Our 10 Most Anticipated RPGs Of 2016

by Kimberley Wallace on Jan 02, 2016 at 06:00 AM

This last year was an interesting for role-playing games. While some showcased exciting innovation, such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, others, like Tales of Zestiria and Xenoblade Chronicles X, remained complacent and didn't move the needle. A dearth of quality RPGs on handheld also didn’t help, as in past years that has been a place for niche games to shine. Thankfully, 2016 looks to be a more varied and solid year, giving us new entries in popular series, while also finally offering niche games that dedicated fans have long been pining for. As a staff, we discussed which RPGs we have the most fervor for that are coming in 2016. Without further ado,  here are the games we're most happy to see on this year’s release schedule.

Note: List is in alphabetical order. 

Bravely Second (3DS)
Release: 2016

Bravely Default was one of the most talked about role-playing games of 2012, capturing a perfect blend of nostalgia and innovation. Its sequel, Bravely Second, takes place two years later and is poised to be even better. Returning characters like Tiz and Agnes are exciting, but Bravely Second is also out to right the first game’s wrongs, such as the repetitive content. Who could forget the boring, grindy road to the ending? With its gorgeous art style, returning Brave and Default system, and new jobs and abilities, Bravely Second looks to give us plenty of what we loved with the first while refining the rough edges. Reviews of the Japanese release have already doled out high praise, making us even more eager for the North American release this year. 

Dark Souls III (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
Release: April 12

You’re not done dying yet, are you? We didn’t think so. The acclaimed and challenging Dark Souls series is back and so is Hidetaka Miyazaki in the director’s chair. We discovered in our recent cover story trip just how much time and dedication goes into making the Souls series and how this next entry is incorporating both new and familiar concepts. Combat and movement continues to be refined; for this entry, it’s faster and more fluid. For instance, expect backstepping and heavy weapons to feel less clunky. While plenty is returning, an improved magic system and new playstyles also give players room for experimentation. Miyazaki has indicted this entry will be a turning point for the series, so we’re curious to find out just what that means. So far he hasn’t steered us wrong, and the time is ripe for some new challenges that test our will to overcome them.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
Release: August 23 

Deus Ex is a triple threat on this list. This action/RPG series combines stealth, FPS, and role-playing elements in a choice-driven world. Last we heard from Adam Jensen was in Human Revolution (2011), but he’s back for Mankind Divided, which takes place two years after Human Revolution’s events. It seems tensions surrounding the futuristic tech are reaching an all-time high; augmentations are causing a lot of ire, even sparking terrorist attacks. As the title implies, mankind is divided on the issue; unsurprisingly, augmented and non-augmented individuals are at odds. Can Jensen help keep the peace? Thankfully, he’ll have new augmentations and technology to help. Eidos Montreal has promised plenty of improvements from the boss fights to production levels. Of course, we expect all of that will come with philosophical questions about human nature and the future, and we can’t wait to see what choices and conundrums Mankind Divided will pose. 

Final Fantasy XV (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
Release: 2016

We’ve been waiting a long time for Final Fantasy XV – close to a decade if you count when it was Final Fantasy Versus XIII. A lot is riding on this brotastic entry for the future of the franchise; however, Square Enix has a reputation for entering a new console generation and wowing with its vision for role-playing games. This is why we’re so interested to see how Final Fantasy XV turns out. While Square has a knack for creating breathtaking visuals, it also needs to prove the series has some new lifeblood in it. Hajime Tabata replaced Tetsuya Nomura in the director’s seat, and so far he’s done a lot to hear fan input, including releasing a meaty demo and then even updating that based on feedback. What we’ve seen so far looks promising, such as the more open-world, the incredible summons, and the more action-oriented battle system. Tabata is promising an emotional and complex story to go along with it. All said, just seeing if this game can bring the franchise back to the top of the RPG pack is enough reason to have it on our list. 

Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)
Release: February 19

Fire Emblem: Awakening put this long-running strategy/RPG series back on map and proved it still had plenty fresh ideas (Hello relationship-building and children). Fire Emblem Fates is going even bigger, releasing two different versions –  Birthright and Conquest – that have different storylines revolving around the same characters. Again, you’ll customize your avatar, but depending on what you pick you’ll be supporting a different side of the war, either Kingdoms of Hoshido (where you were born) or Nohr (your adopted home). Expect the fun strategy gameplay as past games, including permadeath and relationships, but this time around Intelligent Systems wanted to put more effort toward the story, enlisting the help of manga and television writer Shin Kibayashi (Kodansha). Oh, and did we mention your main character has the ability to turn into a dragon? The game has already received rave reviews for the Japanese version, so that’s a good sign. 

Click on the next page for exciting new IP and returning beloved series…

Horizon Zero Dawn (PlayStation 4)
Release: 2016

Time will tell just how much Horizon Zero Dawn falls on the RPG side of its action/RPG label; the developers have labeled it a cross between Assassin’s Creed and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Still, Horizon Zero Dawn has entranced us ever since its debut trailer at E3. Your main character, Alloy, already looks like a badass fighting robotic dinosaurs. Throw in some serious Monster Hunter vibes with a slew of ways to take down various mechanized creatures, such as setting traps, throwing explosives, or using your bow and arrow. And did we mention the open-world has plenty of loot to collect? Yes, you’ll be crafting just to get by in this dangerous and beautiful post-apocalyptic land. So far Horizon Zero Dawn seems ambitious, but that’s part of what makes it so enticing. Plus, it’s not every day we get new IP of this scope. 

Mass Effect Andromeda (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
Release: Fall

Enough time has passed since Commander Shepard’s epic journey that we’re ready to see what else BioWare can do with the Mass Effect universe. The game is set many years after the events of the trilogy, allowing the writers and developers a fresh start to set new expectations for the franchise. Of course that doesn’t mean they’re scraping the universe we’ve come to know and love. After all, we did see a new version of the Mako in a trailer. While this title is scheduled to release in 2016, it also has the biggest chance of slipping out. Let’s face it, we’ve seen and heard little about it. Still as long as BioWare keeps creating compelling dilemmas and intriguing characters in the Mass Effect universe, we’ll gladly look forward to them. It’s time to see if Bioware can wow us once again like it did with the original trilogy. 

Nier: Automata (PlayStation 4)
Release: 2016

When Nier (a Drakengard spin-off) debuted back in 2010, the action/RPG quickly became a fan favorite, but the odds didn’t look good about getting another installment. While the series has a dedicated fanbase, it didn’t exactly sell well, reviews were mixed, and then developer Cavia disbanded shortly after its release. But Square Enix surprised us this year by not only announcing a new entry, but also that Platinum Games would be developing it. Platinum Games has a reputation for its flair with action games, such as Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and the original masterminds – series creator Taro Yoko, producer Yosuke Saito, and composer Keiichi Okabe – are all returning for Automata. This just seems like a collaboration made in heaven. Time will tell if Automata can please fans and capture even more enthusiasts, but you can expect some returning characters, branching story paths, and a dark atmosphere. Count us more than interested to see how it all shakes out. 

Persona 5 (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3)
Release: 2016

It hurt to see Persona 5 delayed into 2016, but we’re hoping good things come to those who wait. Throw in that we haven’t had a mainline entry since 2008’s Persona 4, and having a new cast with fresh dilemmas seems overdue. Persona 5’s high-school students will be dealing with issues of modern-society and feeling restrained by it. Atlus has a gift for handling mature topics and crafting interesting stories, and it already looks like it’s found a compelling hook: Characters take reforming society into their own hands, using alter egos representative of famous figures. For instance, the main character’s is based off French writer Maurice Leblanc’s “gentleman thief” Arsène Lupin. Even after its long development cycle, Persona 5 still remains so much a mystery (even with director Katsura Hashino giving us more insight recently), but that’s part of what will make finally diving into it so exciting. 

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine Expansion (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
Release: Early 2016

CD Projekt Red already impressed us with the Hearts of Stone expansion, so we’re excited to see what its bigger expansion, Blood and Wine, has in store. Hearts of Stone added 10 hours of new content; Blood and Wine runs double that and contains a brand new region. While CD Projekt RED has kept mum on details regarding the expansion, it did recently release some beautiful screens to show off the new locale of Touissaint and its amazing architecture. Apparently, this land is untainted by war, but Geralt will soon discover a bloody secret. CD Projekt Red has already crafted so many amazing journeys with The Witcher 3, so we’ll gladly take anything else they offer, especially an expansion this large.    

From Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness to Torment: Tides of Numenera, not everything could make the list. What are RPGs are you most anticipating in 2016?