2019 is starting to look like a pretty great year for JRPGs. Here are our picks for the best upcoming JRPGs to keep an eye out for in 2019.
10 Best Upcoming JRPGs to Look Forward to in 2019
1. Kingdom Hearts III
After years and years of waiting, fans will finally get their hands on Kingdom Hearts III, and it’s shaping up to be one of the best JRPG experiences of this generation. Although it uses the same basic gameplay, Kingdom Hearts III introduces a handful of new additions like transforming Keyblades, five-character parties, and brand new summons like Wreck-It Ralph.
At the same time, wondrous new Disney worlds will make their debut with Sora and company traveling to Tangled, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Toy Story and more. The game uses something called the “Kingdom Shader” for Unreal Engine 4, which helps give each and every world a gorgeous look that almost matches their film counterparts. Kingdom Hearts III brings some long-awaited closure to the story of the series, and it’s a big way to start of 2019 for JRPGs on Jan. 29.
2. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
The Tales series has enjoyed enduring popularity over the years, but few entries are as beloved as Tales of Vesperia. The game follows an ex-soldier named Yuri Lowell as he tries to protect the princess Estellise and ends up forming a guild called Brave Vesperia. A gorgeous cel-shaded style, fantastic combat, and the best ensemble cast in the series make Vesperia an essential JRPG to pick up.
However, the Definitive Edition adds in even more content with everything included in the PS3 version of the game; content we never saw in the west. A brand new character named Patty Fleur is in the game, Flynn becomes a permanent party member, and there’s a host of new cutscenes and skits. Whether you played Vesperia on the Xbox 360 or never tried it out, the Definitive Edition should be on your radar in January 2019.
3. Digimon Survive
Digimon games have had a huge resurgence in recent years with titles like Cyber Sleuth games and Digimon World: Next Order. Digimon Survive, however, is a different breed entirely and looks like one of the most ambitious games from the series yet.
The game’s debut trailer shows a much darker, more mature tone than your usual Digimon game. Battles are done in a turn-based strategy style, and there’s apparently going to be a ton of player choice that can alter the story and your Digimon’s evolution and can even result in character’s death. Digimon Survive sounds like a fascinating premise, and if it’s done correctly it could be one of the very best JRPGs of 2019.
4. Fire Emblem: The Three Houses
Fire Emblem: The Three Houses brings the series back to a home console for the first time since 2007, and it helps round out an already strong lineup for the Switch in 2019. Once again a continent-spanning war sets the stage, and the story will focus on four different protagonists named Byleth, Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude.
From what we’ve seen so far The Three Houses will still use the series’ tried-and-true strategy gameplay. However, this time each character is actually a unit of soldiers, and you can even change their formation for different effects.
This time you’ll also be able to run around and explore environments, talk to teammates and select which weapons or training you want them to focus on. The first trailer for The Three Houses was gorgeous, and it looks like it’s bringing some big changes to the classic franchise. Fire Emblem has become one of Nintendo’s biggest series, so you can bet they’ll bring a big showing for it in 2019.
5. Code Vein
Code Vein was one of the most promising JRPGs of 2018, but after suffering a delay it’s now slated for early 2019. The souls-like game sports a beautiful gothic anime style, and takes place in a post-apocalyptic world filled with vampires and mutated humans.
Made by the team behind God Eater, Code Vein different from most Souls-likes by giving you a partner character that constantly venture with you, and can alter your abilities and the skills you have at your use. By consuming enemy’s blood you’ll be able to imbue yourself with different “Gifts” that can grant you special attacks or abilities.
The Gothic world of Code Vein looks like it’ll be fascinating to explore, and Code Vein could easily be one of the most promising Souls-likes yet.
Game Freak is one of the most renowned video game developers in history and, obviously, you know them best for the beloved Pokemon series. Even though a brand new Pokemon generation is supposed to be coming in 2019, that’s not all that Game Freak has cooking. During a Nintendo Direct in 2018 they unveiled TOWN, an original RPG IP from Game Freak.
While the debut trailer was gorgeous, there’s still not a lot we know about TOWN. The entire game will take place in one village, and its turn-based combat will let you summon other villagers to help you in battle. The cel-shaded art style looks gorgeous, and we can’t wait to see what Game Freak can bring to the Switch with a brand new IP in 2019.
7. Trails of Cold Steel Decisive Edition and Trails of Cold Steel II
The Legend of Heroes is easily one of the most overlooked JRPG series out there, with games that tell complex stories weaved together with phenomenal characters. If you happened to miss the latest addition to the series, Trails of Cold Steel, both games are coming to PS4 with a remaster in 2019.
The games focus on Rean Schwarzer and the other members of the Thors Military Academy, as they become embroiled in continent-spanning war. Both Cold Steel games pull some light elements from Persona letting you explore Thors Academy while managing your time and hanging out with various party members. Combat also uses a turn-based system that takes your unit’s positioning into consideration. These are some of the best JRPGs of the last generation, remasted and with dual audio support.
8. Dragon Quest Builders 2
2018 brought us one of the best JRPGs of this generation with Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, and it looks like 2019 is going to continue that trend of quality for the series. In 2016 the spinoff Dragon Quest Builders released to surprisingly good reception and success. Now three years later we get Dragon Quest Builders 2, which promises to play to the first game’s strengths while bringing in a variety of new things.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 introduces new elements to the world like waterfalls, fast travel, a glid ability, and material islands for farming. Characters customization will also be more of an emphasis as well as the ability to play four player co-op. We already know the game will be coming to Nintendo Switch in 2019, and just like its predecessor, Dragon Quest Builders 2 would be the perfect JRPG to take on the go.
9. Shin Megami Tensei V
The Switch has already gotten a host of third-party exclusives, but 2019 promises to bring even more to the table. Originally announced at the Switch’s reveal event, the latest entry in the SMT series, Shin Megami Tensei V, is planned for release on Switch sometime in 2019.
Once again taking place in modern-day Tokyo, Shin Megami Tensei V will task you with surviving a catastrophic apocalypse. We still don’t know a whole lot about the newest entry in the series, but it will, once again, involve capturing and fusing demons while also introducing new mechanics. The Switch and SMT sound like a match made in heaven, and after how great both SMT IV and SMT IV: Apocalypse were, JRPG fans should have high expectations for this one.
10. Lost Soul Aside
In 2016 an independent game developer named Yang Bing released a trailer for his one-man passion project. Needless to say it took the internet by storm, looking like a gorgeous fusion between Final Fantasy XV and Devil May Cry. Shortly after Sony picked Bing up to help fund his game, Lost Soul Aside, with the China Hero Project.
Bing and his team have been making slow progress releasing trailers here and there, and now with a tentative release date of 2019, Lost Soul Aside still looks just as impressive as ever. The game takes place in a fantasy world ten years after a massive war, and has you playing as an ex-soldier named Kazer. Combat is fast and frenetic, with Kazer leaping all over the place pulling off crazy combos.
We still don’t know much about Lost Soul Aside’s setting or story, but Bing has been open about his inspirations from Final Fantasy and Devil May Cry. With the amount of hype this project already has, it could really end up being a sleeper hit in 2019.
Kingdom Hearts III - Jan. 29
At the same time, wondrous new Disney worlds will make their debut with Sora and company traveling to the realms of Tangled, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Toy Story and more. The game uses something called the "Kingdom Shader" for Unreal Engine 4, which helps give each and every world a gorgeous look that almost matches their film counterparts.
Kingdom Hearts III brings some long-awaited closure to the story of the series, and it's a big way to start of 2019 for JRPGs on Jan. 29.