There were only a handful of big-name RPG franchises this year, but that doesn’t mean 2019 was slow or disappointing in this increasingly broad genre of gaming. From a new Pokemon region to the long-awaited return of Kingdom Hearts and an entirely new sci-fi universe, the characters we met and the stories they told made it memorable one.These are our nominees for the best RPGs of 2019.

Best RPG Nominees

Click through the gallery above or scroll down the page for the full list!

More Game of the Year Awards

The Outer Worlds

In blazing its own trail between the styles of Mass Effect and Fallout, The Outer World skillfully emphasizes choice and character development in a variety of familiar ways.From the way it immediately thrusts you into a situation that forces you to decide the fates of two rival communities to the extensive character quests for each of its six fleshed-out companions to the multiple endings, it has the freedom of choice covered. This extends to gameplay in the way it breaks up your dialogue skills into Persuade, Lie, and Intimidate, which lets you define the tone of your character as anything from upstanding hero to lying scoundrel or space thug.

Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium takes the age-old mechanics of tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons and twists them in strange ways around a macabre tale set in a beleaguered post-war city.It plays like no other video game I’ve ever seen and allows for role-playing in the truest sense of the word as you sculpt your detective’s world view – ranging from his socio-political leanings to his historical relationships, both romantically and with substance abuse. All obstacles are overcome via dialogue options and dice-based skill checks, allowing Disco Elysium to be a welcome breath of fresh air compared to more action-oriented RPGs.

Pokemon Sword & Shield

Pokemon has continued to do one thing extraordinarily well: Be accessible enough for new players to excel in the campaign while having enough deep RPG mechanics and systems to keep hardcore players interested well after it ends.With hundreds of Pokemon to choose from with wildly different stats, abilities, move pools, and types, the possibilities for an ultimate team are nearly endless, and Pokemon Sword and Shield has made it easier than ever to take the jump into competitive battling.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Coming in with ridiculous expectations, the long-awaited numbered Kingdom Hearts sequel surprisingly pulls together nearly two decades of storytelling into an impressive capper to Sora, Donald, and Goofy’s journey.With game technology finally able to live up to the animated Disney movies Kingdom Hearts pulls from, the threequel’s worlds are impressively realized, from Andy’s room in Toy Story to the open world of Big Hero 6’s San Fransokyo, and evocative of their cinematic origins. Kingdom Hearts 3 also puts the theory that more is more to good use, with more collectibles, more sidequests, and more combat options that make for a bombastic, thrilling adventure.

Dragon Quest Builders 2

It’s dangerously easy to write off Dragon Quest Builders 2 as a Minecraft clone by its looks alone, but nothing could be further from the truth.This is a fully-fledged Dragon Quest RPG disguised as a block builder, complete with massive maps to explore and a world-saving plot to unfurl. It’s got quirky JRPG characters to meet, monsters to kill (or befriend), and, yes, plenty of building. It may not be your traditional RPG cup of tea, but this sequel still puts a fantastically twist on the genre without losing its core.

Those are our nominees for the best role-playing game of 2019 – what are yours? Vote in our Player’s Choice awards below to name your choice!

Don’t see your choice listed above? Let us know what you’d write in here!

Which games made your list of nominees that didn’t make ours? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out all of our other Game of the Year award nominees as well as our picks for the best movies, TV shows, comics, and anime of 2019!

Art for IGN’s Best of 2019 is by Julia Rago, Justin Vachon, Angela Nguyen, and Nicole Cagampan.

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