Virtual Swordplay: The Best Fantasy Video Games To Get Your Hands On
From crossover role-play with swords and sorcery to straight-up classics first released in the 80s, these games are worth checking out
I don’t care how much, or how little, you’re into fantasy stuff, the idea of running around with a sword in your hand and fighting off dragons and saving some fair maiden or handsome prince is pretty elemental (and awesome). And for a quick hit of this hand-to-hand combat high, you can dip into one of the many video games set in this world — games that naturally owe a big debt to the creators of D&D. And if you want to dive deeper than the more visceral sword-and-sorcery experience, there are plenty of D&D-like character-building titles as well. Here are some fantasy video games worth checking out no matter how deep into the fantasy pool you want to dive.
If you’re already a D&D person or just want to try a virtual version, Baldur’s Gate is a popular series of role-playing video games set in the Forgotten Realms (for the initiated, you’ll recognize that it follows the rules of the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons). Here, it’s just as much about character creation, player interaction and plot — even side quests — as it is about casting spells or fighting dragons. A third version of the game is now in “early access” for some users (Windows, macOS, Stadia), and a full version should be out next year.
The Legend of Zelda is a straight-up Nintendo classic first released way back in 1986, and the franchise is still going strong — with plenty of sequels, which become more three-dimensional and open-world. You’ll have fun as a fantasy newbie, but if you do want to go deep into the lore, there’s already plenty of unofficial crossover between Zelda and D&D. Also, the elfish Link is a character you may recognize even if you’ve never played one of the many iterations of this dungeon quest game, as he shows up in Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. (Side note: If you’re into old-school video games, Gauntlet is basically a multiplayer D&D reduced to the fighting and the gold.)
Swords, magic, gold, monsters, quests, experience points…yeah, this stuff will sound familiar to D&D fans. But it’s also what makes The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt one of the best-selling games of all time — and it melds that fantasy experience with a heavy dose of action. Plus, you don’t need to be a fan of the Netflix series (although hunky Henry Cavill alert…even in a wig) or have read the original books to appreciate this dark fantasy RPG.
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