It can be difficult to discern what a video game’s main genre is, due mostly to the fact that modern titles blend them all. For anyone just getting into the action RPG (aRPG) genre, it might be confusing on where exactly to start.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind about aRPGs is their loot. The rewards you get for taking on enemies are crucial in the gameplay loop of a successful aRPG from first-person shooters to JRPG-style games. These titles are perfect for aRPG beginners or anyone who needs a refresher course.
Updated October 15, 2022, by Gabrielle Huston: We’ve refreshed this list with a few new titles and extra details about the other ones so that you’ll know where to go looking for a game if it sounds like it’s up your alley. Good luck with your questing!
|Released||September 17, 2020|
|Platform(s)||Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft Windows, macOS|
|Why For Beginners?||Experience with rogue-lites|
The rogue-lite RPG from Supergiant Games captured practically everyone’s hearts and minds. The stellar soundtrack, addictive gameplay, and beautiful imagery only amplified how suave the characters are. It’s hard to deny practically everyone’s appeal from Zagreus and Megaera to the ornery underworld God himself.
But the rogue-lite aspect is what makes it perfect for beginners. Each time Zagreus dies, he gains access to more boons, weapons, and story. Though it can feel a bit like a hack and slash, it’s that kind of semi-mindless combat that aRPGs trade in at times. You’ll find yourself incorporating combos seamlessly as you try to escape Hades (but also flirt with everyone you can).
16/17 Dragon Age: Origins
|Released||November 3, 2009|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft Windows, macOS|
|Why For Beginners?||Compelling narrative and characters, with in-game choices that affect the story’s outcome|
Dragon Age: Origins is a role-playing game first and an action game second, which makes it excellent for beginners. The wonderful dark fantasy narrative developed in this game, and the cooky companions you’ll obtain along the way, will keep you fully invested as you learn the mechanics.
Like most RPGs, Dragon Age: Origins includes a skill-tree system that allows you to customize your character’s skills to your preferred play style. Plus, if you like the game, there are two more that continue the series’ story!
15/17 Trials of Mana
|Released||April 24, 2020|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Android, iOS|
|Why For Beginners?||Introduction to JRPG style and more controlled experience|
This title from Square Enix might be more of a Japanese RPG (JRPG), but it’s a great option for beginners who love that aesthetic. This game, specifically, revives the 3rd game from the series in a beautiful 3D world. It has full controller support and allows player choices to shape their character’s morality.
Though it’s a single-player experience, Trials of Mana is one of those that a group can sit and watch or take turns playing. But do be aware that the game is less open-world and more “on rails.” ARPG beginners may love this or feel trapped by it.
14/17 Divinity: Original Sin 2
|Released||September 14, 2017|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch|
|Why For Beginners?||Lots of difficulty options to customize your experience in a vibrant world|
Some might argue that, because it features turn-based combat, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is not an aRPG. However, the same story and loot elements that feature heavily in games like Diablo also feature here. Beyond that is how choices affect gameplay and the fact that players can choose from four difficulty modes.
This allows a wider audience to enjoy the game without infringing on any other player’s experience. Larian Studios crafted a unique world that feels alive and new yet familiar and inviting. This game’s success led to the studio diligently working on Baldur’s Gate 3 — a title that would work for more advanced aRPG players.
13/17 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
|Released||March 3, 2017|
|Platform(s)||Nintendo Switch, Wii U|
|Why For Beginners?||Adds puzzle elements and creative problem-solving to the aRPG genre|
It’s definitely an action game, but whether Breath of the Wild counts as an RPG is a divisive topic. Regardless of where you fall in the argument, pretty much everyone agrees that it’s the most RPG-like game in the Legend of Zelda franchise. Why is this game excellent for beginners?
First, it’s partially because of its uniqueness. Breath of the Wild gets players to start thinking outside the box, coming up with creative solutions to problems that only you might have made. While not every game will give you so many tools to come up with these creative solutions, it’s still an important lesson to learn that will help you in other games.
Second, Breath of the Wild is designed in such a way that it can be anything to anyone. Are you interested in fighting monsters? Track them down, sell the loot for better armour, and repeat. Are you interested in the characters? There are plenty of side quests to keep you entertained. Are you interested in exploration? Hyrule is truly enormous, and you’ll discover unique biomes and new friends as you travel.
12/17 Borderlands Games
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch|
|Why For Beginners?||Funny, colourful, and addicting|
Picking up any title in this franchise offers a seamless introduction to the looter shooter aRPG genre. But the first game might be the best place to start for those who want story continuity. If you just want the best experience overall, many fans would suggest Borderlands 2.
The shooting is fast-paced, abilities are unique and interesting, and players can create their own builds based on a skill tree. Though player choice doesn’t really factor in, loot rains down from the sky, and the story captivates even the most cynical of players. It’s best when played with friends and a group of four beginners makes a perfect party.
11/17 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
|Released||September 30, 2018|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia|
|Why For Beginners?||Open-ended and fascinating historical setting|
This title in the long-running franchise finds the player in Ancient Greece. You can play as Alexios or Kassandra, but many fans regard Kassandra as the “true protagonist”. It’s one of the few AC games where player choice and even romance feel truly incorporated into the gameplay.
After all, the series is usually known for its stealth mechanics, free running, and…assassinations. Instead, Odyssey puts the focus on exploring the in-game world,meeting people, and getting to know all about Alexios and/or Kassandra.
10/17 Victor Vran ARPG
|Released||July 24, 2015|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch|
|Why For Beginners?||Good introduction to PC gaming and streamlined content|
Don’t confuse this with another game about vampire hunters (The Incredible Adventures of Vanhelsing); it is its own thing. In fact, players can jump and platform to some degree in what is otherwise a traditional aRPG title. You run around an overworld battling enemies, gaining loot, and progressing through a story.
But Victor Vran offers very streamlined progression with intuitive controller mechanics. If you’re more used to controller vs. keyboard and mouse, this is a great way to transition from console to PC and still use a controller.
9/17 Ghost Of A Tale
|Developer||Plug In Digital|
|Released||July 25, 2016|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows|
|Why For Beginners?||Engaging characters and story|
Stealth mechanics might not seem very action-oriented, but when you’re a mouse in a rat’s world, hiding will get your heart pumping. This adorable title sets the player as Tilo — a mouse minstrel trapped in a keep. Explore the grounds and beyond while avoiding enemies at all costs.
You’ll even meet fellow mice and other characters along the way. But, perhaps the most impressive thing about this game, is that it was created by mostly one person: Lionel “Seith” Gallat. For aRPG beginners, Ghost of a Tale offers a fully contained and wonderfully realized story.
|Released||March 25, 2013|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows|
|Why For Beginners?||Consistently updated and free-to-play|
Though it can be a bit grindy at times, Warframe is totally free-to-play and offers tons of content. Players create their own space ninja robots and engage in third-person shooter combat with melee options. Though the somewhat generic setting of “future with mega-corporations” seems stale, the game discusses transhumanism in a surprisingly deep way.
It’s had 11 expansions so far, with no signs of slowing anytime soon. For people who want to dip into the aRPG pool without heavy investment, Warframe is the way to do it.
|Released||March 16, 2022|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft Windows, MacOS|
|Why For Beginners?||Takes inspiration from old aRPGs|
Here’s a way for beginners to get the same introduction to action RPGs as so many people did years ago – Tunic is an action RPG inspired by the original Zelda games! It features an adorable fox in a recognizable, titular green tunic.
The game was praised when it came out for a variety of things, but among them was the fact that the game doesn’t hold the player’s hand. It might seem strange, then, to recommend this as a beginner’s game! However, we’d argue that beginners can’t truly learn the genre and advance unless they’re given the chance to truly thrive!
|Released||November 11, 2011|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows|
|Why For Beginners?||Lots of content and very customizable experience|
Most gamers (and non-gamers, to boot) have heard of Skyrim. The Elder Scrolls franchise has been immensely popular over the years and, as its latest installment, Skyrim took it further than ever before.
The first thing to know about this game is how massive it is. And we do mean massive. Once you get through a short tutorial, you’ll get access to the entire world, unrestricted. Though you can follow the introductory quests, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from jumping off a mountain, waging a war on the chickens of the land, or starting barfights when someone looks at you funny.
This game is good for beginners because it’s a largely personal experience. Whether you want to focus more on the action or the RPG aspect of the genre is entirely up to you. In the latest version of the game, you can even use a ‘survival’ mode that limits fast travel and makes you focus more on your surroundings and character’s state of being. The only reason that we might not suggest this for a beginner is if they have a tendency to be overwhelmed.
5/17 NieR: Automata
|Released||February 23, 2017|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Microsoft Windows|
|Why For Beginners?||Wide range of gameplay styles and innovative narrative design|
It’s incredibly difficult to describe NieR: Automata in a single sentence. Is it an aRPG? Yes, it is, but it’s also so much more than that. People who play it tend to fall into a story rabbit hole that genuinely has no endpoint. We as a gaming community could probably talk about it for years and still have more to say.
Again, this may seem like a strange game to suggest to beginners, but we’d argue it does a few key things. First, it introduces a wide range of gameplay styles in a single game – not all action looks the same, after all. Second, its compelling story is bound to keep you coming back for seconds. Third, it’s unlike any other actionRPG on this list and shows what gaming can achieve when the tools at its disposal are used creatively.
4/17 Fallout New Vegas
|Released||October 19, 2010|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows|
|Why For Beginners?||Introduction to RPG mechanics with good balance of action|
Of the Fallout games, Fallout: New Vegas is considered to rank among the best. It took everything that we in the West love about RPGs and packed in an incredible world and fascinating story to go alongside it! There were some bugs to work out when it launched, but that’s all forgotten by now.
It’s received tons of prestigious gaming awards, including the Golden Joystick Award for RPG of the year in 2011. We think it’s a good choice for beginners because you really can’t help but be sucked in – whether it’s by the gameplay, the story, the characters, or something else entirely. If you’ve ever wanted to give the action RPG genre a fair shake, you can’t get fairer than this.
3/17 Potion Permit
|Released||September 22, 2022|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Amazon Luna|
|Why For Beginners?||Casual, no pressure gameplay|
Potion Permit gets into “cozy gaming” territory. You play as a chemist in a quaint little village called Moonbury, where you’re tasked with keeping the locals healthy. The gameplay of diagnosing patients, tracking down materials, and brewing your own potions may sound unconventional, but it’s a blast when you get into it!
This is a great action RPG for beginners who prefer the RPG to the action. It has just enough of the action to keep you interested, but doesn’t linger too heavily on it. You’ll soon find yourself growing attached to your neighbor and those you’ve helped to heal – and won’t be able to leave!
2/17 Mass Effect Legendary Edition
|Released||April 30, 2021|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Cloud Gaming|
|Why For Beginners?||Old beloved games modernized|
BioWare RPGs are practically a genre of their own! They strive to carry over your decisions between games in the same franchise, and Mass Effect was no exception. There are three main games, each one continuing an epic saga about the galaxy’s survival.
The Legendary Edition spruced up all three of these titles, giving old fans a reason to come back and giving other gamers a reason to try them! The action in the Mass Effect series comes in the form of third-person shooting, so it might be a good choice for those trying to branch out of FPSs.
|Released||July 20, 2011|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Microsoft Windows, Linux, iOS, macOS|
|Why For Beginners?||Stunning visuals and award-winning narrative|
From the people who would go on to release Hades in 2020 comes this extraordinary top-down action RPG. Bastion takes place after an apocalypse has destroyed the city of Caelondia. You play as a character known only as “the Kid,” who, at the start of the game, is trying to reach the Bastion – a safe place to go in times of strife.
The settings are fantastical and practically bursting with color and life. The narration that carries the game, performed by Logan Cunningham, moves the reader – alongside the wondrous music. And, it ends with the most tempting thing of all: one, final choice.