E3 Hype List: The J-RPGs (Final Fantasy XV, Tales of Berseria, Ni-Oh)

Apologies for taking a day off, but I'm back with the second part of what is most likely a four-part series.  This time we'll be setting a focus on games that come from Eastern developers, the J-RPGs.

As much as I've never been the biggest FF fan, Final Fantasy XV looks incredible.  There's been a lot of controversy surrounding this game, from its casting to the game's transformation from "Versus XIII" into the next mainline Final Fantasy, to its incredibly tortured development cycle.   But ever the optimist, I intend to give it a try.   The graphics are beautiful, the world looks expansive and detailed (slight bit too much forest and desert, though), and  Noctis looks like a total bad-ass switching between weapons and teleporting around wrecking enemy soldiers and local fauna alike. 

Plus I admire the vibe director Hajime Tabata is going for, following these four men on a roadtrip to their goal and dealing with whatever troubles come their way.  And for all the complaints being made, I think it has the potential to be a really special, heart-warming story that's character-driven and unlike anything we've seen in almost any other J-RPG.   I've kept my distance from this title for the most part, I'm hoping to be surprised when the game drops on September 30th of this year.

More importantly; the extra upside to FFXV coming out soon: The potential for Final Fantasy XVI to be revealed.  It's weird to say the best part about one game coming out is learning about its sequel, but the truth is there's every reason that we should hear about XVI within 12-18 months after XV launches, especially since the major theory behind "Versus XIII" becoming XV in the first place was because the real XV was taking too long.

I've been trying to get back into Tales for years now--I even made an attempt with the Playstation 3's Tales of Xillia--but they always seem to be lacking that certain something that makes a game difficult to put down.  And once you add that I'm a bit of a graphics whore, it's almost impossible for this series to hook me.

But Berseria's doing great so far, making a number of different changes that just happen to appeal to me. From introducing a female protagonist that's been cursed by a mysterious power that just so happens to make her kick a dozen kinds of ass in a fight, to the fact that your party is basically a pirate crew, to the pirate concept itself offering you the chance to visit different islands that are all hopefully vastly different from one another, Berseria is definitely scratching a lot of potential itches for me.   Even the battle system looks improved upon what I played in Xillia, and I can't wait pilot Velvet slicing and dicing with that massive claw arm.

It's been announced as an early 2017 title, and if I had to guess we won't see it until April or May.  Probably for the best too--that's enough time for me to have finished FFXV, and everyone else to have beaten Persona 5.

Some people are going to take issue with this being here.  People with strict definitions of what constitutes a J-RPG.  Of course, those same people think J-RPGs can come from outside of Japan, so I'm ignoring them.   But for arguments sake?    Upgrades that come in the form of stat management, HP/Stamina bar, equipment that levels up the more you use it--this game is heavily drawing on Japanese RPG elements for many of the systems that are holding the gamplay together, and to me that counts.

Having said that, Ni-Oh was a title that went from being "Oh that's cute" to immediately being on my radar the second Team Ninja showed what the title actually played like.  Sure, it's got some Dark Souls rip-off elements to it, and "William" (the main character) absolutely looks like Geralt decided to take a vacation to the Land of the Rising Sun, but there's plenty unique about this game, and all of it is lovely.

...Except the insane difficulty curve.  Playing their alpha demo made me want to chuck my PS4 controller at the nearest hard surface.  It doesn't look as if its been made too much easier, but if stamina drain is less disgusting I'll forgive the difficulty.  In either case, a gorgeous action RPG set in feudal-era Japan that arms you with a massive variety of loot in the form of both weapons and armor is something I'm not capable of looking over.  Hopefully it makes it's 2016 release date.


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