It has been an incredible year for the role-playing game genre, and Game Rant has compiled an extensive list of the best the genre had to offer in 2016.
By the time the end of the year rolled around, 2015 went down in history as one of the best ever for RPG titles, with games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Fallout 4 heading an incredibly deep lineup. Fans of the genre understood that years like 2015 were a rarity in modern gaming, and with a heavy heart many RPG devotees braced themselves for what was expected to be a much slower year outside of the much-anticipated Final Fantasy 15.
When Final Fantasy 15 was delayed until the end of the year, however, it quickly became apparent that other RPGs were going to have to pick up the slack for the bulk of 2016. Luckily, what started as a speculative 365 days at best for the genre quickly became the second year in a row that RPG releases were some of the best the industry had to offer. By the time Final Fantasy 15 finally did launch at the end of November, it was, against all odds, the icing on an already delicious cake for RPGs in 2016.
It has been a banner year for RPG releases, and 2016 built on the very strong 2015 showing for the genre to create some truly amazing memories for fans. Each of the games on Game Rant's Best RPGs of 2016 list has earned its place and is worthy of adoration - and it goes without saying that if fans haven't played any of these yet, they make some very savvy holiday gifts for gamers as well.
8 I Am Setsuna
I Am Setsuna was an innocuous first release from Tokyo RPG Factory, a subsidiary studio of Square Enix. Being described as an old-school JRPG set in an unending snowstorm didn't do the game any favors with gamers who were already hesitant about the often intimidating entry point in the genre, but in the end, I Am Setsuna is a game developed for those already passionate about JRPGs. Its blend of Chrono Trigger-inspired combat and beautiful, subtle aesthetics made it well-worth the 20 or so hours spent to complete it, and it was a brilliant debut for Tokyo RPG Factory that has fans salivating over what the fledgling studio will do next.
7 Dark Souls 3
Equally as intimidating as I Am Setsuna but for entirely different reasons, Dark Souls 3 wasn't much of a surprise. Fans of the series knew full-well what to expect from the final instalment in From Software's long-running action RPG franchise, and the game didn't disappoint. Dark Souls 3 was a grueling adventure through a bleak, broken world infested with demons, and the combat was just as challenging and rewarding as Dark Souls 3's predecessors. Although Dark Souls 3 didn't reinvent the wheel, it was the most refined Souls experience yet, and Dark Souls 3 is a fitting send-off for the series as From Software looks to new IPs in the future.
6 World of Warcraft: Legion
It has been a while since World of Warcraft topped any end-of-the-year lists outside of those explicitly dedicated to the MMORPG genre, but World of Warcraft: Legion might be the best expansion the game has ever seen, period. Legion revitalized the daily grind in compelling ways while also introducing an Illidan-inspired Demon Hunter class and an increased focus on class-based questing. The result has been an influx in World of Warcraft subscriber numbers and Legion sales that were among the best in the game's history, indicating that, for all the obituaries World of Warcraft seems to receive with each passing year, Blizzard's MMORPG giant is still alive and well.
Tyranny was likely the best RPG that many fans hadn't even heard of, thanks to the game's status as an old-school C-RPG with a twist. If the game was ignored by sections of the RPG community, however, that is to their detriment - Tyranny received stellar reviews for its exploration of a world where the bad guys had already won, and beyond just appealing to RPG fans, Tyranny won over gamers from all backgrounds with its high quality writing and presentation. Tyranny might not be the prettiest game on the list, but it is one of the most deliberately developed, and everything happens for a reason within the world of Tyranny.
4 The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine
It isn't often that a game's expansion DLC makes the cut on a Best of 2016 list, but then again, it isn't often that an expansion like The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine is released. Blood & Wine features over 20 hours of new content for The Witcher 3 and tells a moving, engaging self-contained story that neatly wraps up Geralt's adventures. Blood & Wine features more of the same from The Witcher 3, but given the incredibly high quality that gamers have come to expect from CD Projekt Red's RPG series, that's more than enough to see The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine take its rightful place as one of the best RPGs released in 2016.
3 World of Final Fantasy
Spoiler alert - while there will be another Final Fantasy game appearing on this list as well, that one was almost a guarantee given how promising it had looked during the last two years of its development. World of Final Fantasy, by contrast, received little fanfare after its E3 announcement and even less before it finally released in October. Surprising everyone, however, World of Final Fantasy's bizarre take on Final Fantasy history and Pokemon-esque team battles was a hit, and World of Final Fantasy was a strong contender to usurp its older sibling, Final Fantasy 15, as the best Square Enix release of the year should the latter have faltered. While that didn't happen, World of Final Fantasy is a must-play for fans of JRPGs and newcomers alike.
2 Pokemon Sun & Pokemon Moon
Pokemon Sun and Moon weren't the surefire bet that other Pokemon games usually are - whereas most of Sun and Moon's predecessors were extremely formulaic and only made small changes to what proved popular with fans, Sun and Moon made drastic changes to the series. The risk paid off, however, and Pokemon Sun and Moon's sales and critical reception has proven that fans were ready for innovation after all. While gamers never expected removing gym battles and relocating to a tropical setting were what it would take for Pokemon to feel new again, it worked, and Pokemon Sun and Moon are likely the best Pokemon release since Red and Blue so long ago.
1 Final Fantasy 15
Was there ever any doubt? Believe it or not, there was a lot of it - Final Fantasy 15's decade-long development and continual delays even after it looked ready to launch had even the most diehard fans of the series worried. Final Fantasy 15 is far from a perfect game, and amidst rumors that a lot of story content was cut simply to make its delayed release date, it is easy to look at Final Fantasy 15 and wonder what could have been. To do this, however, is to ignore what remains one of the finest instalments in the series ever, and Final Fantasy 15's Noctis will go down in memory as one of the most well-written and memorable Final Fantasy protagonists ever. So much could have gone wrong, but in the end, Final Fantasy 15 is one of the best RPGs of 2016 and an undisputed success for Square Enix and fans everywhere.
What do you think of our Best RPGs of 2016? Did we miss any obvious ones? Did 2016 manage to top 2015's RPG lineup? Let us know in the comments below.