2015 was a year that showed a lot of love to fans of the RPG genre, and the lineup this year was arguably one of the best ever. Here's our look at the best of the best.
While the RPG genre might not traditionally be the gaming industry's biggest draw, it has produced some truly epic blockbusters in video game history. In the past, the genre has been dominated by Japanese titles like Final Fantasy and Pokemon, however, 2015 was the year that proved Western studios had what it takes to hang with the RPG giants. In fact, only one game produced by a Japanese studio made our list of the best RPGS of 2015, a feat that would've been unheard of a few years ago.
These games each represent the evolution of their genre alongside some truly enthralling and enjoyable gameplay, and all five of them should be used as building blocks for even better RPG entries in the future. Without further adieu, here are Game Rant's choices for the best five RPG games released in 2015.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Gamers who equally enjoy the primary characteristics of both Monster Hunter and the Gundam series were likely gifted their dream game this year with Xenoblade Chronicles X. The biggest RPG released on the Wii U this year thrust players into the role of various crew members of the space ship White Whale after Earth, their home planet, has been destroyed by a massive alien invasion.
What follows is one of the most massive RPG worlds ever created for a Nintendo console and a game that is unapologetic about its Japanese roots. Gamers have to grasp the combat quickly to survive and prepare themselves for hours of traditionalist grinding before they can progress through the increasingly punishing boss fights. Despite this sink or swim approach, the fact that Xenoblade Chronicles X is such a beautiful take on an old-school JRPG approach makes it a rarity in Western releases.
While Xenoblade Chronicles X might feature a lot of grinding, it's nowhere near as punishing and downright cruel as From Software's spiritual successor to the Dark Souls saga. Bloodborne arrived with much fanfare after being touted as the evolution of Dark Souls, and the game delivered and then some, despite the fact that Sony felt Bloodborne was a big risk.
Bloodborne combines the itemization and constant desire to upgrade equipment that is so natural to the RPG genre with the kind of timing-based combat mechanics that are more commonly seen in fighting games. While this is a formula that's worked for From Software before, the atmosphere and narrative of Bloodborne set it apart from its predecessors. There's something about parrying an attack that just feels right as a RPG fan, and Bloodborne is an intensely rewarding experience that offers a very British and Gothic look at monster slayers and the terrors they face.
Pillars of Eternity
It would hardly be a best-of video game list in 2015 if it didn't feature a crowdfunding success story, and Obsidian Entertainment's Kickstarter-backed Pillars of Eternity was an incredibly well-received love letter to the forgotten era of CRPGs (computer roleplaying games). The idea behind Pillars of Eternity was simple: to make a modern version of the kind of tabletop-inspired games that dominated late 90s RPG sales, like Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate. While the decision was risky and Obsidian Entertainment's closure loomed large if the game was a failure, Pillars of Eternity released to critical acclaim and stands as one of the best RPG experiences of 2015.
Bethesda's latest take on life after the apocalypse was arguably the most hyped RPG of 2015, and despite the intense weight of expectations, Fallout 4 managed to live up to even the most optimistic predictions from the Vault dwelling faithful. Sure, Fallout 4 can be a buggy mess at times, but it is a largely positive experience set in a beautifully rendered post-apocalyptic Boston. Only Bethesda can make the gritty browns and greys of nuclear fallout look appealing enough to enchant a player so thoroughly they sue the developer for personal damages.
Of course, the game's appeal goes much deeper than just its aesthetics. Although Fallout 4's low quest count recently came into question, the fact remains that the Commonwealth wasteland is absolutely massive, and a lot of the content contained within it isn't even related to quests. Rather, Fallout 4 asks gamers to embrace their curiosity and trek out into the unknown with just a loyal companion and a laser gun at their side.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Did we almost make you think we'd forgotten Geralt and company? That would be exceptionally hard to do: since winning Game of the Year at the Game Awards 2015, The Witcher 3 has cleaned up a number of other awards ceremonies as well. The final game in a planned trilogy by CD Projekt Red, Witcher 3 shows exactly how a developer should develop and mature their IP as they release each new instal;ment.
While the previous two games were no slouches in their own right, Witcher 3 takes everything gamers loved about its predecessors and adds its own plethora of improvements and innovations. CD Projekt Red has garnered a lot of respect over the past year, and a lot of it has to do with the way the Polish studio listened to exactly what Witcher fans wanted: a masterpiece, one of the best games ever made in its genre, and one that is well worth all the time it asks gamers to sink into it.
What do you think the best RPGs of 2015 were? Did we miss any obvious ones? Let us know in the comments below.