Best Rune Factory Games

The Rune Factory series of games are well-liked by players and every new launch in the series is highly anticipated. But with special editions, different direct follow-ups, and a somewhat confusing titling system, it can be hard to know which Rune Factory games are the most enjoyable and the most popular.

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Different mechanics were added, removed, or changed in various titles in the series and some of the changes proved more enjoyable than others. Which of the Rune Factory games are the most enjoyable, with the best storylines and the elements that are the most fun?

9 Rune Factory 2: A Fantasy Harvest Moon

Rune Factory 2 cover art

Rune Factory 2: A Fantasy Harvest Moon is at the bottom of the list, but only because one of the titles has to be at the bottom. Rune Factory 2 (2010) was a perfectly serviceable follow-up to the first Rune Factory. It introduced a new plot and added some new gameplay mechanics.

Unfortunately, the new plot and gameplay mechanics are exactly what’s wrong with this title. The story of Rune Factory 2 is a little hard to follow and does not flow well. One thing that does stand out about this title is the expansion of farming, a feature of the first game that was a little lacking.

8 Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny

Rune Factory Tides of Destiny cover art

Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny launched in 2011 and made some bold changes that you either love or hate. The farming in this version of the game changed completely. In this title, you do very little farming work on your own. Instead, tamed monsters do the work for you. This is an interesting mechanic, but it’s really different from other games in the series.

Dungeons and combat were expanded in this title, however, and these changes are all very well done. Fighting mechanics are improved from previous titles and there are more enemies to face.

7 Rune Factory: Frontier

Rune Factory Frontier cover art

U.S. gamers were introduced to Rune Factory: Frontier in 2010. It was the third title in the series and one of the most popular. This was the game that introduced many new gamers to this series. The graphics are gorgeous, the gameplay is fun, and the world feels fully realized. The story begins exactly one year after the events of Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon.

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This game has many of the elements and mechanics from previous titles, but it leans a little too heavily on the Runeys. These little sprites were part of the first two games and would continue to appear in every title in the series, but they were used too much in this title and that ends up bogging down the gameplay.

6 Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon

Rune Factory 1 cover art

The first Rune Factory game, launched on Nintendo DS, A Fantasy Harvest Moon came to U.S. audiences in 2009. The game introduces you to the Kingdom of Norad and to Raguna, the main protagonist. Raguna gets a gig doing some farming in exchange for room and board. But when a monster appears out of nowhere, things take a turn.

This first game in the series has an interesting plot and a lot of fun gameplay. The game introduces mechanics that would remain popular in other titles in the series, such as farming and fishing, marriage, and magic.

5 Rune Factory 5

rune factory five promotional art

Rune Factory 5 launched to eager fans in 2022. It has all the best elements of the rest of the games in the series. The look, the characters, and the mechanics are all familiar to fans of the Rune Factory games. The plot of the story is good, it flows well, and there are plenty of choices that help move things forward.

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One disappointing aspect of the game is the visuals. The graphics of the game look a bit rushed. The world the characters inhabit could be a lot richer. On a positive note, the farming and combat in the game are pretty engaging.

4 Rune Factory 4 Special

Nancy, Jones, Kiel, and Lest in front of clinic in Rune Factory 4 Special

Launched in 2020, Rune Factory 4 Special is the enhanced Rune Factory 4. The graphics were updated, a new voice cast was introduced, and brand-new features were included with this newer version of Rune Factory 4. There was a heavier focus on Town Events in this version of the game and there is more customization on the game display itself.

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Most of the biggest bugs and gameplay issues from Rune Factory 4 were corrected in this enhanced version. The Special edition of the game came out about six years after Rune Factory 4 launched, and it was welcomed by fans, but by then, they were eagerly anticipating the arrival of Rune Factory 5.

3 Rune Factory 4

Dead Tree with red apples on its leaves and eyes staring out from its trunk

Still one of the most popular titles in the series, Rune Factory 4 launched in 2014. This was the sixth game in the series and brought back an element from Tides of Destiny and Rune Factory 2 that vanished in the titles in-between: the choice between a male or female main character.

This entry saw a lot of new additions to the series. The bonus dungeon was one of the better additions. The dating sim and improved combat also proved to be a lot of fun, and expanded areas of previous games that were highly enjoyable.

2 Rune Factory 3 Special

Rune Factory 3 Special cover art

Launched a dozen years after Rune Factory 3, Rune Factory 3 Special is an enhanced and extended new edition of its namesake that hit the U.S. market in 2023. For those who have saved data from Rune Factory 5 on their system, there are extra outfits available for this updated and enhanced version of the game.

Several new outfits have been added to this special version of the game, including the Swimsuit DLC. Lots of little extras are included in this game. The newlywed mode is a lot of fun and there are a bunch of new adventures and quests to try. There’s enough new stuff here to make Rune Factory 3 Special engaging and exciting.

1 Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon

official art of Rune Factory 3 with the main character and sheep

When it came out in 2011, Rune Factory 3 was actually the fourth title in the series. The story was fun and engaging, though not exactly super unique or exciting. It’s the gameplay that made this the most popular title in the series. In this title, you can transform into a monster. This was a super fun addition to the game, which had a solid foundation in all the mechanics that worked in previous titles in the series.

Farming, fishing, dungeons, and combat mechanics are all here, and they provide many hours of fun in Rune Factory 3, giving you even more to do than in previous titles. The brilliant character designs and great outfits make this title stand out even among other super popular titles in the series, and that’s why an enhanced version of this title was introduced in 2023.

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