Elements from what is traditionally thought of as the roleplaying genre have increasingly bled through to other mediums, leading to fewer straight-up RPG titles in recent years for anything that isn't a handheld system.
In turn, that progressive change prompted a demand for old school games, most of which were funded directly by fans through platforms like Kickstarter, culminating with the Infinity Engine love letter that was Pillars Of Eternity.
Now that many of those classic reboot titles are out, along with the major AAA title of the year - The Witcher 3 - we've got a new year to look towards with a whole lot of titles already confirmed. A solid blend of indie innovation and major franchise sequels are slated to keep RPG fans happy throughout 2016, and we're going to take a look at all of them.
How do you follow-up what is still frequently heralded as the best story in all of RPG history? InXile has its work cut out for it with the spiritual sequel to Planescape: Torment. There's a solid history there in re-imagining old IPs, as the developer previously brought about the non-traditional Bard's Tale reboot, as well as the 25 years in the making Wasteland 2.
Those who haven't been eagerly following this project since it was first crowd funded all the way back in March of 2013 may be wondering just where the “Planescape” tag went. Well, Wizards of the Coast wasn't going to give that setting up (despite not using it in any meaningful way themselves for years), so the themes from the original are getting re-imagined in the new-ish Numenera pen and paper RPG setting – and don't worry, it's every bit as weird and wonderful as Planescape.
Some other big changes are coming as well, like the “real time with pause” system being replaced by turn based combat. Following an alpha test for backers, project lead Kevin Saunders just departed the project and was replaced by Chris Keenan, prompting a delay in the release to 2016 as more changes and tweaks are made. This drastic change so near the proposed release date has some fans skittish, but personally I'd be fine with even further delays to polish this thing until it shines. This is a game that needs to be perfect and can't afford to drop with all the bugs and problems that existed on the initial launch of Wasteland 2.
Currently available in Early Access, the full release of this oddball indie title is expected out in January of 2016. A devastatingly hard rogue-like, this very stylized 2D RPG blends in plenty of classic elements with a few new twists: like dealing with the psychological health of your mercenaries.
Turns out battling sanity-blasting monstrous horrors in underground dungeons isn't so great on your mental health, and having a companion go nuts at the wrong moment is just as dangerous as that horde of zombies shambling down the corridor towards your camp...
There's quite a bit of Final Fantasy coming your way in the near future, with one of the most anticipated probably the FF7 remake that has no set release date yet. For those who want to go forward rather than retreading previous ground, FF XV will hit the current gen consoles next year. This is the time for Square Enix to show off its skills in pushing the series in new directions, while hopefully keeping those elements that make this such an iconic gaming franchise.
Unfortunately, it would seem Nobuo Uematso is not around for the music again (a continuing mistake started with Final Fantasy 13), but the mix of sci-fi and fantasy that made parts 7 and 8 so famous has returned, with cars driving alongside herds of chocobo. The trailers that have dropped so far also give off the impression there will be a host of giant outdoor boss battles to take part in.
PS4 and PS Vita players get an extra Final Fantasy experience in 2016 with World Of Final Fantasy, which reportedly will return to an earlier style with more traditional RPG battles and be geared towards gamers of all ages.
Famous characters from throughout the franchise are slated to make an appearance in this meta look at the king of all console RPGs, and you'll have to switch between full size and chibi versions of characters to overcome certain obstacles.
Looking to the pages of history for inspiration rather than going to less realistic worlds, Kingdom Come: Deliverance looks like it will appeal equally to fans of the Mount And Blade series as to those who prefer The Elder Scrolls.
Focusing on detail, all the outfits and weaponry go for an authentic recreation of 15th-century European warfare, and you'll reportedly have to remember to eat, sleep, and regularly repair your equipment if you want to stay alive while taking part in castle sieges, picking pockets, and getting into drunken brawls.
This action RPG exclusive to the PS4 sets primitive tribal humans in a post-apocalyptic (but still very lush and green) world against huge hybrid robotic creatures.
This game looks absolutely gorgeous, and taking everything that should be biological and making it mechanical adds in an interesting twist. The open world and combat style gives off a bit of a Far Cry feel, but with more RPG style elements.
Continuing the story from the 2011 released Human Revolution entry, Deus Ex is coming back in 2016 to offer another chance to choose whether you want to go stealthy or go loud in a dystopian near future. You'll be able to sneak around or head out guns blazing on February 23rd.
Unfortunately, this latest entry in the series got off to a rocky start, with a tiered pre-order system that had a lot of fans fuming. Listening to all the negative reaction, Square Enix ended up canceling the unpopular changes and made all the same content available to anyone pre-ordering.
Another PS4 / PS Vita entry, this Square Enix-led project seeks to recreate that feel of classic games like Chrono Trigger. There's not a ton of info available yet, but this one looks like it will be a real winner for those who still feel nostalgic about the golden SNES era of RPGs.
The game is set to drop in early 2016 in Japan, but there's been no official word about the stateside release, meaning the English speaking gaming world might not actually get this one next year, unfortunately.
For an RPG franchise that started in the '90s, Star Ocean has a significantly smaller number of overall releases compared to many of its peers. The latest entry Integrity And Faithlessness is set to land on February 25th for PS3 and PS4 and looks to include everything that series is known for, like active battles where you run around an arena and can switch between characters.
In a new twist, the cut scenes are reported to be part of the gaming experience this time around, forcing you to interact during what is traditionally down time in an RPG.
Who would have ever thought this crossover series would work? Goofy and Donald Duck alongside Final Fantasy characters seemed like a huge stretch that had RPG fans skeptical, but the series has managed to become much beloved despite the odds.
A release date hasn't actually been announced yet for the third entry, but with so much new info coming out this year it seems likely 2016 will see the return of Sora and his infamous Keyblade.
It's been three years since the original Mass Effect series ended, and fans are clamoring for more on this franchise that put sci-fi RPGs on the map in a major way.
Unfortunately, the saga of Shepard seems to be done, as Andromeda will reportedly take place in an entirely different galaxy long after the timeline of the third game. This one isn't set to drop until the very tail end of 2016, projected for a December release date (and hopefully not getting pushed back at the last minute).
I'm going to let you in on a secret: I don't understand the appeal of this series. At all. Dying around every 90 seconds and being brutally put down until you figure out the correct pattern recognition to complete a tiny area (before moving on to do it again a few feet down the road) just simply isn't fun.
Obviously, I'm in the minority here, because this is a massively anticipated title. For those of you with a masochistic streak, you can look forward to Dark Souls 3 on March 24th, 2016.
Fans had hoped for a 2015 release, but the latest entry in the controversial Persona series was pushed back to next year.
Everything that drew fans to the third and fourth entries appears to have remained intact, but with some updates into a more modern era, like managing your high school relationships through a smartphone app before jumping into an alternate world and battling free-roaming monsters.
It also seems like rather than shooting yourself in the head, you'll summon your inner persona by donning a stylish mask – which makes a little bit more sense.
Over a hundred years have passed since Mars lost its connection to Earth in this futuristic sci-fi action RPG. If you liked Mars: Wars Log, you'll be very interested in this title, which looks like a more advanced version of that game.
Although in a non-traditional setting, looting, crafting, and romancing party members will keep this one firmly in the RPG realm.
After the success of the Kickstarter campaign for the first title, it was a foregone conclusion there would be a sequel to Divinity: Original Sin.
Netting more than $2 million in crowdfunding cash, this is another title that won't show up until the very end of the year, with a December 2016 projected release date. If you dig turn based combat and highly interactive environments, this one should easily be on the top of your Christmas wishlist for 2016.
The long-running SaGa series continues next year after a long hiatus. The last main entry in the series, Unlimited SaGa, came out on the PS2 way back in 2003.
Unfortunately, it seems like there won't be a major console edition, but Saga: Scarlet Grace is confirmed for the PS Vita sometime in 2016. There's not a ton of info available yet as to how the series will change and whether it will keep up the divisive map movement system of the last entry or go in a different direction.
It's finally happening: a new entry in this RTS / RPG hybrid series is arriving, with Grimlore Games now confirming a 2016 release for Spellforce 3 and just launching a Steam page.
The graphics are much improved from the earlier entries in the series, but not much beyond that is currently known. On the details already unwrapped, the developer has stated the main campaign story will be around 30 hours and take place before the events of Spellforce: The Order of Dawn.
Across every platform – console, PC and handheld – these 17 games will offer up a pretty stunning array of RPG goodness for fans of action or turn-based games. Undoubtedly, there will be a few more surprise titles announced, and there's probably a few you're all looking forward to that we didn't cover. So fill us in, what RPGs are you most looking forward to in 2016, and what do you think will get pushed back in the ever-shifting sea of release dates?