We are reaching that point where Elder Scrolls VI will be released, the followup to the nearly five-year-old game known as “Skyrim”. Whether you like this game or not, you must admit that it was popular on release. Not only did it make a crap ton of money and several internet memes, but it also started this craze of people trying to make open-world RPGs for themselves. These games garnered mixed results, but some were fantastic.
This new breed of open-world RPGs along with the old ones are examples of great ways to design and make a game. So, I thought why not talk about 5 RPGs I find to be better than Skyrim? After all, when Elder Scrolls VI gets released, it’ll probably get everybody making these games again anyways. It happened with both Oblivion and Skyrim; the popularity of these two games created a huge demand for better and more impressive games of this genre. So, without further adieu, on with the list.
Before we delve into the list prior, let’s go over some rules:
- Only one game per franchise.
- It must be open-world and an RPG.
- The game cannot be developed by Bethesda, due to this list comparing non-Bethesda games to a singular Bethesda game.
5. Avernum: Escape from the Pit
I only discovered this game just last year, but it has quickly grown into one of my favorites. This was one of the first games I ever reviewed on this blog, and I feel it’s time to discuss it once more. Escape from the Pit is the remake of a remake of an old 90s computer RPG. The game plays like a combination of Skyrim and Fallout 2. You have the old-school strategic combat and wordy story-telling of an old Infinity Engine game mixed with the open-world exploration you’d find in something like Skyrim.
Unlike previous Spiderweb Software games, you can pretty much go anywhere you want. The map is continuous and you can travel to any location you want to visit right out of the gate;.Of course, the game will lock you out of certain areas, or have monsters too strong for you to risk visiting that area. Some areas you won’t be able to access until later, but you do have a great variety of locations to adventure around in at the very start.
The game is turned-based and strategic, requiring you to known the strengths and weakness of each individual character. Building your character properly is the name of the game and creating a truly great party can be an arduous task. Still, it’s fun to craft a great team of adventurers and have them travel across the vast countryside to defeat evil.
Why it’s better than Skyrim: Avernum’s open-world is far more fun to explore than Skyrim. There’s a lot more unique occurrences and strange enemies to encounter. One minute, you can be running around collecting fungus and the next second you’re in a cave filled with friendly talking spiders! The game has a unique lore and great concept. In Skyrim, you are in a snowy fantasy-land being torn apart by war. It is fairly by the numbers. In Avernum though, you are underground in a large winding cavernous continent.
You either escape, or get killed by the various beasties crawling through the underground. In Skyrim, you escape from prison and are free for most of the game. In Avernum, the entire landscape is a prison! You are an outcast, forced underground because of minor crimes against the empire. And your fight to escape the underground is more engaging than most things in the game.
4. Fantasy Life
Some may argue that I’m cheating by putting Fantasy Life on this list, but this game technically is a sandbox game with an open-world as well as being a RPG. This game takes place in the fantasy land known as “Reveria”. You play as a completely customize-able character who is ready to get his first job, known in this universe as a “Life”. You have 12 different jobs to choose from, be it something predictable like as wizard or something more obscure like an alchemist. My personal preference was for the blacksmith class, since I was able to make all of my own equipment.
You don’t have to feel like you’re forced to be a single class, either. The game allows for you to switch your class while in-between story missions, so you can experience all the game has to offer. The open-world is small at first, but it opens up as you progress further in the story. The farther you progress in the campaign, the more areas you’ll be to explore. You never really feel like you retreading too much, plus you can take airships and other types of travel to areas you’ve already been to.
Despite the fact that you have to beat the main-quest to unlock all the game has to offer, you still have great control over what you can do. The game is very non-linear when it comes to its explore-able world, which is always a welcome change of pace. There’s plenty of monsters to encounter, items to craft, and a large variety of things to do. Get bored with one job? Try another! The sky’s the limit as far as what you can do in the game.
Why it’s better than Skyrim: Unlike Skyrim, you never feel overwhelmed by the large world presented before you. You access new areas by playing through the main campaign and they are always a joy to travel through. Areas can offer new enemies or even special events, such as meeting a talking sword. Once again, I find the side-content to be more entertaining here than in Skyrim. This is due in no small part to the amazing writing.
The game features punchy dialogue and like-able characters. On top of this, things that I do in Skyrim just feel better when I do them in Fantasy Life. Customizing my home is more fun than in Skyrim because I have a larger degree of control over how it looks. Exploring the world is also more fun due to the vibrant colors and adorable monster designs. The main thing that I find better than Skyrim is that it feels more difficult and rewarding to be a jack-of-all-trades. In order to level certain skills in Fantasy Life, you need to be a certain job to do so. And each job brings with it’s own challenges, making it satisfying whenever you master a specific job.
3. Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning
I can tell already that everyone reading this going to think I’m crazy for liking Amalur more than Skyrim, but I can’t deny that I had way more fun with Amalur than I ever did Skyrim. The game was more colorful, as were the character designs. It offered a larger open world, even if some of the activities in said open-world were kind of lame. It had a fantastic combat system, despite the fact that the game was extremely easy. In all honesty, it offered an experience that wasn’t like a whole lot of other open-world games.
The game takes place in the fantasy world of Amalur, where you play as a being who was mysteriously brought back to life. Gifted with the power to alter fate in any way you deem fit, you are sent on a quest to triumph over a dark power. It’s a fairly generic plot, but some of the stuff it does is pretty unique and interesting. The game also boasts a lot of customization. You can choose from various skills and abilities for your primary character and create a character that fully fits your preferences.
Why It’s Better Than Skyrim: The game boasts combat is that much more satisfying than Skyrim. There is no more “Stand here and smack dude with sword” type moments. Combat involves a lot of quick movements and special attacks, trying to find that right moment to strike the enemy. I also like the World Of Warcraft-esque designs of the armor. Skyrim’s choice in armor felt a little generic at times. In Amalur, I felt the armor boasted more fantastical and colorful designs.
The game might be easier than Skyrim, but I found it to be a lot more fun. And while the side-quests falter in comparison to some of Skyrim’s quests, it’s still worth playing if you’re looking for a fully customizable experience. The character customization tops Skyrim, and allows you to create a character that is completely different from any other player. It may not be as engrossing as Skyrim at times, but it makes up for it with a lot of heart and very fun gameplay.
2. Dragon’s Dogma
Capcom is a hit-or-miss game company, when compared to how they used to be. There came a time where Capcom could literally do no wrong and almost every single on of their games ended up being classics. Heck, even if one of their games sold badly, it would still remain a classic. While things have changed since then, the 2012 release of Dragon’s Dogma brought back this dynamic of Capcom being a powerhouse.
Dragon’s Dogma is an open-world RPG like few others. Boasting a combat system similar to Dark Souls, and a fantasy world filled with freaky monsters, this game is truly a sight to behold. You play as a human who has his / her heart torn out by a dragon. Surprisingly, this doesn’t kill but instead transforms you into “The Arisen”. You can now call upon extradimensional human-like beings known as “Pawns”.
You are then thrust forth into an open-world that is populated with humans and scary giant monsters. The game features your typical swordplay and sorcery, but spices it up with challenging boss fights. There are certain bosses that come out at night and some bosses that have special abilities, such as turning you to stone. It’s an unforgiving world, where you have to master the challenges put forth before you.
The game features a pretty good story, which takes you all over this unique fantasy world. You uncover the mystery of the Arisen as you grow stronger and gain new abilities. You acquire new pawns along the way, along with taking on terrifying new bosses. While I haven’t played the expansion pack, I can definitely say that this game is worth your time.
Why it’s better than Skyrim: I like this game more than Skyrim due to a multitude of reasons. This includes have much better bosses, and the ability to battle them in such a fantastic way. The game’s pawn system far outmatches the companion system in Skyrim. I grew attached to my pawns, even though they were mostly interchangeable. And I didn’t grow this attach through backstories or intricate quest-lines, I grew attachment to them by fighting alongside them and having adventures with them. I generally felt that this game satisfied me more than Skyrim ever did.
1. Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout is a series I love immensely, and there are few games in the series that have entertained me quite like Fallout New Vegas has. I may be cheating by putting this on the list, as it is technically a Bethesda game. However, this game was only published by Bethesda, the development of the game was headed by Obsidian. So, I’m bending the rules a bit with this entry. It boasts a vast open-world, a ton of various weapons, and a post-apocalyptic land beset by marauders and monsters. The game thrusts you into this world armed with nothing but a gun and some starter equipment. Playing like a combination between a first-person shooter and a RPG, the game puts you up against mighty opponents such as Super Mutants and Deathclaws.
The game includes the normal game, plus an extremely hard version called “Hardcore Mode”. In this mode, all of your teammates can die and every threat you encounter is much stronger than they are in the base game. While the game is prone to the occasional glitch, I found my gameplay experience to be fairly stable. This was due to most of the bugs being patched out over the year, creating a satisfying experience overall.
Fallout New Vegas boasts a ton of very unique and memorable side-quests, as well as a very entertaining main-quest. There are so many secrets and Easter-Eggs contained within this massive world as well, adding even more to this expansive universe. Unlike Skyrim, this game presents a world that will knock you down and kick you while you are on the ground. You play “The Courier”, on his quest to find the man who nearly killed him. It’s definitely a satisfying story, complemented with fun gameplay.
Why it’s better than Skyrim: I like this game more than Skyrim due to the amount of really good side-quests, as well as a very entertaining main quest. This game has so many things going for it, things Skyrim takes for granted. Each town and city in New Vegas has their own opinion of you, which is shaped by the way you behave. In Skyrim, each city just fines you for your crimes, as opposed to having your behavior shape the reactions of these cities.
New Vegas also boasts some great expansion packs, some of which make Skyrim’s expansions look like crap. I loved Old World Blues and Lonesome Road, to me these far outclass the expansions Skyrim gave us. New Vegas also presents its characters in a more realistic fashion than Skyrim. People will behave in ways indicative of their personalities, and will even take drastic actions depending upon your own decisions. It creates this awesome experience that had me engrossed far more than in Skyrim.
So, that’s my list. Keep in mind, it is just my opinion. If you believe that none of the games measure up to Skyrim, than I respect that. I know not everyone will agree with my list, but I hope those that do give these games a shot. They are really fine games on their own, even when not being compared to Skyrim. I may redo this list in the future, after playing more open-world RPGs. I have yet to thoroughly play Gothic 2, or Witcher 3. For now though, I hope you enjoy the list I have presented. Thanks for reading and have a great day!