The 5 best party based RPG games that faithfully recreate the tabletop RPG experience.
There is no shortage of best RPG games for PC lists out there, a simple Google search makes that abundantly clear. However many of these “Best of” lists include RPG games that have very different game play styles when compared to one another. It seems like first and third person MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and Neverwinter dominate many of the best of RPG PC game lists and searches. Following close behind, are the mostly single player style third person RPG games such as the Elder Scrolls and the Fallout series. The variety of game play styles within the RPG genre and the best of lists goes on and on.
What if you’re looking for more traditional party-based RPG game, you know, those games that attempt to re-create the experience of table-top role playing games. To many MMORPGs and Third Person RPGs are not going to cut it. What we consider party-based RPG games are those games that try to faithfully recreate that table-top RPG experience. Typically these games offer full control over the adventuring party with game play in a top-down isometric or bird’s eye view.
At a minimum players create the primary Hero (or PC) and then manage everything from skills to weapons, inventory and magic for all characters in the party including combat, interactions with NPCs and environment.
The list that follows includes only these types of RPG games and are the games we consider to be the Best Party-Based RPG Games. While we try to focus our content on free and low cost games this list does contain some retail releases.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Released in 2017 Divinity Original Sin II is a fantasy RPG that is set in the world of Rivellon and is sequel to Divinity: Original Sin. While this game is not free it is one a quintessential party-based RPG game making it well worth the cost for those looking for one.
Divinity: Original Sin II offers players a wealth of flexibility and customization when it comes to character creation. They will choose status, race, gender and background story. There’s also an option for players to create an undead player character. Divinity: Original Sin II’s skill crafting feature allows for players to customize characters even more changing up skills and abilities as they gain experience.
Once play begins, players can assemble a party by recruiting up to three companions. Players can have full control over these party members; controlling encounters with NPCs, combat tactics, skill progression and more. In addition to a single player story campaign, it features online and local multiplayer capability including party vs party battles on an arena style map.
Also Recommended: Divinity: Original Sin
Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity was released for in 2015 after a highly successful 2012 Kickstarter campaign run by Obsidian Entertainment to create a spiritual successor to Bioware’s late 1990s/early 2000s, Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale series of RPG games. The game is a fantasy RPG set in the world of Eora that has been besieged by a mysterious plague whereby children are being born without a soul becoming hollowborn.
The game begins as most RPGs do, with character creation. Players will select race, skills, appearance and class. There are eleven different classes to choose from such as fighter, wizard, rogue and others that are fairly standard across fantasy RPGs. Players can then create up to five other characters which they can customize to the needs of party or liking. There are another two slots available for NPCs giving a max party size of eight characters. The NPCs can be hired or recruited at taverns during game play.
The original goal for Pillars of Eternity was to have a game that pays homage to earlier RPG games such as Baldur’s Gate while updating the game play mechanics and graphics. The result exceeded the expectations of many and the game has been one of the most successful RPG PC games. It has since been released for OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch. It was also followed up with a highly rated sequel that’s worth checking out, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire.
Wasteland 2 came about from another wildly successful Kickstarter campaign lead by Brian Fargo’s inXile Entertainment. Brian Fargo was the director of the classic party-based RPG game, Wasteland from 1988. Set in the post-apocalyptic United States in the year 2102. The story picks up 15 years after the events of the original Wasteland. The Rangers now use the Guardian Citadel as their base after the defeat of the Monks from the original game. Players are given the task of finding who is responsible for killing the famous Ranger Ace.
The game supports party sizes of up to seven characters, players have the option to customize and design four of the seven. The remaining three will be non-player characters that players can recruit during game play. Players have the ability to customize the four characters as they like, selecting statistics, skills, and appearance. The non-player characters each have unique skills and abilities as well but they will also have their own opinions and agenda which may not always align with the players’.
In 2015 Wasteland 2 was updated with a “Director’s Cut” with the game engine being upgraded to Unity 5. This included updated graphics, enhanced dialogue and new game play features. The game also became available for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. It was also released for Nintendo Switch in 2018. The game was very well received by critics and fans alike and is a one of the best RPG games available for any platform.
Replay the Retro Classic: Wasteland
Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition
The original Baldur’s Gate came over 20 years ago to high praise from players and critics alike. It is a ground breaking game in which others are often compared against. In 2012 an Enhanced Edition was released for Windows based PCs. This update provided a refresh of the original game enhancing the graphics and supported resolution, new game play features and additional content. The enhanced edition leaves the AD&D 2nd Edition rule set and primary game play mechanics unchanged.
In the game players will setup their primary player character by selecting character attributes, proficiencies, race, class and more. Again these are based on the AD&D 2nd edition ruleset so some mental adjustments are needed for those D&D 5th Edition fans. The game also includes all of the original storyline, encounters and NPCs as well as the content from the sole expansion, Baldur’s Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast. New content includes additional side quests, new characters and a stand alone arena combat adventure called The Black Pits. There was also an expansion in 2016, Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear which brigdes the gap in story between Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn.
While, the core game play, storyline and ruleset are more than 20 years old this version gives it a fresh coat of paint and it’s still a blast to play. This is a must for any computer RPG fan and it’s one of our favorite on our list of best party based RPG games. The game is still great as a single player game while the multiplayer capability has been much improved.
You Might Also Like: Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition & Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition, Planescape Torment
Pathfinder: Kingmaker is another RPG game that we can thank Kickstarter for helping produce. The 2017 campaign had more than 18,000 supporters raising just under $1,000,000. The game’s release came in 2018. It is the first RPG video game that uses the Pathfinder role playing game as it’s ruleset. Pathfinder is the RPG game that continued the legacy of D&D 3.5 when Wizards of the Coast announced D&D 4th Edition. The game is heavily modeled after classic games such as Baldur’s Gate and game play has the familiar top-down isometric perspective.
The story is set in the Stolen Lands which is part of Golarion, the default setting for Pathfinder. It is based on actual six module Adventure Path that is available for the tabletop RPG version. Game play and mechanics are typically of a party based RPG and like many others uses real time with pause for combat which gives players more tactical and strategic options when reacting to enemies and combat.
Much like the table top version, the Pathfinder Kingmaker RPG PC game allows players a great deal of character customization. They game begins with a single PC that player create and customize but they will be able to add companions during game play. These additional part members are both NPCs and new characters created by player. The game includes a unique alignment feature. Players will select a starting alignment but it can change throughout the game based on the actions players take. It also features a realm/kingdom building element whereby players will manage economy, buildings and resources of a growing kingdom.