Role-playing games are well-known for their fantastical settings and plotlines that typically involve one world-ending event or the other and the heroes trying to prevent it. In fact, that very summary could be used to describe just about every Final Fantasy game ever made.
But every now and then, we get an RPG that seeks to break the mold by being grounded in reality through settings and systems that seem very much plausible within the context of science or history. So with that in mind, here are some of the most realistic RPGs we've played.
8 Medieval Dynasty
Role-playing and survival mechanics collide in Medieval Dynasty, a game that, as its title suggests, shows just what it takes to forge a lasting legacy during the middle ages. It was released on PC in 2021 after spending more than a year in Early Access.
Players can hunt for food, build shelter, develop an entire settlement, and see to its day-to-day management. There might not be a single fire-breathing dragon for them to fight off in sight, but that doesn't mean there aren't other dangers like outlaws roaming the land – and how you choose to deal with them is entirely up to you.
7 Yakuza: Like A Dragon
The Yakuza series has primarily been made up of action-adventure games with a heavy focus on beat 'em up elements. But for Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Sega had decided to shake up that formula by crafting what is essentially a turn-based RPG in a contemporary setting.
This immediately lends the new game a familiar yet quirky sense of style that actually works to complement its story. You play as a man named Ichiban Kasuga, whose infatuation with Dragon Quest explains why he views enemy encounters as turn-based battles. Like the heroes from that series, he also finds himself having to embark on a quest alongside a colorful cast of party members.
6 Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord
With a strong emphasis on strategy game elements, Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord is an action RPG where players actively take part in large-scale battles. It serves as a prequel to Mount & Blade: Warband, which was itself an expansion for the first game in the series.
The game boasts a realistic economy among its features, with prices adhering to the laws of supply and demand. But its true calling card is in battles that have hundreds of soldiers realistically going against one another. This is one of the reasons why the game quickly became one of the largest launches after it was released into Steam Early Access in 2020.
5 Alpha Protocol
Billed as an espionage RPG, Alpha Protocol is a game by Obsidian Entertainment that was released on the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC in 2010. It is noted for its inclusion of RPG systems in what would traditionally be a stealth-based action-adventure title or third-person shooter.
Players take on the role of an agent named Michael Thorton, who is forced to go rogue in a bid to prevent a global conflict. The game itself caters to multiple play styles, with build options for those that favor using firearms, gadgets, or stealth. Despite receiving middling reviews and performing below sales expectations, it was still lauded by many for its ambition.
4 Assassin's Creed Origins
The outrageousness of a "leap of faith" aside, if there is one thing the Assassin's Creed games have always prided themselves in, it is their historical accuracy. Despite including some science-fiction elements in their present-day sequences, each game attempts to pass for a realistic representation of its respective time period and setting.
And with the incorporation of RPG mechanics that came with Assassin's Creed Origins, the action moves to Ancient Egypt with its vast deserts and towering pyramids, all of which have been recreated following extensive research into the ancient civilization and its culture.
3 The Division
Set in a post-pandemic New York City, The Division is an action role-playing game where players take on the role of agents working for the Strategic Homeland Division. Their job is to help fight any criminal activity in the area while they attempt to restore some semblance of civilization.
The game was developed by Massive Entertainment and released by Ubisoft in 2016 for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. A sequel was also released in 2019, which was considered to be an overall improvement on the premise and systems of the first game.
2 Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is often touted as one of the most realistic action role-playing games available today. And for good reason since it brings its medieval setting to glorious life with solid graphics and an incredible level of detail that go beyond its visuals.
This includes its combat system that offers ranged and melee options, each one feeling just as great to execute as it looks, and the world itself and the way it seems to react to the subtlest actions made by the player.
1 Disco Elysium
In Disco Elysium, you take on the role of a detective suffering from short-term memory loss while tasked with investigating a strange murder. And at first glance, it is clear that the game has been modeled after classic CRPGs like those in the Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale series, with painterly visuals that further lend it an otherwordly look and feel.
But unlike those games, events in this one are very much grounded in realism through both its story and RPG systems. A lot of the latter revolves around its intricate skill system, which governs how the player performs during conversations and other actions.
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