What’s the Best Tactical RPG Ever Made? We’ve Got 7 Suggestions

Last updated: 2/14/2024
5 minutes read

Do you know your FOV (Field of View) from your AOE (Area of Effect)? Are you a master of logic, cunning, and timing? If so, you might be well-suited to the tactical RPG genre. From grand battles on a PC monitor to minigames designed for mobiles, you can engage with the enemy in any way you like. 

The Top Tactical Role-Playing Games

What are the best tactical RPGs you can play online, on your console, or via a mobile device? Let’s speedrun through the 7 top titles.

1. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions – Best Longevity

When a tactical RPG released in 2007 is still talked about as the best in its class, you know it’s good. This is thanks to the fact Final Fantasy Tactics is big on nuance. Put simply, the little things matter in this game. 
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions has been described as 3D chess. 

Fighters have set movement patterns within a grid, much like chess pieces. This requires players to not only consider each move individually but as part of a larger series of moves. Essentially, you’re making moves two or more steps ahead of a current position. Each grid defines a new system of patterns and, with fighters able to learn new skills (jobs), there are more than enough tactical variables to keep you engaged.  

2. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together - Best Storyline

Tactics Ogre won’t tax your GPU like modern tactical RPGs. This 1995 classic came before Final Fantasy Tactics and is often overshadowed by its successor. However, the storyline is just as engaging. You assume the role of Denim Powell. He’s a soldier fighting a war in Valeria. 

Your job is to move from node to node to gain dominance. Travelling to a new node represents one day in the game and each stop triggers a battle. What’s great about this tactical RPG is that you can use both white and dark strategies. What we mean by white and dark is legitimate and sneaky tactics. 

Legitimate tactics are assembling fighters with different skills to create a diverse army. Sneaky tactics are bribing and persuading enemy soldiers to fight for you. A remastered version of Tactics Ogre was released on PSP and introduced a few more dark strategies, including the Chariot Tarot system which lets you rewind battles.

3. Valkyria Chronicles – Best Character Engagement

There are two reasons Valkyria Chronicles made it into our top 7. Firstly, the turn-based battles are flanked by real-time firefights. This introduces added pressure that mimics what real battles are like. The second reason we like this tactical RPG is the character engagement. The BLiTZ tactical battle system allows you to control each member of your squad. This, combined with a clear storyline that touches each character, creates a sense of camaraderie that some tactical RPGs lack.   

4. Fire Emblem: Fates– Best Overall Gameplay

Any of the tactical RGPs within the Fire Emblem franchise could have made it into our list, but Fates got the nod. Why? Firstly, it was the first Fire Emblem offering to come in two distinct parts: Conquest and Birthright. Both games follow the story of Corrin. However, in Conquest, you see him join the Kingdom of Nohr. In Birthright, he stays within the Kingdom of Hoshido.

Following one of two stories is great because it means you’ve always got options and you can play at a suitable level. 

Birthplace gives you unlimited opportunities to collect gold, which makes it slightly easier to level up characters by initiating skirmishes. Conquest places more restrictions on how you progress through the story and the ways you can earn gold. This makes it more difficult than Birthplace. This, for us, is its real selling point.

5. The Banner Saga – Best Immersion

If you want an immersive tactical RPG that forces you to consider every decision, The Banner Saga is ideal. The game follows two characters making their way across Norse landscapes. Their paths eventually merge as they fight back against the human-hating Dredge. 

The Banner Saga is distinctive because a lot of the visuals are hand-drawn. This gives the game a Disney-esque quality that complements its immersive storytelling dynamic. 

The standout quality of this game is that you’re forced to focus on your caravan as a whole. A lot of tactical RPGs emphasise specific video game characters and their skills. The Banner Saga is more about the collective. This forces you to deal with team dynamics and the different responses to victories and defeats. 

6. Triangle Strategy – Best Battle

Released in 2022, Triangle Strategy seems to have learned from its forerunners when it comes to the art of war. The visuals, animations, and storylines are great. However, if they’re the only things you care about, we could show you how to play Flash games like Bloons Tower Defense 3. The best tactical RPGs live and die by the battles they offer. 

The creators of Triangle Strategy understood this, which is why it has excellent fight dynamics. You move characters across a grid-based system as you would in Fire Emblem. However, in addition to fighters executing their core skills (or acquired skills) in isolation, you can use effective positioning to launch multiway attacks, just like a real battle. 

7. Vandal Hearts – Best Animations

OK, so Vandal Hearts probably doesn’t have better animations than modern offerings. However, much like 80s movies tend to have better storylines than today’s CGI-heavy blockbusters, Vandal Hearts has a certain charm. Yes, the animations are basic by today’s standards, but it came out in 1996, so it’s not a fair comparison. 

This point aside, the game looks great, and little touches, such as a slain character’s erupting blood, make it a joy to play. So, if you want a retro treat, Vandal Hearts is a must. 

Play Like a Warrior

Tactical RPG games are more than battles of logic, strategy, and timing. Some of the genre’s best offerings have storylines that rival the best adventure games. Add impressive visuals to the mix and you’ve got a collection of games that are entertaining on multiple levels. So, if you want to test your skills and find out if you’ve got the mind of a warrior, try out our top 7 tactical hits.