10 RPGs That Will Kill Your Social Life In 2019 –
2018 was arguably the best gaming year the generation has seen so far. Between all three consoles and PC, some of the biggest and most critically adored titles released over those twelve months, with major hitters like Red Dead Redemption 2 pushing the capabilities of consoles to the max. As stacked as it was though, the most surprising thing is that 2019 is shaping up to be even better.
We’ve already ran down a good chunk of the upcoming year’s biggest releases in both video and article form, but what shouldn’t be forgotten is how well 2019 is shaping up to be for RPGs in particular. Since the dawn of the generation, conventional role-playing mechanics have become more and more prevalent in regular action titles, but the classic style has remained as strong and popular as ever, both across major AAA releases and indie darlings.
This year is no different, and between huge, gothic fantasy worlds to retro-themed space operas, these are the RPG experiences you’ll be spending hours – if not days – fawning over in the coming months.
10. Two Worlds 3
The Two Worlds franchise has always been a weird one. The original was something of a flawed gem, an ambitious RPG which buckled under its own weight. Still, it courted a fanbase which appreciated the genuinely stellar game that was lurking underneath all the rough edges, eventually spawning a sequel a few years later which… still suffered from many of the same problems.
Laying dormant for a while, a third game was announced back in 2016, and while not a lot of information has been released since then, its 2019 release date is apparently still a reality. With a new engine and the backing of a lengthy production period, Reality Pump Studios might finally be able to make the RPG they’ve come so close to nailing two times before.
Will the near decade-long wait for a sequel be worth it? Well, with how few updates there have been, it could go either way, but Two Worlds 3 should still absolutely be on your release radar.
Okay, let’s clear one thing up first: Anthem is an RPG. Sure, it’s very clearly gunning for Destiny in the way players are encouraged to team up and focus on combat in the world, but this is still Bioware, and while the project is a pretty major departure from the titles they’re used to working on, there’s allegedly still a player-driven story at the heart of the experience.
Yeah, it might be one of the more action-heavy RPGs on this list, but there’s still enough meat here for genre fans to bite into. What we’ve seen from the project has been… mixed, certainly, but a new Bioware game is nothing to be sniffed at. There’s a chance it might end up being nothing more than a loot grind where players are forced to engage in so-so combat and fight the same enemies over and over, but there’s also the potential for it to be the kind of shared-world shooter games like Destiny and The Division promised (and failed) to be years ago.
This sub-genre isn’t as young as it used to be, and hopefully Bioware have learned from the mistakes of the developers who have struggled to conquer it before them.
BUT FUCK THAT IM NOT BUYING IT EABAD REEEEEEEE
ONLY IDIOTS PREORDER REEEEEEEEEE
8. Shenmue 3
Because it was announced before a single line of code had even been written, it feels a bit like Shenmue 3 has been around far longer than it actually has. Though there hasn’t been a huge marketing push for the game, there’s always been news trickling out about it, as recent as the reveal that the long-awaited sequel is going to be double the length of the prior releases, and that side quests are now directly tied into the main story.
That’s all talk though, and fans haven’t actually had a proper look at the game, which is allegedly coming out at the end of August (but considering how many delays there have been so far, who knows). Still, Shenmue fans know more or less what to expect, as the original two titles boasted an insane level of detail and world interaction for the time, all built around a compelling crime story.
It’s doubtful that the third game is going to go down a more action-oriented route, and instead once again offer the same quirky RPG experience that made the series such a cult favourite in the first place. It might not do enough to draw in a huge new audience, but this franchise has always benefitted from being a smaller alternative to the bigger, mass-market hitters.
7. Wasteland 3
Isometric RPGs modelled after the classic PC forefathers of the genre have enjoyed something of a creative and commercial revival over the past couple of years. One of the biggest trailblazers of this resurgence was the Wasteland series, from fan-favourite developer InXile (a name you might recognise as being one of Microsoft’s recently acquired first-party studios), who crowdfunded the critically-acclaimed Wasteland 2, and are currently hard at work on a sequel.
Wasteland 2 took all the best parts of a tabletop RPG and stuffed them into a game that had incredible turn-based combat and a post-apocalyptic story as deep and compelling as anything the generation has seen so far.
Between this series and Torment: Tides of Numenera, InXile have proven that this kind of classic RPG experience is their bread and butter, but with no idea what their next project is going to be now they’ve teamed up with Microsoft, Wasteland 3 could also potentially be the last we see of them for a while.
6. Code Vein
Code Vein, like so many other action-RPGs these days, is going to have an uphill battle to shake off the perception of it being a “Dark Souls clone”. Sure, there are similar elements, specifically in the combat, but there’s far more to Bandai Namco’s upcoming release than that.
For one, the unique visual design immediately sets it apart from similar games on the market. Heavily inspired by anime, the character designs are a far cry from Dark Souls’ gothic fantasy world, while the narrative in general looks closer to an OTT action game like Devil May Cry than anything else. Originally set to release in 2018, the project was pushed to this year, and from the look of the recent trailers that added time seems to have paid off massively.
It’s not going to take over the world, but Code Vein is catering to a niche that’s starting to gain more and more attention as the years go by, and will hopefully be one of the surprise hits of 2019.
5. Tale Of Ronin
From a pure visual perspective, there’s no other game quite as striking as Tale of Ronin on this list. The evocative, 2D art style immediately transports you into this world, which is poised to chronicle the human side of the Feudal Japanese Samurai
While the tactical turn-based combat takes the focus in most of the screenshots released so far (perhaps rightly so, as it’s attempting to capture the high-stakes, push-and-pull battles found in the best Samurai movies), developers Dead Mage are also promising a rich, dynamic story that will challenge players with tough decisions and moral dilemmas. You’ve got to survive by any means necessary, and how you manage to keep alive is going to dictate the kind of person you end up becoming.
There’s no firm release date locked in yet, but between this and Ghost of Tsushima, 2019 could turn out to be the year of the Samurai.
4. Final Fantasy VII
Like Shenmue before it, Final Fantasy VII feels like it’s been in development forever. The two titles were announced at the same time, but Square Enix’s reimagining has been even quieter than Sega’s title, with there being nary a peep of gameplay footage following the remake’s first few months of frantic marketing.
Even worse, nobody really knows when the game is actually going to come out, or what form it’s going to take. Originally an episodic release, the first instalment was rumoured to drop in 2019, but it’s unclear if that’s still the case. Though production is underway, the director is currently focused on shipping Kingdom Hearts 3 first, leaving everyone wondering just how far the game has come in the near four years since it was announced.
Still, this is Final Fantasy VII we’re talking about, and despite all these red flags, there’s plenty to get excited about. The original is one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and while this remake is certainly changing things quite substantially, Square Enix isn’t going to half-arse a game that so many fans hold close to their heart. Probably.
3. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Another entry that veers closer towards the action side of “action-RPG”, FromSoftware’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is set to be a gory blend of all the developer’s past games. Taking the considered-yet-brisk action of Bloodborne, mixing it with the stealth of Tenchu and wrapping it up in an agile movement system that’s entirely unique to this project, Shadows Die Twice is the most daring new IP From have attempted for a while now.
While previous FromSoftware games have had detailed stories and worlds, they’ve mostly been abstract, forcing the player to piece them together through environmental storytelling and item descriptions. Sekiro is set to take a more narrative-focused approach this time around though, with a clear, more conventional story.
That might not mean there’ll be divergent pathways or multiple endings (though, judging the developer on their last decade of work and the titles this game is very cleared inspired by, it’s not a radical assumption), but it does potentially mean deeper interaction than ever before. No matter whether you’re a fan of the genre or not, Sekiro should be high on your list for 2019.
2. Cyberpunk 2077
Easily one of the most anticipated games of the generation so far, CD Projekt Red’s long-in-development Cyberpunk 2077 is finally inching towards release. After a major blowout last year, including an hour-long gameplay demo that showed off the inventive first-person shooting, driving and complex dialogue options, the latest from The Witcher studio looks absolutely stunning.
With an emphasis on delivering an interactive world even more driven by the player’s actions than their last game, the sandbox of Cyberpunk is bursting with divergent pathways and choice. This isn’t going to just be another open world game where icons litter your screen and only the main missions have consequences, CD Projekt Red are attempting to make every scrap of content significant and contribute to the player’s own journey through this story.
Back in 2015, the developers proved that expansive, single-player RPGs were still relevant, and it looks like they’re gearing up to reaffirm that same point nearly four years on.
1. The Outer Worlds
Obsidian have always been one of the most fascinating and fan-adored RPG developers, but unfortunately those features haven’t translated into financial success. Nearing the brink of closure a few times before, the studio has continued to deliver incredible titles despite never having the constant stability most other devs enjoy.
They’ve been bought up by Microsoft now (which should thankfully give them the resources they’ve sometimes lacked), but before they switch over to (presumably) making Xbox exclusives, The Outer Worlds will be their first AAA RPG since Fallout: New Vegas. Filling a hole in the market that’s been tragically ignored, their latest plans on taking the core of what made that Fallout title arguably the best since Bethesda bought the license, and wrapping it up in Obsidian’s new original world.
Despite being set in outer space, the RPG looks very much inspired by the retro-western style of New Vegas, only with a more pronounced sci-fi twist. Little is actually known about the game outside of a reveal trailer and release window, but Obsidian being back in a genre that’s so sorely missed them is enough for The Outer Worlds to nab the number one spot on this list.
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