When it comes roleplaying games (RPGs) only a few things matter more than the story, characters, or the lore. One of those things is the loot. It's one of the most prevalent common denominators ever for all RPGs and for many players, it's the sole reason to continue playing even after finishing the game. It can't be helped, getting good loot (through a well-disguised lottery system) is one of the best feelings of victory ever in video games.
Action RPGs (aRPG) understand and utilize that concept to a large degree. They're all about two things: making your character's attacks more colorful and getting the most colorful loot-- story and narrative choices be damned. There have been many of those games over the past years but only a handful of them are worth immortalizing and spending your countless hours of grinding. So if you're still not tired of playing a violent digital game of piñata ad infinitum, here are 10 of those loot-based aRPGs you need to lose yourself into.
10 WARHAMMER CHAOSBANE
With the likes of Total War: Warhammer and other Warhammer titles in the strategy genre strengthening the franchise once more, Warhammer Chaosbane was only a matter of time. It's an isometric aRPG based on the Warhammer Fantasy universe. As such, it's gritty and dystopic, even more so than the Diablo games which popularized the isometric aRPG genre.
Compared to most isometric aRPGs in this list, though, Chaosbane's length and replay value are not too competitive. Some players even regard it as a little too short for a game made for grinding. Thankfully, Chaosbane makes up for that in terms of its action and graphics and the general feeling of being a badass in a world like Warhammer.
9 LOST ARK
When Lost Ark was first unveiled to the West by its South Korean developers, many Diablo fans were ready to jump ship. It was a truly phenomenal isometric aRPG from both a technical and presentation standpoint. It arguably had the most visceral and satisfying combat ever in an isometric aRPG. The problem is getting your hands on it outside of South Korea.
For whatever obscure reason, the developers seem to be taking their time giving their game an English version and release despite the popular demand in the West. That won't stop anyone outside of South Korea from trying it out; there are certain VPN and verification workarounds that can give you access to the Korean version of Lost Ark. Still, you'll have to do it under the risk of losing your account-- that is until the Russian version arrives and eventually, the English version... eons from now.
8 GRIM DAWN
Some of you might not have heard of this one but that doesn't mean Grim Dawn is worse than others in this list. In fact, the opposite is more believable; Grim Dawn is a sleeper hit. It has one of the more compelling plots to an isometric aRPG ever and of course, a dizzying loot system. Still, Grim Dawn's signature lies in its class customization.
Level up a few more times after selecting your initial class in Grim Dawn and you'll be presented with the dual-class system. It essentially lets you combine the skills and dispositions of two classes (no matter how different they are) and create something that's entirely your own-- at least based on what the game allows you to. This does add to the replay value and gives you more means to experiment with gameplay.
7 TORCHLIGHT 1 & 2
Fun fact, some of Torchlight's developers consisted of the original development team for Diablo. So you can bet that these guys knew what they were doing when they made their Diablo-killer aRPG. Firing up Torchlight or the second one for the first time, it's easy to see the influences. Even though the art style is a lot more cartoonish, the music and the level or enemy design is still somewhat reminiscent of the first two Diablo games.
As for which Torchlight game to play, it doesn't really matter. You'll mostly forget the story since you're here to make your character stronger and get legendary loot. If you're looking for better replay value, though, the second game has bigger (and more open) maps and has better moddability.
6 DIABLO III
Here we are, the sequel which had huge shoes to fill in. Did it succeed? Well, that depends on which fan you ask. For some Diablo fans, Diablo III simply didn't live up to the first two games both in terms of gameplay and atmosphere. It seems Blizzard made too many drastic changes to an already interesting system that already works. The skill system and character progression were a little too streamlined and the graphics were a little too cartoonish for Diablo's legacy.
However, one cannot deny Diablo III's own charm when it comes to making loot-grinding fun and challenging. The classes are as diverse as they come and the appearance customization is unparalleled in isometric aRPGs. Despite the rough release with the allegedly "pay-to-win" auction house, Blizzard made some critical improvements on time and still managed to make a good game. Though is it a good Diablo game? That's up to you.
5 TITAN QUEST
Grim Dawn's intuitive dual-class system? It first came to use in Titan Quest, from the same developers nonetheless. It was first released back in 2006 but was so good, it got re-released in 2016 with better graphics and the same gameplay. Titan Quest was an isometric aRPG done right. The loot was compelling, the story was easy to understand, and the customization was rewarding.
Not to mention it was set in a Greek world setting then transitions into Egypt and eventually into Asia. Basically, it's a globe-trotting journey for the best loot ever... and also to kill the Titans of Olympus causing havoc on Earth.
4 BORDERLANDS SERIES
Let's not forget the Borderlands games, or more informally, Diablo with guns. You can follow the story in Borderlands or even the characters; some of them are actually over-the-top and riveting. However, you'd mostly be playing Borderlands games for one thing: guns and... guns. There are the occasional shields which also double as armor, but you'll mostly be after the guns.
Of course, Borderlands adds a twist to the already aging hack-and-slash aRPG genre by making the gameplay more shooty and skill-based. Even with all the character builds and skill customization you can have, how well you shoot enemies on-screen or react to situations will still be the most important factor in gameplay. With a new sequel along the way, there's no better time to get familiar with the Borderlands formula again than now.
If you're torn with Borderlands' run and gun play style by wanting swords and awesome melee combat, then look no further than Warframe. Warframe's actually a futuristic space ninja looter shooter (if that makes sense) but leaves you no shortage of options on how you want to play the game. Want to mow down hordes of alien enemies with the biggest gun ever? Do it, or maybe you prefer getting up close and personal before slicing them in half? Melee weapons it is then. Your choices for customization or builds are limitless here.
The best part is that all of this is can be done in a 3D third-person over-the-shoulder view for the best perspective of the action. When it comes to animations and graphics, it's also safe to say that Warframe has the best among all the games on this list. Oh, did we also mention the game is completely free-to-play?
2 DIABLO II
If the first Diablo was the granddaddy of all isometric aRPGs, then Diablo II is the daddy... a more beautiful and more refined daddy. Released in 2000, Diablo II went on to become a legend in the PC gaming community thanks to its expansion, Lord of Destruction. The said expansion introduced a whole new slew of build options for your characters and of course, new loot.
From the gems to the runes on top of the armor combinations and skill choices as well as the class variety, Blizzard struck gold with Diablo II. It was an isometric aRPG system as functional and irreplaceable as the wheel. Too bad the graphics didn't hold up well, nor did the anti-cheat and anti-hacker security. Nevertheless, to this day, no other isometric aRPG has been able to replicate the feeling and magic of Diablo II... maybe aside from...
1 PATH OF EXILE
An indie game studio through and through, GGG, the developers of Path of Exile, set out to do a monumental task: to create a game that's pretty much the spiritual successor to Diablo II. How'd they fare? Let's just say Diablo III doesn't hold a candle to Path of Exile's depth and faithfulness to the Diablo II formula. Path of Exile has its own gem slotting system similar to Diablo II's runes but instead of mere added bonuses, these gems gave the skills.
The real star in Path of Exile, however, is the passive skill tree. It looks like a circuit board and is a lot more vast than any you'll encounter in an isometric aRPG. Each choice leads to a different character build and we're not exaggerating when we say that there are countless numbers of character builds in this game. It's also a free game, though if you want a more rewarding appearance for your character, you'll have to spend a considerable amount on cosmetics. It's up to you to decide if they're worth it.