Ones To Watch In 2016: Role Playing Games

2015 was a fantastic year for RPGs. Bloodborne began the wave with its punishing difficulty, while the likes of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Fallout 4 gave us expansive worlds well worth exploring. We even had sleeper hits like Undertale that, despite a simplistic style that’s bound to annoy Tuffcub, challenges the very conventions of RPGs as a whole. All will be fondly remembered in some way, shape or form, but what about 2016?

There’s a lot of the RPGs coming in 2016 which will be covered in our 3DS segment, but from the crop we know about on other platforms, there are a lot of sequels for long-established franchises to go through. Here are some of the ones to look out for in 2016.

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Estus flasks at the ready! From Software’s multi-platform torture chamber reopens its doors in 2016 with the third part of the Dark Souls franchise. We’ve not heard a ton about the mechanics from the game, given that the focus this year has been on Bloodborne, but we have seen gameplay footage of several points that show just how brutal it is.

Dark Souls was my gateway into Hidetaka Miyazaki’s twisted world of masochism, with each game having that raw sense of joy when you finally defeat a difficult boss or get through a tricky section to the next bonfire. I will never forget unlocking the secret weapon by firing arrows at a Dragon’s tail. I will also never forget the Bell Gargoyles, the Capra Demon, or even Blighttown and its ridiculous slowdown. Needless to say, I’m pretty hyped already for the next in the franchise.

What we’ve seen already looks familiar mechanically, but the world seems to have become darkerand colder. This could have something to do with the lore behind the franchise, but the one boss that we know the name of is a rather lanky creature known as “Dancer of the Frigid Valley”. A further trailer at PSX had showed the player traversing a treacherous cliffside that is being assaulted by ballista fire, before eventually squaring off against a giant tree.

It’s great to see that the relentless hammering that the game puts its players through hasn’t let up one bit. It’s also great to see that the boss design has taken a leaf out of Bloodborne’s book and tried to vary up the designs beyond a fat bap with a big chopper. Hopefully more of the enemies follow suit in this adventure when it launches on April 11th, 2016.

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Adam Jensen is back, more experienced, and has more augmentations at his disposal than ever before. This sequel carries on the story of the franchise where Deus Ex: Human Revolution left off, with a dystopian world at war with itself over those with and without augmentations, but also wants to expand upon the already numerous possibilities for tackling each mission and objective in the game.

The E3 trailer showcased some of Adam’s new abilities, such as bullet-proof armour that covers his entire body and face, knives that embed into walls and explode into shards to take out those behind cover, and on-the-fly weapon customisations to allow for adjustments to combat particular situations. This trailer also made a very bold claim that you could finish the entire game without killing a single person. Make of that what you will.

Of course, we have to mention the elephant in the room: the “Augment your Pre-order” marketing campaign that led to such uproar from the fans that Square-Enix and Eidos Montreal had to cancel it entirely. It was a silly idea that has thankfully been met with a prompt end, no longer detracting from the potential appeal of the game. That said, the further delay to the game has been a bitter pill to swallow, as it has been known to be in development for years. It will eventually be released on August 23, 2016.

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Final Fantasy VII Remake may be getting all of the attention at the moment, but do you remember Final Fantasy XV?

It’s amazing to think that Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae, the vertical slice of the full game that came bundled with Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, could be forgotten so quickly despite the fact that this is the first we’ve ever seen of the project formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. In fact, this has been in development conceptually for a long, long time.

As I never played Episode Duscae (my digital copy of Final Fantasy Type-0 didn’t come with the bundle as it was a press copy), I only have what people have shown on YouTube to go by. The combat system looks lively, though very different from your conventional Final Fantasy – with the main character being the only one you directly control. If you want something more in-depth, Dom had a look at Episode Duscae 2.0 earlier this year.

Beyond this and a few light story trailers, Final Fantasy XV has largely been kept under wraps. We still don’t know precisely when Final Fantasy XV will be releasing, but as recently as September it was still being shown for a 2016 release, with an event promised for March to reveal the final release date. Hopefully with the fervour surrounding Final Fantasy VII Remake, the team of developers can knuckle down and finish Final Fantasy XV in its entirety.

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Aside from being a lewd play on words, this is what happens when those foul-mouthed kids from South Park work out they’re supposed to be playing Superheroes. As Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman take on the role of “Coon and friends”, squaring off against the nefarious Professor Chaos (Butters), we have a very different tone from Obsidian’s homage to the South Park franchise.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone lend their writing talents once again which, given how successful they were with South Park: The Stick of Truth, is a bit of a no brainer. Most of what made the previous game so successful was down to the tone and the writing being on par with the show. This new childhood game opens up a whole bunch of new opportunities of where to take the franchise in both its story and mechanics.

We do have a rather hefty trailer from E3 courtesy of publisher Ubisoft, but with no gameplay on show we have to assume that it is going to be very similar to the previous title: turn based RPG mechanics similar in style to Paper Mario. I’m not complaining about that though, just as long as something new is injected into the battle system to keep it fresh.

Expect gross-out humour, offensive themes and dialogue, and in Europe and Australia at least, you can probably expect the head-spamming statue/crying Koala of censorship somewhere along the way. My only hope is that it doesn’t rehash a lot of the stories that South Park did in the TV show like the previous game did, though with Cartman as the Coon, I’m bracing myself for Cthulhu to make a cameo appearance.

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Of all the games on this list, this is the series that not only have I not played, but there’s also very little information out there surrounding it for me to call upon.

If it is anything like Bioware’s space-faring trilogy that made its mark on the previous generation, we can certainly look forward to more third-person cover shooting with squad mechanics and plenty of dialogue options. BioWare and EA have been light on the details for this one.

Given how it’s not connected to the original trilogy, which ended with a whimper rather than a bang in many people’s eyes, it seems Bioware wants to make a fresh start. Learning from the mistakes of the previous games is paramount to how successful this new voyage into the galaxy will be. Hopefully we will see more of it next year, but with no confirmed release date, this may not launch in its distant Q4 2016 release window.

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11 Comments

  1. This year is looking amazing! Final Fantasy XV, Mass Effect and South Park could be amongst the games of the year, while Deus Ex is one that I’m quietly hopeful about.

  2. Deus Ex and Mass Effect don’t count as RPGs though, do they? They’re more shooters with RPG elements.

    And Dark Souls is more of an RPG, but still not quite a proper one. More of a cruel exercise in punishing the player with RPG elements.

    South Park is a proper one though, and hopefully as much fun as the original, while FFXV might be, but stands a good chance of being the dumbed down crap they gave us last time. Just repeatedly “press X to firaga” for 40 hours.

    The more obscure Japanese companies are the only ones really doing RPGs these days, if you can ignore the more dubious bits and the fact that the whole thing usually ends up being as mad a sack of badgers.

    • But RPG comes in different form though, I mean if a game can jump in betweeen fps to third person vice versa, does that not make the game a fps because it has some elements of jumping to third person?

      • Games cross genre divides an awful lot these days. Most people would call Fallout 4 an RPG, but you can play it like a shooter in real time, just as much as you can Deus Ex and Mass Effect. The defining aspect here is that you control how your character develops over the course of the game, whether it’s an action RPG in the vein of Dark Souls or maybe Diablo, a tactical RPG like Disgaea or something a bit shootier, like Deus Ex.

        That you can load Adam Jensen up with stealth-focussed abilities at the expense of the more explosive and spectacular combat ones is why it’s here under the “Role Playing Game” umbrella term.

  3. Mass effect is huge, loved the trilogy, though I was a bit baffled by the ending. Really looking forward to a new gen version.
    I really enjoyed deus ex human revolution too so a sequel to that will be high on my list.
    Thanks for the article, good read.

  4. Disappointingly I’ve seen nothing upcoming that really grabs me so far. After a decent line-up this year 2016’s PS4 offerings appear rather lacklustre. I agree with Mr Yd that some of the games are not really’proper’ RPGs as such. Hopefully something has slipped under my radar and there’ll be a surprise or two to sate my RPG needs.

    • There’s Star Ocean With a Silly Name. Nier 2 possibly? Persona 5. Maybe Ni No Kuni 2 will go from a surprise announcement to a release next year?

      Oh, and Rainbow Skies (the last one, Rainbow Moon, being a pleasant little surprise)

      And probably 108 weird Japanese things. Megadimension Neptunia VII for a start.

      So no need to include not-really-RPGs in the list.

  5. Ni No Kuni 2 would be a nice treat if it does show next year. Rainbow Moon I quite enjoyed via the Vita and I’d forgotten about Rainbow Skies so thanks for the reminder there.
    Looking at your list maybe 2016 will be ok after all :)

    • That was supposed to be a reply to Mr Yd.

  6. Mass Effect is the only one I’m really interested in on this list. I thought the first two Mass Effect games we’re brilliant. The third game was good but they lost all the mystery from the first two games and the Reapers, who had been so menacing and seemingly invincible in the earlier games, were far too easy to defeat.

    I think not having the added pressure of trying to bring the trilogy to a hasty conclusion, they’ll be able to bring back some of the mystery and excitement to the series with Andromeda.

  7. I wouldn’t view Deus Ex as an RPG but the franchise does seem to fall under the genre as i’ve seen the original being labeled as a RPG. Anyway, South Park should be excellent and more or less be Stick of Truth 2, only, with less farts and more poo throwing. It will need something to be fresh instead of Stick of Truth 2:Here comes the Coon.

    Mass Effect, er… i get the feeling Bioware will ditch most of the RPG elements and turn it into a shooter. I mean, Mass Effect kinda has drifted away from an RPG and kinda focuses on shooting. Hopefully, i will be proven wrong. Hopefully, two head writers won’t go around the entire writing team’s back to rewrite the ending thus taking a shit on the ending of an excellent story. I don’t think it’s that bad, personally but learning that two writers rewrote the entire ending is a shitty thing. Hopefully, it will be more of an adventure and more light hearted then the serious miltary with the typical Bioware humour RPG. That and we need an Eme-genc-y Eject-ion port in our maskes. Shame we can’t be other races but the concept makes sense. Krogans are warriors thus they would view the entire project as cowardly. Salarians are too busy, Turians are Turians and don’t like distractions etc..

    Dark Souls III, yeah, i ain’t looking into that. Dark Souls II is said to be hard not because it is fun and gives a challenge but because it is hard just for the sake of being hard and goes even cheaper with some bosses. Do hope they tone it down and make it harsh but fair instead of Harsh but harsh with a dash of torture.

    FF15 has a lot to do in order to redeem the franchise. I hated FF13 due to the linear and crap system it used. I hated the mandatory boss battles with time limits and the story was… so, so. Also, NO ***** SIDE QUESTS! NO ****** OPEN WORLD(Apart from a few hours) and just dull.

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