Top 10 Fantasy Video Games of All Time

Hero’s Quest I (1992)

Hero’s Quest I was the original title in the Quest for Glory series. Hero’s Quest I is included in this list because it changed the genre: it was the first game to mix both graphical adventure and RPG elements. While one of the main focuses of the game was the beautiful hand-rendered scenes, it contained character generation and statistic building that was on-par with RPG based games, that literally impacted your ability to progress through the game. There were also a lot of comical moments in this game, similar to the Kyrandia or Monkey Island graphical adventure titles. Yet another game I spent way too many hours on, and one that was a game changer as well.

Betrayal at Krondor (1993)

Another Sierra game, Betrayal at Krondor was ranked Best Game of the Year for 1993 by Computer Gaming World. It offered a 3D role-playing environment like no predecessor, which combined the hand crafted graphics in the style of previous Sierra titles with the ability to view the world in first-person view and rotate and move in 360 degrees. For me, Betrayal at Krondor lead me to discover Feist’s Riftwar series, which became one of my favorite fantasy series of my youth. Feist actually wrote the three novels in The Riftwar Legacy after the release of Betrayal at Krondor, likely being the first time an author was inspired by a video game, rather than it being the other way around. The game featured a turn-based combat system, but one that allowed combatants to move around a local screen and combat different enemies in as close to a real-time scenario as you can get in turn-based combat.

Baldur’s Gate (1998)

Baldur’s Gate is the only actual Dungeons & Dragons game that made my list, being set in the Forgotten Realms AD&D campaign. While Diablo was out around the same time, Baldur’s Gate is credited as reviving the struggling RPG video game genre, and it accomplished this using an AD&D based rule set. While based on AD&D rules, certain parts of the rules were modified to allow for fluid gameplay and battle sequences. Baldur’s Gate spawned 3 more titles in the series, as well as set the standard for other video games based on the AD&D rule set. While I spent more time playing the Dragonlance: Heroes of the Lance game that was released in the late 80’s for the Atari ST, Baldur’s Gate is the real game-changer when it comes to AD&D based video games, arguably sharing the title with the Neverwinter Nights series. Either way, Baldur’s Gate has earned its spot in the top 10 fantasy video games of all time.

World of Warcraft (2004)

When you talk about game changers, World of Warcraft rules supreme. I haven’t played World of Warcraft personally because I’m afraid: afraid of the addiction, afraid that I’ll like it so much I’ll neglect other aspects of my life. I do own World of Warcraft: Reign of Chaos, which is a real-time strategy game, but not a true RPG, and lacks the one feature I’m scared of with the newer World of Warcraft title: a never-ending online world. World of Warcraft, the online game released in 2004, currently has more than 12 million subscribers and holds the Guiness World Record for the most popular (in sheer number of subscribers) MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). In addition to being the most successful MMORPG, World of Warcraft is the first truly successful RPG video game to feature a subscription model, making Blizzard Entertainment owners crazy loot when compared with traditional single-sale games. Let’s face it: the combination of custom character generation, leveling, magic items and inventory management, combined with a massive and ever-expanding online environment in which to frolic is what all traditional RPG fans have been questing after ever since the red box, and World of Warcraft is the first to accomplish it, in style no less.

Dragon Age (2009)

After you recover from the WoW hangover, you may notice that there really aren’t that many quality RPGs out there for PCs or console gaming systems that have been developed in recent years. One series that aims to solve this problem is EA’s Dragon Age. For those of us who still want that true RPG-style gameplay on modern gaming systems, Dragon Age is it. The game takes custom character generation to an entirely new level, with players being able to customize every minute detail of their character’s face, body and clothing. The game features all the classic features of table top RPGs: character management and leveling, magic items, party management (while you create one character, you manage others), and a classic questing system with numerous optional quests. The graphics are simply stunning on PS3 and my 42″ HD tv. EA is investing heavily in the series as well: there has been one full expansion pack (Awakening), seven additional downloadable content pieces (reminiscent of D&D expansion packs), and Dragon Age II is slated for March 2011. For those of us with an interest in RPG video game developments without the “unending” feeling of a MMORPG like WoW, Dragon Age is the way to go.

Sometimes the number of options in modern games like WoW, Warhammer Online, D&D Online and Dragon Age can be overwhelming. I have to wonder when game developers (and software developers for that matter, cough, Microsoft, ahem, Adobe) will take a hint from classics like Zork and Dragon Warrior, and simplify the options within games to allow for an entertaining experience, with the simplicity that a larger audience can be receptive to. The first game developer to wake up and smell the simplicity coffee will find it to be lucrative indeed.

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10 thoughts on “Top 10 Fantasy Video Games of All Time

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Fantasy Books for 2011 | Fantasy Book News

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  3. Darklock

    Dragon age is great and all but how the hell can it compare to the legend of Zelda?

  4. topjag112

    probably because it has a plot

  5. The greatest fantasy game of all time was Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, with other Infinity Engine games like Torment coming close seconds. Anyone who thinks the crap listed above are “the greatest” RPGs are just ignorant about gaming history…

  6. Elf Knight

    No offence, but why the heck isn’t the Elder Scrolls series on the list, especially Oblivion? I don’t know which category it falls under but I am sure it is a very popular video game as it has way more fans than Dragon Age, I think. What with Elder Scroll’s Fifth game coming out in November – Skyrim – the Elder Scrolls is gonna be off the charts! Otherwise, good list and interesting games. Sadly, I don’t have much time or money for gaming. Otherwise, I would check out WoW and Final Fantasy. I still might one of these days…

  7. fuzz

    @ jake the squirt….100% agree. Baldur’s Gate I and II were potentially the best time i’ve ever had playing a game in the entirety of my life.

  8. Joe Greps

    The finest ” Fantasy Video Game of All Time” wasn’t a single player RPG.

    Dark Age of Camelot.

    If you were part of it the first couple years you know exactly what I am talking about.

  9. Thank you for another magnificent article. Do you know where else anyone get that type of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m looking for such info.

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