Which action RPG for a beginner?

Grim Dawn_Ritualist Level 35

A co-worker of bookahnerk’s is thinking of trying out an action RPG. He has never played a game in this genre and asked him if he could recommend Grim Dawn. He had apparently seen it in some “Let’s Play” and it looked interesting. Since I’ve been playing it a lot more than bookahnerk, he asked me for advice. What I didn’t know at first was that he’s never played such a game and doesn’t know if he’ll really like the genre.

So then it got me thinking: Would I recommend Grim Dawn to a beginner? And yes, I assume that he is smart enough to figure out features on his own, do google searches, read through forums, and understand the game – or any game. So it’s not about “can somebody without prior ARPG understand this game?” – Of course they can! But the thing here is: I think that Grim Dawn with its dual-class setup and devotion skills is not exactly the easiest to play and get a feeling for the genre. Yes, it’s an amazing game! But I wouldn’t say it’s a good game for somebody who wants to see if he likes action RPGs. Once they have decided that they do, I would definitely recommend Grim Dawn!

But back to somebody who’s wondering “Do I like action RPGs”: My mind immediately came up with Torchlight or Torchlight II. It’s much easier to find your way around in this game (and the game’s world). The story is easier to follow, if you ask me, there aren’t dual-classes and in general less classes to choose from. So, it’s easier to jump into the game and focus on whether you’d like such a game or not. In fact, you start the game, create a character, hop in and play and don’t need to think about anything at all or search the internet etc.

On the other hand, maybe starting with a more complicated game than Torchlight is exactly the right thing to do? Because a lot of these game are more complex and it’s part of their allure. That is, a lot of them don’t allow you to respect whenever you wish. It’s part of the experience to carefully plan your character!

Diablo 3 Necromancer Corpse Explosion

Obviously, I would also recommend Diablo (1 or 2, maybe even 3 – hey, I like it!), because you don’t know action RPGs if you’ve never even played the original Diablo games if you ask me. But should a beginner start with that? – Now that I see this question written here… it’s not a bad way to start. Bookahnerk went and bought me Diablo 2 several years ago, because I said that I’d like to play some RPG game. I did have to search the internet a few times, but it wasn’t that bad!

We’ll definitely still recommend Torchlight 2 to him! Because if it’s your first action RPG or not, it’s a good game (as is Grim Dawn, as are the original Diablo games…).


  1. It depends on what they will be into I suppose. Torchlight II is simple and colorful, but if they want story then I would be more inclined to point them towards Diablo III or Grim Dawn or even the Titan Quest remasters.


    1. Oh right, I forgot about Titan Quest! And yeah, if it’s story, then the other games are definitely better suited. I automatically assumed they’d be mostly interested in levelling and looting… :p


  2. I’d also suggest Torchlight, either one or two. Both are great. Once they’ve got the basics down, it’s really easy to expand with mods before going for a different game. Love the post :)

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  3. Torchlight 2 is a great gateway game. Easy to pickup, and learn. Hard to make mistakes. It’s focused on solo play. Super cheap too!

    As much as I love Grim Dawn, the game is slow and complex (the builds are crazy). Path of Exile has similar challenges – but it’s free.

    D3 is a social game… or at least a better game when social. And since the RoS expansion, it’s almost entirely focused on max-level play.

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    1. Yes, that’s what I meant: Easy to pickup! Said co-worker is now giving TL2 a try. He was especially happy to see it runs on Linux (which I didn’t even know until today).

      I’ve not played D3 in ages, but I think the last time, I played it with my husband. I love ARPGs, but I always mostly play through them once and then forget about them. I like finding good loot, but I’m not playing for the loot in the end. ;)


  4. Had so many technical problems with Torchlight 2 that I wouldn’t recommend it, unless the player can take a beating and some shenanigans won’t sour the gaming experience completely. For example my wife’s char would randomly reset to an old save game every 2nd day.


    1. That’s the first time I’ve heard about technical problems with TL2. Not saying it’s not true, of course! Just that I’ve not heard or experienced it. Maybe we’ve been lucky here. :p I also saved my games locally and not online, I think. If that makes any difference.


  5. Torchlight II is awesome. I just got back into the game and installed a couple of mods. Havin’ a blast slashing monsters and gettin the loot. Neat game.
    Now, I have to check out Grim Dawn too…


    1. Oh yes, if you like this genre, then Grim Dawn is definitely worth checking out. :) It’s got a different atmosphere than Torchlight and there are no pets that can bring items to a vendor (I wish every game had such a mechanic…). But it’s a great game with lots of content and interesting classes.


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