5 most immersive role-playing games (and 5 that fail to capture the immersion)
Role-playing games are some of the most immersive games out there. These games give players an escape into many different worlds they can spend hours in. These games are the best at immersing players in their gaming worlds, hunting monsters, fighting dragons, or maybe exploring hidden dungeons and catacombs.
With more and more role-playing titles being released every other day, it is a chore to find the perfect genre game to get fully immersed in. To ease that task, we have compiled a list of some fantastic role-playing games that are the most immersive experiences and some that fail to do so.
Five most immersive role-playing video games
1) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
At this point, almost everyone on this planet knows about Skyrim. It's a global phenomenon that has taken the role-playing game genre to another level. Skyrim is a monumental benchmark for future genre games in terms of gameplay and player immersion.
Yes, the game is old and frustratingly buggy and broken, but beyond these annoyances, Skyrim is one of the best games that sucks players right into its world and keeps them playing for hours on end.
Skyrim allows players to be anyone and do almost anything in the vast open world. Explore numerous dungeons littered around the enormous open world. Or take part in battling gigantic beasts and even dragons, become a mage and learn various spells, or maybe adopt a few children, get a small hut and live an everyday man's life in Skyrim.
The possibilities are endless in this fantastic open-world role-playing game.
2) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Geralt of Rivia's adventures across this masterfully crafted role-playing game is one of the most immersive experiences ever. It's a game that relies on 'immersion through storytelling' with a richly detailed narrative bound to hook players right from the get-go.
The Witcher 3 revels in its quest design that sees players partake in plenty of side-quests, each with more storytelling depth than most other Triple-A games have in their primary campaign. This allows players to connect with the game's world and its characters on a very personal level.
A diverse open world with plenty of adventures and secrets to find, and an in-depth combat system with robust role-playing mechanics, Wither 3, makes for an easy pick for any role-playing game enthusiast.
3) Elden Ring
FromSoftware games are unique in terms of narrative delivery and player immersion mechanics. Instead of a ham-fisted story that drives players to follow a set path, they revel in environmental and subtle storytelling that is surprisingly way more effective in immersing players in their fantastical worlds.
Elden Ring, FromSoftware's most recent soul-like role-playing game, takes the developer's signature storytelling and adds it to a massive, fully realized open world. Out of the box, players are given full agency on how they want to progress in the Lands Between and shape their adventures.
It's rare for an open-world title with so many intricate gameplay mechanics and a complex and thought-provoking story to captivate its players without compromising player freedom. Elden Ring is a truly monumental achievement in the role-playing gaming genre and a must-play title for anyone looking to immerse in a fantastical world fully.
4) Dragon Age: Inquisition
Bioware used to be the master of creating living, breathing, and richly detailed role-playing games. Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2 are some notable examples of 'Bioware Magic.'
Over the years, however, Bioware's games have seen a massive decline in quality, with the disastrous launch of Mass Effect: Andromeda and the fundamentally broken Anthem. The last game that portrayed Bioware at its finest was Dragon Age: Inquisition.
In 2014, Dragon Age: Inquisition surprised players with its top-notch role-playing game mechanics that allowed players to play however they wanted to play the game.
The game gives players full liberty to pick any class and customize their experience with a host of different skills and abilities. The possibilities for creating and min-maxing builds are staggering in this game.
On top of that, the game is built on DICE's proprietary Frostbite engine, which gave it a massive visual overhaul, making it possibly one of the best-looking role-playing games to date. All these factors culminate in one of the developer's most immersive fantasy role-playing experiences.
5) Horizon Forbidden West
Horizon Forbidden West might have chosen a very unoppurtunate release window. But regardless, Guerrilla Games' highly anticipated sequel to 2017's Horizon Zero Dawn is an excellent and immersive role-playing game.
Horizon Forbidden West carries the story of Aloy in a post-apocalyptic open-world filled with threats from both men and machines. The game follows a structure similar to its predecessor, with a main linear quest accompanied by a bevy of side-quests of various archetypes.
The first game was of excellent quality and a top-notch immersive experience, with some problems that the sequel has dramatically improved upon while adding new features to complement the high-octane machine hunting experience unique to this franchise.
Horizon Forbidden West revels in immersing players in a very personal journey of Aloy and the friends she makes along the way. Although the game's world is massive in scope, it never feels repetitive throughout its entire runtime.
Sure, the game can sometimes get annoying with its hold-holding and linearity, but it's hard to deny that when it is firing on all its cylinders, it's indeed a spectacle to behold and a genuinely next-gen immersive experience.
Five role-playing games that fail to capture players' immersion
1) Mass Effect 3
Fresh off Mass Effect 2's immense success, Bioware was quick to work on a sequel to conclude Commander Shepard's story. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a step down from the awesome role-playing experience of the previous game, mainly due to its ending.
Mass Effect 3's ending is possibly one of the best examples of how not to end a franchise's overarching narrative. The entire Mass Effect Trilogy's ending boiled down to just three arbitrary choices, giving three somewhat different outcomes, with no definitive answer to the series protagonist Shepard's fate.
This was both disheartening and disappointing for long-time fans of the series, who had built up a connection to the fictional characters of the franchise. Bioware, however, realized their mistake and tried to remedy the ending with additional cutscenes, but the damage had already been done.
Mass Effect 3, although it wasn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, its lack of a proper ending was enough to shatter any immersion factor this game could have on players playing it.
2) Dragon Age 2
Another Bioware title that suffered due to rushed development fell victim to its success with the previous game in the franchise. Dragon Age Origins is undoubtedly a masterpiece of a role-playing game.
Fans were eager to see how the developers would shape the future installment. However, to their dismay, Dragon Age 2 was a rushed, half-baked role-playing game.
The game was severely lacking in any variety, whether in gameplay, quests, or the dungeons. The game was also a terrible role-playing experience. Many of the choices made by the players throughout their journey of Thedas were practically ignored by the end of the game.
Combined with rampant reuse of assets throughout the map and limited locale variety, these factors made for a very uninteresting role-playing experience.
3) Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Assassin's Creed Odyssey is undoubtedly an excellent open-world game, but not a good role-playing game or even a good Assassin's Creed game. The game was the final nail in the coffin of the storied franchise.
The story and gameplay of Assassin's Creed Odyssey had nothing to do with assassins or their creed, yet Ubisoft was confident in calling it an Assassin's Creed game. The only thing that barely resembled the Assassin's Creed mythos was relegated to a paid expansion, mostly fan service, and a bad one.
Assassin's Creed has always been a franchise that was grounded in reality. Sure, it had its fair share of sci-fi elements, but the inclusion of those was so elegantly done in the narrative that they never felt out of place.
But here in Odyssey, we have a protagonist who is practically a god, can jump from any height without faltering or taking any damage, teleport across the map in the blink of an eye, turn invisible, and have many more such tricks up their sleeves.
It also didn't help that the story had nothing to do with the main title's overarching plot.
When a game runs amok, gifting characters with crazy supernatural powers, it's bound to break player immersion and hinder enjoyment.
4) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII was one of the few polarizing entries in the Final Fantasy franchise. Although the game featured the unique Final Fantasy flair of cutting-edge cinematics and a robust turn-based combat system, it lacked innovation. This is something fans have been asking Square to freshen up the franchise.
The game eventually led to Final Fantasy XIII-2, with improvements and additions over its predecessor. The developers took the feedback to heart to create a game that fans wanted them to make.
The real problem with Final Fantasy XIII was its story and ending, which was borderline insulting to the fans, and the bland gameplay that had little to no innovation since the early Final Fantasy games. The game's characters, too, were not exciting or relatable. It was shocking for a series that prides itself on creating notable characters.
5) Cyberpunk 2077
CD Projekt Red with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt showed how a modern open-world role-playing game should be crafted. However, the developers fumbled in their next role-playing game, Cyberpunk 2077.
Cyberpunk 2077 is top-notch if taken as a story-driven action game. No other game can even come close to what this game has to offer in its short but tightly packed story filled with many emotions and unique characters.
But if the game is judged on the merits of being a role-playing game, which is how it was marketed, then we have a problem. Cyberpunk 2077's launch has been the most disastrous Triple-A launch.
The game had a laundry list of features promised to be in the game by the developers that were flat out absent in the released version, the AI was atrocious, and the role-playing mechanics were nowhere to be found. It was shocking for fans of the developer's previous work to see such a rushed and unpolished game.
The most significant issues with Cyberpunk 2077 were its bugs, glitches, and a plethora of technical problems, ranging from simple texture loading issues to outright crashes on consoles and PC. The game was practically unplayable on the last-gen consoles, i.e., PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
It's tough to get immersed in a game where the NPCs start T-posing or outright vanish in an instant every other second. The game did receive massive patches following its launch for months, making the game more and more in line with the previously promised Cyberpunk, but the damage had already been done to both the game and its developer's reputation.
Disclaimer: This article reflects the opinions of the writer.