5 - 1

Here we go, the big five. Falcom's The Legend of Heroes series returned triumpantly at the end of 2015 after a long wait and many staff members can't wait for more, while the Final Fantasy hype machine just keeps on churning. However, the top three set themselves out right from the start, leaving no doubt in their placements. Two-man team Zeboyd Games earned much love from staff with its previous efforts and anticipation is huge for its biggest title yet. However, considering how much the Persona and Fire Emblem series are loved amongst almost everyone here, it's no surprise to see them claiming the top two spots with ease.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II (PS3/Vita) - Official Site
Pub: XSEED Games | Dev: Nihon Falcom | Release: 2016 (NA/EU)

When Trails in the Sky finally reached North America and Europe way back in 2011, it very quickly grabbed the attention of many RPGamer staff thanks to its incredible story and fantastic cast. However, this also became somewhat of its downfall as the sheer amount of text contained within made it such an effort to localise future entries for less than ideal financial return. Thankfully, four years later, the series has come back into the limelight with Trails' Second Chapter being followed quickly by Trails of Cold Steel and the love affair has started anew. With Cold Steel's gameplay improvements arguably making for an even finer experience, we have even more reasons to be excited for the sequel that is due out later this year. - Alex Fuller

Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV (PS4/One) - Official Site
Pub: Square Enix | Dev: Square Enix | Release: 2016 (NA/EU)

I can't help but be excited about Final Fantasy XV. Sure it's met with drama over the changes that have taken place since it was Versus and the demo didn't really make me fall in love with the battle system, but there is still so much to this game that we've yet to see. There's a lot of potential in the story, especially with the characters we've only seen in trailers. The emotional impact of the Dawn trailer really hit home hard for me, so I can't wait to see what else happens. There is also so much room to develop the combat system outside of what was available in Episode Duscae, so I'll be glad to see that, too. I haven't even mentioned the music, but that should go without saying. - Michael A. Cunningham

Cosmic Star Heroine

Cosmic Star Heroine (PC/Mac/PS4/Vita) - Official Site
Pub: Zeboyd Games | Dev: Zeboyd Games | Release: 2016 (NA/EU)

I've been a fan of Zeboyd Games since Breath of Death VII, though Cthulhu Saves the World is still my personal favorite. Now freed from the Penny Arcade source material, Zeboyd Games is free to craft their own sci-fi world in the spy adventure Cosmic Star Heroine. The large cast of unique characters, on-screen battles, jamming music, and colorful style all make this indie RPG compelling. While this game has been on lists like this before, things are looking good for an early 2016 release. And it sure doesn't hurt my excitement that this is coming to Vita as well. #TeamHandheld - Michael A. Cunningham

Persona 5

Persona 5 (PS3/PS4) - Official Site
Pub: Atlus | Dev: Atlus | Release: 2016 (NA/EU)

The game that made most of the staff's most anticipated of 2015 will continue to remain near the top for 2016, though this time with a much higher likelihood of being released. Eight years will have passed since the last proper Persona game, a longer wait than between Persona 2: Eternal Punishment and Persona 3, and Atlus has kept the Persona train rolling, but this looks to be the biggest release for the company since Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. It's the first in the series in HD, featuring updated models for everyone's favorite demons, as well as the protagonist's new ones, and from what we've seen seems to be a real step forward in terms of level design. Combine that with an unprecedented, slick presentation and a brand new Shoji Megeru score, this one looks like another winner. - Zack Webster

 Fire Emblem Fates

Fire Emblem Fates (3DS) - Official Site
Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Intelligent Systems | Release: 02.19.2016 (NA/EU)

Awakening could have been the last Fire Emblem, and only the immense swell of positive feelings and good sales figures made sure it wasn't. What did Intelligent Systems do to follow it up? Apparently a Fire Emblem game with such significant choices that it had to be released as more than one game in Japan. Now that's intriguing, and after I was one of the many who had a superb time with Awakening, experiencing this one sounds like a grand idea. There isn't a whole lot to improve upon in the combat aspects of Awakening, except perhaps giving more battle variety, but I'll eagerly see what's been concocted this time. Hopefully it too does a fine job at keeping the series alive so that more will keep coming out. - Mike Moehnke

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