So, the Wuhan coronavirus definitely did a number on the progress of the Great Campaign, but soldier on I will! I took a break from Disco Elysium as I was getting a bit antsy for something with a bit more action. I took some detours, including picking up Warzone which sometimes takes up multiple nights a week for me, and playing some of the excellent Paper Mario spiritual successor, Bug Fables.
Finally, I had the fortune of happening upon a sale on the Nintendo e-shop for “Baldur’s Gate I & II: Enhanced Editions” (really rolls off the tongue). I had been eyeing it for a while, waiting for a digital sale, and couldn’t resist when the moment came. Since then I’ve been positively diving into the game; I think I have over 20 hours in the few days since I picked it up. I’m loving it. As a result I obviously moved up BG to my “now playing” spot. Depending on if and when I get burned out on it, I may also play BGII immediately afterwards we’ll see.
Oh, and I also did sink a few hours into the old RPG standard-setter, Wizardry (1980). I’ll have a write-up on that soon; I definitely had an edifying experience from it, including reading the manual!
On that note I also owe readers write-ups for Zork and Mass Effect 2 which I promise will be out soon. I want to make sure I really encapsulate my thoughts on those games thoroughly. Thanks!
Picked up Mass Effect 2 again, about 60% through the game, and finished it! Started on Wizardry I and Disco Elysium (enjoying that a lot so far).
Was very close to adding Pathfinder: Kingmaker to the list. I’ve heard it was a modern take on old-school CRPGs with many positive qualities, and I’ve seen it recommended by many RPG enthusiasts. However, I’ve also learned of its flaws, and given how mixed reception was when the game came out, I’m keeping it off the list. I do want to play it on my own eventually though.
Nevertheless after some more consideration I couldn’t justify keeping The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion off of the list any longer. I already have 3 other Elder Scrolls games, but they are momentous games, very popular, and influential. I fear I may be a bit biased as the Elder Scrolls is my favorite RPG series and one of my favorites series of all time, but I feel like each entry on this list has significant meaning.
One more addition was Fallout 2. I also could not justify keeping such a critically acclaimed and beloved game off the list for the sake of diversity. While I do want this list to have a diversity of different types of RPGs, it’s no harm to add such an acclaimed game to the list even if it is ‘another’ isometric CRPG. I now will get to experience both Fallout 1 and 2 playing through this list and I’m very much looking forward to it.
Unfortunately, with wanting to keep the list at 60 games (10 forerunners + 50 core entries), and two additions, that means I needed to cut two games. The first cut is Xenogears – although it’s renowned as a cult classic and I would like to play it eventually, I evaluate it’s importance as a tier below the classics that are Oblivion and Fallout 2. Likewise, Phantasy Star IV was removed for very similar reasons.
Finally, I did a little bit more fiddling with the order of the games, pushing KOTOR II down to its ‘proper’ spot (now that I’m out of my Star Wars craze) along with Undertale. I’m very much looking forward to playing Baldur’s Gate shortly but want to make sure I get a chance to play Pool of Radiance first as a sort of evolution-of-DND-games approach.
Played Rogue for a few hours and got a good taste of it. As a forerunner game and its intense difficulty, I don’t plan on finishing it, but I will be plugging articles for both Zork and Rogue soon.
Removed Dragon Quest 8 and added Dragon Quest 11. DQ11 is the most critically acclaimed DQ to date and by all accounts captures that Dragon Quest magic faithfully. Additionally they have a great edition on the Switch, which is a big plus.
Completed Zork (yes I used a guide). Started Rogue.
Completed DOSII and KOTOR. KOTOR article coming soon. Moved Zork up and playing that along, with KOTOR II. Wanted to add Rogue to the Forerunners list, so I had to remove Ultima IV.
Moved KOTOR up to the top of the list after getting into a Star Wars craze, and needing a short break from the excellent, but length, Divinity: Original Sin II. I had already played through most of KOTOR so needed a few more hours to finish it out (well worth it!) As a result I’ve moved KOTOR II up to directly after Divinity: Original Sin II. DOSII should be done in January as I’m in the last act.
I’ve added the following games:
- Nethack (Forerunner)
- Wasteland (Forerunner)
- Pool of Radiance (Forerunner)
- The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
- Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millenium
- Baldur’s Gate II
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura
- Gothic II
- Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
- Neverwinter Nights II: Mask of the Betrayer
- Shadowrun: Dragonfall
- Pillars of Eternity
I’ve removed the following games:
- Fallout 3
- Fallout 3 is a great game, however I couldn’t justify keeping both it and New Vegas. I feel NV is the better RPG and has had a more long-lasting effect on RPGs than FO3, though FO3 is a great game.
- Neverwinter Nights
- Although NWN was an incredible platform for downloadable content, official and user-made, the original campaign for the game is not very good. NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer made for a higher quality option that is revered as a great RPG campaign.
I’ve gone through the list briefly and done some additional sorting. I moved things around for a bit of variety – in the heavy JRPG era (early 90s to early 2000s) I’m attempting to keep things fresh by generally switching off between a Western RPG and a JRPG every game. The games will still stay as close as possible chronologically following this pattern.
I’ve also moved up BG2 so that I can be ready for Baldur’s Gate III when it releases (which I expect at the earliest will be in 2021).
The list below will reflect the order in which I’ll play through the best RPGs of all time. This will be roughly in chronological order by release date, although there will be some explained exceptions. Additionally, a pure chronological list along with various additional details for the games will be at the bottom of the page.
For each game I play through, I’ll be examining not only quality but their RPG elements and what they brought to the table in terms of the legacy of RPGs. I’ll write a note for each game, if not a full-blown review. When I divert away from the chronological order for a newer game, I may go back and revise my note on the game after playing through the list to indicate what games may have inspired the newer game.
The idea for the Great Campaign (TGC) was conceived during my playthrough of Divinity Original Sin II, so it only makes sense for me to finish that game as part of TGC. Then I’ll be going through the “Forerunners” – retro games that were the foundations for all RPGs today. Due to their age, I plan on doing abbreviated playthroughs of those games (perhaps a few hours each) to get an idea of what they brought to the table.
Next, I’ll be diverting to a few more modern games. I’ve started but yet to finish Mass Effect 2, and I’ve avoided spoilers for the series up to this point, so I think it’s an appropriate time to take care of it. My brother and I are currently playing through Tales of Symphonia once again, so it will be done early on the list. Finally, I’d like to get to the newest entry on the list, Disco Elysium, before going back in time. I’ve heard great things about it and would like to experience it while it’s fresh on everyone’s mind.
After that, I plan and jumping in a time capsule and starting from scratch with Final Fantasy IV, the oldest entry on the list proper.