Last week’s Diablo 4 beta has come and gone, and unless Blizzard decides (last-minute) to host another before its June 6 release date, so too has your chance to slash, bash, smash, loot, and look sick as hell with the characters you created in the isometric RPG.
However, the Diablo series has amassed quite a following throughout its lifespan, and as such, a handful of studios have tried to emulate its snappy combat, enticing loot grind, and deep character customization. Many have failed. Some have emerged as solid imitators. And others have stolen the franchise’s qualities and made them their own.
Because the action-RPG genre can be such a time sink, we’ve done the legwork to gather the three best options to dive into while you wait for Blizzard’s long-awaited sequel. Yes, you could just redownload your copy of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls on any one of the 49 platforms you own it on. And we wouldn’t blame you. That game still kicks ass. But sometimes, it’s fun to branch out. One of our recs is a top-tier entry in the vast collection of Warhammer 40,000 video games; another is a thrilling romp through a cartoonish world; the last is completely free, but no less complex or rewarding.
Whether you envelop yourself in one of these until June 6 or dabble in each of them, each of the following ARPGs have their own unique take on the dungeon-crawling, loot-collecting genre.
Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor – Martyr
To start, here’s a two birds/one stone recommendation. Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor – Martyr is not only an excellent ARPG in its own right, emulating the simple combat, deep character progression, and extensive crafting system of Diablo — it’s also one of the best entries in the vast collection of Warhammer 40K video games.
With several character classes, responsive ranged combat, a cover system, and bulky, industrial-style loot, Inquisitor – Martyr is similar enough to Diablo to scratch that itch, but Warhammer-y enough to have a distinct, grim tone. Its story is forgettable, but its art direction and world design are a great way to dive into the Warhammer 40K universe for the first time, or further immerse yourself in it until Blizzard’s gothic RPG is released in June.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. It is currently available in the PlayStation Plus game catalog with a PlayStation Plus Extra subscription.
Torchlight 2 was released in the shadow of Diablo 3, at a time when the latter’s loot system and auction house were both drawing widespread criticism. As such, Torchlight 2 garnered a reputation as a worthy alternative to Blizzard’s 2012 dungeon-crawler.
But that’s only half the story, because Torchlight 2 is an excellent ARPG, comparisons notwithstanding. It has unique, cartoonish character classes, a sprawling, colorful world, and a host of quality-of-life systems that make managing your massive collection of loot a breeze. You can also select and customize your own pet companion, who will travel back to town to sell your unwanted wares while you keep scouring caves, dungeons, and castles for your next favorite weapon or piece of armor. Torchlight 3 is a conflicted ARPG laid on top of a previous free-to-play game, and as a result, feels like a palimpsest of clashing ideas. But its predecessor is still one of the best ARPGs around.
Torchlight 2 is available on Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Path of Exile
Despite its dedicated audience, Path of Exile remains one of the most overlooked games today. That may be due to its intimidating complexity, or its free-to-play nature, which can hint at a host of underlying microtransactions and money-gated content. But that same complexity gradually gives way to fascinating nuance; that same free-to-play nature gradually becomes a boon rather than a red flag.
Developer Grinding Gear Games’ ARPG lets you play as seven distinct character classes (with 19 further “ascendancy classes” to graduate into), each of which has a passive skill tree that is too big for some ultrawide monitors to display at once. Its gem-based weapon system also lets you experiment with a multitude of elemental effects, turning a bow that previously fired three arrows at once into a bow that fires three arrows at once but also balls of electricity and poisonous grenades. Its progression system is as flexible as it is mesmerizing, and delving into Path of Exile’s sprawling gothic world continues to be rewarding after dozens of hours.
Its sequel’s release date has yet to be announced, but Grinding Gear has said to expect a beta sometime this year. In the meantime, you have quite a lot of content to explore in this phenomenal ARPG that’s been rightfully compared to Diablo 2.
Path of Exile is free to play on Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.