As per tradition, we present our RPGFan E3 2011 Awards! Our six attending editors each compiled their own lists of the best (and sometimes worst) that the show had to offer in 2011. Based on everyone's feedback, we then chose the top RPGs of the show overall in different categories. We changed these categories around a bit this year: With so many games going multiplatform, we didn't want to have console-specific awards. Secondly, in stark contrast to last year where we had trouble deciding a winner, there was a dearth of handheld RPGs at the show this year, so we omitted these for the categories you see below.
In any case, we hope you enjoy our awards and individual picks!
We knew that Vanillaware was hard at work on Grand Knights History for the PSP, but when we saw a press release come out of nowhere on Tuesday announcing a new Vanillaware game, needless to say we were more than a little bit surprised. So we crashed Ignition's booth to check out the trailer for the game and we were still more than a little surprised.
Dragon's Crown is a more than a little over-the-top, it's crazy. George Kamitani took his inspiration from works like Heavy Metal and just about everything in this title is huge - anatomy included. The game itself is styled after the old Capcom Dungeons & Dragons arcade games, titles that Kamitani worked on in the '90s. We're stoked that Ignition is bringing this one stateside and we're excited for when more details surface. No drooling, now!
It wasn't so surprising that Atlus USA would provide us with a translation of Devil Survivor 2, just that the announcement has come so early in the process. We're not going to see this title until sometime next year, and hopefully it's not one of the last quality RPGs we see on Nintendo's now-aging handheld.
To be fair, many of the concepts in Dark Souls are nothing new - but even after the release of Demon's Souls, few games have embraced just how unique they are like Dark Souls has. From Software has created a title that's not only bigger and badder than its spiritual predecessor, but they've created a title with even more going for it - new classes, new ways to interact with strangers, and more ways to die.
We're more than excited to see the ideas that flow out of Dark Souls, as even now, just a few months from release, the developers are still tossing around ideas and finalizing aspects of gameplay. We have no doubt that they'll pull off something amazing and something that feels oh-so-fresh.
Shooters were the taste of the month at E3, and while Deus Ex: Human Revolution pulls a lot of ideas from predecessors and contemporaries, it's bringing back that legitimate choice you saw in the original title. It might not be brand new, but the concepts seen there have disappeared over time, and we're glad to see them reintroduced by Eidos Montreal.
A Facebook-based strategy RPG, Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter surprised us with its level of polish and detail. Not only because of the highly detailed sprite-based graphics, but its as-simple-or-complex-as-you-want-it gameplay should appeal to both casual and hardcore players alike.
Heroes of Neverwinter is far more capable than one would expect for "just a Facebook game." With its innovative use of social features, your friends and their characters can fight alongside your own, even if they're not online. Though if you want them to play with you, go easy on spamming their wall.
We won't see Prime World until late this year, but the combination of MOBA, RPG, and Strategy elements was looking quite nice at this year's show. We're hoping to see more of the RPG aspects as it gets closer to release, but color us impressed by Nival's offering. Now can we please have a new Etherlords game?
It's not a surprise that Final Fantasy XIII was ill received by many Final Fantasy fans. Widely different from its immediate predecessor, the title was linear and featured a battle system that didn't mesh well with everyone. The distinct lack of towns and NPCs was a huge sticking point with many, as well. Final Fantasy XIII-2 looks to fix all that, with a larger focus on exploration and choice alongside new additions to the battle system.
The two of us (John and Kim) who were demoed by Square Enix weren't fans of the original and had only logged about ten hours each into the title. We came out of the experience not only impressed by the title, but actually anticipating it. Hopefully Square Enix pulls this off, because it might just be the Final Fantasy title we've been waiting for.
It's a little interesting to put Devil Survivor 2 under the "Traditional" category, seeing as it's an SRPG at its core, but the combination of RPG elements, SRPG gameplay, and a social link-style system is more than enough to color us impressed. While our demo was all in Japanese, it looks like Atlus is adding plenty new for fans. Keep an eye out for this one in 2012.
After the incredible success and critical acclaim they received with Mass Effect 2, BioWare has a lot to live up to with next year's follow-up, Mass Effect 3. On the surface, the difference between the second and third game doesn't seem quite as great as that between Mass Effect 1 and 2 had been. But new refinements are being implemented: battle-wise and also in terms of character and weapon customization, giving the series some RPG flavour back.
One thing remains for certain though: the choices you made over the span of Mass Effect 1 and 2 will come back to either help you, or haunt you in the epic conclusion. With our very own planet Earth on the line, how will you as Shepard fight off the Reapers and save the Galaxy?
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning puts the Action into Action RPG. With combat styled after more mainstream titles but an impressive RPG statistical system underlaying it, Reckoning can be one of the few titles to bridge the gap between the hardcore and the casual. If things keep up as they looked at the show, Curt Schilling and his company have a winner on their hands.
BioWare has never made an MMORPG before. That didn't stop them from having one of the most impressive MMORPGs I've ever seen. A fantastic combination of solid MMORPG combat and customization alongside cinematics that wouldn't be out of place in a single-player adventure, Star Wars: The Old Republic is the kind of game that most MMORPGs wish that they could be.
Choice is a giant factor in what will shape a campaign in The Old Republic, and each of the eight character classes will have unique stories, quests, and choices to make. That means that even if a player doesn't choose to tackle the end-game content, they'll still have literally thousands of hours to put into their characters. I've never been wrong when I've bet on BioWare, so expect this one to be fantastic.
While many of us quite enjoyed TERA and look forward to its release, we had to concede to BioWare's title: They're daring to try something really new in the MMORPG space and we felt the need to recognize that. Plus, TERA, you did take the top MMO spot last year
, so don't be sad.
My first appointment on the very first day of the show was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The rest of the show was downhill from there. I wish that Bethesda hadn't been so full up on the title, because I would have loved to go back and see the demo again. The amount of polish that's gone into this sequel is amazing, from menus to graphics to sound, everything was simply amazing.
The promises for gameplay were nothing shy of impressive, either. If Bethesda can get a quest system working that truly tailors itself to the player, people will lose weeks exploring the world of Skyrim. I was most impressed when they cast a spell of berserking on an opponent and he ran towards his ally and shoved him out a window - something the developers hadn't expected. If Skyrim is as dynamic and entertaining as it was at E3, there's a new leader in town.
Mass Effect 3 was looking quite impressive, but there just wasn't enough new for it to claim our crown. We've no doubt that it's going to be a top-tier title, and honestly, we're glad that it's not coming out in the same year as The Witcher 2, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Skyrim, because it would make our Game of the Year awards that much more difficult to do.
Like many of you reading this, despite their silence on the issue, all of us were hoping beyond hope that Nintendo would - even quietly, as they tend to do with RPGs - announce their intentions to bring either the Monolith Soft-developed Xenoblade or Mistwalker's The Last Story to North American shores.
With Xenoblade on its way to Europe, it seemed there was a chance that at least that game might make it here. Not to mention the game was originally revealed to us at E3 by Nintendo of America under the title Monado. Now, with Xenoblade a year old in Japan, and The Last Story released almost five months ago, we're not sure if we'll ever see either title here. While it's not impossible, E3 seems like it would have been a good time to show RPG fans some love.
Given the severe lack of JRPGs at E3 2011, having these titles there would have been a big deal, as they're two of the most-wanted releases for English-speaking fans. Are you listening, Nintendo?
Meanwhile, Namco Bandai actually has announced plans to bring the PS3 Tales of Graces f and the 3DS version of Tales of the Abyss Stateside. Yet, neither game had a show presence, even in video form. The comforting fact of Tales is that at least we know they're coming.
Back to Feature Intro