The last few months have made 2011 a particularly stand-out year for games. From Batman to Uncharted to Modern Warfare, there has been something big and awesome for virtually every type of gamer. Looking ahead to 2012, we’re still waiting to hear a lot of major announcements, but one thing is clear to me already: This is going to be the best year for RPG fans in a long time.

To help prove my point I’ve put together a list of all of the RPGs that we’re currently expecting to arrive next year along with a few that we’re hoping for.

Atelier Meruru (Spring)

I’m not remotely the target audience for developer Gust’s long-running Atelier series, but rest assured that a certain hardcore niche of RPG fans loves it. If you can’t get enough of performing alchemy and partaking in simplified combat as a cutesy anime girl, I can’t imagine a better way to start off your year.

Darksiders II (June)

Though the original Darksiders focused more on combat and Zelda-inspired puzzles, this sequel is blowing out the RPG elements. New protagonist Death will become more powerful as you progress while gathering tons of loot and stat upgrades. It’s a meaty addition to an already compelling formula that I expect to keep me busy all summer.

Diablo III (early 2012)

No, seriously. Diablo III will be out in 2012. Seriously. I know it’s hard to believe after all this time, but having spent hours with the beta, I fully believe that Blizzard is on the cusp of putting out this long-awaited game. Expect it to hit early in the year and leave you hunting down demons for better gear into 2013.

(image from Dragon Age: Origins)

Dragon Age III (maybe 2012?)

Along with the big confirmed RPGs on this list, I put in a couple of long shots. This is probably the longest. I fully expect Dragon Age III to be announced in 2012, but it’s hard to say if it will be released. There was only 16 months between the release of Dragon Age: Origins and its sequel. If BioWare keeps to a similarly tight schedule for this entry, we could see Dragon Age III as one of EA’s big fall releases. Then again, considering some of the issues the second game suffered from, maybe we’d be better off hoping that they take their time.

Dragon Quest X (2012…in Japan at least)

My experience with Final Fantasy XIV has made me instantly and unavoidably skeptical of any MMO project from Square Enix. That said, Dragon Quest X is building on a foundation of adding multiplayer to the long-running series that was popularized in DQ IX on the Nintendo DS. It’s also going to be one of the earliest examples of whether or not Nintendo has improved its online strategy for the Wii U. It’s possible that Dragon Quest X won’t make it to North America before the end of 2012, but we should at least get a chance to see how it’s doing in Japan.