12 of the best action RPGs you should play from Square Enix

In the mood for intense action and satisfying combat? Let’s take a look at some of the best modern action RPGs from Square Enix - how many have you played?
By Duncan Heaney

If you’re looking for a thrill, few games satisfy like an action RPG.

This genre marries amazing storytelling with rewarding real-time action to create incredible experiences for all types of players, from those who manipulate the controller like a virtuoso playing an instrument, to those of us who fumble through with two left thumbs.

Square Enix has an impressive history of creating action RPGs, and we thought now would be a perfect time to celebrate the genre. In the following list, we’ll highlight some of the best currently available, and perhaps showcase a few you may have missed.


Clive Rosfield from FINAL FANTASY XVI
  • Available on: PS5

The most recent mainline entry in the FINAL FANTASY series is a gripping action RPG with a powerful story, mature tone and outrageously fun combat.

You play as Clive Rosfield - firstborn son to the Archduke of Rosaria and sworn protector to his brother Joshua, who is a Dominant. In this world, Dominants are a feted few who are able to become incredibly powerful entities known as Eikons.

But when tragedy strikes his family, Clive embarks on a propulsive journey of revenge that will change both him and the world itself.

Clive Rosfield from FINAL FANTASY XVI

What follows is a true epic, as Clive clashes with the different nations of this richly drawn fantasy world. Fortunately, he’s more than capable in a fight, able to use the powers of multiple Eikons to do everything from pound enemies to a pulp with his fists to incinerate them in burning flames.

Combined with the seriously satisfying dodge mechanic and spectacular large-scale Eikon battles, it all adds up to an exhilarating RPG that’s perfect for new players and the FINAL FANTASY faithful alike.

What follows is a true epic, as Clive clashes with the different nations of this richly drawn fantasy world. Fortunately, he’s more than capable in a fight, able to use the powers of multiple Eikons to do everything from pound enemies to a pulp with his fists to incinerate them in burning flames.

Combined with the seriously satisfying dodge mechanic and spectacular large-scale Eikon battles, it all adds up to an exhilarating RPG that’s perfect for new players and the FINAL FANTASY faithful alike.


  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Steam, Epic Games Store

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE uses modern technology to revive one of the greatest RPGs of all time.

The game is set entirely in the city of Midgar - a vast metropolis controlled by the corrupt Shinra Electric Power Company. A mercenary named Cloud Strife is hired by anti-Shinra group Avalanche to help disable one of the company’s reactors, which suck the life from the planet.

What follows is a fast-paced adventure that puts Cloud and his allies on a collision course with Shinra and a dark figure from his past: Sephiroth!

Cloud Strife facing off against the Scorpion Sentinel in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Naturally, there’s plenty of opportunity to wield that iconic Buster Sword throughout the game, thanks to the new hybrid combat system that fuses real time combat, dynamic character switching and menu-based battle with actions.

It makes for battles that feel exciting and immediate yet capture the flavor of the original FINAL FANTASY VII. With multiple characters to control, each with their own play styles, combat rewards fast reflexes and strategy in equal measure.

Which is all to say, it’s really good fun and critically acclaimed, so check it out:

The second game in the trilogy, FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH, is set for release in early 2024 on PS5. Find out about that here:


  • Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC via Steam and Microsoft Store

There aren’t many games quite like FINAL FANTASY XV. It’s a true original with incredible characters, a massive world, and - for the first time in a mainline FINAL FANTASY game - action-based combat system.

After years of war, the nations of Lucis and Niflheim agree to an armistice. As a symbol of the peace, Noctis, Prince of Lucis, plans to wed Lady Lunafreya of Tenebrae, and sets off on a journey towards his bride to be.

But when his homeland is attacked and his father killed, the young prince and his bodyguards, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto, must step up and find the strength to reclaim their homeland.

Ignis, Notis, Prompto and Gladiolus in FINAL FANTASY XV

This is one of the most unconventional numbered entries in the FINAL FANTASY series, deftly balancing a relaxed road trip vibe, a vast explorable world full of side quests and secrets to discover, and fun and flashy battles.

In short, it’s an utterly charming adventure centered around brotherhood – and one you’re unlikely to ever forget.


Goofy, Sora, Donald and Flynn Ryder in KINGDOM HEARTS III
  • Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Epic Games Store, Nintendo Switch via cloud (not available in all regions)

Disney and Square Enix joined forces to create this beloved series of action RPGs.

The saga typically focuses on Sora – a young hero with a big heart – who, along with his friends Donald Duck and Goofy, travels between different Disney and Pixar worlds to take on the sinister Heartless.

There are multiple amazing action RPGs in this sprawling saga, and since the entire saga (so far) is now available on PS4, Xbox One, PC via the Epic Games Store and Nintendo Switch (via the Cloud), it’s difficult to pick just one for this list.

Cloud, Hercules and Sora

Whether you want to see where it all began with the original KINGDOM HEARTS, dive into the vibrant worlds of KINGDOM HEARTS Dream Drop Distance HD or take on foes in the most recent game in the main storyline, KINGDOM HEARTS III, you can expect fast-paced and satisfying combat that never gets old.


Frey Holland stands in front of a wall of flame
  • Available on: PS5, Steam

Most action RPGs let you leap into battle with a weapon. Be it a sword, axe or even your own fists, it’s so often about getting up close and personal with your foes. Forspoken does things a little differently – it’s all about the magic.

This exhilarating RPG casts you as Frey Holland – a seemingly ordinary New Yorker who is pulled into the ruined world of Athia. Discovering she now has access to magic powers, Frey sets out to discover where she is and find a way home…

…and maybe she’ll even save the world along the way.

Frey Holland summons giant vines and roots

With a vast arsenal of spells and magic-enhanced parkour, Frey is a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. She can fling stones at devastating speeds, entrap enemies within a wall of fire, pelt them with homing darts, smother them in churning waters… the list goes on.

It’s an appropriate skillset, because when you’re firing on all cylinders, dancing round the battlefield and taking foes down with ease, the effect is nothing short of spellbinding.


The Valkyrie and an Einherjar
  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Steam

Ragnarök looms and Midgard lies in ruins. Only the twisted souls of those who could not pass on remain – and they need to be purified. And by ‘purified,’ we mean thoroughly thrashed by a skilled Valkyrie.

As said Valkyrie, that’s your main job and fortunately it’s wildly entertaining - easy to get to grips with, but with tons of depth to master.

For example, you have access to multiple weapons, each with its own distinct feel and moveset - and can switch between these armaments at any time to mix up combos or exploit enemy weaknesses. You also have access to an impressive arsenal or magical abilities, which let you set your enemies ablaze, push them around the battlefield, heal your hero and much more.

The Valkyrie in combat in VALKYRIE ELYSIUM

Then you have the Einherjar - recruitable warriors who will help you in and out of fights. Each has their own element and fighting style and combining their attacks with your own allows for some truly spectacular actions in the heat of battle.

It’s an absurdly robust and satisfying combat system that makes the game a pure power fantasy that’s hard to put down.


The protagonist from HARVESTELLA looking at a giant crystal
  • Available on: Nintendo Switch, Steam

From a first glance, you’d be forgiven for assuming that HARVESTELLA was a simple life simulator. But it’s so much more than that - it’s a fully featured action RPG with superb characters, exciting real-time combat, and a story that…

…well, without giving too much away, let’s just say the story goes places.

But it is also a life simulation RPG, and a darn good one. Tending to your crops, fishing and rearing livestock to make money and cook food is endlessly compelling, while socializing with your friends and neighbors will lead you to discover one of the most delightful casts in an RPG for some time.

The Fighter job in HARVESTELLA

When it’s time to head into a dungeon, you’ll find a combat system with a lot of options. You can equip up to three jobs at a time and switch between them seamlessly - for example, you can dish out physical attacks with twin blades as a Shadow Walker, before switching to Mage to finish them from a distance with your powerful magic attacks.

As new characters join, you’ll gain new jobs making combat feel fresh and full of options throughout. Long story short, it’s just an all-round great game that, much like your crops, grows on you the more you play. Highly recommended.


  • Available on: Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam

While most of the games on this list are all about combat, DRAGON QUEST TREASURES primarily sets its sights on a decidedly shinier prize: loot!

This game is all about exploring vast open areas, making use of your skills and those of your monster allies to find valuable treasures… and then get them back to base intact.

Erik running through a field in DRAGON QUEST TREASURES

Of course, while exploration is key, there is still combat to be found. This world is full of dangerous monsters, so you’ll have to combine your own attacks with those of your allies to take them down. As if that’s not bad enough, you’ll also have to contend with rival gangs, who’d much rather steal your treasure than hunt for their own.

It all adds up to a wonderfully addicting adventure with laid back vibes, a fun story, and that familiar DRAGON QUEST charm. It’s a real gem.


Zack Fair and a cactuar
  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam

Zack is back!

This lavish remaster brings the classic prequel to FINAL FANTASY VII up to date with impressive visuals, newly arranged soundtrack, full voice acting and greatly refined combat.

You control Zack Fair - a member of Shinra’s elite unit SOLDIER, sent to investigate the apparent desertion of some high-profile members of the organization. Zack’s an important figure in the FINAL FANTASY VII mythos, and his story weaves into the fates of beloved characters like Cloud, Aerith, Tifa and Sephiroth in some surprising ways.

Zack Fair taking on a foe with Vital Slash

The combat has been greatly improved from the PSP original, with faster movement, snappier controls and even new mechanics. By equipping glowing orbs called materia, Zack has access to a massive range of different moves and spells - finding that perfect character build is a fun game in itself!

What’s more, the game’s mission structure gives it a pick up and play quality that means you can play it for five minutes or five hours and have a good time either way.


  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC via Steam and Microsoft Store

The most recent entry in the storied STAR OCEAN series emphasizes speed, spectacle, strategy… and soaring through the sky.

The game begins when Raymond Lawrence, the captain of the merchant vessel Ydas, crash lands on an underdeveloped planet. While searching for his crew, he encounters Laeticia - the crown princess of a nearby Kingdom.

Amazed by his advanced technology, Laeticia asks for his help to save her homeland from the threat of a neighboring Empire, setting off a chain of events that will have big ramifications for not only the planet, but the galaxy as a whole.

Raymond taking on a foe in STAR OCEAN THE DIVINE FORCE

The STAR OCEAN series Dual Protagonist system lets you pick to play as either Raymond or Laeticia, and the story and recruitable party members will change depending on your choice. Regardless of which you pick, however, you can expect some gratifyingly intense combat encounters.

Thanks to a mysterious technology, characters are able to fly through the air for a limited time. It’s ideal for getting around, but truly shines in combat, letting you launch yourself towards foes, blindside them for extra damage and more. It makes for breathless encounters full of last minute dodges, and flashy combos.

So, if you’re looking for intense action, or a science fiction setting, you should definitely check out STAR OCEAN THE DIVINE FORCE.


  • Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Steam, Epic Games Store

Developed by Team Ninja from KOEI TECMO GAMES, this two-fisted action RPG is a dark and savage take on the FINAL FANTASY series.

You play as Jack Garland on a quest to kill Chaos. And he really, really wants to kill Chaos. This quest will take you through a wide variety of locations inspired by the FINAL FANTASY series, where you’ll take on hordes of enemies through visceral action combat.

Jack’s a very flexible hero, too, able to take on many classic jobs from the FINAL FANTASY games. He can slash them into submission as a swordsman, blast them with magic as a black mage, jump for joy as a dragoon, steal their abilities as a thief, punch them into crystal as a pugilist and much more.

Jack Garland and his allies in combat

It's a game that will test your abilities, with challenging opponents and brutal bosses that demand fast reflexes and mastery of your abilities to overcome. Of course, if you’re not a fan of this type of punishing action RPG, you can play on STORY Mode for an easier ride - there’s no judgement or gatekeeping here.

If you’re looking for a truly action-focused RPG, you won’t find much better than this:

Trials of Mana

TRIALS OF MANA screenshot
  • Available on: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS, Android

Trials of Mana is one of the most replayable RPGs of recent times. You’ll take control of three playable characters from a selection of six - each with their own skills, strengths and stories. Depending on who you go with, the narrative will play out in different ways.

The combat will vary too, with playstyles available for each hero. Regardless of who you go with, however, the game puts the ‘action’ in action RPG.

Duran attacking a Rabite in Trials of Mana

While it starts simple, the battle system is pretty deep, with multiple classes to play as, combos to try out, and plenty of abilities to try out. Plus you have to watch your positioning - when you get hit by a boss’s area of effect attack, it can be devastating.

But the true reason it’s on this list is that just one of those games that makes the simple act of hitting an enemy just feel great. Everything is enjoyably tactile and you’re constantly rewarded for engaging your foes.

It’s one of those titles where you’ll think you’ll have been playing for an hour, only to find three have whizzed by. Satisfying and compelling, it’s a true treat.

So there you have it: 12 incredible action-packed adventures, covering everything from science fiction soap operas to fantasy epics. Whichever game you choose, you’re sure to have a great time!

But what if you fancy an RPG with turn-based combat? Join us on the blog next week to see some of our picks:

For now though, we’re sure you also have recommendations for action RPGs of your own, so head over to Square Enix on social to share your thoughts: