Anyone who has been reading our lists so far may have spotted how poorly some games fit into a genre. Modern games are complex beasts drawing life from many different peers: a platformer can be as influenced by Dark Souls as Super Mario Bros.. Nowhere is this more obvious than role-playing games.
RPGs used to be clear cut: games like Baldur's Gate, Bard's Tale, and Final Fantasy VI were clearly different from Doom, Command & Conquer, and Sonic. But developers recognised the depth a game can gain by letting players develop characters to suit their playstyles, and now those systems permeate gaming.
There are games in the list below you might think don't count as RPGs, and there may be games missing that you think are - but will find on other lists. All I'll say is: you don't argue with the will of the list god.
No Truce With The Furies
Release date: 2017 | Developer: ZA/UM | Platform: PC
This stylish debut calls itself a “police procedural RPG”, casting you in the role of a downbeat detective in a strange world. With a captivating isometric aesthetic, that channels nostalgia in a good way, it has a killer look to match an off-beat premise.
Hand of Fate 2
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Defiant Entertainment | Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The first Hand of Fate was a pleasant surprise; a game of cards against an antagonistic opponent with the cards played dictating encounters which played out as an action RPG. The sequel keeps this novel approach but applies polish to both the visuals and mechanics, and should make for a sure success.
Epic Battle Fantasy 5
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Kupo Games| Platform: PC
The latest entry in the Epic Battle Fantasy saga. What started as a flash game of simple turn based battles is now a sprawling RPG reminiscent of early Final Fantasy. There's little information to go on for this one yet but it has charm and a history of prior successes to warrant interest from fans and newcomers alike.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Larian Studios | Platform: PC, Xbox One
Already available in early access, this sequel to the surprise hit continues to blend role-playing and sandbox gameplay in interesting ways. Beside an offering of expansive player freedom, it also introduces a unique multiplayer aspect in which players can have competing, narrative motivations as they go on their journey together.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Warhorse Studios | Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
An RPG without the fantasy is the promise of Kingdom Come, opting for a historical period and the politics of the time over dragons and goblins. It promises a sandbox not too dissimilar from the Elder Scrolls series with an emphasis on robust, realistic melee combat.
The Long Journey Home
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Daedalic Studios West | Platform: PC
Trapped on the other side of the galaxy, you must lead the crew of a starship home. On the way you'll have to forge alliances with aliens, explore new worlds and make decisions that will affect the universe. To top it off the galaxy is randomly-generated upon each adventure, hoping to surprise on every new playthrough.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Dontnod Entertainment | Publisher: Focus Home Interactive| Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
This anticipated follow up to the adored Life Is Strange is certainly veering closer to more familiar videogame territory. Casting you as a doctor and blood sucking vampire, the world will be shaped by who you help or by the lives you harm. Dontnod promises a world where every individual's fate will have meaningful consequences. On the promise of their last game, I've high hopes for this one.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Release date: March 23rd | Developer: Bioware | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Surely set to be the biggest RPG of the year, Bioware returns to their acclaimed series with what aspires to be its most expansive entry. Set in the Andromeda Galaxy, six hundred years after the events of the original trilogy, it offers a new story that will take us to vast worlds to explore, with overhauled combat and mechanics. I'll be excited to see if it can meet the massive expectations placed upon it, especially by series fans.
A House of Many Doors
Release date: February 3rd | Developer: Pixel Trickery | Platform: PC
Reminiscent of Sunless Sea, you lead a crew aboard a train with legs, plundering the depths of the House, a parasitic dimension stealing from other worlds. Within it there's secrets to be unlocked, turn-based combat to be had and the enticing promise of procedurally-generated poetry.
Release date: Summer 2017 | Developer: Freebird Games | Platform: PC
A follow-up to the emotional To The Moon it looks to be just as moving, centered on yet another small, personal drama. This time the two doctors must traverse the memories of a dying man's life, to fulfill his final wish. Might be best to keep the tissues handy.
Heart Forth, Alicia
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Alonso Martin | Platform: PC, PS4, Vita, Wii U
A kickstarted Metroidvania-like but one that avoids the usual gothic thrills, instead opting for a bright, good natured and rousing adventure - though there are hints of darkness beneath the surface. An expansive and detailed world, full of imaginative encounters, promising a mix of old-school mechanics and modern twists, this is one to keep an eye on for sure.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Capybara Games | Publisher: Microsoft Studios | Platform: PC, Xbox One
Long in the making, Below once again teams up Capy Games with composer Jim Guthrie for a uniquely-stylised adventure. You play as a tiny warrior, exploring the depths of a mysterious island. Brutal but fair combat and perma-death are promised, along with randomly generated environments. It's a departure from their last collaboration, Sword & Sworcery, but hopefully can capture some of that same wonderful magic.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: City State Entertainment | Platform: PC
A player-versus-player driven MMO, with players choosing one of three warring factions to align their character with. It has a world that draws on Norse, Arthurian and even Irish mythology, aiming to feature large scale battles for players to take part in.
Chronicles of Elyria
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Soulbound Studios | Platform: PC
This ambitious MMO seeks to separate itself from the pack with a player character that ages and dies, encouraging you to think beyond yourself to the impact on the world around you. Finite resources, non-repeating quests and destructible environments aim to create a world that you want to leave a mark on.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: ArtCraft | Platform: PC
Another MMO, promising a blend of action RPG and real-time strategy. In it you'll explore and conquer worlds, called “Campaigns” that have a beginning, spring, and an end, winter. When winter finishes the worlds are gone and new ones are generated. Resources gathered can be used to construct homes and castles with cooperation encouraged as monsters grow more powerful with each passing season.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Eneme Entertainment | Publisher: Devolver Digital | Platform: PC, PS4
One of a few forthcoming Souls-likes, this one offers an isometric take on From's renowned formula but drawing on the dark depths of Norse mythology. Moody, dangerous dungeons await with fearsome bosses but the twist comes with an original talent system that offers a choice between minor permanent upgrades or powerful perks lost upon death.
Dark and Light
Release date: 2017 | Developer: NPCube | Publisher: Farlan Entertainment | Platform: PC
Once a troubled and poorly-received MMOG, Dark and Light is now set for a reboot that hopes to deliver on the promise of the original concept. Set in a world divided by realms, each one ruled over by a deity, it hopes to offer players a great deal of freedom in how they explore.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Inglenook | Platform: PC
This RPG frees itself from the regular setting of high fantasy and instead takes player to a supernatural 1920s Massachusetts. You must form a team of investigators and lead them into the swampland, to find and rescue twelve missing persons, who vanished in mysterious circumstances. A dungeon crawler with tactical action that employs team work, it looks set to separate itself from the crowd with more than just style.
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Release date: February 28th | Developer: inXile Entertainment | Publisher: Techland | Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Successor to the acclaimed Torment: Planescape, this looks to be every bit as strange and intriguing, with a world caught between technology, magic and the genuinely weird. Build a character who can approach problems in ways other than combat, utilising conversation, technology or stealth. It has a tough act to follow but the recent revival of the CRPG has delivered plenty of gold before.
Two Worlds 2: Call of the Tenebrae
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Reality Pump Studios| Publisher: Topware Interactive | Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Yep, you read that correctly. New DLC for a six year-old game is such a pleasant oddity that curiosity alone might be enough to entice people back. How will those years be reflected in the content and design? It's going to overhaul a few of the game's existing systems and brings in new quests, weapons, armour and foes, for a start.
The Wild Eight
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Eight Points | Publisher: HypeTrain Digital | Platform: PC
Taking cues from Diablo as well as titles like Don't Starve, this hopes to blend RPG and survival elements into a compelling multiplayer experience. Procedurally-generated worlds, base building and a host of enemies are meant to compel up to eight players to work together and stay alive.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Logic Artists | Platform: PC
The next game on from Expeditions: Conquistador, this once more utilises a historical setting for an isometric adventure in which players must employ diplomacy as much as combat. Interactions with NPCs will build a player's reputation and dictate how characters treat you over the course of the story.
The Bards Tale IV
Release date: 2017 | Developer: inXile Entertainment | Platform: PC
Little is known about this long awaited and kickstarted sequel but a promising tech demo showcased first-person exploration in a gorgeous world and hinted at the party-based combat at the core. A blend of humour, Celtic mythology, puzzling and in-depth RPG mechanics should make for a splendid adventure.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Gaming Asylum | Platform: PC
A most ambitious MMO, proposing a modern sandbox like Grand Theft Auto but with all the NPCs replaced by players. The developers want to give players freedom to be whoever they want to be in this world: business men, criminals, cops or recluse loners.
Star Control: Origins
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Stardock | Platform: PC
A prequel to the classic action adventure series, this instalment places players as the captain of the first interstellar starship, exploring a procedurally generated galaxy. Players will make first contact with alien races, visit unique worlds and fight in space battles. There's a central mystery too, guiding the player through their adventures, to figure out what has the galaxy in turmoil.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Release date: Early 2017 | Developer: Ubisoft | Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Sequel to The Stick of Truth, this should be another turn-based RPG full of subversion and crude humour with the cast and animation style of the show beautifully-recreated. This time instead of the fantasy genre stylings, it goes for the superhero alter egos of the cast battling in two factions.
Seven: The Days Long Gone
Release date: 2017 | Developer: IMGN.Pro & Fool's Theory | Platform: PC
An isometric stealth-themed RPG that sets players loose in a dense, vertical sandbox world built over itself several times. With the talents of some Ex-Witcher devs on board, there's plenty of potential here.
Radio The Universe
Release date: 2017 | Developer: 6e6e6e | Platform: PC
This mysterious kickstarted RPG has been marketed in obscure snippets but looks to be a tough-as-nails action RPG set in a deadly, cyberpunk themed world. A surprise package?
Release date: 2017 | Developer: Supergiant Games | Platform: PC, PS4
The latest from the developers of Transistor and Bastion, Pyre is a fantasy RPG that casts the player as a Reader who must guide three exiles to purgatory, looking to cleanse their souls by defeating other exiles. With combat that's in the vein of Transistor, with hints of DotA and even Rocket League, this is one of the year's most curious and visually-arresting RPGs. Expect another killer soundtrack too.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: White Rabbit | Publisher: Adult Swim Games | Platform: PC, PS4
Set on a medieval alien world, Death's Gambit offers a challenging journey reminiscent of Castlevania and Dark Souls, with some truly gigantic foes to fight. Some neat tools like the grappling hook should give the hack-and-slash combat its own style.
Throughout January we're going to be posting lists of games coming out in 2017, to keep on top of them all you can find them collected here.