I believe there’s more personal single-player time devoted to the RPG genre than any other genre in gaming. Not that I’m trying to make any social statement here, but it just seems gamers have their priorities mostly set when it comes to sinking over a hundred hours into endless grinding and side quests that fascinates me above perhaps playing a friendly game of Call of Duty. I know I’m guilty of this with games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt where most of my hours were sunk into playing Gwent, but that’s just one of the perks of that fantastic 2015 game.
Here’s the top 5 best RPG games of 2017 so far (that aren’t The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is still a hotly debated topic of whether it actually is an RPG or not). Keep in mind, I haven’t played all RPG’s made available in 2017, but the list here is ranked according to critical and commercial success, and how much entertainment value I got out of them.
Fire Emblem Heroes
This free-to-play mobile game definitely stands as a testament to what Nintendo can do on phones if they aren’t bleeding you dry with microtransactions (I’m looking at you, Super Mario Run). As a game that I have played for quite some time, Fire Emblem Heroes is a tactical RPG that acts as a pretty well-rounded spin off of the Fire Emblem series, and takes a less conventional route by being the fantasy wet dreams of mobile gamers who wish they had a bit more meat to their games that doesn’t require copious amounts of extra cash. While not without them, Fire Emblem Heroes is entirely playable as an entertaining piece of online multiplayer that feels right at home on a cellphone.
Koei Tecmo must’ve thought combining Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden was a great idea for their dark hack and slash/RPG, Nioh. Spoiler alert: it most certainly was a great idea. The game plays much like your average Dark Souls shameless copycat except Nioh cleverly differentiates itself with a drastically different style of combat that makes it both unique and, surprisingly, original. It does what Lords of the Fallen attempted to do, and instead of falling flat on its arse, actually took the Dark Souls formula of brutal difficulty and patient combat and turned it into a seamless, refined blend of old and new. It’s a must-play RPG for any fans of the FromSoftware catalog.
Read our Nioh review here.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
If someone told me a Tomb Raider RPG set in a futuristic world overrun by the dinobots was a good idea three years ago, I would’ve kindly asked you for the number of your weed supplier before telling you to take a hike. But surprisingly, Guerilla Games, the guys behind the Killzone series, pulled it off in a wonderfully original and spectacular way. Exploring this vast open world of mechanical monsters and endless beauty is a sight to behold, and acts as a pillar on the list of PlayStation 4 exclusives that Sony does right when they want to. The sheer density of the world is unparalleled for any open world game this year, and Horizon: Zero Dawn certainly gives female characters a strong boost with the headstrong but beautiful Aloy.
Read our Horizon: Zero Dawn review here.
The sequel to the original Nier of the Drakengard series, Nier: Automata was a surprise hit in almost every conceivable way. Nobody anticipated the sequel to a mostly middling RPG game to have been so meticulously crafted and perfected within its genre, and then some. Automata blends many styles and genres together while retaining its core RPG elements for a potent, enjoyable, and very thought-provoking experience that’s equal parts brilliant and resoundingly ambitious for yet another apocalyptic robots-have-taken-the-future tale. Nier: Automata’s stunning artistic visual flare and awe-inspiring soundtrack are also strong contenders for the best looking and sounding game of the year.
Read our Nier: Automata review here.
I believe Persona 5 entered its early production stages with just nothing but hyper-stylish art and slick character personalities before actually turning into a game. The comic-book/manga style is evident from the moment players take control of a Japanese student by day and masked vigilante by night as they begin the most elaborate and bold superhero game ever – that also involves collecting rare, evolving monsters that aren’t fluffy or cute like Pokemon and for the most part, playing daily high school drama life that amounts to the most intriguing Sims game that never happened. Usually I have a bit of a problem with turn-based combat as the last turn-based RPG I can say I genuinely enjoyed was Final Fantasy X, but Persona 5 made me a strong believer all over again. The gameplay is addictive, the soundtrack is jazzy and upbeat, and the style is… wow.
Read our Persona 5 review here.