So you’re looking for a game to play while in the eternal limbo of waiting on Diablo II: Resurrected & Diablo IV? Well, look no further! I’m going to list the best 7 entries to the genre in my opinion below, and should you get hooked on any of them I can guarantee the time will fly and before you know it, these two will be out and hit you in the face like that first encounter with The Smith back in the day.
This game hits you in the face with its atmosphere as soon as you launch and doesn’t let go until you are done. If you are looking for a happy story, this ain’t it. The gameplay is fairly slow and crawly, much like Titan Quest and Diablo II. You should play this game if what you are looking for is a game you can play at your own pace whilst still having the option of sinking hundreds of hours into a character.
In terms of innovation, the constellation system that is completely independent from your class choice adds an interesting layer of depth.
If you are thinking about picking up Grim Dawn and its expansions (which are stellar) I would recommend you get into it blind and figure your way through yourself, exploring the world and taking in the atmosphere. If you enjoy a game more with a build that has been optimized and thought through, you are in luck as the forums and countless youtube channels have just what you need.
Path of Exile is currently the frontrunner of this entire genre and sets the standard for any game trying to enter this space. Their approach to keeping the game alive and cultivating a community is second to none in this space. The game has been in development since 2011, coming out of beta with a strong swing in 2013 and growing league after league. The best part about anyone wanting to play the game is that all content, past, future and present are entirely free to play. This comes at a cost as you can’t go back a patch to experience older content that has been patched/balanced but almost all of the league mechanics get added back into the game as core mechanics within a couple of leagues after it ends.
Now, after saying all that. Path of Exile is a terrible game to get into for a casual player as it is extremely punishing when it comes to build choices and the ability to switch things up on-the-fly if you discover you have had a bad build. It is recommended to always start with a build guide from the forums, which might deter some players that want to discover the game themselves but that approach is almost entirely untenable for the endgame.
Last Epoch started as a Kickstarter project, and thankfully did not end up in the way that many others from the Kickstarter craze did (yet at least). The game is still in Early Access, which may give some people hesitation when it comes to previous experiences of games never leaving Early Access and the developers slowly giving up on their projects. They are currently in phase 3 of the 4 phases leading up to the launch of the game, so it remains to be seen whether or not the game comes out in 2021.
The game itself is solid, slow and gritty with its own flavor of grim dark sprinkled on for atmosphere. The game’s story is interesting and fun, the flavor the time travel aspect brings to it is quite fun at times. Currently the game feels slightly unfinished and the end game gets repetitive fast, which seems to be a curse many of the games in this genre suffer from. I would recommend picking up Last Epoch if it pops up in a sale or if you are really yearning for a new ARPG to put some hours into.
But wait, wasn’t there a third one? Yes, yes there was. It has pretty universally not been loved by the ARPG community so I chose to leave it out of this list as I can’t in good conscience recommend it.
Torchlight I & II are great experiences to just experience and play through if you love ARPG games and want to experience something new.
Wolcen will be remembered for a very long time as the one that promised everything and failed to deliver in spectacular fashion. Their launch was riddled with so many issues that it puts the disconnect ridden Path of Exile launches of the past to shame, even surpassing the legendary ‘Error 37’ of Diablo III launch.
Many of the features people originally backed the Kickstarter and supported the Early Access for were cut in order to make their release deadline and supposedly technical limitations, which caused many gamers to be upset and hate this game to this day. The core gameplay itself is solid, but not nearly as complex as some of the competitors, sometimes this is not necessarily a bad thing depending on how deep you want to delve into a game or if you are just in it to slay some monsters. If it’s the latter, this game is definitely going to be fun for you!
If you are willing to look past the fiasco of the launch and cut features (which seems to be the norm these days) the development team has been hard at work on improving the game since the launch, at a glance providing at least bi-monthly updates and fixes to the game. It remains to be seen if this game can slowly build itself to the level of some of its rivals, but I hope it does as I am a fan of competition forcing innovation.
Diablo III is a much more casual and mechanically simple game compared to its predecessor Diablo II and the competition that has spawned following in its older brother’s footsteps. This is not necessarily a bad thing and the game is honestly the best casual ARPG out there with some endgame content to speak of. The gameplay is snappy and satisfying, the story is fun and the cinematics are as amazing as one would expect from a Blizzard game.
This game is especially fun when playing locally with a friend on one of the many consoles that have the game available to them, or online if you are a PC player. Well worth the money, especially when a sale is on.
By far the oldest entry in this list (2006), and it shows when you play it. It has mechanics that really show their age and issues that only someone that loves the genre would really want to put up with, but let’s be honest, if you clicked on a list of games to play while waiting for Diablo II & Diablo IV you are the type of person to play one of the oldie goldies if the gameplay itself is solid.
This is the game you want to pick up when it’s on a sale and you feel like playing something more retro.