What Are The Best RPGs Made In Europe?

Highlights

  • European RPGs offer unique cultural insights and bring innovative ideas to the gaming world, challenging the notion of “Euro-jank” games.
  • Games like Arx Fatalis, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and Two Worlds showcase the diversity of European RPGs and their focus on immersive gameplay and realistic settings.
  • Notable European RPGs like Fable, The Witcher, Disco Elysium, Greedfall, and Baldur’s Gate 3 have gained popularity and acclaim, proving that European studios create high-quality games.

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There is a tendency to look at Europe as a whole as making ‘Euro-jank’, games that are viewed as lesser than the typical triple-a American release in quality, but bursting with unique ideas. It’s an unfair moniker, especially when some of the most beloved game (and well-funded) games in history have come from the region.

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When you look at the areas where your favourite RPGs are made, you might be surprised. Though many of the more well-known RPGs come from America or Japan, there’s more than a hearty-helping that come from Europe both big and small, bringing unique cultural insights along with them.

10 Arx Fatalis

arx fatalis character standing in a bright doorway

Though nowadays better known for their immersive sims like Prey and Dishonored, French studio Arkane got their start in RPGs. The prime among those was Arx Fatalis, a game that so few have replicated the feeling of (and would be perfect in VR).

The setting isn’t the most unique for fantasy, but its gameplay is. Choices are made solely through actions that can alter the game quite dramatically. It’s big distinguishing feature is the magic system, with runes drawn using the mouse cursor to cast spells. It requires skill nad patience, but it’s a unique form of immersion.

9 Kingdom Come: Deliverance

A screenshot showing a battle scene in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

An obsession with the medieval period of Europe is one shared by much of the world, though there’s a tendency to romanticise in a way that veers quite a bit away from reality. For better or worse, Czech studio Warhorse made Kingdom Come Deliverance, a medieval game that was grounded in a heavy sense of realism.

To this end, Kingdom Come is heavy. The world is large, forests are dense, dialogue is antiquated, and battles are ironically much smaller than fantasy would have you believe. It’s a game that dedicates to its vision in both the good and the bad, making an experience that you can’t help but admire.

8 Two Worlds

Two Worlds In-game shot of an armoured character running in a bustling town

In the mid-2000s, following the release of the PS3 and Xbox 360, many games saw a massive tech boost, and RPGs were a major player in that. One of the most well-known from the period would be Oblivion, it’s detailed forests, dynamic NPCs and seemingly boundless world astounding players.

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Followed shortly afterward was Two Worlds by Polish studio Reality Pump. As a game, it falls somewhere between the aforementioned Oblivion, and Fable. It is a large open-world that prioritises player freedom over a set story or even more defined systems. You simply explore and complete quests along the way, the actions you perform deciding how the world reacts to you and how quests play out.

7 Vampyr

A screenshot showing Jonathan Reid attacking a victim in Vampyr

Vampire games are endless. You can find them in countless different genres, across all platforms and in basically every generation of gaming. There’s never been a shortage of them. And when it comes to RPGs, vampires have seen some of their greatest games.

Though French studio Don’t Nod may be more well-known for the Life is Strange series, they’ve strayed away from more linear games plenty of times, Vampyr being one of the most successful examples. A buggy game by all means, the connections it makes you form with characters is unmatched. A dear friend’s blood may be the only thing keeping you alive.

6 Gothic

gothic-1-remake

There was a period in the early 2000s when consoles were becoming bigger where some of the most unique PC RPGs were created, games that necessitated the freedom of a PC to work in the first place. Among those was Gothic, one of the most well-known of the classic European RPGs.

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Developed by German studio Piranha Bytes, Gothic was made with a custom in-house engine that gave it a uniqueness few other games could match in the period. Its base systems were somewhat basic, with the real pleasure being the sheer interactivity both you and other NPCs had in the world. Much of it had no impact, but simply being able to mundanely exists in the world added a great depth.

5 Fable

A man running through Bowerstone, a fantasy setting filled with trees and taverns.

Fable 2

Platform(s)
Xbox 360

Released
October 21, 2008

Developer(s)
Lionhead Studios

At this point, we’re starting to hit the more well-known European RPGs, the ones people would no longer be willing to call ‘Eurojank’. Fable is a series that has laid dormant for quite a while, and one that has always suffered from over-promising from creator Peter Molyneux. Ignoring those promises, Fable is one of the most joyful RPGs out there.

Developed by now-defunct Lionhead Studios, Fable was a satirical take on fantasy, making fun of the seriousness of others while at the same time using plenty tropes of their own. Morality is the calling card of Fable. Simple acts of goodness will gift you a halo, while something like kicking a chicken will have you branded a devil.

4 The Witcher

Geralt split image. The Witcher 1 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Franchise
The Witcher

Platform(s)
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Switch, PC

Released
May 19, 2015

Developer(s)
CD Projekt Red

Have you ever noticed that when most people mention the Witcher games, they tend to neglect to mention the original game? It always starts with Witcher 2, and is bolstered by the obscenely high amount of praise for the Witcher 3. That’s because no one wants to admit their favourite game began as Eurojank.

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And that is squarely what the original Witcher is. Polish devs CD Projekt Red have made some of the biggest, most successful RPGs in history, but The Witcher had much humbler beginnings. Even funnier though, despite the dodgy quality of the game, all the fundamentals aspects of the series were there from the beginning.

3 Disco Elysium

Kim Cooly Tolerates Harry Du Bois In Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium

Platform(s)
PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Stadia

Released
October 15, 2019

Developer(s)
ZA/UM

Disco Elysium is a game beyond simple definition. It functions as a political litmus test, features no combat system, and refuses to ever tell you you’re wrong (most of the time). Hell, even putting it in an article like this plays into many of its themes of exploitation, but we won’t get into that right now.

Disco Elysium is an RPG like so few others, much of that supported by the sheer quality of its writing and voice actors. There’s no multiple endings, yet you can almost guarantee no two people will experience the game the same. Away with base morality systems, you are instead a compilation of paradoxical political beliefs. Very befitting your profession.

2 Greedfall

Best RPG Soundtracks a wide shot of the protagonist from Greedfall stood on the edge of a cliff overlooking a vast desolate landscape with a ominous mountain in the background

GreedFall

Platform(s)
PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S

Released
September 10, 2019

Developer(s)
Spiders

Have you ever wanted to play a Bioware RPG, but on a smaller scale, so it could break away from some of its more antiquated systems? That’s basically exactly what French studio Spiders did with Greedfall!

Set within a fictional archipelago, Greedfall (true to the name) features a bunch of colonists coming over to steal the land from its native settlers, and you are placed in the middle of this. Its features more reactive choices than you may be used to from others of the genre, and though it has its pitfalls, it tries plenty of earnest new ideas.

1 Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 Mind Flayer

Baldur’s Gate 3

Platform(s)
PC, PS5

Released
August 3, 2023

Developer(s)
Larian Studios

Have you ever wanted to play a Bioware RPG, but on a more focused scale so it could break away from some of its more antiquated systems? Seeing the runaway success of Baldur’s Gate 3, literally an old Bioware franchise, the answer must be yes! And that is exactly what Larian has delivered.

Headquartered in Belgium and entirely privately owned, Baldur’s Gate 3 had the perfect storm that gave them the freedom to create whatever they wanted without constraint, and ending up making one of the highest rated games ever (seriously). It’s hard to condense that success into a few short sentences, so we really would recommend experiencing its world and characters for yourself. Just be better to be bombarded with complex D&D systems.

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