Best of 2013
No Persona 4: Golden this year? Well, it wasn't all bad. The year certainly wasn't slouching when it came to doling out 50+ hour time sinks. It started out strong with Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch all the way back in January and spiraled out of control since.
We have a healthy mix of console and handheld fare, eastern and western formulas. The vaunted Waifu Simulator. A collaboration with Studio Ghibli. There's even a fully free-to-play game that's arguably better than Diablo III. More like Diablo Free!
Fire Emblem: Awakening
While Fire Emblem: Awakening may not turn the notch up to 11, it's everything that's right about strategy RPGs. Whatever options you choose to go with at the beginning of the game, it's either one of the most accessible strategy games to date, or one of the most difficult. It's a brilliant design that will pay dividends for Nintendo in the long run, as it will convert plenty of new fans. If you've been itching to get into a Fire Emblem game, this is a great place to start. If you've been playing them all along, you'll feel right at home.
Read the full Fire Emblem: Awakening review
If you're a lover of games that require you to put in before you get out, and you recall the glory days of the Eastern RPG, where experience points were the lifeblood and the grind was king, you have literally no decent excuse for not finding a way to play Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. A classic of the modern age, built entirely from classics of the past, it's advised you get comfortable, cancel all your plans, and prepare to enjoy a game that will dominate your life for the next few months.
Pokemon X and Y
Many will tell you that Pokemon X and Y totally shakes up the stale old Pokemon foundation, but they are simply dazzled by the bright lights and flashing images. This isn't a problem though, because some of us love the "stale" old Pokemon foundation, and we're happy to get it looking as good as it's ever looked. I want to walk around in grass and toss my balls in a magic dog's face, and that's exactly what I get from X and Y. That I get it with beautifully animated combat and gorgeous, vivid colors just totally seals the deal.
Read the full Pokemon X and Y review
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Shin Megami Tensei IV may have been developed for two little screens, but it's a massive, uncompromising game that feels just as big as any console RPG release. It's as deep and gratifying as you'd expect from Atlus' original key franchise, and now it's fully portable (with a save anywhere function). In fact, the only real problem you're going to have with Shin Megami Tensei IV is keeping your 3DS battery charged up, because it's the best RPG for 3DS to date.
Read the full Shin Megami Tensei IV review
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan
Etrian Odyssey IV the best series title yet, and an excellent place to start if you've never played one before. It is, by far, the most accessible series game yet, with its Casual mode and its wide-open, free-exploration gameplay. And for the first time, despite being a dungeon crawler at heart, an Etrian Odyssey title feels like a sprawling adventure. For series fans, everything you love about Etrian Odyssey is here, and then some -- better music, art, monsters, and mapping. You will not be disappointed. For everyone else: fans of classic dungeon crawling, fans of planning and plotting, or fans of a sizable challenge, I cannot recommend Etrian Odyssey IV enough.
Read the full Etrian Odyssey IV review
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
While Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn may not be the revolutionary genre-bending game that people want in a modern MMO, it is easily one of the most polished MMOs in the genre. Quest design ranges from fantastic to downright dull, but the rapid pace of the combat and character progression does a great job of making the player feel accomplished, no matter what they're actually doing.
Read the full Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn review
Path of Exile
Path of Exile is clearly influenced by Diablo II, but does enough unique (and wonderful) things to separate it from being too Diablo II. It feels familiar, yet fresh, and that's what I love about it. And don't let the fact that it's free scare you away, either. Grinding Gear Games has created the most unintrusive free-to-play game outside of Valve's own offerings. It really is an entire game for free.
Tales of Xillia
Tales of Xillia never strays terribly far from the formula set forth by its predecessors. Firmly rooted in the past, it instead introduces a selection of new elements and subtle enhancements that make it feel refreshing while still very familiar. The story and characters are delightful, and an engaging battle system rounds out a mesmeric package. Simply put, Tales of Xillia is one of the finest role-playing games in recent memory.
Read the full Tales of Xillia review
As a standalone experience, Dead Man's Switch is a delight: a clever but short whirlwind tour of the oft depressing world of the shadowrunner. It is not, however, the entirety of Shadowrun Returns. Instead, it merely serves as an example of what can be crafted with the complex editor tool that all players have access to. The huge, flexible editor holds within it the promise of limitless adventures, both set in the Shadowrun universe and outside it.
Read the full Shadowrun Returns review
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
While I can't wholly recommend Dark Arisen to anyone but the most hardcore of Dragon's Dogma fans, if you haven't touched the franchise yet, this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Despite the issues, the series is an intriguing prospect that does many things right, and shouldn't be missed by action or RPG fans alike. While Capcom could have done a whole lot more with this expansion, the fact of the matter is the solid game underneath is still faithfully preserved.
Read the full Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen review
Congrats to all the nominees! We'll be announcing the official winner on Monday, December 24.
Here's all the other nominee categories we've revealed so far:
In the mean time we want you to tell us which game was the best role-playing game of 2013.