At present, there are a lot of great LitRPG books, with more and more titles authored on a weekly basis. It can get a little hard to keep track of my favorite series, so I’ve written this post primarily to remind myself about the 10 best litRPG series in 2018.
Just for clarity, I’ve focused on established series (which have two or more titles) but as a bonus have added a few new series, where only the first book in a planned series has been published. I’ve also ranked the titles below based on my personal preference.
- Chaos Seeds (Book 7 – The Land: Predators) by Aleron Kong – this was the first title that got me into the RPG genre, and it is still my absolute favorite. This title currently is covered in the all-you-can-eat Kindle unlimited reading package, but I would personally pay a premium to read these books. The characters are hilarious, the world building is fantastic, and the plot has a ton of memorable twists that surprise and delight. At this point, there are at least six or seven time-sensitive quests that the main character has to complete before sustaining a significant penalty, and it’s neat thinking how he is going to juggle everything on his plate. One thing that I’m personally hoping for is that the main character integrates some of the author’s experience as a physician into his playstyle — the protagonist mentions that he was in the medical field in the real world and actually uses CPR on a game character to good effect in one of the early books in the series, but I’m hoping to see more of this in the future.
- Viridian Gate Online (Book 5 – The Lich Priest) by James Hunter – this series is absolutely on fire. The main reason I read this book is for the villain Robert Osmark, who is absolutely fantastic. The world is awesome, the combat is great, and the cast of characters is fantastic. I have to say that the main protagonist is a bit dull, but the villain more than makes up for it — my favorite book in the series is actually the site-story featuring him (“The Artificer“). In the latest book, the villain actually works with the protagonist to save the world, but I’m personally hoping they go back to plotting against each other in the future.
- The Game3 (Book 2 – Earth’s Gambit) by Cosmino Yap – this title introduces my favorite setting in a litRPG novel so far. Most lit RPG games are set in a fantasy setting, but this is one of the few excellent titles which is set in futuristic science fiction universe. This is personally interesting to me, since I prefer games which have this setting (Destiny 2, Halo, Mass Effect). I also love the game mechanics in this title — the Machine Lord enhancement is something that I haven’t seen before in books of this genre, and I’m a fan of the protagonist’s pet AI. He’s also a great sniper, which is another plus in my book.
- Ascend Online (Book 3 – Legacy of the Fallen) by Luke Chmilkeno – I actually first listened to this story on Audible and have to say that I enjoyed every second. The series is a little on the darker side and the action is a little bit more gritty than its compatriots. However, I’m quite looking forward to seeing how the protagonist grows the main village that he founded. I also think that the protagonist’s pet magic panther is flat -out amazing.
- Awaken Online (Book 3 – Evolution) by Travis Bagwell – this title has been absolutely fantastic. The main character is physically weak but has a lot of sneaky strategies to solve problems, as detailed in this post. He also plays a necromancer, and as such has a lot of options for battle and crafting — some of my favorite portions from his book including the making of complex undead robots to achieve a specific goal. He also has a lot of pretty memorable side characters who are exceptionally devious.
- Codename Freedom (Book 2 – The Goblin Siege) by Apollos Thorne – this title is a pleasure to read. Although the game mechanics and the characters are fairly standard, one thing that I loved about this series is its laser-like focus on training scenes! I’m not sure how the author makes it so enjoyable, but just like watching Rocky and his training montages, this title is a blast to read. There’s an interesting subplot where there’s evidence that the game is simply a training program to prepare humans for an upcoming fight against aliens — this has been done many times before (Ender’s Game) — but it still keeps things fresh and interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.
- Elements of Wrath (Book 3 – Online Crystalfire Keep) by JA Cipriano – The author of this series is pretty prolific, and I’m not exactly sure that this series is abandoned/completed. However, I have to say that it was one of the most enjoyable series that I have read. There’s a lot of action and adventure, and although the story progresses without any significant unexpected turns, the other did a great job of character-building, with perhaps the best conception of in-game romance that I’ve seen so far (especially in the Vale of Three Wolves). Here’s hoping that another title will be added.
- The Divine Dungeon (Book 3 – Dungeon Calamity) by Dakota Krout – Unlike most books in this genre, this title features a dungeon as the main character. It’s a pretty neat perspective — although the action focuses more on strategic manipulation of forces rather than direct personal combat, it’s a lot of fun to read.
- Crystal Shards Online (Book 2 – Shard Warrior) by Rick Scott – this title has a pretty light-hearted feel, but I feel like the game mechanics list in the title are a little weak. As a comparison of sorts, this feels like a beginner RPG (Pokemon) compared to the gritty epic RPGs that serve as the archetype of the genre (World of Warcraft / Baldur’s Gate). However, I’ve always been a sucker for characters who dual-wield, and the books are a nice change from the more typical fare..
- Eden’s Gate (Book 4 – The Arena) by Edward Brody – I’m afraid I read this title a while ago and it isn’t quite as memorable as the other titles on the list. I’m still following the series and will be reading Book 4 soon.
- World of Chains (Book 1 – The Wayward Bard) by Lars M – this is one series that I definitely have my eye on. The main character is a bard, which is traditionally one of the weakest characters to play in a role-playing game. However, the book does a masterful job of character-building, and the game mechanics are pretty spectacular. One thing that I enjoyed about this title is that the book uses specific 18th-century classical pieces to accomplish spells in the game — as an amateur violinist myself, I’m sure that the author put a lot of time doing research on this topic. I’m definitely looking forward to the next title!
- The Completionist Chronicles (Book 1 – Ritualist) by Dakota Krout – One of the things that I really like about this title is the focus on the enchanting / crafting mechanic, which is quite similar to the mechanics in the one of my favorite non-LitRPG titles Sufficiently Advanced Magic. Besides the game mechanics, this book was extremely well written, and I’m definitely looking for more in the future.
- Hero of Thera by Eric Nylund – I’m honestly not quite sure if there is a sequel coming to this title, but it definitely was an excellent read. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between the protagonist and his mentor.
- Nigmus Online by Noah Bartnett – I’m also not sure if there is a sequel to this title, but it is a solid title. I’m personally not a fan of the weak-willed nature of the protagonist, but he does play a necromancer, which automatically places this title in my ‘to-read’ inbox.
And that’s it! Hopefully, I’ll try to keep this updated throughout the year to make sure that I don’t fall behind. If there are any recommendations to add/change this list, please let me know below!