The JRPG genre is going through a nice little renaissance. 2016 is looking especially promising with a mixture of big budget releases in addition to some smaller titles. So what role-playing games should look forward to? You can find out in our most anticipated list of the top 15 JRPGs that have been announced for release in North America for this year.
15. Bravely Second: End Layer
Bravely Default ended up being of the biggest surprises of 2014 in terms of both commercial success and critical reception. Bravely Second: End Layer will be bringing back the battle system of original, which feature multiple classes in addition to a risk/reward system where you can sacrifice future turns for more current actions. If you enjoyed the original, then you shouldn’t miss out on the second installment.
You can preorder Bravely Second: End Layer, which will be released on April 15th, with this link on Amazon.
14. Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem
After being announced years ago, the Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem was finally released in late 2015 for the Japanese region. The game, which currently does not have an English name but has the Japanese title of Genei Ibun Roku ♯FE, combines concepts from both JRPG franchises in addition to adding some unique modern day Japanese pop culture elements. Needless to say, fans of Shin Megami Tensei and/or Fire Emblem should keep an eye on the localized version.
The tentatively titled Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem is expected to come out sometime before the end of this year in North America.
13. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth marks a return of the popular multimedia franchise into the role-playing genre. You will be able to raise, Digivolve and battle (with up to three members per battle) many iconic digital monsters. The western release also adds some new features such as difficulty settings, new game plus mode in addition to cross save functionality between the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita versions.
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is releasing on February 2nd for PS4 and Vita. Reserve the physical copy of the console version with this page.
12. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
Odin Sphere was a hidden gem that was overlooked when it was originally released for the PS2 as it came out a year after the launch of the PS3. Fortunately, Atlus is re-mastering the 2D side-scrolling action RPG. The new version will have improved graphics, including a smoother frame rate, as well as additional content such as new areas, enemies and weapons. So, even if you played the original version, there is more than enough improvements and new stuff that will make Leifthrasir worth playing.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir launches for the PS4, PS3 and Vita on the 7th of June in North America. Preorder the remastered release here.
11. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
While Kingdom Hearts 3 is not expected to come out in 2016, Square Enix does have something to tie fans over with. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue comes with the HD remastered port of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, cinematics from Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover in addition to Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep–A Fragmentary Passage, a original chapter that takes place after the events of Birth by Sleep. So, if you are looking forward to the third main installment, make sure you check out the upcoming compilation as well.
You can reserve Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, which is slated for a 2016 release in North America, with this link.
10. Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past
One of the most epic JRPG ever released was Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past. Unfortunately, when it was originally localized, the game came out after the launch of the PlayStation 2. So many fans of the genre missed out on the classic. Thankfully, Square Enix will be releasing the 3DS remake, which comes with improved graphics, gameplay tweaks as well as new content. Thus, the handheld version will most likely end up being the definitive one.
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past is expected to come out later in summer. You can preorder the 3DS remake with this page.
9. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
In addition to Dragon Quest VII, Square Enix will also release Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for the Nintendo 3DS in 2016. The enhanced handheld port features plenty of added contents, including a photo mode, new party members in addition to a new dungeon to explore. So, even if you played the game on the PlayStation 2, the Nintendo 3DS version offers plenty of new contents that will make it worth playing.
Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, which should be made available before the end of this year, is available for preorder here.
8. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness
After the disappointing Star Ocean IV: The Last Hope, Square Enix is planning to win back fans of the series with the upcoming fifth mainline installment. For Integrity and Faithlessness, the development team will be implementing massive real-time battles, with up to seven party members, that will occur in the same field as exploration. With great looking graphics to boot, the upcoming title should bring the series back to form.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness should be released before the end of 2016. Preorder the fifth game of the series with this link.
7. World of Final Fantasy
Another Square Enix JRPG being planned for 2016 is World of Final Fantasy. The spin-off game uses the classic active time battle system with some unique twists as the two main characters, Lann and Reyne, can summon various allies that appeared in the previous installments of the franchise. There is also an unique twist where players have to stack characters together to create combo abilities. Those looking for a more old school role-playing game should definitely keep an eye on this promising upcoming title.
You can preorder World of Final Fantasy for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita via this page.
6. Fire Emblem Fates
The Fire Emblem series finally became popular in North American thanks to the release of Fire Emblem Awakening. With the next mainline installment of the series, Fire Emblem Fates, the development team at Intelligent Systems decided to build upon the success of the predecessor by adding new elements such as being able to build your own home base. The game is also spilt between three different campaigns: Birthright, Conquest and Revelation. Fire Emblem Fates should end up being another big hit for the long running series.
5. Ni Oh
Ni Oh, which has been in development for a long time, has all the makings of a great game. For one, it is being developed by Team Ninja, the studio behind the Ninja Gaiden series. The new intellectual property also borrows elements from the Dark Souls and Onimusha franchise. If you are a fan of any of the three major influences, then Ni Oh should be on your list of anticipated role-playing games releasing in 2016.
Ni Oh should be made available later in the year for the PlayStation 4.
4. Nier: Automata
While known for its excellent story and soundtrack, many critics weren’t too fond of the gameplay in the original Nier. For the sequel, Square Enix opted to team up with Platinum Games, the studio responsible for masterful action games like Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising Revengeance. Early footage of the action-JRPG already looks very promising with the intense and stylish combat. If it can live up to its potential, then Nier: Automata should end up being a very special game.
Reserve Nier: Automata, which is slated for a 2016 launch for the PS4, here.
3. Dark Souls 3
After the success of Bloodborne, Hidetaka Miyazaki is returning to Dark Souls as the director for what is advertised to be the last game in the series. Dark Souls 3 appears to combine the faster movement of Bloodborne with the build variety of the Souls games. As a result, gamers should end up getting the best of both worlds. So, even though it may be the third similar game to come out in as many years (with Dark Souls 2 releasing in 2014 and then Bloodborne in 2015), From Software’s consistency should be more than enough to keep fans excited for the sequel.
Dark Souls 3 is launching on the 12th of March for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Preorder the latest game developed by From Software with this link.
2. Final Fantasy XV
It is hard to believe that Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced a decade ago for the PlayStation 3. After going through a name change (to Final Fantasy XV), move to another generation of consoles (PS4/XB1) as well as other major overhauls, the game finally appears to be nearing completion. Last year’s playable demon, Episode Duscae, showed plenty of promise with incredible graphics, action-packed combat as well as a huge world to explore. So the long awaited title appears to be worth the decade-long wait.
Reserve Final Fantasy XV, which is coming out for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with this page.
1. Persona 5
Persona 3 and Persona 4 are some of the most beloved games from the JRPGs franchise. So it’s no surprise that a lot fans of the genre, including us, are looking forward to Persona 5. The sequel will be a big step up in terms of graphics as well as gameplay. For example, the dungeons will have more variety as you can sneak around, traverse across paintings and jump on chandeliers. Everything we have seen of the game so far is nothing short of outstanding. So, if you call yourself a JRPG fan, you shouldn’t miss out on our most anticipated Japanese-developed role-playing game of 2016.In addition to the above-mentioned titles, the following JRPGs have also been announced for a 2016 release in North America so far: Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force, Grand Kingdom, Megadimension Neptunia VII, Nights of Azure, Project X Zone 2, Ray Gigant, Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale, Stranger of Sword City, The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition, Trillion: God of Destruction and Valkyria Chronicles Remastered. Needless to say, fans of the genre will have plenty of new Japanese-developed role-playing games to check out.