2014 and Beyond: Return of the RPG

Everybody remembers their first RPG. The first time they lost themselves in an incredible fantasy or science fiction world. The first time they feel in love in a whimsical cast of characters. The hours they sunk into learning every possible game mechanic and mastering every class. When they first fell in love with the genre…

RPG’s truly are a special breed of game that have a way of impacting us unlike any other. Unfortunately we’ve been living in a time where true RPG’s weren’t as prevalent as they once were; and save for a few exceptions, seemed to be getting relegated to being more of a niche genre. Instead, traditional RPG mechanics like leveling up and customization are starting to be blended into other genres like shooters. For awhile, it seemed as if RPG’s were doomed to be become a secondary genre much like Racing is these days.

But if we take a step back and look to the horizon… it may just bring a tear to the eyes of RPG fans everywhere. The next several years are absolutely LOADED with high-profile TRUE RPG’s from some of the industry’s most talented developers. It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen such a wave of promising looking RPG’s. And as a massive fan myself, I’d like to make sure each and every one of you gets acquainted with these titles.

The following is a listing of most of the RPG titles set to be released within the next 1-2 years (by tentative release date) along with some basic information:

Bravely Default

  • Developer: Silicon Studio/Square Enix
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: 2/7/4
  • Platform(s): 3DS

In many ways, Bravely Default is the spiritual successor to the classic Final Fantasy titles of the late eighties and early nineties but with a modern twist. It features a deep job/class system and turn-based battles akin to what you’d find in games like Final Fantasy III and V. It even involves a story centered around magical crystals that are tied to the stability of the world! So basically it’s as wonderfully old-school as it gets. The game will also take advantage of the modern hardware in order to feature beautifully rendered cut-scenes and presentation. If you’re a fan of classic RPG’s, this game is a must buy.

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Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: 2/11/14
  • Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3

Here we have the sequel to the sequel that nobody wanted. But that may not be a bad thing. In this final entry in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, series protagonist, Lightning, awakens 500 years after the ending of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and discovers she only has 13 days to save the dying world. Players have to extend the virtual time-limit by completing tasks and missions using a revamped and much faster and action-oriented battle system.

While we may not have asked it, Lighting Returns is certainly intriguing. We can expect it to feature gorgeous visuals and stunning music in true Square Enix fashion, and it appears that they may have finally nailed the battle system. Definitely a game to keep an eye on.

 

Tales of Symphonia Chronicles

  • Developer: Namco Bandai
  • Publisher: Namco Bandai
  • Release Date: 2/15/14
  • Platform(s): PS3

Few games hold as special a place in my heart as Tales of Symphonia for the Nintendo Gamecube. It was the game that made me fall in love with RPG’s and showed me that video games can be so much more than just a fun time-wasters.

Tales of Symphonia Chronicles is an HD remastering of the original title along with it’s sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Daw of the New World. While the second game wasn’t nearly as good, this is absolutely worth picking up if you haven’t played the original. Fans of JRPG’s, action-RPG’s, or just great games in general owe it to themselves to give Tales of Symphonia a try!

 

South Park: The Stick of Truth

  • Developer: Obsidian
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Release Date: 3/4/14
  • Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC

It’s been a long-time coming, but the highly anticipated South Park RPG is almost here. And it’s ready to deliver all the crude, awful, yet insanely relevant, and clever humor we’d expect! The developers have done a remarkable job of recreating the classic South Park look and finding a way to blend the universe into a true-blue turn-based RPG! While this game may not be for everyone, it’s something to check out for both fans of the series and RPG fans alike.

 

Dark Souls II

  • Developer: From Software
  • Publisher: Namco Bandai
  • Release Date: 3/11/14
  • Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Masochists rejoice! The sequel to the brutal, yet remarkably fun and addictive, Dark Souls will soon be unleashed. From Software has released statements saying they hope to make the series more accessible to newcomers than previous entries in hopes to expand it. But they also made sure to point out that existing fans can expect Dark Souls II to be every but as soul-crushing as it’s predecessor. Other than that, very little else is known about the game. We’ll be going in blind with nobody to guide us and not knowing what to expect (aka what will kill us). And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD

  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Released Date: 3/18/14
  • Platform(s): PS3, Vita

For those that may have missed it, Square will be releasing a remastered version of one of the most popular games they’ve ever released: Final Fantasy X. Oh, and Final Fantasy X-2 will be included… yeah. Anyway, the return of this classic RPG is sure to tickle nostalgic fanboys and perhaps even welcome an entire new generation into the wonderful world of RPG’s.

 

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

  • Developer: Blizzard
  • Publisher: Blizzard
  • Release Date: 3/25/14
  • Platform(s): PC

It wouldn’t be a Blizzard game without at least one expansion pack would it? Reaper of Souls plans to reinvigorate Diablo III by adding a new Artisan, a new class (Crusader), and a new large new act featuring a runaway archangel. Not much else to be said here. It’s a Blizzard expansion pack and is bound to be superior to the typical DLC we get these days.

 

The Elder Scrolls Online

  • Developer: Zenimax Online
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • Release Date: 4/4/14, June 2014
  • Platform(s): PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4

The announcement of an Elder Scrolls MMO last year was surprisingly lackluster. After all, Bethesda’s wildly successful open-world RPG series seems tailor-made for the massively multiplayer online realm. As release draws closer, gamers seem to be growing more optimistic.

More game footage and information has surfaced and it continues to look better and better, and is undeniably Elder Scrolls. You will be able to create a character of any of the universe’s signature racers such as Nords or Argonians, and will eventually be able to explore all of Tamriel. Now that it appears we can take comfort in the gameplay and lore holding up, gamers seemed to be tantalized by the prospect of returning to a universe many of them have already sunk countless hours into.

 

Child of Light

  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Platform(s): PC, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4

Ubisoft, best known for big-budget action and shooter titles, surprised a lot of us when they announced a small yet marvelous looking RPG at GDC Europe last year. Child of Light is a stylish turn-based RPG chockfull of platforming that appears to be an epic showpiece for Ubisoft’s fancy new game engine, UbiArt Framework.

We know that you will play as a young girl named, Aurora, accompanied by her friend, Igniculus, a mysterious firefly who appears to play the “Navi” role. Aurora is on a quest to restore light to the gorgeous and artistically depicted world by bringing back the sun, moon, and stars. Child of Light looks like one of those small project titles that could end up being a classic in the mold of games like Bastion and Braid. RPG fans best be keeping an eye out for more information as it’s made available.

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Deep Down

  • Developer: Capcom, SCE Japan
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Platform(s): PS4

Deep Down is a free to play action-RPG that appears similar to games like Dark Souls (probably minus the difficulty) in the gameplay department. Set in the year 2094, players will discover magical artifacts which transport them to fantasy worlds where they engage in action-packed, dungeon-crawling adventure. Not much else is known about the including any details regarding it’s inevitable micro-transaction model. But we do know it is a big project looking to please hardcore RPG fans. Keep an eye out for more information as it’s made available.

 

Pillars of Eternity

  • Developer: Obsidian
  • Publisher: Obsidian
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Platform(s): PC, Mac

Remember the isometric D&D inspired RPG’s that were huge in the late 80’s through the early 00’s? If you do, Pillars of Eternity may be the culmination of an old pipe-dream of yours. This project was born of Kickstarter and is a true throwback to games like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. You will design a player character and explore an original world recruiting allies. While the underlying gameplay mechanics won’t exactly be D&D, it’s impossible to ignore the homage. The game will also feature stop and pause tactical combat that sounds to me a lot like Dragon Age: Origins. For those of us that may have missed the golden age of isometric RPG’s, or have found memories of such titles, Pillars of Eternity could be the game you’ve been waiting for.

 

Tales of Xillia 2

  • Developer: Namco Bandai
  • Publisher: Namco Bandai
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Platform(s): PS3

At least, it seems we can rest assured that Namco will be bringing it’s cult favorite “Tales Of” series to the west on a regular basis. Obviously, this is the sequel to last year’s surprisingly well received “Tales of Xillia”. It will continue the story with a new cast of characters and appearances by old favorite. Expect another great story with a wonderfully cheesy yet irresistible cast and of course the series’ famous battle system. Yet another game to remind us that our PS3’s are still worth keeping around.

 

X

  • Developer: Monolith Soft
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Platform(s): Wii U

With all the negative press surrounding Nintendo these days it’s easy to forget that they have some incredible looking games on the Horizon. One of those is the sequel/possible-sequel to the Wii classic, Xenoblade, simply dubbed, X. Light it’s predeccessor, X is a massive open-world RPG based around scale and exploration. There will be an emphasis on the use of giant mechs which can be used for exploration and battle. We haven’t seen much else since the game’s true reveal at E3 last year. But I think we already know enough (at least I do) to be sold on it.

 

Persona 5

  • Developer: Atlus
  • Publisher: Atlus/Sega
  • Release Date: 2014 (in Japan)
  • Platform(s): PS3

After years of hints and leaks, the next main entry in the cult favorite JRPG series, Persona, has finally been revealed and it’ll be out within the next year or so. The developers have been playing coy by revealing almost nothing about the gameplay, story, and characters. They have however been talking a lot about the overarching theme of the game which is the shackles of modern society; which is every bit as mysterious, philosophical, and badass as we could expect from an Atlus game. Expect to enjoy another dark and incredible story with a brilliant cast of relatable characters and of course the brutal, yet fun and strategic turn-based battles we’ve come to love. It’s unclear whether we’ll be seeing it in the West in 2014, but last year’s near simultaneous worldwide release of Shin Megami Tensei IV has us optimistic.

 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

  • Developer: CD Projekt Red
  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC

One of the single most hyped games period on the horizon, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, looks to be one of the first true “next-gen” experiences. Like in previous installments, it promises an epic story starring series protagonist, Geralt, set in a massive and jaw-droppingly gorgeous world. I can’t say enough about the visuals. This game looks absolutely mindblowing and may very well be the best looking video game ever at the time of release. But The Witcher is so much more than a pretty face. It will feature strategic and dynamic combat and a massive world with an almost endless amount of things to do. It will also have 36 very different endings and opportunities to impact the world and story.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looks like a potential classic of the RPG genre. It’s certainly the biggest and most hyped one in quite sometime. We still don’t know exactly when we’re going to get our hands on it so in the meantime we can just go watch the trailers again… and again… and drool… and cry.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition

  • Developer: Bioware
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC

One could make a very strong argument that there isn’t a bigger name in the RPG genre than, Bioware. The studio that brought us Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and more will be releasing their next big project in the ladder half of this year. And it looks to be the Dragon Age game we’ve all been waiting for. Bioware promises that they listened to the feedback and will combine the best of the past two Dragon Age games into one epic title. It will feature the faster more actiony gameplay seen in Dragon Age II but less button-mashy and more tactical gameplay like the original game. Also promised is extensive player choice and consequence with your party members, allies, factions, armies, commanders, cities, everything. Yes you play the, Inquisitor, a key figure in a massive brewing war in Fereldan.

Bioware is upping the ante in every regard for this title. By the time of release it will have been in development for over three years compared to the roughly one year of Dragon Age II. This provides comfort that it won’t be the lazy rush-job the second one was. If Dragon Age: Inquisition lives up to it’s potential, it could very well be an all-time classic and forgive Bioware for all of their past sins (I mean if you’re still salty about Mass Effect 3, The Old Republic, etc.).

Want to know something crazy? I left a fair few games off of this list, like the Fire Emblem/Shin Megami Tensei crossover coming to the Wii U at some point. This list also doesn’t including the upcoming RPG hybrids like Destiny and such. There are also rumors of major RPG titles like Fallout 4 and an unnamed big-budget JRPG said to be in development at Sony.

RPG’s are coming folks. As illustrated in this preview, they’re coming in both quality and quantity. No matter your gaming taste, there seems to be an RPG on the way for everyone. With all of the great looking titles on the horizon and the inevitable announcements of more, it’s possible we could be entering a new golden age for the genre. As a fan, I’m absolutely stoke for the rest of this year and beyond. I sincerely hope there are some big hits this year and the momentum carries throughout the generation.

What are some RPG’s you’re looking forward to? Please, join the discussion in the comments and keep checking JumpToGamer for updates on all of these titles as they become available!