1. Path of Exile
Not only seen as the natural evolution to ARPG gameplay from Diablo 2, Path of Exile or PoE, is everything you’re looking for and more. The polished gem features continuously updated content (7 expansions to date) with facets of re-playability and support you’d expect from a $59.99 title with $29.99 expansions.
However, unlike most blockbusters this game is free.
Yeah, you heard me, free. All you need is a steady Internet connection, ice flowing through your veins during the frantically difficult boss fights, and the classic gamer determination to pick yourself up after character death on Hardcore mode.
With the same procedurally generated elements Blizzard used to cement Diablo’s legend and replayability, PoE follows suit with randomly generated dungeons, loot, and enemies (other than bosses) with a modern twist.
See, the game’s difficulty is based on the character’s selected league. Think of it not only as a modification of difficulty (i.e. Standard/Hardcore) but also a gameplay Mod like “no trade between players” (i.e. SSR Standard/Hardcore) and seasonal events thru competitive leagues.
These vary from racing to highest level in a set amount of time, playing the same dungeon over and over, to various other challenges over the years.
Then prepare that ice for it’s first challenge: the utterly massive Passive Skill tree. The tree is so large a picture of it in its entirety is 25 mb. It’s so large Google Chrome can’t render it completely.
Trust me, a quick couple of build ideas will save you a big headache later on. Because unlike Diablo, which limits builds by relying on classic roles (Tank/Caster/Melee/Ranged DPS), this game evolved the genre by allowing any of the 7 base Exile classes to further specialize into anything the player wants.
How you might ask?
Every active skill is randomly generated loot and available to every class.
It gets better, they’re item socket-able gems, so you can create combinations so excessively strong they’ll probably drop your FPS while they’re melting your brain the first time you use them.
The possibilities and re-playability are close to infinite between different character builds, procedurally generated dungeons and enemies, and leagues.
You’ll get tired with the ARPG genre before you’d get tired with the game.
2. Torchlight 2
After the sad days of the game’s developer Runic Studios closing its doors, and the limbo that Torchlight 3 has been left in, Torchlight 2 is still strong.
New players, don’t let Torchlight 2’s cartoony exterior or simple skills throw you off, this game is still a heavy weight contender.
And to the gamers who have played it, things have changed, the developers opened the code to the community and something amazing happened.
A deep library of game Mods from an active community and a way around loot management fused two features into the internet’s favorite thing: A cat. Yes, you’re very own digital kitty from the start of the game to ferry loot between your character and chest.
Wait, you might be thinking “What if there’s an almost endless library of mods with other animals you can have as pets?”
If you stop and listen, you can hear a gamer rustling their mouse cable against coffee mugs and empty potato chip bags stuffed behind their monitor.
Rushing to reinstall Torchlight, to install a mod that skins the pet to match their real life pet.
Other than the 4 basic classes, there are about 130 that are easily accessible through the Steam Workshop.
Then about another 1,170 ways to experience your return to the world of Ember in different ways: experience new missions, items, enemies, and more!
The platform was built as more of a co-op experience than a true PvP (though multiplayer still supports both), but with Mods the gameplay is so much more.
You can always add your imagination to the library as well, create content, or maybe even another pet.
3. Grim Dawn
The brainchild of the team that brought you Titan Quest (it even uses a variant of the original game engine), Grim Dawn is set in the post-apocalyptic Victorian themed world of Cairn instead of Greece from mythology.
In a flooded market of ultra-complex or easily mastered ARPGs, Grim Dawn rides the middle ground. A great experience without having to research different build guides like PoE, yet still challenging and engrossing.
It has a vibrant modding community like Torchlight 2, but still has support, expansions, and updates from the developer.
The game features hybrid classes, again akin to PoE, but has tailored the skill tree to each of the specific classes.
Player choices can affect the game world permanently making things grimmer than before, and surprise rogue-like dungeons can ambush you: Forcing you to fight thru or die, because your teleportation back to base is disabled, yikes. Turning calm farming of certain mobs for loot into frantic yelling at the screen and clicking to get away.
With one hefty expansion pack out:
And another on the way, Forgotten Gods, hundreds of hours of gameplay awaits you in the world of Cairn.
4. Viktor Vran
Do you like Vampire hunters?
Do you like to dodge and jump?
Do you like Motörhead?
Do you see where this is going?
Straight from the offices of Haemimont Games in Sofia, Bulgaria, you’ll be crushing the undead with Metal-fueled gusto faster and at an intense pace, as the game rarely lets up over the 15-20 hours it takes to beat a standard playthrough.
Like PoE the skills are socketed into items, allowing changing your build as quickly as swapping your weapons. But, gameplay is turned on its head with a shiny new jump mechanic.
Adding spice to traditional top-down, point-and-click controls we’re all familiar with, you can dodge attacks and roll away to your heart’s content. Knock back projectiles and kill them with their own attack, or even jump down into areas unreachable in other ARPGs. This depth creates a singular experience that can be shared in up to 4-player co-op.
According to the forums, the control layout ports nicely to a controller (Steam and Xbox), so whatever your preference you can jump into the action.
Though some will agree to skip the Fractured Worlds expansion, you have to get the actual, Motörhead sponsored, expansion pack and help Lemmie Bruce wake the beast, Snaggletooth, from it’s slumber.
Yes, it might only have about 10 Motörhead songs licensed, so you might have to play the rest for yourself on Spotify, but you can shoot bad guys with revolvers, with Lemmie Bruce more than any other game out there.
5. Sacred 2 Gold Edition
Known as the first ARPG that lets you ride a horse, or any mount for that matter. Now a classic, the game deserves revisiting. Packaged neatly together with every expansion to keep you playing for weeks upon weeks. There is an ocean of quests and the maps are gigantic. Hence the developers were nice enough to program in a horse to speed things up.
Sacred 2 stepped character creation up with features like picking your path (Dark or Light), and deity to worship for special abilities. The 8 classes available are mostly straightforward iterations of fighter, druid, mage, priest, necromancer, and thief with fancy names like Seraphim and Inquisitor.
Each class also has three skill trees to choose from in the form of Aspects, but two classes stand out as unique in ARPGs: The Temple Guardian and Dragon Knight.
One who looks like a statue of Anubis that shoots lasers out of his arm, and the other that can turn into and summon dragons.
Much like Diablo 1 & 2, it’s best to play Sacred 1 & 2 and forget the third game ever happened.
The game won’t break the bank, and should run smoothly, though there have been reports of glitches when playing on Windows 10.
6. Titan Quest Anniversary Edition
An ARPG set in classical Greek mythology, a masterpiece still played today. Memorable to those who’ve played for impressive backgrounds to the each playable are in Asia, Greece, and Egypt. Now with a new expansion Ragnarök, set in Northern Europe.
It’s hard to believe this game is over 10 years old. The work is truly a work of love as this version of Titan Quest is only truly showing it’s age in the cut scenes between levels.
The overall spectacular, grand level design is kept up to date thanks to the graphical overhaul for the anniversary release. Though released for free to previous owners of the game on Steam, it’s available for purchase to the rest of us.
The game is themed so well most players will learn something about ancient mythology just by playing it.
And by having so much fun they’ll never notice they learned something.
Again the expansion pack was 11 years in the making. It’s time to finally experience the 5th chapter to this story
What is Deathtrap?
It’s tower defense with a core ARPG gameplay, built on the Van Helsing (another ARPG made by the same developer) engine. During the tower defense portion of the game you’ll have to set up the towers before the waves of enemies start spawning and attacking your base.
Armed with traps and spells, you can turn the tide of battle, where your towers need help most. Blasting enemies with abilities that level up, while collecting all that sweet, sweet loot.
Is it fun?
How can the relief of a plan falling into place, mixed with button mashing ARPG hack and slash not be?
The mixture of genres is more common these days, with titles like Orcs Must Die and Dungeon Defender. Both of the former mentioned games are built on the micro transaction model, so less unique content and both are set in a family friendly world.
Deathtrap is set in a dark and more serious atmosphere, and is a finished product you only have to buy once, rather than be microtransactioned to death: Paying $1.99, over and over again, for content that should’ve shipped with the original product, like Orcs must Die 2 and Dungeon Defenders 2.
Deathtrap does luckily share the multiplayer aspect making the defense of the fortresses in the game a co-op dream for the strategy game junkie.
The only downside is unique control system does take time to get used to, and you should definitely use a mouse and keyboard, not controllers.
But you also can come back to life, though your XP gained for the level won’t be as much as it would if you don’t.
The tools the developers provided the community lots of maps. A whole lot of maps to further maximize your power leveling or provide new challenges to the returning player.
8. Inquisitor Warhammer 40k: Martyr
Warhammer, the OG Grim Dark, is preparing to step onto the ARPG scene soon this year as it’s wrapping up the open Beta test. You can start your adventure in a large sector of a different galaxy now, if you can’t wait for the release.
Based on the tabletop game, the Warhammer 40k universe is known for it’s gritty, dark atmosphere. Humans are so numerous we inhabit countless millions of worlds, life is brutally meaningless, and the Emperor (a perfect immortal human) sits at death’s door encased in a golden iron lung.
All the while dark gods thirst for human souls and Inquisitors are the first and only line of defense.
Armed with exploding bullets, power armor, psychic powers, and the holy wrath of the Emperor flowing through you, you can purge aliens, witches, and most of all, the heretics.
Set in an open world setting, you don’t have to follow the main quest line while playing. The decisions and how you complete your missions will echo throughout the persistent galaxy your Inquisitor is defending.
Inquisitors have a license to kill, and can even decide to off a whole planet’s population if they choose to.
Who do they answer to after doing something like that?
Other Inquisitors and the Emperor.
The loot system is revolutionary, as you decide what items you could receive before starting the mission. Meaning less grinding old dungeons over and over again for the last piece of your set of legendary armor and more purging the enemies of mankind.
Promising to bring a cover system, as a lot of the combat is ranged, and Inquisitor 40k will also feature multiplayer team combat against other players.
The developers have also promised free updates and expansions to keep the game fresh after it releases, which should soften most of the community’s complaints for it’s delayed release date.
Speaking of delayed releases, EITR has been delayed years. The darling of ARPGs funded by Project Greenlight on Steam, the developers were chosen by Steam’s audience to be approved for future release on the same application.
Allegedly releasing this year, EITR features the story of a young Shield Maiden and her battles with the Norse god of mischief Loki. Rendered in beautiful pixel art, EITR is the most visually striking ARPG of recent memory.
A more Hardcore oriented gameplay system awaits patient gamers, the leveling system in EITR has the option for a permanent increase in stats or risking it all for a powerful skill, but you can lose the skill on character death. This also applies to the loot system, as like most games upon death, your character’s loot and equipped items have been damaged somehow.
Coming to a PC soon, hopefully.
10. Last Epoch
The time traveling ARPG is on Kickstarter now. And it’s being funded quick, so jump over now to pick it up for cheap (under $20 has 3 options).
How much does the community believe in this game? Well 4 gamers have invested $10,000 just for the opportunity to design a few items.
Jokes aside, the game promises to deliver next generation ARPG features like even more randomly generated loot, unique combat, enthralling story, and new lore mechanics.
The loot system randomizes everything from the stats, to the type of stats modified, to even what kind of item it is. Making it possible to have the best drop on a random bad guy to take the grinding aspect away.
The combat is unique to the player’s imagination as each of the 5 classes (with 4 subclasses each) is limited to only 5 skills they can use at a time. Not only that, each skill has it’s own augment tree.
Meaning each skill you lock in has multiple variations available. But this also means tailoring your 5 skills in safe areas of the game, because you won’t have the luxury of having a skill you didn’t equip on hand.
The time travel aspect allows for the player to revisit the same map again, just in a different time, reducing the grind of playing old dungeons again. Also adding in side quests into the lore of the game, which if finished could even reward a new skill at the end of the chain.
Slated for Alpha release in August this year, we can hopefully expect to be playing this game soon.
Until then you have 7 others ARPGs to sharpen your skills on, and mods, all the glorious mods to download. Did we miss a game or want to let us know your favorite Diablo 2 style game? Let us know below and thank you for reading!