We recently gave you 10 Science Fiction Games Every Fanboy Should Play, and now it’s time for the other end of the spectrum. Below you’ll find the ten fantasy games that are a must to experience at least once, although many of these on here are worth playing through multiple times.
Baldur’s Gate II
Simply the greatest PC RPG ever created. Baldur’s Gate II set the stage for everything BioWare did in the years following it. It’s a totally perfect package with an epic story and a perfect reproduction of the AD&D ruleset. While you would get more out of it by playing the original game (characters carry over), if you decide to skip right to the sequel you’ll still be playing the best.
Along the same lines of Baldur’s Gate II, Planescape: Torment is one of the best PC RPGs ever. Where Baldur’s Gate had a great story, it really doesn’t compare to the storytelling in Torment. This game laid the groundwork for what Obsidian would do in following years, and really hasn’t been topped since. The game that has come closest to recreating Planescape: Torment’s storytelling is one of Obsidian’s Neverwinter Nights II expansions.
The Elder Scrolls
Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series has been going on for quite a while now, with the long-awaited fifth game due out later this year. The open world, do what you want, RPGs are an excellent example of a “Western” RPG and probably due to the popularity of Grand Theft Auto games they’ve been growing even more popular. There are currently four games, although Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion are two of the best. The first two can actually be downloaded for free via Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls site and just need DosBox to run on modern systems.
Lord British’s Ultima series is a staple for any RPG player, but Ultima VII probably has the most lasting effect on fantasy games. Ultima Online, the first real MMORPG, was basically an online version of Ultima VII. If you load up Ultima VII it still will remind old-school UO players of what UO used to be like years ago.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The NES and SNES Zeldas are classics, but when Nintendo took the series into 3D with the Nintendo 64’s Ocarina of Time they created not just another classic, but a ground breaking action RPG. The story was epic in a way few had seen before and the game went on to become one of the most popular Zelda games ever. It’ll get a 3D remake on the Nintendo 3DS and you can grab it off the Virtual Console on the Wii if you’ve never played it…and you should.
The Temple of Elemental Evil
While there are already two D&D games on this list, I had to include The Temple of Elemental Evil. Based on a classic module, this was one of the first 3rd Edition games to be released and it features the absolute best combat you could ever hope for in a PC RPG. The adventure itself is just as good as the original module, and worth playing through multiple times with different alignments.
Final Fantasy VI
I’ve included two Final Fantasy games on this list, and each one is worth your time. The first is Final Fantasy VI. Released in the US as Final Fantasy III it was the biggest game to date and showed Square’s real drive to story-driven games. The epic is filled with memorable moments (how can you forget that opera coming out of the tiny SNES sound chip?) and will give you months of play time. It’s been re-released on the GameBoy Advance and PlayStation.
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series that Square released for the PlayStation, the the ire of many fanatical Nintendo die-hards. Released nearly fifteen years ago, the game graphically hasn’t aged that well, but despite a mess of an ending it still has one of the most popular stories in the series with a cast that was so popular it led Square to make numerous spin-offs. Screams for a remake won’t die down, and if you’ve never played it you can download the original game to your PS3 or PSP off PSN for $10.
Demon’s Souls is a small cult-hit game developed by From Software and Sony’s Japan Studio for the PlayStation 3. It’s a call back to when games would punish you for your mistakes, but still rewarding. In this game, you can never pause the action. When you die, you lose everything. Yet it’s still extremely fun. While it’s an Atlus game, which are always very limited, it has become a Greatest Hits and you should be able to find it on shelves for about $20 now. A “spiritual sequel” called Dark Souls will come out on the Xbox and PS3 later this year.
World of Warcraft
While it’s a MMO, I had to include WoW on this list. The game has become a cultural phenomenon and you simply cannot put together a list of great fantasy games without including it.