Sharpen your swords, polish your armour \u2013 we\u2019re here to battle over what deserves the title of the greatest RPG of all time. The following chart has been compiled with contributions from Robin Valentine, James Sweeting, Monish Khemani, Eoin Bradley, Daniel New and Tom Baines. The list has been curated by Tom Baines and he has taken responsibility for the ranking, primarily to avoid fisticuffs among the team, but also because it serves his ego to be the arbiter of all things. If you don\u2019t agree with the list then feel free to let us know on the comments, but please don\u2019t get all bent out of shape about it \u2013 this is a very subjective thing, when all\u2019s said and done! 13 \u2013 Chrono Trigger\/Xenogears Everybody knows that Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) make the Final Fantasy series. Even most of their other titles that aren\u2019t part of the main series - Final Fantasy Tactics, Crystal Chronicles, Chocobo\u2019s, Seiken Densetsu, even smash-hit Kingdom Hearts \u2013 all find some sort of basis in the Final Fantasy universe. While they have grown into distinct series of their own, to some they\u2019re little more than spin-offs, another tendril of the amorphous blob that is Final Fantasy. You might be surprised to hear then, that Squaresoft has some other amazing titles under its belt, and we have the best of the bunch - Chrono Trigger and Xenogears \u2013 tied as the first entries in our chart. The former is a fiendishly clever and well-structured role-playing game with time travel elements, and manage to successfully work in pretty much all of the major time travel tropes \u2013 paradoxes, timeline alteration \u2013 you name it, it\u2019s in there, and it feels fresh and unique for a role-playing game even today. At first glance Xenogears is more your traditional resistance-against-an-evil-overlord tale, but portions of the story are heavily founded in the existential philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, and the psychoanalysis of Freud and Jung. Plus, it\u2019s got whopping great mechs called gears, that you build and upgrade and ride into battle! So why am I only hearing about them now, you might be asking? Unfortunately, the popularity of the main Final Fantasy series managed to eclipse even these unrelated titles \u2013 with Chrono Cross being released for the SNES within one year of Final Fantasy VI, and Xenogears for the Sony PlayStation in between Final Fantasy VII and VIII \u2013 but they are amazing titles in their own right, and don\u2019t deserve to be forgotten in the mists of time. 12 \u2013 The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall You think Skyrim is a big game, don\u2019t you? By some rudimentary mathematics, we can calculate its map is around 37 square kilometres. Fallout 3 and New Vegas are both around 41 square kilometres. Shall we go bigger still? GTA V is around 78 square kilometres. OK, let\u2019s stop messing around. Just Cause 2 is just over 1,000 square kilometres. That\u2019s cute, but The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall\u2019s map is approximately 100,000 square kilometres. To put that in a little context, that\u2019s roughly the size of South Korea or Iceland. You could fit Belgium into Daggerfall three times over, and still have room to spare for a handful of Luxembourgs. Simply put, Daggerfall is the biggest finite size game there has ever been, and probably that there ever will be. Sure, it was released late, and it had a few game-breaking bugs (dungeons you couldn\u2019t escape from and the like) but it was epic on a completely unprecedented scale. It took the idea of the Roguelike and mashed it together with a first-person Action RPG and made the biggest game ever, and it\u2019s this kind of Daggerfall ambition from Bethesda Softworks that leads to us having the likes of Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas now. We can\u2019t wait to see what comes next. 11 \u2013 The Souls (series) Monish had the following to say, on why his soul has been captured by the Demon\u2019s\/Dark Souls franchise: I was a sceptic, like some of you reading this, I should imagine. It took me quite a while to even consider playing Demon's Souls. I got the game in early 2012, played for a while, died a lot, and back inside the box the game went. I resumed playing - determined to finish it - a year and a half later, and it did something to me then. It possessed me such, that I would soon visit my nearest store to buy Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition and would eventually pre-order Dark Soul 2 and Bloodborne \u2013 my only preorders. Ever. In creating the Souls games, From Software have inadvertently modified the way their own titles are approached by the consumer. In this age of aggregates, reviews and review scores don\u2019t matter much to the Souls games, because while hardened fans of the series would play these games regardless, some gamers are not even willing to try them \u2013 in spite of the sterling reviews \u2013 all because of the infamous difficulty. These games break many conventions, not just with the difficulty of play but with the manner in which they refuse to spoonfeed the player. They have lore that stays hidden behind item descriptions and secret conversations disclosed only to the most dedicated, have NPCs with mysterious intents that react only to certain actions, they have items that stay mysterious months after the game is out. All of this lies in wait to be discovered by those still veiled in scepticism. All these wonders of Boletaria and Lordran, of Drangleic and Yharnam beyond a chasm of difficulty which in reality is just a test in perseverance, skill and patience. Once you cross this seemingly impenetrable \u2013 yet quite artificial \u2013 barrier, we shall wait for you on the other side, and together we shall Praise the Sun (or the Moon, if you favour Bloodborne). 10 \u2013 The Witcher (series) Basing their work on the stories of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, CD Projekt have created the mature, medieval-fantasy world of The Witcher \u2013 Geralt of Rivia, the White Wolf \u2013 an albino mutant monster-hunter who provokes fear and mistrust in everyone he meets. Questing around the Northern Kingdoms, rubbing shoulders with everyone from kings and sorceresses to brickmakers and whores, Geralt meets corruption, duplicity and political manoeuvring at almost every turn. And monsters at all the others. A defining feature of the series, The Witcher games have always excelled at presenting players with tough choices throughout. But never your typical video game choices of black or white; of good over evil. Decisions are rarely clear cut, presenting pros and cons on both sides, leaving players to determine their preferable shade of grey. Unforeseen, far-reaching consequences are usually the result, either way. We find here a richly detailed world, filled with a diverse mix of intriguing and entertaining characters; a satisfying combat system, augmented by solidly implemented magic, alchemy and crafting for added depth; fantasy tropes with a slavic-slant... all these elements combine to form a truly unique game that treats its players with an uncharacteristic amount of respect for the genre. The Witcher is one of the best RPG series around today - one that is only going to get better with age. 9 \u2013 The Legend of Zelda (series) There is only one role to play in a Legend of Zelda game. That of Link, the Hero of Time. Whether you are traversing dimensions, vast oceans or time itself, your role is the same, to restore the balance to the world and more often that not, defeat the evil Ganon. Each Legend of Zelda title is a retelling of the same story. The video game equivalent of a fable or campfire tale. It\u2019s the ultimate hero\u2019s journey, the legend of small boy who left home and saved the world. 15 times. Against this repeating story Nintendo\u2019s imagination and creative chops run riot, creating intricate dungeons, glorious vistas, and sprawling puzzles for Link to negotiate. Rather than magic and numbers, the series trades on mechanics and reaction. The best Zelda games test brawn and brains in equal measure, and often at the same time. In those moments, when your ingenuity and skills collide to successfully overcome a challenge, no series is better at making you feel like a hero. Can The Legend of Zelda\u00a0be considered a true role-playing series? Save Hyrule just once and ask yourself who else you would rather be? 8 \u2013 Final Fantasy IX Final Fantasy IX is the best title in the main Final Fantasy series. The gameplay mechanics are a finely honed instrument representing the absolute peak of the craft (before everything Final Fantasy began to change for the worse, to favour the Western audience); the story is beautifully worked and charmingly written; and the visuals... titles that have followed may have had higher resolutions and pushed more polygons, but Yoshitaka Amano created the most beautifully realised role-playing world that we have ever seen. Bar none. In fact, Final Fantasy IX is hands down the best role-playing game that Squaresoft\/Square-Enix have ever made. It might seem counter-intuitive then that it is only number eight in our list and has two other main-series Final Fantasy titles above it, but context is crucial in the importance of a title, particularly in a long-running franchise. When Manchester United (strange metaphor, stick with it) won their first Premier League title with what amounted to little more than a youth team, it was seen as a freak occurrence. When they won it a second time, it justified the first title and proved it wasn\u2019t a fluke. Every subsequent title after that just wasn\u2019t as remarkable, it was more a case of \u201chere we go again,\u201d and that\u2019s unfortunately how the truly amazing Final Fantasy IX fits into the series as a whole. It\u2019s \u201cjust another success\u201d. Also, that\u2019s all I know about football. Oh, except \u201cthe trouble with Arsenal is, they always try and walk it in." There, now I\u2019m done. 7 \u2013 Mass Effect (series) All three titles in the Mass Effect series are excellent games in their own right, and the combined story that spans the three games (and accompanying novels) is one of the most memorable of any video game series. The series places a huge emphasis on the relationship with your crew, especially in Mass Effect 2 where the ending depends on them \u2013 there is an endpoint that you are constantly working towards \u2013 yet it makes sense why you are able to deviate and take part in extraneous tasks, as ultimately they might aid you when you feel ready to face the final challenge. It is these relationships and the fact that they carry over across games that make the series so much more personal than any other. Garrus might be most people\u2019s bro, but what about Legion? His role with Tali in Mass Effect 3 was potentially one of the hardest decisions that you will ever come across in any game. For our James, a real bonus is the role of galactic politics in the series, a complex and well-executed extension of the faction mechanic that is prevalent in most role-playing games: After around 20 hours into Mass Effect 2 (with minimal breaks) I was starting to take the politics of the Council and the disputes between the different alliances a little too seriously. When you are studying on a Politics degree at the same time can be a bit problematic as the two were starting to blur into one. 6 \u2013 Baldur\u2019s Gate The following extract is taken from Tom\u2019s anti-review of Pillars of Eternity, the recently released spiritual successor to 1998\u2019s Baldur\u2019s Gate: Baldur\u2019s Gate was something of a big deal in my life, and in the computer role-playing game world on the whole. There had been great role-playing games for PC before, and there had been Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games too, but Baldur\u2019s Gate was the first legitimately massive smash hit in the centre of that venn diagram. Role-playing games were always my jam, and I would seek out any variant I could lay my hands on \u2013 J-RPG, Action, Tactical \u2013 it didn\u2019t matter; but as a table-top gamer in my youth I was always partial to a spot of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and Baldur\u2019s Gate was the first time I felt it had really been done right. That probably tells you all you need to know. More importantly than all that \u2018it was a great game\u2019 business though is that it featured a character called Minsc, whose travelling companion was Boo, the world\u2019s only miniature giant space hamster\u2026 Take heart fellow adventurers, for you have curried the favor of Boo, the only miniature giant space hamster in the Realm. My friend and companion ever since my h-h-head wound, he will lead us to victory! ...sorry, you don\u2019t think that was more important? Go for the eyes, Boo! GO FOR THE EYES!! 5 \u2013 Final Fantasy VI Final Fantasy IV, the first SNES release in the series, was probably the first Final Fantasy that truly resembles what we now know as a distinctive Squaresoft title. It had more narrative than \u201ckill monsters, get crystals, save world\u201d and had a set of characters who were not only different classes, but also had very different personalities. It was also the first time your playing party was mixed and matched from a wider cast of characters, that allowed the interplay of team dynamics to enter the series. Final Fantasy V was a bit of an odd duck then \u2013 in that it lost a lot of the narrative quality of its predecessor and returned to a non-descript \u2018hero wearing different hats\u2019 vibe \u2013 but Final Fantasy VI brought the series back on track, and shaped it irrevocably going forward as a force for telling stories, not just a game to be played. Final Fantasy VI gave us our first real experience of characters who we genuinely care about, and dealt with sadness and loss on a level that was not common in the monster killing, world saving genre as it stood at the time. It also looked, and more importantly it played great, and was ambitious on an unprecedented scale for the time. As well as being a wonderful game in its own right, it also served to set the stage for what was to follow... 4 \u2013 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Daniel doesn\u2019t usually get on with role-playing games, but he had this to say in defence of Skyrim: I don\u2019t care much for the traditional mechanics of role-playing. I\u2019ve tried my hand at many RPGs but generally find their intricacies obtuse or uninteresting. They often feel like an exercise in magical spreadsheet management than a method of fostering a true connection to a particular role or character. But Skyrim is different. My haphazardly perked Breton is probably the truest expression of me there has ever been in a game. I spent hours creating my avatar but once the game started I never looked him in the face again. From the moment I took control the view on the screen was through my eyes, no one else's. More than in any other game I felt that the agency was with me and the role I played was dictated by my behaviour rather than any class selection or level. I never crafted so much as a purse but I know plenty who did, I found the Arcane Enchanter dull but I know many who revelled in using it to create new potions and spells. I became a reader, my role was that of knowledge gatherer, devouring books at every turn and then exploring the places I learned about. I\u2019m sure my character was not the most efficient, or powerful, or capable, but it was mine. It wasn\u2019t a role. It was me. Skyrim is my favourite role-playing game as it respects the desires of the player and creates the game around you, allowing you to indulge in what you enjoy and ignore what you don\u2019t. As an avowed RPG sceptic Skyrim offered me a way in. It's that I celebrate. 3 \u2013 Phantasy Star Remember when role-playing games seemed a bit old (wizard\u2019s) hat? A sprinkle of Tolkien, a pinch of Arthurian legend; before you know it you\u2019re in a dungeon fighting a dragon. There\u2019s nothing wrong with a bit of familiarity, but to many it was a fantastic change of pace when in the mid-nineties Squaresoft began introducing science fiction and steampunk elements into their flagship series, Final Fantasy. Those in the know, however, had been enjoying their role-playing in an ultra-modern sci-fi setting since 1988. Sega\u2019s Phantasy Star wasn\u2019t just ahead of its peers in terms of its ultra-futuristic setting \u2013 complete with space travel spanning multiple worlds, laser guns and deadly androids \u2013 it was one of the first role-playing games to include cut-scenes, and married the traditional J-RPG overworld view with a unique first-person perspective for battles and dungeon exploration. It was also seriously hard, and if you didn\u2019t map out those 3D dungeons with pencil and graph paper, the chances are you wouldn\u2019t make it out alive\u2026 2 \u2013 Fallout: New Vegas There's no doubt that Fallout: New Vegas is the finest open-world role-playing game ever made. For all its scope and ambition, Skyrim, like so many others of the genre, is ultimately just a game about hitting monsters in one of three types of cave. New Vegas is a game about people and their stories, and finding your own path through them. The superb writing of the role-playing veterans at Obsidian brings a seemingly endless number of quests to vivid life. Your journey can be defined by a strong arm or a steady aim, yes, but just as likely it will be shaped by the way you think. What lies are you willing to tell? What manipulations will you be able to enact? Whose plight will tug at your heartstrings and who will you pitilessly leave to die in the desert? Robin, who is leaving team Thumbsticks to go on to bigger and better things (and will be very sadly missed) closed his thoughts on Fallout: New Vegas with this: Over hundreds of hours in the Mojave, I clawed my way to the top by whatever means I could muster. I rejected the extremism of the Legion, the naivety of the Republic and the selfishness of Mr House and I made myself king of all I surveyed. I didn't do it by following quest markers and killing anyone I was pointed at \u2013 I did it with charm, with brains, and a ton of lockpicks. I did it by involving myself in hundreds of fascinating, interwoven stories of life in a bizarre, unforgiving, and truly open world. 1 \u2013 Final Fantasy VII This was always going to be a divisive one. Not so much divisive because people dispute whether Final Fantasy VII was great, though, as it will be for deciding to actually put it at the top of the tree. By doing so, there will be readers out there who say we \u201ctook the easy option,\u201d that it was \u201cboring and predictable\u201d to put the seventh installment in position number one, and they might be right. Everyone\u2019s entitled to their opinion, after all. But if we hadn\u2019t, then there would be people out there screaming that is a travesty, and do you know what? We\u2019re willing to bet that some of those people who are currently calling us boring, would also have been howling for a re-count if we hadn\u2019t made it our greatest role-playing game ever. Undecided voters are the worst. So there you have it \u2013 Final Fantasy VII is our number one \u2013 commentards, start your engines. If you want some more detail on the game itself (and why it\u2019s so great) then read this piece we ran a couple of months ago for its eighteenth birthday, but other than that, the decision is fairly self-explanatory and we don\u2019t need to justify ourselves to you!