Computer roleplaying games have been around almost as long as personal computers themselves. It is a genre that is near and dear to my heart as a gamer with near three decades under my belt. Do you value deep, branching storylines and gameplay freedom? If so, this is the gaming genre for you! Give these titles a go and you won’t be disappointed.
#5 – Ultima IV: The Quest of the Avatar
This selection is on my list in large part because of the nostalgia factor: I remember long days and nights spent in the towns and wilderness of Britannia as I marveled over the real cloth map and sterling silver ankh that came with the game. After a recent playthrough however, I found that the game still holds up very well today. When Richard Garriott conceived of this fourth part of his famous series, roleplaying games were almost exclusively about one thing: becoming a hero by killing the bad guy. Garriott changed the genre forever by making Ultima IV about becoming a hero through the art of virtue.
#4 – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Ok, I admit it: I am a Star Wars freak and have been for as long as I can remember. As a roleplaying game aficionado as well, Bioware pretty much had me sold right off the bat with this title. However, even without the Star Wars license, this game has many strengths which have earned it a place on this list. The branching gameplay, choice and consequences, endearing cast, and satisfying plot complete with an unexpected twist make this title a must-play for any roleplaying game fan.
#3 – Planescape: Torment
Veteran roleplaying game developer Chris Avellone’s masterpiece, this is the game that plays like a novel. The deep narrative and moving story make for a game that must not be missed despite its relatively boring and tedious combat. Toss in a extremely unique setting and fascinating character development and you are left with a game that once and for all answers the question: can computer games be considered art? The answer is yes, at least if Chris Avellone wrote them.
#2 – Fallout
No kids, I am not talking about Bethesda’s Fallout 3. I am referring to its precursor: Interplay’s original Fallout 1. You play as the Vault Dweller, and the Vault Dweller is whoever you want him or her to be in this gritty post-apocalyptic game that a shining example of what great choices that branch the gameplay in different directions can do for a roleplaying game. Also, there is just enough dark humor to balance out the horror of the setting and make this one of the most memorable games of all time for those privileged enough to have played it.
#1 – The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
This is not only my number one roleplaying game of all time, it is also my number one game. Period. Bethesda’s team created a believable fantasy setting with many different factions, fascinating history, and often very gray morality. Unlike any other game that I have ever played, you can truly become your character with ease, just like stepping into a costume. I could wax lyrical about Morrowind for hours, but I will keep this short and sweet: if you haven’t played it, you need to. Right now. Move along, Outlander.