I am envious of folks who have a small backlog. While I love having a plethora of choice, I also sometimes feel overwhemled at the prospect that there are so many games in my pile, demanding to be played. What I am planning to do in 2018 is blog to you, the readers, once a month regarding my progress in terms of what games I am working on to knock out of my backlog. For fun, I asked the RPGamer staff what is the one game from their backlog that they wish to complete in 2018. My goal is to check in with staff at different points in the year to see if they have completed the title they selected.
Let us know in the comments which game you want to complete for your pile in 2018.
Estimated Backlog Size: 120+ games.
Backlog Pick: Final Fantasy X HD
As RPGamer staff, I am embrassed to admit that I have never completed Final Fantasy X. I have been playing the game on and off since I got it, and last left off at the Djose Highroad. It's a game that I sometimes think about because I will see it next to my TV in my bucket of "media I am working through" and find myself going "Man, I was enjoying that", but then the "oh shiny!" syndrome hits me. I liked where the story was going, the characters seem like an adorable bunch, and I am determined to knock this game out of my backlog so I can stop getting teased for having never finished it.
Michael A. Cunningham
Estimated Backlog Size (aka: Mac's Gaming Fallout Shelter): Easily over 1000 just counting physical games.
Backlog Pick: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Mac: For 2018, I want to finally get back around to playing The Witcher 3. I've started this game twice now and keep getting stuck early on, so I don't really think I can be a good judge of the game's overall quality, but there are issues I have at the start that caused me to stop. My first time I didn't get far at all, as the combat really didn't click with me and I put it aside for something else. The second time I actually made it into Act 1, but once again I found the combat to be...not fun. Clunky combat, an overabundance of quests, and a super massive world just made me want to look for something else. This game seems to have everything that I'd want out of an RPG in terms of story and characters, but I need to find a way to get past my mental block of not enjoying fighting in the game. I'm determined to give this a fairer shake in 2018 and get it out of the backlog.
Estimated Backlog Size: 40
Backlog Pick: The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
Zach: This one has been on my Steam wishlist since it was released, but shorter and more immediate games have always taken precedence. Everyone on RPGamer has good words about the series, but if it turns out I like it I'll be on the hook for hundreds of hours. That's a substantial commitment! I've been playing a lot of shorter indies, non-RPGs, and RPG-adjacents lately (Battle Chef Brigade, Doki Doki Literature Club, Civilization V, Overwatch, Fire Emblem Heroes), and a new year is a good time to get back to my sprawling JRPG roots. Also, Harry gave me a copy in the RPGamer Secret Santa.
Estimated Backlog Size: 20
Backlog Pick: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
Glenn: It took me three months to finish Trails of Cold Steel in 2016. Nothing was going on in my life; the game's slow pace and time-wasting town layout just tended to put me to sleep on the couch. I had to play it when I was in the mood for a massive, sleepy, traditional JRPG, and it's a testament to how outstanding the game is that I enjoyed it enough to strive for the end even though I often went weeks without touching it. I pre-ordered the next game in the series more to support its localization than to play it right away, knowing I wouldn't be in the mood for Ambien: The Sequel for a while and it would likely take another three months to finish. It's been a couple years, I managed to dodge spoilers while trying to help proofread RPGamer news pieces on Cold Steel III, and I think I'm in the right gaming mood for it now. I need to start forcing myself to knock out the last few PS3 games in my backlog so I can retire the system, and this is on the top of the list.
Estimated Backlog Size: 20-30
Backlog Pick: Sword World 2.0
Michael: I've tried to get through this one in the past, but it's always been a challenge. Unlike most DS RPGs, Sword World 2.0 plays more like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, only with stats and dice rolls added in. This is appropriate because it's based on the updated version of a classic Japanese tabletop RPG system, the same one that birthed Record of Lodoss War et al., many of which gained popularity first as game-books that followed a similar format.
Unfortunately, this also means that it has a reading level commensurate with your average Japanese light novel series, and the first time I attempted it my grasp of kanji wasn't quite good enough. The second time went a lot better, but I still got turned around massively in a dungeon halfway through, ran out of torches, and then got eaten by a grue.
This year will be different, though. I'll take better notes, probably learn a few more symbols, and just google that dungeon at the very start of that chapter so it won't kill me as quickly. It's perfectly doable... I hope. Really, I'm doing this mainly to see what happens to the cute little rabbit-girl with the arquebus.
Estimated Backlog Size: 300+ games, mostly RPGs
Backlog Pick: Breath of Fire II (GBA)
Robert: I have started this game up countless times. I play around in the early battles, meet some kind of interesting characters, and ultimately get to the same spot where I just could not figure out what to do. 2018 will finally see me put an end to this game. If necessary, there are resources online that can point me in the right direction. I actually really like the style and the characters in the game, but I have gotten so frustrated with not being able to figure out what to do that I stopped even trying for roughly a decade.
Estimated Backlog Size: Somewhere under 100+
Backlog Pick: Shin Megami Tensei IV
Cassandra: I got into the Megami Tensei franchise rather late and I still haven't played that many games in it. It's probably telling that I would be more excited for a new Devil Survivor game than I am now for a new mainline entry. Be that as it may, I do want to experience as much of the MegaTen metaseries as I can, so with the recent announcement of Shin Megami Tensei V, I am reminded that I still have both Shin Megami Tensei IV and SMT IV: Apocalypse in my backlog. The former is the one I'm less excited to play. From what I heard from other MegaTen fans and read in reviews, SMT IV is a disappointment. Heck, a part of me wants to skip right to Apocalypse. However, I feel like I really should play a mainline entry rather than another sub-series or whatever Strange Journey counts as. I just have to shake this reluctance and go for it. Maybe I'll even enjoy SMT IV.
Estimated Backlog Size: Probably on the order of 200 - 300.
Backlog Pick: Final Fantasy Tactics
Joshua: This has been the white whale of my backlog for years. I've started Final Fantasy Tactics numerous times, but I keep bouncing off it within the first few hours. I enjoy strategy RPGs and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is one of my favorites of all time, so I'm unable to explain why Matsuno's first Square game has failed to grab me. Maybe it's a function of playing it for the first time so many years after it released? The gameplay feels slow and I haven't managed to click with the characters in the first few chapters. Most of my attempts to cross it off the backlog have come while I've been concentrating on playing another game, so lack of attention may have been part of the problem. It's such a seminal game in the genre, I need to buckle down and finally get it out of the backlog. I'm hoping that giving the game my full attention instead of trying to play it on the side will finally get me past the block I've had with Final Fantasy Tactics.
Estimated Backlog Size: Over 100+
Backlog Pick: Romancing SaGa 2
Mike A: 2016 was an exciting year for SaGa fans, we got a localization of The Legend of Legacy, a localization of Romancing SaGa 2 for iOS and Android, and a brand new SaGa (albeit Japanese only) in SaGa Scarlet Grace. Being a huge SaGa fan, Romancing SaGa 2, seemed to be the most exciting news of all, and I happily purchased it for my iPhone day one. The problem? I hate playing games on my phone, and had no more luck playing it on a tablet after that. I can't really come up with an explanation other than inevitably gravitating to Hearthstone whenever using either device. With the promised Vita version imminent, it's finally time for me to check this long lost SaGa classic off the backlog list and it will be my top priority at the start of 2018. Romancing SaGa 2 tasks players with expanding an empire, and then handing it down to their heirs, over many generations. It's a pretty cool concept that not many other RPGs have tackled successfully so I'm looking forward to seeing Kawazu's approach to the idea.
Estimated Backlog Size: 598.2. Don't ask how that's calculated, because it's incredibly complex and sensitive information.
Backlog Pick: Growlanser Generations
Mike M: I haven't played anything on console for a long stretch now, mostly because I don't currently have a television. Sure, there are other ways to play things from the PS2, but I don't use those if I can possibly avoid it. So that's how I haven't played it yet. I did play about an hour of Growlanser 2 perhaps a year ago, and found it rather interesting. I dig tactical games for the most part, and after blasting through everything Masaya developed in the Langrisser realm I suppose it was just me being lazy that led to it not being played immediately. Of course, it if was playable on the Vita that would be very helpful (man, that system is nice to have), but as a Working Designs release such a notion is outlandish to the point of absurdity. Yes yes, obviously all I need to do is get a television, and as my very first non-CRT machine it will probably be a revelation. Until that happens though, no Growlanser Generations will be played by me.
Estimated Backlog Size: Lowball it at 50
Backlog Pick: Alpha Protocol
Zack: The glaring gap in my Obsidian knowledge, Alpha Protocol is the spy-themed RPG in a world of dragons and space lasers. It still sits installed on my PC but outside of a twenty-minute dip in the water I have never given the game the time it deserved. Obsidian has long been a favorite of mine for continually offering some of the strongest writing in the medium while also exploring more than just the surface level of the many games they work on. Being one of its last titles — certainly their last original game with that size of budget — before shifting back into the economically viable and mechanically safe Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny, Alpha Protocol is the only one I have yet to play that truly personifies what makes that company so unique in the RPG world. I know the game's history and critical reception, but a critically divisive game is usually always more interesting than one that only receives universal acclaim. Here's to hoping my adventures as a James Bond-type character will tide me over until Obsidian can once again attempt a game that is more than an isometric throwback.
Estimated Backlog Size: Maybe 20, but is it a backlog if I have no actual intention of getting to them?
Backlog Pick: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Alex: There are far too many new games for me to really care about old games I have yet to get to, but there is one thing I plan to do next year that will potentially let one game crossed off in 2018. After Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I've decided to try and replay through all three of the Xenoblade games again, and doing so will require the Wii U to be setup again at one point and allow me to try and get through Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE. I liked most of the things in the game, but I never managed to get properly sucked into it, the difficulty spikes on bosses compared to regular battles started to annoy me, and ultimately other review projects ended up taking my attention and time elsewhere. Hopefully, I'll be able to get in and work my way through the game next year, and the bosses should be less of a problem as I'm even less hung up about changing difficulty settings than before. Though of course this is predicated on me finding the time to finish multiple Xenoblade games in the process (though I have already started the first one)...