5 - 1

Those who recall the last list will probably not be surprised at the top two appearing here again, hopefully for the last time! Elsewhere, the rebirth of Final Fantasy XIV clearly remains as healthy as ever as we gear up for the game's second big expansion, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild certainly benefitted from its bumper appearance at E3, and the chance to play through a beloved title with the Zodiac Job System and various other improvements proved irrestitable to many.

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood (PC/PS4) - Official Site
Pub: Square Enix | Dev: Square Enix | Release: 06.20.2017 (NA/EU)

Nothing can contain the hype I have for the new expansion to the highly successful reboot of Final Fantasy XIV. The information revealed at the Las Vegas Fan Festival was not unexpected, but still a great look into what was coming with the Warrior of Light's journey to the Garlean-occupied lands of Ala Mhigo. The excitement only grew stronger during the Tokyo Fan Festival when the director Naoki Yoshida revealed the addition of the Red Mage job to the game, along with the new primal and the addition of swimming mechanics. There's still one more Fan Festival taking place in Frankfurt in February with the last tidbits of information — including hopefully more new jobs for the expansion — ahead of its release date in mid-June. It's an absolute guarantee that I will be playing nothing but Stormblood for the rest of June and into the heart of the summer. - Shannon Harle

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U/Switch) - Official Site
Pub: Nintendo | Dev: Nintendo | Release: Q2.2017 (NA/EU)

Though typically a 2D Zelda fan, I'm not opposed to a 3D entry. I especially love Wind Waker, and while I've not been drooling over this entry since the Wii U teasers were first revealed, I can say that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is quite appealing to me. Unlike other 3D games in the series, this one appears to be much more flexible in structure for exploring and enjoying the world by taking points from other open world games. Seeing Nintendo take this approach is right up my alley. The biggest selling point here for me is the new Switch version which will make this one portable for me, and that is always a plus. - Michael A. Cunningham

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4) - Official Site
Pub: Square Enix | Dev: Square Enix | Release: 2017 (NA/EU)

I consider Final Fantasy XII to have one of my favorite battle systems of all time, so when I heard that we were finally getting a remaster of this one I was thrilled to no end. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age brings North America the International Zodiac Job System that was denied back in the PS2 era, which allows players to have a more focused license board based on which job they select. While I'm not as excited about that — I had no problems with the original license board and was able to define jobs for each character on my own — being able to play this on a modern system with lots of other fixes is fantastic. Gambit improvements, controlling guest characters, and being able to speed things up are by themselves great changes, but the developers say they have even more updates in mind. I cannot wait to see what else gets improved for the PS4 release, and yes, I even went this entire article without complaining that this wasn't coming to Vita...oh wait. - Michael A. Cunningham

Cosmic Star Heroine

Cosmic Star Heroine (PC/Mac/PS4/Vita) - Official Site
Pub: Zeboyd Games | Dev: Zeboyd Games | Release: 2017 (NA/EU)

I had the privilege of giving this one an Early Access spin, and I was impressed with what I got. It was a quirky, sardonic look at a far-future dystopia through the eyes of someone who should have known better, and it ended right as she was getting to. The writing was tight and humorous, with plenty of minor conversations to overhear and items to examine. The graphics were so well done that simply describing them as an homage to the 16-bit era is actually something of a backhanded compliment. It even had a couple of sprite-action ersatz FMV sequences to make things more interesting. There was plenty to do, and my sole real complaint (i.e. issues with difficulty levels between different settings) turned out to be already addressed in the main product. This is definitely one of the top games I'm looking forward to this year, not to mention perhaps the only English-language one on my list. - Michael Baker

Persona 5

Persona 5 (PS3/PS4) - Official Site
Pub: Atlus | Dev: Atlus | Release: 04.04.2017 (NA/EU)

Hello Persona, our old friend. Your fifth entry shan't make this list again. Persona 5 is the reigning veteran of this list, oft-delayed but providing a clearer picture of what exactly we would be getting with each passing year. With its release in Japan last year, its subsequent western outing seems much more real. The feeling of excitement just bubbling under the surface is slowly coming up as more and more of the game is revealed. Demon negotiations, overhauled dungeon-crawling, new ways to spend the copious amounts of free time out of dungeons, and that still pervasive sense of style permeating every inch of the game all seem to indicate that this just won't be a new, bombastic entry to the Persona franchise, but a proper followup to the Shin Megami Tensei series as well. - Zack Webster

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