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The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated February 16, 2020 354.1k votes 36.1k voters 655.6k views 275 items

List Rules Only games with great narratives (graphics and gameplay not considered).

 

Video game stories range from the extremely simplistic to the staggeringly complex. While early games - and many contemporary ones focused on gameplay - treat the plot as a loose outline filled in by action or puzzles, some games have tried to push the boundaries and tell emotionally gripping, cinematic stories with elements of interactive control and player choices that forward the storyline.

The advent of so-called "sandbox" games, which give players more freedom in choosing how to explore the environment, which missions to embark upon and what order to progress in has also served to make games more character-driven and involving. ("Fallout 3," for example, builds up a karmic profile of the player based on decisions in how to advance through missions.) These best storyline games build on the gameplay and graphics with genuinely good stories. 

Currently at the top of the list of the best video game storylines are the Mass Effect games with BioShock, The Last of Us, and Half-Life 2 all in contention for the number one spot. Gamers will also recognize other popular video game franchises, like the worlds of Kingdom Hearts, or Metal Gear Solid and Assassin's Creed, which feature twists and surprises in their storylines. 

This list collects the games with the most entertaining and involving storylines. Vote for your favorite games on the list, and build your own version to add more suggestions that aren't already ranked! There is no shortage of games with amazing stories.

 

list ordered by
1
The Last of Us is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
wiabux added Released: 2013 (Naughty Dog)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Survival horror

The Last of Us is an action-adventure survival horror video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released for the PlayStation 3 on June 14, 2013; an ...more
2
Red Dead Redemption is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2010 (Rockstar San Diego)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game

This game is an open world, western action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar San Diego and published by Rockstar Games. It was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles on ...more
3
Star Wars: Knights of th... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2003 (Aspyr)

Genres (Video game): Action role-playing game, Adventure, Role-playing video game, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a role-playing video game developed by BioWare and published by LucasArts. Written by Drew Karpyshyn, the soundtrack for the game was composed by Jeremy ...more
4
BioShock Infinite is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
midnightq2 added Released: 2013 (Irrational Games)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game, Survival horror, First-person Shooter

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K Games. It was released worldwide for the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 ...more
5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
davis-lau added Released: 2014 (CD Projekt RED)

Genres (Video game): Action role-playing game

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a 2015 action role-playing game developed and published by CD Projekt, based on The Witcher series of fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski. It is the sequel to the ...more
6
Fallout: New Vegas is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2010 (Obsidian Entertainment)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Action role-playing game, Action game, Role-playing video game, First-person Shooter

Fallout: New Vegas is an action role-playing video game in the Fallout video game series. The game was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Bethesda Softworks. It released for ...more
7
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2012 (Telltale Games)

Genres (Video game): Episodic video game, Adventure, Graphic adventure game

The Walking Dead is an episodic interactive drama graphic adventure video game developed and published by Telltale Games. Based on Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic book series, the game ...more
8
The Elder Scrolls V: Sky... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2011 (Bethesda Game Studios)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game, Role-playing video game, Fantasy

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action ...more
9
Assassin's Creed II is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2009 (Ubisoft Montreal)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Stealth game

Assassin's Creed II is a 2009 historical fiction action-adventure open world stealth video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the second major installment in the ...more
10
Dragon Age: Origins is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2009 (Edge of Reality)

Genres (Video game): Role-playing video game

Dragon Age: Origins is a role-playing video game developed by BioWare's Edmonton studio and published by Electronic Arts. It is the first game in the Dragon Age franchise. The game was released ...more
11
Mass Effect is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2007 (Edge of Reality)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Third-person Shooter, Action role-playing game, Action game, Role-playing video game

Mass Effect is a 2007 science fiction action role-playing third person shooter video game developed by BioWare for the Xbox 360 and ported to Microsoft Windows by Demiurge Studios. The Xbox 360 ...more
12
Final Fantasy VII is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 1997 (Eidos Interactive)

Genres (Video game): Console role-playing game, Japanese role-playing game, Role-playing video game

Final Fantasy VII is a 1997 role-playing video game developed by Squaresoft. It is the seventh installment in the Final Fantasy series and the game is the first in the series to use 3D computer ...more
13
The Legend of Zelda: Oca... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 1998 (Grezzo)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a 1998 action-adventure video game developed by Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development division for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It was ...more
14
Metal Gear Solid is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 1998 (Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Action game, Stealth game

Metal Gear Solid is an action-adventure stealth video game developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Japan and first published by Konami for the PlayStation in 1998. The game was directed, ...more
15
BioShock is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2007 (Irrational Games)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Survival horror, Action game, Adventure, + more

BioShock is a first-person shooter video game developed by 2K Boston, and published by 2K Games. The game was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 platforms in August 2007; a PlayStation ...more
16
Mass Effect 2 is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2010 (BioWare)

Genres (Video game): Third-person Shooter, Action role-playing game

Mass Effect 2 is an action role-playing video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. It was released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on January 26, 2010, and for ...more
17
Mass Effect 3 is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
midnightq2 added Released: 2012 (Straight Right)

Genres (Video game): Third-person Shooter, Action role-playing game

Mass Effect 3 is a 2012 science fiction action role-playing third person shooter video game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, ...more
18
Fallout 3 is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2008 (Bethesda Game Studios)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Action role-playing game, Survival horror, + more

Fallout 3 is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios, and is the third major installment in the Fallout series. The game was released in North America, ...more
19
Batman: Arkham Asylum is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2009 (Rocksteady Studios)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Action game, Beat 'em up, Stealth game

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a 2009 action-adventure video game based on the DC Comics superhero, Batman. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos Interactive in conjunction ...more
20
Star Wars: Knights of th... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2004 (Obsidian Entertainment)

Genres (Video game): Action role-playing game, Action game, Adventure, Role-playing video game

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords is a role-playing video game released for the Xbox and Microsoft Windows. It is the sequel to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic ...more
21
Uncharted 2: Among Thiev... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2009 (Naughty Dog)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Platform game, Third-person Shooter, Action game

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is a 2009 action-adventure third-person shooter platform video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3. It is ...more
22
The Elder Scrolls IV: Ob... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2006 (4J Studios)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game, Role-playing video game

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is an action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks and the Take-Two Interactive subsidiary 2K Games. It is ...more
23
Final Fantasy X is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2001 (Square)

Genres (Video game): Console role-playing game, Role-playing video game

Final Fantasy X is a role-playing video game developed and published by Square as the tenth entry in the Final Fantasy series. Originally released in 2001 for Sony's PlayStation 2, the game was ...more
24
Tomb Raider is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Adam Tyler added Released: 2013 (Crystal Dynamics)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Platform game, Action role-playing game, Survival horror, Action game, + more

Tomb Raider is a 2013 action-adventure video game published by Square Enix. Tomb Raider is the fourth title developed by Crystal Dynamics in the Tomb Raider franchise.
25
Grand Theft Auto: San An... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Compelling Video Game Storylines Ever
Released: 2004 (Rockstar North)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Action game

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an open world action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 26 October 2004 for the PlayStation 2 ...more