RPGs! We don’t talk about the genre that much around here, because, well, despite every second game boasting “RPG elements” these days, the real uncut RPG experience is still somewhat niche. But hey, I like ’em, and it looks like 2013 is going to be an under-the-radar great year for RPGs. It’s not going to have as many massive releases like Mass Effect 3 and Diablo III as 2012 did, but there’s still no shortage of promising looking stuff on the way.
So, here’s 10 role-playing video games you should be looking forward to (and which I’ll probably be prattling on about from time to time) in 2013…
10) Pandora’s Tower (Wii)
Operation Rainfall, the fan movement founded to convince Nintendo to localize three promising Wii RPGs has achieved total victory. Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story (which were both great) arrived last year, and now Pandora’s Tower is on its way courtesy of boutique publisher XSEEED.
By all accounts Pandora’s Tower isn’t quite as good as the other Operation Rainfall games, but it does look kind of deliciously weird — an unwieldy mix of Castlevania, God of War, dungeon crawling RPGs and dating sims. If nothing else it’ll be a unique little trinket for folks into amassing Japanese weirdness.
9) Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers (3DS)
A long-coveted entry in the cult-favorite Shin Megami Tensei series finally gets a localization. For those unaware, the Shin Megami Tensei games are a series of freaky dungeon hacks, in which you regularly do things like team up with demons to fight Hitler in Antarctica. The slightly better known Persona series is a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off.
Soul Hackers was the Shin Megami Tensei series’ Final Fantasy VII in Japan — the game where the series really exploded in popularity, and yet the title has never made it to North America. Well, that finally changes this April, and hardcore dungeon hack and SMT fans are going to want to check it out.
8) Dragon Age III: Inquisition (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
The Dragon Age series has, so far, never quite lived up to its potential, but perhaps that will all change with Dragon Age III: Inquisition. The game is said to be a fusion of the first two Dragon Age titles, with a greater focus on strategy and proper preparation before battle. Also, apparently, there’s going to be a lot of Skyrim DNA in the game. Anyways, it’s a new BioWare game — of course it’s on the list.
7) Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
Ni No Kuni is an RPG featuring a world and characters created by the spinners of dreams over at Studio Ghibli. If that doesn’t interest you, I don’t want to know you because I’m pretty sure you’re some sort of unfeeling Terminator sent to destroy humanity. Bafflingly, there was concern for a long time that this wouldn’t be localized, but apparently sanity prevailed. Get it if you like pretty, good things.
6) Dragon Quest VII (3DS)
The Dragon Quest series is RPG comfort food — if you’ve ever enjoyed a turn-based battle or dungeon crawl in your life, you can’t help but like Dragon Quest. Well, the biggest, longest, most loved or hated Dragon Quest (depending on who you talk to) is receiving a swanky remake for the 3DS. Dragon Quest VII is getting all new graphics and sound, some rebalancing and some new StreetPass features. If you like old-school Japanese RPGs, this is a must have.
5) South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
There’ve been many (perhaps too many) South Park games, and most of them have been hella weak. The show’s trademark cynical wit just doesn’t translate to action games, and so far action games are all South Park has got. An RPG on the other hand, would provide South Park with far more opportunity to, well, be South Park. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are heavily involved in the making of South Park: The Stick of Truth, and as anyone who watches the show knows, the duo have a healthy knowledge of RPGs. In other words, this South Park game has a decent shot at being good (or at least an authentically South Park-ian train wreck).
4) Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360, PS3)
Square-Enix is taking a third stab at making Final Fantasy XIII good, and it looks like they might actually pull it off this time. A large open world, a fluid new battle system and a Majora’s Mask-esque 13-day time limit all combine to make Lightning Returns the most interesting looking Final Fantasy XIII game yet. At least from a gameplay perspective — I checked out on the FF XIII storyline and world a while ago.
3) Dark Souls II (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
The relentlessly difficult dungeon hacking, loot gathering Souls series is back for you blood in 2013 with Dark Souls II. According to its developers, Dark Souls II is going to be made slightly more accessible than previous Souls titles, which is sure to raise a few fan hackles, but is probably a good thing for the rest of us with lives and stuff, who don’t have time to die 100 times for every 10 steps of progress.
2) Pokemon X/Y (3DS)
Pokemon returns in 2013! Of course, it never went anywhere in the first place, but with Pokemon X/Y the series is actually trying something new. No, really! 3D graphics, updates to the battle system and new ways to trade and communicate with other players are all on the way. This is the first time in, I dunno, forever? Yeah, let’s go with forever, that I’ve been interested in a new Pokemon iteration, and I don’t think I’m the only one.
1) The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
The MMO world is set for a big shake-up in 2013 — The Elder Scrolls series, the most popular RPGs of all time, are going MMO in 2013. If the The Elder Scrolls Online can’t unseat the greying, battle-scarred World of Warcraft, then nothing can. I’m not a huge MMO fan personally, but there’s no denying this baby has major potential to be a game changer.
Bonus: All The Stuff Not Announced Yet
A lot of 2013’s best and most influential RPGs may end up being stuff that hasn’t yet been announced.
There are rumblings that Blizzard may finally unveil Titan, their follow-up to World of Warcraft, in 2013. Even just an official announcement of Titan would be a major event for RPG fans. Hey, and what’s going on with the Fallout series? Could we see Fallout 4 hit in 2013? Oh, and how about a new entry in the Legend of Zelda series? Nintendo has a couple of systems desperately in need of some Zelda love, and I have a feeling either the 3DS or Wii U is going to get some this year.
So yeah, 2013 already looks like a pretty solid year for RPGs, but it may get even better and we roll along. How about you folks? What RPGs are you looking forward to in 2013?