "Computer!" Yes, it's pedantic for me to point this out, but such magazines (especially its Commodore-focused sister publication Compute's Gazette) were a huge and hugely formative part of my childhood. Grocery store magazine racks in those days carried an array of 8-bit microcomputer magazines, each with news, reviews, and usually six or more type-in programs. The base cost of these magazines was $3-$4, but many of them had versions that came with a floppy disk bundled with the issue with all the software on it, ready to load, for only $5-$6 more.

Those racks were golden and basically my only connection to what was happening in computing until the internet finally rolled around. Even now I get a warm glow thinking about them. I was thinking just yesterday about the book store that used to be in the mall, and how weird it was to see a magazine rack filled with things I'd want to buy.
posted by JHarris at 2:50 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


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