RPGs that will blow you away in 2019

RPGs have been rebounding in a big way over the past few years. After surviving a period that looked like it might spell the end of traditional RPG offerings, the genre has innovated and expanded, showcasing some brilliant turn-based classics while also producing more frenetic titles as well. Now, games like Dragon Quest XI and Assassin's Creed: Odyssey are some of the biggest releases of the calendar year and earmarked as potential Game of the Year contenders.

While we still have a few more months of gigantic releases coming in 2018, gamers looking further into the future might have already realized that 2019 is poised to be another stellar year for RPG fans. There's an exciting mix of quirky indie titles, anime-inspired monster-slaying, and blockbuster sequels on tap for 2019 releases, and we've compiled a list of the most tantalizing RPGs that will blow you away in 2019.

Anthem is the future of BioWare

Anthem is one of the most anticipated games of any genre in 2019, and it is BioWare's answer to the Destiny formula of sci-fi RPG blended with FPS shooter. Simply referring to it as a Destiny competitor does a disservice to the amount of work BioWare has put in to developing a game with its own identity and innovations, however.

Anthem is still first and foremost an RPG, as evidenced by BioWare General Manager Casey Hudson's post earlier this year emphasizing narrative, character design, and storytelling. BioWare is a developer renowned the world over for creating compelling tales and characters to match, and despite the fact that Anthem won't feature the hallmark romancing options of some other BioWare greats, it will still be focused on building a world that friends will want to explore and get more invested in together.

Anthem's gameplay is something of a revelation, showcasing some really cool mechanics made possible by the game's jetpacks-and-guns aesthetic. Players will have their Freelancer character don Javelin exosuits that are customizable and offer different methods of gameplay, letting people tailor the way they approach Anthem to their own strengths as a player.

Following Mass Effect: Andromeda was always going to be hard, given that game's relatively poor reception. The stakes are even higher for BioWare with Anthem. Luckily, all signs indicate a game that could kickstart a whole new series of beloved sci-fi epics.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be the best one yet

Speaking of game's with strong pedigrees, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is due out at an unspecified time in 2019. Three Houses will be the first fully fledged Fire Emblem game on the Nintendo Switch, following in the footsteps of the spinoff title Fire Emblem: Warriors.

What that means for Three Houses is that it will be a top-down strategy RPG like the series' most beloved entries, which is good news for fans of both deep combat and the romantic lives of generals in their armies. Fire Emblem: Three Houses will also feature a brand new combat innovation in the form of armies on the battlefield; in some scenes displayed in preview content thus far, protagonists are joined in skirmishes by a bunch of nameless, faceless soldiers representing larger military units.

At its core, though, Fire Emblem: Three Houses has character designs that remain aesthetically pleasing, a storyline that centers around sweeping kingdom politics, and a world that appears to be bigger and more detailed than ever before. Don't sleep on this one: it has every chance to exceed expectations, and the sky is the limit for what this series is capable of on the Nintendo Switch.

We've got a good premonition about The Good Life

The Good Life enters this discussion as something of an anomaly. The game is a Kickstarter-funded project by Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro, a game developer best known for quirky cult-classic Deadly Premonition. The Good Life almost didn't make it into development in the first place, either, with a second Kickstarter campaign barely making the goal at the end of its funding window after the first effort failed to stick.

So what's an almost-failed Kickstarter game doing on a list featuring titles like Kingdom Hearts 3? It's mostly down to the fact that Swery is a legend in gaming circles, a kind of indie mad genius. The game will follow Naomi, a photojournalist from New York who is crippled by rising debt and escapes to a sleepy rural England town called Rainy Woods.

Of course, a Swery game is never that simple. Everyone in Rainy Woods inexplicably turns into animals at night, which is, as you know, weird. There's also a murder mystery for Naomi to solve in between taking jobs that helps pay her bills and get her out of debt.

Sure, there's every chance The Good Life stumbles under the weight of its conceit. Given Swery's talent and experience, though, it seems a safer bet that The Good Life will launch in late 2019 as one of the most charming, innovative, and fun RPGs released next year.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition brings back a cult classic

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles already blew gaming audiences away way back in 2004, when it originally released for the Nintendo GameCube. Unfortunately, given that many Final Fantasy titles had been released on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, Crystal Chronicles was missed by a lot of fans.

That's a shame, too, because Crystal Chronicles innovated the series well ahead of its time and it likely could have been used as a blueprint for future success had it not sold around 1.3 million copies lifetime (for reference, Final Fantasy X sold around 8 million copies).

The thing is, Crystal Chronicles was well loved by critics, who praised it for approaching the genre from an unusual angle but executing well on many of its innovations. The game was hyper-detailed, allowed players to work with friends to play through the narrative, and featured frantic, fun combat. The biggest detracting factor was the amount of hardware and scheduling required to play with friends, and the game's solo experience was much slower and grindier.

Luckily, these days we have the power of online gaming. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition hasn't been confirmed to feature online support yet, but given that it is releasing in 2019, we'd be shocked if that wasn't included — and if it is, Crystal Chronicles is a must-play for RPG fans who have some friends with some free time.

Kingdom Hearts 3 returns at long last

Kingdom Hearts 3 really doesn't need much of an introduction, but here goes: the Square Enix and Disney collaboration is the RPG with the most hype heading into 2019, and with good reason. It has been 13 years since the critically acclaimed release of Kingdom Hearts 2 in 2005, and although there are a number of spin-offs, prequels, and remasters that have populated the franchise since, none of them come close to the impact a true sequel like Kingdom Hearts 3 will have.

Kingdom Hearts 3 won't be made without its challenges, first among them an attempt to clean up what has become one of the most iconically convoluted storylines in modern gaming. Catching up should be worth it, however. Kingdom Hearts 3 looks gorgeous, featuring graphics that, at times, look like they've been ripped straight out of a Pixar film. While the series has begun to distance itself from its Final Fantasy ties a little, the game will still showcase Square Enix properties rubbing up against titanic Disney films like Frozen.

As for the gameplay, Kingdom Hearts 3 is as fluid as the game's combat has ever looked at first glance, and additions like Keyblade Transformations should innovate spectacularly. Oh, and if that's not enough, Utada Hikaru is returning to produce a new song for the sequel, partnering with Skrillex to do it. Brace for a wild ride when Kingdom Hearts 3 releases on January 29, 2019 in the West.

Wasteland 3 carries on a proud legacy

While The Good Life may have struggled to meet its crowdfunding goal, Wasteland 3 had no such trouble. The sequel to Wasteland 2 managed to surpass it's $2.75 million goal and is officially in alpha, reportedly hitting all of its major development milestones thus far.

Wasteland 3 is the successor to the Wasteland franchise, which is widely credited with providing the blueprint for Fallout's future success. Wasteland 3 will feature a lot of the content fans of Bethesda's series are already familiar with, including post-apocalyptic stories, strategic RPG combat, and squad-based roleplaying conventions.

Wasteland 2, which was crowdfunded through Kickstarter, crushed its development goal en route to a celebrated release. Wasteland 3 will look to continue more of the same, building on the smart execution of tactical combat and the intriguing development of various squad members that made its predecessor so likeable. Given the talent of the team behind it, coupled with the fact that they now know what works and what doesn't from the 2014 revival, it isn't much of a stretch to suggest that Wasteland 3 could be the best the series has ever offered once it releases in Q4 of 2019.

Digimon Survive celebrates 20 years of the franchise

Digimon Survive is a complete curveball from developer Witchcraft and Bandai Namco. The Digimon series has always been adept at switching genres — from the pet-raising sim of the early Digimon World games to the dungeon-crawling and roster-building of games like Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth — but the lastest for the franchise is something else altogether.

Digimon Survive will be a survival simulation RPG, a departure from what we've usually come to expect from the kid-friendly Digimon games. While recent offerings have flirted with some more mature storylines, like activist hacking gone wrong and information control in a digital age, they've never gone as far as what this game is proposing.

In Digimon Survive, protagonist Takuma finds himself stranded in the digital world. He has to find a way out, but he will also need to fight to keep himself and other characters he meets along the way alive, as the threat of death looms large. It's dark stuff from Digimon, but it's also exciting. The series has been executing great gameplay with regularity recently, but has always lacked a bit of an edge when it comes to separating itself from other good-to-great RPGs. A flirtation with the survival game genre could be just what the doctor ordered when Digimon Survive releases in 2019 to celebrate the franchise's 20th anniversary.

Town is a new game from the makers of Pokemon

Game Freak is making a major game that isn't a Pokemon title! The developer announced Town at a recent Nintendo Direct.

Any title being produced by Game Freak is worth a look, since the developer can always point to its resume of Pokemon games to suggest that it knows how to develop, hone, and perfect RPG formulas. Town (which is a working title, by the way) looks for all the world like a charming, innovative take on a classic JRPG trope. This style typically features a small village, and a chosen one with unique powers. Suddenly, the world is threatened by monsters, or darkness, or a maniacal clown — whichever you prefer. The hero leaves the town, assembles a party of like-minded chosen ones, and eventually succeeds.

But that's not the case in Town, which sees the protagonist remain in the starting village for the entirety of the game, helping to protect it from hordes of monsters with the aid of the people who live there. The journey is entirely insular, and the combat looks turn-based and fun, with colorful splashes indicating attacks and quirky executions.

Many of the RPGs releasing in 2019 will take us on a journey. Town might be the only one capable of doing it without ever leaving its starting point. And that's very exciting.

Code Vein mixes vampires and the apocalypse

Ever wonder what would happen if you mashed up a game like Bloodborne with an anime show? You'd probably get something close to Code Vein, Bandai Namco's upcoming action-roleplaying game that looks to take the gritty formula of some of its predecessors and put a flashier, more animated coat of paint on the surface.

Code Vein was actually due out in 2018, but Bandai Namco delayed it, according to VP of Marketing Eric Hartness, to "further refine its gameplay in an effort to exceed the expectations fans already have." Although Code Vein is the first of its kind, Hartness is likely right about the expectations: the game caught on in a big way when it was first unveiled. The game already looked buttery smooth, so further polishing might mean we have an RPG juggernaut on our hands in 2019.

Code Vein follows vampire-esque characters called the Vein as they use their Gifts, which are essentially like anime-inspired superpowers, to fight the villainous Lost. The world is post-apocalyptic, the characters are all designed toward the sexier side of goth aesthetic, and the game even features a built-in buddy system with AI teammates that can help navigate its difficult combat. There's a lot to like about Code Vein, and we'll see if it can leave a bigger mark on 2019's neck later next year.

God Eater 3

God Eater 3 is another action-RPG being developed by Bandai Namco, although its finer points are fairly different: where Code Vein focuses on smaller enemies and more difficult gameplay, God Eater 3 is all about going massive. God Eater 3 will follow the God Eaters, beings who are able to wield special weapons called God Arcs that can destroy the Aragami, the monstrous villains in the game that will make up the bulk of the combat players will experience.

The game will feature a new area called the Ash Region alongside some new Aragami as well, inspired by Egyptian mythos and looking mighty tempting as far as engaging boss designs go. God Eater 3 will also introduce Ray Guns, a long-range God Arc type that looks like a blast to wield and could add some needed strategic depth to the series.

God Eater 3 will be as over-the-top as its predecessors, and that's a good thing. While some RPGs aim for realism or a sort of groundedness in their execution, God Eater 3 is all about delivering the flashiest, biggest fights it can. The recently released trailer shows that the imagination behind the game's beautiful monster design and bombastic battles is still alive and well, and God Eater 3 has a strong chance to be a sleeper hit when it releases in the west in early 2019.