Boss Rush Bucket List Week 5: Leveling Up with the Best RPGs, Part I

Welcome to week five of the Boss Rush Bucket List! The writing staff at Boss Rush has curated a list of the top 50 games released since 2014 that are a must-play. Five games surrounding a genre or theme will be featured every Friday at 10a.m. until September 3rd. The fifth game of each article will count down the top ten, so stick with us to find out which title is our number one recommended game!

RPGs are a fan-favorite genre in the gaming community. Here are some top-tier RPGs to level up on!


By: Block

Developer: FromSoftware. Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Release Date: 03/24/2015. Platform(s): PS4

Bloodborne in three words: Brutal, gothic nightmare.

Few games have defined the past decade as the Dark Souls franchise, but spiritual spin-off Bloodborne comes extremely close. Bloodborne does much to distance itself from its genre sibling, trading the dark fantasy setting of the Souls games for a haunting, Victorian gothic locale. Indeed, the frightening city of Yharnam ranks among the greatest gaming destinations of all time. Combat has also been tweaked: where players of the Souls games may have relied on heavy armor and shields to withstand their countless beatings, Bloodborne strips the player of the shield and gives them a gun, forcing them to engage in swifter, more brutal battles in order to survive. Add to it a plot as inexplicit as the haziest of dreams, and you have a recipe for one of the most nightmarish experiences a gamer can hope to have.

And if this is a nightmare, then I never want to wakeup.

Snack Pairing: The thickest blood sausages one can find.

Monster Hunter Stories

By: LeRon

Developer: Capcom, Marvelous Inc.. Publisher: Capcom, Nintendo Co., Ltd

Release Date: 10/08/2016 (Japan), 09/08/2017 (USA). Platform(s): 3DS

Monster Hunter Stories in three words: Ride, don’t hunt.

What if I told you that there is a Monster Hunter game that wasn’t all fast and furious action but actually was a true role-playing game, and you actually get a chance to raise the monsters instead of hunting them down? Welcome to Monster Hunter Stories!

In Monster Hunter Stories, you take on the role of a Rider, people who befriend the various monsters of the world (primarily by stealing eggs from monster nests) and go on wild adventures. Monster Hunter Stories breaks from the action role-playing formula that the main series is known for by introducing a turn-based battle system into the mix. Players will engage in combat beside their Monsties (the term Riders give their monsters) using a rock-paper-scissors gameplay mechanic designed to aid players in besting their opponents.

Monster Hunter Stories follows three childhood friends who find themselves on different paths following an attack on their home by a monster that was infected with the Black Blight, an illness that causes monsters to go on a rampage. The main character, who recently befriended a baby Rathalos, finds themselves going on a journey to solve the mysteries behind the blight and also discovering the secrets of Ratha, the Rathalos they bonded with at the beginning of the game.

Okay, so the main series of Monster Hunter might not be your thing, but Monster Hunter Stories is a role-playing game that almost any fan of the genre can get behind and truly enjoy. The story, while lighthearted at times, is compelling and will pull at your heartstrings and also gives another side of the story for the Monster Hunter series.

Snack Pairing: Jack Links Extra Tender Teriyaki Jerky because you’re going to want to sink your teeth into this incredible, sweet story about friendship and dealing with tough struggles in life.

Bravely Default II

By: Dan

Developer: Claytechworks. Publisher: Square Enix, Nintendo

Release Date: 02/26/21. Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Bravely Default II in three words: JRPG tropes galore

When you want to escape everyday life, you may pick up a book, watch a movie or TV series, or pick up a game that fully captivates you into another reality. If you’re a JRPG fan, Bravely Default II is the perfect escape for you. Originally a spin-off series of Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, Bravely Default was a love child for long-time fans of the JRPG genre to experience the nostalgia they had from playing games such as Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy 5

However, if you’re a newcomer to the series, you don’t need prior knowledge of the stories from Bravely Default or Bravely Second to play this game. The story begins by seeing your protagonist, Seth, who is a sailor, wake up on a beach with no memory of how he got there. As events unfold, you meet numerous colorful characters along your journey and explore different regions, while defending the four elemental crystals and ultimately saving the world. 

Bravely Default II makes our bucket list because it’s a wonderful game that goes back to the classic JRPG roots. In a sense, it’s just another turn-based, fantasy JRPG, but not in a bad way. Think of it as going back home and having your favorite meal that only your mother can make. It makes you feel nostalgic and comfortable–because sometimes you want something that’s not extra, you want the original. 

Snack Pairing: Your favorite comfort food, such a mac n cheese or chicken pot pie while wrapped in a blanket.

Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle

By: Dan

Developer: Ubisoft Milan. Publisher: Nintendo, Ubisoft

Release Date: 08/29/17. Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Mario Rabbids Kingdom in three words: Antics, Guns, and Mario

It’s difficult to not be charmed by Mario Rabbids Kingdom, even if the two flavors aren’t supposed to mesh that well. The game quickly starts off when the Rabbids (originally associated with the Rayman games) show up in a dimension-hopping washing machine, and find themselves running amok in the Mushroom Kingdom. Due to the chaos, a sentient robot Roomba named Beep-0 seeks out the mustached plumber for help, and so begins their journey.

As far as gameplay goes, you would be forgiven if you thought that Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle was going to be easy. It’s actually surprisingly challenging. Your team will always consist of three party members on a grid based map where you’ll move around the battlefield, tackle enemies, bounce off your allies, use your ray gun to shoot enemies, duck for cover, and use special abilities to either heal or counter attack your opponents while they’re on the move. 

The battle system alone is an absolute blast, but I wouldn’t be doing the game justice if I didn’t mention the excellent variations of enemies and bosses. It was always entertaining wondering what type of enemy you would end up fighting next–would it be Rabbid Kong? Maybe Blario and BlaLuigi? Maybe just a simple Rabbid Piranha Plant. Either way, every new boss presented a new challenge that felt rewarding to defeat in the end.

This game makes our bucket list because Mario sharing the screen with the whacky Rabbids, thrown in with a tactical battle system, is one of the most unique and enjoyable things that’s ever happened in gaming. The creative design is off the charts in this game during battles and outside of them. Fans of strategy RPGs, hilarious characters, and fantastic animation would all love this game and all of its charm.

Snack Pairing: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with doritos in it. Yeah, sounds like a weird combo doesn’t it? Well, it tastes great. 

Boss Rush Bucket List Top 10: #6 Horizon Zero Dawn

By: Logan

Developer: Guerilla. Publisher: Guerilla

Release Date:  02/28/2017. Platform(s): PS4

Horizon Zero Dawn in three words: Beautiful, immersive, and challenging 

Horizon Zero Dawn is a new IP that Guerilla Games released in 2017. It was the first of three major new IPs to debut as PlayStation exclusives in 2017 and 2018 (God of War and Spider-Man were the other two). In Horizon, you play as Aloy in a post-apocalyptic world set hundreds of years after the Pharoh Robots destroyed the earth. Aloy has been cast out since birth by the Nora Tribe; however, she wins The Proving and becomes a Seeker for the Nora Tribe. Horizon Zero Dawn pushes you to uncover the secrets of Aloy’s lineage as well as to explore one of the most breathtaking open worlds ever created. 

Horizon Zero Dawn is a near-masterpiece game that features unique combat, challenging enemies in the form of robotic animals, and obstacles that trick even the sharpest of minds. Horizon is equipped with a photo mode that allows you to capture your favorite moments as you explore the beautiful world of the Nora Tribe.

Snack Pairing:  Horizon features Aloy eating a lot of birds and small game within the world. With that in mind, I recommend a turkey leg that has been cooked over an open flame. The best drink to pair with a turkey leg is anything you can drink out of a giant goblet. 

This wraps up week five of the Boss Rush Bucket List!

Honorable MentionsCrosscode

Next Friday (08/06), we return to action/adventure! If you missed part I of our action/adventure list, check it out here. We also have the entire Boss Rush Bucket list schedule here.

Remember, there are hundreds of amazing games that have been released since 2014, and this is just our personal, curated recommendations. If you see a game that is not listed, we would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts on these nominated games on our friendly Discord channel!

This week’s contributors: Block, LeRon, Dan, Logan

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