Axe of the Blood God Presents: The Top 25 RPGs Of All Time Remake 2022 – The Complete List

Axe of the Blood God Presents: The Top 25 RPGs Of All Time Remake 2022 – The Complete List

It's time at last to share our picks for the Top 25 RPGs of All Time for 2022! Here's the complete list!

Episode Notes

A few years ago, Axe of the Blood God picked the 25 best RPGs of all time. Now we’re here to pick the 25 best RPGs of all time… again!

At the beginning of 2022, we started picking potential RPGs for a brand new Top 25 list. Once we had a good pool, we all jumped on a three hour podcast to hash it all out, and the list you see below is the result.

In picking this list, we set three major criteria: we wanted games that were historically significant (i.e. they contributed something to the genre), were still relevant in the modern era (i.e. people are still talking about them), and had a true mark of greatness. Our ultimate goal was to find 25 amazing games that represented the sweep of RPG history while also being easy to recommend as the best the genre has to offer.

Read on for our list of the Top 25 RPGs of All Time… Remake!

25. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

Skyrim is probably one of the more contentious games on this list—as if its 25th entry position isn’t enough of a clue. There’s some understandable hue and cry over this. “Why not Oblivion? Why not Morrowind?” The best answer I can offer is, Skyrim was a revelation for console owners. Yeah, it’s streamlined compared to its predecessors—”dumbed down,” if you want to go there—but CRPG conversions were still a new thing for us, and Skyrim did SOMETHING right to break me out of my JRPG forever-bubble. Besides, even PC players can’t deny Skyrim’s enormous impact on the mod scene. If Bethesda won’t take the time to render realistic horse genitals for Frost, the people must answer the call. I guess. — Nadia Oxford

24. Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal

How do you follow up one of a phenomenon like Pokemon, which became a bonafide megahit in TV and games? You make an even bigger sequel. Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal gave us many more monsters to go with breeding, day/night cycles, and the franchise’s first female protagonist. It was an incredible accomplishment on the Game Boy, with the programming genius of the late Satoru Iwata even allowing Game Freak to cram the original region onto the cart. Pokemon is still chasing that high to this day.   — Kat Bailey

23. Baldur’s Gate 2

Before Witcher 3 and Mass Effect introduced mainstream fans to vast worlds filled with romanceable NPCs, there was Baldur’s Gate 2. Along with Planescape Torment, it was the peak of the Infinity Engine era that drove PC RPGs in the 90s, and it was the RPG that first put BioWare on the map. It also introduced the world to BioWare’s unique sense of humor, with weirdo elements like space hamsters eventually becoming commonplace in their games. Twenty years after its release, Baldur’s Gate 2 remains of the best and most comprehensive versions of D&D ever made. Will Baldur’s Gate 3 top it? Maybe. But Baldur’s Gate 2 stands on its own. — Kat Bailey

22. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

Few games carry baggage like Bloodlines, an RPG from a lauded studio that closed its doors not long after launching the vampire nightlife sim. But beneath the roughness and through the tireless works of the fan community, Bloodlines is simply unlike anything else even on this list — a story about a night gone very wrong, the politics of living forever, and what it’s like to live night to night as you scrap together what you can, under the thumb of a dozen different systems. There’s really nothing like that first Malkavian run. — Eric Van Allen

21. Final Fantasy VII

Some might think Final Fantasy VII gets by on legacy, but it made our list because it is more than simply the RPG that defined the genre for ages to come. From the beautiful introduction throughout Midgar to a quest that would soon span the world, Final Fantasy VII carries a timelessness that even its own remake had to address. Cloud and Sephiroth’s battle for the fate of their world, as well as an excellently tuned ATB system and exquisite world, simply make Final Fantasy VII an RPG too grand and memorable to overlook. — Eric Van Allen

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Knights of the Old Republic has the distinction of being the best Star Wars games ever made, and it’s on Switch now, too.

20. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

KOTOR is one of the most significant RPGs ever made. It not only brought BioWare into the mainstream, it solidified the genre’s transition from PC to console. It also happens to be probably the best Star Wars game ever made. Set thousands of years before the original Star Wars trilogy, BioWare crafted a setting that remains relatively pristine amid the controversy swirling around the prequels, sequels and everything else. We all remember The Big Twist, but it was just as much fun to tool around Tatooine with a robot that openly wants to murder you. If you haven’t played it, a pretty good KOTOR port is on Switch now, and a remake is on the way as well. It hasn’t aged as well as some of the other RPGs on this list, but its pedigree and storytelling nevertheless make it timeless. — Kat Bailey

19. Elden Ring

Elden Ring is probably the finest dungeon crawler ever made. While it presents itself as a sophisticated — and huge! — open world, its DNA is really in games like Wizardry and Ultima, inscrutable sidequests and all. It may be the nearest thing we have to a video game version of The Lord of the Rings, with a world ancient and vast and full of mysteries. Even just a few months after its release, it’s apparent that Elden Ring will be remembered as one of the greatest games ever made. It’s an easy choice for this list. — Kat Bailey

18. Persona 5 Royal

Say what you want, but nothing beats Persona 5 Royal in the style department. Heists are timeless tales, and P5 made an entire game about them, mixing in the best Persona combat yet and some of the best social sim mechanics to boot. An intensely memorable cast and a Top 5 candidate in the soundtrack department boost this over to make for one of the better modern RPG offerings around. — Eric Van Allen

17. Earthbound

Earthbound was on our previous Top 25 list, and there was no question it would endure for this list as well—though there was a small tug-of-war between it and Mother 3 for a while there. Ultimately, Earthbound got the nod. While Mother 3 is the more mechanically satisfying game (still love that rhythm-based battle system), Earthbound’s themes and stories are what push it over for me. Mother 3’s storyline, though wonderful, is a bit on-the-nose. Earthbound tells a subtler, yet somehow more frightening story where the weaknesses and failings of adults help fuel the end of the children’s world. Nothing relatable here in 2022, move along. — Nadia Oxford

16. Divinity: Original Sin 2

While Larian’s been making some solid adventures for a while now, Divinity: Original Sin II proved the studio was in the big leagues. Intricate systems, sharp writing, and a recaptured feeling of the CRPG days-gone-by cemented the legacy of Larian, and may have been what bought them the keys to Baldur’s Gate. — Eric Van Allen

15. Final Fantasy Tactics

There are so many incredible tactical RPGs around, but there is a beautiful coherence to Final Fantasy Tactics. The diorama levels and overlapping job systems opened up so much possibility and endless replayability. The story hits hard, right out of the gate. Its map designs are seared into my brain. There are a lot of tactical greats, but FFT feels like the standard-bearer. — Eric Van Allen

14. Diablo 2

It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when Diablo 2’s real-time combat was considered controversial (it still is in some diehard circles). But Diablo 2 was an RPG to its bones, drawing from the legacy of D&D and roguelikes while introducing many of the concepts we know and love today, from colored loot to RPG skill trees to socketed equipment. It was the realization of the most basic bedrock of D&D — adventurers getting together and battling endless waves of enemies in the deep places of the earth. These days, seemingly every game developer is trying to capture the endless longevity and appeal of Diablo 2, even Blizzard itself. But there is only one Diablo 2, and that’s because it wasn’t made out of a cynical desire to keep players on a perpetual engagement loop it was a tribute to the genre itself.  — Kat Bailey

13. Planescape Torment

Before Disco Elysium took the concept to its logical conclusion, Planescape Torment asked, “What if we made an RPG that wasn’t really about combat?” Hailed as one of the greatest examples of RPG storytelling, Planescape Torment was the apex of the 90s era of isometric RPGs. It’s built more than anything around interesting choices, constantly challenging you, as a Nameless One, to find your way forward; playing around with the idea of the RPG party and making your companions far more than robotic fighting robots. It culminates in one of the most of fascinating — and macabre —endings in RPG history. Planescape Torment set out to make an RPG that had never seen before, and in every sense of the word, it succeeded. — Kat Bailey

12. Final Fantasy IV

Final Fantasy IV came running onto this list out of nowhere, like a dark horse. (Or maybe “like a dark chocobo” is more appropriate.) I initially tossed it out as a casual nomination for the Integrade list, but the more I think about it, the more I realize FF IV really deserves a secure spot amongst RPG royalty. It’s as mechanically straightforward as an RPG gets, and its story is basically Final Fantasy II redux — but I think it’s also the first Final Fantasy game that made us say, “Yeah, this is what FF is all about.” A solid, straightforward story, mechanics that are easy to grok (but still offer an education on the FF job system), good graphics, an excellent soundtrack… FF IV has all that, and a trip to the moon. — Nadia Oxford

11. Dragon Quest 5

We didn’t want to overload this list with Dragon Quest games [nervously eyes the fifty billion Final Fantasy games we immortalized], but choosing between DQ 11 and DQ V proved to be impossible. DQ 11 still offers a better tour of the traits that make DQ such a long lived, beloved series, but DQ V introduces us to one of the games’ best features: Raising a family composed of your own children and tamed monsters. (Is there any difference? Wackety-shmackety-dooo!) The monster collecting aspect that drives DQ V ultimately became a BIG DEAL in RPGs down the line, but there’s something even more wholesome about starting your adventure as a kid, growing into it, and bringing your kids up to help you bring peace to a long-beleaguered world. I simply cannot dislike a game that pairs you up with a sabre-toothed cave lion cub in its opening moments. — Nadia Oxford

Dragon Quest XI is one of the best JRPGs to be released in recent years.

10. Dragon Quest 11

The scientific term to describe Dragon Quest 11’s size is “humungo chungo.” Like its JRPG ancestors before it, DQ 11 is an easy recommendation—especially in a world where traditional turn-based RPGs are fading away. But “traditional” doesn’t mean “dusty” in DQ 11’s case. Its bright, lively graphics and epic story make it impossible to mistake the game for anything but one of the most emotionally satisfying RPGs to come by in recent memory. DQ 11’s self-contained story and sharp sense of humor make it a great entry point for series newcomers, and veterans will get a big kick out of its myriad references to other DQ games. — Nadia Oxford

9. Suikoden 2

Another easy hold-over from the previous Top 25 list. I can’t envision a world where Suikoden 2 isn’t consistently counted amongst the best RPGs of all time. You have 108 recruitable characters, ranging from archers to gunners to unicorns. You have a whole-ass castle to stow them in, alongside their families and other folks on your side. When you’re pulled into a fight, you can launch six-player parties at your foes. Saving the world is never as simple as one kid swinging a sword at a bad guy, a point Suikoden 2 emphasizes by letting you build up an entire army to throw against the enemy’s armies.

And if there was ever an RPG villain who truly feels like he needs an army to take him down, by God, that villain is the irredeemable Luca Blight. Suikoden 2 forces you and its protagonists to watch as the Mad Prince threatens to drown the world in fire and blood. Don’t worry; nobody is that evil in real life. — Nadia Oxford

8. Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI had a wee slip in our new Top 25 list, but it’s still comfortably within the top ten titles. Gameplay-wise, some of its mechanics feel a bit clumsy to deal with in modern times. Some of these problems—but not all of them—are alleviated by the recent FFVI Pixel Remaster. (Which is still not easily accessible to console-loving trash piles like myself.) 

Nevertheless, replaying FFVI recently via said Pixel Remaster really solidified, once again, how much of a pleasingly grown-up RPG FFVI is. The relationship between Locke Cole and Celes Chere is a good example: It’s a messy matter (with an opera interlude!) that goes far from smoothly because Locke has bold, blinking red “ISSUES” and Celes was never given a chance to be her own human being. As much as I’ve enjoyed subsequent Final Fantasy relationships, they’re Teenage Tales of First Love by comparison. 

On the topic of FFVI’s quieter, more mature brand of storytelling, I think there’s something to be said about the game’s main theme: No matter how bad things get out there, put your head down and just keep going. Party on, Wayne… — Nadia Oxford

7. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Witcher 3 was the game that made that CD Projekt, and for as much as they protest that it’s all about the books, Henry Cavill’s Netflix show, too. It was one of the first games to produce an open world in the modern sense, with its rolling hills, wildlife, and gentle background vocals, a style that would later be copied by a host of imitators. But it was The Witcher’s story that really captivated fans, pulling names like Geralt, Yennefer, Triss, and Ciri from the page and bringing them to life through its wonderfully crafted questlines. It got still better with its incredible Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine expansions, which were almost standalone games in themselves. It’s an amazing RPG, and it’s hard to overstate its influence. If you want to understand the evolution of the genre over the last 10 years, you should play The Witcher 3. — Kat Bailey

6. Undertale

A simple question of what pacifism looks like in an RPG drives Undertale. It is remarkably well-rounded, never overstaying and pacing both its laughs and emotional moments so well. It tells an incredible tale three times over, with so much lore and worldbuilding wrapped up in expressive pixel art and absolute bangers. Undertale can stand alone, or it can be a jumping-off point for an exploration of the whole concept of RPGs. — Eric Van Allen

5. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

There is nothing in games like the Mass Effect trilogy. Three excellent RPGs that can all fight well on their own, the Legendary Edition unites them in a single package. One Shepard, with choices carrying across a long journey through incredible locales, told alongside the best companions around, and with three whole combat systems. Taking your Shepard through that journey is a feeling nothing else in games has ever managed, and feels like a high mark for any other studio to even attempt. — Eric Van Allen

Disco Elysium made us think differently about RPGs when it was released in 2019.

4. Disco Elysium

It’s fair to say that when we decided to re-approach the Top 25, Disco Elysium was top of mind. How can it not be? It takes an almost classical view on RPGs, incorporating a narrator and rotating party of skill check after skill check. Its setting is beautiful and grungy. Lt. Kim Kitsuragi is the best partner in games. And every moment, Disco Elysium asks the player to think about their role in the world: what do they think about politics, where do they envision themselves living, what do they think about a local conflict that has nothing to do with that body in the tree? Disco Elysium isn’t just carrying the torch forward for RPGs as an instant classic, it’s lighting the way to new potential in the genre. — Eric Van Allen

3. Final Fantasy XIV

Have you heard about the critically acclaimed—[Machine gun fire]

FFXIV is probably one of the more controversial inclusions on this list, owing to its status as an MMORPG rather than a self-contained adventure. Just a few years ago, I would have agreed. But FFXIV has come a long, long way in just a few years. The Shadowbringers and Endwalker expansions elevated the game’s overarching story to one of the best in the RPG genre. But a good story only elevates an RPG so high. FFXIV deserves its place for so much more: For its brilliant raids, its boss fights, and the team’s dedication to refining the gameplay more, more, and still more. Oh, and let’s not forget the epic soundtrack, because my dad’s car stereo sure won’t. (Hey, you share my Spotify account, it comes with some FFXIV exposure. That’s the law.)

Still on the fence? The FFXIV team has been working hard to make the game as single player-friendly as possible. Soon, none of you will have an excuse to blow off playing. Yes! Ha ha ha…YES! — Nadia Oxford

2. Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger is a timeless game about time. Does that make sense? Doesn’t matter because however you slice it, Chrono Trigger is one of the best RPGs of all time. We called it THE best RPG of all time in our first RPG Top 25 list, and frankly, it’d be no big deal if the game ran off with the title again. 

I’ve said in the past that Chrono Trigger gives off a vibe of near-perfect harmony, as if the “Dream Team” behind it (Yuji Horii, Hiranobu Sakaguchi, and Akira Toriyama) magicked the game into being. In reality, its development was a heck of an undertaking with the usual amount of sweat, blood, and tears. But from the moment you turn on the game and watch the pendulum tick across the title screen, you’re snagged and pulled into an adventure that’s one part classic shonen, one part time travel, and one part pure magic. It’s no wonder it gives off the air of a game that suddenly appeared on our consoles fully-formed, as if by the holy will of some benevolent time-god. (Possibly the Blood God’s first cousin, Timey.) — Nadia Oxford

1. Fallout New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas is the quintessential RPG. It embodies everything that makes this genre great — a vast world to explore, interesting decisions to make, and many secrets to find. More than that though, Fallout New Vegas is the thread that binds two separate generations of Fallout games together. It’s a final hurrah of sorts of Black Isle Studios, Interplay, and an entire generation of RPGs, and that passion is evident in the depth and ambition of its design. Over the years it has grown in esteem as more and more fans have been captivated by the battle between the NCR and Caesar’s Legion; the machinations of Mr. House, and twisted tales like the one in Vault 11. It also has Come Fly With Me, a Tales of Ghouls in space — truly a quest not to be missed, much like this exquisite RPG, which remains the pinnacle of a series shared by three different studios… and the genre. — Kat Bailey

Comments