Creating a character is one of the key aspects of classic role-playing. At its most basic, character customisation only extends to the physical appearance of your hero, but elsewhere it’s common to make a variety of key decisions that influence story and gameplay as well. In some cases, the act of character creation can be one of the most difficult and painstaking tasks in the entire game.
So many different titles include character customisation mechanics, so there’s probably a game out there offering exactly what you want. In fact, we’ve probably mentioned it just below, with brief overviews of what to expect from each character creation builder.
Here is our list of some of the best RPGs with character creation and customisation.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
With more than a decade under its belt and an absurd amount of upgrades, Skyrim is undoubtedly one of the games of its generation. The sprawling world contains a plethora of locations to explore, with a huge array of characters to meet.
Skyrim has so many places to go and so much to do that it remains popular to this day, with a modding community still adding weird and wonderful additions. For every mod enhancing the music or improving the enemy AI, there’s one turning dragons into Thomas the Tank characters or smiting guards with lightning if they mention the infamous “Arrow in the knee”.
The Dragonborn warrior under your control is also highly customisable. Various different races can be selected, which influence stats and abilities. Furthermore, a huge array of cosmetic decisions can drastically influence your look, in respect of gender, skin tone, hair, body type and many more.
There are also mechanics to influence your character’s gameplay further. Finding Standing Stones out in the wilderness can bestow temporary abilities and growth boosts that come in handy during the adventure.
To many, Cyberpunk 2077 will forever be marred with disappointment and controversy. There have been few gaming backlashes as fierce as the one in response to the buggy release of this hotly-anticipated title. It’s a shame, because Cyberpunk 2077 has a lot going for it when it actually works. If you can snag it on a next-gen console or high-end PC, it may be time to give it a whirl.
The cyberpunk setting allows for a wide range of interesting choices when it comes to character creation. Your voice and gender choices mesh together to influence the romantic relationship options further down the line. All of the typical cosmetic choices are there, with an unrivalled level of detail to the more, err, private body parts.
You can also select from a few different character backstories, which nudge the narrative in a different direction depending on what you choose. This adds another bit of solid characterisation, as does the ability to assign attribute points that affect gameplay.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Divinity: Original Sin 2 was a wonderful achievement, relying on a hefty Kickstarter campaign that amassed millions of dollars. The superb world building, plot and turn-based battle system all contributed towards the critical acclaim garnered by this sequel.
Among its many positives is a character creation mechanic with a host of different options. Again, a character origin story can be selected, which grants certain abilities to your character. This is followed up with a choice of race, playing another key role in your ability makeup. Finally, a pick between 14 unique classes will round off the character’s attributes and skills.
Combining your origin, race and class invariably leads to a distinctive character type that will shine in certain areas whilst struggling in others. Everything is fairly balanced, and there’s no right or wrong here – the best thing to do is go with your gut. There is also a customisation feature to alter the physical appearance of your character.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Inquisition has been around for a while, but few high fantasy games compare with its deep lore and huge selection of activities.
There are four different races with notable attribute advantages, followed by your choice of character class. There are only three different classes to choose from, but this doesn’t mean your playstyle is fixed – there is still significant amount of discretion when it comes to building your skills and stats.
Along with this comes the usual appearance customisation, which has a reasonable level of depth including gender and voice selections. Unfortunately, you cannot change cosmetics during the game so you’d best be careful and get it right first time.
Like others, there are several optional romantic relationships that become available depending on your character creation choices, along with your in-game decisions. Many such dialogue and action choices are a key feature of Inquisition generally, which can branch off in many different directions. These don’t feel overwhelming, but are plentiful enough to encourage repeat playthroughs.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Character creation is a bit rarer in the JRPG sphere, but Dragon Quest IX bucked the norm of the series and allowed a customisable protagonist. This was released on the DS back in 2009 but still holds up today with its solid turn-based battle system and charming visuals.
Admittedly, perhaps owing to its age and platform the character creation feature is more limited than others on the list. However, there are still plenty of choices to be made around gender, skin colour, hair style and hair colour. You might not manage to find your own likeness here, but you’ll end up with something fairly distinctive.
This customisation extends to additional party members, who can be adapted as you like. This includes changing their vocations – essentially their character class – allowing you to adapt your gameplay tactics according to your preferences.
The result is a party of blank slates, who do not offer much in the way of interesting dialogue. I personally prefer a bit more camaraderie and banter between the playable character, but JRPG fans interested in character creation should look no further than Dragon Quest IX.
The unforgiving land of Yharnam hosts one of the best but toughest games of the modern era. The character creation feature includes plenty of typical cosmetic choices, but the big decision comes in the form of your character’s origin. Each of the nine options confers slightly different attributes, with some weapon selections offering further player discretion.
Whoever you create, you’d best get used to seeing their corpse. Even the most capable, experienced gamers will suffer umpteen deaths over the course of a playthrough. Satisfaction is found from the gradual progress over time. Each death is another lesson learned about an enemy ambush, a boss’s attack pattern or a secret shortcut.
Bloodborne is not for the faint-hearted, but gaming achievements don’t come much better than the satisfaction of finally taking down that damned boss after losing count of your failed attempts. If you haven’t by now, give it a try.
Those in search of challenge can also take a look at the difficult Nioh games, with the sequel covering events both before and after the first Nioh.
Nioh is set in ancient Japan, boasting a compelling and mystic atmosphere whilst severely testing your skill and patience. The depth of the combat system ensures there are many different ways to tackle your foes, culminating in some excellent boss fights.
The character creation is very detailed, including a randomisation option that can throw up some interesting combinations. Most of the character designs are simply badass in nature, making it hard to go wrong with this one.
Another really nice touch is the ability to generate character creation codes, and share the models they have created. This makes it pretty easy to find likenesses for other famous characters and even celebrities. 2B, Sephiroth and Billie Eilish are just the tip of the iceberg.
Monster Hunter World
The popular Monster Hunter franchise was propelled to new heights with the release of Monster Hunter World and its excellent expansion Iceborne. It reached an insane popularity level, eclipsing sales of 20 million units.
Among its vast world and brilliantly-designed monster index is a deep character creation system upon the commencement of your adventure. Some of this can actually be tinkered later, such as hairstyle and colour, but you’re stuck with most of your other choices for the long haul (unless you buy an edit voucher!).
A wide range of character customisation includes everything down to the shape of facial features, along with face paint and patterns to give a real ‘hunter’ feel. Arguably, the bigger decision to make comes with your preferred weapon type, which drastically affects how your character plays. This decision isn’t set in stone, and you can test out various different options to see what suits you best.
The choices at your disposal can feel overwhelming to new players of the series (of which there are undoubtedly many). There are two options for overcoming this – sink in the necessary hours, or check out the next game in the list first.
Monster Hunter Rise
If you are yet to experience the Monster Hunter series, then you might want to consider temporarily skipping over Monster Hunter World and trying out Monster Hunter Rise on the Nintendo Switch or PC.
Though it contains many of the trademark gameplay elements of its predecessors, Monster Hunter Rise is a little more accessible for new players. The UI is friendlier, with some other neat new mechanics such as its traversal function (hence the name ‘Rise’) and accompanying pet.
The character creation includes some preset choices to save time, but anyone reading a ‘RPGs with character creation’ list is probably not interested in that. Thankfully, there is another huge array of cosmetic choices to make, including the ability to select a distinct voice for your character. Interestingly, your voice can be selected in English, Japanese or even the made-up Monster Hunter language.
Customising your canine companion Palamute is another important task in Monster Hunter Rise, who’ll undoubtedly be a valuable companion on your travels. Any game in the series will struggle to compete with Monster Hunter World, but this is arguably a more welcoming starting point.
Fallout 4 was another game that succumbed to some early-day bugs that dampened a bit of enthusiasm for the series. Over time, some patches and optimisations have made the experience more palatable making it a far better option now compared to launch.
One of the key components of the post-apocalyptic RPG series is a character creation system that extends far beyond mere cosmetic appearance into gameplay choices that can completely change your build from one extreme to the other.
Fallout 4 has a lot of different ways to play, and you’ll start with a set number of points to be attributed towards the seven main stats in whichever way you choose. Sufficiently increasing each stat can unlock specific perks to further influence your character’s style.
That’s not to say the appearance customisation is any easier. Fallout 4 possesses a hugely in-depth character creation system that will likely offer any sort of look you can imagine.
Kingdoms of Amalur Re: Reckoning
Kindoms of Amalur was a reasonably well-received title that ended up falling short of its sales projections, leading its developer 38 Studios to file for bankruptcy. Undeterred, the rights were picked up by Publishers THQ Nordic in 2018, who then went a step further and released Re: Reckoning, a greatly enhanced remaster that breathed some new life into the title.
After this unlikely resurrection, Kingdoms of Amalur is available on just about every platform and after a third DLC release in 2021, it’s arguably the best time to play. The combat meshes action elements with important strategic and tactical decisions.
Whilst Kingdoms of Amalur boasts a healthy character creation mechanic, it’s not as in-depth as some others we’ve mentioned. There are only four races, followed up by a choice of Patron God that confers some stat boosts. There are then three fairly generic classes to choose from, making this a good option for players in search of some character customisation without being overwhelmed.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Final Fantasy XIV, now over a decade after release, has become an online juggernaut with so many people playing that Square Enix had to actually restrict new player numbers. As such, you’re best checking the recent news on this before trying to buy it!
Widely regarded as one of the best MMORPGs of all time, this is a stark contrast to the abject failure it suffered upon release. A relaunch and several expansions later, there appears to be no slowing down for a Square Enix title that has aged like fine wine.
Needless to say, any fantasy game of this scale has an important character creation mechanic, though perhaps not as influential (or overwhelming) as some other character creation RPGs. The two main decisions to make are your character’s class and race, with the former being the most important.
The class dictates the city in which your character will spawn, as well as their main gameplay strengths and weaknesses. There are eight to choose from, before moving onto the less significant matters of race and appearance. Final Fantasy XIV is not a typical game in the series, but it’s actually the most profitable to date.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
Dragon’s Dogma may have been first released in 2012, but the enhanced version Dark Arisen has been ported to next-gen consoles. This includes the Nintendo Switch, making it easier than ever to get involved in this strong action RPG.
This is a Japanese effort at a Western RPG, and the result was impressive, featuring enjoyable combat and some epic boss battles reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus. The game even inspired a Netflix anime series, allowing players to delve further into the world.
The player’s customisable avatar is known as the Arisen, who later gains access to a second customisable character known as a pawn. Obtaining certain items also allows further edits to your characters later down the line, which is a welcome touch.
As for the character creation itself, Dragon’s Dogma is a rare example of appearance-based decisions simultaneously affecting gameplay, with weight and height having an impact on strength and athleticism. Further decisions are made for the character’s class, which is initially chosen from three options before narrowing down into an advanced class with a more specific skillset. Whilst important, these choices can also be changed later in the game to take off some of the pressure.
Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity took the world by storm in 2015, with another Kickstarter success (raking in over four million dollars) leading to a critically-acclaimed gem that has also spawned a sequel.
Of all of the RPGs with character creation, this is one of the most difficult to get started. There are so many choices to make, which all have an important influence on the game. This means a process that can have you second guessing your choices before the game has even started.
Your initial gender choice has a small influence on proceedings, but picking between the six races and sub-races will provide your base stats. This is followed by picking one of eleven classes, assigning your attribute points and choosing a background and culture.
All of these decisions matter, and this is before even getting to your character’s appearance, which has many customisation options itself. Pillars of Eternity is a must for anyone who enjoys in-depth character creation and strategic combat.
Baldur’s Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate is one of the most famous names in the role-playing sphere, drawing its inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons but laying dormant for many years.
The third in the series has been in its early release edition for some time, but the full game is expected to arrive this year. Meanwhile, the content to enjoy so far easily rivals many full games, which only promises an incredible prospect for the future.
Character designs look fantastic, with many appearance choices supplemented by several gameplay-affecting decisions. Your character’s class and background dictate proficiency, offering various influential choices. Whether you wish to prioritise stealth, deception, magical aptitude, physical strength or beast-taming, there’ll be something that fits.
As with all fantasy RPGs with character creation, race plays another important role. This time, they are split into sub-races. For instance, Elf is divided into High Elf and Wood Elf which have some slightly different attributes. You can even pick the romantic partner of your dreams, which is another interesting option. With these foundations in place, Baldur’s Gate 3 is surely set to be a huge success.
Trying to emulate the Soulsborne genre is no mean feat, but Bandai Namco gave it a pretty good attempt in 2019. Inspired by Dark Souls but with some JRPG elements, Code Vein’s gameplay may not quite reach the heights of the FromSoftware titles but may pique the interest of a slightly different audience.
This action RPG features a post-apocalyptic setting and anime vampires. It might seem fairly niche, but the concept saw millions of sales despite mixed reviews. However, one of the most well-received aspects of the title was in its character creation.
The characters of Code Vein have a formidable level of customisation options, including minor details like scars and makeup. You can also adjust many of these decisions during the game, with a Home Base that allows changes to the likes of hairstyles and clothes.
There are presets if you wish, but it would be a waste to ignore the near-endless list of options. Link, Cloud Strife and Sora are all among the characters that have been created with a high degree of accuracy, showcasing how much scope there is for customisation.
World of Warcraft
After all this time, the quintessential MMORPG is still widely-played across the globe. Granted, its active player numbers have dwindled somewhat since its heyday, but the expansions keep coming and it looks like there’s still plenty of life in it yet. Most games would love to consistently rake in 6 million players.
When it comes to the character creation, World of Warcraft unsurprisingly offers plenty of different options. This can be a tough decision, given how many appearance and gameplay choices there are, and how much they affect your experience.
Choosing a faction from The Alliance or the Horde splits up the story and your choice of race, which is the first key choice. There are seven possible races in each faction, amounting to fourteen overall. Then it’s time to set a class, which impacts strengths, weakness and skills. The vast amount of appearance customisations means even with millions of other players, you’ll still be able to find something distinctive that sets you apart.
With such a comprehensive number of different ways to play, it’s arguably worth testing out a few different characters to see which style floats your boat. Many have briefly dipped their toes into Azeroth, only to find themselves neglecting friends and family for months on end. Beware.
FromSoftware’s latest title whisks us into an epic high fantasy land created by George R.R Martin. Placing the Soulsborne formula into such a setting resulted in a hype level off the charts, making Elden Ring one of 2022’s most anticipated games.
Punishing difficulty is guaranteed, and Elden Ring also offers a better character creation builder than Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Creating your character now involves a far more realistic appearance and a greater variety of different customisation options.
On top of this, Elden Ring contains a significant number of different classes, which obviously impacts the stat allocation as well as the weapon choice.
With a variety of customisation options with different depth levels, our list of the best RPGs with character creation should have something for everyone. If this helped you out, check out some of our other lists below:
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