The State of RPGs in 2017
2017 saw a slew of new, noteworthy RPGs. Although most were sequels of previously established series, they were long-awaited sequels, and most were well received. Both Western and Japanese developers brought something to the table this year, so put on your RPG bib and get ready to dig in to our State of RPGs in 2017 roundup!
The Biggest RPG Releases of 2017
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Let's start this list off a little funky. Let's tackle the mess that was Mass Effect: Andromeda. The sequel to the mostly well-received Mass Effect trilogy had been anticipated for half a decade. While by no means the worst game of the year, many fans were disappointed with the weird graphics and the less-than-stellar storyline, likely caused by the game changing hands many times throughout its development. It currently sits at a user rating of 4.8 on Metacritic, with GameSkinny's ElConquistadork including it in his 5 Worst Games of 2017, but our own Synzer gave it a 9/10, showing that some fans of the series did end up loving it. They say that true art is controversial. I'm not sure that applies to this situation, but I imagine it's something the devs tell themselves to feel better about the scores it received.
It finally came out! Many Persona fans, including myself, had been anticipating this game for the better half of a decade. Luckily, the wait was worth it because Persona 5 lived up to the hype. With a user score of 9.1 on Metacritic, it's safe to say it was incredibly well received by most players. And with sweet tracks like the one above, can you blame them?
If you've been sitting out on buying any new RPGs this year, I recommend picking this one up! Whether it's the beautiful graphics, the gripping plot involving a talking cat and nearly mummified hikikomori, or its stellar soundtrack, there are no downsides to this masterpiece -- except maybe spending too much time building your social links/confidants up and neglecting your actual friends.
Torment: Tides of Numenera
The spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, Torment: Tides of Numenera, is a story-rich 2.5D isometric RPG in which players take on the role of a reincarnated ancient being (more or less). In the process of controlling this dude, players have to make some pretty tough decisions that will have long-term effects on their gameplay. If you liked the original, GameSkinny's Ty Arthur thinks you'll like the new one, too. It does only have a 7 on Metacritic, indicating mixed reviews, but if you're looking for an in-depth, complex, story-based throwback RPG, you're going to be hard pressed to find a better one available right now -- unless you wanna just keep replaying Planescape and Icewind Dale.
This game has been described as a mix between Dark Souls and Onimusha. If that's not enough to grab your interest, I don't know what is. With a user rating of 8.5 for the PS4 version on Metacritic, Nioh was received quite well. Players loved its Souls series difficulty and kind-of-similar mechanics, and they praised the game's creativity that set it apart from other Souls-like games currently on the market. It's also made by Team Ninja, so if you're a Ninja Gaiden fan, you're missing out if you haven't picked this up yet.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
In a really big departure from the usual formula of the series, Nintendo went ahead and built a cooking Legend of Zelda game with an amazing open-world game built around it. Breath of the Wild is a breath of fresh air for the series, introducing tons of new gameplay elements, including a durability-based weapon system, crazy interactive environment elements that allow you to set fires, a tasty cooking system, and a degree of freedom that makes every other Zelda game look insanely linear. It currently sits at an 8.4 on Metacritic, with the only real complaints being about the durability system, but nearly everyone agrees that this is one of the best Zelda games in recent memory.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
2017 brought with it a sequel to 2014's Stick of Truth. This time around, the focus is on superhero movie franchises. According to GameSkinny's own Ashley Gill, the game was a solid entry into the franchise and different enough from its predecessor to set it apart. Sitting at a 7.6 for the PS4 version on Metacritic, The Fractured But Whole has been praised for its combat system, its soundtrack, and its faithfulness to the humor and look of the Comedy Central original. Some players, like Ashley, weren't impressed by the crafting system, but most players enjoyed the rest of the game thoroughly regardless of its flaws.
One of the most well-received RPGs of the year, Nier: Automata sits at a user score of 8.8 on Metacritic. Practically everything about the game received praise, including its character design, its story, and especially its varied gameplay. The game is a sequel to the original Nier, made by PlatinumGames. Both games are spin-offs of the Drakengard series. Not only is the game itself amazing, but it's got a rich story that is only enhanced by any enjoyment or knowledge you have of the previous game and its sister series. Who doesn't love action RPGs with anime androids?
Hand of Fate 2
In Hand of Fate 2, players take control of a character who must fight through various multi-floored dungeons set up by a a dungeon master-like entity known as the Dealer. It combines roguelike, RPG, and deck-building gameplay to bring a unique spin to the genre. If you're a fan of D&D or other tabletop RPGs, this is definitely worth checking out. It's been generally well received, with a user score of 7.7 on Metacritic. The main criticism that pops up is its combat, but players praise its other gameplay mechanics and the improvements the sequel made over the original.
Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon
In the spirit of other second releases of Pokemon games, Pokemon: Ultra Sun/Moon is basically the same as its originals but with a few extra goodies. It comes with a new Mantine surfing mini-game, a new online battle mode that allows players to rent Pokemon to create a new team, a Fairy-type trial, totem stickers, and more. One of the biggest updates is that the game now actually contains a real gym, whereas the original games got around that with the Island Trials. The coolest new feature added to the game is its post-game: you fight a supergroup of the previous game's evil organization leaders. Their name is Team Rainbow Rocket, which is the sickest name ever, I don't care who you are. If you're a hardcore Pokemon fan, this is worth checking out, but if you're not, you're probably fine just sticking with the 2016 release.
The Remastered RPG Releases of 2017
Final Fantasy XII: the Zodiac Age
If you weren't a fan of the original Final Fantasy XII, like GameSkinny's Ashley Gill, then you might still want to give this new game a try, as it completely remakes the MMORPG combat system into something more appropriate to the mainline Final Fantasy series. Not only does The Zodiac Age update the combat (which Ashley loved and which I will reserve my judgment on because I am one of three people who actually liked the original FFXII's MMORPG-style combat), but it also gives the game a lovely new set of updated graphics and, especially, sound. Whether you're a fan of the original game or not, if you're looking for a new Final Fantasy to spend your time with this year, this one might be right for you.
Have you ever wanted to Fus Roh Dah a dragon face to face? Well, now thanks to the PS4 VR version of the game, you can. There's not much new to report on this other than some people really love Skyrim VR, and some people really hate it. If you're a fan of VR, though, you'll probably dig this update to the much-beloved fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series.
.Hack//G.U. Last Recode
Forget about your Sword Art Onlines and your Log Horizons, the OG stuck-in-a-game game is back with a re-release of the original .Hack//G.U. trilogy as well as a new installment: .hack//G.U. Vol. 4//Reconnection. Fans of the original game series or the anime, manga, and light novels it's based on will love this (re)release. .Hack//G.U. Last Recode sits at a well-received score of 7.9 on Metacritic, with players praising its improvements/updates to the original, its story, and its addictive gameplay.
What Was New in the World of Online RPGs of 2017
World of Warcraft: Legion continues
(The cinematic above contains some pretty serious spoilers, so watch at your own discretion.)
While World of Warcraft: Legion came out back in 2016, it concluded this year with players finally confronting Sargeras and banishing him to space baby jail, while Illidan watches over him in a surprisingly poetic resolution to our demon hunting buddy's storyline. There's an upcoming patch that will tide players over until Battle for Azeroth releases, but for now, players will be spending their time raiding Antorus or competing in the current PvP season.
Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind
Introducing the Warden as a new class as well as bringing players to the location of the beloved third Elder Scrolls game, The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind received mixed scores from players, largely debating about whether the price was worth it. However, many players feel like this gave the game enough fresh content to keep them interested, especially all that new lore. Delicious. It's what finally convinced me to want to give the game a shot.
In a bold move, FFXIV: Stormblood introduces the brand-new classes Samurai and Red Mage. Oh, wait, they're not new to the series? Well, they're new to this game along with a new level cap, new areas to explore, new primals, a new raid, and a few other new features. It was given a 7.1 user score on Metacritic, indicating that it was received neither well nor poorly. Most of the negative reviews came from players who had server issues, but the content itself seems to have been well received, making this one of the better MMO expansions to check out this year.
Destiny 2 and Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris
Bungie is a bit weird. They just released Destiny 2 back in September on the PS4 and XBox One, then released it for PC on October 24th. Yet, this month brought with it the game's first expansion: Curse of Osiris. Just like the original, the game is basically an FPS MMORPG that features both PvE and PvP. Unlike the original, it came with a better matchmaking system. It was well received at launch, with most players praising its varied gameplay, its graphics, and its new storylines. However, some players have since soured to the game because of the quick release of its expansion, which involved gating content from the original behind expansion-only gear levels (as well as misleading players in the original about the amount of XP they were earning). The Curse of Osiris' Metacritic score currently sits at a 1.7 for users, but that is likely due to (warranted) salt over the developer's content gating and the XP issue.
I wanted to like Absolver much more than I did. I really did. It's like Dark Souls and Jade Empire with a softer aesthetic. It was pretty great to play -- when it worked. However, this PvE-lite, PvP-focused online martial arts RPG was plagued with insane server issues at launch that killed a lot of the potential love I had for it. I gave it a 6, but the user score on Metacritic was a little bit higher at 6.6. It might be worth revisiting now that there's been some time to work out the server issues, but I'd rather just go back to Persona 5.
Citadel: Forged with Fire
This is another game that was plagued with issues in its early-access days when I was writing the review for it. Citadel: Forged with Fire was an incredibly promising sandbox. It's like the other games, except you're a wizard and you fly on a broom. That might not sound exciting, but have you ever flown on a broom before? It's pretty dope. The main problems I had with the game were based on its early-access nature leading to numerous instances of game-breaking bugs, like server crashes, enemies who didn't attack, and an incredibly hard-to-navigate server browser. However, other players have reported that those issues have since been fixed for the most part, and the game's more recent reviews on Steam have been mostly positive. Given all that, it might be worth checking out if you want to get your Gandalf on.
What Does 2018 Have in Store for Us?
Kingdom Hearts III
While likely not coming out in 2018, a writer can hope, can't he? I've largely avoided playing the other games in the series (besides 1 and 2), so I've been waiting for Kingdom Hearts III for longer than I'd like to admit. When will Goofy come home?
All we have for now are trailers to hold us off, but luckily, this year's E3 showed off the combat system a bit more. The game looks just as good as it ever was. I can't wait to beat Pete up. Also, shout out to the accurate James Woods impersonator playing Hades in the Japanese dub.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
The long-anticipated sequel to the original Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom comes out next year. Hype yourselves up, anime nerds, because this is looking to be a promising sequel. The Ghibli veterans who worked on the original game are reprising their roles for this, so if you got that same feeling from the trailer, you're justified. We might not get a Princess Mononoke 2 anytime soon, but at least we got this.
WoW: Battle for Azeroth
The Horde's done it again. We somehow managed to be aggressors again because story. So, after saving our world from utter annihilation and banishing Sargeras to titan jail, we will have another war with WoW: Battle for Azeroth. But at least we get some new allied races coming in, like the Zandalari Trolls and Void Elves. You'll catch me playing a Highmountain Tauren Druid while I explore Zandalar.
Call of Cthulu
Fans of horror RPGs and Lovecraft have a tasty little treat to look forward to next year: Call of Cthulu. Based off of the tabletop RPG of the same name, which is based off of Lovecraft's Mythos, players will be investigating some seriously spooky stuff in Boston, Massachusetts.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
When most Americans think of Bohemians, they tend to think of beatniks, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance is about to show that the Kingdom of Bohemia is back, sans the Kerouac books. This game is billed as being based on 15th century European history in the Holy Roman Empire. Everything from the clothing to the castles to the soundtrack is meant to be period accurate. If you're looking for a medieval RPG without the fantasy, this game will be worth keeping an eye on.
2017 has been a pretty generous year for RPG fans. Whether you're a fan of traditional JRPGs or Western MMOs, there's something for pretty much everyone. Persona 5 was hands down my favorite this year. How about you? What was your favorite RPG this year? Are there any games I overlooked? What are you looking forward to most next year? Let me know in the comments!