So, it’s finally 2015 and it looks like RPGs are making a bit of a comeback. Everyone is talking about Final Fantasy XV, Persona 5, Bravely Second, and Kingdom Hearts III. Today, we won’t be talking about those games. None of them will come out in 2015. I’m sorry if you think otherwise. Instead, let’s discuss the games that are actually on the horizon and why they are important.
Do you know of From Software? You know – the Japanese developer with a shakier track record than Courtney Love. Well, in spite of how terrible Ninja Blade, Enchanted Arms, Tenchu Z, and Armored Core 4 were, people seem to now view the company as the second coming of Christ. Why? The sensational success of Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls. Apparently, the company is very good at making third person dungeon crawlers with unreasonable difficulty and unsavory controls. So they’re making a new series that is essentially the same as their other successes. The difference? It is exclusive to PS4, features faster combat, and the player will be expected to handle hoards of enemies. Bloodborne is coming out on March 24 in North America, and I can’t honestly say whether it will be as good as the Souls games. I can say, however, that I probably won’t play it.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is scheduled to come out May 19 for multiple platforms after a few delays. Polish developer CD Projekt RED has become something of an open-world WRPG wunderkind after the success of The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Numerous reviewing outlets cited the latter as being better than even Skyrim. A bold claim, to be sure but amazingly the company is looking to top that with the third release in the highly acclaimed series. The Witcher 3 is roughly 35 times bigger than The Witcher 2, with a massive, open world populated by strange creatures borrowed from Euro-centric folklore. It’s sure to be one of the best western RPGs of this year, and possibly on this generation of hardware.
Some would say that the Yakuza games aren’t RPGs. I would tell those snobs to actually play the games before making a blanket assessment. It plays kind of like an action-RPG version of GTA. The player gains experience from combat, which can then be used to level stats and increase fighting capabilities as they deal with the mean streets of Japan. You’ll fight street thugs, goof off in karaoke and geisha bars, and play classic SEGA games in awesome recreations of real, Japanese arcades. Yakuza 5 features a brand new graphics engine and for the first time in the series will host five setting across Japan along with five playable main characters. NA gamers will be lucky enjoy to play this highly anticipated Japanese adventure in Q3 of 2015.
To the people who only bothered to play Ocarina of Time, Link to the Past, and Skyward Sword, Majora’s Mask is often known as “the weird one.” To long-time fans of the franchise, however, Majora’s Mask is hands-down the best Zelda game of all time. Well, maybe not to ALL long-time fans, but if you are a fan of Zelda you should be able to appreciate what is easily Link’s most unique and substantive adventure. The side quests, NPCs, and atmosphere are the real draws here. Sure, the main quest is epic and dark and the moon is falling (blah, blah, blah), but REALLY it’s all about the connection you establish with the land of Termina – a connection that is all the more improved by better graphics, more streamlined game mechanics, and portability. It comes out February 13, and I highly advise that you buy.
Hey, did you hear that a new Final Fantasy game is coming out this year? What? You think Type-0 is just a simply spin-off? Oh, good sir. How much more wrong could you possibly be? Type-0 is a legitimate Final Fantasy in every way imaginable. It has its own mythos, over world to traverse, cast of characters, big swords, fancy magic attacks, castles, orchestral soundtrack, and a killer new camera system. Oh, and it isn’t on the PSP anymore. I know some folks are burned by the upcoming HD release not coming out for Vita, but business decisions are business decisions. The highly polished NA release will hit Xbox One and PS4 March 17th. If you’re a day-one buyer you can also play an episode of Final Fantasy XV.
Fans of Xenoblade Chronicles will have a spiritual successor to look forward to in 2015. While it isn’t being treated as a direct sequel to its highly acclaimed successor, X will feature much of the same gameplay with a few tweaks. The art style has changed radically, to something more similar to the Xenosaga series of games. Also, you’ll be able to enter a giant robot and use it to traverse X’s vast open world. It’s hard to say what the story is going to be about, but I’m excited to see more either way.
Finally, there is The Legend of Zelda Wii U. While it is still somewhat hard to believe that this new entry in the long running Zelda series will be released in 2015, Nintendo has assured the public that it will be happening. According to Aonuma, this game will feature vast fields with no boundaries. For once, the game will not be guiding the player’s hand when it comes to exploration. What we’ve seen of the game looks great, and I can’t wait to find out more about the game. Including the title. And the release date. Jeez, we really don’t know much yet.