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What is the greatest video game Easter egg of all time?

1

One Week Until the End

Dec 10, 2014
One Week Until the End

Most Easter Eggs are content with making a clever reference or two, but the Easter Eggs in Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear titles were typically as utilitarian as they were amusing. In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Kojima included multiple paths for the player to progress, including how they dealt with patrolling soldiers and bosses. An elderly sniper known as The End was one of the most challenging boss battles in the game, since the fight could take over an hour, and required the player to employ their knowledge of camouflage and sneaking in a prolonged marksmanship competition. One method of dueling with this boss, however, required the player to simply save during the fight and reload their game after a week of waiting. When the player returned, they would find that The End had simply died of old age.

Game of Origin: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater | Release Date: 2004 | Easter Egg References: Killing a boss using time manipulation | In-Game Location: Sokrovenno

Developer: KCEJ, Kojima Productions | Publisher: Konami | Platform/s: PS2 | Game Engine: KCEJ-built | Game Fun Fact: If the player can properly maneuever into range, it is possible to snipe and kill The End before encountering him at all.

2

The Shiba Inu

Dec 10, 2014
The Shiba Inu

Many Easter Eggs are references to other franchises, but Konami’s Silent Hill has a wildly different concept of what an Easter Egg should be. Multiple entries in the Silent Hill franchise feature a complex combination of backtracking, item combination, and exploratory maneuvers to achieve a specific ending, and some of the game’s final sequences are a far cry from the story’s survival-horror overtones. One fan-favorite ending has appeared in numerous titles, and features the protagonist encountering a Shiba Inu dog (Mira) with far too much control. In Silent Hill 2, Mira sat inside of a control room that had orchestrated the entire game, and passed the time by listening to music through headphones. In Silent Hill: Origins, Mira appeared as a translator with a visiting alien. Some critics have cited these Easter Eggs as distracting to the series’ tone, but in a world like Silent Hill, some laughter is almost mandatory.

Game of Origin: Silent Hill 2 | Release Date: 2004 | Easter Egg References: A top-secret area's canine commander | In-Game Location: The Observation Room in the Nightmare Lakeview Hotel

Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo | Publisher: Konami | Platform/s: PS2 | Game Engine: Konami-built | Game Fun Fact: Mira, the headset-wearing Shiba Inu, appears in several other Silent Hill endings (most notably, as an alien).

3

Cows from Hell

Dec 10, 2014
Cows from Hell

Blizzard may be a monolithic developer, but they’ve always seemed to put out passion projects, judging by the number of Easter Eggs and running gags in their games. The original Diablo was said to hold a secret cow level, but these stories were proven to be player-made rumors intended to fool newer gamers or Easter Egg addicts. In Diablo 2, however, Blizzard seemed to take note of the fanfare by implementing a secret cow level, which could only be reached by combining the proper ingredients in an obscure location. In this strange area, players were confronted by hordes of murderous bovines, which came equipped with magical staves and spells. To this day, Blizzard maintains that there is not – and never has been – a cow level.

Game of Origin: Diablo 2 | Release Date: 2000 | Easter Egg References: A supposedly non-existent cow level | In-Game Location: Rogue Encampment (requires a combination of items for portal entry)

Developer: Blizzard North | Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment, Sierra Entertainment | Platform/s: Windows, Mac OS | Game Engine: Proprietary (isometric build) | Game Fun Fact: Numerous high-level monsters are named after Diablo modders and developers.

4

Death by Ketchup

Dec 10, 2014
Death by Ketchup

Almost every mischievous child has discovered the visual similarities of blood and ketchup, but this concept was taken to an extreme by Hideo Kojima in the original Metal Gear Solid. After the protagonist, Solid Snake, was placed into a cell and interrogated, his captors brought him a meal tray with a bottle of ketchup. If the player chose to smash the ketchup bottle rather than merely hiding under the bed, they were able to lie down on the floor and fool the passing guards into believing Snake had been killed. Once the guards entered Snake’s cell, the player was able to dispatch them and make a quick escape. This Easter Egg is a true testament to the branching possibilities within Kojima’s titles, and one of the most humorous options in resuming a world-saving operation.

Game of Origin: Metal Gear Solid | Release Date: 1998 | Easter Egg References: A clever prison escape employing fake blood | In-Game Location: Interrogation cell

Developer: KCEJ | Publisher: Konami | Platform/s: Playstation | Game Engine: KCEJ-built | Game Fun Fact: One of the game's bosses, Psycho Mantis, will read the player's memory card and comment on their saved Playstation games.

5

Playing Pitfall

Dec 10, 2014
Playing Pitfall

Most gamers who purchased Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 didn’t expect to get two games in one, let alone five. On the map Nuketown 2025, an updated version of an original Black Ops map, players who destroyed all of the map’s mannequins in less than two minutes received a throwback Easter Egg in the form of playable Atari games. A pixilated retro display would appear onscreen, followed by access to Pitfall 2, River Raid, Kaboom!, and H.E.R.O. These Atari gems were a perfect compliment to the map’s inherent throwback nature, and provided a unique twist in the multiplayer shooter’s gameplay. Hunting down all of the mannequins could sometimes be a hassle, since these were randomly-generated elements in the map’s design, but the moment of success was sweet (and undeniably classic).

Game of Origin: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 | Release Date: 2012 | Easter Egg References: Classic games published by Atari | In-Game Location: Nuketown 2025

Developer: Treyarch | Publisher: Activision, Square Enix | Platform/s: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U | Game Engine: IW | Game Fun Fact: Black Ops 2 was the first Call of Duty title to feature player-driven choices and endings.

6

The Dead Assassin

Dec 10, 2014
The Dead Assassin

In a game titled The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, it was only a matter of time until a world-renowned assassin stumbled onto the scene. Although the game’s titular assassin may hail from the nation of Temeria, players who strayed from the beaten path during the prologue level were treated to an assassin from ancient Jerusalem. Altair, the protagonist of the Assassins’s Creed series, was known for his death-defying (and impossibly safe) leaps into piles of hay. The unlikely nature of Altair’s survival, particularly from heights in excess of 500 feet, prompted The Witcher 2’s developers to add a dead facsimile of Altair into the castle’s hay pile. Considering the game’s major selling point as a brutal and realistic fantasy, it was only a matter of time until they poked some fun at their competition.

Game of Origin: The Witcher 2 | Release Date: 2011 | Easter Egg References: The Assassin's Creed series | In-Game Location: Prologue's castle siege

Developer: CD Projekt Red | Publisher: CDP.PL, Atari, Inc., Bandai Namco Games, Cyberfront | Platform/s: Windows, Xbox 360, Mac OS X, Linux | Game Engine: REDengine | Game Fun Fact: A mining excavation area contains a note with the phrase "Fly, you fools!" in reference to Gandalf the Grey.

7

The Lost Island

Dec 10, 2014
The Lost Island

Just Cause 2 was sprawling enough to provide players with car chases and grappling-hook shenanigans on almost every road in Panau, but some hidden gems required legwork and a bit of scouring to uncover. If a player managed to “borrow” a plane and fly to the proper coordinates, they would find an island with remarkable similarities to the setting of television’s Lost, which included a roaming smoke monster and the show’s infamous hatch. The island, known as Hantu in-game, also boasted a collection of Japanese WWII prototype items, such as an electromagnetic pulse tower capable of crashing the player’s jet. Hantu Island’s exploration value was high, since it offered a surprising amount of resources and mission content as well as some judiciously-placed Easter Egg material.

Game of Origin: Just Cause 2 | Release Date: 2010 | Easter Egg References: The television series Lost | In-Game Location: Hantu Island, in northwestern Panau

Developer: Avalanche Studios | Publisher: Eidos Interactive | Platform/s: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, OnLive | Game Engine: Avalanche 2.0 | Game Fun Fact: A mechanical shark patrols the waterways of Panau, and can be grappled onto - and subsequently ridden - if you hunt it down.

8

The Buried Head

Dec 10, 2014
The Buried Head

Months before the release of Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3, a series of viral videos were released online to introduce the game’s antagonist, Vaas. In the videos, an unfortunate hostage was buried up to his neck in sand, and tormented over a period of weeks by his captor. The iconic image of this sand-entombed victim was featured on Far Cry’s box art, but it also made a far more interactive appearance in the main game. If the player explored along the southern tip of an island, they were able to find the buried head, which unlocked the achievement titled Say Hi to the Internet! This Easter Egg was a clever and unexpected way for Ubisoft to reward fans who had watched the pre-release trailers, and provided an unsettling twist for the unaware.

Game of Origin: Far Cry 3 | Release Date: 2012 | Easter Egg References: Far Cry 3's viral launch trailer | In-Game Location: The southernmost beaches of North Island

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal | Publisher: Ubisoft | Platform/s: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360 | Game Engine: Dunia 2 | Game Fun Fact: Over the course of the game, the protagonist's response to violence and explosions will change from fearful gasps to excitement.

9

World of Zeldacraft

Dec 10, 2014
World of Zeldacraft

World of Warcraft is one of the globe’s most widespread and dedicated gaming communities, so it’s no surprise that Blizzard pandered to their audience when developing the game. Hundreds of jokes existed among Azeroth’s deserts, seas, and forests, and many of them were so subtle that players passed them without a second thought. In Un’Goro’s crater, however, a camp named Marshal’s Refuge held an unmistakable gnome named Linken. Linken was clad in all green, and had the characteristic hood and tunic of his Legend of Zelda counterpart. In addition, Linken also issued a quest titled It’s Dangerous to Go Alone, which offered Linken’s Sword of Mastery or a familiar-looking boomerang as a reward. Blizzard may have grown to monumental proportions with their player base, development teams, and series lore, but they’ve never forgotten their genre’s origins.

Game of Origin: World of Warcraft | Release Date: 2004 | Easter Egg References: The Legend of Zelda series | In-Game Location: Marshal's Refuge

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment | Platform/s: Windows, Mac | Game Engine: Blizzard-built | Game Fun Fact: Nessy, a sea creature modeled after the Loch Ness Monster, can be seen from the Deeprun Tram.

10

Hitman's Ghost

Dec 10, 2014
Hitman's Ghost

The Hitman series was never shy about its depictions of killing, but most of the game’s atmosphere revolved around gallows humor, if not tongue-in-cheek displays of Agent 47’s disguises. The Thermal Bath level of Hitman: Contracts, however, was intentionally designed to raise a few hairs on the backs of players’ necks. Throughout the level, a ghost appeared in the mirrors and hallways of the buildings, and could even be found dead on the floor toward the level’s end. While this Easter Egg could have been implemented as a joke with a few tweaks, the ghost’s fleeting nature – as well as his grisly origins, which include a bloodied bathtub and handprints – point to a team of fear-inducing developers. Despite Agent 47’s arsenal of silenced handguns and explosives, this phantom was enough to send players running for the exit.

Game of Origin: Hitman: Contracts | Release Date: 2004 | Easter Egg References: Supernatural entities in mirrors | In-Game Location: The Thermal Bath Hotel

Developer: IO Interactive | Publisher: Eidos Interactive, Square Enix | Platform/s: Windows, Xbox, PS2 | Game Engine: Glacier | Game Fun Fact: The Thermal Bath Hotel originally appeared in Hitman: Agent 47, but was remastered as a flashback level for Contracts.

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The Sunken Plane

Dec 10, 2014
The Sunken Plane

Those who played the original Bioshock will never be able to forget the game’s opening, which involved the hijacking and subsequent sinking of a transatlantic passenger plane. After the plane sank beneath the dark waters and left your character, Jack, stranded near a lighthouse, there was only a brief encounter with its wreckage in one of Rapture’s hallways. In Bioshock 2, however, 2K Games offered proof that the wreckage had survived its years beneath the waves. While traveling along a tube-shaped corridor, players could glance out through the glass and glimpse DF-0301’s corroded fragments. Although there was no way for the player to interact with this wreckage, it showed a level of consistency and attention to detail on 2K’s part, and was a brilliant homage for returning fans.

Game of Origin: Bioshock 2 | Release Date: 2010 | Easter Egg References: The original Bioshock's water-logged passenger plane | In-Game Location: Adonis Luxury Resort (viewed through a tunnel's window pane)

Developer: 2K Marin, 2K Australia | Publisher: 2K Games | Platform/s: Windows, Mac OS X, PS3, Xbox 360 | Game Engine: Modified Unreal 2.5 | Game Fun Fact: The franchise's moral choice system was added as an afterthought during production.


GOAT Staff Score - Video Game Easter Egg

The candidates have been assigned a raw score across a range of criteria. The raw scores have been weighted to reflect the impact that each individual criterion has on the 'Final GOAT Score'. Only weighted scores are displayed in this table. -->TURN DEVICE SIDEWAYS TO VIEW ON MOBILE-->
 Uniqueness (25%)Effort to Uncover (25%)Humor (20%)Interactive Value (15%)Overall Game Reception (15%)Raw ScoreFinal GOAT Score
One Week Until the End1191011849985
The Shiba Inu1010115743900
Cows from Hell71189944880
Death by Ketchup98771041820
Playing Pitfall87410534680
The Dead Assassin4392624475
The Lost Island5628223465
The Buried Head3564321425
World of Zeldacraft11561124405
Hitman’s Ghost6233115320
The Sunken Plane2411412265

GOAT Verdict:

One Week Until the End is the Greatest Video Game Easter Egg of All Time
One of the most well-regarded franchises in gaming history is also one of the most remarkable in technical terms, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater fully proved this point with its Easter Eggs. Kojima’s original design for the boss battle was one or two weeks of real-time maneuvering, but the idea was struck down for its extreme length. Perhaps as a way of pressing forward with his idea, Kojima enabled the player to manipulate time and aging as a weapon, and even allowed the player to advance the PS2’s internal clock by a week (rather than waiting) to mimic the effects. While the Metal Gear titles have always toyed with the interaction between the player’s world and the game’s mechanics, this Easter Egg epitomized this revolutionary concept and made it beneficial for the player. Kojima’s implementation of meta-gameplay and enjoyment through discovery was refreshing, bold, and the greatest video game Easter Egg of all time.

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What is the greatest role-playing video game of all time?

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Baldur's Gate II

Nov 13, 2014
Baldur's Gate II

Prior to the Forgotten Realms offerings from Black Isle Studios, most of the games based around tabletop RPGs had either flopped, or fell short of commercial success. When the first Baldur’s Gate entry hit the market, however, there was a true market for its character-driven tales, streamlined recreation of D&D rulebooks, and challenging but rewarding combat system. Baldur’s Gate 2 was an example of a sequel that capitalized upon the strengths of its predecessor, while also strengthening any weaknesses. This sequel gave the interface and player interaction a much more user-friendly style, as well as giving the plot some much-needed direction and momentum. Baldur’s Gate 2 brought tabletop to the masses, as well as the home computer. Even today, no RPG enthusiast’s collection is complete without a copy of this masterpiece.

Release: 2000 | Developer: Interplay, Black Isle Studios | Engine: Infinity | All Version Sales (Units): 5.00 million

Defining Traits: isometric party-based dungeon crawling, rich party banter and interactions, pioneer of choice and consequence in computer role-playing games | Metacritic Score: 95 | Available Classes: fighter, ranger, paladin, thief, bard, mage, cleric, druid, barbarian, monk, sorcerer

2

Mass Effect 2

Nov 13, 2014
Mass Effect 2

Years after many of Bioware’s greatest successes, the Mass Effect franchise exploded onto the market and set a new standard for RPGs, and action games in general. With a unique science-fiction setting that blended new technology and ancient myth, the first Mass Effect title set the stage for a grand intergalactic struggle. Its sequel was written and animated with the jaw-dropping thrills of a Hollywood movie, and sharpened the first game’s combat to a razor edge. Galactic exploration became daring and challenging, and the player truly assumed the role of Commander Shepard, pacing across the Normandy’s decks and pausing to examine ship models in your personal quarters. Mass Effect 2 walks the tightrope of RPG and interactive film, trusting you in your moral judgments but forcing you to view their repercussions, whatever they may be. Pulse-pounding military strikes may not be the cornerstone of an RPG, but their inclusion never hurts.

Release: 2010 | Developer: Bioware | Engine: Unreal 3 | All Version Sales (Units): 4.81 million

Defining Traits: Cinematic storyline and cutscene quality, real-time or pausable shooting mechanics, galactic exploration | Metacritic Score: 94 | Available Classes: Adept, soldier, engineer, vanguard, sentinel, infiltrator

3

Dragon Age: Origins

Nov 13, 2014
Dragon Age: Origins

Carving out a niche in the fantasy RPG genre can seem nigh impossible for modern titles, especially when every release must contend with established franchises such as Warcraft and Lord of the Rings, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at Bioware’s 2009 release, Dragon Age: Origins. As a spiritual successor to both the Baldur’s Gate series as well as the canceled third entry in Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic series, this title had a world of expectations behind it, and it delivered with spectacular flourish. The world of Ferelden was steeped in lore and century-old blood feuds, and felt plagued with the encroaching Darkspawn forces, who were as likely to siege a city as they were to ambush your group on a forest trail. The characters were deep, cleverly-written, and carried a certain warmth that made them feel like true companions around the party’s campfire zone. Party-based combat may be nothing new in the RPG world, but Dragon Age: Origins set a mile-high bar for future titles in the genre.

Release: 2009 | Developer: Bioware | Engine: Eclipse | All Version Sales (Units): 4.64 million

Defining Traits: pausable party-based combat, deep and engaging lore, a unique dark fantasy setting | Metacritic Score: 91 | Available Classes: warrior, rogue, mage

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The Witcher 2

Nov 13, 2014
The Witcher 2

Some titles emerge from the most unexpected places, and The Witcher is no exception. Based on a series of Polish novels, The Witcher introduced the monster-hunting Geralt with all of the sex, violence, and debauchery of its source material. The Witcher 2 is another release that managed to improve as a sequel, making the combat faster, bloodier, and more efficient than ever before. The game’s story, which focuses on the hunt for a murderer of kings, will take you through misty swamps and battle camps, all the while offering glimpses of a dirty, sweaty, gory world where questions about racism, class stratification, and drug addiction are hardly swept under the rug. The Witcher 2 boasts incredible voice-acting and character interaction, and it manages to feel both free and laden with adventure in spite of its narrowly-focused plotline. The Witcher is ostensibly a story about hunting down monsters, but at its core, it poses one question: will you eventually become a monster, too?

Release: 2011 | Developer: CD Projekt | Engine: REDengine | All Version Sales (Units): 1.64 million

Defining Traits: real-time hack-and-slash combat, novel-quality plotline and pacing, a gritty and violent universe | Metacritic Score: 88 | Available Classes: training in basic combat, magic, alchemy, and swordsmanship

5

Planescape: Torment

Nov 13, 2014
Planescape: Torment

While Planescape: Torment may be another D&D title, its world shares remarkably little with the conventional fantasy setting of the Forgotten Realms. The game begins with your character awakening and finding that he has become immortal, and from there, the search for answers begins. Much of the game was designed around the storyline, dialogue, and exploration, which meant that combat was essentially an afterthought. But Torment proved that blades and chainmail were not essential ingredients for a well-crafted RPG, as its mysterious, reality-bending universe(s) drew you toward the quest for explanations rather than loot. The characters were deep and troubled, and their struggles felt both meaningful and worthy of resolution. Years later, Torment is still fondly remembered as one of the best and unusual RPGs ever put to disc.

Release: 1999 | Developer: Black Isle Studios | Engine: Infinity | All Version Sales (Units): 20,000

Defining Traits: early usage of alignment-shaping through actions, protagonist immortality, a strange and memorable setting in the Planescape multiverse | Metacritic Score: 91 | Available Classes: fighter, mage, thief

6

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Nov 13, 2014
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

With a franchise like Star Wars, brand recognition alone can generally guarantee a profit for any new title, regardless of the genre. When the programming veterans at Bioware put out Knights of the Old Republic, however, the game sold for another reason: it was a work of art. Rather than relying on the film franchise to anchor their storyline, Bioware created a world that had previously only been seen in comic books and novels. The Old Republic was a seedy, war-torn place full of swoop gangs and chrome-clad Sith troopers, and the plot’s insistence upon high-stakes encounters serves to amplify the tension. This title rolled out some of Star Wars’ most memorable expanded universe characters, such as the misanthropic HK-47, and brought its cast to life with well-written dialogue and superb voice-acting. Whether sweeping the ocean floor in a submersible, or fighting your way through a plummeting cruiser before it enters the atmosphere, Knights of the Old Republic isn’t satisfied with showing you action – it makes you feel it.

Release: 2003 | Developer: Bioware | Engine: Odyssey | All Version Sales (Units): 2.29 million

Defining Traits: party-based entry in the expanded universe of Star Wars, tightly-woven and thrilling storyline, morality system that had practical implications | Metacritic Score: 93 | Available Classes: soldier, scout, scoundrel, Jedi consular, Jedi sentinel, Jedi guardian

7

The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

Nov 13, 2014
The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

Long before Skyrim, Bethesda set its sights on recreating the world of Tamriel. While the lore of The Elder Scrolls was already fairly rich, Oblivion gave the player the chance to enter its world like a living museum, daring it to touch the scenery and interact with its props more frequently than any previous Scrolls title. The quests in Oblivion were varied and sometimes hidden amongst ruins and moonlit gardens, and half of the joy was simply in finding these gems. Players had a large assortment of classes and specializations to choose from, and personal preference in gameplay and immersion granted you a rare opportunity to live in Tamriel as you pleased. You could pilfer noble homes for diamonds and bejeweled helms, or you could scour the forests, hunting wild game and foraging berries for your meals. There were no limitations on who you could become, or how you were expected to play. And that, truly, is the essence of an RPG.

Release: 2006 | Developer: Bethesda | Engine: Gamebryo and Havok | All Version Sales (Units): 7.41 million

Defining Traits: vast selection of quests and methods of advancing your character, impressive voice-acting from recognizable actors, the ability to roam freely throughout Tamriel | Metacritic Score: 94 | Available Classes: acrobat, agent, archer, assassin, barbarian, bard, battlemage, crusader, healer, knight, mage, monk, nightblade, pilgrim, rogue, scout, sorcerer, spellsword, thief, warrior, witchhunter

8

Final Fantasy VII

Nov 13, 2014
Final Fantasy VII

Ask any Final Fantasy enthusiast to give their opinion on the death of a beloved Final Fantasy VII character, and you’ll go down one of the deepest rabbit holes in gaming history. Final Fantasy VII was one of the most expensive games produced for its time, but the results still hold up over 15 years after its initial release. The characters were well-rounded and exceedingly memorable, the worlds were enormous, the plot was complex and mature, and the combat system was pared down to make it accessible for casual players and long-term fans alike. When people discuss this title, there is no way to avoid the inevitable praise for the supporting cast – namely Cloud and Tifa – and the ensuing heartbreak over one of the most shocking murders in RPG history. Final Fantasy VII is worth a playthrough, if only to understand why it’s so cherished.

Release: 1997 | Developer: Square | Engine: Proprietary | All Version Sales (Units): 22.81 million

Defining Traits: utilization of 3D graphics before it became a common trend in RPGs, numerous mini-games and activities, well-developed and likeable characters | Metacritic Score: 92 | Available Classes: white mage, Uhlan, machinist, red mage, knight, monk, time mage, breaker, archer, black mage, Mononofu, Shikari

9

World of Warcraft

Nov 13, 2014
World of Warcraft

There are few words of praise for World of Warcraft that haven’t already been said by its legions of dedicated players. At one time, Blizzard’s megahit had an astounding 12 million subscribers, which should serve as a testament to the game’s addictive style and polished presentation. The lore of World of Warcraft has years of franchise material to work with, and the world itself was crafted to be a faithful representation of Azeroth and its strange locales. The combat was fluid, the branching skill trees were liberating and encouraged experimentation, and the videogame trope of raiding – especially in its earliest 40-player version – was unparalleled in its epic scope. World of Warcraft may lack the player agency and concise plotlines of a single-player title, but the sheer size and immersion of its world makes it an RPG for the ages.

Release: 2004 | Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Engine: proprietary engine All Version Sales (Units): 20.51 million

Defining Traits: Holder of the Guinness World Record for most MMO subscriptions, expansive lore from the Warcraft franchise, highly competitive player-versus-player brackets | Metacritic Score: 93 | Available Classes: warrior, druid, mage, paladin, shaman, monk, warlock, hunter, death knight, rogue

10

Eve Online

Nov 13, 2014
Eve Online

Unlike most RPG titles, Eve Online has no real story. There are plenty of lore entries which help to establish the universe and an overarching series of events, but the driving, pounding action of a plotline is suspiciously absent. Even a fellow MMO, World of Warcraft, gives its story some attention with extended quest chains and themed raids. Eve Online was, in some ways, as cold and detached from the player as the omnipresent space vacuum. This was part of the allure, however. Eve Online was immersive because it asked you to become a realistic pilot, pursuing your own goals while also adhering to the central tenants of survival and personal gain. The player base dictated the politics and fluctuating stock prices of this world, and mega-corporations were forged and broken solely by the actions of pilots and high-ranking bureaucrats within the player community. Role-playing does not always mean leveling up and assigning points. Sometimes, it means becoming as cynical and cutthroat as the pilots around you.

Release: 2003 | Developer: CCP Games | Engine: Trinity | All Version Sales (Units): 80,000

Defining Traits: incredibly steep learning curve, exploration and combat in an open universe, player-driven politics and economics | Metacritic Score: 69 | Available Classes: modifications to the player's ship, including speed, damage, defense, and industrial hauling upgrades

11

Deus Ex

Nov 13, 2014
Deus Ex

Cyberpunk may not be as associated with RPGs as fantasy, but Deus Ex makes a compelling argument against that notion. Focused around an augmented super-soldier tasked with uncovering bizarre global conspiracies, Deus Ex sometimes has trouble playing itself seriously, since some of its gravity is stripped away by horrid voice-acting and low-resolution texture models. But beyond the campy flaws, Deus Ex told a complicated, adult story with a style of gameplay that felt oddly trusting to the player, allowing you to make your own path with freedom. The game’s engine allowed you to stack boxes and access areas that you weren’t supposed to see, or to manipulate explosives to propel yourself through distant windows. The augmentation canisters used for upgrades created an early system of adaptive play styles, granting you access to increased strength or immunity to particular types of damage. Deus Ex, all in all, was not an RPG focused around leveling up and becoming more powerful. It was an exploration of transnational cover-ups, player direction, and the ability to become immersed in the character you controlled.

Release: 2000 | Developer: Ion Storm | Engine: Unreal 1 | All Version Sales (Units): 3.78 million

Defining Traits: Amazing freedom of choice and progression, an immersive cyberpunk world, campy voice-acting | Metacritic Score: 90 | Available Classes: augmentations to various limbs and senses using upgrade canisters


GOAT Staff Score - RPG Video Game

The candidates have been assigned a raw score across a range of criteria. The raw scores have been weighted to reflect the impact that each individual criterion has on the 'Final GOAT Score'. -->TURN DEVICE SIDEWAYS TO VIEW ON MOBILE-->
 Storyline (30%)Combat System (20%)NPC Interactions (20%)Immersion Factor (15%)Legacy (15%)Raw ScoreFinal GOAT Score
Baldur's Gate 2861091043845
Mass Effect 211875738810
Dragon Age: Origins95118336755
The Witcher 2611610134685
Planescape: Torment10287532680
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic7393426555
The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion5446928535
Final Fantasy VII4751623480
World of Warcraft29241128460
Eve Online110111225445
Deus Ex3132817350

GOAT Verdict:

Baulders Gate II is the Greatest RPG Video Game of All Time
There are a thousand things to be said about Baldur’s Gate 2, and nearly all of them are good. It can be rare to find a sequel that actually improves and enhances the central experience of a game, but it’s often far rarer to find a sequel which manages to preserve the mystique, wonder, and foreignness of its universe. A racing-the-clock storyline tasked you with hunting down the rogue wizard Jon Irenicus, while also tackling the question of your own morality and impending conversion into the son of the Murder God. Choices were often muddled by invisible consequences, and the wrong party composition could lead to clashing ideals and fatal in-fighting. In going against the open exploration structure of its predecessor, Baldur’s Gate 2 offered a more directed world that was packed with witty side characters, complex moral decisions, and unbelievably detailed environments. Surprises came in the form of ambushes and long-forgotten foes, and some of the greatest moments of joy came from realizing that the locked chest could simply be bashed open, or finding out how to manually attack neutral characters. For the first time, players felt a sense of empowerment and authority in their own judgment, and it made the world – as well as your discoveries – feel alive and enchanting. Baldur’s Gate 2 can rest comfortably on the throne as the greatest RPG of all time.

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