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:
- Dark Souls – Read our review!
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Read our review!
- Dragon Age 2 – Read our review!
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Read our review!
- The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – Read our review!
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.