We saw a number of great RPGs hit the western shores in 2021. With releases like Persona 5 Strikers, Nier Replicant, Scarlet Nexus, and NEO: The World Ends With You, we saw a mix of spin-offs, long awaited sequels, and even new IPs. So while 2021 added to my growing backlog, we ignore that and look forward to what 2022 has in store. So here are my Top 7 Most Anticipated RPGs of 2022.
Before I get into my list, I want to make it clear. I’ll only be including games with a 2022 release window in this list. So you won’t see Final Fantasy XVI on here as that easily would have easily been number one. So with that out of the way, here are my picks.
Top 7 RPGs To Look Out For
Number 7: Monark
Let’s start with one that comes out next month and might actually be a little unknown to a lot of gamers. Monark is being developed by Lancarse, the same team that developed Lost Dimension for the PS3 and PS Vita and Zanki Zero: Last Beginning for the PS4, PS Vita and PC. It also features former staff members of the Shin Megami Tensei series. That last part is important, because the setting for the game show’s its SMT inspiration on its shoulders.
This dark themed RPG sees you take on the role of high school students plunged into an otherworld that you must break out of. Aside from the outstanding artwork, what I’m excited most about in this game is the combat. It features a free movement tactical turn-based combat, which is my favorite. It also uses an added system called the MAD gauge. Players must increase this gauge to do bigger/stronger attacks, but letting it fill too much will cause your character to go into a state of Madness. This sees the character attack both enemies and allies alike for several turns before they self-destruct. This screams risk/reward balance to the highest degree. As a player who loves to strategize, I look forward to learning the ins and outs of this system. I cannot wait to dive into this new IP from NIS America. It may not live up to my expectations, but I still feel it will be fun all the same.
Monark release for PlayStation, Switch, and PC via Steam on February 22
Number 6: Elden Ring
Next up is a title I think many have as their top RPG, let alone top game for the year. Elden Ring is an action RPG coming from FromSoftware, the makers of the Soulsborne games like Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Sekiro. Game of Thrones novelist George R.R. Martin also collaborated on the title. Many fans, myself included, feel it’s been eons waiting for this title to release. Bandai Namco announced it at E3 2019 and then went radio silent until Summer Games Fest in June 2021. The latest FromSoftware title will feature open world exploration for the first time in the Soulsborne titles. The trailers for this have looked amazing and combat looks to be as brutal as ever.
That’s the main pull for this game in my opinion, the combat. The world setting will be great, and like all other Soulsborne games, the story will likely be told through in-game books and letters the player finds. But we all know the combat is where it will shine brightest and, more specifically, in the boss battles. Those unfamiliar with the genre need to come in expecting to die a lot, but death is how you learn to live and return to slay the beasts that slayed you.
Elden Ring releases February 25 for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC
Number 5: Forespoken
Formerly known as Project Athia, this Square Enix title is an Isekai for the western world. This action RPG sees you control Frey Holland, a girl from New York City who is mysteriously transported to the world of Athia. Frey learns she has magical powers in this world and must fight to survive and find her way home. Athia, a land once filled with beauty, now falls to corruption transforming animals into beasts and other dangers as well as under a tyrannical rule from an evil sorceress.
The story and setting pulls me in for this title. I enjoyed what I’ve seen of the combat so far, but the trailers grip me with the flashy, beautiful world and the characters they’ve revealed. I’ll admit, my over-the-top hopes for this game have been pulled back down to earth as of late, but it’s clearly still high up on my list. May cannot come soon enough for this one.
Forspoken will release for PS5 and PC on May 24
Number 4: Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin
I can already hear some of you going, “WHAT!!! How can you have Final Fantasy Origin over Elden Ring?!?!” That answer is easy if you know me well. I’m a Final Fantasy fan! Don’t get me wrong, Elden Ring will likely, hell I’d say most definitely, will be better. Yet my love for this series has me itching to play it. The idea of Team Ninja, the team that made the Nioh Series, putting out a Soulsborne title in the Final Fantasy universe makes me want to dive in today.
I know the reception around its initial reveal ranged from meh down to repulsive, but I didn’t think it looked bad. I also felt the timed demo on the PS5 felt great. Team Ninja did a great job incorporating the job class system of early Final Fantasy titles into it’s challenging action combat. I didn’t get to play the updated timed demo, so I’m not sure exactly how that played out, but I figure it was the same if not better. This one also intrigues me because of it’s set in the original Final Fantasy universe centering around the Warrior of Light. I’m curious where Team Ninja and Square Enix go in this setting. I won’t have to wait much longer and best be sure I’ll be scooping this one up right away.
Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin releases on March 18 for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC
Number 3: The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero
Those that know me know I’m a huge fan of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel Series. Developed by Falcom, this turn-based RPG delivers a world deep in narrative and world building spanning several series and titles. These titles serve as arcs for the world. You have the Liberl Arc which consists of the Trails in the Sky trilogy. You also have the Erebonia arc, which consists of the Trails of Cold Steel tetralogy. Finally, You have the Crossbell arc, with Trails from Zero being the first in the duology. I’m not going to go into detail to explain the timeline for these as that might take too much time. Just know this entry takes place between the Liberl and Erebonia arcs.
Fans of the series requested an English release for this duology for a while now. Now, we finally will. Die-hard fans likely played the fan translated version of these two. I did not. So getting this missing piece feels like finding the last piece to complete a puzzle. As I mentioned before, the Trails games are deep in narrative, so expect a ton of dialogue if you dive in. It’s well worth it though. The story you receive hits deep and will make you ask for more. Those wanting to finish the Crossbell arc will have to wait for the second one, Trails to Azure, to release in 2023, but there will be plenty of RPGs to tide you over until then.
The Legend of Heroes Trails From Zero releases in Fall 2022 for PS4, Switch and PC.
Number 2: Triangle Strategy
If you saw my video from two years ago called Top 5 Final Fantasy Games, you’d know that I LOVE Final Fantasy Tactics. I also am a big fan of Octopath Traveler and it’s HD-2D art style. So the announcement of what is essentially a mashup of the two had me oohing and ahhing.
The demo on the Nintendo Switch also built up my excitement. It played and looked well on the portable console. I also love the fact your decisions will impact the story you see. I admit, I was skeptical of to what degree this would be. Playing the demo helped clear my skepticism. I played the demo a few times making different choices in each playthrough. The cut scenes changed vastly from each playthrough. Now, the demo only lasted a few hours. So how well will the story changes hold up in the final product is a different question entirely. Triangle Strategy also does not fill the void for my desire to get a new Final Fantasy Tactics. All-in-all, I expect this to contend with my game of the year choices come December.
Triangle Strategy releases March 4th for the Nintendo Switch
Number 1: Star Ocean: The Divine Force
Those that listened to the Top 10 Favorite Games of All-Time episode of my podcast the One More Game Podcast, know Star Ocean is arguably my second favorite RPG series of all-time. While Star Ocean Integrity & Faithlessness didn’t live up to the expectations of many, I still loved it. It definitely wasn’t the greatest entry, but still wasn’t bad either. So seeing the reveal of Star Ocean: The Divine Force on the PlayStation State-of-Play not long ago sent me into fandom overdrive.
The newest title appears to embrace a more open world approach compared to past entries. I noticed Xenoblade inspirations in the latest trailer, another series I love. During my initial reaction, I remarked on the verticality of the game and likened it to the Monster Hunter series. I’m not quite sure if this new entry will actually include that, but it still looks to include its great action RPG combat system.
I’m going to be honest though. Square Enix put a 2022 release year at the end of the trailer for this one. My confidence meter on it hitting that date is a 2/10. I think Star Ocean: The Divine Force is a prime candidate for the delayed press release coming out sometime this summer. However, until then. I’ll sit and wait for my time to jump back into this beloved franchise.
Star Ocean: The Divine Force releases sometime in 2022 for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC
I want to give a quick shout out to some honorable mentions like Relayer, Pokemon Legends Arceus, Lost Ark, Steelrising, and Granblue Fantasy: Re Link. There’s plenty more I’m excited for this year, but of course these in my list are the ones at the top.