Rarely have we ever seen an “open-world” RPG that puts this much attention into its side quests, out-of-the-way locales, and minor characters. Most open-world games try to sell you on the idea that you can go anywhere and do anything, but Fallout: New Vegas is one of the few that will encourage even the most focused gamers to see it all. More importantly, it manages to offer a variety of potential paths forward that only reveal themselves based on how you navigate its complex web of choices. It’s the kind of game that makes you want to stand up and take a bow.
6. Mass Effect 2
There are some who will say that Mass Effect’s core promise of a galaxy that’s fate will be impacted by most of your choices was always too ambitious. There are others who will argue, “It wasn’t. Just look at Mass Effect 2.”
Mass Effect 2 is arguably the closest BioWare came to realizing their most ambitious design ideas. Despite working with (often against) a scope that would make most studios weep in the corner, BioWare packed this sequel with a legion of memorable characters with their own complicated arcs that slowly reveal themselves as you brazenly explore a galaxy that feels ready to open up or crumble at your feet at any time. Mass Effect 2 does all of that and still manages to be a blast to play throughout.
5. The Witcher 3
The first two Witcher games are incredible, but if you find that most people don’t seem to be able to put The Witcher 3’s impact into words, that’s probably because even the first two games couldn’t quite prepare them for this masterpiece.
The Witcher 3 has side stories that would be worthy of campaigns in lesser games. I honestly still can’t quite explain how this game remains so fresh and exciting even after dozens of hours of play. Many of us grew up dreaming of being thrown in an elaborate medieval fantasy world where we truly felt like the hero that could shape the fortunes of all, and The Witcher 3 might just be the ultimate piece of sword and sorcery fantasy wish fulfillment.
4. Final Fantasy 6
Look, I could sit here all day and talk about the virtues of Final Fantasy 6 or even how its best moments are still capable of reducing gamers to tears. I could tell you about the heroes, the villains, the plot beats, and all the other things that make this game the classic that few will debate that it is.
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