Now that we’re settled into 2018, it’s time to look at what’s on the horizon for one of gaming’s most popular genres. The RPG space is continuing to grow, with many games blurring the line of what’s we’ve come to expect from the genre and its traditional classification. Our list has plenty of games that fall into this camp, but also shows developers evolving classic design in interesting ways. Whether it’s upgrading your heroes or making adventure-altering choices, we’re excited for the diverse offering of RPGs in 2018.
Note: Our overall most anticipated list helped determine our rankings.
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
From the creators of Skullgirls, Indivisible is taking inspiration from plenty of classics, such as Valkyrie Profile’s combat and Metroid’s exploration. The unique RPG/platformer hybrid has a story influenced by the mythology of southeast Asia. In it, you play as tomboy Ajna, who is searching for answers to her newly awakened mysterious powers. As your progress, you recruit other eclectic heroes alongside learning new powers for battle and traversal. A bonus? The game features beautiful 2D hand-drawn animation and a soundtrack created by none other than iconic Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta. Considering Lab Zero Games’ success with Skullgirls, we’re eager to see what it can do with a different genre.
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Dontnod’s unique episodic adventure Life is Strange may have put the developer on the map, but Vampyr looks to be proof that the studio is bursting with even more creative ideas. Playing as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a recently “turned” vampire, you explore 1918 London during the Spanish Flu epidemic. The game’s skill tree is tied to feeding your unquenchable thirst for blood, and who you decide to feast upon is up to you. Every potential victim has their own story — some are priests, some are thieves, but all further your ability progression so you can stand toe-to-toe with your enemies. Morality is gray in Vampyr, and seeing how Dontnod walks this line should be intriguing.
8. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Dragon Quest may never have reached the same levels of popularity as Final Fantasy did in North America, but the series has captivated fans with the sense and wonder of adventure since its inception. Being the longest-running JRPG franchise, Dragon Quest has withstood the test of time, sticking to its classic turn-based gameplay that pioneered the genre. Now, for the first time since VIII, a new adventure awaits us on home consoles. You play a hero who must embark on a grand adventure to learn more about his mysterious past. With a charming cast, improvements to combat, and more detailed environments, Dragon Quest XI looks to be everything you want in a Dragon Quest game, right down to its estimated 80-100 hours of playtime.
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Coming from Swedish developer Experiment 101, Biomutant looks extraordinary and super ambitious to boot. This open-world action/RPG’s is being billed as “a post-apocalyptic kung-fu fable.” What that means exactly is anyone’s guess. In it, you navigate a vibrant landscape as a raccoon-like creature whose abilities and appearance can be changed with mutations, bionic prosthetics, and weapons. The depth doesn’t stop there, as you can also modify your character with everything from claws to robotic limbs. Combat combines shooting, melee, and powers from your mutations. Better yet? The game also boasts branching storylines with a karma and companion system for recruiting allies. Did we also mention you can navigate the vast world via air balloon, jet ski, or mech? Sounds like a fun time to us!
6. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
As a direct sequel to 2015’s Pillars of Eternity, Deadfire once again takes you to the world of Eora. However, this time around, you’re exploring the Deadfire Archipelago. You have your own ship — The Defiant — which helps you sail between the islands and also acts as your base of operations. You can upgrade The Defiant, hire new crew members, and even take it into battle with other ships. A new system allows your companions to build relationships with each other based on the choices you make and what they experience. If you’re a returning player, you can continue your story and see the impact of your original decisions. Even with new tweaks, it looks like Deadfire will feature the same immersive, reactive storytelling that made the original so special.
5. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Release: March 23
Platform: PlayStation 4, PC
While the original Ni no Kuni earned high praise for its emotional story and gorgeous visuals, its repetitive combat bogged down the overall experience. Thankfully, battles in Revenant Kingdom received a major overhaul. Combat is now in real-time and more action-oriented, playing similarly to the Pikmin series. Not all has changed, though; like the first game, Revenant Kingdom features a coming-of-age story with a colorful cast of characters. As a recently exiled young king named Evan, your goal is to reclaim your throne and building up your own kingdom with the help of the likes of Roland, a man from our world, and Tani, whose father is the leader of sky pirates.
4. Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Release: February 13
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Kingdom Come’s sprawling forests and medieval soldiers may look straight out of the Elder Scrolls series, but you won’t be wielding any magic spells or Dragon Shouts on this adventure. Warhorse Studios’ open-world RPG eschews fantasy for pure historical accuracy, from authentic armor and combat techniques to historically accurate castles. Players take on the role of an unassuming blacksmith who gets swept up in a war for the Kingdom of Bohemia, though what you focus on and how you complete quests is entirely up to you.
3. Pokémon Switch
Release: 2018 “or later”
Of all the games on this list, Pokémon Switch has the slimmest chances of coming out this year – an investment report pegged the release window as “2018 or later,” which could literally be anytime. However, we’re willing to bend our own list criteria for the sheer potential of a console Pokémon game. Fans have been dreaming about a supersized monster-catching adventure for decades, and now it’s finally happening! We can’t wait to see how Game Freak incorporates the added horsepower and unique features of the Switch for its next outing – even if it doesn’t happen in 2018.
2. Valkyria Chronicles 4
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
With a gorgeous watercolor art style, memorable characters, and intriguing mix of real-time action and tactical gameplay, Valkyria Chronicles has long been a cult favorite in the G.I. offices. That’s why we’re so happy to see that Sega is finally bringing the series back to consoles after two PSP sequels. In addition to a new grenadier class, Valkyria Chronicles 4 features an all-new cast of characters and a more grounded setting that harkens back to the original game. Given the missteps of the recent Valkyria Revolution spin-off, we’re ready for a return to form.
1. Kingdom Hearts III
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
It might star Donald Duck and Goofy, but Kingdom Hearts III is serious business. Fans have been waiting over 10 years for the next numbered sequel in Square Enix’s action/RPG series, which promises more party members from Disney’s ever-expanding cast of characters, bigger worlds to explore, and new weapon transformations for Sora’s iconic Keyblade. All that plus the long-anticipated ending to Xehanort’s story arc has G.I.’s Kingdom Hearts fans jumping up and down in anticipation.