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RPG Grind Time – Five RPGs You May Have Missed This Year

by Kimberley Wallace on Oct 30, 2016 at 10:13 AM

It’s hard to believe we’re heading into the final two months of the year, but here we are with the final RPG releases for 2016 trickling out. World of Final Fantasy just launched this week, which I need to spend more time with before I can offer up any thoughts, but Joe Juba really liked it. As we head into November, the next big RPG is Final Fantasy XV, which will be important as it will dictate the franchise’s future for better or worse. Almost all of the RPGs for 2016 have already hit, which got me thinking about which ones are essential. I decided to make a list of some of the best RPGs that you may have missed this year. Maybe you can knock one out before Final Fantasy XV launches. 

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine (PS4, Xbox One, PC) 

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was a massive game, but CD Projekt Red just couldn't resist giving us more Geralt via two expansions. Blood and Wine is his last hurrah, but it's understandable if you were still playing Witcher 3 or its other expansion Hearts of Stone when it launched, or even needed a break from The Witcher's bleak world for a while. However, if you didn't play it, you should rectify that at some point. Blood Wine captures all the series' trademarks: challenging battles, tough choices, and unexpected consequences, while taking us interesting places, such as the wine-filled region of Toussaint and a twisted fairytale land, offering around 30 hours of content. To find out more, you can read my review here.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)

This zany SMT and Fire Emblem crossover may not be what you expected, but it's a ton of fun nonetheless. The game taps into Japanese culture and its pop idol scene, tasking you with solving the mystery behind mysterious baddies named Mirages stealing people's creative energy. Every battle becomes a performance where you take the stage and damage enemies with songs in elaborate costumes. All the dungeons have their own fun themes such as fashion and TV programming. You also visit popular places in Tokyo like Shibuya and Harajuku . Not to mention a battle system where you build up combos by triggering enemy weaknesses is flat-out exciting, especially watching your combos grow to into the double digits. If you're looking for something more lighthearted and enjoy Atlus' battle systems and character moments, you should check it out. You can read my review here.

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse (3DS) 

I loved Shin Megami Tensei IV, but this follow-up is even better. Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is in the same setting as its predecessor, but has a new cast and story that crisscrosses with the first game. You can view it as an alternate ending or tale to SMT IV, but this one is even more intriguing, if not at sometimes just plain bizarre. Everything you love about SMT is here, such as demon recruitment and fusion, philosophical conundrums about humanity, and flavorful bosses. For more, you can check out Daniel Tack's review

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II (PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita)

First off, if you haven't played the Trails of Cold Steel series, you need to fix that. Falcom may not have the budget to make the best graphics, but it more than makes up for it with the detail it puts into every interaction. I love how NPCs remember what you've done for them and reference it in conversations. Trails of Cold Steel II picks up shortly after where the last game left off and is jam-packed with twists and shocking revelations. It has top-notch characters, challenging fights, and an intriguing political story. The series reminds me of a cross between Suikoden's complicated politics and Persona's social systems. In Cold Steel II, you recruit former students for your fight and get to know the members of Class VII even better. This entry also brings more depth to the already fantastic turn-based battle system with an overdrive option that allows you restore your health and act in three consecutive turns. For more, you can read my review.   

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Conquest (3DS)

If you're a fan of strategy/RPGs, Fire Emblem Fates is a no-brainer. I'm a bigger fan of its predecessor, Fire Emblem Awakening, for the better character relationships, but Fates still captures the fun of the series wonderfully. I especially enjoyed the new My Castle mechanic, which lets you build up your own headquarters, take on other players' castles, and gives you a place to gather your allies and build up relationships. Fates launched with two different versions, so you can see the story from different perspectives and experience a different level of challenge. Birthright is more for beginners, while Conquest is for veterans seeking more of a challenge since you can't grind for experience on free maps and it requires more resource management. I recommend getting both games if you're a diehard fan, but if you can only get one, keep the difficulty in mind (although people tend to find Conquest a tad better than Birthright). If you've only played one, now might be the perfect time to dive into the other. For more, you can read Javy Gwaltney's reviews on Birthright and Conquest

What do you think are some of the best RPGs this year that people shouldn't miss? Post your thoughts in the comments below!