I was really skeptical that Final Fantasy XV could ever be successful; but despite some real flaws, it ultimately won me over. I warmed to the characters over the course of many camping trips, found more than I was expecting in the open world, and even enjoyed the bombastic setpieces. I have no doubt that it will be harshly criticized in some circles, but it also has some real merit. Stick with it even if you find yourself rolling your eyes at the opening hours: You may be surprised by how much you end up enjoying yourself.
Skyrim Special Edition is a solid purchase for anyone introduced to the game through the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. PC players should give longer pause before playing, however, as they've probably already made their own "Special Edition" with the aid of mods – and some of those mods might not even work in the Special Edition. In the end, your decision should come down to how much you love Skyrim's ambition, how much you enjoy exploring its expansive world, and how tolerant you are towards its flaws.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is a graphical showcase for the next-generation consoles—a sprawling, beautiful open-world RPG with a deeply satisfying exploration loop and just enough in the way of mechanical depth to keep hardcore adventurers happy. At more than 50 hours for a single run through the story, it packs in a tremendous amount of content across a wide number of locations. After stumbling a bit of their past few releases, BioWare has recovered to deliver a truly excellent piece of epic fantasy.
If you're a fan of Dragon Quest VIII, you'll find a lot to love about Dragon Quest XI. Its character-driven plot and skill system recall the series' breakout PlayStation 2 installment, though Dragon Quest XI's lively world and expressive monsters lend it a unique feeling and flavor. Some fans might feel let-down about Dragon Quest XI's lack of job system or other options that let you fine-tune every aspect of your party (what I wouldn't give to see Dragon Quest V's monster-friending system make a return), but if you're in the market for a turn-based RPG that feels nostalgic but doesn't force you to deal with old genre mechanics, you won't find a better quest.
Elder Scrolls Online doesn't tear down everything that came before in the MMO field and thrust the Elder Scrolls gameplay into the world of massively-multiplayer. In the end, the game is a theme park MMO in the standard World of Warcraft style, wearing the lore, characters, and locations of the Elder Scrolls universe. Visually, the game is consistent, but that consistency is boring and drab. The game itself is punctuated with exciting moments, but overall it's just above average and I have a hard time recommending that in a subscription MMO. If you're a big Elder Scrolls fan, give it a try. If not, there are better choices out there.
Final Fantasy XIV just keeps getting better. Stormblood stands as an improvement over the great Heavensward, with a strong story grounded in people attempting to free themselves from oppression. There are some stumbles here, but when Stormblood is on, there's an excellent adventure, great characters, and some awesome enemy encounters. Stormblood is the ongoing foundation of something magical for MMO and Final Fantasy fans alike.
Final Fantasy XII has really managed to get its hooks into me this time around, which I credit to Square Enix's excellent remaster. If you missed it the first time around (and you probably did), then now is the time to give this underappreciated gem a second chance.
Building upon the foundation established in Assassin's Creed Origins, Odyssey brings together that title's RPG adventure with the ship-bound exploration of Black Flag. Choice and consequence feature heavily in Odyssey, with the player guiding Alexios or Kassandra through a massive journey to reunite their family and kill a lot of people. Not every feature is perfect, with things like recruitment and Conquest Battles needing a bit of work, but overall Odyssey is a grand next step for the journey Origins started.
With the most bewitching tale the series has ever told and an incredibly likable cast that rises above their typical archetypes, Persona 5 sings a song of rebellion. Not just against the norm of JRPGs, but of society's oppressive grasp, inspiring its players to rise up as the Phantom Thieves would. In the end, in spite of its minor missteps, Persona 5 has the power to steal the hearts of longterm fans of the series and newcomers alike.
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is probably one of the most well-crafted RPG worlds yet. As you wander the countryside, it feels like a real place filled with the real struggles of the beings that live there. Geralt's story is personal and quite grey; it's not about saving the world, it's about saving his surrogate family. Is it perfect? No, the combat is rote at times and the inventory and crafting needs work, but in the end, The Witcher III is a top-notch RPG experience.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is simply the pinnacle of the CRPG genre. It offers a campaign with memorable characters, interesting role-playing options, and excellent systemic combat. The environments are beautiful and the soundtrack is solid. That alone would put it at the top of the heap, but then Larian added offline and online coop, a PVP arena mode, and Game Master mode, the greatest throwback to the Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper games that underpin the entire genre. I might have small issues here and there, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the best in a strong year for gaming.