There has been a plethora of gripping RPGs and heart-pumping shooters over the decades. Various developers have explored the concept of overlapping these two rich genres by sprinkling in light RPG elements into FPS games and vice-versa.
Yet, the true RPG-shooter hybrid is a genre in gaming that’s only recently begun to be fully explored. Franchises like Borderlands and modern-day Fallout helped popularize this style, adding scale while making the gameplay accessible. Meanwhile, CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 looks to further amp up the genre when it releases on September 17, 2020.
With that said, let’s examine this relatively small pool of RPG shooters and cover 10 of the all-time best.
Updated May 3rd, 2020 by Stephen LaGioia: The appealing FPS-RPG crossover seems to be gaining momentum. This has been the case with new IPs, in addition to recent sequels and remasters. Thus, now would seem an appropriate time to update our list with more great entries in this style. There’s certainly no shortage of solid games that masterfully blend these distinct, yet similarly fun genres.
A lot of the more interesting and colorful games (quite literally in this case) have been coming from the indie scene. This retro trip by Super Duper Garrett Cooper drops players into an obscure world of vibrant polygons, laced with open-world shooting and arcade sensibilities.
Self-described as “Borderlands-meets-Tron,” the experience is dripping with 80s technological flair. This is enhanced by its unique hacking gameplay and RPG elements of progression.
Though it currently resides in “early access” status, Black Ice is brimming with appealing FPS gameplay.
There are few developers more practiced in the art of RPG-FPS fusions than Obsidian. This action-stealth RPG serves as another example of their prominence in this hybrid genre.
While it’s now a decade old, Alpha Protocol shines with cinematic greatness. This is thanks to its gritty, realistic visuals, epic cinematics, and a gripping narrative. The game draws from spy romps like the Bourne films and James Bond. This is laced with Splinter Cell-esque gameplay and what Obsidian describes as “espionage RPG” concepts.
12-The Outer Worlds
The Fallout inspiration is apparent in this similarly gritty, retro-future RPG. This makes sense, given the directors’ role in the creation of that series. At the same time, The Outer Worlds takes a more colorful, zany approach in terms of style and content.
The player is in for an epic, memorable experience when embarking on their quest and unlocking their ship – which serves as the central hub. The game integrates both action and depth with its progression system and satisfying shooter mechanics.
11-Fallout: New Vegas
While it wasn’t looked at as favorably to most fans compared to the likes of Fallout 3, Obsidian brought a fun new sensibility to this epic series. Roaming the gritty remains of post-apocalyptic Vegas makes for some captivating exploration. Even if it’s a tad on the buggier side, New Vegas also introduces some new elements, fleshing out and refining this solid foundation set by Bethesda.
You had an improved V.A.T.S system, additional perks, awesome new weapons, and as a fun bonus – the ability to gamble. This game has been in the rearview mirror now for nearly a decade, but it feels as rich and grandiose as ever.
Though this game might look a bit crude to modern eyes, this 1994 shooter from LookingGlass Technologies was groundbreaking for the time. During an era where 3D first-person games were still in their infancy, System Shock shocked the gaming world with this dynamic action-adventure.
Not only does it contain an array of weapons, skills, and progression elements; it also features the neat ability to enter “Cyberspace.” This is a free-roaming mode that allows the player to drift weightlessly through a 3D space while gathering data and dismantling security programs.
The best part is that a sleeker, refined 2015 version of this game can be played via GOG.com, appropriately called the Enhanced Edition.
9-Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
This thriller by Troika takes the vampiric motifs and premise of a tabletop RPG by (mostly) the same name and amps it up with thrilling action and FPS gameplay.
While the 2004 game was released in an era rife with cruder 3D graphics, it has aged pretty well, thanks to its cinematic elements, sleek effects, and deep gameplay. The game is wrought with werewolves, demons, and other things that go bump in the night, keeping you on your toes. It mixes a variety of unique quests and progression elements that allow your vampire antihero to choose their own path.
8-Resonance of Fate
Despite studio tri-Ace’s Japanese origins, this game feels very Western with its inclusion of gritty settings and action-laced shooter mechanics. At the same time, you’ve got a tinge of Japanese RPG nuance throughout.
The sport shines with its unique blend of approach and movement shooter factors, supplying you with a slew of processes to gun down your foes. This PS3 and 360 title flew beneath the radar amidst a few heavy-hitting shooters and RPGs following its 2010 launch. Regardless, it is a rich, rewarding, and interesting adventure that shouldn’t be missed.
The third time is certainly a charm with this epic follow-up to Bioshock 2. That’s not to say we’re discrediting the similarly awesome originators in the series, yet this 2013 installment just has a little something extra.
The game rolls with the same satisfying system of weapons and psychokinetic powers, laced with in-depth FPS gameplay. At the same time, Irrational Games ups the ante with some cool steampunk themes and the majestic setting of retro-futuristic Columbia. You’ve also got more variety and depth to the combat in addition to that exhilarating rail-transport system.
The third game in this awesomely wacky trilogy was a long time coming, as fans had to wait several years for a new mainline game, satiated only by a few smaller spinoffs and DLC packs. And while this sequel’s reviews have been more mixed than BL2, it still provides that same thrilling Borderlands experience; and in a grander form than ever.
Reworked classes and skill trees, colorful characters, and rich interplanetary settings await you on this new vault-hunting journey. Even more so than its predecessors, BL3 is brimming with fun loot and tons of insane new weaponry to play around with.
5-Mass Effect 2
While Bioware’s space adventure has seen its ups and downs, this second installment is often regarded by fans as the peak of this RPG epic. In fact, the 360 version sits at a sky-high 96 out of 100 on Metacritic.
In another similarity to Star Wars, this second act is the franchise at its most dynamic and emotional. It smooths out the blemishes of the 2007 breakthrough while building on the already solid foundation.
The sport does not compromise in phrases of its cinematics, preference-making plot, or its appealing fight. The freedom in exploration, the deep function-playing, and fun shooter combat make for a memorable sci-fi odyssey.
This one leans more heavily in the “FPS” direction than most others listed here. Still, Desinty 2 manages to provide an epic MMORPG-style experience with the thrills of FPS gameplay. Given studio Bungie’s pedigree with great, renowned shooters, it’s not surprising that this FPS experience is both mechanically solid and fun.
The game rounds things out with gripping cinematics, prominent social elements, and a range of enjoyable quests.
This flashy romp from 2000 is still regarded by some gaming pundits as one of the best PC titles ever.
It’s easy to understand why, given the gripping conspiracy-laden plot and unique, immersive gameplay. It’s easy to get lost in the lavish sci-fi settings, enhanced with the solid Unreal Engine. This groundbreaking game has since spawned a number of sequels/prequels, but it’s tough to match the iconic status of this originator.
Like Doom before it, Ion Storm’s Deus Ex feels like a true evolutionary step in shooters, with its infusion of RPG elements and nuanced augmentation system.
Despite being the third game in this post-apocalyptic series, Bethesda’s Fallout 3 felt like a breakthrough when it released in 2008. It’s still widely considered one of the best games ever, thanks to its captivating gameplay and vast, atmospheric open-worlds.
While the game emphasizes popping foes with a slew of fun weapons, it retains some tactical bits its PC predecessors had. This is achieved with its deep character customization system, and innovative V.A.T.S targetting. This allows you to weigh your options as you pinpoint optimal areas to hit your foes.
There’s something uniquely enthralling about roaming the ruins of retro-future D.C. while blasting corny old-time music.
Gearbox’s sequel to the zany, stylistic Borderlands really hit all the right notes for many fans. Though the first game was a bit simpler and cruder, and BL3 perhaps gets a bit too bloated at times, BL2 finds that sweet spot.
Though it wasn’t blemish-free, it ironed out some quirks and flaws of the original, while building on its solid foundation. Various awesome guns were added, in addition to more intricate Pandorian settings. You’ve also some particularly amusing new heroes and villains like the smug Handsome Jack.
Borderlands 2 is regarded through many as one of the few video games it truly is exciting and deep when tag-teaming with a pal or gambling by myself. A number of DLC packs, like Tiny Tina’s Assult on Dragon Keep, and the recently-launched Commander Lilith in addition upload to this motion-packed journey.