2023 has a lot of, and I mean really many great games, but if we look at some of the absolute standout successes, you’ll find a lot of them in the RPG genre. Now RPG has become a bit of a loose term over the years, with some games being categorized as RPGs as long as they have a skill tree or make your character wear a funny hat, but here we count down the five best RPGs of the year that really encapsulate the genre.
5. Diablo IV
Or at least they encompass a subgenre of RPG. There are many action RPGs, but few really compare to the experience a new Diablo title brings. We step back into Sanctuary and fight hordes of hideous enemies in hopes of preparing to successfully eliminate Liltih. There’s not much that can beat it.
Yes, the post-game wasn’t everything we’d hoped for, and there are still plenty of issues we’d like Blizzard to fix, but already in the months since launch we’ve seen a lot of dedication to turning the ship around, giving us new content, and an expansion has even been announced. Diablo IV looked like a solid GOTY competitor for a while, and yet it just shows how strong this year has been with us putting it in this spot.
What was for many people the most anticipated game of the year quickly turned into one of the most divisive. There are a lot of opinions about Starfield, but if you want to know ours, we thought it was pretty darn good. It’s important to remember why people were so excited about Bethesda’s latest RPG in the first place.
The gang at Bethesda certainly has their own style, and it’s up to you whether you like that, but in Starfield it leads to some great exploration, intriguing and three-dimensional characters, and a story that kept us going even when the planets we landed on seemed devoid of life.
3. Sea of Stars
There are so many games this year that would have shot to the top of GOTY in any other year. Sea of Stars is one of those unfortunate examples of an incredible game, but perhaps it came out at the wrong time.
A love letter to JRPGs, Sea of Stars combines nostalgic visuals with a story that draws you in and immerses you completely in your adventure. Sometimes it’s crazy, sometimes it tugs at your heartstrings. It is more than just a tribute act, and in many years it would have earned its place in GOTY nominees.
2. Final Fantasy XVI
But, as we have said several times by now, this year was not like any other. Not in recent history, at least. This year, Final Fantasy stepped into a darker, edgier tone, and we couldn’t get enough of it. Clive’s story is taken to the next level by great execution and a soundtrack that supports every epic battle, but even without those great additions, the game is still worth remembering.
Square Enix has also gone to great lengths to ensure that if this is your first Final Fantasy game, you won’t feel completely out of place. There is a real sense that this game is as digestible as possible for new fans, while also being a breath of fresh air for older players. Next to Diablo IV, Final Fantasy XVI came out to remind us that there was still plenty of the year left when many gamers had already handed out a GOTY to Tears of the Kingdom.
1. Baldur’s Gate III
Yeah, we all knew this would be here, didn’t we? Even though it seems a bit pointless to give the award for best RPG to Baldur’s Gate III, given the Game of the Year awards it took home, it’s worth remembering why so many of us love this game, because it really is a definitive RPG.
You are the deciding factor in Baldur’s Gate III. Who you are, who you want to be, what happens to the world and the people in it, it all depends on your decision making. The sheer amount of things you can do is incredible at times, and the way it can cause you to come back to try out a new character even after hundreds of hours shows how complicated this game is. We certainly won’t see an RPG like this, so even if Baldur’s Gate III isn’t your game of the year, it’s hard to argue that it’s not the RPG of 2023.