Are you a polite gamer and want to take turns attacking your enemy? Then the Best Turn Based RPGs will be up your alley. The top turn based RPGs are designed to make you feel like a strategic genius.
Pulling off complex moves and coming out on top against all odds is an exhilarating feeling. The Best Turn Based RPGs allow you to make impactful decisions that can directly influence battle outcomes.
Best Turn Based RPGs
The turn based role-playing genre has been around for quite some time. Dragon Quest and Chrono Trigger made the genre explode in popularity. If you love taking your time and completely brainstorming your moves before pulling the trigger, these are the games made for you. Here are the Top Turn Based RPGs you can play right now:
Divinity: Original Sin II
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS4, Xbox One, macOS, Nintendo Switch, iPad
Release Date: September 14, 2017
The sheer number of options Divinity: Original Sin II provides to the players is astounding. Right from the get go, you can either play a premade character that’s fully voiced and fleshed out, or you can build your own from scratch.
You could be an elf, an undead, or even a lizard. That’s right, the game differentiates itself from other RPGs right from the get-go. Sure, you can also be a human or a dwarf, but that’s a little boring.
Divinity: Original Sin II is a turn based RPG that emphasizes teamwork. You gather your party and develop real synergy between each member. You’ll need to cultivate relationships with your party members and use their strengths against their enemies. If AI companions are not your jam, you can invite up to three other players to join you in easy drop-in/dropout cooperative multiplayer.
The combat plays out in a traditional turn based format. Elements play a huge role in turning the tide of the battle, for example, you can electrify a pool of water to deal additional damage.
Or you can use fire on the water, turn it into steam, and obscure enemy vision. Then poison the steam to make it poisonous. These are just a few examples of how creative you can be during combat. There are over 200 skills in 12 different skill schools for you to master.
The best part of Divinity: Original Sin II is that it is not only great during combat, but also better when you are exploring. There are hidden areas that you can stumble upon, or use teleportation to reach seemingly unreachable places. You can even speak to any NPC, which includes animals and ghosts.
Final Fantasy VII
Platforms: PSOne, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Android, PSP, Xbox One, iOS, Windows
Release Date: January 31, 1997
Final Fantasy VII was released on the first PlayStation and took the world by storm. Yes, we are including the original Final Fantasy VII in our best turn based RPGs list. It was one of the first mainstream turn based RPG game on consoles.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to play the 1997 original on the PS One, the game is readily available on almost every platform including smartphones.
The graphics may seem basic now, but they were cutting edge at the time. It is also one of the first times 3D was used to this extent in a Final Fantasy game. You’re free to explore the environment, interact with objects, talk to different characters, and continue the story, all the while in 3D. Enemies pop up randomly, and you have to be ready to fight them.
The main draw of Final Fantasy VII was not just its turn based combat, but also its story. The game follows Cloud, a mercenary that joins a bioterrorism group to rid the world of a giant corporation. Along the way you meet characters that can become part of your party, Barret and Tifa join you early in the game.
If you’re interested in the history of turn based role-playing games on consoles, Final Fantasy VII is a must-play. You can also play the Final Fantasy VII Remake which is stunningly beautiful but has a lot more real time combat than turn based strategy.
Persona 5 Royal
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Windows
Release Date: October 31, 2019
Fair warning, if you start playing Persona 5 Royal, you’ll lose around 2 weeks of your time without even realizing it. This turn-based slice-of-life RPG is incredibly addictive. While the graphics are nothing to write home about, it’s the story and characters that pull you in with such power.
If you wanted to be a student in Tokyo Japan, and also invade the dreams of villainous people, this is the game for you.
The city of Tokyo is explorable in the game and offers a wide variety of activities to enjoy. The main struggle is to balance your dream invasions as a Phantom Thief and your high school workload. You also have to manage school work, relationships, and combat duties. Aiding you in the quest are your school friends, who join you on your adventures.
You also have to manage time in this game. As any activity you do takes a chunk of time from your day. The game requires time management, as you are always on the move. That’s not all, seasons turn, and school terms change, all the while you continue to attend classes. That’s not all, you even have to give exams, and this is how deep everything is in Persona 5 Royal.
Speaking of combat, you summon Personas to aid you in battle. Any enemy you fight can be captured as a persona, significantly weakened. Think of it like a Pokémon type system, with personas having different elemental attacks.
Your party has normal weapons to use during combat, which include guns as well. It’s a deep system that is intuitive and fun to use against enemies. The PS5 version is coming out soon, but the save files won’t be compatible.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows
Release Date: January 16, 2020
Now that we are already talking about Tokyo, Yakuza: Like a Dragon also takes place in Japan. You play as Ichiban Kasuga, a low level Yakuza member with a golden heart and a unique hairstyle. Just like previous Yakuza games, this one also has an engaging narrative that is sometimes emotional, sometimes action heavy, but most of the time funny.
Ichiban is sent to prison for 18 years for a crime that he didn’t commit. When he comes out, everyone has forgotten about him, including the Yakuza family he loved. Now he wants to discover why he was betrayed and who actually committed the crime.
Along the way, he meets several characters that are just as interesting, a retired cop, a homeless man, and a hostess to name a few. They are members of your party during fights as well.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon offers 19 different jobs, and each job comes with its own moves that can be performed during battles. The jobs aren’t usual RPG affairs either, they range from being a bodyguard to a musician. You also use job-appropriate weapons, for example, the hero job uses a baseball bat. The dealer job on the other hand throws playing cards at your enemies.
Combat is turn based and unlike other games, the enemies are constantly on the move here. Select an enemy and choose different attacks from a menu. Your character positions themselves at an appropriate distance, so they can pull off their move.
The moves however are not simple, they are flamboyant, flashy, and superbly entertaining. Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a true joy to explore and a surprisingly good move to keep the Yakuza franchise fresh.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox Cloud
Release Date: August 27, 2020
Wasteland 3 is a post-apocalyptic turn based strategy game. If you’re a fan of Fallout, note that the Wasteland inspired that series. We are talking about the original top-down 2D Fallout games here. Wasteland 3 is as close to Fallout: New Vegas as we’ve gotten in a long while. The sense of immersion and belonging in this game is unparalleled.
Wasteland 3 keeps things simple, and this is why it is one of the best turn based RPGs in the modern age of gaming. After the initial tutorial-like missions, the story can go in numerous directions. The choices you make have tangible results. A lot of role-playing games these days lack meaningful consequences, but Wasteland 3 has an abundance of them.
It is a role-playing game through and through, so the 2 characters you play don’t have any personality. They are a perfect blank slate for you to pretend you are in the game yourself. You can select quirks and get perks later on. A lot of quests in the game offer alternate ways to complete them, especially if you have the right perks.
The turn based combat offers a key change from the traditional formula. You and your enemies take turns as the whole team. In your team you can select which character has the first go, this gives you a lot more freedom in combat.
There is also environmental interaction during combat, yes red barrels go boom, but be on the lookout for other interesting environmental advantages. Another Wasteland game is secretly being developed at inXile, so you have something to look forward to.
Dragon Quest XI
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Windows
Release Date: July 29, 2017
Dragon Quest XI is a Japanese role-playing game and is the latest entry in a long-running, prestigious franchise. The game is big, and yes, it is even big by Japanese standards. So if you’re looking for a quick 20-hour campaign, this is not the turn based RPG game for you.
However, if you’re willing to explore, Dragon Quest XI offers you a ton of areas to discover. Erdrea is the world in Dragon Quest XI, and it is diverse. The graphics are soft cel-shaded which makes the world look beautiful and fantastical.
The locations you visit have their own unique visual style and architecture. The NPCs also have different ways of speaking and accents, adding to the immersion.
Despite having a huge world, this is not an open world game. Dragon Quest XI is a linear game that takes you on a narrative based quest. The main story is linear and might turn off some gamers with its heavy-handed limits. There are semi open levels for you to roam around, kill enemies, obtain loot and discover secret areas.
The turn based combat in the game is satisfying and responsive. There are a lot of monsters for you to fight, and all of them present something unique in terms of combat. Of course, there are also bosses to battle. They are capable of wiping your whole party out.
Unlike older role-playing games, there are no surprise battles to be found here. Each monster is exactly the same as you see in the game world.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, Windows
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Tired of the usual serious tone of some turn based RPG games? Let us offer you the hilarious South Park: The Stick of Truth. Just like the show, the game also tries to keep you entertained by including humor that is usually as dark as it is funny. Long story short, they succeeded in making me laugh, so you’ll most likely chuckle too.
The Game Takes place in South Park and is immediately recognizable to the fans. The story has a basic set up, a LARPing session is happening, and you can drop your own custom South Park character in the game.
No spoilers here because it is an essential part of the experience. If you’re a fan of the show, the JRPG turn based game by Obsidian will keep you entertained for around 20 hours.
There is only one other character in your party, but you can swap them for other South Park mainstays. You take turns battling weird enemies like aliens and homeless guys. You can use mana-based spells, apply buffs to your party, and debuff the enemies. The combat is kept simple, but there is a little wiggle room for creativity.
If you absolutely love South Park, you will definitely have a fun ride through the 15 to 20-hour South Park: The Stick of Truth videogame. Why is it so funny and close to the source material? It’s because South Park’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were directly involved in the making of it.
Obsidian did a great job by bringing the creators into the fold and creating something authentic. This is not a money grab, it’s a turn based RPG made with love.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Windows, Xbox One
Release Date: July 13, 2018
The tilt shifted 2.5D design of Octopath Traveler will capture your attention, but it’s the deep battle system that will make you stay. The sprites seem out of place in front of the backdrops, but that’s part of its unique charm.
The materials however are realistic, the water, the sand, and the snow look photo-real. A perfect combination of traditional old-school turn-based RPG and modern graphical aesthetic.
As the name suggests, there are 8 separate tales being told in Octopath Traveler. The 8 paths, or stories you can take, aren’t particularly new, but they do manage to keep you hooked through the main campaign. The dialogue is written well and the voice acting is equally good.
The stories are all separate and aren’t interwoven. Playing through all of them isn’t a requirement, either, so you are free to choose your path.
Apart from the main mission, you are free to take on side quests, some of which are quite simple. You can also go explore caves, dungeons, etc., and get rewarded with more loot.
The battle system is deep and tries something new, you discover the enemy’s weakness and exploit it to win here. Breaking the defense is the main bread and butter of combat and it rewards you with easy-to-win battles.
There are a lot of abilities as well as skills that are class-bound. Despite the game looking like an enhanced Stardew Valley, the battle system goes deep. Then there is a job shrine that allows characters to take on an additional job role and open up more possibilities. Octopath Traveler is a meaty turn based RPG that’ll surely satisfy your battle lust. A direct sequel, Octopath Traveler 2 is in the making.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a long game, so long that it’ll take around 50-60 hours to complete one house’s story. There are three of them in the game, as the name says. However, as daunting as it may sound, playing the game again and again is just as rewarding and engaging.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a deeply rich story that is sure to keep you glued to your Switch for a while. The Garreg Mach Monastery is the Hogwarts of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Here, students are divided into three houses that represent three nations. The students learn about battle instead of magic.
The game takes full advantage of Nintendo Switch’s power and displays actual armies this time around. A feature that was missing on the 3DS in the previous games. The game even lets you zoom in on the assembled units during battles, however, it is hard to know your location when zoomed in this close.
Selecting the correct weapon for the right character is the goal here. That depends on the skill level and the weapon stats. The battles play out on a grand scale and are generally exciting. You can also enable permanent death mode if you choose to make the game harder. Losing your star units to permadeath is always a tough pill to swallow.
Baldur’s Gate 3
Platforms: Windows, macOS
Release Date: October 6, 2020, Early Access
From the guys that made Divinity: Original Sin II comes a D&D-based RPG. Select from a large pool of D&D races and classes that are already made for you. Or make your own custom character and select their background. This turn based RPG game is filled to the brim with possibilities and adventure.
The story starts when you are abducted and infected. Now the corruption is eating you up and turning you into a monster. There’s an upside though, the more corruption grows the more powerful you become.
The influences of Divinity are apparent not just in the RPG elements, but also in the story paths you can explore. The game is made on the Divinity Engine 4.0 too, so it looks stunning.
The Forgotten Realms are huge and offer a lot of diversity in both foliage and fauna. Have up to four players in the party to make easy work of the monsters. Or you can split up and do your own thing. The team based combat system is further rooted in D&D by the inclusion of roll modifiers.
Having a good handle on the advantages and disadvantages of your abilities, environment, and enemy resistance is key to winning battles in Baldur’s Gate 3. The game is still in early access for now, it’s the only reason we are placing it at the end of the best turn based RPGs list.
Yes, we didn’t include X-Com 2 and Pillars of Eternity. They are both amazing games and deserve to be on the best turn based RPG games list, but we have limited parking space here. I’m sure there are more epic turn based games that should’ve made the cut. Which ones are your favorites? Do recommend them in the comments, so we can all enjoy turn based replies.