Guide to the games of 2016

RPGs

Mass Effect Andromeda

Developer: Bioware
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release date: Late 2016
Link: Official site

Mass Effect Andromeda

Little is known about Mass Effect Andromeda, but perhaps that’s fitting, given that exploration will likely be a key part of the game. The November 7 video showed a huge vessel leaving the galaxy to a farewell speech from Commander Shepard. Dog tags on board suggested that the player character may be called Ryder, but like so much about Andromeda, it’s hard to be sure. The E3 teaser showed the new Mako and a collection of beautiful and varied planetscapes. We’ll hopefully be making planetfall late next year.

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Developer: InXile
Publisher: InXile
Release date:2016
Link: Official site

Torment Tides of Numenera

In 2016 we could finally get a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment. Brian Fargo and the team at InXile are building a story set in Monte Cook's Numenera universe. They promise "a rich role-playing experience that explores similar deep, personal themes", set in a universe that blends magic with high technology. It certainly looks more colourful than Planescape, and we'll hopefully get a chance to explore for ourselves in the upcoming beta.

Darkest Dungeon

Developer: Red Hook Studios
Publisher: Red Hook Studios
Release date: January 19, 2016
Link: Official site

Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon is an RPG that wraps in elements of psychology. Characters can become traumatized or egotistical, and the effects manifest in combat and progression. No longer will good tactics save you alone. Coping and caring for your fragile band of adventurers is vital for success, and a welcome layer to the permadeath loop. The best part? We already know it’s good. Darkest Dungeon was the idealized Early Access game, arriving in a form that felt ready in nearly every way but the mechanics and progression. A final release means more of the same, but refined and filled with more ways to die.

Update: It's out now! Here's our Darkest Dungeon review.

Demons Age

Developer: Big Moon
Publisher: Big Moon
Release date: Early 2016
Link: Official Site

Demons

Nothing to do with Demon’s Souls or Dragon Age, Demons Age is a dark fantasy cRPG from Big Moon due early next year. Hire a party, raid dungeons and defeat monsters in a traditional take on old-school RPGs. Exploration is broken up by hex-gridded, turn-based combat with various orcs, ogres and, of course, demons. The real question is, will all that dungeon exploration solve the mystery of Demons Age’s missing apostrophe?

Disgaea

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Release date: February 2016
Link: Official site

Disgaea

Disgaea isn’t just a Japanese Strategy RPG that lets you level up an endless army of custom characters to 9999. It’s an SRPG that lets you level up each of those characters’ weapons to 9999, too. You’re going to be doing a lot of grinding. There are funny penguin guys called Prinnies who say “Dood!” and some pretty ridiculous battle animations. Basically, think Final Fantasy Tactics, but way more anime. Since this is a port of a 2003 PlayStation 2 game, you may well have done it all before.

Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories

Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Natsume
Release date: Early 2016
Link: Facebook page

Harvest Moon

The long-running Harvest Moon series has always combined the simulation of developing a thriving farm with the role-playing of developing friendships with villagers, marrying, and starting a family. It’s an idyllic life sim with roots back to 1997 under the Japanese title “Bokujō Monogatari.” But in 2013, the developer of Bokujō Monogatari split off from western publisher Natsume and now releases new games under the name “Story of Seasons.” This Harvest Moon, then, is being developed for PC (and mobile platforms) by former publisher Natsume. While the farming look familiar, the art looks like it belongs in a budget mobile game from half a decade ago.

Tales of Symphonia

Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release date: February 2nd, 2016
Link: Steam page

Tales of Symphonia

A port of the classic JRPG from 2003, the version of Tales of Symphonia finally coming to PC is actually the HD re-release that came to PS3 last year. An epic story (originally stretched across two discs on the Gamecube) that features a unique combat system that the Tales series has come to be known for: real-time, hack-n-slash fighting with combos and the option have a second player take control of another member of your party. Tales of Symphonia’s PC release is also coming after the successful release of the latest game in the Tales line-up, Tales of Zestiria.

Stardew Valley

Developer: ConcernedApe
Publisher: Chucklefish
Release date: Early 2016
Link: Official site

StardewValley

A combination of Harvest Moon, Rune Factory, Animal Crossing, and Minecraft, Stardew Valley describes itself as a “country-life rpg”. You are charged with taking over a dilapidated farm and must clear land, plant seeds, and tend to animals to make money and improve it further. Meanwhile, you’ll also be meeting the citizens of the local town and building relationships with them—some of which can even lead to marriage and children of your own. Stardew Valley will also have up to 4-player co-op, allowing you to build a farm together.

Update: It's out now! Here's our Stardew Valley review.

The Banner Saga 2

Developer: Stoic
Publisher: Versus Evil
Release date: Early 2016
Link: Official site

Banner Saga 2

The sequel to the beautifully animated tactical RPG Banner Saga is introducing some changes to the formula, as we learned during a preview session at 2015’s PAX Prime. While the story picks up only weeks after the events of the first game, new enemy types will be introduced along with a deeper combat system, destructible objects, and greater consequences for the choices you make while playing.

Anchors in the Drift

Developer: 5th Cell
Publisher: 5th Cell
Release date: Summer 2016
Link: Official Site

Anchors in the Drift

Despite a considerably unsuccessful crowdfunding and investment campaign, 5th Cell (maker of Scribblenauts) still plans to finish and release its free-to-play action RPG. In it, the Earth has been invaded by inter-dimensional overlords, and historical heroes must rise up to defeat them with customizable powers that spring from collectible cards.

Chronos

Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: Oculus
Release date: TBA 2016
Link: Official site

Chronos

From the fragments of the former Darksiders team, Chronos is a VR third person action adventure. You assume the role of a hero that needs to do hero things: kill a dragon hidden somewhere in an ancient labyrinth, save your homeland, and so on. The catch: you can only enter the labyrinth once a year. And as you age, your combat skills improve, ideally you get a better sense of where to go, but the implication is that eventually those old bones won’t work like they used to. Back pain in VR? Get ready, world.

The Dwarves

Developer: KING Art Games
Publisher: KING Art Games
k Release date: June 2016
Link: Official site

Dwarves

After wrapping a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Dwarves is heading for a full release in June 2016. This story-based RPG boasts all of the stuff you want out of a great RPG: interesting companion characters, combat featuring axes and hammers, and a massive world. Unlike most fantasy RPGs, this game is all about the Dwarven fantasy race. The story is based on Markus Heitz’s Dwarves series of books. More importantly, the physics-based combat footage we’ve seen so far includes watching hapless enemies get absolutely swatted in the face with a hammer. If the story is half as entertaining as that clip, I think Dwarves will do OK.

Earthlock: Festival of Magic

Developer: Snowcastle Games
Publisher: Snowcastle Games
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site

Earthlock

This turn-based RPG set on a fantasy planet that has stopped spinning launched a successful Kickstarter a few years ago and released an alpha for backers in late 2015. It’s got a wonderful art style and provides a few interesting twists on the genre, especially in that you can farm and grow your own ammo. Pairing up characters allows them to combine their powers and create combos, and you can swap out characters mid-fight… but the monsters you face can do the same, which should keep you on your toes.

YIIK: A Postmodern RPG

Developer: AckkStudios
Publisher: AckkStudios
Release date: 2016
Link: Official site

Yiik

YIIK—that’s Y2K, not Yiik—is an RPG set in 90s American suburbia. It’s bright and whimsical, but a little macabre, too: the plot involves a mysterious woman who vanishes in an elevator, which recalls the bizarre, real murder of Elisa Lam. Juxtaposed with the modern setting, the mysterious events and general RPG weirdness should play well—it’s got a bit of a Catherine aura about it—and one of the creators told us it’ll have “one of the most unique endings” ever.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: December, 2016
Link: Kickstarter

Divinity Original Sin 2

Larian created Divinity: Original Sin on fumes—it had had enough with publishers, took out a mountain of loans, muddled through Kickstarter and was one of the vanguard in Early Access. Money was always tight and the studio nearly closed. Despite the stress, however, it created one of the deepest, most systemically complex RPGs since the Ultima games of yore (‘yore’ being the early ’90s in gaming terms). There are no cash flow problems now, and the Kickstarter for Original Sin 2 raised over $2 million, smashing every stretch goal. Chris Avellone is onboard for the writing (because of course he is), there will be dedicated mod support and a dungeon master mode has been confirmed. Original Sin 2 is aiming to advance the cRPG, not just revive it.