What are the best turn based RPGs? These games are about character evolution; the nature of progression and the choices you can make means that your abilities and journey may never entirely be the same across multiple playthroughs. They’re also about offering robust combat mechanics and making the best use of your squad as a team working towards a common goal.
While this list may have a lot in common with our guide to the best RPG games, turn based RPGs tend to focus more on squad-based combat and have roots in the classic tabletop RPGs of old. Games in this niche are often similar to turn-based strategy games, though to make the distinction relevant, we’re focusing on games with more pronounced RPG features. Let’s look at some of the best turn-based RPGs on PC.
The best turn based RPGs on PC are:
Persona 3 Reload
Persona 3 Reload charts the adventures of a high school transfer student who stumbles upon the Dark Hour, a hidden pocket of time between one day and the next. Your days are spent attending school, catching up with your peers, and completing activities on Port Island. However, the turn-based RPG action kicks off during the Dark Hour, as you and your party ascend Tartarus – a labyrinthine tower comprised of semi-randomized dungeons – and defeat hostile Shadow creatures with your respective Personas.
Persona 3 Reload is billed as a reimagining of the original Persona 3, ushering in a visual overhaul, quality of life upgrades, and changes to combat and exploration. Our Persona 3 Reload review praises it as “the most feature-rich version of one of the best JRPGs ever made” but with the caveat that its omission of the alternative scenario and epilogue present in FES and Portable “leaves a bitter taste for a long-term fan”.
Baldur’s Gate 3
It may have been decades since the last new Baldur’s Gate game, but the years of being in early access have paid off for Baldur’s Gate 3. The DnD game has made history in garnering almost universal acclaim from fans, including us, which you can read in our Baldur’s Gate 3 review.
It doesn’t just begin with choosing which Baldur’s Gate 3 class goes best with our pick of the many Baldur’s Gate 3 races. We soon meet our faithful Baldur’s Gate 3 companions, whom we bond with on our fateful journey to get Mind Flayer parasites out of our brains. We pass through burnt-down villages, venture into the Underdark, and even into the titular city. It’s not quite the same rules as DnD 5th Edition (perhaps acting as a testing ground for a future edition), but the similarities are there for those familiar with the tabletop RPG engine.
Where Larian excels, though, is in making us care about everyone and everything we encounter. We have our favorites, of course, and while some of us appreciate Astarion’s sass, many of us think that Karlach is an absolute sweetie. Whoever you bring on your adventure, it’ll be a saga that you’ll never forget.
Octopath Traveler 2
The follow-up to Square Enix’s acclaimed turn-based RPG leaves the characters and setting of its predecessor behind. Instead, Octopath Traveler 2 promises a whole new adventure in Solistia, an industrial fantasy world comprised of two separate continents divided by the sea. Our hero of the hour is one of eight playable protagonists, each with their own unique backgrounds, special abilities, and storylines.
Octopath Traveler 2 offers the same classic high fantasy turn-based RPG experience as its predecessor, albeit with a few updates here and there. The dynamic day-night cycle provides a welcome layer of strategy, as you reckon with powerful enemies under the cover of darkness. Your commute between bustling towns and across the high seas will also take you aboard all manner of maritime vessels. However, despite all these ambitious gameplay changes, the sequel remains at its core an Octopath Traveler experience, with that signature blend of HD-2D that pays homage to the 16-bit JRPGs of yesteryear.
Honkai Star Rail
The latest anime game from the creators of Genshin Impact, Honkai Star Rail brings back the sci-fi setting and introduces turn-based combat to the series. As your chosen version of the Trailblazer, you travel across the galaxy on the Astral Train, stopping at planets to resolve disasters caused by Stellarons.
While our Honkai Star Rail review quickly points out that this is a gacha game, complete with all the predatory trimmings, it also praises the “lightweight and remarkably fast-paced” combat that helps if you’re short on time. You also have a vast amount of customization available, from Honkai Star Rail team comps to light cones, relics, planar ornaments, and eidolons. If you’re getting started, check out our Honkai Star Rail tier list to see who are the best characters, and our Honkai Star Rail codes guide will give you some free items for your adventure.
Sea of Stars
Inspired by the venerable Chrono Trigger, this turn-based fantasy RPG takes a traditional approach to the genre without being derivative. Sea of Stars follows Valere, Zale, and Garl, a band of adventurers who set off to stop the Fleshmancer and his world-destroying creations. Along the way, they encounter ghost ships, dragons, and a whole cast of allies that tag along with them on their epic quest. Naturally, their journey takes them to far-flung locations, from windswept caverns to the Sea of Stars Golden Pelican – but not everyone they meet is a friendly face.
Combat encounters in Sea of Stars are anything but static, and incorporate timed button presses to either block or buff damage. More powerful enemy attacks can also be interrupted attacking them with the corresponding damage type. This system forces you to think several steps ahead, offering a surprising amount of depth given how approachable it is – and that’s before you take Sea of Stars relics into account. As per our Sea of Stars review: “If anyone tells you that turn-based battles are dead or archaic, smack them with a boxed copy of Sea of Stars.”
Sequel to 2014’s Wasteland 2, this series has been quietly competing with the likes of Fallout to offer a post-apocalyptic RPG experience. Whereas Bethesda’s series went down the first-person root, Wasteland has stuck with the original Fallout game’s premise, with tactical battles That have more in common with XCOM. Wasteland 3 is bigger and better than the previous game, although not without some technical wiggles that still need ironing out.
From its clever writing, engaging setting, and dedication to ensuring you feel every consequence of your choices, finding a more roundly satisfying role-playing experience will be difficult this year. One for those looking to scratch that XCOM or Fallout itch and an apocalypse game that offers the best of both those worlds. Check out our Wasteland 3 review for more thoughts.
Logic Artists has spent the past decade perfecting its unique blend of turn-based strategy RPG that focuses heavily on exploration and mechanics intrinsically tied to each game’s core theme. From Expeditions: Conquistadors to the Viking power-fantasy of Expeditions: Vikings, the studio has recently transported us to hallowed antiquity and the height of the Roman Republic.
Easily the best entry in the series to date, Expeditions: Rome sees your character fleeing the capital and the machinations of the Senate to earn a reputation out in one of Rome’s many theatres of war. You will lead a small band of companions – the Speculatores – but you’ll also command an entire army that is almost its character.
The series’ legacy for exploration is still strong here as you lead your special band around the map going out on quests, all packaged as part of some of the less high-profile activity surrounding a military campaign. Setting up alliances, scouting, removing key obstacles… you’ll lead the charge on all of it. In the background, you can order your legion around the campaign space to set up bases and secure resources. A more pitched battle will need to be fought occasionally, and there’s a separate mini-game for that. It works surprisingly well, and you can read more of our Expeditions: Rome impressions here.
Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
There’s a good chance that you’re into your tactical RPGs because, at some point, you played Final Fantasy Tactics. That’s all good, but we bet you’ve also been chasing that proverbial dragon ever since. Well, Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is here to fill that hole in your strategy heart. Don’t let its so-so story and nods to modernity fool you – this is the FFT game you’ve been pining for all these many years. It’s beautiful, nuanced, and has secret classes to unlock; Arbiter’s Mark is the real deal.
There’s the classic battle system, characters who can take on different jobs, and even the terrain height considerations are all present and correct in this modern version of the PlayStation classic. Arbiter’s Mark hits all the right notes and makes nearly zero mistakes – a rare achievement regarding gaming homages.
Fighting against an evil, all-powerful, dimension-hopping empire might sound like a losing battle, but it’s one you’ll enjoy losing over and over again in this roguelike/tactical RPG mash-up that sees you doing just that. As you lose the fight for one reality, you hop on to the next one to continue the fight there – keeping the experience & gear you’ve earned so far.
Star Renegades is the complete package – very deep combat mechanics, a beautiful pixel-art world, and RPG elements that, while sometimes cumbersome, enrich the wider story. The game’s only weak point is that it can run out of steam too quickly – after a few re-runs, things start to get the same, but this has always been a delicate balancing act with this genre. Aside from that, you’d do well giving this game your attention. Check out our Star Renegades review.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
This is a solid return to form for a series that has been sorely missed in the West. Seamlessly blending turn-based tactical gameplay with real-time unit control, this unique mechanical integration creates a game that strategy fans and RPG enthusiasts can enjoy. RPG fans will enjoy the character growth and story, leveling up their favorite classes and equipping soldiers with unique equipment.
There are charming side novellas of units getting to know one another that jump straight into a battle scenario with some odd twist thrown in. The introduction of the Grenadier class makes terrain elevation and positioning critical, while traditional classes like the Sniper and Shocktrooper still shore up a simple but versatile roster. Add in an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) and your trusty old tank, and you’re set up for a fun time learning how to be a master commander.
For those familiar with the series, Valkyria Chronicles 4 doesn’t shake things up so much as polish and refine what already exists. The upside to the stories, each being stand-alone offerings, is that newcomers can jump right into an excellent game that knows where its strategy strengths lie.
Banner Saga 3
The Banner Saga 3 brings the triumphant success of Stoic’s turn-based strategy series to a strong Ragnarök-induced close. While it continues to unfold unique story beats and introductions of characters new and old, it also succeeds as an RPG due to its clever combat design, risk-vs-reward mechanics, and ability to equip and promote heroes. Players are for managing a small caravan containing the vaulted Varl hero Ivar, duo mages Juno and Eyvind, and the Raven mercenaries. Meanwhile, they must ensure Aberrang, the last human city with the primary character Rook (or Alette), doesn’t succumb to a siege.
While convoy management of resources takes a somewhat smaller role in Banner Saga 3 compared to its predecessors, it’s still a part of the game. Relics that can be equipped offer unique bonuses or abilities to characters, and promotions will encourage you to think carefully about how best to reinforce your units to withstand the apocalypse. Especially given units will die, so many people will die. The decision tree between attacking opponents’ armor or strength will continue to attack your cognition as you wonder if you are making the correct decision, but it never feels overwhelming. The Banner Saga 3 continues to ride the line of stressing you out right to the brink of exhaustion but never quite tipping past that line.
Disgaea 5 Complete
Imagine an RPG where the entire plot is just the pre-game setup to an even larger post-game, an RPG where individual items contain entire randomly generated universes, and cheating is actively encouraged by the game mechanics! Disgaea 5 perfectly blends over-the-top ridiculous anime games and genuinely smart, engaging gameplay. Missions start with a tile grid containing various enemies on the battle map. During your turn, you can choose which units to take out of your “base” panel, where you want them to go, and what abilities you want them to use. The sheer number of unit and skill options available to players makes for unique strategies for handling scenarios and constant debate online about what setups genuinely reign supreme.
The story is self-contained, so you don’t need to play previous entries in the series to enjoy what Disgaea 5 offers. However, it also contains a very extensive list of DLC characters from previous Nippon Ichi Software games, class options, and more, all of which are free when you purchase Disgaea 5 Complete, although it’s worth noting the PC version currently lacks the online network play features. While that is a genuine bummer, the lost functionality is a small chip off an otherwise incredible title.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal is a fantastic choice if you prefer a turn-based RPG that will take you over 80 hours to complete but also has some of the slickest writing and theming in years. As the leader of the Phantom Thieves, you and your companions journey through the damaged psyche of corrupted individuals, manifesting in labyrinthine dungeons filled with monsters. Your team uses Personae to fight in battle, exploiting enemy weaknesses and gearing up for all-out attacks to wipe out the enemy.
Royal is the upgraded version of the JRPG game, so you’ll have a brand new member of the Phantom Thieves to recruit, a new minigame-filled region in Tokyo, a dungeon, two additional endings, and more. In battle, the new ‘Showtime’ attack lets party members tag team to inflict tons of damage. There are loads more differences to find in Persona 5 Royal, so if you want the definitive experience, this is it.
Additional entries by Joe Robinson