Friday, 6 May 2016

Fantasy RPGs: 15 Hidden Gems for the PC

The box art for the 2001 PC game, Gothic.You've all heard of the Diablo series, World of Warcraft and the Fable games. But have you heard of Titan Quest, Divine Divinity or the Gothic series? Probably some of you have and some of you haven't. I think it's a shame that more people haven't heard of the latter three items that I just listed since they represent some of the best that the RPG genre has to offer on PC. As a result, I've put together a list of 15 fantasy RPGs for the PC that are a bit more obscure. So grab a drink and peruse my selections. You might see something you like.

1) Divine Divinity (2002)

Released in 2002 by Belgian developer, Larian Studios, Divine Divinity is a dungeon runner that echoes games like Diablo and Baldur's Gate. Like both of those games, it has a top-down camera angle and focuses on hack-and-slash combat as the meat of the game. Overall, it has a lot of quests to offer, an interesting skill system and a great atmosphere. If you're looking for a game with a decent story that's also similar to games like Diablo, check out Divine Divinity.

2) Mount & Blade: Warband (2010)

Mount & Blade: Warband is a stand-alone expansion to the original 2007 game Mount & Blade. A lot of people overlooked this game due to its graphics, but they sold themselves short by doing that. Warband's strengths lie not in the way it looks, but in the way it plays. Specifically, the game has a wonderfully complex combat system that puts you in control of a lot of the actions that your character takes. It also has an amazing multiplayer mode which, if you have the hardware for it, allows for battles of hundreds of players. Lastly, a lot of mods have been created for Warband (several of which are still being worked on), so it has a large amount of replay value based on that one fact alone.

3) Dark Age of Camelot (2001)

This game was one of the better MMORPGs to be made during the 2000s, and some have argued that it's even better than World of Warcraft in all ways except graphically. I don't know if I would go that far, but the game certainly is good. The PvP system in the game is brilliant along with the quests, the PvE system and basically every other aspect of the game. Dark Age of Camelot's community is rather small today, but there are still some who play it.

4) Beyond Divinity (2004)

Beyond Divinity is a game that spun-off of the first game on this list, Divine Divinity. It is quite similar to that game with the main difference being that, instead of controlling one character, you control two: a hero and an anti-hero. Beyond Divinity was passed over by many people due to its complicated user interface, but it's a gem that you'll probably appreciate now that it's been out for a few years. If you liked the first game, you'll want to check this one out too.

5) Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale (2007)

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is a rather unique game that features a shop owner as the main character. Rather than being an adventurer who only temporarily uses the shop to buy items, you are the shop owner who must deal with such adventurers. The game also features an adventure portion, however, where you acquire items that can be sold in your shop. It's an interesting game, with a novel concept, and you should try it out if you haven't.

6) Titan Quest (2006)

I wouldn't call Titan Quest an original game by any means, especially if you've played any of the Diablo games (which are quite similar to this game). However, Titan Quest is just as fun as any of the games from that series and it has better graphics than the first two. It also has an expansion called Immortal Throne, which greatly improves upon the first game. I highly recommend this one if you like any type of Diablo-style RPGs.

7) Arx Fatalis (2002)

Arx Fatalis was developed by French company, Arkane Studios, as a successor to Ultima Underworld II. Unfortunately, they couldn't get the license to that series, so they had to settle for the title of “spiritual successor”. This first-person RPG is heavily influenced by the first Ultima Underworld game and it features a dark and gloomy atmosphere with an equally dark and gloomy story.

8) Risen (2009)

Risen is a gorgeous game to say the least. It's set on a tropical island that's very well-developed with changing weather patterns, a day-night cycle and interesting characters. There are a lot of secondary activities to do in the game aside from the main quest (e.g., mining and crafting). A great game for any RPG fan.

9) Gothic (2001)

Gothic is the quintessential DnD-style game. It has everything that you could want out of an RPG: an interesting setting, warring factions that you can join, a wide variety of areas to explore and items to collect. It can take a bit of time to get used to the gameplay, but once you do you'll be hooked. Get this game, it's a classic.

10) King's Bounty: The Legend (2008)

King's Bounty: The Legend is based on a 1990 turn-based game called King's Bounty. Like its predeccesor, this game also features turn-based combat. Whether you're a fan of that kind of tactical RPG or not, you'll want to give this game a try. Leveling up your characters can be very addictive and the game features lots of quests and a diverse array of units and abilities. What more could you want from an RPG?

11) The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (1996)

Daggerfall originally came out for the MS-DOS so the graphics aren't great by today's standards, but were good for their time. This game really pushed the boundaries on what you were able to do with an RPG by making a massive free-roaming world with lots of factions, lots of quests and lots of ways to level up your character. Bethesda has released the game as part of The Elder Scrolls Anthology, so you might want to check that out if you're interested in playing some of the past Elder Scrolls games.

12) Gothic II (2002)

I listed the first Gothic game above and the second one deserves a place on this list too. It's a wonderfully made RPG that is very open-ended and non-linear. You can explore how you want to and there is a great amount of diversity in the things that you can do in this game. The sound and music in Gothic II is also top-notch and the world is very well-crafted. Simply put, it's another classic RPG.

13) Septerra Core (1999)

Septerra Core is a game with a combination of both sci-fi and fantasy elements. It has quite a unique story and interesting artwork. The game is more linear than some of the other titles on this list and the characters aren't as customizable (there are 9 characters, each with their own unique personality). If you're a fan of games like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger, then you might like this one.

14) Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004)

Bloodlines is a vampire fantasy game set in 21st century L.A. The story revolves around an ancient artifact that could spell the death of the vampire race. At launch, this game had quite a few bugs in it that put off several reviewers and may have had a hand in lowering its sales numbers early on. However, the game was patched and it's now probably one of the best action RPGs for the PC. The world is pretty big and you can pick from a variety of vampire factions to play as. If you skipped over this game because of poor early reviews, consider taking a second look at it.

15) Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (2001)

Arcanum is another game developed by Troika, the creators Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. This game is another one that was passed over by a lot of people due to some early flaws in it which were fixed by a patch (this time an unofficial patch). The game is filled with lots of side quests, excellent NPC interactions and a unique story that combines science fiction and fantasy. It's definitely one to check out.

And that's that. 15 PC games that more people should play. Is there anything that I missed? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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