Alex Fuller's Picks

Adriaan and Michael may have taken options I was also very excited for with the first two picks, but it's certainly not like I've had to settle for my choices. There's a ton of exciting games still to arrive this year, and really five rounds wasn't enough to draft everything I've got a good level of interest in. The unintentional focus on JRPGs on Sony platforms incidates that PlayStation-owning fans of the genre will be very well catered for in the rest of the year.

Tales of Xillia 2

Round 1: Tales of Xillia 2 (PS3) - Official Site
Pub: Bandai Namco Games | Dev: Bandai Namco Games | Release: 08.19.2014 (NA), 08.22.2014 (EU)

The Tales series' resurgence in the west continues this year, and although Tales of Hearts R narrowly missed out on receiving one of my later-round picks, there's a lot of excitement for Tales of Xillia 2. The first game superbly utilised parts from previous console releases, and well as bringing in a few new bits of its own, to create what I felt was the strongest combat yet in the series, which remains fully intact for the sequel. It was not just the battle system where Tales felt at its best, with a number of the series' other features being further polished, and it's a safe expectation that these improvements are held over for Tales of Xillia 2

Indications are that Xillia 2 brings a darker story than Tales usually treads, even though it's more than happy to use mature themes. I certainly enjoy the twists and turns that Tales stories usually bring, and Xillia 2 is certain to continue the strong tradition. Its release around my birthday is a most welcome present from Bandai Namco.

Freedom Wars

Round 2: Freedom Wars (Vita) - Official Site
Pub: Sony | Dev: Sony Japan Studio, Shift | Release: Q4.2014

I have an odd relationship with monster hunting games. I have very little love for the Monster Hunter series itself, or the games that more strictly follow its formula. However, I certainly found lots of enjoyment in games like Gods Eater Burst and Toukiden, which brought a tigher focus on developing engaging settings and stories in addition to the action battles against ferocious enemies (and a decent camera lock-on system). Freedom Wars appears very much in this latter category and the involvement of Shift, developer of the God Eater games, leaves me very intersted.

Freedom Wars's setting and story have certainly raised my interest. Set a hundred thousand years in the future, over-population in a ruined Earth's underground Panopticons is such a problem that anyone arrested for a crime is automatically found guilty and given an excessive sentence (think one million years!). The only way to reduce this sentence is go out into the surface and defeat the giant monsters currently inhabiting it. It's a unique premise and I'm excited to see where it goes.

Natural Doctrine

Round 3: Natural Doctrine (PS3, PS4, Vita) - Official Site
Pub: NIS America | Dev: Kadokawa Games | Release: 09.16.2014 (NA), 09.19.2014 (EU)

Natural Doctrine looks to bring back a strategic style of gameplay that has been lacking in the west since Valkyria Chronicles 2 failed to generate enough revenue to persuade Sega to bring the third game over, although Nintendo's Project S.T.E.A.M. is also set to help. Natural Doctrine appears to focus on some interesting aspects to its tactical battles, particularly with regards to defence and turn-order. The game is looking like it will appeal to those who prefer their strategy RPGs challenging, with mistakes harshly punished and Game Overs if players lose just one of their team, but thankfully with the always appreciated (at least by me) adjustable difficulty setting.

Admittedly the game isn't going to wow anyone with the technical level of its visuals, something I imagine is going to affect the critical reception, particularly for the PS4 version, but I for one like the visual style and do not see it affecting my enjoyment. It's also another title with an interesting setting, where humans struggle to survive against both the other races above ground and mysterious creatures called Gorions from below, relying on a magical, but also highly toxic, resource called Pluton. I'm very much looking forward to see what Natural Doctrine does with both its gameplay aspects and setting, with an added bonus of being one of the few retail titles to offer both handheld and console gamers an equal experience.

Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star

Round 4: Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star (PS3) - Official Site
Pub: Koei Tecmo | Dev: Gust | Release: 09.23.2014 (NA), 09.26.2014 (EU)

It's worth remembering that the Atelier series isn't the only thing that Gust has brought us. The Ar tonelico series has a devoted fanbase hopeful that the series would continue in some form. Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star is at the very least a spiritual successor, and players may even notice some direct connections. I very much enjoyed playing through Ar tonelico Qoga, despite some issues with parts of the story content, and am confident that Ar Nosurge's connections will result in another title that's a lot of fun to play. Rather than the pure action battle system of Ar tonelico, Ar Nosurge features an interesting combination of turn-based and action, but still looks highly enjoyable, and the exploration and dungeon aspects continue the strong design seen in the former titles.

One highlight of Ar tonelico for me was its unique musical style, and I'm happy to know that Ar Nosurge carries it over. A dual-story should provide a fair amount of interest, with players switching between two main pairs of characters. The generally light-hearted, fanservice-laden style of its predecessors still appears to be present, which is likely pleasing news to fans. I'm looking forward to seeing how Gust has moved on with its slightly less prolific series, preferably with no characters like Saki.

Citizens of Earth

Round 5: Citizens of Earth (3DS, PC, PS4, Wii U, Vita) - Official Site
Pub: Atlus USA | Dev: Eden Industries | Release: Q4.2014

I've used my last pick to go in a bit of a different direction to my others. Developer Eden Industries previously attempted to fund Citizens of Earth through Kickstarter. While this failed to reach its goal, it did garner a lot of attention, most importantly from publisher Atlus USA, which decided to step in as publisher and ensure the game will see a release.

Players take on the role of the Vice President of Earth, but of course he still needs the assistance of the titular Citizens of Earth. His role is to lead, not fight, and so its up to the very colourful cast to carry out the VP's instructions. Players won't be short on variety for their party members, with nearly all walks of life represented, such as a delivery man, local conspiracy nut, and barista. Citizens of Earth looks to make good use of the turn-based battle template, bringing in its own quirks. If the humourous tone of the game can keep up throughout its length, the game should provide many hours of amusement. Citizens of Earth has piqued a good amount of interest here at RPGamer, and I suggest those who have not done so already check out Zach Welhouse's impression from the early-build demo of the game released last year.

Upcoming RPGs
Intro - Adriaan's Picks - Mac's Picks - Alex's Picks - Honourable Mentions

Discuss on the RPGamer Message Boards
© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy