|« Best Turn-Based RPG||Best Tactical RPG »|
Finding a balance between RPG and action mechanics is never an easy task, but the Monster Hunter series has a decade and a half worth of development to work from. Enter the latest entry, and the biggest seller so far, which refines the mechanics further, and gets rid of some of the more tedious aspects of grinding and playing multiplayer. The result is Monster Hunter: World, a game that doesn’t sacrifice any of the complexities of the series’ various weapons in combat, but is also one of the easiest for newcomers to grasp as it removes a lot of the rigid boundaries that had existed in the series previously. Players can now change equipment and restock supplies in the middle of a mission. New quests can be taken while in a hunting ground instead of having to go back to base. Farming resources no longer requires keeping a stock of pickaxes and bug nets and the like, as gathering spots can now be used without any sort of special items. Best of all, players can finally join others mid-quest to assist them, even during story missions, long an annoying restriction of the series.
All these improvements help players get more enjoyment out of the intense and rewarding combat of the Monster Hunter series. Each monster is its own puzzle with tells and attacks to learn, and players must also learn to adapt on the fly to changing conditions, such as other creatures joining the fray, and looking out for what environmental conditions may be of use. The differences between each weapon type help keep things fresh as battling a familiar monster can be a whole new experience with a different armament. It all adds up to an exciting and rewarding experience that keeps players grinding for better and better gear to tackle harder and more vicious monsters as the game goes along.
2013’s Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was visually stunning, but for many a disappointing game. Lackluster combat and a story that fell apart in the final act dragged it down, making it a fun but in the end forgettable experience. Thankfully, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom largely corrected these issues. Featuring the same great visuals, but a much stronger combat system and more satisfying story, the tale of young King Evan and his adviser from another world, Roland, is a much better and surprisingly addictive game. With a kingdom-building subgame — a large-scale side quest that involves finding and recruiting new citizens — and a mini RTS RPG to mix things up, Ni no Kuni II is definitely not lacking for things to do. It’s a whole-package RPG that earns its spot as one of the best action RPGs of the year.
2018 was a great year for open-world action RPGs, and there was a plethora of competition to take the top spot. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life easily sneaks into our top three, as it offered RPGamers the chance to explore Kamurocho and Onomichi with an older, tired-of-the-yakuza-life Kazuma Kiryu. With this story being his last, it seems only fitting that he would have adventures in babysitting while still clubbing thugs with bicycles. The Yakuza series continues to build on its action-based combat, offering new moves and finishers for players to gussy up their encounters. However, smashing enemies with a traffic cone works just as well.
by Michael Apps, Adriaan den Ouden, and Sam Wachter