Elmon Dean Todd’s RPGs of the Decade
In addition to showing the results our staff-wide voting, our massive RPGs of the Decade feature allows individual staff members to highlight their personal favourites from the last ten years. While our main list is limited to entirely new entries from the decade, our writers have been given a bit more leeway for their personal lists, being able to combine titles into a single entry in their list of ten, include various remasters and ports, and use whatever ordering, or not, they wish. Here, Elmon Dean Todd gives us his picks.
Whether it’s the Nintendo DS or the revamped 3DS version, Radiant Historia offers a solid, traditional RPG experience for anyone seeking great characters, a strong narrative, and a good battle system. Some have related it to Chrono Trigger, but I daresay that this game deserves a class of its own. And I foresee it will age very well down the road. This is definitely a classic, and best of all, it’s portable.
This is one of those RPGs that I would love to see more of. The colourful and beautiful world just encourages exploration. The amount of ‘life-simulation’ options really give this game a rich flavour, as the player can switch classes, collect ingredients, create items, and explore like an offline MMO. The multiplayer system really makes this game shine, and I highly recommend enjoying this with a friend or two to really get the most out of the experience. Overall, Fantasy Life is a highly overlooked prize that needs more attention.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The typical Zelda formula involved clearing dungeons in a specific order and using the acquired items to open up more exploration. Breath of the Wild does away with tradition and offers players a large amount of freedom early on, and it’s very addicting. I remember playing past my bedtime, vowing to quit once I crested that distant hill, only to find myself discovering some ruins and more interesting things to explore. The next thing I knew, it was morning time – I had played the entire night. That said, I’m looking forward to Breath of the Wild 2 and hope it improves even further.
The Last Story
Directed and co-written by Hironobu Sakaguchi of Final Fantasy fame, The Last Story is an action-RPG that was released on the Wii in 2011. My initial reaction upon playing it was, ‘This is what Final Fantasy XIII should have been.’ With a likeable cast, a fun battle system, a great story, and fast-paced dungeons, The Last Story remained entertaining from beginning to end. Best of all, Nobuo Uematsu composed a very memorable soundtrack to top it all off. This is one of those games that highly needs a remaster or remake so everyone who skipped out on it can enjoy.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
While there are many open-world RPGs, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt leads them by offering a large world full of things in between. What I mean is that most open-world games are big, but mainly devoid of anything worthwhile in the expansive fields, valleys, and forests. No so with The Witcher 3. A stroll through the forest may yield a lone cabin that’s part of a quest, or lead to a cave that hides a sinister story. There are always things to do and places to see. Then there’s Gwent, the card game that’s as fun to play as the main story.
Final Fantasy XIV
There’s not much I can say about this MMO that hasn’t already been mentioned. Final Fantasy XIV one of the best MMOs and it’s still going strong. The player can follow along with the story, or simply relax and enjoy the large, beautiful game world on offer. One of the most memorable things about the game is the music, which is mainly composed by Masayoshi Soken and his team. I would rank the soundtrack as a whole as one of the best of decade.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky / Trails of Cold Steel series
I first played Trails in the Sky on the PC over 15 years ago in Japan and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the story and music. I was thrilled when the series was localised for the west, and it’s continuing to expand, building upon an already-robust world with likeable characters and a wonderful story. I would say that the Trails series offers the most content out of any RPG out there, as it revolves around the same world.
Dragon Quest Builders 2
If you locked me in a jail cell for the rest of my life, threw away the key, and left me with only one game to play, I would want it to be Dragon Quest Builders 2. Out of this entire list, DQB2 offers the most replayability. You can build anything your mind desires. The series took inspiration from Minecraft, but it goes beyond that by adding a prettier world, lively inhabitants, and the typical Dragon Quest story and feel. While DQB2 is not perfect and there’s some room for improvement, it’s definitely one of the best block-building games out there, and a fun RPG to boot.
Xenoblade Chronicles / Xenoblade Chronicles X / Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I first played Xenoblade Chronicles in Japanese, because I never thought that this game would ever leave Japan. Thankfully, we not only got it localised, but have received its sequels. Xenoblade Chronicles does everything right: music, design, characters, story, and gameplay. The world looks amazing and unique, and the whole experience is memorable right down to the ending.
Xenoblade Chronicles X strays from its predecessor in terms of narrative and characters, but it retains the wonder of exploration which makes it play a lot more like Breath of the Wild in certain respects. As for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and the Torna expansion/prequel, I think Alex’s reviews mirrors my thoughts exactly. One thing I would like to add is the fantastic English voice cast. It seems the Xenoblade series is here to stay, and we’re better off for it.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Before Dragon Quest XI came along, my favourite game in the series was Dragon Quest V. However, along came the Definitive Edition for the Switch to not only dominate my DQ list, but to earn its place as my personal top RPG of all time. This was probably one of the few RPGs where I enjoyed the entire cast of characters in my party, and I found their journey very emotional and rewarding. The symphonic music in the Switch version was top-notch, and the option to switch to 2D mode offered another dimension of gameplay.