Action RPGs have become more and more popular over the years. It’s gotten to the point where most RPGs released are action orientated. However many of them ignore the action aspect in favour of a more stat driven experience. Today I’ll cover my personal top 5 action orientated combat systems released in an RPG.
Number 5: Diablo 2 + Lord of Destruction Expansion Pack
Since Diablo 2′s release many games have sought to replicate the combat system and addictive loot orientated game play, including Blizzard’s own Diablo 3. However even though there have been many releases of Diablo clones there has yet to be a release that matches its prowess of combining number crunching and fast paced action combat. Whilst stats are a big deal in Diablo 2, there is also a high degree of skill, planning and preparation involved in the combat. The combat combined some of the best parts of skill and number crunching to make a classic game that spawned its own sub-genre that still exists to this day.
Number 4: Dark Messiah of Might and Magic
Melee combat in a first person perspective is not easy to make and boy did Dark Messiah nail it. Along with the environmental hazards and tactical magic system this game stands heads and shoulders above any other of its type. Every time I play Dark Messiah it makes me wish the Elder Scrolls series had made a carbon copy of its combat or at least borrowed more elements from it. Despite its faults no 1st person arpg has made anything close to the fluid and well designed combat of Dark Messiah.
Number 3: Dragon’s Dogma + Dark Arisen Expansion Pack
If I made a list for the best magic systems in a video game, Dragon’s Dogma would be the first on the list. Whilst this game has flaws it is still an incredibly enjoyable experience that no other game can provide. Climbing a monster 10 times your size whilst your pawns summon a meteor shower or a tornado is amazing. Whilst fighting minions can be boring or at least repetitive it more than makes up for it in the unique boss enemies that roam the world. I hope that more games will realise what worked in Dragon’s Dogma and learn from them.
Number 2: The Witcher 2
The Witcher 2 is one of my all time favourite games. Every thing the dev team focused on turned into pure gold in this game. The combat is difficult, but fair. Enemies telegraph their attacks slow enough to react to in a realsitic time frame but quick enough that it requires skill to pull off. The spells are all balanced and designed so that each of them has their own purpose and none of them are useless. The Witcher 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it crafted the combat so well that innovation feels pointless.
Number 1: Dark Souls
Dark souls is easily my favourite game from the 7th generation of consoles. I’ve clocked countless hours into the game and I’ll still boot it up pretty frequently. Dark Souls is a very combat oriented game and whilst the spells and actual role playing is fairly bare boned the combat is so satisfying that it doesn’t matter. The combat feels weighty, something that only monster hunter (and its numerous clones) has really mastered. Each swing of your weapon is an active decision because if you spam or rush you will be slaughtered mercilessly.
That being said despite its notoriety of being impossibly difficult it’s really not the hardest game in the world. It’s just unforgiving of mistakes and will punish bad players. Some people argue that Demon’s Souls has a better combat system. It’s probably better balanced for online play but with single player Dark Souls takes the cake. This is thanks to improvements in health restoration, the armour system (poise) and better balanced weight penalties. I wish more games would take a weapons size and weight into account and realise that healing shouldn’t be something you can spam.