Best PS2 RPGs of All Time
Image: Atlus / Square Enix / Konami

The RPG genre is responsible for some of the greatest video games of all time, and the PlayStation 2 is blessed with many a fine example of this type of game.

Thanks to robust publisher support and the incredible popularity of the console in both Japan and worldwide, the PS2 is absolutely flooded with top-tier RPGs – so much so that it's often hard to know where to begin. That's where we come in.

What are the best RPGs on PS2?

Our list includes some of the best RPGs on the PS2, showcasing franchises such as Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Baldur's Gate, Shin Megami Tensei and more.

These games aren't presented in any kind of ranking; instead, they are titles we feel that every RPG-loving PS2 owner should make sure they have in their personal collection.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2)

Released at a time when Final Fantasy was taking the JRPG in a darker, more mature direction, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is a delightful fusion of old-school mechanics and gorgeous, cartoon-like 3D visuals. Boasting a massive world to explore and a cast of memorable characters, it's no exaggeration to say that the Western localisation of Dragon Quest VIII gave the franchise a much-needed boost outside of Japan; while it still hasn't reached Final Fantasy-level fame in North America and Europe, since Dragon Quest VIII's release, we've seen a steady stream of sequels make their way to this part of the world. It was later ported to the Nintendo 3DS.

Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

Though the story comes off as being rather disappointing, the Gambit-focused combat system still proves to be one of the best we’ve seen in an RPG to date, making it dangerously easy for hours to slip by as you work on min-maxing characters to the best of their abilities. Add in a captivating story and some amazing music by Hayato Matsuo, Masaharu Iwata and the legendary Hitoshi Sakimoto, and you've got one hell of a ride. Final Fantasy XII may not prove to be the best Final Fantasy ever made, but it’s still a pretty darned great game in its own right; don’t miss out on this one; it’s certainly worth your time. Check out the remastered version on modern consoles, too.

Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)

Disney meets Final Fantasy in this epic action RPG sequel, which sees you joining forces with some of the most famous faces to ever emerge from the pens of Disney's animators. As you might expect from a Square Enix game, Kingdom Hearts II is blessed with amazing visuals and a fantastic soundtrack, and while the RPG elements are pretty light, the hack-and-slash action more than makes up for it. Heck, it even features the voice talents of the late, great Christopher Lee – what more could you ask for?

Suikoden III (PS2)

The first two Suikoden games on PlayStation are certified classics, and this third entry – a series debut on PlayStation 2 – does its best to live up to the legendary name. Told from multiple perspectives, the game's storyline is complex and exciting, taking in some surprisingly mature themes for a game of this ilk. Suikoden III would be followed by Suikoden IV and Suikoden V on the same console, both of which are also worthy of your time if you're a fan of the PS1 originals.

Wild Arms 3 (PS2)

Another PS1 RPG series that successfully made the leap to PlayStation 2, Wild Arms 3 retains the mixture of fantasy, sci-fi and the Wild West to create an experience quite unlike any other role-playing series. Its cel-shaded visuals are the most apparent benefit from the shift to superior hardware, but Wild Arms 3 has much more than pretty graphics in its locker – the storyline benefits from a wide range of characters, as well as a few memorable twists and turns. Wild Arms 3 would be followed by two PlayStation 2 sequels, so be sure to also check those out if you like what you see here.

Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits (PS2)

The Arc the Lad series was one of the earliest notable RPGs on the 32-bit PlayStation, so it should come as no great shock to learn that it made the jump to the PS2 in later life. Taking place 1,000 years after the events of Arc the Lad III, Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits focuses on the battle between the human race and the Deimos, who take issue with humans using magical Spirit Stones as a source of power. A pair of human/Deimos siblings provide the game's lead protagonists, while the series massively benefits from the leap to more powerful hardware. Also, the 2004 direct sequel, Arc the Lad: End of Darkness, is not quite as highly regarded.

Odin Sphere (PS2)

Vanillaware's action RPG was one of the later PS2 exclusives and was conceived as a spiritual successor to the 1997 cult Sega Saturn title Princess Crown. With multiple playable characters, gorgeous hand-drawn visuals and a sumptuous soundtrack, Odin Sphere is a simply wonderful experience and one which perhaps came too late to gain the kind of reception it deserved. Thankfully, a remake entitled Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir arrived on PS3, PS4 and PS Vita in 2016, and is arguably the best way to play the game today – but that doesn't mean the PS2 original isn't worth a look.

Final Fantasy X (PS2)

Final Fantasy X was a watershed moment for the storied franchise, rightfully gaining widespread acclaim while also ushering the series into the new generation. It was the first title in the franchise to offer the player a full-3D world, as well as voice acting. Under the hood, tweaks to the battle and summon systems made the whole thing feel more alive than before. It was followed by Final Fantasy X-2 in 2003, a fact which makes it the first Final Fantasy game to receive a direct sequel. Both games were recently re-released in HD form on modern systems.

Radiata Stories (PS2)

Developed by Star Ocean studio tri-Ace, Radiata Stories features a persistent world and is populated by 176 non-player characters, all of which can be recruited to your team, joining the three main protagonists – teenager Jack Russell, knight Ridley Silverlake and brigade captain Ganz Rothschild. The charming visuals and simple combat make this a pretty accessible RPG adventure, and the soundtrack by Noriyuki Iwadare (famous for his amazing work on the Lunar series) rounds off the presentation nicely.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2)

The Shin Megami Tensei series has been around for ages, but it was arguably this entry which took the franchise to new levels of fame in the West. Mixing the RPG gameplay for which the series is famous with a strong focus on relationships and storyline, Persona 4 takes place in both the 'real world' of rural Japan and the spooky TV World, populated by monsters and demons. Dripping with style and in possession of a fantastic soundtrack, Persona 4 is hailed as one of the best RPGs ever made and has since been re-released on PS Vita, Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht (PS2)

Intended as a spiritual successor to the 1998 PlayStation classic Xenogears, Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht adopts the same mix of traditional RPG mechanics and futuristic concepts, including massive robots known as 'A.G.W.S.' in-game. After selling a million copies worldwide, the Xenosaga series would continue with Xenosaga Episode II (2004) and Xenosaga Episode III (2006). Developer Monolith Soft is now most famous for creating the Xenoblade franchise on Nintendo systems.

Champions of Norrath: Realms of EverQuest (PS2)

Based on the online RPG series EverQuest, Champions of Norrath allows up to four players to cooperatively progress through the titular world of Norrath. While you can play solo, online functionality allows players to help or hinder others. One of the better Western RPGs on PS2, Champions of Norrath makes use of the versatile and powerful Snowblind game engine, also used in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, another excellent role-playing game made by the same developer. A direct sequel, Champions: Return to Arms, arrived in 2005.