2015 is upon us and I'm happy to say that this year's release schedule is looking pretty promising. It's very exciting for me to have already found so many games to be hyped over. The dearth of quality RPG and Strategy titles coming out in the past couple of years has really refined my tastes for niche, indie, and kickstarted titles. So we'll be seeing quite a few of those on the list.
When all is said and done, it's probably impossible to predict with 100% accuracy which of these games will be great, and which will totally suck, but I'm dedicated to sharing with you my hopes and fears for each title.
Without further adieu - and in the order of the games I am least hyped for to most hyped for — I bring you my Top 10 Most Anticipated RPG and Strategy Titles for 2015.
10. Mordheim: City of the Damned
Release Date: Sometime in 2015[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqi7lVl7xfI[/embed]
Description From the Developers — "Mordheim: City of the Damned is the first video game adaptation of Games Workshop's cult classic tabletop game Mordheim. Set in the Warhammer World's decimated Empire city, Mordheim: City of the Damned is a turn-based tactical game where you lead war bands into bloody and lethal skirmishes."
What I hope it's going to be — Fantasy X-Com of course! That's what it kinda looks like right? If yer a big X-Com fan, it's almost obligatory to want a fantasy version. While I don't want an exact copy, a fantasy facsimile is definitely something I'd be into.
What I fear it may end up being — At this point, it's not entirely clear what kind of single-player experience this game will provide, or how strong the story-mode is going to be... if there even is a story-mode. It seems like such a waste that a game with graphics this nice might simply end up being a monotonous battle arena, but here's to hoping that won't be the case.
9. Pillars of Eternity — Release Date: March 26[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKoDTzea79Y[/embed]
Description From the Developers — "Prepare to be enchanted by a world where the choices you make and the paths you choose shape your destiny. Obsidian Entertainment, the developer of Fallout: New Vegas™ and South Park: The Stick of Truth™, together with Paradox Interactive is proud to present Pillars of Eternity."
What I hope it's going to be — A modern and updated Balder's Gate! That's the vibe I'm getting from this game, and boy is it welcome. It seems RPGs are more and more being turned into fast-paced action titles. While this can be fun sometimes, it's starting to feel like overkill.
What I fear it may end up being — For a game that I think is supposed to be a modern homage to a classic, the graphics already look a little dated and stiff. If low-budget design decisions and bad UI come into play, Pillars of Eternity may end up more like the original Balder's Gate than anyone wants. A game like this is going to depend on a strong narrative, without which, its rougher edges are going to be all too obvious.
8. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt — Release Date: May 19[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJlkMAZTEPI[/embed]
Description From the Developers — "The Witcher is a story-driven, next-generation open world role-playing game, set in a visually stunning fantasy universe, full of meaningful choices and impactful consequences. In The Witcher, you play as Geralt of Rivia and confront a foe darker than anything humanity has faced so far—the Wild Hunt."
What I hope it's going to be — This is a tough one for me. I never played the first Witcher game, and I had kind of a bad experience with the 2nd one on consoles (Load times on the 360 were unbearable), so I'm not exactly sure what to be hoping for here. I guess I'll say that I'm hoping for stunning graphics and effects, and a story that doesn't go straight over my head because I missed the last two games.
What I fear it may end up being — I did recently give The Witcher 2 another try on my PC. I didn't get too far into it before I became distracted by other games, but I did make it pretty far in the 360 version. I fear this game may suffer from some of the pacing, navigation and UI issues I had with the previous title. If consoles are again plagued by loading screens, that might be a deal-breaker for some.
7. Shadow Realms — Release Date: CANCELEDUpdate: Bioware Austin Just Canceled Development of this title.
Description From the Developers — "From the storytelling experts at BioWare comes Shadow Realms™, a new 4v1 story-driven Online Action RPG with dynamic co-op missions in a constantly evolving BioWare world. Join an ongoing adventure with new episodes released frequently. Experience the thrill of making your own choices as to the path you take through the story, uncovering new mysteries and revealing hidden twists unexpectedly as you progress. Fight as a modern-day Hero who suddenly awakens with magical powers and is pulled into a dark realm and centuries old battle. Team up with three other Heroes in adventures facing off against a fantastic array of demonic bosses and supernatural creatures in a raging war against the Shadow Legions to save all of humanity. Summon all your powers as you prepare to battle a player-controlled Shadowlord, who possesses the ultimate weapon – the human mind."
What I hope it's going to be — A groundbreaking game. I'm hoping for some dynamic player driven interactions from the unique 4 vs 1 multiplayer feature. Will this game be able to emulate a table-top Dungeons & Dragons adventure in video game format? That would be pretty fun. Though I'm not even sure that is what they're going for here. Despite a few niggling complaints about some of their more recent RPGs, Bioware has become a name that I trust to release games I'll play through.
What I fear it may end up being — Every time I hear the term Episodic Content, I pretty much take it as a threat. Will this game bring with it a half-finished story and bombard us with micro-transactions? EA has been especially sinful in this regard, so this is a huge worry. With not a lot of information to go off of, it's easy to imagine a 4 vs 1 RPG falling flat on its face in terms of story. When trying something this different, there are major concerns that it simply won't work.
6. Torment: Tides of Numenera
Release Date: Late 2015https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxRFWk-wm-c
Description From the Developers — "Torment: Tides of Numenera is a game set in the world of Monte Cook’s new tabletop RPG setting, Numenera. Torment continues the thematic legacy of Planescape: Torment, the critically acclaimed role-playing game from 1999 that’s considered by many to be a hallmark for storytelling in computer RPGs. With Torment, we’re creating a rich role-playing experience that explores similar deep, personal themes."
What I hope it's going to be — A True successor to Planescape: Torment. Planescape, was an absolute treasure that few gamers were lucky enough to experience. It is almost too much to hope that this new Torment can deliver such a gripping story, but I do anyhow! Indeed, Kickstarter delivered me the gem that was Shadowrun Dragonfall — a game I felt was better than its amazing predecessor in every way, so I know such a thing is possible for Tides of Numenera.
What I fear it may end up being — Living up to nostalgic fondness can be very tough. It's quite possible that the writing in this game will not hold up to its predecessor's, or at least my overly-rosy memory of it. Watching the video, I can't say I'm particularly impressed with the voice-acting — if it gets much worse than this, it's going to be a distraction at the very least.
Make sure to check out the top 5 on page 2!
5. Galactic Civilizations 3 — Release Date: April...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs_qG1vPY_s
Description From the Developers — "The latest installment of one of the highest-rated strategy series of all time, Galactic Civilizations III challenges players to build an empire that dominates the galaxy through conquest, diplomacy, cultural hegemony, or scientific research. "
What I hope it's going to be — Basically just like part 2, but with better graphics, more features and a stronger single player story-mode. A slightly less brutal learning curve would be ideal too. I had a lot of fun in GalCiv2, designing my own ships and spreading my influence across the galaxy.
What I fear it may end up being — Ha, I'm going to just go ahead and say that this one will end up as expected. Still, reasonable fears are that GalCiv 3 will be plagued by glitches, or the UI might end up clunky.
4. Persona 5 — Release Date: Late in 2015https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt4w4TSWC9E
Description From the Developers...? — Top Secret! Or... not in English. Honestly, I can't find any revealing info about this game at all, but it's safe to assume it's going to be a lot like Persona 3 and 4. All we really know is that it was announced to come out late 2015 for the PS3 and PS4.
What I hope it's going to be — Like Persona 3 and 4, but hopefully with more detailed dungeons and better graphics. Really, the last 2 iterations of persona were brilliant and well-paced RPG dramas that managed to make going to high-school the most interesting thing in the world. You had to struggle against a hidden realm, while also managing your grades and social life. The end result was pretty addictive.
What I fear it may end up being — My major concern is that this game will in no way showcase next generation, or even PS3 era graphics. There's also the strong possibility that it might be a shade too difficult, or too grindy. If so, it wouldn't be the first Persona game that I gave up on while in the last dungeon. Even if those problems are present, I still expect Persona 5 to take up 50+ hours of my time.
3. No Man's Sky — Release Date: May...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLtmEjqzg7M
Description From the Developers — "No Man’s Sky is a forthcoming science-fiction game about exploration and survival in an infinite procedurally generated universe."
What I hope it's going to be — A random and massive universe to explore where I have well-defined goals. I hope this game has a nice system of progression and things to buy or achieve. Ok, I know this title maybe/probably doesn't fit well into the RPG or Strategy genre, but I'm not sure that it fits into any Genre. I imagine the concept appeals to other RPGers out there like me. The scope of No Man's Sky is pretty wild and intriguing. I just hope it's more than simply a massive ocean to explore.
What I fear it may end up being — Based on what I've heard so far, I have some serious concerns that there won't be enough objective-based gameplay with this title. A whole universe to explore is great, but simply discovering or killing random things isn't quite enough for this gamer. I hope they can make a game out of this title. It has the potential of ending up as little more than a tour-boat, and that'd be quite a shame.
2. Darkest Dungeon — Release Date: February 3https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQLxdHfMPF8
Description From the Developers — "Darkest Dungeon is a challenging gothic turn-based RPG about the psychological stresses of adventuring. Recruit, train, and lead a team of flawed heroes against unimaginable horrors, stress, famine, disease, and the ever-encroaching dark. Can you keep your heroes together when all hope is lost?"
What I hope it's going to be — A challenging and stylish roguelike that offers something unique. Honestly, ever since FTL and Rogue Legacy, I've had roguelike-fever. Sadly, the sudden popularity and low entry-level of the genre has spawned tons of low-budget/bare-bones embarrassments. I'm hoping Darkest Dungeon becomes a polished, unique and flashy addition to a genre that has become mired down with low quality games.
What I fear it may end up being — My extreme hype-level for this game aside. It's completely possible that this title offers very little in the form of gameplay. Screenshots and media are already looking very limited in variety. I'm not sure how long slowly beating down skeletons can be entertaining, but let's hope there's more to Darkest Dungeon than just that.
Most Anticipated Title for 2015 — The Division
Release Date: Sometime in 2015https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJgMl3BahWY
Description From the Developers — "A devastating pandemic sweeps through New York City, and one by one, basic services fail. In only days, without food or water, society collapses into chaos. The Division, a classified unit of self-supported tactical agents, is activated. Leading seemingly ordinary lives among us, The Division agents are trained to operate independently of command, as all else fails. Fighting to prevent the fall of society, the agents will find themselves caught up in an epic conspiracy, forced to combat not only the effects of a man-made virus, but also the rising threat of those behind it. When everything collapses, your mission begins."
What I hope it's going to be — First, I will start by saying, yeah, this doesn't really look like the type of RPGs we are familiar with, but Ubisoft is describing it as an RPG. Theoretically, Tom Clancy's: The Division provides almost everything I want out of the genre. Cutting edge graphics, tactical gameplay, co-op, exploration, phat loot, skills, levels, quests, it's all there! I've watched this trailer at least a dozen times since its reveal. As the best looking, biggest budget title on the list, with interesting combat and co-op, this game had to be my number-one!
What I fear it may end up being — A glitched unplayable mess! UbiSoft has not been known for its quality control lately. I also fear it might be too short, and I'm not sure exactly how big the game world will be. It could very easily turn from my most anticipated game of the year, to my most disappointing. It's also worth mentioning that I tend to avoid anything with the name "Tom Clancy" attached to it like the plague. Guns and military have never really been my thing, unless portrayed in the most advanced sci-fi settings. Still, this title manages to overcome that hurdle with its amazing gameplay trailer. The video itself is almost certainly a carefully orchestrated, hyper-produced and extremely glamorized depiction of the game. There's no guarantee that the finished product will even remotely play like the demo-video depicted, but at this rate, performing at even just a fraction of this display might just be good enough.
Of course, these are not the only games on my radar. Here's a few recognizable titles and why they didn't make my list.
Bloodborne — A lot of people are hyped about this game. I admit to being curious, but I am also filled with trepidation. I love the Souls series of games. Bloodborne looks like it's trying to monopolize on comparisons to Dark Souls, while really being a very different game. For me, all the extra fast paced combat and fast health and stamina regen puts this title in a totally different stratosphere than my beloved Souls series. I'm still absolutely going to try Bloodborne, but right now, I'm not betting on it being a happy experience for me.
Final Fantasy 15 — Single player entries to the Final Fantasy series have been progressively losing my interest this past decade. JRPGs in general have become increasingly foreign and hard to relate to. That they are bastardizing the Final Fantasy series into yet another button mashing action RPG is blasphemous to me. Then we get to the fact that I have zero desire to play as a gaggle of pretty faced, spiky-haired, dude-bros on a fantasy road trip in a convertible, and hopefully you can understand why I have little hope for this title.
Deep Down — Basically, all my faith in this game ended with the phrase Free To Play. Details about the title are vague and coming out at a trickle. Without much information to go off of, just knowing that the game is free-to-play casts a massive shadow over my expectations. I mean really, how many great RPGs can you think of that are free-to-play?
What about you our beloved readers? Did I get this list all wrong? What would you add or take away? What is your most anticipated RPG/Strategy game for 2015? Are there any games that you're excited over, but also very worried about?