Guide to the games of 2017

RPGs

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Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord

Release date: To Be Announced
Developer: TaleWorlds Entertainment
Link: Official site

Part spectacle, part sim, part sandbox RPG, Mount & Blade remains a one-of-a-kind blend of systems and ideas. It's the thrill of being in a battle that's way bigger than you, of launching a single arrow into a horde of 50 dudes storming your castle. And it's the fun of being an average lord in a churning political and military sea of medieval NPCs. 

The original (excluding Warband) is almost 10 years old, so as much as anything we're glad to see Bannerlord bringing a visual and technical overhaul to the series. Character customization, as we saw at the PC Gamer Weekender, offers enough flexibility to sculpt convincing dark ages replicas of Adam Driver, Vladimir Putin, Arnold, and others, but we're equally interested in the new item crafting system, which seems like it'll let you build weapons with personality and history. And lord, those sieges look nuts.

Vampyr

Release date: Delayed to 2018
Developer: Dont Nod
Link: Official Site

As a doctor stricken with vampirism, you’ll face the challenge of trying to honor the Hippocratic Oath while also devouring people for their blood. What’s more, you’ll be able to feed on any NPC in the game, including important, quest-giving characters, though they’ll not only be dead for the remainder of the game but their absence may also be noticed by other characters and have an impact on the world. In other words, choose your victims very carefully or suffer the consequences. Since you have to feed, we don’t imagine there will be options for a non-lethal playthrough, but it sounds like you can be ‘good’ by focusing on eating bad people.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Release date: October 17, 2017
Developer: South Park Digital Studios, Ubisoft San Francisco
Link: Official site

The sequel to comic fantasy RPG The Stick of Truth, The Fractured But Whole is taking a stab at superhero fiction this time around. Showrunners Matt Stone and Trey Parker are back on as writers, but Ubisoft San Francisco is taking the development reins from Obsidian. Even so, it looks to be a similarly structured game, a streamlined RPG romp through a ridiculous small town that uses an active turn-based combat system, a la Paper Mario. If you like South Park’s crass, topical humor, this one is probably a safe bet.

Dauntless

Release date: 2017
Developer: Phoenix Labs
Link: Official site

Apparently the developers at Phoenix Labs, veterans of Bioware and Riot, got tired of waiting for Capcom to bring a Monster Hunter game to the PC in the West, and decided to make their own. The F2P action-RPG will be about hunting big beasts called Behemoths across a fantasy world, with four-player co-op a big part of the appeal. Yeah, that's Monster Hunter all right. Let us at them beasties.

Hand of Fate 2

Release date: 2017
Developer: Defiant Development
Link: Steam Page

The sequel to 2015’s Hand of Fate, Hand of Fate 2 is a tabletop RPG where you build a deck of campaign encounters, then deal them out and try to make your way through the randomly built level. The twist is that combat encounters play out in real-time action combat, similar to that of the Arkham games. The second game in the series improves the visuals and refines the combat and randomness mechanics to make things a little bit smoother. We spoke with the developer at PAX last year, which you can watch here.

Heart Forth, Alicia

Release date: Delayed to 2018
Developer: Alonso Martin
Link: Official site

A Kickstarter darling that's been in the works for five years now, Heart Forth, Alicia will supposedly be out in mid-2017. The luscious 2D pixel art brings to mind the gorgeous Legend of Mana, but with a stunning application of modern lighting on top of it. The action looks like the expected action-RPG mix of puzzle solving, exploring intricate 2D stages and smacking enemies as satisfying numbers pop out of them.

ELEX

Release date: October 17, 2017
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Link: Steam page

Piranha Bytes’ Risen games have always been flawed but endearing RPGs that never quite lived up to their more classic Gothic series. But ELEX forgets the past and forges into new territory by blending sci-fi and fantasy together in a post apocalyptic world where guns, swords, robots, and magic-but-not-really-magic all meet in the ruins of a once great civilization. Like all of Piranha Bytes’ games, ELEX is an open world RPG with the freedom to go wherever you want—just don’t be surprised if a giant robot scorpion pulls your head off because you stuck your laser sword where it doesn’t belong.

Eitr

Release date: 2017?
Developer: Eneme Entertainment
Link: Steam page

An isometric action RPG based on Norse mythology. Unlike some of its colleagues in the genre—eg, Diablo—Eitr looks to have soberly paced combat, with timed shield blocks and dodges rather than furious clicking. It’s pretty, too.
 

Seven: The Days Long Gone

Release date: TBA
Developer: IMGN.PRO and Fool’s Theory
Link: Official site

A few of the minds behind The Witcher 3 are working on this, an isometric adventure inspired by Thief, which makes us tingle all over. Seven: The Days Long Gone is set long, long after an apocalyptic event. Humanity is starting to rebuild, which means there’s a lot of stuff to steal and places to explore. Seven has had a release date of “when it’s done” for a long time, but it was recently upgraded to “2017 for sure.”
 

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

Release date: 2017
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Link: Steam page

An actual new Ys game! Ys VIII predictably looks a generation ahead of its predecessor, with a large, vibrant world to explore that gives off shades of the Wii-exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles. All we know about the story is that you wake up on an island, shipwrecked, and there's a mystery to be solved. You'll also be able to assemble a village full of survivors in classic JRPG town-building fashion.

No Truce with the Furies

Release date: 2017
Developer: ZA/UM Studio
Link: Official site

An isometric RPG played as a disgraced police detective? Yes, please. Dialog is a huge focus of this police procedural, which tips its hat to games like Kentucky Route Zero for inspiration. Plus, the entire world is being put together in the style of modern oil paintings.

Witchmarsh

Release date: 2017
Developer: Inglenook
Link: Official site

We had hoped to spend 2016 with this 1920s-set, jazzy RPG full of great music and lovely pixel-art, but alas. After funding on Kickstarter and aiming for an early 2016 launch, Witchmarsh has slipped to this year. We won’t hold it against it—anything that can marry pixel-art, the occult, and multiplayer co-op combat is worth waiting for.

Ooblets

Release date: 2018 (hopefully)
Developer: Glumberland
Link: Official site

Sometimes the developer’s own pitch is so perfect that all you can do is repeat it: “It’s sort of like Harvest Moon meets Pokémon meets Animal Crossing meets the weird awkward people we are.” We first saw Rebecca Cordingley’s none-more-cute creature battler at this year’s Day of the Devs. Its mix of working the land and collecting magical critters to fight with means Ooblets feels well-placed to be next year’s Stardew Valley—though it should be noted that the release window feels pretty fuzzy. For now, we’ll just have enjoy the ridiculously good gifs.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Release date: February 13, 2018 (Delayed)
Developer: Warhorse Studios
Link: Official site

RPGs tend to fit into only a handful of archetypes: fantasy, science fiction and… not a great deal else, generally speaking. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is trying something new, because it’s a first-person, open world adventure set in a purportedly realistic medieval setting. For some, the prospect of spending countless hours in an RPG without the chance of encountering a monstrous dragon or corpulent ogre will be unappealing, but those same players may have their interest rekindled by the startling detail Warhorse Studios claims to be pouring into its world. Indeed, if Kingdom Come: Deliverance is all it’s cracked up to be, we may be treated to a game which could rival The Witcher 3 in its ambition and storytelling scope.

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Release date: February 28, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: inXile
Link: Official site

InXile's latest CRPG adapts Monte Cook's brilliant Numenera pen and paper setting, set in a vision of Earth a billion years from the present when science and magic are truly indistinguishable. You play as the Last Castoff, a body disgarded by a timeless entity called the Changing God. Through your choices and your interactions with your companions you'll set out to discover what your new life means. In our review, we wrote "a slow start gives way to a thought-provoking adventure in a remarkable setting. A fitting follow-up to a beloved RPG."

Pyre

Release date: July 25, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Supergiant Games
Link: Official site

Pyre is a team-based RPG from the creators of Bastion and Transistor, which means it’s also very pretty. It’s set in a strange purgatorial realm, where you’re leading a team of exiles across its vast abstract expanses to compete in fantasy soccer. It’s a bit of a stretch to compare it other sports, but combat isn’t the deadly kind. You control three party members with varying abilities at once, passing an orb between one another and hopefully dunking it on the opposition’s pyre.

In our review, we gave Pyre a 71, saying "Pyre's campaign is repetitive and its combat never quite clicks, but a touching and thoughtful story makes it worth sticking through to the end."

Two Worlds II: Call of the Tenebrae

Release date: July 13, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Reality Pump Studios
Link: Steam page

We know what you're thinking. "Wait a second, didn't Two Worlds II come out in 2011?" Why yes it did. Good memory, reader! Six years later, there's another expansion for the sequel to an RPG best known for looking an awful lot like a knock-off of Oblivion. Two Worlds II was never an A-list RPG, but we liked it well enough half a decade ago, and this expansion promises an upgraded engine that may help disguise its age.

Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court

Release date: June 19, 2017
Developer: Red Hook Studios
Link: Official site

Brilliant RPG Darkest Dungeon gets its first expansion in 2017, the vampire-themed Crimson Court. Details are scant at present, but early art hints at coiffured, blood-drenched undead serving up platters of grapes with a side of still-beating heart. Lovely!

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Release date: September 14, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Larian Studios
Link: Steam page

With a score of a 92, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is not just one of our favorites of the year, but one of the best RPGs we've ever played, period. As we wrote in our review:  "There isn’t another RPG that lets you do so much. Larian promised a lot, and it has absolutely followed through, crafting a singular game that juggles a bounty of complex, immersive systems, and never drops them."

West of Loathing

Release date: August 10th, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Asymmetric
Link: Steam page 

Our first return to the world of Kingdom of Loathing in a long, long time. But damn, is it a pleasure to be back. West of Loathing is an incredibly charming RPG that's clearly seen years of development, given how many clever jokes and one-off moments are scattered around its old west stickman world. Read our preview. We're enamored.

Ys Seven

Release date: August 2017 (Out now)
Developer:
Nihon Falcom
Link: Steam page

A formerly PSP-exclusive JRPG from Nihon Falcom, Ys Seven makes its way to the PC to join previous Ys games like The Oath in Felghana. Notably, it's the first Ys game to ditch the series traditional 2D sprite-based roots, with full 3D character models. It looks a bit quaint—the original came out in 2009 and was hardly a looker then—but this PC version offers high resolution options and 60 fps.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar

Release date: October 3, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Link: Steam page

A gorgeous isometric RPG with turn-based combat based on the Battle Chasers comic by X-Men writer/artist Joe Madureira. A successful Kickstarter back in 2015 pulled in nearly a million dollars for Nightwar, which promised "classic JRPG combat meets action packed dungeons and stylish storytelling. Use skills and strategy to survive a lush, brutal landscape."

Nier: Automata

Release date: March 17, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Platinum Games
Link: Official site

Nier was a fascinating oddity: a Japanese RPG starring a father trying to save his daughter in a post-apocalyptic world of cursed shadow people, with mediocre beat 'em up combat and occasional tangents into block pushing puzzles or a text adventure. The small cult of fans mostly praise how it tells its story, unveiling new perspective and layers of understanding on repeated New Game+ playthroughs. Nier: Automata looks to be just as weird with creator Taro Yoko directing once again, but this time the development is being handled by Platinum Games. In our review, we called it "a beautiful, melancholy action RPG that’s effortlessly stylish and utterly unpredictable."

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Release date: March 21, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Bioware
Link: Official site

Andromeda had a rocky reception, but there's still some good Bioware to be found in this sprawling space adventure. In our review, we wrote "This is a series that has always been good at getting under your skin, that has built its reputation on the moments when all of those disparate elements, good and bad, cohere into an adventure that feels like it's happening to you. Andromeda can still do that. It's not perfect. It's not consistent. But for a story about vast journeys and fresh starts, it also feels a little like coming home."