When discussing the best video games for RPG Newbies, it is crucial to consider what elements of Role-Playing Games (RPGs) are mandatory for the complete experience. For some gamers, an epic storyline is absolutely critical in RPG series; for others, cutting-edge graphics, witty dialog, or action-packed combat will be paramount on this list. As someone who started playing this genre of titles at the age of eight, I have a rather specific preference in my role-playing games: A franchise or series of titles which will allow the player to grow along with familiar characters or landscapes, while gradually becoming hooked on the world, the primary characters, or the specific “feel” of the franchise.

The following 5 series of video games offer more than one successful title in the franchise, and are wonderful places to begin a quest for RPG experience.

Most of these series are tried-and-true from well established developers; a few of them even live in video game infamy as some of the most important RPG titles or series released to date. I highly recommend each and every one of these games for newbies and experienced gamers alike – you never know when you will find a new favorite series of titles, after all – and as an added bonus, most of these RPGs will be heavily discounted in price from the original retail price tag due to age and reduced demand.

Final Fantasy VII:

Without a doubt, Final Fantasy is a hallmark example of the RPG video game genre, and one of the franchises you simply must play sooner rather than later if you want to become a proper RPG fan. Even if you loathe the titles – which I highly doubt that you will – Final Fantasy must be played, if you want to truly understand this type of video game.

Several of the Final Fantasy titles have been considered revolutionary and critical in the direction the genre has taken; Final Fantasy VII is arguably one of the most popular and influential chapters in this epic saga. While I would recommend beginning with Final Fantasy I, II and III, those original titles debuted on vintage gaming consoles and aren’t as readily available as the more modern chapters. If you’re going to jump into the Final Fantasy franchise any later than Final Fantasy IV, I highly recommend beginning with this one. Final Fantasy VII is regarded as one of the titles in this series that “changed the game entirely,” so what better place to start?

Mass Effect:

If you are under the impression that all successful RPG video games are within the fantasy genre, you are mistaken. Mass Effect and its subsequent sequel, Mass Effect 2, as well as Mass Effect 3 – which is due for release in March, 2012 – are very securely within the Sci-Fi realm. Although I found Mass Effect 2 to be a better video game overall, the original Mass Effect is simply the best place to get started in this franchise.

This is partly due to the ability to port-over characters from your saved game into the sequel titles; it is also because Mass Effect introduces you to the main characters, world dynamic and game mechanics quite successfully. You will spend your time navigating through space, constructing a team full of alien species, and making important decisions that ultimately determine the fate of your main character and crew.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the immense success of The Elder Scrolls’ latest chapter, Skyrim. While it might be tempting to jump right into the fifth and latest chapter of this hit franchise, I highly recommend picking up a cheap copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion before you succumb to the temptation and purchase The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The reason I recommend this is simple: Oblivion is a very important video game within the RPG genre, and if you skip ahead to Skyrim you will never look back.

Oblivion deserves to be played for its own merits, and not simply because it is a precursor to Skyrim in the franchise. The world within this title is huge, and the amount of side quests available in addition to the primary storyline is staggering.

The non-player characters are interesting and believable, and the amount of customization you have with your main character is impressive even by today’s standards. This one won many best-of awards, and it truly is an RPG title perfect for newbies.

Chrono Trigger:

Like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger is a vintage video game that is regarded as one of the most important, revolutionary and classic members of this vast genre of games. Fortunately, this one is fairly easily obtained on Virtual Console, collection packs of older titles, and even on the Nintendo DS system. With time travel, fantasy elements, and a surprisingly interesting storyline, Chrono Trigger is a must-play for anyone endeavoring to become an RPG master.

Considering many gamers feel it is important to “know your roots,” Chrono Trigger is well worth your time as an RPG newbie simply for the fact you can talk with other gamers about this important title. It’s an added bonus that this one is a lot of fun, and has even been updated for the modern era in the Nintendo DS version.

Neverwinter Nights:

The Neverwinter Nights franchise has roots in the Dungeons & Dragons table-top game, specifically the 3rd Edition rules. While the sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2, actually utilized the table-top rules better than the original title, the original Neverwinter Nights is still a very important, extremely fun video game for newbies.

My favorite part of this game is the ability to meet-up with friends online on a host of servers, and explore the world together in a party as Dungeons & Dragons was meant to be experienced. The fact that you can kill non-player characters, such as shop merchants, and completely ruin your party’s ability to buy arrows is simply amusing. As with most table-top rules, the character creation within Neverwinter Nights is vast and highly customizable.

You can also choose to make your own items in the item builder and import those goods into your game. While the storyline isn’t the greatest, Neverwinter Nights is still a wonderful place to begin exploring the RPG genre – especially since you can easily bring a friend or two.