In most RPGs, one of the first things you do is pick a job. These books give it more attention than others.
RPGs have always been about how the characters grow and how much you get into the worlds that the writers have made. In some older RPGs, a character’s decision to go down a certain path was much more important than it is today, when respeccing and easy-to-make “jack-of-all-trades” builds let players be much less careful with their choices.
In RPGs, classes and guilds used to count a lot more than they do now, but that doesn’t mean that all new games don’t care about them anymore. No matter if it’s a 20-year-old cult classic or a current AAA blockbuster, video games with class systems that are more developed and have a bigger effect on the story and gameplay tend to have a higher replay value than those with simpler systems.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
- Release Date: November 16, 2004
- Platforms: PC
It’s too bad that Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines came out the same day as Half-Life 2, because that pretty much killed sales of the game for good. It didn’t help that the game was pretty broken when it came out, with a lot of bugs and glitches that slowed everything down.
But over time, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has earned a reputation in the RPG business as one of the best-written games in the genre. There are many different kinds of vampires, and each one is very different from the others. The Malkavian and Nosferatu vampire classes are great examples of how great this game is, since the whole game changes greatly based on the rules and quirks of these classes.
- Release Date: August 1, 2001
- Platforms: Game Boy Advance
There are a lot of great Nintendo series that have been lost to the sands of time, and Golden Sun is one of them. This unique JRPG series let players combine Djinns to make different classes with their own special abilities. Not only did this help in battle, but it also let players connect with the world in new and interesting ways.
The magic of Golden Sun was getting a lot of Djinns and finding out how to use them in the best ways, both in and out of battle. It put a new spin on the class system and made for a great and unique way to play a JRPG. It mixed the old job systems of the series with a unique mix-and-match system that made players feel very smart when they figured out some new Djinn combinations.
Final Fantasy 5
- Release Date: December 6, 1992
- Platforms: SNES, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, Mobile, PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
Final Fantasy 5 is one of the most underrated games in the series. Many players dislike that it doesn’t have a serious story like the last game in the series, which was a big part of what made it so good. But, while this argument may be true in some cases, most people who only focus on the bad things about this game don’t realize how great the gameplay really is.
Many veterans of the Final Fantasy series think that this game has the best use of the Job System out of all of them. This is high praise that shows how much fun it is to play this game from moment to moment. Mastering jobs and getting new ones before using the Freelancer job to use all the skills the player has learned is a great way to have a great time.
- Release Date: February 25, 2016
- Platforms: PC
Grim Dawn is a great ARPG that wasn’t talked about enough when it came out in 2016. This game is great for role-playing fans because it has smooth fights and a unique, interesting world. The class structure is one of the best parts of Grim Dawn.
The class mechanics are simple and easy to understand at first look. However, they allow for a surprising amount of character customization, and every time an upgrade is made, the experience changes in a big way. Grim Dawn’s class system is something players can really sink their teeth into. There are six base classes to choose from, and later in the game, players can attach their characters to a second class. The skill trees are complicated but not too long, and the system is easy to understand.
- Release Date: April 1, 2021
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X/S
Outriders is a class-based looter-shooter that players have been waiting for since many of them got tired of the Destiny formula. It was made by People Can Fly, the same company that made Bulletstorm and helped build Fortnite when it was a part of Epic Games for a short time.
There are four different groups to choose from, and each one has its own pros and cons. Every class changes the way you play so much that you have to relearn how to fight every time you make a new character. Combining the strengths of each class in co-op multiplayer is a lot of fun and really shows off the brilliance of this class-based game.
Path Of Exile
- Release Date: October 23, 2013
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
It’s not a stretch to say that Path of Exile has the most complicated class and leveling system of any ARPG to date. This is even more impressive when you consider that it’s a free-to-play game. With seven main classes to choose from and 19 more “ascendancy” classes that can be unlocked as the game goes on, it’s clear that classes are an important part of Path of Exile’s gameplay loop.
The class of a character also affects which of the game’s 454 skills they can use. Of those 454 skills, 276 are active skills and 178 are support skills. In Path of Exile, players don’t get skills by leveling up like they do in other RPGs. Instead, they get skill gems as rewards for finishing quests, by buying them from merchants, or by looting enemies and chests all over the world.
- Release Date: September 28, 2020
- Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Mobile
Even though Genshin Impact characters’ elemental powers don’t fit the standard definition of a class, they do make a difference in how they play and how well they fight. With a total of seven parts to choose from, players have a lot of freedom to find their own unique way to play.
Switching between characters and mixing the right elemental powers to make the most powerful combos takes a lot of planning and understanding of how the game works, but it’s well worth it!
- Release Date: June 26, 2006
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Mobile
Many players think that Titan Quest is just a copy of Diablo. Even though there is some truth to that, the game is so much more than what it looks like at first. The levels and class systems are two things that really make it stand out.
Titan Quest doesn’t force players into specific classes. Instead, it has a complicated system of skill trees that can be changed however the player wants. Even though it can get confusing at times, it’s hard to find action role-playing games that put this much work into growing up and customizing skills.
Baldur’s Gate 3
- Release Date: August 31, 2023 (In Early Access since October 6, 2020)
- Platforms: PC, PS5
Baldur’s Gate and its sequel are two of the best role-playing games (RPGs) set in the Dungeons & Dragons world. Both came out when RPGs set in that world were at their best. So, it’s no surprise that fans have high hopes for the third game in the companies, and many are glad that Larian companies is in charge of making this sequel.
The developer has shown how good they are with the Divinity: Original Sin duology, and what we’ve seen of Baldur’s Gate 3 so far has also been very good. With a variety of classes that all take different and unique approaches to fighting and other parts of the game, this long-awaited sequel is sure to keep players busy for hours at a time.
- Release Date: Diablo: December 31, 1996; Diablo 2: June 29, 2000 ; Diablo 3: May 15, 2012
- Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, PS5, X360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch
In many of the games on this list, you have to go through an opening scene before you can play. All of that goes away with Diablo. Before the first act starts, the player gets to choose the character class.
In Diablo games, class is important because it affects the whole game, from the skills that can be upgraded to the things that can be used. Once a decision has been made, there’s no turning back.
Fallout: New Vegas
- Release Date: October 19, 2010
- Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
All of the Fallout games let you choose a character class and join one of the many groups in the game world, but New Vegas is the one where your class and gang choices have the most effect on how you play.
Charisma-based builds may open up a lot of conversation choices that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, while damage-based builds will let players plow through hordes of enemies without having to worry too much about which NPCs are on their side. There are, of course, many choices in between, and the fact that the player can change the gameplay and story to their liking is what makes New Vegas one of the best games in the Fallout series.
- Release Date: December 12, 1999
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Mobile
Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games are known for how complicated their worlds and stories are, as well as how hard it is to move your character forward. In Planescape Torment, there are three main classes to choose from: Fighter, Mage, and Thief. Each one starts with a different set of attributes, and they can all be used in a number of ways.
Players don’t have to stick with the class they picked at the beginning of the game. Later in the game, you can switch classes by using the help of different practitioners and teachers in the city of Sigil. In Planescape Torment, choosing a class is important because each class has different rules about what kinds of tools they can use and how they can interact with the world. Thieves are the only ones who can pick locks and remove traps, while most enemies are too strong for Mages to beat in close combat.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
- Release Date: September 14, 2017
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
The Divinity: Original Sin series satisfies the craving for old-school RPGs that many senior gamers have. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a great example of how seemingly old-fashioned game mechanics can still work in current games, but only if they’re used in the right way.
Slope Game is one of the best games with classes to come out in the PS4/XB1 era. It has 14 classes to choose from and a ton of ways to tweak them to your heart’s satisfaction. It may not have added anything new to the genre, but it did a great job with the class system and brought back elements from some of the best class-based games from the golden age of isometric RPGs. For that, it gets all the credit.
- Release Date: June 22, 2000
- Platforms: PC, PS2
The first Deus Ex made a big splash in the game world. It was one of the first games where players could do anything they wanted in any level. There was no one best way to play. As long as the goal was reached, players could do whatever they wanted, and the options were, to say the least, very varied.
From a sneaky hacker to a gun-toting cyborg, JC Denton’s character build changed not only how the game was played, but also how players could get to secret places and find other hidden things in the game.
- Release Date: December 10, 2020
- Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Cyberpunk 2077 was meant to take the cyberpunk genre to a whole new level. It’s possible that Deus Ex was the game that made it popular. Whether it actually did or not is a question of opinion, but there’s no denying that in this game, your class choice does affect how you play. Even though there aren’t really rigid classes, players won’t be able to unlock all of the game’s gameplay choices in a single playthrough. This makes the use of Attribute Points even more important because players have to carefully choose which playstyle they want to follow in the game.
Even though some NPCs may not respond very differently to V depending on his build, each build flips the playstyle on its head. Comparing a Body+Reflexes build that hacks and slashes enemies with the Mantis Blades to a slow-paced, Intelligence-focused netrunner feels like comparing two totally different games.
- Release Date: Gothic: March 15, 2001; Gothic 2: November 29, 2002
- Platforms: PC
The Gothic series might not be well-known to most players. After all, the first game came out more than 20 years ago, and in North America, it didn’t get the attention it earned. They are, however, considered cult classics in Germany and some parts of Eastern Europe.
Classes in Gothic (especially 1 and 2) had a huge effect on how the game was played, but they also showed where the character stood in the game’s world and had a big effect on how he interacted with NPCs. Even being able to join a certain class or group takes hours of play, and if a player takes a certain path, they may be locked out of whole questlines until the next time they play.
- Release Date: February 25, 2022
- Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One
Unlike many of the other games on this list, the class players choose in Elden Ring doesn’t necessarily affect the game’s story or choices. However, FromSoftware’s magnum opus definitely excels at making each playthrough feel like a completely different game depending on which path one chooses at the beginning of their adventure. Elden Ring also doesn’t force players into a certain class. Instead, they can make their own unique explorer by carefully allocating their limited skill points to the main eight stats.
For example, putting a lot of focus on magic can lead to builds that are too strong, giving players access to very powerful skills that make it feel like they’re playing in easy mode. On the other hand, a character based only on Dexterity and Strength will require a lot more physical skills from players. This is a class that is especially good for people who want the most difficult game possible. Also, if players aren’t careful with how they use their skill points, they can quickly end up with a “broken” build that makes some of the mid- to late-game stages almost impossible to get through. This is why players should be especially careful with their leveling decisions.
The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
- Release Date: May 1, 2002
- Platforms: PC, Xbox
Even though Morrowind doesn’t have the fancy voice acting and NPC routines of the later Elder Scrolls games, many fans still think it’s the best game in the whole series. This is partly because of how well it was written, but also because of how complicated and open-ended its class system was.
Like in Gothic, the player’s choice of class and guild can keep them from doing certain tasks and following certain storylines. It also lets fans change how the game is played however they want. Morrowind is one of the few games where the options are truly endless. You can be a flying Khajit mage-thief or a quick Nord who fights with his fists.