After 2014 which was a good year for RPGs, but not as extraordinary as expected due to many delayed titles, 2015 is announcing to be even more exciting for RPGs fans with many long awaited sequels and spiritual successors being released this year.
With the help of crowdfunding and certain developers’ dedication it might be a year to remember for this genre, despite the lower number of upcoming titles.
Here is a list of the most notable titles which have a fixed release date or are scheduled for 2015, realistic or not.
Release Date: January 20
Daedalic Entertainment plans to take players back into the Dark Eye universe this year with their upcoming Blackguards 2, a tactical RPG with turn based combat.
Taking place three years after the original title, Blackguards 2 will continue in the same grim and violent style with political struggles and factions battling for power. Also, a few familiar characters will make a return, joining the player’s group.
Blackguards’ gameplay is focused mostly on complex character development, battles and story. The feeling of exploration is not the main focus of the game and is somewhat hindered by the fact that the game is composed only of towns and more than a hundred unique combat maps.
Blackguards 2 will follow the same mechanics of the previous game, but with many changes for the better. Players have been asking for improvements to the line of sight system, formation and cover systems and Daedalic will deliver these wanted changes. Besides the river of epic battles players will now have lots of quests to complete which will further expand the storyline.
Overall, Blackguards 2 sounds like a blast for those who love tactical turn based gameplay and twisted stories with questionable moral choices. The development time was shorted for this game, but considering the original title set the base game mechanics, graphics and much more, it shouldn't be worrisome.
Pillars of Eternity
Release Date: Q1
Pillars of Eternity is a Kickstarter crowdfunded isometric RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment and originally set to release in 2014. The game was delayed in order to deliver to the fans “the best possible experience” according to Feargus Urquhart, which is for the best, considering Obisidian’s buggy past.
The game is set into a brand new universe developed from scratch and is aimed primarily at providing a similar experience as the RPGs made with Infinity Engine (Baldur’s Gate & Icewind Dale series). In its current state, it seems to me that Obsidian are spot on with their game, from the user interface design to the beautiful painted-like 2D graphics, the game feels like an old school RPG from the age of Black Isle and Interplay.
Pillars of Eternity is focused on story driven gameplay with tons of dialogues and character interaction. It will offer deep character customization with six races to choose from and up to eleven classes, each with different abilities and a build up lore to match the new universe.
The combat system is real time with the option pause in order to plan and queue up the next moves, similar to the games of whose atmosphere it tries to recreate.
The developers said that the game is immense and it will take a huge amount of time to finish, even if it is possible to rush for the ending. There are varied places to explore and the player will have to rely on the five core skills, including stealth, and tactics in order to survive every challenge that might come while exploring the world.
Pillars of Eternity is one of my most anticipated games this year (it was last year as well) and by the looks of it, the game will deliver what the fans that helped Obsidian make this possible wanted.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Release Date: May 19
This game was postponed so many times that I gave up counting. If we are to take seriously the latest release date announced by CDPR, we will be able to play it in May.
The Witcher 3 continues the story of the series showing the effect of the previous game’s action and will conclude Geralt’s search for Yennefer. The Wild Hunt will make a new and stronger appearance, teased in the trailers to be the real enemy in the game.
There will be multiple playable characters in order to build up the story and link it up to the present action as well as developing it further.
Choices will matter in this game and characters that we know for years from this series might die, this game will be the conclusion for Geralt’s story.
Probably the most exciting thing about The Witcher 3 is the fact that it will feature a huge open world with nonlinear gameplay and an open-ended story. This is a huge step forward from the previous titles and should work with this universe quite well.
The graphics and art style are beautiful and fit the open world environment perfectly (if not downgraded) with huge castles and cities, vast mysterious forests and open waters.
The Witcher 3 is an ambitious title which has the chance to deliver one of the best open world RPG experiences since Gothic times and considering this, it is for the best that CDPR took their time in finishing and polishing up this game.
Torments: Tides of Numenera
Release Date: Q4
Torments: Tides of Numenera is another extremely successful crowdfunded RPG developed by inXile Entertainment and the spiritual successor of Planescape Torment (my favorite RPG).
The game is set in Monte Cook’s Numenera universe designed by the mastermind behind Dungeon and Dragons to be a campaign setting for a tabletop game. Numenera is a science fantasy with the action taking place on Earth a billion years in the future.
Tides of Numenera is developed using the Unity engine and will feature 2.5D graphics from an isometric perspective. The combat will be an adaptation of the ruleset from the tabletop game and it will be turn based as the majority of the fans wanted it to be (despite PST using a real time combat with pause).
There are three classes to choose from, each representing the stereotypical choices in RPGs: warrior, mage and rogue. These classes can be further customized to serve better in certain roles and suit better certain play styles.
The most exciting feature of this game is the dialogue system which should be as rich and complex as the ones seen in the older RPGs like the original Fallout games, Baldur’s Gate and of course Planescape Torment. We haven’t been blessed with many games using such an intricate dialogue system in quite a while and personally I’m quite anxious to play again a game so dialogue and story driven.
Another interesting mechanic that makes this game so unique is the system of Tides which will replace the conventional alignment system from DnD games. The Tides represent the reaction that a character inspires to its companions. The combination of tides that a character has determines his Legacy which is the way he lived up like until that point. These Legacies will affect some of the characters’ abilities and powers.
Planescape Torment is the best RPG I have ever played and knowing that a successor, even a spiritual one is coming out makes me quite nervous. This game holds in its hands (together with Pillars of Eternity) the fate of all heavy dialogue and story driven RPGs and its incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign proves that there are enough gamers out there seeking this type of video games.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance - Act I
Release Date: Q4
Like most recent RPGs, Kingdom Come: Deliverance makes no exception and is a title made possible through Kickstarter crowdfunding. Developed by Warhorse Studios and powered by CryEngine (4th generation) this game promises amazing immersiveness through detailed graphics and open world landscapes based on real locations.
The action takes place in the Kingdom of Bohemia (Central Europe) beginning with the year 1403 during an internal political conflict in the land. The hero is the son of a blacksmith whose family was killed and who seeks revenge and the restoration of order and peace in his natal lands.
The game is split in three different acts which will be expanding the action with new areas to explore and new quests while continuing the story from where it was left of by the previous act. Each act will have around 30 hours of gameplay and they will be released separately.
Kingdom Come features a classless system allowing the liberty to customize the character’s skills as desired, either playing a hybrid style or choosing a standard role as a warrior, bard or thief.
Abilities and stats will be affected through dialogues and choices as well as the relation with other characters and the protagonist’s overall reputation.
There will be a large variety of realistic weapons and armors in the game based on the medieval era with characters being able to equip up to sixteen pieces of clothing.
The game puts a big focus on realism and simulates many day to day needs of a human being. Sleep and food are required to stay healthy and strong, food will be spoiling over time so it stays a constant worry.
Armors and weapons can degrade through excessive usage and will require maintenance. There will be a variety of tasks that can be done to better maintain a character and its gear, like repairing weapons and armors, fishing or gathering food, cooking, mining for ore, stealing and even creating medicine. All these tasks will be done through various minigames that require character stats or player’s skill.
Kingdome Come: Deliverance is an ambitious project of taking a more realistic approach to a genre that has been focused mostly on fantasy and post apocalyptical settings. The game promises a lot and if it will deliver, it might be one of the most unique RPG experiences. The one thing that worries me about it is the pricing of each act, which could lead to a game much more expensive than any other AAA title.
Release Date: TBA, currently in Early Access
Grim Dawn is one of the games that if we were to listen to the developer’s schedule it should have been completed a year if not longer ago. The game is a spiritual successor of sorts to Titan Quest, designed on the same engine and to have a similar feeling.
It was originally announced back in 2010 and a Kickstarter campaign for it was launched in 2012 raising almost twice the initial funding goal. In 2013 the game entered on the Steam Early Access program and the development progress could be easily followed by everyone.
The game went a long way since its Early Access launch with a complete Act 2 being released in January 2014 and Act 3 being slowly added into the game.
Grim Dawn’s action is placed in a dark fantasy world based on the Victorian era. After bringing to the world some mysterious extra-dimensional creatures and experimenting with them, things got out of control as these creatures escaped and started to tear down humanity in order to expand their existence in our world. Trapped in a war between otherworldly powers, humanity is on the brink of extinction as human bodies are a resource for the creatures that are now taking over the world.
The game is a Hack & Slash at core, filled with loads of action, loot and maps with hordes of enemies. The interesting feature about this game is the quests system which has choices implemented in it that will have a visible impact on the world.
Grim Dawn has five playable classes with the option to dual class in order to gain better stats and abilities synergy.
The game has tones of loot from common to legendary items and even sets. Items can provide both passive bonuses as well as unique skills to better enhance a character.
The multiplayer is currently in the game for those who want to team up and fight to save humanity from the total annihilation.
Fans and backers have been waiting for this game for a long time and 2015 is going to be the year of its release (hopefully). It remains to be seen if this long wait was worth it or if the prolonged development affected the game in a negative way.
The Banner Saga 2
Release Date: TBA
The Banner Saga is a well received 2D tactical RPG about Vikings in a Ragnarok themed world developed by Stoic Studio.
The game’s epic story follows a caravan traveling to dangerous frozen wastes whose fate depends on the choices made by the player throughout the game. Building and managing the caravan is an important part of the game and can change the outcome of the story.
The Banner Saga uses a turn based tactical combat and features battles of great importance as the outcome can result in the permanent death of important characters. The game has a pretty straight forward stats and items system which helps with the development of each character.
There are two races, humans and varl (horned giants), seven classes and twenty-five playable characters.
The Banner Saga is a planned trilogy with the sequel being announced by Stoic Studio for 2015. Not much is known about The Banner Saga 2 except that the choices and progress made in the first game will carry on to the sequel. The game should follow the same mechanics and ideas behind the original title with certain improvements. More information are expected from Stoic Studio after the holidays season.
Release Date: TBA
Hellraid was supposed to enter Early Access in the autumn of 2014, but from various reasons it didn’t come out. The game is a first person action RPG developed by Techland, the company behind Dead Island, Dying Light and Call of Juarez.
Hellraid is set in a dark fantasy world based on medieval European folklore. This world is invaded by the undead and various hellish creatures and all life is in grave danger.
The player will take the role of a warrior who tries to stop the invasion and close the gates of Hell. In order to succeed, the player will have a large skill tree at available with the ability to mix melee skills with ranged skills and magical powers for a devastating effect.
The game will feature an in depth progressive character customization combining active and passive abilities with a huge arsenal of weapons and various types of armors and accessories.
Hellraid will have a competitive leaderboard and a co-op mode for two to four players to fight together against the forces of evil. The game is separated in three distinct modes: the story mode which is pretty intuitive by the name, the Mission Mode which is a highly replayable and challenging mode designed for leaderboards and ultimately the Arena Mode which is a standoff against incoming waves of enemies.
Hellraid promises to be a fun, visceral and satisfying action RPG with gameplay somewhat similar to the Dead Island series, but better suited for the fans of fantasy and medieval settings.
Techland recently announced that Hellraid is receiving a higher development support, equivalent to an AAA title and it will skip the Early Access phase.
Release Date: TBA
After Reset is a post-apocalyptic isometric RPG inspired by the original Fallout titles. The game had a first Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that was far from reaching its goal, it was later rebooted asking for a lower amount of money and almost reaching three times its goal.
The action takes place 132 years after the Reset, which was an apocalyptical nuclear war which devastated the entire world killing billions and forcing those who could to take refuge in underground built bases.
After hiding for over a hundred years, the survivors came out to the surface to rebuild the civilization, but they found another faction already taking over the areas healing from radiation and a new war is starting.
The game will focus on the personal story, companions’ stories and non linear freedom of choice in order to deliver a compelling game using Baldur’s Gate and Fallout as inspiration.
The skills system will be complex, inspired by the DnD system, and will be intuitive for those with experience in games that used this system.
Not much else is known about After Reset, but it is expected to come sometimes this year (probably through Early Access).
With all these games and more to come the future of the genre looks brighter than it ever did in the last years.
Titles like Mass Effect 4 or Cyberpunk 2077 are not on the list because it is highly unlikely that they are launched in 2015, at the moment there is very little information about these games.