OnlySP is a huge fan of RPGs, insofar as a website can be a fan of anything. Here are five single-player RPGs you should definitely keep an eye on this year!
KINGDOM COME: DELIVERANCE
Modern RPGs are not lacking in variety of play: choices include the turn-based dungeon crawling of Persona and Etrian Odyssey; the strategic action and mystery of Dark Souls; story-heavy sagas big and small; and even the open-world adventure-sims of The Witcher, Horizon: Zero Dawn, or Assassin’s Creed Origins.
However, these bigger RPGs, at least, from Fallout and Mass Effect to Final Fantasy XV, fit invariably into the same box of sci-fi/fantasy worlds that have dominated video games since their inception—and this fact is not necessarily bad. Science fiction and fantasy are highly regarded as delivery methods for all the most exciting aspects of an RPG in video game form; not to mention that they are just plain fun. Even Grand Theft Auto—a modern day RPG of sorts—uses absurdity and surrealism to enhance its satire.
However, this trend also results in a landscape of RPGs that hardly vary in terms of story genre. Where are the caper RPGs, the comedy RPGs, the spy RPGs? (Alpha Protocol gets remembered more fondly every passing day without a sequel or spiritual successor). Kingdom Come: Deliverance looks to be an answer to this problem. At first, the game may sound akin to any other RPG: first-person action, ability levelling, dialogue trees, and a non-linear open world. The game even has royalty, heroic knights, swords, and deadly bandits. What this RPG lacks, though, is any kind of magic or advanced technology.
Instead, the game is a work of historical fiction, based on current knowledge of the Kingdom of Bohemia circa 1403. Kingdom Come: Deliverance boasts lush visuals, a reasonably realistic combat system, and a deeply researched world—with a level of artistic license, of course, so that the game is still fun to play. Mechanically, developer Warhorse Studios has certainly taken inspiration from The Witcher and Skyrim, but the final product is a distinctive brand of open-world RPG.
For more on the ins and outs of the game, readers will want to check Dylan’s preview from last year. The best news for RPG fans is that, before the other games on this list, Kingdom Come: Deliverance had an actual release date, and will be hitting PC, PS4 and Xbox One in just a few weeks on February 13.
LONG GONE DAYS
From one of the biggest RPGs to one of the smallest, Long Gone Days shares with Kingdom Come an eschewing of what one might call ‘fantastical’ elements. This anti-war story with a focus on old-school 2D presentation (think The World Ends With You by way of Stardew Valley) begins in the modern day, in a fictional European country known as ‘The Core’. Players embark upon a dramatic journey through real-world dystopia in the long shadow of the Soviet Union. The developer BURA suggests the main story will be 4 to 5 hours long and also include multiple endings.
The game revolves around the intricacies of continental relations and requires the player to translate several different languages, as well as grow their relationships with NPCs from various European countries. Long Gone Days also sports an anime aesthetic and visual-novel-inspired mechanics, a blend likely to please fans of JRPGs from Undertale to Persona.
Long Gone Days hits Steam Early Access in the first half of this year, with a full release in September at the earliest.
VALKYRIA CHRONICLES 4
Forget Valkyria Revolution—OnlySP certainly wishes it could. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the first true sequel in the series since the Japan-only third entry in 2011. The new game looks more or less the same as the original PS3 title (and its PC/PS4 remaster), but after those wonderful watercolour visuals, Chronicles 4 is none-the-worse for it.
Since this upcoming release is the first time the series will appear on a Nintendo platform, perhaps a basic description is in order. Valkyria Chronicles is a mix of third-person action and turn-based tactics where players recruit scrappy soldiers and control them in cel-shaded battles against a faux-German Empire. Each battle begins with an overhead map, and after deploying their chosen forces, players spend Command Points to directly control their soldiers’ movements about the field in full 3D.
Having influenced the recent XCOM reboot, fans of the similarly inspired Mario+Rabbids will want to check out Valkyria Chronicles 4 to see where the genre’s resurgence began—and gamers who loved Fire Emblem‘s rebirth on 3DS will find the Potential system an interesting variation on relationships—all wrapped up in an appealing anime art style.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 releases in Japan in March, but Western players will have to wait till a little later in the year.
From the developers of the acclaimed Life Is Strange, Dontnod Entertainment, comes an open-world vampire RPG set in London 1918, during the Spanish Flu pandemic. In Vampyr, player character Jonathan Reid must balance his career as a doctor with his with his newfound thirst for blood.
Rather than the intricate environments and simulation elements of Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampyr is an action-RPG with elements of the Assassin’s Creed games. Although the game can be completed without killing, doing so is particularly difficult because Jonathan can only improve his vampire abilities by sucking blood. Players’ actions, including killing for blood, will affect the world in real time, with the status of the game’s four districts determined by the health of the citizens.
The game might not have the clout of Kingdom Come‘s historical fiction, but the team has researched heavily into the real-life London of the time, making for a detailed and unusual world for video games in 2018. With multiple endings and several warring vampire factions, Vampyr aims to be a strong RPG first and a visual powerhouse second—but similarly to last year’s Hellblade, Dontnod has picked its battles where it counts, producing a mid-range title of the sort labelled “triple I” or “double A”.
Will the game be as well received as its recent peers in the big-indie scene? Maybe not: the game aims to be eclectic and challenging, meaning the market is probably smaller than Night in the Woods or Hellblade. Nevertheless, as with Alpha Protocol, those who appreciate the game’s gas-lamp/classic-monster aesthetic will surely find plenty to love.
Vampyr is scheduled for release in the first half of 2018.
PILLARS OF ETERNITY II: DEADFIRE
The first Pillars of Eternity was an excellent throwback RPG set inside a fascinating and well-written world; a modern game that leveraged the many positives of Baldur’s Gate’s past. Honestly, to be excited for the game’s sequel, Deadfire, one only need to dig into the first.
For more casual RPG fans, the great hope is for Pillars of Eternity II to begin evolving its nostalgic formula. Though developer Obsidian Entertainment had already pushed far beyond what was possible in the ’90s and the series’s quality of writing is unparalleled, the sequel goes further still.
First, as with all good RPG sequels, of course, the title takes into account the changes that players made to the world in their own story. More importantly, Deadfire‘s behind-the-scenes technology has been updated to include dynamic weather effects and more complex character AI that resembles the Radiant systems pioneered by Bethesda. To the former, the Deadfire Archipelago on which the game takes place is battered by a procedural weather cycle that physically alters the play space (a simple example is that wind from the ocean will blow clothes in the right direction). To the latter, NPCs now have daily schedules and personal priorities—all of which impact the game’s quests—and are themselves affected by the weather system.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is scheduled for release on April 3.
There you have it; some smashing role-playing titles to put on your radar. Plenty more are on the horizon, though, so which of this year’s RPGs are you excited for? Comment below and remember to keep it locked on OnlySP for more single-player news.