The fourth game in the 7th Dragon series is the first available outside Japan, and if you can get past the grating personalities of certain NPCs and don't mind a deluge of random encounters, there's a lot to like about this dungeon crawler. The character designs are distinct, the Yuzo Koshiro soundtrack is a delight, and the class system is deep and interesting, with everything from stance changes to card-battle summoners to kung fu butlers. Plus there's a cat cafe. That's a major selling point.
Bravely Second won't win any awards for writing or character design, as the dialog is eye-rolling at times. There's also the issue of gross re-use of Bravely Default's environments and assets. But beyond those caveats, you have a startlingly good Final Fantasy-inspired job system and the best implementation of random encounters in RPG history, with a slider for encounter rate and bonus XP for chaining first-turn victories together. There's also a Catmancer job with a diverse, powerful skillset. Cats and RPGs go well together.
The sixth main-series Ace Attorney is dramatic, engaging, and personal. The exotic nation of Khura'in brings new levels of supernatural weirdness to the series, with seances submitted as evidence and a DLC case devoted to time travel. Spirit of Justice is also the most technically impressive Ace Attorney by far, with some terrific character animations and several segments of video analysis. Spirit of Justice is the best Ace Attorney title in at least nine years, and is a must-play for fans of the series (No cats, but there is one very cute dog.)
Dragon Quest games are typically slow-paced RPGs with stories that are greater than the sum of their parts. No Dragon Quest better exemplifies this than Dragon Quest VII, which is the longest in the series but has an extremely satisfying arc, with a group of ragtag heroes rebuilding the world one island at a time and then saving it from an ancient evil. Throw in a great job system (lots of those this year!) and a large, charming cast of characters, and you have a sterling Dragon Quest experience. There's even a village of animals where a cat priest heals your party.
Pokémon Sun and Moon is the most refreshing, radical Pokémon title in at least fifteen years. Pokémon gyms are a thing of the past and so are Hidden Machines; classic Pokémon from the original 151 return with new types and designs; the tropical archipelago of Alola is the most unique, interesting setting in any Pokémon title; Team Skull are the most memorable villains in a Pokémon game since your rival in Pokemon Red and Blue (and he makes an appearance in Sun and Moon as well). Sun and Moon set a new bar for the all-time bestselling series of RPGs, and is the best choice to be a new player's first Pokémon game or the next monster-hunting jam for any longtime Pokémon trainer. And best of all, one of the three new starter Pokémon... is a cat.
I feel like such a chump for waiting so long to try Final Fantasy XIV. I was put off by the game's MMO nature, as it's not a genre I prefer, but after being persuaded by several other RPGFan staff to give it a try a few months ago, I bought FF XIV on sale and was hooked quickly. The combat is solid, and the different jobs and classes are cool interpretations of Final Fantasy classics. If you aren't interested in fighting, there are Triple Triad card games, Chocobo races, and shockingly deep gathering and crafting systems. Eorzea is a beautiful open world that's a blast to explore. The narrative of A Realm Reborn is riveting, and the online nature of the game never gets in the way of having a good time. Final Fantasy XIV is a blast. You can even play as a cat-person, and you know that's exactly what I did.
I adore the Persona series, and Persona 5 has a talking, transforming cat right there on the front cover.