Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom – PS4, PC – Jan. 19
Read More: Check out our most promising JRPGs of 2019 that we’re looking forward to.
Ni No Kuni was a fascinating little JRPG that released back on the PS3, a collaboration between the talented developers at Level-5 and the legendary animation company Studio Ghibli. The game sported the gorgeous animation style of Ghibli, almost resembling an anime in motion while you were playing it. If there was any criticism about the first Ni No Kuni, however, it’s that the combat system quickly became slow and repetitive. This is something that Level-5 has taken to heart, really focusing in on creating a dynamic and fast-paced combat system that feels like a big improvement over the original. You can even take a look at some hands-on impressions of it from our time with the game at E3 this year.
Ni No Kuni II takes place hundreds of years after the first and tells the story of Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, a young boy of the cat tribe who’s forced out of his kingdom by usurpers. Together with new friends and supporters you’ll need to take things back and rebuild your kingdom step by step.
Lost Sphear – PS4, PC, Switch – Jan. 23
In 2016 Square Enix’s new studio, Tokyo RPG Factory, released their first title with I Am Setsuna. The title was a throwback to the nostalgic JRPGs of the ’90s, with a turn-based combat system similar to Chrono Trigger and a story reminiscent of Final Fantasy X. A year later we’re seeing the developer’s second title, Lost Sphear.
Lost Sphear retains many of the elements that I Am Setsuna had, and still keeps the focus on emotional storytelling. You follow a young boy named Kanata, who wakes up from a dream to find his small village disappearing. It’s then up to him and some new friends to save the world by converting their thoughts into actual matter. As an extra surprise though, you’ll also gain the ability to pilot mech suits and battle enemies with them.
Monster Hunter World – PS4, Xbox One – Jan. 26
The Monster Hunter series has seen increasing popularity over the years and the series is getting its biggest entry in years in early 2018. Monster Hunter World brings some big changes to the series, letting players roam around a massive open world environment instead of the usual zone-based world structure. The enormous monsters of the series won’t just go after you but after each other as well, creating massive battles that can change at a whim. In addition, the 14 different classes from previous Monster Hunter games will return, allowing for a good amount of variation in gameplay.
Of course, the game can be played entirely in single-player or with up to three other friends in co-op. Monster Hunter World promises a huge, expansive experience just like the rest of the series, and this time the scope will be much larger than what you can get on something like the 3DS.
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology – 3DS – Feb. 13
The Nintendo DS saw a wealth of quality RPGs over its lifespan, and one of the absolute best was a gem called Radiant Historia. Unfortunately the game was near impossible to find for many years, but anyone that didn’t get to catch it the first time around will have another chance with the expanded remake Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology. Radiant Historia features a story packed with political intrigue, lovable well-rounded characters, and a mind-bending time travel story that has you playing as Stocke, an espionage agent for the country of Alistel.
Perfect Chronology is basically an enhanced version of the original, featuring improved graphics and a full voice cast not present in the original. Additionally there are new “Sub History” options that have been added into the story, expanding and fleshing it out even more. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology is a strong late title for the 3DS, and one that any JRPG fans need to keep on their radar.
Code Vein – PS4, Xbox One, PC – TBA 2018
Souls-like games have been all the rage since the Souls series reached its peak of popularity after Bloodborne, and we’ve definitely seen some quality ones lately, like Nioh. Code Vein comes from Bandai Namco themselves, and it sports a vibrant anime art style. The game takes place in dark, dystopian world where a mysterious disaster has brought the world to Ruin. You play as a Revenant, a vampiric soldier, who’s part of a society called Vein, who works to stop The Lost, fiendish ghouls who only crave blood.
Code Vein is a single-player dungeon-focused experience, with gameplay that highly resembles that of the Souls series. Timing your attacks, defending, and dodging will all be crucial, as well as working with the various allies that can accompany you on your adventure. Cod Vein looks really promising, and its gothic anime art style is both gorgeous and haunting. This is definitely one to keep an eye on as one of 2018’s most intriguing JRPGs.
Project Octopath Traveler – Switch – TBA 2018
The Switch has already seen its fair share of exclusives, but Square Enix will be joining Nintendo in providing even more next year, when they release Project Octopath Traveler. After already releasing a demo for the game this Fall, Octopath Traveler definitely looks promising for fans of old school JRPGs.
Octopath uses a kind of HD-2D style, evoking the look of 8-bit JRPGs in a new way. The game puts you in the shoes of eight different adventurers, one at a time, who each have different journeys through the world, and even have different abilities in battle and while exploring. Project Octopath Traveler Certainly looks unique, and hopefully Square Enix can use feedback from the demo to fine tune the game leading up to launch.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Systems TBA – TBA 2018
Dragon Quest is one of the longest running RPG series around, and it’s charmed players around the world for years. Dragon Quest XI brings the series to PS4, along with an alternate 3DS version to dig into as well. The game uses the traditional style of Dragon Quest like turn-based battles, while introducing some new elements such as a skill panel similar to the Sphere Grid of Final Fantasy X. There’s a huge world and story to explore filled with plenty of quirky characters and colorful monsters, just like you’d expect from Dragon Quest.
One of the most unique things about Dragon Quest XI is the difference between its two versions, although we don’t have confirmation on which system the game will hit in North America. The PS4 version renders a gorgeous world with Unreal Engine 4, while the 3DS version employs a nostalgic sprite-based style reminiscent of the classic games. A Switch version is planned for Japan and the West, but we’re still waiting to hear more on it.
Kingdom Hearts III – PS4, Xbox One – TBA 2018
Kingdom Hearts III is without a doubt one of the most awaited games of 2018, and for good reason as fans have been waiting a long time. There’s a lot of plot lines and stories culminating in Kingdom Hearts III, and we’ll finally get to see what Kingdom Hearts II, Birth By Sleep, Dream Drop Distance, and more have been leading to. Gameplay seems to be similar to past games with a few big changes like five characters parties, and the ability for Sora’s weapons to transform into various different forms.
Of course part of what makes Kingdom Hearts so unique are the different Disney worlds you get to explore, and Kingdom Hearts III doesn’t look like it’ll disappoint. We already know that Tangled, Big Hero 6, Hercules, and Toy Story will be featured, so we can’t wait to see what else might be included.
Pokemon Switch – Switch – TBA 2018
The Switch’s second year looks like it could be just as big as the first, thanks to some big titles like Metroid Prime 4 and a brand new Pokemon title. Although we don’t know much of anything about the new game, we do know it’ll be a full-fledged mainline Pokemon entry. It’s going to be a “find, battle, and train” experience according to Nintendo of America president, Reggie Fils-Aime.
Considering the core Pokemon experience has been on handheld for years now, it’s going to be exciting to see what Nintendo and Game Freak can do with the added power of the Switch.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 – PS4, Xbox One, Switch – TBA 2018
Just recently we saw the announcement of another big JRPG for 2018, with a proper sequel in the Valkyria Chronicles series. Valkyria Chronicles 4 actually takes place during the same time period as the very first game, but focuses on a new cast of characters taking part in Operation Northern Cross. The title promises to use the series’ traditional combat system, while introducing the Grenadier class and a few overall tweaks to the experience. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is supposed to feel more grounded and realistic than even other titles in the series, and the announcement trailer boldly claimed it to be the most emotional game in the series.
Surprisingly, even though the game was just recently announced apparently development is already about 90 percent complete. Hopefully this means we’ll get a release date sooner rather than later.