Action RPG

The best RPGs of all time

Cory Banks at

The role-playing game is the cornerstone of PC gaming. Long before shooters or real-time strategy, the earliest PC developers replicated their tabletop RPGs on the PC, building sprawling adventures filled with orcs and wizards and foul dungeons. Those early games slowly built on their tabletop origins, and RPGs eventually became so popular, their elements spread to other genres. Here are our 25 favorites: the RPGs we’d tell anyone to play right now.


Grim fantasy RPG Lords of the Fallen releasing on Halloween

Tom Sykes at

Halloween is a pretty apt time to release a grimdark RPG like Lords of the Fallen, and that's exactly what's happening this October 31st. City Interactive's game is proudly inspired by Dark Souls, and after watching quite a bit of in-game footage this appears to mean 'chunky, thunky combat and the ability to lose experience upon death'. I've attached a recent trailer that affords us a proper look at the game.


Square Enix announces Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, the long-awaited sequel to Guardian of Light

Andy Chalk at

Rise of the Tomb Raider may have been front-and-center during the first day of E3, but that's not the only thing Lara Croft is getting up to these days. She'll also be starring in a new action-adventure game entitled Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, the sequel to the hit 2010 release Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.

Gauntlet's pre-E3 "Relics" trailer shows off some flashy ways to kill

Andy Chalk at

The original Gauntlet made a big splash in arcades back in the mid-80s and so I don't remember all that terribly much about it, but as I recall your primary weapons against the overwhelming hordes of evil were food and quarters. The new Gauntlet takes a somewhat more modern approach, allowing players to gear up with "relics" that will enable all sorts of new and interesting ways to turn enemies into paste.


System Shock 2 modder reveals screens from gorgeous cutscene remake

Andy Chalk at

System Shock 2 was released in 1999 and I'm still hesitant to talk about it too much for fear of spoiling the experience for those of you who haven't yet played it. Yes, it's that good, which is why I'm not going to say anything in detail about this planned remake of a pivotal cinematic sequence until after this paragraph. But if you know what I'm talking about when I refer to "the big reveal," then you should probably keep reading.

Diablo 3 celebrated its second birthday last week. Here's why I'm still playing

Tom Senior at

The best thing about the black hole spell isn't the way it scrunches nearby enemies into an orb of writhing limbs, though that is nice, it's the way it positions an entire horde into the radius of a single meteor strike. With two clicks I can drag a mob into a tiny space, and then scatter their broken ragdoll forms across the scenery with a massive explosion.

Yes, I'm playing Diablo 3 again. The lure of this week's 100% increased legendary drop rate—introduced to celebrate Diablo 3's anniversary—proved too great. I thought I'd just dip in and grab a couple of legendary items while the going was good, but idle curiosity quickly turned to fervour. Diablo 3's legendaries drop with a CLANG sound that elbows ambient battle noise aside. Legendaries fire a golden laser into the sky to announce their presence. The beam is to treasure hunters as the bat symbol is to Batman, a call of duty for obsessives seeking ever sweeter loot.


Transistor review

Wes Fenlon at

Transistor begins with a woman, a dead body, a talking sword, and a dying city. Red is a singer with no voice, trapped in a sprawling digital metropolis being erased by white robot programs called the Process. Byte by byte, block by block, Cloudbank is becoming nothingness in the shape of a city. But Red has the Transistor, the mysterious sword she pulled out of the dead body at her feet. Red is the hero, but the Transistor plays both narrator and star. Eight hours after grasping that sword, I reached the end of Red's journey in love with the Transistor's deeply nuanced combat abilities—and disappointed that the world around her felt so shallow by comparison.

Like Bastion, Supergiant's first game, Transistor is an action RPG set in a dying world, with a narrator keeping you company as you play. The narration works just as well as it did in Bastion (and comes from the same voice actor), lending emotion to a stoic silent protagonist and offering insight and context about the world. The narrator also does most of the expository heavy lifting, musing about the Camerata, the shadowy organization behind the destructive Process. As he talks, Red walks through linear environments, stopping every couple minutes for a battle that will be over in two or three minutes.

Metroid-inspired Ghost Song: A Journey of Hope gets first gameplay video

Wes Fenlon at

The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace. Wait--this isn't Metroid! It's the first gameplay video for Ghost Song, a Kickstarted 2D action game that isn't shy about its influences. The Super Metroid vibe is heavy in this first 10 minutes of footage, from the main character's arm-mounted weapon to the spooky atmosphere and music. There's a bit of Dark Souls mixed in, too—the first NPC encounter bears more than a passing resemblance to the very first NPC encounter in Dark Souls' Undead Asylum.


Dark Souls 2 modded: Durante's GeDoSaTo enables downsampling, texture modding

Wes Fenlon at

In 2012, Peter "Durante" Thoman wrote the popular mod DSfix for Dark Souls: Prepare to Die on PC, fixing its locked 1024x720 resolution and other issues. In 2013, he released a similar fix for Deadly Premonition. We asked Durante to analyze the PC port of Dark Souls 2 in a series of articles. He also modded the game. The image above is an in-game texture, not a Photoshop.

My first two articles about Dark Souls 2 investigated the PC port’s features and how generic PC tweaking tools like SweetFX can be used to further improve its graphics. Now it’s time to look at the full extent of what can be achieved by modifying Dark Souls 2 on a deeper level. First, I’ll provide a short overview of the general avenues available for PC game modding and how each applies to Dark Souls 2. Then I’ll detail the modifications I have implemented so far with a new tool I’m calling GeDoSaTo, which enables texture modding, arbitrary downsampling, and more. Consider it the successor to DSfix and DPfix—except its final goal is to work with any 3D game, not just Dark Souls 2.

Dark Souls 2 secrets guide: shortcuts, estus shards and more

PC Gamer at

Like Dark Souls' Lordran, Dark Souls 2's Drangleic is a world packed with secrets. There are secret paths to ferret out between areas. Bosses that you may never face in a normal playthrough. Estus flask shards and Pharros' Contraptions and Souls Vessels to find. We've compiled a guide to Dark Souls 2's most vital secrets. If you're just starting out (have you read our beginner's guide?) or a seasoned veteran, you'll find a wealth of useful information for your journey through Drangleic.


Secrets of Grindea demo is nostalgic, loot-obsessed and a lot of fun

Tom Sykes at

Today is *checks Gregorian calendar* Easter Day, and if you celebrate the occasion you're probably already catatonic on chocolate, lying on the floor under a mess of spent foil wrappers and half-eaten eggs. There's no shame in that - OK, so there might be a little shame - but I have the perfect game to unwind with later on while you try to digest the deliciously terrible thing you've done. That game is Secrets of Grindea, a very Secret of Mana-ish action RPG now with a demo (demos are what we had in the olden days before Early Access). It's a nostalgic (but not suffocatingly so) and tactile thing, boasting extraordinary pixel art and a bunch of modern features like a character creator and online co-op. I've spent some time with it this morning in lieu of eating my own weight in chocolate, and if you like Square's Mana series, I suggest you do the same. You'll find the demo here.


Dark Souls 2 4K screenshots

Wes Fenlon at

Dark Souls II is a gorgeous game. Except when it's an ugly game. It's a little weird that way—some environments are absolutely breathtaking, while others stand out with dated, blocky geometry. This gallery mostly reflects the former, capturing some of Dark Souls II's most breathtaking vistas and immaculate art direction. There are no bosses or secrets in sight, so don't fear spoilers.

The theme of this gallery is "stoic." Or perhaps "pensive." Or "ooh, pretty lighting." Now feast your eyes on 40 screenshots captured at 3840x2160.


Hyper Light Drifter trailer offers two minutes of exploration, combat and bad dudes in tubes

Tom Sykes at

Ignore the pretext for this 'Hyper Light Drifter is coming to PS4/Vita' trailer and focus on the upcoming indie's game's astonishing world, which is comprised of some of the artiest pixels I ever did see. You're probably already aware that it gives good GIF, but this new video shows that it looks just as good in motions longer than a few frames, in case you were somehow labouring under any doubt. I suggest you pre-slacken your jaw in anticipation of the following trailer.


Diablo 3 patch 2.0.1 impressions: harder, better, faster

Tom Senior at

After 30 minutes with post-patch Diablo 3, Spyro the wizard is a new man. His new shoulder pads let him teleport back to town from the safety of an impenetrable energy bubble. The crotch slot of his new rare pants, called the "Bone Guard", is occupied by a radiant topaz that increases his intelligence. He'll be happiest with his new wand, though. The "Blackhand Key" boosts his arcane power, feeds him extra XP for every monster he melts, and looks like a glowing green animal spine. A coveted legendary spine, no less. Another juicy chunk of treasure, courtesy of the revamped loot system introduced by update 2.0.1.

The patch is great. This major update revamps the core loot systems on which the entire game runs, rejigs skills for every class, redesigns boss fights and adds new stuff, like cursed shrines and nephalem glory globes. The reams of changes are contained in lengthy patch notes on Battle.net, but the takeaway is simple. Diablo 3 is a much faster and more rewarding game than it was a week ago.


Sacred 3 announced for summer 2014

Patrick Carlson at

Action RPG series Sacred's third installment will hit PCs this summer, according to a recent announcement from publisher Deep Silver. A suitably cinematic trailer has also surfaced, giving us a glimpse of the hero characters we'll be seeing in the new game. There's also a crumbly bridge, magic wings, and a slobbering armored troll-monster.


Diablo 3 clans and communities explained, coming in patch 2.0.1

Patrick Carlson at

With patch 2.0.1 now on the horizon, it should soon become easier to find and form parties in Diablo 3 with the addition of clans and communities. The features have been available for testing on the game's Public Test Realm, but Blizzard has now published a handy summary for anyone else curious about the upcoming changes.


Path of Exile "mini-expansion" arriving March 5

Tom Senior at

Path of Exile is a game about meeting lots of monsters and then punching out all their blood so you can steal their stuff. As action RPGs go, it's great, and I called it things like "compulsive" and "exceptionally generous" in our Path of Exile review. When people say things like "all free-to-play games are poo" I like to materialise, wave an arm in Path of Exile's direction and whisper "look! All the free blood-punching you could ever need!" and then vanish in a puff of smoke.

For those already hooked on Path of Exile, good news. There's going to be more of it according to a post on the Path of Exile site.


New Duke Nukem game from Rise of the Triad dev to be revealed Feb. 25

Emanuel Maiberg at

A teaser website for a new Duke Nukem game has appeared at alloutofgum.com, referencing one of The King's cheesiest and well-known one-liners. A countdown clock indicates that more information will be revealed on February 25, though just a little bit of online snooping has already uncovered some details.


Hyper Light Drifter closed beta scheduled for June, full game planned for end of the year

Phil Savage at

As well as being one of our most anticipated games of the year, Hyper Light Drifter is perhaps the prettiest indie action-RPG I've seen in some time. Although, given that the genre also contains the scatalogical pestilence of The Binding of Isaac, that shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.

The strength of its gif-laden Kickstarter page is surely a contributing factor to the $645,158 the team raised - 2,389% of its intended total. Having gone so far over the intended goal, though, the scope of the project has naturally increased. In a new Kickstarter update, the developers have announced what that means for the game's release.


Path of Exile review

Tom Senior at

Compulsion is a dubious sort of pleasure, but it’s what action-RPGs excel at. With their slow levelling curves, gradually unlocking skills and swelling hordes of foes, Diablo, Titan Quest, Torchlight and now Path of Exile all aim to ensnare rather than instantly delight.

The 15-year-old formula has barely evolved, but is still effective. You must always start in rags, punching zombies with your bare fists in some gloomy town, because any grander beginning would curtail your slow ascent to godhood. A start anywhere more glamorous than a dark field or Path of Exile’s grey beach would lessen the triumphant moment 12 hours later when you annihilate a 20-strong giant spider brood and think back to those first moments. Sometimes you’ll find folk waiting beneath yellow exclamation marks to give you quests and deliver lore points in tiny boxes of text, but mostly you punch, loot, level up, equip your stolen gains, grow strong and slowly mould your bedraggled vagrant into a killing machine.

It’s a character arc of sorts, albeit one plotted to the sound of a thousand repetitive mouse-clicks, but that comes with a quiet satisfaction of its own, a feeling of incremental achievement earned over many hours. If you value that feeling, Path of Exile is the 200-hour time sink you’re looking for.