TOP 10 BEST LITRPG'S OF 2023
Ok, so obviously, this list going to be a bit subjective. When it comes things like art and literature, each person is going to have their own preferences and biases as to what they enjoy and consider “best”. Although in general we can quantize things such as proper grammar and sentence structure as givens to separate polished vs. non polished works, Litrpg is a bit different in that we must also take into account the additional usage of game elements and how well they are blended into the story.
After having read thousands of books and hundreds of Litrpgs, it actually becomes easy to tell which Litrpgs are worth your time. In fact, in some cases you may only need to read the first couple chapters to recognize what type of author is doing the writing, what type of story is going to play out, what the quality of writing is going to be expected, and what level of enjoyment you are going to have by reading it. That is not to say there isn’t entertainment to be found in lessor quality works. But in terms of recommendation for friends and fans of the genre, it makes sense to promote the greatest example of that work, even if it may be a very similar book of identical plot or concept from a different author. That is to say, with the thousands of Litrpgs out there now, many authors have done and redone the same ideas many times. So, we may want to choose the “best” version of those, even if they aren’t the first.
This may upset some fans of the space who may read this list, and notice the absence of some the early pioneers of the genre. These are authors and works who came first, who broke the mold, and helped pushed this genre forward and should be appropriately honored. However, this is a TOP 10 list, not a complete list, so we must pick the current best examples. I hope fans will understand.
So, having said all that, let’s get to what we feel are the currently the TOP 10 Best Litrpgs of 2023 (in descending order)…
by Shemer Kuznits
10. Life Reset
Unlike some of the latter works on this list, Life Reset is a bit unique in that it uses the subniche of the main character getting stuck not only in a game, but also in what is essentially an NPC monster character. Yet, in spite of this apparent handicap, he still manages to succeed and grow in power.
What makes this story really shine however is the smooth writing and strong world building, as well as the added base building aspects that really make this particular work almost a whole package of ideas.
Although the 3rd installment leaves a bit to be desired (rather abrupt), overall the series is done exceptionally well and is highly enjoyable.
by Matt Dinniman
9. Dungeon Crawler Carl
Fast action, twisted humor, and a talking cat companion. What else is there to love?
Dungeon Crawler Carl fits into a subniche of Litrpgs that attempt to inject humor into the mix, while still maintaining Litrpg story and mechanics. Whenever I read this particular series I can't help but feel nostalgic for the arcade game Smash TV, and hear the announcer saying "Big Money, Big Prizes!" It's that kind of vibe.
One thing to keep in mind is that the humor is a bit dark at times, and the overall work does have a fair share of violence and gore, so if you're a bit squeamish you may want to pass. Otherwise, its a fun roller coaster of a Litrpg!
by Dave Willmarth
8. Shadow Sun Survival
The Shadow Sun series puts itself firmly in the post-apocalyptic subniche, as it's main character must adapt to the new game system that has thrust itself onto current Earth.
What sets the Shadow Sun apart is how the story incorporates Gods from the Greek pantheon into the mix, and builds realistic scenarios regarding humanities survival in a rapidly changing and now dangerous Earth. The blending of the fantastic and the familiar is interesting and terrifying.
If you are looking for a decent read that is well balanced this a a great serious to get into.
by James Hunter
7. Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm
Viridian Gate Online combines two subniches in the Litrpg space: the post-apocolyptic and trapped in a game ideas. As our world is about to end humanity essentially escapes into a game.
What makes Viridian Gate Online unique is that it not only builds an interesting world with great politics and power dynamics, it has a cool main character with unique abilities. This story also has elements of base building and warfare that are done very well.
All around this a solid Litrpg that hits many of the best aspects of a great game as well as great story.
by Travis Deverell
6. He who Fights with Monsters
It's hard not to put this series on the list since it's simply so well done in terms of writing. For this subniche, the series takes the main character to another world where he gains his game like powers.
Out of all the Litrpgs out there, this one may well be the most maturely and professionally written. It's really and truly DEEP, as in Mariana Trench level deep. The main character is so detailed and flushed out with his thoughts and feelings it's almost a character study. That's not to take away from the excellent world building and action when it takes place. Keep in mind however the series does tend to get a bit moody.
If you are looking for a more thoughtful and mature piece of fantasy, He who Fights with Monsters may just be your cup of tea.
by Travis Bagwell
5. Awaken Online: Catharsis
Compared to some of the other books on this list, Awaken Online is a bit dated. However, it is still a masterful example of having an anti-hero type character (Necromancer).
The particular setup for this book is the future earth scenario with a game that becomes pivotal to human society (similar to a Ready Player one type environment).
What makes Awaken Online so enjoyable is not just the main characters growth and success as an anti-hero, but also the inner story of the game AI and how it's own Gods gain sentience. A very interesting and thought provoking set of circumstances.
Though not as deep as He who fights with Monsters, Awaken Online does have it's fair share of dark themes. It's still an incredible read however and highly recommended.
by Eric Ugland
4. One More Last Time
Similar to Dungeon Crawler Carl, the Good Guy Series is another Litrpg that tries to inject humor into it's setting. However instead of a dungeon theme the main character gets whisked away just before death to another world to start over.
If you really like clever and sarcastic dialog and humor, and sometimes even irrelevant banter, this one is for you. If you like heroes that are ridiculously strong and hate violence while simultaneously being great at violence, this one's for you.
All around, One More Last Time is pure fun without taking itself too seriously. If you want something with decent action, witty humor, and great world building, you need to give this one a try.
3. The Primal Hunter
Ok, so now we are getting to some personal favorites, and any of the remaining series could easily be made into #1.
The Primal Hunter scenario pretty much fits the subniche where the existing game mechanics are part of a system that is thrust onto our world and universe and humans are forced to survive and adapt to it.
What really makes this series shine is the main character and how he quickly grows to power. Through both a powerful gifted "bloodline" and the befriending of a God, Jake becomes a dominating force quickly.
If you like good action, intelligent heroes, and focus on the main character, this is your cup of tea.
by Tom Elliot
2. The Grand Game
The Grand Game could easily be #1 in our list, but unfortunately there must be a second place.
The setup for this series is fairly interesting in that it forgoes any type of background and simply starts the main character directly in the magical world with no memory how he got there.
The main character's class and abilities are quite frankly the coolest we've read. Imagine if you will, a stealth-like, dual-wielding, teleporting, psionicist\ assassin, wolf-god bloodline inheriting character. It's like Drizzt turned into god mode. Just pure awesome sauce!
On top of the main character having the best skillset we've seen, he is also intelligent, clever and plotting, using not just his physical abilities but often using tactics and strategy as well.
All and all we can't recommend this series enough.
by JF Brink
1. Defiance of the Fall
At last we come to our #1 pick, Defiance of the Fall, the First Defier series.
In terms of subniche, Defiance is another post-apocalyptic system takeover setup. In this case the main character is isolated and forced to become the most powerful being on Earth as fast as possible.
There are so many elements to like about the series it's hard to list them all. A focus on the main hero being forced to become powerful quickly in the face of overwhelming odds. A very deep and detailed system that blends both Litrpg and Cultivation subgenres. An excellent set of supporting and side characters. Great world building in regards to opening the rest of the universe to our own. And so much more.
If you are looking to get lost in an excellent series with a large amount of content, this is a great one. Keep in mind however that there is a large amount of deep dives into theory and mechanics involved.