As an avid gamer, I’ve played countless RPGs throughout my life. However, there are still some games and series that I’ve missed out on, leaving me curious about the hype surrounding them. While some game series are loosely connected and can be played in any order, there are instances where playing the third installment of a well-reviewed series may leave something to be desired, especially for those invested in the story.
Thankfully, not all game series follow this model. Some games stand alone and can be played without any prior knowledge of the series, creating their own separate universe with little to no connection to previous games. If you’re like me and want to jump into a popular series without having to start from the beginning, you’re in luck! This list will provide you with a starting point for playing some of the best RPG series out there, regardless of which game you begin with. Plus, who wouldn’t want to experience at least one installment of the renowned Final Fantasy series?
If I am going to make a list on a gaming series that has more games than I have fingers on my hands, I better start with a game series that has been running since 1988 and is on is coming on to its sixteenth game in the mainline series, with more spinoffs than one can count. What makes Final Fantasy a great series to go on this list is the series has 16 numbered games that have no connection whatsoever to each other. If they wanted to, players could play the sixth, then the ninth, and go back to the first game without worrying about story continuity. Not all the games in the series are like this, as there are two exceptions with Final Fantasy 10 and Final Fantasy 13, with both games having direct sequels to them, which are best to be played in order.
For gamers yet to try any Final Fantasy games, they are in luck as Steam has all numbered games except for 11, which was an MMO that has now closed. For turn-based fans, that number is lower as the games have been moving away from their turn-based roots.
Pokémon has got to be one of the biggest gaming franchises around, with mass appeal in more than just gaming. It has a long and successful anime series, manga, card game, movies, collectibles, and more. For a series with this much influence, there is always someone new jumping into the series that hasn’t played it before, and lucky for them, Pokémon is one gaming series any gamer can get into no matter which title they play. Whether they have been with the series from the start or off and on with it, it doesn’t really matter as none of the games has any connection to another apart from extra goodies to acknowledge you have played one of the other games on that platform.
Unlike Final Fantasy, not all Pokémon games are available on the Switch. In saying that, you won’t be disappointed as there are a fair few games, gamers can start with, including three mainline gens (Black/White, Sword/Shield and Scarlet/Violet) and some spinoffs that will appeal to turn-based gamers (Arceus and Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee). And if that’s not enough, more games may come with the recent addition of the Gameboy and Game Boy Advance games to play with a Nintendo Online Subscription.
Another RPG from Square Enix, but unlike Final Fantasy, which has been slowly moving away from its turn-based roots, Dragon Quest is still rooted in that turn-based ground. While less popular in the West than Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest has been going for just as long and has almost as many games in its long-stored history. Sadly, its popularity in the West really shows, as only one game in the mainline series is available on all platforms (Dragon Quest XI). On the other hand, if you are a Switch owner or gaming on mobile, you are in luck, as some of the older games are available on both platforms.
If there is one thing Nintendo know how to do, it is to make loveable gaming series that gamers can jump into at any time, no matter the platform they are playing on, and Fire Emblem is no different. Unlike many games on this list, Fire Emblem is a different beast. Originally the series was a Japan Exclusive, and it wasn’t until it was released on the Game Boy Advance did it see its first game released to the West. With how the series was handled, you would think it wouldn’t be that successful on this side of the world, but if anything, it has become one of the most successful turn-based tactical games ever that other games have copied.
While most Fire Emblem games aren’t connected in any way, some do have slight connections to each other. From what I know, only two games have been connected directly: Fire Emblem: Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, its sequel; most others can be played without having to play another game first. Currently, Fire Emblem has a few games available on the Switch. Still, only two of them are in the usual formula (Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Fire Emblem: Engage), and the other three are two spinoffs that aren’t turn-based and a crossover game with Fire Emblem characters. In saying that, some of the older games on Game Boy Advance will soon be available to play. All great starts to the series.
The Disgaea series is one of those gaming series I haven’t played, but like the others on this list, each game is separate from the others, with a new protagonist each time. The series is an SRPG and could be compared to a game like Fire Emblem in that it is similar gameplay-wise, but also not if that makes sense. What I mean by this is the games use the grid style, with characters only being able to move a number of squares before they can’t move. If you have played many tactical turn-based games, there is a chance you may enjoy the series, but it all depends on which game you play, as some are known to be hit or miss.
Currently, Steam is the best place to try the Disgaea games as all of them except the third game are available, as well as some of the spinoff games. Switch and PlayStation are also great as most of the games are available there, as well as the upcoming seventh game.
There may be more turn-based games that are great to start with any game, but the five mentioned here all either have just had a new game release (Pokémon and Fire Emblem) or have one coming soon (Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Disgaea). Whether you have kept up to date with these five series or not, each one is great to jump into at any time.