The Best JRPGs to Look Forward to in 2023

These are some of the best JRPGs to look forward to in 2023. From long-standing classics to spiritual successors, it's shaping up to be an amazing year to be a JRPG fan. Whether it's traditional turn-based, strategy, or something a little different, there'll be something here for everyone.

The best JRPGs to look forward to in 2023

With another year comes even more videogames. The JRPG genre had some huge hits last year, some from industry veterans and others from surprise indie newcomers. 2023 has an awful lot to live up to after Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Triangle Strategy, and Chained Echoes. But with titles like these in the pipeline, it might just be even better…

Fire Emblem Engage

Love it or hate it, Fire Emblem has become one of Nintendo’s biggest IPs, and Engage looks to be a celebration of the series as a whole. Taking place in a continent known as Elyos, you play as Alear, an amnesiac Divine Dragon. Your quest? To stop the resurrection of the Fell Dragon, a powerful evil sealed away in a war over a thousand years ago.

Fire Emblem is one of the oldest and best strategy JRPG series, and Engage looks set to honour that legacy

Fire Emblem is one of the oldest and best strategy JRPG series, and Engage looks set to honour that legacy

While you’ll meet plenty of new characters, the big gimmick of this game is Emblem Rings. These allow Alear to summon past heroes from the many previous games in the series. There’s nothing quite like a dose of nostalgia, and long-time fans have a lot to look forward to when Fire Emblem Engage launches on January 20th, exclusively for Switch.

Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Formally known in the West as the Yakuza series, Ishin! will be a new spin on the classic formula. A remake of a 2014 game, it never originally released outside of Japan. While this was understandable at the time due to it taking place in mid-1800s Japan, the recent success of Ghost of Tsushima inspired Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio to release this remake worldwide.

Protagonist Sakamoto Ryoma may have the face of Kazuma Kiryu, but looks to be far more violent

Protagonist Sakamoto Ryoma may have the face of Kazuma Kiryu, but looks to be far more violent

Ishin will not feature the turn-based gameplay seen most recently in 2020’s Yakuza: Like a Dragon, veering closer to the traditional beat-em-up style from the earlier games. However, it will still likely retain the RPG mechanics of those games, mixed with a new card system. Western fans will finally get to experience this unique spinoff when Like a Dragon: Ishin! releases on February 21st for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

Octopath Traveller II

Square Enix made waves back in 2018 when their retro throwback RPG, Octopath Traveller, won awards and sold incredibly. Four years later, we’re about to get the surprise sequel. The original game pioneered the “HD-2D” effect, combining pixel art with 3D environments and modern post-processing. These unique visuals enraptured JRPG fans, and their success saw implementation in last year’s excellent Triangle Strategy and Live a Live remake.

The lovingly crafted visuals in Octopath hit a sweet spot that left a lot of people wanting remakes of classic JRPGs in such a style

The lovingly crafted visuals in Octopath hit a sweet spot that left a lot of people wanting remakes of classic JRPGs in such a style

Octopath Traveller II will naturally feature the same setup as the original – 8 different protagonists with their own converging paths. New to the series will be a day/night cycle that can drastically alter the gameplay progression. Unsurprisingly, the gameplay will be almost the same turn-based system as before, but with a few new tricks. Retro JRPG fans can look forward to all this when Octopath Traveller II launches February 24th for PS4, PS5, Switch and PC.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure

No one does long-running narratives quite like Nihon Falcom. The Legend of Heroes is a series dating back to 1989, and the current story arc has been running since 2004’s Trails in the Sky, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. With that in mind, Trails to Azure may seem intimidating, but not to worry. The game originally released in 2011, but this year it finally gets an English localisation from NIS America.

Some say the design and worldbuilding in Trails are among the best in the JRPG genre

Some say the design and worldbuilding in Trails are among the best in the JRPG genre

As a direct sequel to Trails From Zero (localised just last year), newcomers should probably consider playing that first. As for those who are caught up? Expect more stellar storytelling that wraps up this story arc, and Falcom’s trademark world-building. Trails to Azure releases on PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC on March 14th in North America, and March 17th in Europe.

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection

What’s better than one game? Ten of them! After 17 years of being forgotten, this classic Game Boy Advance series sees the light of day once again. As a spin-off of the Mega Man franchise, it takes place in cyberspace, with real-time tactics gameplay. These elements really set it apart from contemporaries, and gathered a passionate fanbase.

While significantly different from other Mega Man games, Battle Network still left a big impression on the franchise

While significantly different from other Mega Man games, Battle Network still left a big impression on the franchise

The collection will feature all 6 mainline games, as well as the secondary versions of 3 through 6. Not only has Capcom added all these, but also new pixel filter options, as well as online multiplayer. The fans have waited a long time for this, and they’ll finally get it on April 14th for PS4, Switch and PC.

Final Fantasy XVI

It’s not even remotely everyday that a new numbered entry from Final Fantasy releases. In fact, it will have been almost 7 years since Final Fantasy XV came out. Fortunately, XVI appears to be arriving in a far more timely manner than its predecessor. Better yet: it looks fantastic. Boasting eye-watering visuals, battles of unprecedented scale and a combat system based off of the Devil May Cry series, this could be a serious contender for Game of the Year.

The summon battles in Final Fantasy XVI are on an incredible scale

The summon battles in Final Fantasy XVI are on an incredible scale

In terms of story, things look remarkably dark and serious – though hopefully not devoid of the heart that shone through the flaws of XV. We still don’t know much about how the game is structured, but there’s definitely a return to the grounded fantasy elements of the older games compared to the sci-fi elements of XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake. For now, we’ll have to wait for more info ahead of a PS5 exclusive launch on June 22nd. 

The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie

Trails again? You’d better believe it. After Trails of Cold Steel IV back in 2020, western fans can finally see what happens next. Trails into Reverie bridges the gap between Cold Steel, and Kuro no Kiseki (which has not yet had a localisation announced). It’s been a long wait, and here’s a glimpse at what you can look forward to: (Minor story spoilers may follow)

The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie - Story Trailer | PS5 & PS4 Games

In terms of gameplay, it’ll be almost identical to Cold Steel IV. Shaking things up, however, is the ability to switch between 3 different protagonists, each with their own arcs. It’s certainly an exciting last couple of years to be a Trails fan, and here’s hoping Kuro arrives in 2024. Until then, Trails into Reverie launches July 7th for PS4, PS5, Switch and PC.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes

Billed as a spiritual successor to Konami’s classic Suikoden franchise, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes carries a lot of hype. As one of the biggest Kickstarters of last year, and masterminded by key creators from Suikoden, it might just live up to it. Graphics are very Octopath-inspired, boasting gorgeous 2D sprites in 3D environments.

Eiyuden Chronicle looks to be the JRPG that Suikoden fans have been desperate for

Eiyuden Chronicle looks to be the JRPG that Suikoden fans have been desperate for

Unsurprisingly, given the title, the game will feature no less than a hundred characters to recruit into your party. Said party will engage the various enemies in traditional turn-based gameplay, as it would appear. There’s not much gameplay to go on yet, but there’ll be more to see when Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes launches at some point in 2023 for PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. Until then, JRPG fans can occupy themselves with the short prequel game, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, which is available now.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

Square Enix delivered an explosive remake of the PS1 bestseller Final Fantasy VII back in 2020, which received pretty good reviews. However, fans were worried with the revelation that it would be an episodic series. Fortunately, it seems it won’t be too much of a wait after all! Final Fantasy VII Rebirth will be the next chapter of this saga, ahead of an as-yet unnamed third and final part.

What could Square Enix be planning for this reinvention of the legendary JRPG?

What could Square Enix be planning for this reinvention of the legendary JRPG?

After the events of the remake, it’s hard to tell exactly what changes Rebirth will bring to the story of the original game. That being said, you can expect very similar gameplay and possibly even more familiar faces from the 1997 classic. We’re all still waiting on footage, but we know Square Enix are planning a Winter 2023 release, exclusively on PS5. If you can’t wait, consider checking out the recently remade prequel: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion, out now on all platforms.

Conclusion

It can already be said without a doubt that 2023 is a very exciting year for JRPGs. Some of the biggest names in gaming have grand plans, and that’s not to speak of any potential surprises we might see before the year is done. Some JRPGs, such as Ys X: Nordics, are also set to launch in 2023, but only in Japan for now. We’ll have to wait and see, but hey: there’s plenty to tide gamers over in the meantime. And if that’s not enough, check out some 2022 releases that may have slipped under your radar.

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