February 5, 2017 – 2016 was a year jam-packed with many great RPGs, ranging from excellent new indie titles to long awaited returns. While our list for 2017 might be shorter, it's definitely more of a case of quality over quantity. While a few of these games might already be out, that doesn't dampen our enthusiasm for them. Some of these games we've been waiting on for years, and others have just snuck up on us out of nowhere and surprised us. We can't wait to get our hands on these beauties, and to help you decide your gaming plans for 2017, we've compiled a list of 40 of our most anticipated releases for this year. We're not sure our wallets can handle this many quality releases a year anymore...
That being said, here's part one of RPGFan's biggest releases of 2017. Keep your eyes open for the remaining 20 tomorrow.
If you can't wait until then, check out the forums and let us know what you think of our list, and tell us what you're most excited for in 2017!
The Atelier series brings a smile to many an RPGFan face. Its cutesy exterior, addictive alchemy and lovely music keeps us coming back for more. Atelier Firis is already out in Japan, and we can't wait to get our hands on the second installment of the Mysterious trilogy, and the series' second foray on the PS4. There's hardly an RPG series as addictive as Gust's signature IP, and while they've branched out into other genres, it seems their Atelier games are benefiting from the experience. In a year jam-packed with releases, Atelier Firis might be the relaxing game you need to keep you grounded among the chaos.
Sharing its namesake with an infamous Roman emperor, FurYu's stylish Vita RPG Caligula could be mistaken for a Persona clone. After all, this turn-based RPG takes place in an askew high school setting. In this case, the setting is a virtual world called Mobius where inhabitants escape their lousy real lives and enjoy idealized high school experiences. The story also takes a cue from The Matrix in that the protagonist is aware of being in a virtual world and forms the "Going Home" club with other like-minded individuals. However, Caligula earns credibility because its story is penned by Tadashi Satomi — the scenario writer who worked on the PlayStation Persona games: Revelations: Persona, Persona 2: Innocent Sin, and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. With the promise of thematic elements concerning taboos and desiring the prohibited, along with some legitimate Persona pedigree, Caligula has us intrigued.
"Wherefore art thou, CHASM?", we howl into the void. Hopefully we'll get a response soon, as this much-delayed roguelite is hotly anticipated. CHASM's side-scrolling dungeon crawl looks something like a cross between Ys III and Spelunky, with all the attractive pixel art and challenging platforming such a pairing would entail. We can't wait to gaze into CHASM's abyss.
Cosmic Star Heroine has experienced more delays than a weekend at LAX, but its old school presentation and diverse cast of characters spanning a variety of sci-fi and JRPG concepts still look cool in 2017. The space espionage RPG from the makers of Cthulhu Saves the World also boasts a soundtrack from HyperDuck Soundworks and a vocal track from Laura Shigihara, ensuring that fans of indie game music will take notice. Cosmic Star Heroine's exact release date is unknown, but fans' enthusiasm for it still burns bright.
Secret of Mana meets robots; that's the best way to describe Cross Code, and even that is enough to get people excited. Indie callbacks to classic games are becoming more and more frequent, and so many of them are hitting the right marks with nostalgia, beautiful graphics, and crisp gameplay. Cross Code looks like no exception. It's still in Early Access at the moment, but followers of the game have already been raving about what they've played and seen. With the full game due out early this year, we'll be waiting with baited breath for this one. The resurgence of the pixel action RPG might be on the horizon.
The Danganronpa saga of high school murder has spanned two visual novel games, one spinoff game, one virtual reality game, and multiple anime and manga series. But the first Danganronpa story is over; Killing Harmony stars a new group of teenagers locked up in a strange place, with killing each other as the only means of escape. Sixteen students in a new setting, bluffing and deception included as new trial mechanics, and (maybe?) a new Monokuma mastermind are all in store for international Danganronpa fans later this year. Try and avoid spoilers, folks.
2016's Digimon World: Cyber Sleuth was a surprise hit among the RPGFan team, earning a very positive review and a spot on multiple editors' personal top five lists at the end of the year, and we've got high hopes for 2017's Next Order to follow suit. This game will see players move into the Digital World rather than the real locations we saw in Cyber Sleuth, and features increased emphasis on building relationships with your Digimon companions. Let's hope it stands up to the high bar set by its predecessor!
Remember when we in the West were starved of frequent Dragon Quest releases? That seems like a thing of the past now. And what better way to celebrate the Dragon Quest resurgence than with an excellent re-release of one of the greatest entries in the series? Dragon Quest VIII was excellent on PS2, but here Square Enix and Nintendo are bringing this beloved game to the 3DS, meaning you can battle slimes on the go! Dragon Quest VIII was many people's first experience with a DQ title, and fans across the world fell in love with the world, characters and story. This is classic JRPG at its best. There's definitely more than enough to tempt old fans to replay this game, what with the new dungeons and new characters. Oh, and this game introduced Yangus to the world. If that isn't enough to make you buy this game, then cor blimey, you must be mad.
Despite Dragon Quest IX's critical success, fans of the series have clamored for a return to what many believe to be the franchise's banner bearer: DQVIII. Although we haven't seen much of what DQXI has to offer, what we have seen gives us confidence in the return to the bold, colorful, and mesmerizing siren's call of what we've come to expect from Yuji Horii, Akira Toriyama, and Koichi Sugiyama. For those out there who find the DQ series better suited to the top-down sprite style, it's got that, as well. We know what we're getting with Dragon Quest, which is part of the charm, but it's always been so much more than the content — the quality has always been a guarantee.
Games like Dragon Quest Heroes II aren't often in our coverage, but we really enjoyed the first game in the series when we played it in late 2015. Tweaks on the classic Warriors formula like finding monster medals and using them to defend passageways for you make smashing hundreds of enemies at once a more strategic affair than it could have been, and it was fun to play with characters we knew and loved from previous Dragon Quest games. Dragon Quest Heroes II looks like it'll be fairly similar to its predecessor, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Few long-running RPG series have been as consistently strong as Etrian Odyssey, so a Western release of its latest entry can't come soon enough. The latest iteration of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth has the usual hallmarks of lush greenery, diabolical dungeons and touchscreen cartography, while adding multiple races, new classes, and a revamped approach to appearance customization. Although Atlus hasn't actually announced a localization yet, odds are that we'll be seeing this one sooner or later.
Are we the only ones who perk up when we read the word "zodiac"? We may not be taking an honest-to-goodness trip back to Ivalice any time soon — although Yasumi Matsuno is helping to bring Ivalice to Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood — but at least we can revisit a staple in the universe: Final Fantasy XII. Although FFXII was met with mixed reception like many of SE's latest entries in the behemoth of a series, FFXII remains one of our personal favorites. Rest assured, we acknowledge its flaws, some of which The Zodiac Age addresses. Some of us aren't entirely thrilled about the kid gloves it's getting, but few of us can complain about the introduction of the High Speed Mode in this expansive world. Perhaps the most exciting inclusion is the job system. Take this opportunity to experience a revived entry in the series with one of the best game design choices: jobs!
It's been almost two years since Heavensward, and 6 major patches later, fans are frothing at the mouth for an even bigger update. Revealed at last October's Las Vegas FFXIV Fan Festival, Stormblood looks to push the MMO to its limits. We've already seen one brand new job in the Red Mage, but what other treats will FFXIV's next expansion have to offer? There are battles with Lakshmi and recurring superboss Omega Weapon, underwater areas, new outfits, the long-awaited introduction to the nation of Ala Mihgo, the inevitable expansion of end-game glamours. We only have small tidbits to go on, but with a June release, this will be one worth picking up as soon as possible. You've got a few months to catch up on content before the game goes live.
Freebird Games' To the Moon set the high water mark in independent games for its emotional narrative, humor, and musical score back in 2011. RPG fans have been eagerly awaiting a sequel for over five years now, with only small vignettes and teasers to tide us over. 2017, however, promises to reintroduce us to Doctors Rosalene and Watts as they embark on another job for the Sigmund company to fulfill another last wish with their memory altering technology. Along the way, we hope to learn more about the back story of the two doctors, especially the mysterious illness that seems to afflict Dr. Watts.
Telltale have proved a dab hand at adapting comic books, what with The Wolf Among Us and Batman. Now, Marvel's quirky space heroes are up for the episodic treatment, and there might not be set of misfits better suited to this style of game. Telltale have worked most successfully with gripping stories and light humor, and the Guardians of the Galaxy sound like the perfect fit. Details might be sparse right now, but we expect to be transported across the galaxy, fighting bad guys and laughing all the way. Just remember not steal Starlord's mix tape from him. You don't want to do that.
From Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night to Chasm and others, Metroidvania RPGs (games made in the Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night mold) have received a great deal of praise and attention in recent years. Heart Forth, Alicia is another such project, and one of the most beautiful of the bunch. Follow the journey of the young wizard Alicia as she struggles to return to her home and unravel the mysterious history of her people. The developer Alonso Martin promises combat and gameplay that lives up to the Metroidvania mantle and an intricate narrative, hidden easter eggs and secrets, and brain melting puzzles.
What's better than giant mechs and dinosaurs? Well, giant mecha dinosaurs of course. Horizon Zero Dawn is an action RPG from Guerilla Games, the studio best known for the Killzone series of first person shooters. Set in a surprisingly-lush post-apocalyptic world where giant mechanized dinosaurs terrorize a dwindling human population, the game follows the young huntress Aloy. Gameplay will involve hunting the robots to scavenge resources, exploring the open world, and interacting with various human tribes to complete side quests. Will Guerilla Games' first RPG be a winner? We'll find out when it comes out at the end of February.
If you missed the HD remastered Kingdom Hearts collections on the PS3, here's the handy bundle you've been waiting for. Since Kingdom Hearts III still seems so far away, this will be the ideal way to tide fans over until its potential release next year (hey, we can dream). The games have been polished up further to suit the PS4's high standards with smoother framerates, and if you haven't already heard the remastered soundtrack, then you're in for a treat. If you'd told us 15 years ago that a Square Enix and Disney collaboration would work, we'd have called you mad. And yet, in 2017, we're getting immensely excited to replay these gems on their third release.
Math has never been Kingdom Hearts' strong point, has it? 2.8 is yet another mid-quel remastering for the series, and another way to soften the blow for Kingdom Hearts III's lengthy development. This package comes with a newly remastered Dream Drop Distance, a CG movie that serves as a companion to the mobile game Kingdom Hearts χ, and a brand new entry in the form of 0.2 — A Fragmentary Passage, a followup to the acclaimed Birth by Sleep. This last part is certainly enough to perk up any Kingdom Hearts fan, marking the return of Aqua and bridging the gap to the eventual third release. Dream Drop Distance was a pretty great game already, but with the enhanced visuals and a brand new episode, it's hard to ignore this one.
The next adventure from Wadjet Eye collaborator Grundislav Games, Lamplight City is a supernatural detective procedural set in the grimy steampunk dystopia of New Bretagne, where the morals are as grey as the smog-filled sky. Private Eyes Miles and Bill slink through the steamy alleys to solve a variety of different cases in the hopes of getting a lead on Bill's killer. Oh, did we mention Bill's a ghost? Well, unlike Bill, Lamplight City demonstrates that the point-and-click genre is far from dead; it might just be better than ever.