Fortunately, 2021 will not be stingy with RPG hits either. In our top 5 best upcoming RPGs, we’ll tell you which titles we’re particularly excited about.
The last 365 days were not only characterized by a lousy little virus, but also by Cyberpunk 2077. Millions of gamers eagerly awaited the supposed RPG revelation, again millions – meaning the owners of last-gen consoles – were disappointed beyond measure .
Regardless of this, the question arises as to which role-playing heavyweight we can look forward to this year. Does 2021 even have a comparable title in store for us? The answer to this may surprise one or the other – because it is, albeit limited, “yes”.
We’re talking about the return of one of the most popular PC games of all time. An RPG that took its place next to Deus Ex, System Shock 2 and Ultima Underworld 2 over 16 years ago, in all probability never to be continued. But well: you can be mistaken.
Said unexpected sequel is expected to occupy the top position of our Top 5. But the other ranks also contain a lot of role-playing fun for the coming months – we are sure of that.
5. Scarlet Nexus
Background: Scarlet Nexus is being developed under the direction of Keita Iizuka and Kenji Anabuki, who have already worked on the well-known Tales series. At first glance, the J-RPG work looks like the anime answer to Cyberpunk 2077. And indeed there are some parallels. However, the developers prefer another genre of their own for their third-person role-playing game: Brain Punk.
The Story: The scene is the Japan of a distant future. The psyker hormone, discovered long ago in the human brain, changed the world forever. On the (supposedly) positive side, Homo Sapiens now have supernatural powers. On the other hand, the age of psykers has produced dangerous mutants who, unfortunately, have discovered the palatability of human brains.
As either a female or a male psyker (whose stories are interwoven) you fight the mutants with futuristic weapons as well as your psychic abilities. According to publisher Bandai Namco, there will be a lot to discover in dystopian brain-punk Japan. At the moment, Namco does not reveal whether this is an open game world.
That’s why we’re looking forward to the release: We confess that we are hoping for an anime cyberpunk 2077 from Scarlet Nexus in a certain way. The setting for this is available. And the thinking machine-based upgrade system at least brings back memories of Cyberpunk’s brain dance mechanics. Of course, this exotic J-RPG won’t celebrate the gigantism of CD Projekt Red’s new flagship. However, we believe that Scarlet Nexus will give us a similarly intense sci-fi experience.
When will it be released? Scarlet Nexus will be released in the second or third quarter of 2021.
4. Persona 5 Strikers
Background: Since the third part from 2006, the main series of Persona combines classic J-RPG gameplay with elements of social simulation. Spin-offs have appeared for some of the five parts, and Persona 5 Strikers (in Japan P5 Scramble) is a by-product. Just like the main game, Strikers is shown in third-person perspective.
The Story: Persona 5 Strikers is a franchise crossover of Persona 5 and Dynasty Warriors. Among other things, in the role of Joker you fight in large-scale hack-and-slash battles against the “shadows” – of course not without your buddies from the Phantom Thieves of Hearts at your side. Knocking takes place both in real time and based on laps. In dungeons it is also possible to bypass opponents using stealth mechanics.
The story begins six months after the events of Persona 5. During a summer vacation, the Phantoms discover that the popular Emma app enables the transition to an alternative version of Tokyo, the so-called prison. From there, the shadows attack people in real Tokyo, who then behave very strangely.
That’s why we’re looking forward to the release: A cross between Persona and Dynasty Warriors may not necessarily be the most obvious. But can’t a combination of the thrilling battles of the medieval slasher and the narrative density of Persona just turn out to be good? At least we are convinced of it.
When will it be released? Persona 5 Strikers will be released on February 23, 2021.
3. Tales of Arise
Background: In principle, the Japanese Tales series is similar to the RPG veteran Final Fantasy. Each individual Tales game has its own universe, a separate setting and individual (anti) heroes. Often even the combat system changes, so that they are basically completely different J-RPGs. The only constant in the series so far has been – since 2003 – the third-person perspective.
Story: Tales of Arise revolves around the two worlds Rena and Dahna, which are in a kind of colonial relationship. The two main characters, Shionne from Rena and Alphen from Dahna, long for a new, better future – and fight together for this goal. It is possible that you will play the two characters alternately. The previous in-game footage only shows Alphen in action.
In terms of the combat system, Arise, like its predecessor Tales of Berseria, relies on fast real-time battles in which various weapons and magic are used. Visually impressive, powerful special techniques (Artes) provide that certain pizzazz.
That’s why we’re looking forward to the release: Developer and publisher Bandai Namco is still relatively covered when it comes to Tales of Arise. So far there is nothing to suggest an open game world like Tales of Zestiria, but we are confident that we will not be crammed into tight level tubes. Due to the differences between the two heroes, we expect a gripping story on par with Berseria.
When will it be released? An exact release date is not yet known.
2. Monster Hunter Rise
Background: Monster Hunter started in 2004 as a linear action adventure with a more western touch on the PlayStation 2. Over the next ten years of series, a typical Japanese art style and classic role-playing game elements gradually crept in. But it is only with Monster Hunter Rise that Capcom’s aloof monster hunt finally moves into RPG realms.
Story: As always in Monster Hunter, you slip into the role of a hunter equipped with heavy melee and ranged weapons to clear a half-open game world of various monsters. On your exploration tours you will be accompanied – if requested – by a small group of AI companions who also intervene in the battle.
The seemingly listless story about a world-eating monster has its focus this time in a “ninja village”. Monster Hunter Rise will be playable in single player as well as in online co-op, offers 14 new weapons and at least two new combat techniques.
That’s why we’re looking forward to the release: The new edition of Monster Hunter really doesn’t impress with its daring innovations. However, the combat system ancestral to the younger parts is sophisticated and fun enough to survive a consistent sequel (very well). If, as we assume, Capcom spices the whole thing up with a few emotional story moments, not much can go wrong here.
When will it be released? Monster Hunter Rise will be released on March 26, 2021.
1. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
Background: The first-person role-playing game Vampires: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 has a difficult legacy. Because the responsible developer Hardsuit Labs (Wolfenstein) would like to continue one of the most respected PC games ever. The original game was developed by Troika Games, which closed in 2005, and was extremely buggy when it was released. Nevertheless, Bloodlines achieved cult status thanks to a few community patches.
Story: Like its predecessor, Bloodlines 2 is based on the pen & paper role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade, in which competing vampiric secret societies control our civilization. The sequel also adopts all the other features of the original, but expands the gameplay with parkour elements in the style of Dying Light.
You play in the role of a young vampire whose task it is to work your way up in the power structure of the bloodsucker clans. To do this, you choose your personal discipline (vampire class), complete numerous quests in the ever-dark Seattle, form complex alliances with other vampires and make decisions that affect the main story. In addition to melee and ranged weapons, you can also use magic-like vampire powers in combat.
That’s why we’re looking forward to the release: Based on what we know about Bloodlines 2 to date, Hardsuit Labs is planning no more (and no less) than a modern take on the original. And that’s very good, as long as the renowned studio keeps an eye on the most important element of the game – the enormous playful variety. However, we believe that Hardsuit is exactly the right team to develop. And hey: Damsel is back!
When will it be released? An exact release date is not yet known.
And? Which role-playing games are you most looking forward to in 2021? Write in the comments below!