The Road to E3 2011: RPGs in the House!

The Road to E3 2011: RPGs in the House!

As many of you know, my “specialty” around these parts is JRPGs. Typically speaking, E3 isn’t the place many of these announcements are made. That honor is given to Japan’s own Tokyo Game Show, which doesn’t usually happen until later in the year. However, there are a few hopefuls lurking in the shadows that we should keep an eye on next week. JRPGs aren’t the only kids on the block, though. We also have a smattering of MMOs and Western RPGs that are fighting to get noticed, as well. Let’s take a look at some of these and see if we can glue together some things we’d like to see at the big show.


Is Nintendo Snubbing Us Or…?
First off, let me just say that I’m ecstatic for European RPG fans, as they are getting Xenoblade Chronicles and are rumored to be receiving The Last Story, as well. That’s awesome! But, it makes me wonder what Nintendo has against North America that they seem to be snubbing us as far as these releases go.

But, of course, I’ll save my final judgment against Nintendo until after E3, because if they are smart, they will have an RPG-focused conference and announce the localization of Xenoblade, The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower all in one fell swoop. They can even brag about SMT: Devil Survivor Overclocked and Tales of the Abyss hitting their fancy new handheld this year. Why would that be smart on their end? Interest in the Wii is waning. I personally find the system about as interesting as watching corn grow or watching golf on ESPN.

I do, however, think they are more likely to not even bring these games up because they have bigger fish to fry by the name of “Project Café”. I can see them completely giving the finger to most 3rd party titles and Reggie getting on stage to spend an hour talking about the boring rehash first-party games they’re working on for their “next generation” home system.

We should all hope this doesn’t happen, but you know deep down as well as I do that this is the most likely scenario. Moving on…


Japan Hits the Ground Running, Even at E3
Like I mentioned, the most obvious yearly event to announce new Japanese RPGs is the Tokyo Game Show. However, there are quite a few that have already been announced that we will hopefully be seeing at E3.

Dropping by the SquareEnix booth will surely get you hands on with both their newly announced Heroes of Ruin for the 3DS, as well as Final Fantasy XIII-2, which they promised would be out this year. There is the possibility that Final Fantasy Type-0 will be playable, as well, considering how close to launch it is in Japan. They typically don’t have a conference of their own at E3, but if they came out and announced some awesome stuff like Kingdom Hearts III or a Final Fantasy Versus XIII release window at the Sony conference, it would be a huge crowd pleaser. Although, we pretty much can count on Kingdom Hearts not being a complete no-show, as they have the 3DS iteration to fill people’s eyes with.

Namco Bandai has two Tales titles to show off – both Tales of the Abyss for the 3DS and Tales of Graces F for the PS3. Granted, one probably won’t see release until next Spring, but still, there’s a lot to be excited about for Tales fans. Finally, Dark Souls is a shoe in for being at E3, possibly even playable.

Smaller localization studios are bringing some of their hard hitters to E3, as well. Atlus will most definitely have Catherine available and playable, as well as SMT: Devil Survivor Overclocked. NIS America, in addition to their huge Cave Story 3D push, will likely be showing off Disgaea 4 and possibly even some titles they announced last month at their event in San Francisco, like Atelier Totori and ClaDun x2.

D3 Publisher may have White Knight Chronicles II hiding somewhere, with this being the only region on the planet in which Sony decided not to publish the title. Will it make a showing at their conference? Probably not.

Finally, Natsume, an often overlooked publisher, is bringing both Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny and Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns to E3 in playable form. I was really hoping we might see something about Rune Factory: Oceans being localized, but there has been no word on that yet.


Western Developers Bring it on Big Time
Not to be outdone, Western RPG developers will probably have the biggest overall showing at E3, simply because of the hype surrounding their games. Bioware will probably show off something Mass Effect 3 related, most likely a new trailer of sorts, and possibly something playable or at least in “demo mode”. They’ll also have Star Wars: The Old Republic playable on the show floor with high level characters. I don’t expect a Dragon Age III announcement, but anything is possible.

We spoke of SquareEnix earlier, and their subsidiary, Eidos Montreal, will likely be showing off Deus Ex: Human Revolution at the publisher’s booth. Dungeon Siege III will probably be playable, as well, even though it will be released shortly thereafter.

I highly expect some sort of big news out of 38 Studios and EA about Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, one of our favorite titles from PAX East. I’d keep a close eye on this one if I were you, it has the possibility to hit hard against Mass Effect 3 next year.

The 10,000 pound gorilla in the room will likely be Bethesda, as they will most certainly have Skyrim on the show floor and possibly even some exciting announcements about the title.


The MMO Space
The “big three” MMOs to keep your eye on is Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2 and TERA. Both The Old Republic and TERA are already confirmed to be playable on the show floor. Unfortunately, I think The Old Republic is too WoW-like for its own good, so my attention will be focused solidly on TERA. Guild Wars 2 being at E3 and seeing some surprise announcements would be awesome, since I was a huge fan of it when I saw some gameplay footage of it and talked to NCSoft about it at PAX East.

There is the small chance Final Fantasy XIV for the PS3 will show up at E3, as well, or at least be briefly mentioned during the Sony conference. I wouldn’t hold my breath, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we do see it, as well.


What I’d Like to See But Probably Won’t
Kingdom Hearts 3 – If SquareEnix gets on stage at the Sony conference and announces Kingdom Hearts 3, that will be a wrap, folks. Sony will take the cake and I won’t pay attention to anything else all week.

Final Fantasy XIV for the PS3 – There is still something that intrigues me about this MMO, and it is honestly so much better now than at launch. I’d love for the PS3 to get in on this action, especially because I think it would be even more fun with friends, and I have a few friends who are eagerly awaiting its PS3 launch.

Tales of Xillia – A localization announcement for Tales of Xillia would be fantastic, although I’m a bit skeptical that it will be made at E3. Namco Bandai held their “Level Up” event in Dubai a few weeks back and you would think something would have been said there about it if it was going to come here anytime soon. Although, truth be told, I think it would be a huge boost to hype surrounding the entire franchise if the latest game in the series was announced for North America now, when there’s already a decent hype train building for the two already-announced Tales titles.

Valkyria Chronicles 3 – I have a gut-wrenching suspicion that Sega is not bringing VC3 to North America anytime soon. I haven’t heard the sales figures for VC2, but there has been zero word about anything Valkyria Chronicles related since VC2 came out last Summer. This makes me a sad panda.

Needless to say, for a gaming event that seems to be more of a Western powerhouse than anything, E3 sure does carry a lot of weight for my favorite side of the RPG genre, as well. Let’s hope for some surprise announcements and juicy details for many of the games I noted above. And, as always, stay right here on for all the E3 2011 coverage you’ll ever need starting next Monday with the big press conferences!