Looking ahead to 2015 – Thirty-three RPGs

Here’s a glance ahead at a few of 2015’s RPGs.

This is just a sample of what is expected to come out in the next year based on information publicly available from developers and publishers at the time of this article. Most were simply marked as “TBA” (to be announced) for the year. As we all know, unfortunately, solid dates and estimates can be like moving targets so a lot of these are be subject to change (as in the case of Witcher 3) at the last minute.

But just looking over what we can expect, RPGs are slated to make another big splash, especially JRPGs in general spread out across handhelds and consoles. There’s also a very healthy CRPG segment, as usual, not counting the vast ocean of indies that I probably haven’t heard of yet. If there’s a favorite RPG that you’re interested in letting everyone know about that isn’t in this sample, be sure to post it in the comments!

So without further ado, let’s take a look at where hundreds of hours of questing, looting, and grinding will be spent by would-be adventurers with a few final thoughts at the end. All dates/estimates, unless otherwise noted, are for North America.

Armello – League of Geeks (Android, iOS, Linux, Windows)
Homepage
March, 2015

armello_1
What is it?
Anthropomorphic heroes battle across a digital board-game to determine who will topple the mad king of Armello and become the next king or queen. It boasts feeling like a board game, employs card mechanics, and procedural generation to create a new game every time and provide depth to your strategy – and that of your multiplayer rivals.


Atelier Shallie Alchemists of the Dusk Sea – Gust (PS3)
Homepage
March 10, 2015

ateliershallie_1
What is it?
The Western release of this RPG and the finale of the Dusk series will introduce players to the stories of two girls, one wishing to save her homeland and the other in search of her dreams. Picking one or the other will start the game off from their perspective, but the two eventually come together in the main story which takes place in the Dusk world which is slowly ending. In addition to starting the game as one of two main characters, it will feature huge world maps, more synthesis, battles that rely on linking up with partners, and even “life tasks” for characters to perform along the way.


The Awakened Fate Ultimatum – Nippon Ichi Software, Inc. (PS3)
Homepage
March 17, 2015

awakenedfate_1

What is it?
Localized sequel to The Guided Fate Paradox which was Japan-only, this Western release sees a young high school student nearly killed in an attack by devils on Earth. However, he is rescued by an angel and literally becomes God when he is found to be compatible with a special crystal that has given him his powers. Now he must use his new powers, tapping into those of both angel and demon, in order to stop the devils and their forces. He will also be asked to make “heartwrenching” choices that will have consequences for how his own story may turn out.


Bloodborne – From Software (PS4)
Playstation Link
March 24, 2015

bloodborne_1

What is it?
The makers of Demon’s and Dark Souls have created a new adventure set within the “ancient city of Yharnam” as a plague descends on the inhabitants. It’s up to you to discover its secrets in this action RPG riddled with gloomy grit and promising brutal horrors waiting in the dark for the foolish. From the footage I’ve seen, it looks like a faster, more actiony version of the Souls series which still looks like a lot of fun. Especially with co-op in the randomly generated dungeons.


Criminal Girls Invite Only – Nippon Ichi Software Inc. (PS Vita)
Homepage
February 3, 2015

criminalgirlsinviteonly_1

What is it?
This is the first time a Criminal Girls game has made it to the West. In this one, the story goes that seven girls are gathered in the Hell Spire, criminal delinquents that have been chosen for a special “Reformation Program”. As the Program Instructor, it will be up to you to guide them to the top of the spire to find redemption and a chance as returning to life on Earth. The battle system relies on what the girls actually propose to the player, not what the player directly chooses to do, and learning more about them to keep them motivated is key to surviving the challenges ahead.


Darkest Dungeon – Red Hook Studio (Linux, OS X, Windows)
Homepage
TBA 2015

darkestdungeon_1

What is it?
Successfully Kickstarted “hard-core”, turn based, dungeon crawler featuring a four member party led by the player with each member subject to the game’s “affliction system”. How you deal with a drunken man-at-arms, the sanity wrecking rants of your bard, the plague doctor’s unnerving treatments, or your highwayman’s fear of corpses is up to you but add an interesting layer asking you to manage not only the party’s inventory of loot but their mental states as well. After all, as the game designers point out, “your heroes are human”.


Dead Island 2 – Yager Development (PS4, Windows, XBO)
Homepage
April 2015

deadisland2_1

What is it?
The sequel to Dead Island takes players to California, now crawling with zombies featuring all of the multiplayer co-op, crafting, vehicles, leveling, skills, and loot that infested the first game. While not a lot has been revealed so far aside from a trailer and educated guesses, it sounds like as if it’s going to be a bigger and more advanced Dead Island which isn’t a bad thing. I just hope they managed to straighten out their netcode this time around.


Disgaea 5 – Nippon Ichi Software (PS4)
Homepage (Japan)
March 26, 2015 (Japan)

disgaea5_1

What is it?
The fifth chapter is a Japan-only release so far, but there’s always hope that it will find its way West as the other chapters have. This time around, the isometric, tactical RPG will take the player from world to world in an effort to unite Overlords together to fight against the unyielding power of Void Dark and his army of The Lost.


Earthlock: Festival of Magic – Snowcastle Games (Linux, OS X, PS4, Wii U, Windows, XBO)
Homepage
July, 2015

earthlock_1

What is it?
Successfully Kickstarted, this is a turn-based RPG taking place on a world that has stopped spinning leaving one half of the world in eternal sunlight and the other in darkness. The player will lead a party of adventurers in a quest involving wacky weapons, ancient secrets, harvesting magic on a farm, combat combos, and crafting in a vast adventure. Curiously, the game offers a package deal that includes access to two additional ‘volumes’ following the finished game before it has even been finished.


Elysian Shadows – GyroVorbis (Android, Dreamcast, iOS, Linux, OS X, Ouya, Windows)
Homepage
Winter 2015

elysianshadows_1

What is it?
Another successful Kickstarter RPG title that will also appear on the Dreamcast, GyroVorbis’ title appears out of nowhere as a love letter to the 16-bit console RPGs of the 90s but with more modern touches such as dynamic audio, shadowing techniques, day and night mechanics, and even fluid dynamics. Story-wise, the world is “caught in constant conflict between magic and technology” until a chance discovery in an ancient ruin prompts a mystery that players will piece together.


Etrian Mystery Dungeon – Spike Chunsoft (Nintendo 3DS)
Homepage
March 10, 2015

etrianmysterydungeon_1

What is it?
It’s a crossover between Atlus’ Etrian Odyssey and Chunsoft’s Mystery Dungeon series featuring turn-based combat in a roguelike setting. Classes from Etrian Odyssey will be in the game as a part of four-member parties in a top-down view of their explorations. With the village of Aslarga as a hub for these stalwart adventurers, plenty of loot packed into a seemingly endless, dungeon promise hours of grinding, loot, and questing.


Fable Legends – Lionhead Studios (XBO)
Homepage
TBA 2015

fablelegends_1

What is it?
The newest chapter in the Fable saga invites four players to play together (or one solo aided by three AI companions) as four heroes and quest for goodness across Albion. Players will also get a chance to act as the Villain, an evil mastermind who can set traps, send assassins, and generally make life finite for players or the AI in keeping them from doing too much good in the world.


Final Fantasy Type-0 – Square Enix (PS4, XBO)
Homepage
March 17, 2015

finalfantasytype0_1

What is it?
The HD port of the Japan-only title that was released on the PSP in 2011. Even though Final Fantasy XV’s release date is still up in the air, many players outside of Japan are looking forward to the game as just as huge of a release. Featuring a darker story of war and struggle than is typically found in a Final Fantasy title (though who can forget what Kefka did in FF6), Type-0 is set against a backdrop of invasion sweeping students at a military academy into its deadly embrace. A demo for FFXV is also offered to all pre-orders to sweeten the deal.


Hyper Light Drifter – Heart Machine (Linux, OS X, Ouya, PS Vita, PS 4, Windows)
Homepage
TBA 2015

hyperlightdrifter_1

What is it?
Successfully Kickstarted, this action RPG is a loving homage to the 16-bit era with pixel art, adventure inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past and Diablo, and a story that will take players across a vast land filled with lost technology and mysteries to solve in a quest to discover a cure for their illness. The game had a huge response on Kickstarter and the release has been pushed partly because of all of the added milestones as a result.


Hyperdevotion Noire Goddess Black Heart – Idea Factory (PS Vita)
Homepage
February 24, 2015

hyperdevotion_1

What is it?
The Western release of a tactical RPG iteration based on the Neptunia universe but takes place in the world of Gamarket instead of Gamindustri. Four nations control this world, each led by one of the CPUs, until their powers are suddenly cut off. In the ensuing chaos, it’s up the the player to lead them into unifying Gamarket through its tactical battle system.


Hyperdimension Neptunia RE;Birth 2: Sisters Generation – Idea Factory/Compile Heart/Felistella (Vita)

Homepage
January 27, 2015

hyperdimension_1

What is it?
PS Vita remake of Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 for the PS3. It was initially released for Japan and will arrive in January for Western audiences. Aside from being a simple port, the remake features reworked graphics, voice acting, and uses the battle system from Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory.


Kingdom Come: Deliverance – Warhorse Studios (Linux, OS X, Windows)
Homepage
Q4 2015

kcdeliverance_1

What is it?
Successfully Kickstarted, this title touts itself as a “realistic open world first person medieval RPG” set in 15th century Europe. The new king’s brother seeks usurps the throne by kidnapping him and invading with his own army. Players will be asked to make their own choices, speak with NPCs, upgrade stats, and create their own story depending on what they choose to be. Will you be a brave knight? A bard? A sneaky rogue? Will you craft weapons as a blacksmith, hunt foes for glory, or lie your way into everyone’s confidence? Can’t wait to see more of this one.


The Legend of Legacy – Furyu (Nintendo 3DS)
Homepage
January 22, 2015

legendoflegacy_1

What is it?
JRPG set on the mysterious continent of Avalon, a land that had risen up from the oceans and is said to be the legendary home of the gods and all of their works including the “Star Graal”. Adventurers travel there in the hopes of uncovering its secrets, embarking from the continent’s only town built by the man who discovered Avalon in the first place. It’s slated for a Japan-only release thus far, but there are hopes that Xseed will eventually pick this up for release in the West.


Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – Capcom (Nintendo 3DS)
Homepage
March 31, 2015

monsterhunter4ult_1

What is it?
Released in Japan as Monster Hunter 4G, the wildly popular iteration is coming over to the West as Monster Hunter Ultimate featuring a host of new features including multiplayer for up to four players. Other enhancements include viral attacks from monsters, being able to leap from walls and hop onto a monster to attack it, two new weapon classes, and a ton of the usual staples from huge areas with plenty of beasts to track down to old favorites making a reappearance.


Omega Quintet – Galapagos RPG (PS4)
Homepage
April 28, 2015

omegaquintet_1

What is it?
Released in Japan, this title makes it over to the West bringing a group of Japanese idols teaming up together to literally save the world. As Takt, the manager of the “Verse Maidens”, it’s up to you to lead them in turn-based battles against a strange phenomenon known as the “Beep” that is degrading the world and taking humanity with it. Depending on whether you have enough action points, you can queue up multiple actions per turn and pummel foes with a variety of abilities.


Persona 5 – Atlus (PS3, PS4)
Homepage
TBA 2015

Persona5_1a

What is it?
Aside from a new trailer, not much else has been revealed about the long awaited next chapter to the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series. It will still feature high school students and the series’ traditional system of being able to blend together captured monsters to create new ones that can be summoned in battle. In-game social connections are probably also going to be a part of the experience, but aside from what we know from the previous games, Atlus has been very quiet about the details.


Pillars of Eternity – Obsidian Entertainment (Linux, OS X, Windows)
Homepage
TBA 2015

PillarsofEternity_1a

What is it?
(Full disclosure: I’m a backer)
Successfully Kickstarted as Project Eternity in 2012, Obsidian’s RPG promises to hearken back to old-school classics such as BioWare’s Baldur’s Gate and Black Isle’s Planescape: Torment. Obsidian’s house is packed with veteran designers with years of experience and the game will be based on an original world steeped in classic, party driven swords and sorcery combat married to a twisting story promising plenty of choices and consequences. Timely updates and a Backer Beta (available to those that donated $110 and above) have kept anticipation for the finished game in full gear as it closes in on a tentative release sometime in 2015.


Project Phoenix – Creative Intelligence Arts (Android, iOS, Linux, OS X, PS Vita, PS4, Windows)
Homepage
March, 2015

projectphoenix_1

What is it?
(Full disclosure: I’m a backer)
A tactical RPG that boasts being Kickstarter’s “FIRST Japan-based video game project” bringing together a collection of talented veterans whose experience spans titles from Valkyria Chronicles to Final Fantasy including composer Nobuo Uematsu. This is a fantasy-themed, squad-based RPG set in the land of Azuregard as you try to discover the truth behind an amnesiac angel’s appearance.


Rainbow Skies – Sidequest Studios (PS3, PS Vita)
Homepage
TBA 2015

RainbowSkies_1a

What is it?
Pushed into 2015, this is a downloadable RPG following in Rainbow Moon’s footsteps in a new world. In this adventure, players can use combos to beat down monsters in turn-based battles, go on quests for loot, and even catch monsters, train them up, and add them to your party. The game will also support cross saves between the PS3 and the Vita.


Rampage Knights – Rake in Grass (OS X, Windows)
Homepage
Early 2015

rampageknights_1

What is it?
A beat ’em up inspired by games like Golden Axe, Rampage Knights takes place in randomly generated setting that starts off in a cursed forest that they are trapped in thanks to evil magic. Picking from a selection of classes with more unlocked along the way, the player can fight their way to freedom with spell or sword with an online friend. A tech demo is even available to get a feel for the direction of this dungeon crawler.


Shadow Realms – BioWare Austin (Windows)
Homepage
TBA 2015

shadowrealms_concept_02

What is it?
An online action RPG featuring four player co-op, six classes to play as, and episodic content. A player can also be the Shadowlord and actively try to destroy the other players. The setting is the hidden world of Embra whose Radiant Empires are under siege from an enemy known only as the Shadow Legions. Players are special, magic-sensitives from Earth recruited into this secret war to try and turn the tide before both worlds are lost forever.


Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker – Atlus (Nintendo 3DS)
Homepage
April 7, 2015

shinmegamitensei_1

What is it?
It picks up right after Devil Survivor 2 and apparently packs double the story in with enhanced gameplay, a new character, but also a choice to skip the new stuff and just play the original storyline as it released on the DS in 2011 all over again. As for the setting, it takes place in Japan where demons exist, but with the help of a mysterious website that can predict someone’s death, you may be able to turn the tide. Fuse together demons you capture, battle in turn-based combat, and save the world!


Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues – Portalarium (Linux, OS X, Windows)
Homepage
TBA 2015

shroudoftheavatar_1

What is it?
From the creator of Ultima, Richard Garriott’s successfully crowdfunded Shroud of the Avatar seems to be channeling all of his experience into a vast, CRPG promising an extensive, 40-hour single-player experience and an even bigger multiplayer environment with finite housing, player driven economies and cities, and the potential to quest through the adventure with everyone available, with friends, or solo. A classless system allows players to craft their character in any direction they choose along 20 different skill trees while keeping to the ethical quandries and consequences their actions may have on the quests they take part in. If you want to see how it’s turning out, it’s also in Early Access on Steam.


Stash, No Loot Left Behind – Frogdice (Windows)
Homepage
March, 2015

stash_1
What is it?

An online, multiplayer, turn and grid based RPG inspired by Dungeons & Dragons including SSI’s “Gold Box” adaptations of AD&D to Planescape: Torment. Players will have housing, be able to craft items, and participate in the story unfolding in that world and affect the world through their actions. Its ambitious plan also promises to have plenty of monsters, mounts, and of course, chests overflowing with loot.


Tales of Zestiria – Bandai Namco Studios (PS3)
Homepage (Japan)
Worldwide release expected in Q2 2015

talesofzestiria_1

What is it?
The fifteenth “core” title in the long running Tales series and celebrating its 20th Anniversary. As with the previous games, the battle system is action focused but also allowing the player to pause the action and give commands to other party members. Like the previous games, players can likely expect a large cast of characters to join up, an epic and lengthy quest, and plenty of skits between party members. Dragons will also play an important role within the story.


Torment: Tides of Numenera – inXile Entertainment (Linux, OS X, Windows)
Homepage
TBA 2015

tormentnumenara_1

What is it?
(Full disclosure: I’m a backer)
Kickstarted in 2013, Torment is based in Numenera, a world created by longtime RPG tabletop veteran, Monte Cook, whose project was another successful Kickstarter. The game boasts itself as following the “thematic legacy of Planescape: Torment” promising both philosophical and ethical tests of the player’s choices in a post-apocalyptic Ninth World where the ruins of advanced civilizations that have come and gone on Earth become the dungeons of the age with their technological miracles providing the magic. It is where someone has found a way to cheat death, skipping time by using other bodies, only in your case as one of these castoffs, you want to find out why.


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – CD Projekt RED (PS4, Windows, XBO)
Homepage
May 19, 2015

TheWitcher3_1a

What is it?
The climactic, open-world conclusion to Geralt’s story by CD Projekt RED. The release date was pushed again by three more month to provide a bit more poilsh to the game that boasts a huge world “20% larger than Skyrim” and crammed with side-quests, beasts for the Witcher to hunt, a slew of skills and alchemical tricks to learn, and all set within the gritty world author Andrzej Sapkowski had set into motion with his books. The developers have also promised 16 free DLC packages, and given the large amount of content that they provided in post-release support for the first two games, it’s probably safe to say these won’t be tiny cosmetic changes to Geralt’s new beard.


Xenoblade Chronicles X – Monolith Soft (Wii U)
Nintendo’s E3 page for the game
TBA 2015

xenobladechroniclesx_1

What is it?
Pushing into sometime in 2015 as a tentative release window and despite having mostly the same name, like Square Enix’s Final Fantasy, it isn’t a direct sequel to any previous title though looks like it will be spiritual successor to many of the same themes as part of the Xeno series of titles that Monolith Soft is known for. Thanks to more footage shown at E3 2014, the plot centers around the crash landing of a human colonization ship fleeing an Earth devastated when two alien races meet in orbit and engage in a brutal battle near the planet. Although they’ve found a new home, the alien race that had forced them from their homeworld is still out there…and hasn’t stopped looking.


Some final thoughts:

Out of this sample set, PCs (unsurprisingly) have the lion’s share with fourteen titles spread across the year. The Xbox One has five and the PS4 has ten.

However, between the two consoles, four are shared titles (The Witcher 3, Final Fantasy Type-0, Earthlock: Festival of Magic, Dead Island 2) which still leaves Sony extending its lead over Microsoft’s console in this genre once again. It’s just something they’ve been very good at courting as evidenced by how prolific such titles were were within the last three generations of the platform and that doesn’t seem to be changing. At least right now.

The Wii U has only two, but the Nintendo 3DS has four which is somewhat expected — Nintendo’s handhelds have often had a beastly number of RPGs to pick through in recent years compared to their console big brothers.

This is also the year that people wondering if they should move up from their Xbox 360s and PS3s to make their move. The Xbox 360 has none from this sample set, but the PS3 actually has a few that — at least for now — are exclusive to it such as Atelier Shallie Alchemists of the Dusk Sea and Tales of Zestiria. That could change moving forward like anything else on this list, but if you want to hang onto your PS3 for the RPGs, you won’t be completely left out.

A few were also left off of the list mainly because of how ambiguous they were with release dates.

Titan Quest’s spiritual successor, Grim Dawn, is one example. It seemed they were gearing up for a formal release in 2014, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. I could guess 2015 as the year it will move out of Early Access on Steam and become a “finished” product, but then again, I thought the same thing in 2013. So in that instance, I’ll just stick by the old id Software adage of “when it’s done” as with a few others. From the feedback I’ve read, it seems that Grim Dawn’s turning out to be something special, too. I picked it up from the Steam sale and I’m really enjoying it so far.

And that’s 2015 in a very tentative RPG nutshell. Until next time, more loot and adventure are calling me back out. Happy adventuring and don’t let the shopkeeper in the next village bug you about being too frugal — he’s just grumpy.

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