Even more RPGs in 2019, Part III

Ready for more RPGs to look forward to? Let’s go!

Code Vein

Release date: 2019
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Studios

So the setting for this one is a mysterious, “not to distant future” where “the Great Collapse” that annihilated most of the population and destroyed civilization.

Mysterious structures called Thorns of Judgement have pierced through the ruins of this post-apocalyptic world while a stronghold called Vein defiantly stands against the Lost that infest what is left. Within Vein are the Revenants who were created to defend what was left of mankind.

The biological parasite used to create them brought them back from the dead and the ability to revive as long as their heart remains, but lose their memories in the process. They also develop a taste for blood, but in exchange, attain the power of “Gifts”, super-powered abilities in the form of Blood Veils, that they use against the Lost.

It wouldn’t be a demonic, post-apocalyptic mess without some fire.

In addition to creating their own character, they can also choose their partner from those in Vein who comes with a background story of their own, combining an arsenal of weapons with their abilities to survive the conflict ahead.

Looking at the footage and reading through impressions about it as seen from E3, it looks like it’s being cut from From Software’s Souls mold with unique twists to help it stand on its own. There’s not too much else to say only that Souls fans are certainly excited at the prospect of a title that scratches some of the same ground while embracing a distinctly “anime” style to give it a bit of flash.

Post-apoc world with super-powered vampires? Maybe I’ll run into D.

Operencia: The Stolen Sun

Release date: 2019
Platforms: PC
Developer: Zen Studios

RPG aficionados might not know who Zen Studios is, but if you love digital pinball games, you’ve probably seen their work with the immensely popular Pinball FX and Zen Pinball series. So doing an RPG, especially one which they hope will be their “Witcher” moment the way the first game was for CD Projekt, seems like an incredibly surprising and bold move, but it’s also not too unusual. For example, Guerilla Games is probably best known for their Killzone FPS series, but they’re also the same studio that put out the amazing ARPG, Horizon Zero Dawn, by taking the same gamble.

Zen Studios, based as it is in Budapest, Hungary, is literally at the heart of its source material as Operencia draws on Central European mythology to weave its high-fantasy world together. In this setting, the Sun King Napkiraly (based on Hungarian mythology) has been mysteriously abducted plunging Operencia into darkness. You must put together a party of adventurers who also take their influences from storied heroes such as Sebastian the Dragon Slayer (but who might probably not come with an OP sword) to brave the strange wonders of Operencia and save the king.

A strange room, lit up with wonder and mystery. And maybe a bit of loot?

Gameplay-wise, Operencia looks like it’s taking its influences from old-school blobbers like Westwood’s Eye of the Beholder for SSI, Interplay’s The Bard’s Tale, or more recently, Almost Human’s Legend of Grimrock games, leading players on a tile-based, hack ‘n slash fantasy adventure into myth and legend with a few puzzles thrown in for good measure.

On the right hand side, our party of heroes. On the left, a party of monsters. But to me, it’s a good excuse to feed on experience and loot. 

It sounds like a grand adventure in the making so I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I just have to remember that when an old man makes me the shepherd of my own flock to live up to my word and give one to the people that ask.

Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest

Release date: Spring 2019
Platforms: PC
Developer: Ctrl Alt Ninja

This one is from the makers of the Legend of Grimrock and in a change of pace from their work on grid-based dungeon crawlers, Druidstone is an isometric turn-based, tactical RPG.

This one takes place on a world of forests and fantasy, Elo Sphaera. The Archdruid of Menhir Forest has disappeared as it is up to their daughter, Aava, and her friends to find out what has happened before it is too late. To make things even stranger, one of her companions, Leonhard, is being impersonated by a murderous doppleganger on the loose. Along with Oiko the mage, “a dropout from the guild of Red Priests”, these three head off into the unknown.

This dungeon has seen better days, but it’s just the kind that beckons to a party of brave (or foolish) adventurers.

The RPG will have features from “western RPGs, JRPGs, and tactical boardgames”, bundling them in with puzzles to unlock powerful equipment, hand crafted missions, an ability system, and even a level editor for prospective dungeon masters to flex their imaginations with. It will even have a little procedural generation, but not to the extent seen in roguelikes or sandbox titles. Instead, according to the devs, it’s going to have a slew of pre-defined “rooms” but the layout of how they might be connected together in each area may vary adding a degree of the unknown to each play through.

Relic Hunters Legend

Release date: Q2 2019
Platforms: PC
Developer: Rogue Snail

As a fan of Relic Hunter Zero, Relic Hunters Legend is definitely something I’m looking forward to.

Relic Hunter Zero is a free-to-play action adventure with some RPG elements to it such as loot, “dungeons”, and a selection of characters with their own strengths and weaknesses as you battled your way to stop the Ducan Commander. And yes, there are evil ducks, too. It was great fun when I got into it years ago and the devs have been working on a sequel that will feature even more of the chaotic action, story strangeness, and RPG elements that Zero showcased. And it will also be free.

A colorful town, a party of gun toting adventurers, and potentially a ton of loot to be farmed.

The top-down, shooty action of Zero was simple to get used to, fast, and challenging with just enough loot variation to keep that hook dangling in front of me to keep going. It was then updated over the past few years, adding a bit of new content here and there, to keep players jumping in to check out the new additions or even try their hand at freely modding the game. With Legend, I’m expecting the formula to be the same, so my arcade reflexes are going to have to be dusted off once again along with my inventory screen.

This looks very dangerous.

Legend is also a successful Kickstarter project and there is also the question or how it will be using MTX (microtransactions) to keep itself and the team funded. The devs themselves put out a “manifesto” of sorts defining their expectations by saying that the game will always be free and that everything can be earned by players just by playing the game. There are going to be options for those that want to spend a little (or a lot) and those haven’t gotten into any more detail, but it feels as if they’re emphasizing that those options are absolutely unnecessary to enjoying the game by anyone. It’ll be interesting to see how those choices shape up.

The Division 2

Release date: March 15th, 2019
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Developer: Massive Entertainment

I really enjoyed the first Division, but it also had something of a rough start. Once I had gotten through all of the single-player content, the grind became fairly routine. Even the vaunted Dark Zone, where PvP could and did happen, had lost its luster among the PvP crowd (although I just liked to sneak in and out as a primarily PvE player).

There were also other issues concerning difficulty balance, the type of loot being dropped, rewards, and how quickly things kind of dried up with the endgame. I still remember when players had gotten upset over not being able to pass through other players leading to in-game queues with potential griefing thanks to collision boxes (which was quickly resolved). I still enjoyed it a lot for what it offered, especially because of its setting and the story it told of a manufactured, chilling, world killing viral outbreak centered on New York City.

D.C. has seen better days.

But Massive did something that was unusual for any developer. They flew the biggest fans in a few months later, they listened to their concerns, had them play builds incorporating the community’s most requested features, and The Division slowly came back to being an incredibly fun loot ‘n shoot ARPG. And Massive didn’t stop adding on more content. Classified sets of armor, new weapon balances, a new area filled with new challenges, special events with bizarre ammo types and effects creating incredibly cool fighting scenarios and challenges — the Division today is something of a far cry from what it was in 2016.

With The Division 2, players are hoping that the trend will continue — that the sequel will, logically, grow from where it left off with the first game and there are signs that it will. To explain bullet spongy enemies, they’ll now be wearing specialized pieces of armor that need to be blown off as an added challenge making bosses and lieutenants earn their stripes instead of seemingly be made of teflon.

The Division 2 will actually feature many of the sights that visitors to D.C. hope to see from its subway system to the Capitol dome — only with a fresh coat of apocalypse like this set piece around a crashed Air Force One.

The new zone of Washington D.C. promises to take the fight to the Capitol and the secrets that might still lie within its post-apocalyptic ruins as new factions rise up to take over what is left of the United States government. Even the first game is getting in on the fun with “Shields” that can be earned to unlock cosmetic awards for The Division 2. Even the endgame was touched on with specializations for your character and the promise of more content post-launch — similar to what Ubisoft has been doing with the Assassin’s Creed series in Origins and Odyssey.

Will definitely be heading into the zone with my decon mask when it launches.

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