Here we have games we’ve been anticipating for years, games in some of our favorite series, and arguably the most anticipated game of the year…period.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5
It’s almost tradition at this point to have Granblue Fantasy: Relink on this list. Since its announcement in 2017, the game has appeared on “most anticipated” lists across the internet. It was one of our most anticipated games in 2020. And then 2022. And now 2023. That said, with the most recent delay, we’ve been promised some more news at Granblue Fantasy Fes 2023 – scheduled for January 20th – along with a playable demo to prove the game actually exists.
The updated footage we’ve seen in 2022 has been quite impressive, with a heavy focus on setpiece battles. Whether you’re cutting through invaders on the deck of airships clashing in the sky, rushing down collapsing bridges as maelstroms swirl, or even crashing the gates at a bombastic arena, Granblue Fantasy: Relink looks like an incredibly exciting game. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and see how it plays in both single and multiplayer. Hopefully, in 2023.
Writeup by Des Miller
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4 – Release: March 14th
The fifth game in Nihon Falcom’s Trails (or Kiseki) series of RPGs finally reaches a worldwide audience in 2023, nearly 12 years after its initial release on the PSP. The city-state of Crossbell is positioned between two superpowers — the Erebonian Empire and the Republic of Calvard — and faces threats from surrounding militaries, a secret organization, and conspiracies from within Crossbell itself.
Lloyd Bannings and the Special Support Section (SSS) of the local police force are at the center of these multiple conflicts. Near the end of Trails from Zero, the SSS began guardianship of an ancient Crossbell weapon of mass destruction and must strive to prevent it from falling into evil hands.
Trails to Azure brings the Crossbell chapters of the larger Trails series to an end, and sets up the events of Trails of Cold Steel III and beyond. Here at RPGFan, we couldn’t be more excited to play it.
Writeup by Michael Sollosi
The Legend of Heroes: Trails Into Reverie
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5
The upcoming The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie serves as an epilogue to several branching and intertwining story arcs while also establishing future ones. Perhaps this is why the title focuses on three playable characters: Lloyd, the main character of the Crossbell Duology; Rean, the protagonist of the Trails of Cold Steel games; and C, a mysterious newcomer who just might have surprising ties to various LoH: Trails series’ plot threads. I admit to nearly experiencing something of a burnout by Trails of Cold Steel IV, but its ending reminded me why I enjoy the series so much. So, now I’m eager to see how Trails into Reverie ties everything up and what it means for the future of a thoroughly engaging JRPG series. The chance to see beloved returning characters once more, along with intriguing new faces, is more than enough enticement for me to impatiently await playing this LoH title!
Writeup by Audra Bowling
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Platform: Nintendo Switch – Release: May 12th
It probably comes as no surprise that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the sequel to arguably one of the greatest games ever made, is on this list. Breath of the Wild set the world on fire when it released in 2017, and for good reason. The title gave us a beautiful, sprawling open world with almost no limits on exploration while retaining the feel and spirit of the Zelda franchise.
Now, surpassing Breath of the Wild will be no small feat, but if anyone is up to the task, it’s Aonuma and the rest of the team over at Nintendo. They’ve kept their cards close to their chest, but what we have seen looks simply brilliant. Our adventures through Hyrule are set to expand, with players seemingly being able to traverse the skies above, and the story of Link and Zelda looks to be taking an even darker turn.
Zelda is one franchise we can confidently say has had its “Breath of the Wild moment,” where a game single-handedly sets a new standard for its franchise and even its genre. What we don’t know is what comes next; where does the series go from here? I think that’s the question that has everyone so excited about this one. How can anyone surpass Breath of the Wild? Yet here we are expecting just that.
May 12th can’t come soon enough!
Writeup by Tom Cox
Like a Dragon: Ishin!
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Xbox One, Microsoft Xbox Series X|S, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5 – Release: February 21st
In retrospect, we should have seen the rebranding a mile away.
With 2020’s release of Yakuza: Like a Dragon combining the English brand “Yakuza” and the Japanese brand “Ryū ga Gotoku” or “Like a Dragon,” it was only a matter of time before SEGA brought everything in line with its Japanese counterpart. And how fitting that the first game to embrace this new title would be a remake of the unlocalized 2014 release, Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin, coming West as Like a Dragon: Ishin!. Set in Japan’s late Edo period, Ishin “casts” the characters of Like a Dragon into real-world historical roles. For example, our beloved Kiryu-chan becomes the revolutionary Sakamoto Ryōma, a man seeking revenge on those who killed his mentor, Yoshida Tōyō (“played” by Kiryu’s own adoptive father figure, Shintaro Kazama). Featuring a deep, involved plot filled with twists and turns, countless minigames, and multiple combat styles, Ishin is unmistakably a Like a Dragon game, and we can’t wait to dive into this lost gem in February!
Writeup by Jono Logan
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Xbox One, Microsoft Xbox Series X|S, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5
Kazuma Kiryu, the hero of the first seven Like A Dragon games (the
artist series formerly known as Yakuza), relinquished the spotlight to Ichiban Kasuga in 2020’s Yakuza: Like A Dragon, but is confirmed to return alongside Ichiban in 2024’s Like a Dragon 8. So Kiryu is back, but why is he back?
Enter Like a Dragon: Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. Kazuma Kiryu sought a quiet retirement in obscurity following the events of Yakuza 6, but his past catches up with him (again) in the serene Daidoji Temple in Kanazawa. Kiryu must perform tasks assigned by an ancient Daidoji sect, serve as a bodyguard for an unknown VIP, and manage a cabaret club (again!) in his latest adventure, which brings back classic Yakuza brawler gameplay and sets up the events of Like a Dragon 8. Yakuza fans have questions, and Like a Dragon Gaiden will provide answers in 2023.
Writeup by Michael Sollosi
Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4 – Release: April 14th
Continuing a welcome trend of bringing JRPG classics to modern systems, Mega Man Battle Network Collection jacks in to the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PC in April 2023. Initially released in 2001, Battle Network was an ambitious evolution of the beloved Mega Man franchise. Battle Network introduced the 3×3 combat grid, where Mega Man and Lan team up by selecting Battle Chips to remove a square, repair your grid, or straight up blast an enemy with your arm cannon. Series veterans like Gutsman, Protoman, and more return with new looks, still managing to put a fresh twist on the beloved franchise.
Mega Man Battle Network Collection includes ten games from the series (including each Pokémon-like variant game), with optional graphical filters alongside art and music galleries. More than anything, I welcome the opportunity to have all ten games on one system and revisit beloved classics. I’m looking forward to “jacking in,” “surfing the web,” and “busting viruses” once again!
Writeup by Daniel Hernandez
Metal Slug Tactics
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch
Ah, Metal Slug. What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said? What a jammin’ lookin’ game! Oh, I love Contra, but these graphics are way better! Oops, died. Died again. Died again. Mom, do you have any more quarters? No? Okay, guess I’ll try to beat level one next time. That’s Metal Slug!
Seriously, though: what a beauty. The aesthetics and animations are sleek even by today’s standards, and the gameplay, while cave-your-skull-in difficult, is brilliantly addictive and exciting. Metal Slug Tactics is the genre change we needed for this admittedly dated franchise. No one was asking for it, but now I’m salivating. I guess the license-holders know better than we all do. A strategy RPG with roguelike elements. We don’t know much else about the specifics, but so far we’re led to believe skill acquisition and retrying missions will be core to the experience.
Writeup by Bob Richardson
Mina the Hollower
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Xbox One, Microsoft Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5
Are you over 30 and love dated graphics like those found on the Game Boy Color? I sure am/do. Of course, we can depend on Yacht Club Games to create a pristine retro-style game that is somehow perfectly reminiscent of ye olde while updating the looks and feel exactly where needed. Mina the Hollower has a distinctly Legend of Zelda style, and since we cover that series, we’re excited to see if the drool-worthy trailer and gifs (pronounced jifs) meet expectations. That may be Yacht Club Games’ greatest challenge, though: expectation. After creating a near-masterpiece like Shovel Knight, we expect something just as great or even greater. Fortunately, the years of updates clearly indicate that Shovel Knight wasn’t just a one knight stand–no, Yacht Club Games knows what buttons to press to keep us coming back for more. Let this all sink in, because we’ll be navigating top-down mazes with all sorts of weapons and doo-dads sometime in 2023!
Writeup by Bob Richardson
Octopath Traveler II
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5 – Release: February 24th
Back in 2018, we’d never seen anything like HD-2D. The first footage of Project: Octopath Traveler looked exactly like the sprite-based 16-bit RPGs we remembered, but with added visual depth and a modern battle system. Unfortunately, the story let many of us down. While the individual tales of the main characters were terrific, only inconsequential cutscenes at pubs and other town-based locales hinted at any relationships between them. Thankfully, Octopath Traveler II apparently addresses this criticism by having the eight new characters’ stories intertwine throughout the game. With luck, OTII will hit that perfect mix of modern and retro that captured our imaginations the first time around, while also improving those aspects of the game that fell a bit flat. Regardless of how much you loved or were disappointed by the original, we can all agree to be insanely excited for the new soundtrack from Yasunori Nishiki!
Writeup by Jono Logan
One Piece Odyssey
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Xbox Series X|S, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5 – Release: January 12th
Let’s be honest here. One Piece fans don’t always have the best luck with games. Outside of some Warriors games (which I’ll defend to my dying breath), games have generally ranged from passable to, well, less than passable. But when you have perhaps the strongest cast in the anime world, do you know how to do it right? You’ve gotta stick those bad boys and girls in a JRPG. One Piece by way of Dragon Quest XI should be enough of a sales pitch to half the folks out there already, but even those unfamiliar with One Piece should find a little something to love. With the story promising a journey through a ton of One Piece history, One Piece Odyssey could be just the ticket for folks who want to learn about the series without digging through thousands of manga chapters and anime episodes.
Mostly though? Mostly I’m here to spend some time with my favorite pirate crew.
Writeup by Wes Iliff
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5
I consider Oxenfree a must-play game. A narrative-driven adventure game haunted by the lost souls of an old military base, Oxenfree is an absolute thrill ride. A direct sequel is usually a turn-off for me, but the setup for Oxenfree II: Lost Signals — Riley returning to her hometown to investigate similar paranormal activity experienced on the island from the first game — sounds exciting.
Oxenfree II looks like a beautiful continuation of the first game and an ambitious project altogether. I’m eager to experience new locations and return to old ones, visiting some of the same spooky places from the first game. The sequel is being marketed with “your choices matter” as a selling point, specifically pointing to how essential decisions can become. We’ve heard this before, but I’m hoping Night School Studio pulls it out next year when Oxenfree II: Lost Signals releases.
Writeup by Nick Mangiaracina