Top 10 RPGs With Deep Lore



Top 10 RPGs With Deep Lore

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci
For gamers craving deep lore, there's no better genre than the RPG. For this list, we're looking at single-player RPGs with novel-length lore. We won't be including MMOs as they deserve their own list, while we will be including games based on existing IPs. Our countdown includes the "Dragon Age" series (2009-), the "Final Fantasy" series (1987-), "Divinity: Original Sin II" (2018), and more!
Script written by Caitlin Johnson

For gamers craving deep lore, there's no better genre than the RPG. For this list, we’re looking at single-player RPGs with novel-length lore. We won’t be including MMOs as they deserve their own list, while we will be including games based on existing IPs. Our countdown includes the "Dragon Age" series (2009-), the "Final Fantasy" series (1987-), "Divinity: Original Sin II" (2018), and more! Let us know in the comments which RPG world you could read about forever.

#10: “Cyberpunk 2077” (2020)

Though the game does play fast and loose with some of the existing lore from the TTRPG, the fact remains that it does have a decades-old TTRPG to draw from. Not only that, but it uses lore developed throughout the cyberpunk genre, pulling most liberally from William Gibson’s “Sprawl” trilogy. In fact, you’ll likely get more out of “Cyberpunk 2077” if you’re familiar with the lore of “Cyberpunk RED”, since the game has so many factions and pieces of history that it doesn’t explain upfront. It’s certainly a game that often keeps you guessing with regards to its lore, like the origins of certain gangs or the corporate wars of the past, but Night City is always going to be a rich, sprawling environment.

#9: “NieR” series (2010-)

The NieR franchise has an incredibly huge lore, all starting with the game it spun off from “Drakengard”. In the final ending of that game, the protagonist finds themselves battling in the real world, leading to a deadly disease being inflicted on planet earth. Fast forward thousands of years and humanity is on the brink of extinction as it deals with a mysterious enemy known as Shades. NieR Automata, the most popular game in the series takes place even further into the future where humanity has built a race of sentient, powerful androids known as the YoRHa to protect it from an alien invasion, and thousands of years later the androids are still present and trying to defend humankind.

#8: “Dragon Age” series (2009-)

Though the RPG genre is loaded with high fantasy settings, “Dragon Age” still remains a popular game with fans for its lore. Its sister franchise “Mass Effect” also has some pretty extensive lore you can read in the codex, but it’s just not as detailed as “Dragon Age’s” long history. You have the various different countries, many of which are so large that we’ve yet to see them actually appear in a game, their histories with each other, and you have the Circles of Magi and the Chantry of Andraste. The stories of the Chantry alone could fill a hefty tome, while the complexities of the mages and templars fuel most of the conflicts.

#7: “Fallout” series (1997-)

After the Second World War, our own universe and the universe of the “Fallout” games diverged. “Fallout’s” United States managed to develop nuclear technology for the consumer market, fuelling a golden age of innovation – until, in 2077, nuclear war broke out between America and China. Called “the Great War”, it only lasted for two hours, after which the entire world was destroyed. Not only is there this primary backstory, but there are long histories for factions like the NCR and the Brotherhood of Steel. In fact, if you played all the games, you witnessed the birth and perhaps death of the NCR over the course of them all, not to mention that the games cover centuries of events.

#6: “Baldur’s Gate” series (1998-)

Undoubtedly, the biggest TTRPG of all time is “Dungeons & Dragons” – so, of course, we had to include the franchise set in that same universe on our list. It’s set in the Forgotten Realms and has had many games and huge expansions since it began in 1998, with those games all being made by extremely well-regarded RPG studios. The likes of Black Isle Studios, Snowblind, and BioWare have all worked on games in this series. The expansions make the series even more complex, but it’s worth it to spend the time getting to grips with the lore as “Baldur’s Gate III”, developed by the brains behind “Divinity”, is currently in development.

#5: “The Elder Scrolls” series (1994-)

Bethesda’s flagship fantasy series, “The Elder Scrolls” is the franchise that put the company on the map and made them what they are today. The world of Tamriel is so huge that every game takes place in a new region, one you’ve probably heard people mention for years because much of the worldbuilding was developed way back with the first game. People spent more than a decade waiting to finally explore Skyrim after hearing about it for so long. And the benefit of Bethesda’s region-centric structure is that every new game can build more unique lore specific to that area, meaning that there’s going to be even more in-game books to read by the time we get “The Elder Scrolls VI”.

#4: “Divinity: Original Sin II” (2018)

Seen by many as the absolute gold standard of fantasy RPGs, “Divinity: Original Sin II” is certainly not forgiving to newcomers. You’re going to have to get to grips with a complex dialogue system and combat mechanics that have a very steep learning curve. But it’s all worth it for the game’s rich world. Like the other games in the series, though “Original Sin II” is certainly the best, it’s set in Rivellon and focuses on magic users – here called “sourcerers” after the “source” of their power. And not only does it include the usual elves, dwarves, and humans, but also a race of sentient lizard people and talking, undead skeletons.

#3: “Bloodborne” (2015)

Though every “Soulsborne” game has deep, rich lore – including 2022’s “Elden Ring” – “Bloodborne” might be the title that crams the most into one release. Going down a Gothic horror route, “Bloodborne” begins as what looks like a relatively simple story of corruption and werewolf-like monsters. Slowly, though, things collapse: it turns out that “Bloodborne” was secretly a Lovecraftian, cosmic horror game all along, brimming with ancient, elder gods and nightmarish experimentation. You learn a lot through those famously obtuse item descriptions this time around as well, all about the sadistic underside of the Healing Church, where the Beasts come from, and what a toll the Old Blood is taking on Yharnam.

#2: “Final Fantasy” series (1987-)

Though all the mainline, numbered “Final Fantasy” games take place separately from each other in different worlds, they all share a collective lore and many returning tropes and creatures. All the games have generally the same vibe; they mix advanced technology with magic, like the ethereal mako in “Final Fantasy VII” being part of an industrial power company, and are about a heroic group of adventuring friends. Plus, there is one famous animal you’ll see in every single game: chocobos! It’s extremely impressive that each individual game manages to have such deep lore all of its own without necessarily being connected to any of the others – at least, not directly in most cases.

#1: “The Witcher” series (2007-)

With eight huge novels by Andrzej Sapkowski to pull from, it’s no surprise that none of CDPR’s “Witcher” games has a single wasted moment. Whether you’re completing small side quests or getting invested in the grandiose main story, you’re always going to be chipping away at the massive catalog of lore and adding new entries to Geralt’s bestiary. The series has a seemingly endless number of supernatural creatures to contend with, including many that Geralt himself doesn’t know much about, like Gaunter O’Dimm. With a blockbuster TV show and a fourth game in the works from CDPR, the lore of “The Witcher” never ends.