As I ponder the role-playing games I’m keeping an eye on in 2019, my first thought is, “Hey, wait, I haven’t had a chance to finish all the great RPGs of 2018 yet!

Then I remember that we’ve got outstanding games coming next year, beginning with a big triple-A release at the end of January that fans have been waiting almost 15 years for; the Witcher studio’s first new property since, well, The Witcher’s debut in 2007; what could be the finale in a post apocolyptic series that’s been around for decades; the end of another series that’s made fantastic use of the DS and 3DS’s second screens; and a host of others, big and small. We’ll see Dungeons & Dragons return to smartphones and The Elder Scrolls come to mobile, and the remaster of one of Final Fantasy’s quirkiest games.

And a dungeon that’s a boyfriend.

Here’s my look at what I’m excited for in 2019, in no meaningful order. And yes, I realize I’m leaving Anthem, BioWare’s answer to Destiny, off the list. That’s because I’m not looking forward to it. I don’t even think it’s really an RPG. If you have a RPG that I should be preparing for, please send me a note. Thank you!

The Outer Worlds

The Outer Wilds is Obsidian's new sci-fi role-playing game.

Above: The Outer Worlds is Obsidian’s new sci-fi role-playing game.

Image Credit: Mike Minotti/GamesBeat

Developers: Obsidian Entertainment, Private Division
Publisher: The Private Division
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Obsidian Entertainment made my favorite RPG of 2018, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, and it’s taking to the stars for its next adventure: The Outer Worlds. It takes place on the frontier, and the trailer announcing this RPG at The Game Awards earlier this month brought the ol’ Fox series Firefly and other sci-fi Western tales to mind. Obsidian is teaming up with Private Division, a studio from some of the creators of the original Fallout, and the game coming out on the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Etrian Odyssey Nexus

Above: Etrian Odyssey Nexus is the dungeon crawler’s 3DS finale.

Image Credit: Atlus

Developers: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Platform: Nintendo 3DS

This will be the final game I play on my Nintendo 3DS before retiring it (aka giving it to my kids). It’s going to be a celebration of everything Etrian Odyssey: lots of classes, more Labyrinths, more mapping options. What makes this turn-based RPG so special is that you can use the lower 3DS screen to create maps of the dungeons, using symbols to note where entrances, water, traps, and other surprises lurk. You create your party members as well, and this final entry will also have a standalone story mode.

Kingdom Hearts III

Not quite the Avengers, but they'll do.

Above: Not quite the Avengers, but they’ll do.

Image Credit: Square Enix

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

I don’t follow Kingdom Hearts’ story as closely as my colleague, GamesBeat Reviews editor Mike Minotti. Heck, I don’t even remember where Kingdom Hearts II left off — when it came out here in 2006, I wasn’t married, didn’t have children, didn’t have a lot of gray hair, and wasn’t even in the enthusiast press: I was a sports journalist! Whatever. I’m looking forward to throwing spells with Donald Duck and trying to figure out how all this Disney love fits in a wacky JRPG world.

Warhammer: Chaosbane

Developer: Eko
Publisher: Bigben, Maximum Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

I adore Warhammer’s fantasy universe, and we haven’t had a good hack-‘n’-slasher in it yet. Chaosbane promises the loot, skill trees, and other bullet items of action-RPGs, and it pairs it with Bloodlust, which you get from slaughtering your foes. The last time we got a good look at the Warhammer fantasy universe was Warhammer Online, which lasted from 2008 to 2013. It does look a lot like Diablo, but so do many other fantasy action-RPGs (like Sacred), and they still find ways to stand out.

Torchlight Frontiers

Torchlight Frontiers in action.

Above: Torchlight Frontiers in action.

Image Credit: Perfect World Entertainment

Developer: Echtra Games
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

One of my favorite Diablo-likes is Torchlight. You can still count on slaying lots of monsters and finding loot, all in fanciful levels with whimsical art design. But this time, Torchlight is going online, and players will be able to slay monsters together.

A Plague’s Tale: Innocence

A Plague's Tale: Innocence is one of the most creepy -- and captivating -- games from E3.

Above: A Plague’s Tale: Innocence is one of the most creepy — and captivating — games from E3.

Image Credit: Asobo Studio

Developer: Asobo Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

No game disturbed me on such a fundamental level as A Plague’s Tale did in 2016 — at E3 that year, I watched a video where the main characters (children) dealt with a supernatural infestation of rats in France. The rodents had overrun their medieval town, and the kids were trying to make sense of what’s going on in the midst of gruesome nests … and worse.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077

Above: Cyberpunk 2077 looks, well, punk.

Image Credit: CD Projekt Red

Developer: CD Projekt Red
Publisher: CD Projeckt Red
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The second and third Witcher games are some of my favorite RPGs of the past decade, and I’m eager to see how CD Projekt Red goes from writing for fantasy to telling a tale about a cyberpunk universe. I enjoyed The Witcher III’s combat (though others have criticized it for being cumbersome, with cause), and I’m curious to see how CD Projekt Red makes it smoother.

The Elder Scrolls: Blades

The Elder Scrolls Blades

Above: The Elder Scrolls: Blades brings the long-lived RPG series to mobile.

Image Credit: Bethesda

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: Android, iOS

The Elder Scrolls is one of gaming’s longest-lived worlds (yes, I can’t believe I’m that old now), and we’ve seen the RPG on just about every platform known to humankind (I keep expecting to play Skyrim on my Samsung refrigerator someday). But it’s never had a made-for-mobile game before (and The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a card game, not an RPG, so it doesn’t count here), and I’m excited to explore Tamriel on my phone. I don’t expect a full Skyrim-type experience, but today’s phones can pull off games like The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (the series’ best) without a hitch. Blades could be an exciting entry in The Elder Scrolls as long as it avoids the free-to-play nonsense of timers and paid advancement.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.

Above: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.

Image Credit: Square Enix

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Switch

Nintendo’s Switch is proving to be a fantastic console for co-op and multiplayer games. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is a GameCube co-op RPG from way back in 2003, and it’s different because you use those funky GameBoy Advance cables to connect the handhelds as controllers. Now, I doubt that you’ll need to unearth GBAs to play this remaster. I’m looking forward to this one because Diablo III, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Super Mario Party show that the Switch is fantastic for playing games with other people, and the Switch could use more co-op RPGs. Also: Crystal Chronicles is an odd-but-kinda-lovable offshoot for Final Fantasy, and I’m excited to explore this world again (we last saw it in 2009 with The Crystal Bearers on Wii).

Warriors of Waterdeep

Above: Red dragons are always bad news.

Image Credit: Ludia

Developer: Ludia
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Platforms: Android, iOS

Warriors of Waterdeep will be Dungeons & Dragons‘ first mobile game since Arena of War, which released in 2013 and fizzled out years ago. While that game was an Angry Birds-like take on dungeon exploring and combat, Warriors of Waterdeep is an RPG. You get missions from Larael, the open lord of Waterdeep (a hub of adventure on the Sword Coast in the Forgotten Realms setting), and you earn cards that enhance your characters (and yes, you buy these, too). I’m looking forward to getting some D&D action on my phone — right now, Lords of Waterdeep (a worker-management board game) is the only D&D game on mobile.

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning

Developer: Lancarse, Spike-Chunsoft
Publisher: Spike-Chunsoft
Platforms: PS4, PC, Vita

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is unique, something that’s rare in gaming these days. It’s a survival-RPG that mixes aspects of Etrian Odyssey-style exploration with survival games. Oh, and it involves cloning. It tells the story of a group of characters, who are born, live, and die in 13-day cycles. As this happens, you try to survive in a flooded world after the end of civilization.

Oh, and it has sheep, too.

Boyfriend Dungeon

Above: But do glaives listen well?

Image Credit: Kitfox Games

Developer: Kitfox Games
Publisher: Kitfox Games
Platform: PC

Some players develop attachments to their weapons in RPGs. In Pillars of Eternity, I enchanted a pole-axe and used it for most of the game because I loved this weapon so much. In Boyfriend Dungeon, you can … romance your weapons. It’s a quirky premise, and I’m excited to dive into this. I’ll have an interview with Kitfox about their approach in mid-January.

Wasteland 3

Developer: InXile Entertainment
Publisher: InXile Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Before Fallout, we had Wasteland, the groundbreaking postapocalyptic RPG from 1988. InXile brought the series back, put it on Kickstarter, and released Wasteland 2 in 2014. It retained the old-school RPG design of the original open-world game, but it added better tactical combat, a deep story, and a range of new character options. Wasteland 3 builds on this, adding a more chilly atmosphere in the frozen wastes. Wasteland 2 has some of the most challenging tactical combat I’ve ever encountered,

The D20 Beat is GamesBeat managing editor Jason Wilson’s column on role-playing games. It covers video games, the digital components of traditional tabletop RPGs, and the rise of RPG streaming. Drop me a line if you have any RPG news, insights, or memories to share … or just want to roll a digital d20 with me.


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