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By Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

There are tons of RPGs on the horizon, and these games never seem to come quick enough to please us. The RPGamer staff tackled the list of RPGs likely headed for English speaking regions (North America and Europe) and have whittled down the list to our most anticipated RPGs.

Dark Souls

Dark Souls (Xbox 360/PS3) - Official Site
Pub: Namco Bandai | Dev: From Software | Release: 10.04.2011

Our 2009 RPG of the Year Demon's Souls was a harsh mistress. She beat us, she crushed our spirit, she walked all over us, and we kept coming back for more. That was almost two years ago, and we've since moved on with our lives. Now we're looking forward to meeting up with her meaner, younger sister Dark Souls. This follow up appears to bring back everything we loved about Demon's Souls such as the passive multiplayer, the PvP, and the enormous bosses. The catch? The developers claim to have made the game even harder. While Demon's Souls was hard, it was always fair. If we died, we knew why. Here's hoping that Dark Souls shares that same kindness behind its beautiful, yet deadly, exterior.

The Reason We Want It: We couldn't get enough of Demon's Souls so this game will allow us to scratch that painful itch once more.


Diablo III

Diablo III (PC) - Official Site
Pub: Activision Blizzard | Dev: Blizzard Entertainment | Release: TBA

Diablo III is a game fans have been waiting for since we finished up with Diablo II. Finished up is a flexible term of measurement, as some players might have plowed through the second game back in 2000 and put it aside. The true fans of the series are likely still playing it today or at least still have Diablo II installed. It's a game with almost endless replay value and that's what makes us excited about Diablo III. It takes place twenty years after the last game and boasts a host of new features. The game's five new character classes are among the most intriguing, as we're dying to jump in and find our favorite. While not everything about this upcoming title has been met with open arms, there is still enough love for this series that we know we're going to play it...if it ever actually comes out. The possibility that this might even be released on consoles as well has us even more curious.

The Reason We Want It: This is the series that brought dungeon crawling to the mainstream. Blizzard's attention to detail shows that the company is truly a master of their craft. Diablo III is just another notch on their belt. They know we're in regardless of what they do with it, so why should we try to deny it?


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360/PS3/PC) - Official Site
Pub: Bethesda Softworks | Dev: Bethesda Game Studios | Release: 11.11.2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the 800-pound gorilla in the open world RPG market. The series started on PC in 1994 and made the jump to a multiplatform series eight years later with Morrowind. Now with Skyrim, the series is huge across both PC and consoles and it looks better than ever. Having ditched the Gamebryo Engine in favor of the beautiful new Creation Engine complete with weather effects, Skyrim takes the visual aspect to the next level. So not only will we spend hours exploring the northern province of Tamriel, things will look better than ever as we do. Oh, and the best part? Dragons can appear unscripted at a moment's notice, so we could be unsuspectingly slaughtered at any time. Who doesn't love getting killed by a dragon?

The Reason We Want It: Is it dragons? The huge new world? Using an engine other than Gamebryo? We want it for all of those reasons, though mostly for not using Gamebryo.


Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (Xbox 360/PS3/PC) - Official Site
Pub: EA | Dev: Big Huge Games/38 Studios | Release: 02.07.2012

While Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is surrounded by huge western titles from BioWare and Bethesda, this game is standing out as a very interesting new property (and no, this is not the MMO). This is an open world RPG with a very flexible class system. Reckoning's strongest offerings are its engaging battle system and flexible customization. Not only does combat appear fast and fluid, but players don't have to pick a class before starting the game. Instead, players get to shape their character's destiny as they go by being able to swap classes on the fly. This third-person title has all the trappings we want in an open world RPG. There is fast travel, tons of loot, lots of class options, speedy combat, dialogue options, and a massive world to explore. We're hoping it doesn't get swallowed up by other established series, as we're always looking for new experiences.

The Reason We Want It: Combat is fast, loot is bountiful, the world is huge, and options are plentiful. Why not give a new series a chance?


The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter (PSP) - Official Japanese Site
Pub: XSEED Games | Dev: Nihon Falcom | Release: TBA

The first game in the Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky trilogy may have just been released earlier in the year, but the way it ended left us wanting more. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter is the direct continuation, and we want it. It took seven years for the first game to make it to North America, but hopefully we won't have to wait that long to get the second part. In a time where the PSP is waning, it's tough to say if we'll get this game in its current format, but XSEED has stated that the company is committed to bringing it over. While PSP would be ideal, we'll be thrilled to get to experience the rest of Estelle and Joshua's adventure in whatever format makes it over. This is one of the games that shows Japanese-developed RPGs are not dead, regardless of what the naysayers might think.

The Reason We Want It: Sometimes it's nice to have an RPG that harkens back to older times without feeling dated. This series makes that a reality.


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) - Official Site
Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Nintendo EAD | Release: 11.20.2011

While I imagine most of us don't care about the motion control aspects of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, there is something about the traditional Zelda formula that is just addictive. Twilight Princess began as a GameCube game before being transitioned to the Wii, so Skyward Sword is the first game made exclusively for the Wii. According to producer Eiji Aonuma, the team is looking to change up the familiar formula of the game, so that players are no longer goign to be repeating the overworld to dungeon and back cycle. We're hopeful that it will change things for the best without shaking things up too drastically. We love our standard Zelda format, but are always up for a change, especially since it looks like we've moved from sailing and riding a horse to flying this time around.

The Reason We Want It: It's been five years since a console Zelda title was released. We're ready for it, even if we have to use waggle.


Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360/PS3/PC) - Official Site
Pub: EA | Dev: BioWare | Release: 03.06.2012

This is it: the grand finale. Since the first Mass Effect released in 2007, we've been leading our Shepard to dozens of planets where we've met, romanced, and shot many an alien. The series has always had a heavy focus on choice, and in Mass Effect 3 we are ready to see the culmination of all of the decisions we've made up to this point. Will we regret not saving the council? Are we going to be thankful that we spared the Rachni Queen? Is there a reward for being loyal to our original lover? Well, we're going to find out early in 2012, and we're dying to see how it ends.

The Reason We Want It: The past two games have been great, why would we not want to return and see how decisions shape the universe?


Solatorobo

Solatorobo: The Red Hunter (DS) - Official Site
Pub: XSEED Games | Dev: CyberConnect2 | Release: 09.27.2011

The 3DS might be Nintendo's newest portable focus, but the standard DS is not dead yet. It's nice to see publishers still bringing over RPGs for the system, and Solatorobo is the one that our staff is most looking forward to playing. CyberConnect2 has crafted a spiritual successor to Tail Concerto with Solatorobo, a quirky action RPG starting Red, a dog who uses a robot to fight. A dog, you ask? Yes, the floating islands of the Shepherd Republic are where dogs and cats live together, though not always in peace and harmony. The game's combat is one of the highlights, as Red uses his mech to slide around, toss things at enemies, and bat down missiles. It's a fun looking title with lots of anime influence, so hopefully before the DS heads off into the sunset we'll get to see a few more of these niche titles.

The Reason We Want It: It looks fun. The DS has been home to many unique RPGs, and Solatorobo fits right in. Dog people, robots, and smashing enemies? Does it get any better?


Tales of Graces F

Tales of Graces F (PS3) - Official Site
Pub: Namco Bandai | Dev: Namco Tales Studio | Release: 2012

Tales fans are very vocal, though sadly in the gaming world filled with first-person shooters, sports games, and causal content, their voices are a minority. Though here in a place where RPGs reign supreme, those voices are loud and clear. There is a big desire from us to see more of the series, so we're really looking forward to the PlayStation 3 version of Tales of Graces F to hit next year. This fast-paced action RPG series is always evolving and changing slightly. The changes are just innovative enough to feel fresh, but are similar enough to the spirit of the series to keep fans happy. The beautiful watercolor art of Graces makes the game look like a lovely painting, which makes things even better. For a series where we never know if we'll get to play the latest entry in English, we don't take it for granted when we are graced with a North American release.

The Reason We Want It: There have been so many games in the series that have not received an English release that we're glad to get any of them. We still want this and all of the others though, so don't think we're content. Ever.


Torchlight II

Torchlight II (PC) - Official Site
Pub: Perfect World | Dev: Runic Games | Release: 2011

Torchlight came out of nowhere in 2009 to fill our Diablo void. The original game was created by Travis Baldree, designer of Fate, along with Diablo and Diablo II makers Max Schaefer and Erich Schaefer, so if it feels a lot like the games that inspired it, there is a good reason for that. Torchlight II is now just around the corner and it addresses one of the biggest areas that the first game was lacking: multiplayer. Not only does this sequel bring us co-op multiplayer, but it also gives us four playable classes, a day/night cycle, weather effects, an updated user interface, more pets, and the ability to customize the look of our character. And since it appears Torchlight II will release soon at a very attractive price, what's not to love? Even up against bigger name titles, we still want Torchlight II more.

The Reason We Want It: It gives us everything we want out of Diablo with none of the DRM hassle and at a more reasonable price. With this version featuring both internet and LAN co-op, how could we resist?


Honorable Mentions
The games here are close contenders for the top spots, and they are no slouches. We are ready to shop for alchemy components, blast zombies, battle through the Netherworld, help our Servants in battle, and hunt for our lost sister. That's not all we have going on, as there are also dimensions to stomp, crops to grow, demons to negotiate with, skits to watch, and massive worlds to explore. How we will ever find the time to do all of these things is still to be seen, but we'll get it done and love every minute of it.
Atelier Totori Dead Island Disgaea 4 Fate/Extra Final Fantasy XIII-2
The Last Story Paper Mario 3D Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny SMT: Persona 2 IS Tales of the Abyss
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