Shooter RPGs S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series (beware that the first 2 games can be glitchy messes) Metro 2033 Deus Ex System Shock 2 Fallout: New Vegas (if you're into DLC, get Old World Blues) Vampire: The Masquerade-Bloodlines Pathologic Alpha Protocol (gameplay is a tolerate/hate it deal, otherwise very rough gem) E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy (indie Deus Ex spiritual successor, download latest version)
ARPGs Gothic II Gold, Gothic, Gothic 3 + community patch (avoid Gothic 4) Risen King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame (has strategy elements) Dragon's Dogma (Monster Hunter meets Skyrim)
I really want to play Pandora's Tower, will pick up Xenoblade when it drops a bit more considering I got so much stuff I need to buy atm(including software and stuff) The Elder Scrolls are fun and all but sometimes I feel they are either too empty by having visuals but not as many enemies.
My favorite RPGs are Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim of the Elder Scrolls series. I also loved Dragon Age: Origins, but I don't know if I could recommend its sequel as I haven't played very far into it and they changed the gameplay in all the wrong ways for me. Someone else suggested Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, and I second their picks. Either one is great, though they have completely different atmospheres, in my opinion.
You'll notice that most of my preferred RPGs are western ones, especially the kind with swords and mythical creatures. The Fallout series is an exception for me, as I don't usually like shooters. You mentioned the Legend of Zelda debate, and Fallout kind of falls into the same thing, where some people want to call it a shooter, and others think it should just be considered an RPG. The gunplay in it isn't as perfected as in most full shooters. If you've played Battlefield, you'll notice that should you try it out.
I've never been a fan of RPGs with a linear world and no exploration between major quest areas. It's just not as immersive as a game that lets you wander and explore anything you might see as you look out at the world from a hilltop.
DA: O is an exception, but I don't love it for the world as much as for the characters and companions. However, I felt that the expansion, Awakening, lacked character depth in not letting you talk to your companions and get to know them in the same way you got to know Wynne, Alistair, Leliana.... I would have loved to have some sort of back story with Nathaniel, especially considering his father killed my character's family and they supposedly grew up with their families being close friends.
I didn't get very far into DA2. I got Anders to join my party and then lost interest. I think I maybe played a total of six hours of the game. I've been meaning to give it another try, but I would much rather replay DA: O if I'm in the mood for that sort of RPG.
I know what you mean, the open world of TES and Fallout is something that is very hard to match. It is not enough that it is open, it must encourage exploration.
Yeah, Awakening is bad in that regard and sadly DA2 is much the same, just with more hack'n'slash combat, overthetop animations and restricted companion customization. Still, the Architect was an interesting fella.
Dragon's Dogma (still has an online function, but the interaction with other people is limited and only for getting a partner from them and for them to "train" your character. All done automatically.) Final Fantasy XIII (only if you don't mind a linear gameplay with a few major cutscenes and playing RPGs differently. Ignore the peanut gallery as this is a pretty good game.) Tales of Symphonia / Phantasia / Abyss / anything with "Tales of" at the beginning and does not have a number. Fallout 3 & New Vegas (note: the order is suppose to be 3 then New Vegas, but one could go New Vegas then 3. 3 also starts off a little harsh like you know what to do once you exit the tutorial while New Vegas does a lot of hand holding for a while. So pick your poison.) Morrowind for PC and with an HD mod. Baten Kaitos: Wings of Eternal Darkness & Origin (order does not matter, they actually play differently.) The World Ends With You.
I'm afraid that out of the games you've mentioned, Borderlands is the only one I'm familiar with.
Weirdly, the thing I found Borderlands most similar to was Diablo II. If you like filling out skill trees and collecting rare loot, it might be worth a look, even though the actual gameplay is not at all the same.
Heavy Rains is a game that DOES have RPG qualities yet also lacks so that is why I got it up there, think of it as a Legend of Zelda debate but the difference is I will admit this is more of an interactive thriller than an RPG.