The best 90s PC RPGs ever released on consoles
RPGs are one of the oldest and most beloved game genres, starting life as simple text-based affairs inspired by Dungeon & Dragons back to the 80s. Most of those early RPGs were intensely technical and therefore glued to personal computers while consoles of the era saw simpler action games.
RPGs saw a massive divergence in the 90s, however. Japanese developers were making console RPGs much more common, with games such as Final Fantasy VII Where the trigger of a stopwatch lead the charge. However, the PC market remained strong during this era, with many complex new experiences pushing the genre forward in other directions, and many of these remain classics to this day.
ten Ultimate Online (1997)
MMOs have a complex history, starting life as multi-user dungeons, or MUDs, on local area networks. It was, however, the widespread adoption of the home internet in the 1990s that saw the genre gain prominence, and Ultimate online is often cited as the game that popularized the genre.
Looking at it now, Ultimate online feels a little primitive compared to what is expected of an MMO today. Its gameplay was top-down and drew heavily from the 80s era Ultimate games that inspired him. However, that didn’t stop the game from becoming EA’s best-selling game at the time and creating a dedicated community beyond the expectations of developers, many of whom still play to this day.
9 EverQuest (1999)
Whereas Ultimate online was extremely popular, its success would soon be surpassed. The first MMO to use fully 3D environments, EverQuest was came out two years later and quickly won the crown, becoming the best-selling new online game at the time.
It was so popular that GameSpot commented that it hurt the productivity of the entire industry. It has also led to concerns about video game addiction due to the game’s addictive gameplay loop. Although its popularity has plummeted since the release of World of Warcraftand many other similar titles, its place in MMO history is undeniable.
8 Quest for Glory (1992)
In the 80s and 90s, Sierra On-Line had built a reputation for its brilliant point-and-click adventures, known for their humor and brutal deaths. After the success of King’s Quest series, it’s no surprise that they’re looking to turn the formula into a full RPG, which would become one of the company’s best-selling titles.
Quest for Glory: So you want to be a hero was a hybrid of these adventure games and an RPG. Originally launched as a text-based adventure in 1989, the 1992 remake saw it switch to a point-and-click format. The game was also ambitious, with a full day/night cycle that affected the environment, and skills were gained through natural use rather than experience points.
seven Albion (1996)
While most RPGs of the era stuck to traditional swordsmanship and sorcery aesthetics, Albion stands out with a unique sci-fi setting. The player character has been sent to deep space to scavenge natural resources from a distant planet, but when he crashes, he discovers a whole world of sentient creatures.
An inventive RPG, it received praise at the time for its unique setting and the way it balanced its combat, story, and exploration. It’s lesser known today, but it’s a hidden gem worth revisiting via its GOG.com version.
6 Lands of Lore: The Chaos Throne (1993)
Before Westwood made a name for himself as a master of real-time strategy with Command and conquerthere was lands of knowledge. The studio’s first game after their acquisition by Virgin Interactive, they decided to capitalize on their experience with the D&D-based eye of the beholder series with an original property.
A first-person dungeon crawler, players would venture through maze-like locations battling enemies with a real-time combat system as they venture to rescue the king and defeat a witch Maleficent. It was critically and commercially successful at the time and would even earn a CD-ROM reissue with narration by Patrick Stewart.
5 Ultima Underworld II (1993)
While the main Ultimate games would see console releases throughout their time, the second (and final) entry into the underworld the sub-series would only be released on personal computers. A first-person RPG, it builds on its highly influential predecessor by expanding its non-linear gameplay and placing the player in a vast open world, a huge feat for its time.
The Ultimate Underworld games have had a huge impact on much of the industry, with Ancient Scrolls, Deus Ex, and Bioshock all citing them as influences.
Before Skyrimand even before Oversight and Morrowwindthere was daggerfall. While the first Elder Scrolls game was a huge success, it was this second game that really set the standard for the franchise to come.
daggerfall had the largest world of any game at the time, a full 3D environment containing 15,000 cities because Bethesda wanted a game that could be played for years, much like a tabletop RPG. It was impressive for its time, and its critical and commercial success would lead to a franchise that persists to this day. Once Elder Scrolls 6 goes into development after star field outings, of course.
3 Fallout (1997)
The To fall of 1997 was very different from the To fall of today. Using an isometric view, the original game was a complex strategy RPG with a turn-based combat system. Originally designed to be a spiritual successor to 1989 Wasteland, To fall established itself in a market saturated with fantastic decorations with its post-nuclear wasteland decoration.
It led to a revival of the then-declining RPG market and helped launch a beloved franchise that would continue for years to come, garnering accolades with each new entry.
2 Baldur’s Gate (1998)
Generally regarded as one of the greatest RPGs of all time, Baldur’s Gate took concepts from Dungeons & Dragons and turned them into a video game full of deep mechanics based on Advanced LoD. Much like its tabletop counterpart, players were part of a party of adventurers questing along the Sword Coast, with a range of classes and abilities.
The game was a commercial success, far exceeding expectations, and its influence cannot be overstated. Other similar D&D games soon followed, such as Planescape: Torment and Nights without winterit made a name for BioWare, which would go on to become one of the most beloved video game developers. Baldur’s Gate itself now has a third entry currently in Early Access, with the full release slated for 2023.
1 System Shock 2 (1999)
System shock was already a game ahead of its time, but its sequel would take its concepts to new heights and become one of the most influential games of all time. A hybrid of first-person shooters and complex RPGs, with the team’s previous work on Ultima games being a major factor in this, System Shock 2 unlike anything else of its time.
With character customization, emergent gameplay, and a complex story featuring one of gaming’s most iconic villains in SHODAN, System Shock 2 redefined what an RPG could be.
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