While 2020 was a year filled with remakes, remasters and all other manners of re-envisioning some classic RPGs, this year looks to be when newer consoles start hitting their strides with some fresh titles as well as sequels to long-running franchises. Nintendo Switch will get its first new Monster Hunter title with Rise later this March, while the likes of Hogwarts Legacy and Elden Ring might showcase the power of these next-generation consoles (but we can’t make any guarantee that we’ll actually be able to play either by the end of the calendar year).
Note: Only games with confirmed 2021 release dates are eligible for these lists. Stuff that’s only rumored or speculated to be coming out is relegated to the honorable mentions.
Baldur’s Gate 3
Yes, the first Act is already available through Steam Early Access, but that doesn’t really count as far as we’re concerned. This year will be when gamers finally get the chance to experience the full story of Baldur’s Gate 3, one of the most anticipated RPGs ever, in development at Larian Studios.
What’s already out is certainly very promising, albeit imperfect. We’re expecting to see version 1.0 between October and November, barring any unfortunate delays.
Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord
Another highly anticipated game that launched on Steam Early Access in 2020, Bannerlord should also be fully released in 2021 after a positive debut on Valve’s platform. Hopefully, TaleWorlds will be able to apply enough polish to make it truly shine in version 1.0.
Monster Hunter Rise
The first Nintendo Switch-developed iteration in the long-running Monster Hunter franchise features a number of QoL changes that were first implemented in Monster Hunter World. Monster Hunter Rise looks to capture the raw thrill of difficult boss fights as well as the looting and crafting that the series is known for. Featuring both local and online co-op play, Monster Hunter Rise is already looking to be the best reason to get a hunting party together on the go.
Shin Megami Tensei V
Shin Megami Tensei V has been on my own personal list of Most Anticipated RPGs since its first reveal four years ago. Atlus has promised that we could see a simultaneous worldwide 2021 release for Shin Megami Tensei V during a Nintendo Direct presentation last July. Since then, however, it’s been radio silence from the developers, worrying fans that we might see yet another delay in the project. Fingers crossed that doesn’t come true.
Scarlet Nexus/Tales of Arise
I’m including both of these together in one most anticipated list for Bandai Namco, given the overlap in both art style and even development team between the two. Scarlet Nexus is a more experimental title, featuring psychokinetic powers and brainpunk technology, while Tales of Arise is more of a traditional high fantasy tale. Scarlet Nexus should arrive later this Summer while Tales of Arise still has a vague release window, not to mention Bandai Namco has yet to confirm if there will be a next-gen version for the upcoming Tales title.
Persona 5 Strikers
Billed as more of a sequel to Persona 5 rather than a standalone game, I’m most excited for this action RPG as a chance to hang out with the Phantom Thieves once more. Musou (Dynasty Warriors, et al) titles are a guilty pleasure of mine, so combining that style of mass combat with the jazzy upbeat soundtrack that nu-Persona titles are known for.
Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is out in a few short weeks and Chris Wray’s initial impressions of the alchemical JRPG claimed that this was more of what players had come to expect from a GUST-developed title but with some new systems (skill points and such) for players to work with.
Final Fantasy XVI certainly grabbed our attention with the first reveal shown off by Sony late last year. Seeing Square-Enix reveal and release one of their flagship Final Fantasy titles within 12 months would be a rarity in this day and age (I miss the days of the Super Nintendo titles coming out so close to those first GamePro reveal articles) so I have some hesitation that I’ll be able to play as Clive Rosfield before 2022.
Elden Ring. George RR Martin writing and From Software developing. Not much else needs to be said about this upcoming action RPG, let alone a shred of gameplay footage in the past year or two.
Then there are Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 and Dying Light 2, two important franchises with lots of fans that were prominently featured in last year’s version of this article. Unfortunately, both of those got indefinitely delayed by the respective developers as several key creative folks left each project. We haven’t seen either in a rather long time, but we’re still holding out hope.
Lastly, below you’ll find a few other Honorable Mentions that are certainly on our radar for a release sometime this year.
- Babylon’s Fall
- Bravely Default II
- Cris Tales
- Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms
- Solasta: Crown of the Magister
- Ys IX: Monstrum Nox