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Top 10 Western RPGs of the 2000s

VO: Dan Paradis
Written by Kurt Hvorup With the new millennium comes new incarnations of the Western role-playing game. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Western RPGs of the 2000s. For this list we'll be taking a look at the finest of Western-style role-playing games to be released between 2000 and 2009. We're placing a limit of one game per franchise and we won't be including MMORPGs as they already have their own list. Special thanks to our user mac121mr0 for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Written by Kurt Hvorup

Top 10 Western RPGs of the 2000s


With the new millennium comes new incarnations of the Western role-playing game. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Western RPGs of the 2000s.

For this list we'll be taking a look at the finest of Western-style role-playing games to be released between 2000 and 2009. We're placing a limit of one game per franchise and we won't be including MMORPGs as they already have their own list.

#10: “Borderlands” (2009)


Ain't no rest for the wicked, or anyone else for that matter. Pitched as a “role-playing shooter”, this 2009 game mixes the quick action of first-person shooters with the stat-based loot gathering of role-playing games. “Borderlands” puts players in the role of up to four Vault Hunters in search of wealth, offering a charming cel-shaded world, darkly humorous writing, and plentiful guns to enjoy. That last part cannot be overstated; the game's advertising highlights its 87 bazillion weapon combinations. Even if that number's exaggerated, it's still a heck of a selling point.

#9: “The Witcher” (2007)


Monsters to hunt, love interests to woo – all in a day's work for a witcher. CD Projekt Red's “The Witcher”, based on a popular Polish book series, combines role-playing with a grey area of characterization and morality. Its lead character Geralt is neither entirely kind nor entirely monstrous, a sentiment shared with most people in this dark fantasy world. And the game's narrative toys with politics, choice and consequences, and faction conflict. Factor in an engaging combat system involving multiple fighting styles and emphasis on alchemy, and this is quite the experience.

#8: “Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines” (2004)


Technically the first Source engine game to be completed, this off-beat role-playing game presents unique elements to the role-playing genre. “Bloodlines” tells the tale of a new vampire sent across modern Los Angeles on a quest to earn their place, while investigating a relic that could end vampire-kind. With an open-world structure allowing traversal of four hubs, a skill upgrade system based on what clan the player has joined, and a variety of first-person and third-person combat options, “Bloodlines” is more than effective as a modernization of the Western RPG.

#7: “Neverwinter Nights” (2002)


Ah, BioWare, the long-time purveyors of great RPGs. The company's legacy lives on through “Neverwinter Nights”, a game in which players embark on a quest to cure the city of Neverwinter of a deadly plague. The game as a whole is built on rules from the 3rd edition of “Dungeons & Dragons”, resulting in a balanced and intricate role-playing experience with over sixty hours of content. Then there's the option for online multiplayer sessions and the inclusion of the Aurora toolset for custom content – to say “Neverwinter Nights” is packed would be an understatement.

#6: “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind” (2002)


While its successor “Oblivion” has its merits, we feel “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind” is the more significant title. You are a prisoner shipped off to the province of Morrowind, sent into a grand quest of prophecies, conspiracy, complex politics and general conflict... if you choose to get involved with the plot. The big draw of “Morrowind” was its grand and visually pleasing open-world, packed with side-quests that effectively tie into the larger goal and opportunities to enjoy the real-time stat-based combat. Different from previous entries, it was no less impressive for it.

#5: “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” (2003)


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, an iconic RPG came into our midst. “Knights of the Old Republic”, set thousands of years before main Star Wars saga, put players in the role of a random Republic soldier slowly embroiled in the conflict between Jedi and Sith. The game's roots in Western role-playing were immediately apparent – from its turn-based combat, to the focus on improving character skills. Those gameplay elements mix well with memorable characters, diverse and aesthetically pleasing worlds to explore, and a story that delivers powerful twists while encapsulating the classic “Star Wars” charm.

#4: “Diablo II” (2000)


Epic quests and increased options abound, in this return to Tristram. “Diablo II” picks up after its predecessor, with a new group of heroes venturing out to prevent the return of the Prime Evils by destroying their soulstones. Where the sequel to “Diablo” truly shines, though, is in its gameplay – Blizzard North's patented action role-playing structure was expanded with elements such as a varied skill tree, item crafting, and the addition of stat-improving jewels and runes. Plus, the variety of explorable areas is quite impressive, from basic plains, to jungles, to even the depths of hell.

#3: “Deus Ex” (2000)


Time for a good conspiracy. Developed by Ion Storm Austin, this cyberpunk-style RPG set much of the tone and style of future role-playing games. Its narrative was one of a world in turmoil, following the rookie JC Denton in a complex tale of treachery, manipulation, and corporate control. “Deus Ex” was built to be challenging, yet brimming with options; players could sneak past foes, rely on hacking and lockpicks, or simply blast their way through trouble. From its character customization to its dynamic story, choices were around every corner... and with them, fascinating consequences.

#2: “Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn” (2000)


Once more, BioWare's impact is known. Opening shortly after the events of the original game, “Shadows of Amn” puts our hero Gorion's Ward in the midst of brewing conflict in the city of Athkatla. Using a variant of “Dungeons & Dragons” rules in its core design and relying on an isometric perspective, the game delivers a lengthy yet constantly engaging experience. With its emphasis on player-made characters, combat with plentiful strategic options, and an easy-to-follow plotline, “Shadows of Amn” walks the line between quality and quantity.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Fable II” (2008)
“Dragon Age: Origins” (2009)
“Jade Empire” (2005)
“Mount & Blade” (2008)

#1: “Fallout 3” (2008)


After years of waiting, another fitting sequel to “Fallout” emerges. “Fallout 3” marks the series' transition from isometric play to first-person action, while diverging from elements such as self-referential gags. Yet this change of formula resulted in one of the finest Western RPGs of the 2000s, with a grim yet engrossing setting in the Capital Wasteland and plenty of worthwhile side-quests. All of this wrapped around a story centred on a young Vault Dweller following in their father's footsteps, providing opportunities for all sorts of fun, engaging and diverse activities. Truly, it was worth the wait.

Do you agree with our list? What are your favorite Western RPGs from the 2000s? For more millennial-centric Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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