When it comes to roleplaying video games, it often feels as though the golden days are behind us. The MMO and the MOBA have risen, and the single-player RPG has been consigned to memory.
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But when you start looking at all the incredible games coming out in the next couple years, you begin to realize that there are in fact quite a few great-looking RPGs in the works. Some single-player, some with multi-player elements, and even some pretty neat looking MMOs. Far too many for me to have heard of them all, though I’ve kept my eyes on a fair few.
Here’s the Big List of upcoming roleplaying games headed to consoles, PC, and handhelds over the next year or two.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance - Built with Crytek’s CryEngine technology, Kingdom Come is an open-world roleplaying game set in Medieval Europe. Unlike many of its peers, the game is focused on realism, and doesn’t come with anything magic, elvish, or otherwise fantastical.
Grim Dawn - After a successful Kickstarter project, the crew on Grim Dawn has given backers access to the game’s Alpha. I’ve played it, and it’s quite good, enormously difficult, and just as grim as you’d hope. The Diablo-esque hack-and-loot game promises to be a hellishly good time when it releases.
Persona 5 - I’ve only played a handful of games in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, including Persona 4 Golden on the Vita—and it’s still probably my favorite game on that system. So while we know next to nothing about the PS3 sequel, I’m more than a little excited, to say the least.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 2 - The original Van Helsing was a surprisingly good Diablo-style action-RPG, with fun combat and pretty great enemies. The sequel will hopefully expand on what worked about the first game, and make it even better.
The Witcher 3 - Geralt of Rivia’s final chapter, the third in CDP RED’s Witcher series is the fist to take an open-world approach to gameplay. The game itself promises upwards of 100 hours for all content, some three-dozen different possible endings (or end-states for the world at least) and an overhauled combat system.
Dark Souls II - Still perhaps my most-anticipated game of 2014, the sequel to FromSoftware’s magnificent Dark Souls is landing in March. From what little I’ve played the game stays very true to its predecessor, though we won’t really know for sure until we’ve had time to really sink ourselves into the dark world and brutal combat of the game.
Destiny - While it may not be an RPG in the strictest sense, Bungie’s “shared-world shooter” has many trappings of an RPG. The game looks like a lot of fun, either way, and is one of the games pushing multiplayer in a whole new direction, away from “massive” and toward something more intimate.
South Park: The Stick of Truth - Unless it’s delayed forever, someday we’ll get our hands on the first real South Park RPG. Written by the show’s creators and developed by the old-hands at Obsidian, this should be, if nothing else, the funniest RPG to hit shelves next year.
Pillars of Eternity - One of the most successful video game Kickstarters, Pillars of Eternity is Obsidian’s crack at the isometric, party-based RPG. Basically the next generation of Baldur’s Gate.
Wasteland 2 - The long-awaited sequel to the classic Wasteland game, Wasteland 2 is yet another massively successful Kickstarter project chugging its way toward release. Instead of dragons and fairies, the top-down party-based RPG sets players into the wasteland of a post-apocalyptic future.
Final Fantasy XV - I haven’t really been a big Final Fantasy player in years, only dipping my toes in the games here and there. Final Fantasy XV looks pretty terrific, though, and I may have to make my way back to the franchise when it launches on next-gen systems.
Kingdom Hearts 3 - The charming Disney/Square Enix franchise moves to next-gen with Kingdom Hearts 3. This will also be the first game in the series to make it to Microsoft systems, opening the door for an even wider audience (even if Xbox has never been the land of JRPGs.)
Child of Light - Possibly the coolest looking Ubisoft game still in development, Child of Light is a side-scrolling game about a flying girl with a magic sword. There’s more to the story, but I’m being brief. It also has turn-based combat and a simply gorgeous-looking art style.
Dragon Age: Inquisition - The third Dragon Age looks outstanding. Combat, graphics (using the Frostbite 3 engine), and just about everything else I’ve read or seen about the game points to a major departure from its lackluster predecessor. Whether it can captivate audiences quite like the wonderful Origins remains to be seen, but I’m hopeful.
Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns - The third game in the Final Fantasy XIII series, Lightning Returns serves as the conclusion to that particular storyline.
Bravely Default / Bravely Second - The handheld Final Fantasy spin-off has received enormously positive feedback overseas, and even though it hasn’t hit North America yet there’s already been a sequel, Bravely Second, announced. Great handheld RPGs (JRPG or otherwise) are a sure way to kill off the hours and distract us from more important things. Which is totally fine by me.
Lords of the Fallen - Developed by former Witcher 2 developers, Lords of the Fallen looks a lot like Dark Souls, only quite a lot more colorful than that game. Apparently powerful magic can make the game somewhat easier, so there’s a built in “easy mode” for magic-wielders which the more hardcore melee types out there can avoid by just saying no to magic.
Torment: Tides of Numenera - The spiritual successor to the cult-classic Planescape Torment, the Kickstarter-backed RPG uses Monte Cook’s new Numenera system and universe to tell its sprawling tale. Story is key here, if it’s to be anything like Planescape, and the team has brought in writers like fantasy novelist Patrick Rothfuss to help cobble it together.
Sui Generis - Another Kickstarter project, this time by a very small, unknown indie team, Sui Generis looks like a pretty fascinating top-down action-RPG. The game is built on a proprietary engine with a unique take on physics and surprisingly simple world generator. We’ll see if gameplay and story live up to the promise of the game’s basic building blocks.
CyberPunk 2077 - Another CDP RED entry, the next-gen futuristic RPG has few details just yet but is bound to be bloody incredible. A truly next-gen sci-fi single-player roleplaying game.
Drakengard 3 - Square Enix brings us the prequel to the Drakengard franchise, a tale of murder, betrayal and mystery that looks pretty great. Better still, Nier Composer Keichi Okabe is composing the score.
Freedom Wars - The PS Vita exclusive tells the story of a future, inhospitable world where humans are born and die imprisoned in “Panopticons” under constant, high-tech surveillance. It looks really cool, actually, but there’s still not a lot to go on.
Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues - From the creator of the old Ultima games, Richard Garriott, Avatar is a crowdfunded RPG that promises to bring back some of what made those games great. The game promises to bring real choice and consequence to each player’s adventure, and is being co-written by Dragonlance author Tracy Hickman.
X - We don’t know much about Monolith Soft’s “X” yet either, but it seems pretty obviously a part of the Xeno series, and quite likely a follow-up to the Wii RPG Xenoblade Chronicles. If so, the Wii U is going to look more attractive than ever in the coming months (or years) or whenever the game is supposed to release.
Deep Down - The PS4 action-RPG Deep Down looks like it could be really good or really not good depending on how it’s executed. The co-op dungeon crawler has some great looking magic and monsters, but I’m still making my mind up about the very Assassin’s Creed-like premise.
The Legend of Grimrock 2 - The original Legend of Grimrock was a fantastic old-school Eye of the Beholder style RPG. Lots of traps, puzzles, and monsters to steer your party of four through. I can only imagine the sequel will be twice as good!
Fable Legends - Well, Fable Legends is more of a pure combat game, but it looks quite fun and it’s part of the Fable franchise, so we’ll put it down here and let the chips fall where they may.
Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem - As far as I know, we know nothing at all about this game other than how incredibly awesome it will be in every way shape and form.
Wii U Zelda - People disagree over whether or not Zelda games are actually RPGs. I say they’re as much an RPG as any MMO out there, or any hack-and-slash action-RPG. And I’m quite hopeful that the first original HD Zelda will be amazing, when it finally, finally comes out.
The Elder Scrolls Online - I’m not going to include many MMOs on this list, if only because I’m not a fan of the rise of the genre to the detriment of the single-player game. Nonetheless, TESO could be a very good game, or it could be a very big mistake, and we’ll know soon enough. The Elder Scrolls have always been a solo experience. Can they make the transition to massively multiplayer? (Or, one might ask, ought they?)
Everquest Next - On the other side of the valley is the Everquest franchise, one of the earliest MMORPGs and certainly one of the longest-running. Everquest Next, with its fully destructible environments, parkour, and other neat innovations, looks like the type of MMO game-changer we haven’t really seen in years.
Wildstar - The quirky, sci-fi MMO also looks like it could be potentially a lot of fun. The developers have included features like double-jump and dashing, as well as areas with altered gravity, to flesh out the platforming elements, something missing in a lot of MMOs. The science-fiction elements should make it feel fresh given the number of fantasy MMOs out there as well.
So that’s the Big List of upcoming RPGs. I’d be willing to bet good money (or at least in-game currency) that I’ve missed something important, intriguing, or otherwise. Certainly there are too many Kickstarter projects to properly keep track of these days.
If I have missed or forgotten a game, shout it out in the comments or on social media and I’ll add it in an update.
What are your top picks?