With 2020 behind us, we at RPG Site are peeking ahead at what’s to come in 2021, and as fans of the role-playing genre, there’s quite a bit to look forward to. We wanted to highlight a handful of games we are especially eager to see.
We also asked for input with a public Twitter poll to see what games our readers were looking forward to 2021. What follows below is our staff selected games, and you can also check the results from the Reader Poll for both Favorite RPG of 2020 and Most Anticipated RPG of 2021.
Our staff criteria for the Most Anticipated selection is fairly loose. In our staff vote, we picked upcoming RPGs that either interested us due to sheer potential, a good pedigree, and/or titles that find themselves with intriguing release situations regarding its development. This year in our internal polling, we saw a breadth of titles getting votes rather than a few titles running away with the tally. So, we have selected a total of 15 RPGs that we are looking forward to.
Note that the list is unranked, with the exception of our overall winner. We actually have a two-way tie for our winner this year!
Need a refresher on what RPGs are set to release in 2021? We have a list you can check out right here.
RPG Site Staff Picks – Most Anticipated 2021 RPGs
NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…
The original NieR release back in 2010 built up a cult following as word-of-mouth spread on its incredible story, characters, and music. Although NieR: Automata certainly helped spread awareness of it massively, many people found it difficult to play through due to its dated visuals, stiff gameplay, or simply because they didn’t have access to a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 to play it on anymore. Now with the nightmarishly named re-release of it, people will be able to experience it once more with an updated look and a slick, reworked battle system now in a similar vein to NieR: Automata. The only caveat is that NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… will no longer have the old dad version of the main character, since the west only saw the Gestalt version of NieR, not Replicant.
Shin Megami Tensei V
Originally announced in 2017, it would be over two years before we saw another peep from Atlus regarding Shin Megami Tensei V. The once-excruciating wait is almost over, though, as we should be playing SMT V in less than a year when it releases simultaneously worldwide for Nintendo Switch. Seeming to take strong influences specifically from the stellar Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, with a moody atmosphere, mysterious characters, and the best presentation for the series yet – this entry is undoubtedly one of the most interesting RPGs of 2021.
Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis
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Phantasy Star Online 2 had been mostly a Japan-only online game… until 2020. A new server was first launched in North America, then it expanded to Europe and finally covered almost the entire world. Although there used to be a couple of short-lived Asian servers, they too have been incorporated into the global server. New Genesis will take the 2012 free-to-play game to a whole new level literally, on both Japanese and global servers simultaneously. We cannot wait to see the evolutions that will be brought to the futuristic explorations and battles.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy
Atelier Ryza helped modernize the series, and thanks to both a more approachable character design and a lusher world for players to explore, managed to catapult the series to newly best-selling heights. It was a great game, and Ryza 2 seems to add just the little more ingredients that we wanted to see in order to alchemize the perfect follow-up to 2019’s title. We can’t wait to see how it turns out, and thankfully that wait won’t take all that long – with Ryza 2 coming out this January.
Ys IX: Monstrum Nox
Out of Falcom’s two major IPs, Ys has been beloved since 1987. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox is the first Ys game built from the ground up for modern consoles in a very long time, with a gorgeous gothic aesthetic to match. The scale is larger than ever, the story looks to be a fun departure from what we’re used to, and the gameplay appears to offer more freedom than ever. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana showed that modern Falcom’s creativity can still shine when the moons align, and Ys IX is hopefully a further step in the right direction.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
It’s been tough to be a Mass Effect fan recently, with the series remaining dormant with a questionable future ever since the cancelation of any DLC for the maligned Mass Effect Andromeda all the way back in 2018. Rumors had been floating around of a remaster for the trilogy for quite some time, but it had remained wishful thinking until finally confirmed to be real late last year. While a remaster set isn’t an overly-thrilling proposition on its own, the confirmation of a true continuation shortly after during the game awards is enough to keep the dream alive. Legendary Edition serves as a true pulse for the series, the first we’ve had in a long while, and that’s enough to stay excited about.
Horizon: Forbidden West
Aloy’s adventures in Horizon: Zero Dawn showed off a wholly unique combat system, beautiful locations in an expansive world, and an intriguing plot that felt like it was only just getting started. We don’t know too much about the sequel yet, but what we’ve seen from the reveal trailer is enough to get us excited about a post-apocalyptic world all over again. Just don’t make us kill the robot turtle.
Tales of Arise
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It’s been a while since we’ve seen an update on Tales of Arise. In fact, it’s not since Tokyo Game Show 2019, more than a year ago, that we’ve gotten substantial new information on the upcoming action JRPG. Regardless, we’re still excited to see how the Tales series may evolve with this first new entry native to the PS4/XB1 generation of consoles, even if it’s taken longer than we’ve expected. From what little we’ve seen so far, it looks to be a promising step forward for the long-tenured franchise. Hopefully, the wait will be worth it in the long run, leading to a game that brings Tales to a new generation with a splash.
We honestly don’t know much about Elden Ring yet. We don’t know if it will release in 2021. What we do know it’s an action RPG from FromSoftware, helmed by Hidetaka Miyazaki and with writing contributions from George R.R. Martin – author of the beloved fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire. A brief trailer from E3 2019 is just about all we have to go on, but the strong pedigree behind the RPG is enough to capture our attention. Hopefully, it makes a reappearance soon.
Breath of the Wild 2
It may only very loosely be an RPG, but when Breath of the Wild launched with the Nintendo Switch, it quickly gained a reputation as one of the prime examples of how to create an interactive open-world that players actually want to explore. That, coupled with its simplistic story-telling and world-building makes it one of Nintendo’s strongest games to date. If the sequel can build on these aspects even more, whilst improving on smaller issues like the combat, then we could be looking at something even greater than the original.
Rune Factory 5
When Rune Factory 4 was originally released, it was quite the underrated hidden gem. The game features a robust battle system and combined with the best of Harvest Moon farming mechanics, it was definitely pure service for lovers of the genre. Although it was one of Neverland Company’s most successful titles, the company filed for bankruptcy. However, with recent news of Marvelous Studios picking up the series again, it is exciting to see what direction the series is heading into.
NEO: The World Ends With You
A sequel to The World Ends With You is something fans have been excited about for almost a whole decade now. We’re so excited in fact, that we actually broke our own rules and added NEO: The World Ends With You as a late entry in this list after deciding the other participants. NEO looks like it keeps the iconic style and character of the original, whilst updating it for new hardware and changing enough to feel like an evolution of what came before. It’s got the different funky beats and an updated fashion, yet it still looks like it retains what made the first game so beloved. We’ve yet to see full details on how the battle system translates to a 3D environment, but it’s looking very intriguing from the brief bits of gameplay we’ve seen so far.
Final Fantasy XVI (Wishful Thinking Pick)
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There’s no guarantee or steadfast indication that Final Fantasy XVI will arrive in 2021, but that won’t stop us from getting excited anyway. Final Fantasy XVI looks like a wonderful combination of old and new Final Fantasy, taking the medieval theming whilst also iterating on the combat system to make it more modern. For as much as we’ve seen of the game, there’s so much we don’t know about it yet. Is it ATB? Will it feature a party, or just focus on one character? Is it open-world? Part of the excitement is slowly unraveling what this new Final Fantasy is going to be and how it’ll fit into the series as a whole. Whatever that ends up being, we’re incredibly excited to find out.
Monster Hunter World helped propel the series to newfound popularity in the west, but many long time fans have also been looking forward to a new portable entry in the series. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is still a great game, but it now lacks many of the creature comforts that players might have found themselves growing accustomed to from the latest entry in the series. Monster Hunter Rise looks to be a potential best of both worlds, adopting some of the goofiness of past portable entries into many of the systems from Monster Hunter World, alongside plenty of new ideas of its own. In many ways, it feels much more like a new generation for the series rather than an iteration, and we can’t wait to see more.
Bravely Default II (Staff Choice for Most Anticipated 2020 RPG Winner – Tie)
While the original Bravely Default made quite the splash when it released around seven years ago, Bravely Second’s reception was quite divisive as a follow-up. Bravely Default II is giving the series another shot, and it is looking to take place in a new world entirely with a fresh start for the franchise. While the game’s aesthetic is a little bit different than before, the two publicly released demos have shown that the developers have a strong understanding of how to improve and innovate on the gameplay formula we’ve all come to know and love. Calling 2020 was a rough year is an understatement, and it is safe to say that many of us would love another modern romp down nostalgia lane.