by Michael A. Cunningham

There are a number of interesting RPGs coming out in the near future. Some already have confirmed release dates, but the rest are at least planned 2015 releases. Here are our top 5 most wanted upcoming RPGs along with some comments for the staff as to why they are looking forward to these. Let's hope these end up as part of our RPG of the Year award and not on the Most Disappointing list.

Persona 5

Persona 5 (PS3, PS4) - Official Site
Pub: Atlus | Dev: Atlus | Release: 2015

The desire for Persona 5 rests entirely on the reputation of the series, but most of us feel that it's the JRPG series most capable of sticking true to it. Following in the footsteps of Persona 3 and 4 gives it a very high bar to aim for, but you have to feel that the Persona team is one of the safest bets for this sort of thing. It has already shown an ability to improve on its very high bar with the portable versions of the two aforementioned titles. Calling a game we have seen next to nothing about a most wanted title might be a little crazy, but if past development is an indication of future quality then it's as close to a certainty as possible. - Alex Fuller

Persona! As much fun as it's been playing the various P3 and P4 spinoffs, nothing can quite compete with the promise of a brand-spanking-new Persona game. We only know a few things about it so far: its main colour is red, it has a theme of seeking freedom in the face of the modern world's challenges, and it stars an adorable mop-headed high school protagonist. Still, Atlus knows very well what we love about the series, so we're sure to have plenty of fun arranging our social lives while also battling whatever demonic threat looms over the game. I can't wait. - Becky Cunningham

After getting let down by Japan's RPG offerings last gen, specifically that Atlus didn't produce a large console RPG after closing out the PS2 with Persona 3 and 4, I'm looking forward to Persona 5 finally coming out. It's the sequel to one of the best PS2 games, and big budget console RPGs from Japan have become rare. - Glenn Wilson

For six years now we've been living in a Persona 4 world. Its popularity has eclipsed its parent series and has probably made Atlus more money than ever. I loved it, you probably loved it, I can safely say most RPG fans who played it loved it. That said, I'm ready to move on. Enough with remakes, enough with spinoffs, give us the goods, Atlus. I can think of few things I am waiting for more. Give us a new cast, give us a new year, shake up the formula a bit. - Zack Webster

It's been six years since the last new installment of the Persona franchise, and in that timeframe, the last two entries have been milked to death. After seeing what Atlus could do with modern, high definition visuals in Catherine, I've been eagerly waiting for a new installment. Persona 3 is one of my all-time favorite games, so I'm excited to see what a new entry can bring to the series. - Adriaan den Ouden

I'll echo my colleagues in both my excitement for Persona 5 and my astonishment that it was a complete runaway for our #1 slot despite having only seen a few brief scenes that likely just came from the intro animation. We know next to nothing about this game, but after Persona 3 and Persona 4 it's hard not to be excited. I fear that if it's too similar or too distant from those titles that we might have some disappointment, but I'm willing to take that chance. - Michael A Cunningham

I'm a huge Persona fan as well as an SMT fan. It's been quite a few years since Persona 4, and I'm looking forward to an HD Persona game with an all new exciting cast of characters and a new world to explore and engross myself in for 80 or 90 hours. - Paul Engmann

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC, PS4, Xbox One) - Official Site
Pub: WB Games/Bandai Namco Games | Dev: CD Projekt RED | Release: 02.24.2015

The finale of CD Projekt Red's Geralt trilogy is looking to end with a bang. The Witcher 3 is larger and more open than the previous two entries and promises even more difficult decisions with real consequences throughout the course of the game. This is also the first big "next-gen" only RPG to appear on the PS4 and Xbox One, and I'm excited and curious to see what CDPR can do when they no longer have to consider the prior generation of systems during the development process. If you liked the story telling of The Witcher 2 and the beautiful open world of Skyrim, this should be at the top of your RPG list. - Emanuel Merino

The depressing, Eastern European take on Tolkien's cheery medieval fantasy setting is refreshing in The Witcher series, and the characters and plot in the first two were highlights as well. I'm optimistic that The Witcher 3 will take another step forward with its interface and combat system, but even if they aren't great, this series takes place in a world I look forward to interacting with again. - Glenn Wilson

I love The Witcher games for having the best choice-and-consequence system ever seen in interactive entertainment. No other RPG developer has ever had the chutzpah to put two completely different chapters in the middle of a game depending on the choices you've made. I love CDProjekt for being incredibly pro-consumer and employing technical wizards. I'm crossing my fingers that the company can do justice to Ciri and Yennefer, two characters I love from the novels but who are making their first appearance in the game series. Having seen gameplay footage, I'm at least confident that this game will be gorgeous and sweeping. If anybody can combine an open world with a fascinating story full of tough choices even better than BioWare did in Inquisition, it's CDP. Witch me, baby. - Becky Cunningham

With The Witcher 2, CD Projekt Red cemented itself at the forefront of the modern RPG. As of now, they sit right next to Obsidian as kings of the genre to me with producing, writing, and game settings few other companies can replicate. I understand the complaints about the second game: It's fairly linear, the combat wasn't fluid, the RPG elements were scarce, etc. For me, it was one of the most improved sequels of all time, and this game looks to be improving just as much. While I may no longer by impressed by open worlds, what I've seen of The Witcher 3 looks amazing. - Zack Webster

I've only played The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360, but I didn't really love it as much as others. The story, setting, and characters are fantastic, and I love the dark fantasy take on things, but the gameplay just never really sat well with me. That said, what I've seen from The Witcher 3 has me interested. While this one didn't make my short list, I'm still interested enough in the world to give this one a shot, especially since it's hitting on consoles alongside the PC release. - Michael A Cunningham

Xenoblade Chronicles X

Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U) - Official Site (Japanese)
Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Monolith Soft | Release: 2015

It's no secret that I think the world of Xenoblade is fantastic, standing alone as the only score over a 4.0 I've ever given in my forty-six reviews to date. Naturally any follow-up was going to register high on my interest level. I don't care about marketing speak of having a "bigger world" than its predecessor or whatever, but I can see that the attention to detail in crafting the world as was present in Xenoblade; that attention to detail in the locales being one of the key reasons for its success. Xenoblade Chronicles X also takes the approach that I most wanted any sequel to take, avoiding a direct relationship to the story in the first game. Xenoblade's story was already as complete as could really be, and highlighting a new world shows the developers' faith in being able to create a new tale and setting without having to piggy-back too much off of Xenoblade's success. That said, I'm still quite happy to see the Nopon race return. Also, giant robots. Everyone loves giant robots (or should anyway). - Alex Fuller

Xenoblade X easily topped my list of most wanted RPGs in no small part due to how much I loved Xenoblade, despite a false start that almost caused me to not finish the game. Like Alex, I don't care about how big the world is and fighting huge monsters doesn't need to be the focus for me, but I love the worlds and characters that Monolith Soft is able to create. I ditched the side quests and just enjoyed exploring the world of Xenoblade with the great cast, and I really hope for more of that. The online play does worry me a bit, because I like my Monolith Soft games to focus on story over anything else. I'm not that worried, though, because everything I've seen so far has me excited. I just hope Nintendo of America gives it the respect it's due. - Michael A Cunningham

A simple reason for why I most want Xenoblade Chronicles X is because I enjoyed the original game so much. My expectations for games that are part of a series I enjoy tend to run high. Though a few aspects of Xenoblade X are still up in the air, not the least of which is any potential story connection to the original game, what has been revealed is looking quite interesting. It promises to have a much bigger world than the first Xenoblade, an improved battle system, and what looks to be an intriguing story. I do wish we knew more about the characters, but what I have seen of the game is certainly enough to get me excited. - Cassandra Ramos

Xenoblade Chronicles was really not that great of a game for me. It was too long, was a much safer story when compared to Xenogears and the Xenosaga trilogy (though more coherent), and the combat was merely alright. But in a generation of JRPGs dominated by smaller worlds, budgets, and scale, Xenoblade told people to go big or go home. Xenoblade Chronicles X looks like Xenoblade cranked to 11. All I ask is that they give me a story to care about, then everything will have fallen into place. And if not, they at least added mechs. And there is not a single thing on Earth that can't be improved by the inclusion of mechs. - Zack Webster

I have to admit that I'm only feeling cautiously optimistic about Xenoblade Chronicles X. I loved the original Xenoblade Chronicles, but I worry that this game won't capture the magic of the original's characters and world. It's hard to get more unique than the Bionis and Mechanis, and I'm feeling pretty blah about the characters I've seen so far. I'm also not a big fan of giant mecha, much to the consternation of several of my fellow staff members. Still, I like that the customizable main character can be male or female, and I adored the original game so much that I'm still excited for this one. Here's hoping it'll be as good as we all want it to be. - Becky Cunningham

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC (PC, PSP) - Facebook Page
Pub: XSEED Games | Dev: Nihon Falcom | Release: 2015

I love, love, loved the infamously-acronymed TitS. For me, the game was all about Estelle, the bright young heroine who found herself on her journey over the course of the first game. I love how Estelle was able to discover that despite having been a terrible student, she's actually quite intelligent and capable in the real world. Hers was one of my favourite characters arcs in video game history, but it ended on a cliffhanger. No fair, Falcom! Now that she's older, wiser, and very self-assured, it's time for Estelle to rescue her Prince Charming (and hopefully her dad, too!) and kick some butt. This game has been a long time coming, and it can't hit shelves soon enough. - Becky Cunningham

Years before XSEED confirmed the North American release of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, I had been longing for an English release of Sora no Kiseki (its Japanese title) on PSP. After playing the original and falling in love with the cast, the cliffhanger that the first chapter ended on just made me even more excited for The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC. I know it's taken a while, but I'm ready for the release and am really glad to see XSEED bringing the second chapter out on PC and PSP via PSN. I cannot wait to meet up with Estelle, Joshua, Agate, and the rest of the crew, and where the first game took a while to ramp up, I'm thrilled that SC should hit the ground running. - Michael A Cunningham

Trails in the Sky SC is up there because, after playing the first one, I'm now in the club of people who are eager to see what happens next. I could do what I did with Shining Force III and just play it in Japanese...but knowing XSEED is on the case makes me want to be legit. I enjoyed most of that game to the point where I want to experience more. - Mike Moehnke

Cosmic Star Heroine

Cosmic Star Heroine (PC, PS4, Vita) - Dev Site
Pub: Zeboyd Games | Dev: Zeboyd Games | Release: 2015

Cosmic Star Heroine just plain looks fun. It embodies the spirit of RPGs of yesteryear - small teams making games from the ground up that are built from a true enjoyment of the genre. Games that clearly show the love and fun of their developers are becoming more and more rare. Titles such as Cosmic Star Heroine show that there are still people out there who just want to make great games. - Ken Staples

As a big fan of Cthulhu Saves the World, I'm glad to see Zeboyd Games back making an original title and moving away from the Penny Arcade content. While interesting in combat, the source material just wasn't appealing to me at all. With Cosmic Star Heroine, it's going to be fun to see how Zeboyd brings an extraterrestrial cast to life within a turn-based JRPG coating. Though usually focusing more on gameplay mechanics over story, the sci-fi spy setting should give Zeboyd a chance to let the story balance in better with the gameplay. Oh, and it's going to be on Vita, so that's an obvious plus for me. - Michael A Cunningham

The 16-bit era is my favorite era of RPGs, and Zeboyd has done an outstanding job of modernizing the 8-bit era with Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World. I'm looking forward to a sci-fi 16-bit style RPG with fun combat and a fun story in Cosmic Star Heroine, and I hope it retains the humor of the prior releases and adds some depth. - Paul Engmann

It's been fun watching the duo at Zeboyd Games hone their craft over the last few years. Cosmic Star Heroine looks extra-great for its unique space spy theme, interesting-looking characters, and the graphical leap it's taking over Zeboyd's earlier games. We know there will be plenty of humor, adventure, and new twists on traditional turn-based battling, plus a super-cool heroine in the type of role (suave undercover agent) usually reserved for dudes. As a lady who loves that archetype, I'm particularly excited to step into her shoes. - Becky Cunningham

Cosmic Star Heroine is exciting in large part because I've been looking at what Robert Boyd has tweeted about it, and have been intrigued. I haven't played any other Zeboyd stuff (yet), but I might just have to fix that. - Mike Moehnke

Honorable Mentions

While we had over twenty-five games up for consideration, there were eight that really stood out. These three didn't quite make as big of an impression on our staff as our top picks, but these are still games we're looking forward to. Pillars of Eternity is Obsidian's Kickstarter success, and we're excited to see how the company does without a big publisher looming over the project. Along with PoE in our honorable mentions is From Software's PS4 exclusive Bloodborne. This dark, brutal Souls-esque game is highly anticipated for many of the same reasons we've come to love From Software games over the past few years. Rounding out our runner-ups is one of the last PS3 holdouts, Tales of Zestiria. Though Tales games have been frequent of late, that doesn't mean our desire to play them has lessened at all. All three of these honorable mentions cover three very distinct corners of the RPG market, each bringing something unique to the genre.

Pillars of Eternity Bloodborne Tales of Zestiria

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