ByAthena Veta, writer at
Games are about understanding and creating reality for ourselves. Let's explore how our virtual and physical worlds relate to one another!
Athena Veta

With the holidays upon us, many game enthusiasts wait with excitement for a new game or two to play. And if you're anything like me, your game of choice is usually a role-playing one. But for the uninitiated, can be daunting. Attributes, experience points, hit points, and achieving a command of the actual gameplay can seem like more bother than they're worth.

So fear not, potential new RPG fans searching for new friends to play these games with. Here are five fantastical games that teach us the inner workings of role playing for those not quite ready to master Dungeons & Dragons.

5. Chrono Trigger — Super NES/PlayStation

Even though this game is considered a spinoff of Final Fantasy IV, Chrono Trigger is a classic that offers a fair amount of ease and accessibility in its leveling system. The combat is intuitive, and its turn-based nature gives new players a chance to think about their tactics, compared to the real-time RPGs of today. Although released in 1995, the game boasts crisp and visually pleasing gameplay and, just as importantly, the story is in-depth and engaging.

4. Final Fantasy IV — Super NES/PlayStation

Final Fantasy IV marks a great introduction to the series. Easy leveling systems, lower difficulties compared to other games in the franchise, great graphics, and compelling characters all contribute to the well-conceived and well-executed story.

As with Chrono Trigger, the characters in Final Fantasy IV have specific abilities, but players can build their characters in a variety of ways yet still function well. Again, the turn-based combat systems give new players the ability to plan out their tactics before jumping into the fray.

3. Fire Emblem — Nintendo 3DS

A tactical RPG for the handheld crowd, doesn't have any detailed narrative or relationships between characters to detract from learning the actual mechanics of the game. It boasts easy controls, unique characters, and a variety of ways to build your character and team, before the player is asked to try their hand at a tactical battle.

2. The Last Story — Wii

Second place on this list goes to The Last Story, a Japanese RPG (JRPG?) that was one of the last big games released for the — at least, in North America. There is unique gameplay, and it walks you through each new ability as you gain it. The Last Story also gives the player a chance to practice the new ability in a fairly controlled environment before being expected to apply it in a true battle setting.

The Last Story utilizes a clear and easy interface for learning how to command the battlefield, and to tactfully use your three companions (even kindly pausing the game for you to survey the field), while not overwhelming players with unfamiliar information (that is, commanding the mage to "cast spell" versus trying to pick the exact spell to work in that situation). The game is fairly short, as far as RPGs or JRPGs go, and grinding is streamlined (as much as grinding can be!). In a word, this game is very accessible.

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1. Dragon Age: Origins — PS3/Xbox 360/PC

Dragon Age: Origins proudly presents its immersive story in an open-world setting that leads you just enough to your next objective that new players will never feel lost. Gamers have a lot of flexibility when building their characters, to the point where it is difficult to build a character incorrectly. For instance, I built a rogue who could wear heavy armor, pick any lock, and wield two longswords. Clear descriptions of each attribute are readily available, detailing what each one does in regard to combat and abilities, making the leveling system easier to understand for beginners.

While do have a slight advantage over console gamers, controlling the tactics of the companion party members is easy, again as the game pauses for you to look at the field and plan your attack.

Unique to this game, and what gives it the No. 1 spot, is that damage dealt and the hit/miss of attacks are determined by electronic rolls of the dice that occur behind the scenes of the game. While frustrating at times — especially if you don't know what's happening — this design subtly guides the player when building a character, as they're able to see the influence of their builds impacting the gameplay in a concrete way. Coupled with a compelling story and a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, Dragon Age: Origins earns its top spot on this list!

Honorable Mention

Baldur's Gate almost made this list, as it beautifully captures the essence of tabletop RPGs. With virtual rolls of the dice clearly visible and obviously impacting the game, Baldur's Gate clearly teaches a new player the rules and ways of the RPG. However, due to the fact that this game is very close to playing a tabletop RPG, and given that many people who have not played an RPG before may feel intimidated by such a game, Baldur's Gate will rest here in the honorable mentions.

Did I miss any great RPGs for beginners? Let me know in the comments!


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