Best RPGs of 2011

Without a doubt, 2011 was an outstanding year for gaming. We were bombarded with good games this year, which makes picking the best of them even harder. Luckily, we’ve got you, the readers, to help us out.

Every day this week, we’ll be revealing our staff choices for the best games of the year in a variety of categories. We’ll also be reporting the results of our Reader’s Choice voting. So, without further ado, let’s get things started with the Best RPGs of 2011.

Could we have asked for a better year in the RPG genre than we got in 2011? A new Elder Scrolls title, the return of Deus Ex, and another Witcher game were just a few of the highlights of an absolutely stellar year. We can’t overstate how difficult narrowing this list down was, but with the help of gallons of coffee we got it done.

The nominees were:

 

Our Picks

5. Dragon Age 2

It takes a lot of guts to release a sequel to one of the most acclaimed action-RPGs in recent memory that jettisons nearly everything about the previous game except certain critical setting elements, but that’s precisely what BioWare did with Dragon Age II. Epic in scope, intimate in scale and packed with plenty for RPG addicts and bloodlusters alike, the sequel to 2009′s Dragon Age: Origins, is stunning accomplishment. Instead of doing the expected sequel thing and continuing the war to save the world that dominated the plot of DA:O, it tells instead a story about unexamined political, racial and religious strife through the eyes of a family of refugee survivors.

Accompanying the story are vastly improved character models and graphics, and a combat system that treats the player to some tremendous bloodshed. It wasn’t perfect, alas – it was riddled with bugs and relied far too much on recycled dungeons and enemies – but it was a bold departure both from its predecessor and from other fantasy RPGs, and whatever its flaws, it remains one of the great games of 2011.

4. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

CD Projekt Red’s adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels was a huge hit in 2007, and the sequel improves on that game in almost every respect. It reimagined combat, increased character customization and fleshed out both story and side quests. The Witcher 2 also offered a plethora of branches to its story, with choices the player makes impacting the way the game unfolds. Although it had a bit of a steep learning curve, the reward for persevering through was commensurate with the effort involved. Combine all of this with the gorgeous visuals, and you’ve got a stalwart contender for RPG of the year.

3. Dark Souls

A lot of gamers will probably never play Dark Souls, which is a shame. Put off by the reports of extreme difficulty, they’ll miss out on one of 2011′s best titles. In crafting a sequel to 2009′s sleeper smash Demon’s Souls, developers From Software weren’t afraid to go bigger and weirder.

Everything great about Dark Souls proceeds from the combat system, which is both simple to learn and infinitely complicated. Possessing a sense of weight, momentum, and impact that puts competing RPG’s to shame, the game’s melee duels will test your tactics, patience, and concentration.

You’ll need to pay attention if you’re to survive the game’s sprawling, uncanny levels, full of grotesque, silent enemies, cryptic NPC’s, and pervasive sense of dread. In an industry all too fond of cookie-cutter concepts and focused-grouped safe bets, Dark Souls decrepit decadence and unfettered creativity are a both a design triumph and a welcome relief.

Go to Page 2 for the top 2 RPGs and Reader’s Choices!

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8 Comments on Best RPGs of 2011

daniel whatever

On December 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

i like the list very much . thx game front :D
but i still think dragon age 2 is not worthy enough to be on this list !

Draxanoth

On December 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I found DXHR to be much worse than Dragon Age 2… Witcher and Skyrim were fantastic.

Leon

On December 22, 2011 at 12:21 am

Dragon Age 2 should definitely NOT be on this list, it had horrible plot and character progression and the writing was just horrible. Compared to Origins it was the blunder of the century.

200. Dragon Age 2
4. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
1. Dark Souls

Is, in my opinion, a more accurate ordering.
But I guess you were paid off to put Skyrim at number 1, and DA2 on the list.

Ron Whitaker

On December 22, 2011 at 5:57 am

@Leon: Why is it that if we don’t agree with your ranking of games, it means we’ve been paid off? I’ve never understood that perception among people. Believe me, if we got paid to give games good review scores, we’d all be living a lot more comfortably. I’ve been doing this for years, and I’ve never been offered any sort of compensation for a good review. The idea is just ludicrous.

Our rankings were determined by averaging the votes of all our staff. Every individual may not have voted for it to be #1, but enough people voted it high on the list to earn it the top spot. You’re free to disagree, but unfounded allegations of some nebulous payoff from Bethesda are just silly.

daniel whatever

On December 22, 2011 at 6:09 am

of course .. Dragon Age 2 was a good Game . one of the good and entertaining Games of 2011 . but it only deserves “good” .. not great .. not awesome .. not anything else . our expectations were pretty High after Dragon age Origins … and unfortunately Bioware answered us poorly .
assuming this year we only had a few RPG titles . so ok .. i admit it’s acceptable to have DA2 on the list :D

@ Leon …
have you ever played any of the elder scrolls franchise ?! if yes then you’re probably under 18 (no offence anyone)

Phil Hornshaw

On December 22, 2011 at 10:59 am

@Leon

Derp, Bethesda doesn’t need to pay us to put Skyrim as no. 1 on this list or any other list. Skyrim has already sold a ton. Also the game is really good, so they wouldn’t have bothered — even if any developer EVER did that, which they don’t. And since we’re NOT on the take, if you’re going to assume that OUR opinions are flat wrong, it’s just as easy for us to assume that yours is. You probably got paid by CD Projekt and From Software to make this comment.

See, sounds just as dumb when I say it.

Knight Solaire

On January 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hello there brothers, our worlds are all intertwined in some sort of way, millions of people other than ourselves are participating in jolly cooperation as we speak with. Each other by placing a white soapstone on the ground in the best RPG to date :) Dark Souls! Praise the sun!

chirs

On February 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Skyrim and dark souls were the best games I played this year