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Future RPG Highlights

By Trent Seely

   The RPG genre is in no short supply of excellent titles, but it's hard not to froth at the mouth for some games that are nowhere near release. A number of big name developers have announced some impressive looking RPGs for both existing franchises and new IPs, and while it could be some time before we get a taste, it also feels like the right time to start fawning over them. The following games have different types of gameplay, tone, graphics, budgets, and developers; the main thing they have in common is that we're really jazzed about them in spite of not having an official release date.

Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV
Pub: Square Enix | Dev: Square Enix | Release: TBA

   Final Fantasy XV — formerly Final Fantasy Versus XIII — doesn't have a release date or even a release year yet, but that hasn't stopped many an RPGamer from watching and rewatching its spectacular trailers. This elusive action RPG, which has been in one form of development or another for over seven years now, has moved from current gen to next-generation systems and from the Crystal Tools engine to the Luminous engine in order to take advantage of graphical and physics innovations. As a result, what we've seen of the game has impressed though some fans have certainly become tired of waiting. What we know of the story is fairly limited right now: there is only one crystal left in this game's world and it lies in the Kingdom of Lucis, to which protagonist Noctis is heir apparent. Upon striking peace with the state of Niflheim, Lucis celebrates an end to the cold war — leaving an opening for Niflheim to launch a full-scale invasion. Battles will be real-time, parties will feature three characters, Noctis can warp short distances and use weapons of all sizes, and the aesthetics of the world will differ based on which of the five nations you're currently in. It may be a while yet before we get our hands on this RPG, but it might be worth the wait.


Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077
Pub: CD Projekt RED | Dev: CD Projekt RED | Release: When It's Ready

   Here's the odd thing about Cyberpunk 2077: we've seen virtually nothing of the game outside of a single teaser trailer and a few stills, but we already know a fair amount about it. Developed by the same studio as The Witcher 2, though not by the same development team, Cyberpunk 2077 is based on the pen-and-paper role-playing game Cyberpunk 2020, created by Mike Pondsmith, whom CD Project is "working very closely with." It's a PC and next-generation console game (though it may not be released on the PlayStation 4) being developed alongside The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, while the two development teams share ideas and technology. In terms of narrative, Cyberpunk 2077 is set in the year 2077 in a place called Night City. The combat will be faithful to the Cyberpunk 2020 game, although action is likely to be as real-time as The Witcher titles and freedom of play appears to be of greater importance. The word "sandbox" has been thrown around a lot, and it looks like questing will be fairly free form within Night City. Finally, we know that the game will feature a gigantic arsenal of weapons, upgrades, implants and high-tech gear to reflect over 50 years of mankind's progress since the original pen-and-paper title. Again — we haven't seen any gameplay or concrete detaills since the announcement, but the high-concept trailer alone has already gotten fans of western RPGs pumped.


Kingdom Hearts III

Kingdom Hearts III
Pub: Square Enix | Dev: Square Enix | Release: TBA

   As much as fans of this series will cringe at the news that we'll have to wait until development has ended on Final Fantasy XV before Kingdom Hearts III enters full development, at least we finally have confirmation that the third numbered installment in the franchise is coming out. For the uninitiated, the franchise debuted in 2002 and has seen more spinoffs for portable consoles than it has main releases. In fact, it has already been eight years since the release of Kingdom Hearts II and many fans are still on pins and needles as to how the "Dark Seeker saga" ends. The long wait has certainly taken a toll, as some former fans of this AAA franchise have become disinterested and fatigued by the convolution of the narrative by spinoffs, but those who have kept the faith will finally be rewarded by a firm conclusion to a series that has somehow stretched to eight titles. Not much is known about Kingdom Hearts III right now, outside of the announcement that the game has been in some stage of development by the Osaka team — formerly responsible to the well received Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. As with Final Fantasy XV, Kingdom Hearts III will be released for both Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We're thirsty for more information, but the teaser trailer has at least whet our appetites.


Child of Light

Child of Light
Pub: Ubisoft | Dev: Ubisoft Montreal | Release: TBA 2014

   The asymmetrical Child of Light came out of left field for many of us RPGamers. Ubisoft isn't exactly well known for developing JRPGs. The inspired storybook aesthetics for this upcoming side-scrolling fairytale and the developer's intention to capture the "Squaresoft spirit" of the PlayStation era have definitely caught our attention. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, this small downloadable RPG is being led by Far Cry 3's Patrick Plourde, who envisions the game to be a mix between Limbo and Final Fantasy VI. Inspired by early 20th century children's books and Disney movies, this RPG is intended to be a lively and colorful homage to the roots of the JRPG genre. The script will be carefully written in full form poetry and the battle system will be a mix of Final Fantasy's ATB system and Grandia's IP bar. Interestingly enough, Child of Light is also being designed with the intention of co-op multiplayer. Naturally, you'll be able to play Child of Light on your own, but the co-op between protagonist Aurora and blue orb Igniculus will add another layer of strategy to battle. The game hasn't been confirmed for any platforms yet and it will be a while until we actually see it, but we do know that it won't be launching on any mobile platforms. We're all hotly anticipating more information, but for now we are content to leave the game's teaser on repeat.


Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Pub: EA | Dev: Bioware | Release: TBA 2014

   Fanfare around BioWare's sword-and-shield RPG Dragon Age: Inquisition has been kind of warm in comparison to the build-up for its predecessor. This may have something to do with the heavy criticism Dragon Age II received for a number of its design choices. We know quite a bit about the game, but many RPGamers don't seem to be as excited as they maybe should be. Built on the powerful Frostbite 3 engine, Dragon Age: Inquisition has taken a number of RPGamer issues with Dragon Age II into account and will sport a whole new visual style as well as a number of changes to gameplay. The game's world has been designed to be much more expansive than previous entries in the franchise and questing locations will not be reused. Mounts are being incorporated to better navigate this massive terrain. In terms of narrative, Dragon Age: Inquisition will, naturally, focus on an inquisition that is controlled by the player character. To increase its influence and strength, your inquisition must earn the allegiance of many factions, though it is up to you how you choose to do so. Once you've gained strength, you can choose whom the inquisition opposes. Combat is being designed to be a mix between Dragon Age II's fast pace and the original Dragon Age's strategic nature. It has been confirmed that the game will allow players to import saves from previous entries, though how those choices are used in Inquisition is still unknown. Some characters from previous series entries will be returning and your protagonist can once again choose to be a human, elf, or dwarf. It appears that BioWare is really focused on making Inquisition the most well-crafted game in Dragon Age series. If you felt put off by its predecessor, you may want to give this title a chance.


Transistor

Transistor
Pub: Unknown | Dev: Supergiant Games | Release: TBA 2014

   You can feel the hype coming off this high-profile indie title. Not only has a tremendously catchy teaser trailer been floating around the internet, but Supergiant Games' previous title, Bastion, garnered RPGamer's coveted "RPG of the Year" award for 2011. Set in the futuristic Cloudbank, our mute protagonist, Red, is apparently a famous singer on the run from five robotic assassins. Her weapon is the Transistor — a glowing, multi-functional sword that doubles as the tale's narrator. Apparently containing the soul of a deceased man, the Transistor has chosen to protect and guide Red for some unknown reason. Like Bastion, combat is close range and takes place on an isometric plane. Unlike Bastion, there are important strategic elements to every enemy encounter. Each action button is attached to a specific skill, obtained by absorbing lost souls. There are close-combat melee attacks, ranged straight-line attacks, area-of-effect attacks, and dash/teleport maneuvers. Actions are simple in practice, but require thinking for results. Thankfully, Red has the ability to freeze time briefly to map out the best path of movement and subsequent commands. Naturally, the number of actions that can be placed in the queue while time is frozen is limited, so an intelligent strategy has to be considered to progress. The hand painted graphical style, isometric environments, and sound design all bear a visceral, almost cyberpunk, feel. Without having actually seen Transistor much since this past spring, it's already clear that it will be a truly unique experience. What does the Transistor want with Red? Why was her voice taken? Where did these attackers come from? Supergiant Games is remaining tight lipped for now, but we can't wait to hear more.


Honorable Mentions

   While we really wanted to highlight the above six RPGs, there are some honorable mentions. As of right now, we either have too little information on these upcoming RPG releases or they can be assumed to be similar in nature to their predecessors. We hope that you will share a few of the upcoming RPGs that you're anticipating with us on the forums.

Phantasy Star Nova Drakengard 3 Tales of Xillia 2

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