The Fire Emblem series offers tactical turn-based combat, squad customization, heavy customization, and brimming fantasy series.
These ingredients have gathered a loyal fan base since the saga debuted in 1990. One of its 21 games, perhaps 2019’s Three Houses, may have been your introduction to the tactical RPG genre.
Games like Fire Emblem should be top-tier entries in the genre. The games we compiled rely on complex plots, multi-layer RPG mechanics, tactical combat, the occasional simulation, and tons of customization options.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is the ultimate modern CRPG. The story follows a group of heroes on a quest for divinity. It has 4 acts, almost no pointers, and multiple ways to approach situations. On top of that, the game follows D&D rules: it considers your stats to determine your success in combat or interactions.
The title features the best turn-based and squad-based combat you can play. You can go solo or with a party of 4 highly customizable characters, which may be AI or your friends. Then, there’s gear, attributes, skills, civil skills, and talents. Also, there’s a free class system, and you can respec at any time.
Each character takes turns moving, using skills, items, or spell scrolls. Then, the environments are highly interactive, allowing tons of combinations like making enemies bleed and then electrifying the blood.
Baldur’s Gate 3 (& Original Baldur Games)
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a classic RPG that follows the 5th Dungeons & Dragons tabletop edition rules. Prior entries in the saga came from Beamdog and Bioware, but the new one is by Larian Studios. In any case, we recommend you play Baldur Gate I & II as well.
Original Sin Creators are keeping the high standards of the series, although it’s still in Early Access and delivers the first act only. That said, it allows you to play solo, with a party of AI characters, or co-op.
You start the gamer by customizing your avatar’s appearance, gender, class, skills, attributes, and abilities. Then, you gather a party and travel across the Forgotten Realms to defeat alien parasites. As you’d expect, you combat in turns, and there’s a “dice” system to determine the success of your actions.
Octopath traveler is a tactical and turn-based RPG with a fantasy setting. You play in the land of “Osterra” as eight heroes. Each hero has a story to follow, but the common threat is defeating a villain to protect the realm.
Notably, the game features a retro art style with modern enhancements. The developers call it “HD-2D.” Gameplay-wise, you get to play with one of the eight characters and follow a different path for each protagonist.
Also, each character has a class (“job”) with unique skills, and you may recruit the other characters to your party. Lastly, the combat relies on using attacks, elemental skills, abilities, items, and “Boost Points for extra power.
Dark Deity is another Japanese tactical and turn-based RPG. The game is clear on its Fire Emblem inspiration, and it follows a group of military students that became a part of an endless conflict in a fantasy kingdom.
The gameplay comes through artsy 2D grids. You select characters to move, attack, use skills and use items on every turn. If these characters die, they gain permanent wounds in the form of losing random stat points.
Also, the “Advantage system” allows characters to carry different weapons to target enemy weaknesses. You can further upgrade weapons, level up characters, and develop “affinities” between companions with interactions.
Battle Brothers is a 16-bit turn-based, tactical, and squad-based RPG game akin to a tabletop war game. You play as a group of mercenaries in a grim and gritty medieval fantasy world, and you do so through a strategic world map or combat arenas.
The map is fully open and procedurally generated, and the progression is non-linear. You’re free to choose contracts or travel around the world. You’re also free to fight or help any faction and customize dozens of companions.
Combat features a grid, and your party takes turns to move and use skills, items, and attacks. There’s a complex triangle system dictating the advantages and weaknesses of the weapons. Other mechanics include permadeath, a free class system, random world events, and randomized traits for each companion.
The Banner Saga
The Banner Saga is a classic and epic RPG game. It’s the first part of a trilogy, and choices carry over to the last entry. It means there’re branching paths, distinct endings, and game-altering consequences.
This is a Viking player-driven narrative with branching paths. You make allies, travel on caravans, and choose who to help during chaotic times. Every decision you make on your travels and every combat and conversation has an outcome and affects the overall story.
The game offers 25 playable characters, 2 races, 7 glasses, and many abilities and skills. Then, the turn-based combat is strategic and it features permadeath. Outside of combat, the main mechanic is building your caravan.
Wildermyth is a tactical game with procedurally generated storytelling. It means the story is randomized each time you play it, as there’re systems to simulate events, interactions, and battles
You start by choosing a randomized character, and then you grow the character in every battle. Each battle opens new gameplay and narrative opportunities, although the story has major story beats to follow.
Lastly, turn-based combat is similar to XCOM. You play on a grid and take turns to move, attack, and use skills. Outside of combat, the main playtime is rebuilding a village to prepare for upcoming invasions.
Dofus is a classical and popular MMORPG. It offers a vast fantasy and cartoony open world, many side activities, turn-based combat, and a deep class system. Specifically, you can use a single character for battle, but you can swap and customize characters at any time.
Combat happens on isometric grids. You take turns to move, attack, and use your skills. You customize skills, skill slots, gear, and more outside combat. You can also participate in raids, 1v1, or team-based PvP, treasure hunts, etc.
Additional activities include trading, customizing a home, pursuing professions like fishing, and more. All of it it’s free-to-play, but some content, such as creating a guild, requires an additional guild.
Hero’s Hour is a fast-paced strategy game with a turn and real-time combat blend. It also uses 16-bit graphics and a fully 2D interface. Additionally, it uses a procedural generation to craft its maps, factions, enemy armies, and more.
See, you develop armies and cities, but armies mostly fight on their own in real time. So, first, you develop cities in a procedurally generated world, and these cities produce your armies.
Then, you move your armies across the map on each turn, and the enemy will do so as well. When you meet in combat, you can issue simple commands such as your hero’s skills. That said, if your entire army falls, you’ll have to start from scratch.
Heroes of Might & Magic III – HD Edition
Heroes of Might and Magic III is a newer version of the classic 1999 RPG game The Restoration of Erathia. You follow Queen Catherine Ironfist on a journey to unite her ravaged kingdom and defeat demons, necromancers, and dragons.
There’re three gameplay mechanics: city management, army management, and combat. You manage resources, build, and create army units in your cities. Then, you move your armies on a world map, per turn. Finally, you meet enemy armies in turn-based battles.
Combat maps are not grids, as you don’t need to move. Instead, each character takes turns to use their skills and spells or surrender. The reward is loot for your hero, XP, and currency to develop your cities and recruit army units like wizards and rogues.
The latest entry in the XCOM franchise is the sequel to 2012’s Enemy Unknown, the award-winning sequel reboot. As before, you control a military squad and fight against alien invaders. So, it’s a full-on squad/turn-based tactical experience.
You travel worldwide from a ship, your base of operations, to select your next mission, research techs, and upgrade your squad. Then, you recruit resistance soldiers. These are customizable warriors, as you pick from five classes and skills.
Inside mission maps, there’s no exploration. Instead, you combat a grid per turn until you clear all enemies in the area or complete a specific goal. Also, combat includes high ground, cover, concealment, ambushes, items, gadgets, skills critical hits, and other variables.
Wasteland 3 is the latest entry in the Wasteland saga. Creators of the original Fallout title founded inXile, which focuses exclusively on its turn-based RPG. If you’re a fan of the former, you’ll find the Wasteland quite familiar.
This is a party-based RPG game with a unique wasteland setting, a reactive story, and a wicked sense of humor. You play as a group of Colorado Ranges on a quest to restore order in Colorado. Yet, you may do that in multiple ways.
The main gameplay is combat. You take turns to move, take cover, reload, shoot, and use skills and items. Then, you level up skills and stats. Outside of combat, there’s a hub world, a city, and a tank to explore the overworld that connects the instances.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous takes the 5th edition Pathfinder tabletop RPG rules. You should know it’s way more complex than D&D, something you can see on a character creation screen with 25 different classes.
After you customize a character, you enter a story about defeating the Abyss. You start by customizing a character with class, race, and innate powers. Then, you go through a story that includes thousands of spells, feats, abilities, and tough real-time combat with a pause button.
The fantasy setting becomes more complex with branching paths, as the game allows you to craft your story. Lastly, there’s a strategic map for an extra mechanical layer. You recruit, manage and move an army across the board to meet enemies in battle and conquer territory.