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Role-playing games are a beloved staple of the industry. Ever since they moved from tabletop to desktop, they’ve captivated the hearts and minds of gamers of all ages. There’s something about the RPG genre that provides for a more immersive experience and satisfying narrative.

Of course, there are plenty of bad RPGs that sully the genre’s reputation, and it’s unfortunate that many of these titles happen to be free. Conversely, the RPGs worth playing often come with a price tag — one that isn’t always cheap.

But if you know where to look, you’ll find that there are the occasional free, high-quality titles that deserve to sit alongside those other games that ask for payment.

Path of Exile

In terms of production quality, Path of Exile is the absolute king of this list by a long shot. It’s an action RPG in line with titles like Diablo III and Torchlight II, but despite the fact that it’s free, it still manages to offer stylish aesthetics and deep gameplay that rival the best paid games.

In fact, depending on who you ask, there are those who even prefer Path of Exile to the rest. That’s how good it is.

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The main draw is its multi-layered and strategic approach to character progression — “skill tree” would be a huge understatement. Combine that with well-balanced itemization, ability design, and economy, and you’ve got the recipe for a winner.

While Path of Exile is technically an online RPG, only the central hub is globally multiplayer. The remainder of the world is instanced in such a way that you could play it entirely solo if you want, or you could bring a few friends along if you prefer that instead.

UnReal World

Let’s take a moment to explore a subgenre of RPGs called roguelikes. Long story short, these are RPGs that are notable for two reasons: procedurally generated worlds How Procedural Generation Took Over The Gaming Industry How Procedural Generation Took Over The Gaming Industry Read More and permanent death. If that sounds undesirable to you, I ask that you give it a chance.

UnReal World will blow you away. The premise is survival in a harsh environment. The world is brand new every time you play, your character is brand new each time, and the goal is to last as long as you can. When you die, you die for good, but that’s okay because dying is part of the game.

Quick descriptions for this game will always sound shallow, but the world is incredibly deep and there are so many things to do. You’ll never get bored. The challenges are tough but surmountable, and you’ll have a blast living in this world (once you get past the primitive graphics). Few AAA games can match its complexity.

What’s amazing about UnReal World is that it’s been in development since 1992 and still receives regular updates to this day. That’s over 23 years of blood, sweat, and tears that have been put into this game — and it shows in the gameplay.

Pixel Dungeon

If you’re intrigued by the roguelike concept but are turned off because it sounds too hardcore for you, rest assured that you aren’t alone. Pixel Dungeon is a lightweight roguelike for Android that was made for people like you. But don’t confuse “lightweight” for “shallow” or “boring”, because Pixel Dungeon is great.

It’s simple enough. You explore the eponymous Pixel Dungeon floor by floor in search of the Amulet of Yendor. Along the way you kill monsters, collect loot, and advance your character. Each of the four classes presents an opportunity for a different gameplay style.

Pixel Dungeon is straightforward but challenging — a combination that makes for a highly addictive experience. If you want more like it, check out these other roguelikes for Android Roguelikes For Android: A New Adventure Every Time Roguelikes For Android: A New Adventure Every Time How awesome would it be if a game offered a whole new world and experience every time you played it? Read More .

Note: Pixel Dungeon is actually open source. If you’re interested in learning game development 5 Free Game Development Software Tools To Make Your Own Games 5 Free Game Development Software Tools To Make Your Own Games Have you ever wanted to create that game that's been bubbling in your mind for years? What if I told you that the possibility wasn't all that farfetched? The past decade has seen some massive... Read More , you may find it beneficial to poke around this game’s source code to see how it does what it does.

Inotia 4

RPGs on the Play Store tend to fall into one of two categories: paid and interesting, or free and crappy. The occasional paid RPG will be sucky and worthy of refund, but it’s almost impossible to find a free RPG that’s good enough to sink some time into. There are a few, however, and Inotia 4 is one of them.

It sports a cast of six character classes, a party-based mercenary system, an active combat system, and a fantasy adventure story that feels like a callback to traditional RPGs of the past. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of a Game Boy-era RPG. (Possibly because it’s mobile, but still…)

It’s free to play, but you can make in-app purchases for extra items. If you like Inotia 4, go ahead and check out the prequel. It’s available on the Play Store, fittingly titled Inotia 3. Want even more? Check out these other Android RPGs that rock 3 Android RPG Games That Rock 3 Android RPG Games That Rock Mobile gaming is known for puzzle games and casual games, but what about the other genres? Games like Angry Birds and World of Goo took the world by storm when they first came out and... Read More .

The Elder Scrolls: Arena

So, you’ve played Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, have you? Or even if you haven’t, you’ve surely heard about this ground-breaking open-world RPG series? The franchise has one of the largest fanbases in RPG history, culminating in a massive modding community for Skyrim and a big following for The Elder Scrolls Online.

But most have never gone back to the true root of the series, and that’s The Elder Scrolls: Arena. It predates even Daggerfall, the semi-successful game that eventually led to Morrowind. Fortunately, since 2004, Arena has been 100% free to download.

Now, a word of warning: this game debuted in 1994. A lot has changed in the 20+ years since then. Arena has a pseudo-3D perspective that feels a lot like the original Doom. The interface is clunky and the graphics are the exact opposite of high-definition. But give it thirty minutes and none of that will matter.

Arena was revolutionary for its time, raising the bar for RPGs to come. There’s very much a “cult success” feel to the game, but it’s fun to play and uniquely captivating. Plus, isn’t it awesome to see the humble beginnings of what would later evolve into the smash hit Skyrim?

Free RPGs Can Be Good!

Do note that the RPGs on this list are all single-player, which means that there’s still an entire world of free-to-play MMORPGs The 10 Greatest Free MMORPGs To Start Playing Now The 10 Greatest Free MMORPGs To Start Playing Now The landscape of MMORPG gaming has never been better than it is today. Some may pine for the good old days when games like Ultima Online, Everquest, and Dark Age of Camelot dominated the scene,... Read More for you to enjoy. If you have an abundance of time on your hands, these will fit into your schedule nicely.

What other free single-play RPGs are out there? Let us know what your favorites are by sharing with us in the comments below!

  1. Dominick B
    June 30, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Neverwinter is a free-to-play MMORPG with lots of in-game purchase *opportunities*. That said, I played happily for about 6 months before spending a dime. If you like D&D lore, this game has lots of tie-ins (Sword Coast, Icewind Dale, Minsk & Boo, etc, etc.)

    I've also heard that WildStar is going free-to-play. That's more of a sci-fi/space RPG but still a lot of fun with a great combat system.

    Hasn't "Star Wars: The Old Republic" been free for a while as well?

    • Joel Lee
      July 10, 2015 at 12:25 am

      I tried to keep MMOs out of the list as there are enough free MMOs for their own article, but you're absolutely right. Lots of great free ones available to play these days, and the three you mentioned are some of the better ones. :)

  2. Justin Klyczek
    June 29, 2015 at 12:33 am

    I love the list. Thanks!

    • Joel Lee
      July 10, 2015 at 12:24 am

      Thanks Justin! Hope it was useful to you. :)

  3. frankmcfuzz
    June 23, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    It... kind of blurs the lines of the genre to the point where it has created its own genre, but I also like to consider Dwarf Fortress as an RPG. Free forever, and arguably the most in depth game ever, Dwarf Fortress offers multiple races, weapon types, classes, improvised weaponry, wrestling, and a complicated and visceral combat system that works off real body parts and internal organs (and fantastical ones, when fighting a hydra) rather than just HP. And that's not even talking about Fort mode.... Which is amazing, by the way.

    Sure, it's difficult to learn, but it also has one of the friendliest and most helpful communities out there, and a dedicated dev who adds gigantic updates yearly. Plus, you can cut off someone's hand and then beat them to death with it, so.....

    For RPG afficionados who also like a little defense, crafting, management and open-ended storytelling, Dwarf Fortress's Fort Mode is an absolute must-play. For those wanting a roguelike in an open world, Adventure mode may be enough for you. (For those who love both, you can create a fort in Fort Mode and go to it in Adventure mode to fight whatever monster inevitably caused it to meet its end!)

    • Joel Lee
      July 10, 2015 at 12:24 am

      Dwarf Fortress is way more than an RPG, but so good that it deserves the mention you give it. The learning curve is a bit steep (and the time commitment can be daunting) but there are few games, if any, that can match the depth of Dwarf Fortress. Thanks for bringing it up!

  4. Victor Ong
    June 23, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    One of the issues I had with Inotia was the level layout. I had to stop at one point because I needed better equipment for a boss, but I couldn't get that equipment because the previous areas and stores were all locked out!

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