ByLiv Sommerlot, writer at
Liv Sommerlot

It's been a good year for fans. No, it's been a great year. And from the looks of things, our wallets won't be recovering any time in the near future, either. With a number of major titles still set to be released in 2016 and still more set for 2017 and beyond, JRPG and RPG fans alike will be getting more epic, fantastical adventures, monster-mashing madness, and over-the-top dramatics than they can shake a stick at! Let's just hope the voice acting is better than in recent (read: most) years...

Here's a look at some of the biggest titles set to hit the shelves within the next year (we hope!), as well as a few I'm personally looking forward to.

Every Upcoming JRPG for the 2016-2017 Season You'll Wanna Get Your Hands On

1. Tales of Berseria

  • Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Release Date: January 24th, 2017 (PS4), January 27th, 2017 (PC)

The Tales series represents pretty much everything that comes standard in JRPGs and at the rate they're churning them out nowadays you'll never be lacking in typical anime themes, character tropes, and cheesy dialogue. That being said, I've never been a huge Tales fan (tried three, but couldn't finish them), maybe for those reasons mentioned above. I feel like most of their characters are rehashes of each other that lack substance and personality. BUT. I am actually looking forward to Tales of Berseria.

This will be the first Tales game to have a female protagonist—Velvet (though I wish she'd put on more clothes). Not only does her gender set her apart, she also seems much more cynical than most prior Tales protagonists, and I'm intrigued by her backstory and the decidedly darker themes of the game.

Another character that drew me is Laphicet, the golden-haired cherub who's about as cute as a button. As this kind of role/character is reserved for girls 99% of the time, it will be a welcome change and I'm anxious to see the dynamics between him and Velvet play out.

Also, the theme song is pretty epic. Hear it in one of the newest trailers below:

2. Dragon Quest XI

  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: TBA

Dragon Quest XI: In Search of Departed Time, as its full name was given, is the much-anticipated eleventh installment in the popular Dragon Quest series, and a Japanese release has been confirmed sometime before May 2017 on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and the Nintendo Switch. A handheld version will also be released on the Nintendo 3DS.

Not much yet is known about the story or characters, but fans can expect beloved Dragon Quest elements, such as vast worlds to explore (including elevated areas!), a slew of monsters to fight, and Toriyama Akira's beautiful artwork.

The 3DS version will allow players to choose between 3D graphics and 16-bit styled 2D sprites. Though Dragon Quest never garnered the same popularity Final Fantasy enjoyed outside of Japan, that doesn't make its games any less epic and this will be a title to watch out for as its release date nears. I wouldn't expect to see it in stores in Japan until the Nintendo Switch release date (March 2017), but there's been no word on a localized release just yet.

Catch at look at some early gameplay of Dragon Quest XI on the PS4 below:

3. Nioh

  • Developer: Team Ninja
  • Publisher: Koei Tecmo
  • Release Date: February 9th, 2017

With a development period length that rivals Final Fantasy XV, Nioh has already been called the samurai version of Dark Souls. It's dark, gritty, mature action RPG that puts players in control of Williams Adams, a real-life Western samurai who existed at the end of Japan's Warring States Period.

As you make your way across a beautifully twisted Japanese landscape, you'll slice and dice everything in your path in thrilling, cutthroat, do-or-die combat that will leave you breathless one moment and shouting at your console the next.

If you like samurai, you won't want to miss this. Even if you don't like samurai, you won't want to miss this. Yosuke Hayashi, Team Ninja head, in describing the game touts "we want you to feel what it's like to be a samurai," and by the look and feel of it, they've done a good job. If you're one who shies away from the colorful cheesiness of many JRPGs, then this is the game for you.

Watch the Nioh E3 2016 trailer below:

4. Persona 5

  • Developer: Atlus
  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Release Date: February 14th, 2017

The Persona series has long existed as a sort of preeminent standard to what JRPGs should include. Not only are they Japanese to the very core (on top of being set in Tokyo, you get to live through the day-to-day life of a typical Japanese student in Persona 5), they've got stylish anime visuals, all the beautiful anime girl stereotypes (that can become your waifus), a soundtrack that can't be beat, and that just-outside-of-mainstream appeal that attracts hipster gamers like flies to a turd. A very, polished, pretty, immersive turd, might I add.

Yes, Persona 5 looks pretty damn sweet. Just catch a load of those visuals! The Persona series itself has always brought a unique spin on the typical RPG and its high-fantasy themes, and Persona 5 really kicks it up a notch with those vibrant, contrasting colors and sleek UI. And the details! In the screenshot up above alone, you can see the intricacies put into the environment, making it seem even more like you've just stepped into a living anime.

The only thing I'm not so keen on is the romance feature (and the fan service to go with it) considering its lack of options, but as it's not integral to the game it's easy for me to overlook.

Watch the Persona 5 E3 2016 trailer below:

5. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

  • Developer: Level-5
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Release Date: TBA

The original Ni no Kuni took the world by storm upon its release with its epic story and breathtaking art from famed animation studio, Studio Ghibli (in fact, many have lauded the game as feeling like "stepping into a Studio Ghibli movie itself"). So when Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom was announced in December of 2015, it was met with anxious anticipation.

Ni no Kuni II will follow the story of boy king King Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum who sets out to reclaim his kingdom after being usurped together with visitor-from-another-world Roland. From the initial trailer alone, the game looks beautiful, and Level-5 CEO Hino Akihiro has stated "Its scale is so massive, I believe it’s the title that probably has the most staff members from Level-5 working on it at the moment," suggesting we're all going to be in for a treat upon its release. No concrete release date has been given yet, but we're hoping the game will hit the shelves sometime in 2017.

Check out the original trailer for Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom below:

6. NieR Automata

  • Developer: PlatinumGames
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: 2017

When the original NieR was released in 2010, it was met with mixed reviews. While the story and characters were compelling and innovative, the visuals and gameplay came off as lackluster. When the CEO and producer wanted to make a sequel, they were told they could—as long as they gave it better, more action-oriented gameplay, which is why it was handed over to PlatinumGames. Now that NieR: Automata is close to release, we can fairly positively say this was a good choice, as it looks pretty damn sleek.

The new NieR game will follow the story of combat android 2B, her companion 9S, and the obsolete prototype A2 in the midst of a proxy war between machines and the remnants of humanity. It's an action RPG set in an open world environment with amazing visuals that looks equal parts beautiful and terrifying, and what we've heard of the soundtrack is already hauntingly breathtaking. The game is set to release on February 23rd, 2017 in Japan, but no set date aside from "2017" has been given for the western release.

Watch the NieR: Automata E3 2016 trailer below:

7. Final Fantasy XV

  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: November 29th, 2016

The grand slam. The big kahuna. The motherlode. Final Fantasy XV is the game Final Fantasy and RPGs fans have been clamoring for since it was first teased to the world as Final Fantasy Versus XIII back in 2006, and it's been a long, long road ever since. After years of radio silence about its development, a name change, and year upon year of development, Final Fantasy XV is finally ready to hit the shelves, and depending on its reception, it could be Square Enix's final attempt at turning around the JRPG genre.

Final Fantasy XV follows the story of Noctis Lucis Caelum, the crown prince of Lucis, as he's sent on a journey with his three buddies while the rest of the world plunges into chaos around him. Western influences are heavy in the gameplay—it's the first Final Fantasy game that's open-world, and its dialogue trees are heavily reminiscent of popular WRPGs such as the Dragon Age and Witcher series—and actually, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm in love with the open world and how much bigger and more immersive it makes a game feel, and combining that with Final Fantasy characters, stories, and themes seems like a winning move. Initial previews of the game have been mostly positive thus far, so I'm keeping my hopes up that this game will be the Final Fantasy I, and the world, have been waiting for.

Check out the Final Fantasy XV E3 2016 trailer below:

8. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: 2017

I know I'm in the minority on this one, but Final Fantasy XII is one of my favorite Final Fantasy games. Strangely enough, the story itself has never enticed me much (nor any of the characters aside from Balthier), but the incredibly vast world, immersive environments, amazing music, and MMO-ish battle system all drew me in like a moth to the flame, and I ended up playing through the entire game in both English and Japanese (and conquering every single boss the second time around).

When the announcement came that they were going to release an HD remaster, I couldn't have been more ecstatic (at the time, I was already considering getting the International Version of FFXII to replay it again with the Zodiac Job system), and now I can only hope they'll eventually release it on Steam, too.

Despite all the complaints people have about this game, I can't stop loving it, and I'm thrilled at the thought of replaying it again with all the new features and updated graphics.

Watch the original teaser trailer for Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age below:

9. Kingdom Hearts 3

  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Release Date: TBA

Kingdom Hearts 3 remains the nebulous, enigmatic light at the end of the tunnel for dedicated fans of the Kingdom Hearts series. Its direct predecessor, Kingdom Hearts 2, was released in 2005... 2005! That's over ten years ago now, and while plenty of side-games have been released in that period of time, to some fans those are nothing but distractions meant to keep them from complaining about how long it's taken for the newest main series installment to be released (especially considering how many different consoles you'd need to buy to play all those different side-games...).

All teasers shown so far, though, have suggested it just may have been worth the wait. The graphics look amazing, and the new improvements to the battle system make combat even more fluid, exciting, and flashy. The long wait has also opened doors for new Disney releases, meaning popular flicks such as Frozen, as well as recently acquired properties such as Star Wars and Marvel have a chance at being included as worlds. While no official release date has been announced yet, we're all still hoping for a 2017 release (and that the delayed release of Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue hasn't delayed KH3 all the way to 2018!).

Watch the latest trailer from E3 2015 below:

10. Summon Night 6: Lost Borders

  • Developer: Media.Vision
  • Publisher: Gaijinworks
  • Release Date: February 2017

The Summon Night series isn't altogether well-known outside of Japan. None of the main series games hit western shores until Summon Night 5 was localized over two years after its original release date, and the only other games to see an English version were a smattering of spin-off games such as the Swordcraft Story games and Summon Night: Twin Age. That being said, I'm quite a fan of the Summon Night series.

The games are a unique blend of strategy RPG and visual novel—mountains of dialogue set over anime character portraits between tactical battles reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea—and they have the added, unique bonus of letting you choose not only your main character, but your main partner as well, letting you customize your experience to more closely resemble the type of story you want.

Summon Night 6 is being localized by Gaijinworks, a company made up of former Working Designs employees which seems to be bringing over more "unique" games that wouldn't hit western shores otherwise. I'm not sure, yet, how I feel about Summon Night 6, as it seems to be a game made solely to cater to fans of the series (the three new main characters work together with characters from all the past games like some sort of Summon Night Dissidia), and I think the new CG renders look robotic and emotionless compared to their original hand-drawn counterparts.

I also question why this game is getting localized instead of earlier main series staples such as Summon Night 3 or 4 (no one in the west will know who any of these characters are...), but I'm still glad that Summon Night is finally getting some much-deserved attention outside of Japan.

Check out the Summon Night 6: Lost Borders trailer from Jump Festa 2016 below:

11. The Longest Five Minutes

  • Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc., SYUPRO-DX
  • Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
  • Release Date: 2017

Probably the most unique game on this list (and the one you're most likely to have never heard of), The Longest Five Minutes is a throw-back to the RPG games of old. The name comes from the fact that the game itself takes place within a five-minute window. And not just any five-minute window! When it starts, you're already at the end of the game.

Yes, The Longest Five Minutes starts during the final battle, but the interesting premise is that the hero suddenly loses all his memory, including how to perform his final moves, what he's supposed to be doing, and even his own name. Through conversations with his party members, as well as the final boss himself—the Overlord—the hero will begin reliving his memories, as well as the adventure he and his friends embarked upon.

It's certainly an innovative new way to approach the typical RPG formula, and the old-school graphics and nostalgic feel already make this a game to keep on your radar. No exact release date has been given yet, but NIS America has promised it will be out sometime in 2017.

Watch the debut trailer for The Longest Five Minutes below:

But that's not even all the games being released! Any upcoming JRPGs not mentioned that you're looking forward to? Any of these from the list that you plan on playing?


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