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The top tier of JRPGs when it comes to story/combat?

april6e

Member
I feel like its been ages since I've played a good JRPG. I feel like Nier Automata and Dragon Quest 11-S were the last truly great ones I've experienced and both of those were from 2017. It feels like JRPGs have been in a heavy drought for over the last decade. Can you guys share your non-spoiler opinions on what you believe the greatest JRPGs of all time are in terms of either story or combat?

I've currently been playing Trails FC and while the character building/world building is really good, the game isn't doing it for me. The combat is very basic and the entire game has been one long side mission simulator. I'm still waiting for the amazing story that people claim it has (maybe most of the plot twists are in SC?). I've been thinking about trying out Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenogears or Final Fantasy 13-3 next but FC's massive slow burn has again killed my interest in giving the genre a chance. Has anyone played these and can suggest which one has the most mind blowing story among them?
 
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Mister Wolf

Member


Easily my favorite game on the Switch and the best Xeno game since Xenogears.
 

Mister Wolf

Member
I feel like its been ages since I've played a good JRPG. I feel like Nier Automata and Dragon Quest 11-S were the last truly great ones I've experienced and both of those were from 2017. It feels like JRPGs have been in a heavy drought for over the last decade. Can you guys share your non-spoiler opinions on what you believe the greatest JRPGs of all time are in terms of either story or combat?

I've currently been playing Trails FC and while the character building/world building is really good, the game isn't doing it for me. The combat is very basic and the entire game has been one long side mission simulator. I'm still waiting for the amazing story that people claim it has (maybe most of the plot twists are in SC?). I've been thinking about trying out Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenogears or Final Fantasy 13-3 next but FC's massive slow burn has again killed my interest in giving the genre a chance. Has anyone played these and can suggest which one has the most mind blowing story among them?

Trails FC and SC are one big story. The "all is revealed" stuff happens in SC.
 
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STARSBarry

Gold Member


There are two types of people in our world, those who have played Ar Tonelico 2 and those who have not.

WARNING!

NIS America earned its reputation for terrible localisation efforts, Ar Tonelico 2 is sadly one of the worst. They purposely changed dialog to make it more "sexy" and full of dated memes, and marketed on that fact, they also introduced bugs when they deleted over half the Japanese voice lines to fit in the terrible Dub, as such if your playing please make sure you use.


They retranslated, restored and fixed the game to be what was released in Japan, so the teams original intent can shine through.

A fantastic turn based JRPG with unique rhythm based combat mechanics in a attack/defense phase system. The best music GUST has ever produced and a fun cast of characters which really grow on you. Some of the moments in this game just stay with me even now.

Oh did I mention that you can pick your own main heroine? So there's multiple ending. GUST really outdid themselves and I wish more people played it.


The game created its very own language with its own unique phonic structure and alphabet, its used heavily in the music (used as spells) in game, which is why cutting out so much of the Japanese voice lines is uttely criminal, it included some of the songs.



You can see the language and its translation and phonic style for one of the tracks here.
 
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bbeach123

Member
If Nier Automata count as a jrpg then Dragon dogma . 8/10 if you're playing as fighter/strider warrior . 10/10 Mage /assassin/mystic knight/magick archer .

Its been 10 years and nothing even come close to the fun I had with magick archer and Mystic knight .

Edit : Charge blade in MH was close .
 
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Kev Kev

Gold Member
FFVII remake takes items completely out of the battle system, so there is no using antidote, soft, echo screen, or anything like that in battle. The battle goes by too fast so it’s not practical to use them, and they even take them out of hard mode entirely. On top of that, you only get to use summons at certain times, which is a massive bummer! It becomes pretty button mashy at times too. It’s just too frantic and repetitive with not enough variety to call it the best. It comes off feeling like a third person action-fighting button masher rather than a strategic jrpg battle.

OG FFVII still remains the best imo. The materia system and how that effects battle, plus all of the options you can have for attacks and abilities by the end of the game is insane. Characters can have dozens of different ways to attack, defend and/or support, and the system can be manipulated to do insane cycles of damage. By the time you get to emerald weapon and you’ve figured out how to mime knights of the round, you feel like a fucking god!

Remake is fun but it’s child’s play compared to the OG.
 

Markio128

Gold Member
Persona 5 was pretty neat yeah.

I tried to love xenoblade 2 but i hate the combat and some other things in that game so much.
Same re X2 - I remember getting fairly far into the game, but the combat didn’t click - tbh, I didn’t think much of the story or characters either - not my bag unfortunately. Persona 5 is great though, really cool turn-based combat - the game is just a little too long in the tooth in my opinion.
 

Chukhopops

Member
Turn-based would be something from Atlus, either P5 or SMTV. One is more flashy and easy while the other has more depth and variety.

Real-time combat, most are pretty brain dead and poor outside of stuff like Nier, Nioh or Dark Souls. Stranger of Paradise is surprisingly good too.

Story wise is heavy subjective but I loved the first Xenoblade Chronicles, SMT4, Persona 4 Golden.
 
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Isa

Member
I'm gonna get some flak for this as its definitely debatable whether it qualifies as an rpg, but since I've seen it listed as such several times and I think it deserves some more love, especially in introducing certain visual novel aspects to the community I want to say 13 Sentinels Aegis Rim. Fantastic story and for me anyway, a really fun arcade style combat system that was quick and punchy, which felt great thematically as well. The art and sound design really round out a stellar package.

Some of my faves overall would be,
Shining Force 1/2/3
Dragon Quest franchise
FF IV-IX
Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story
Xenoblade Chronicles 1-2, haven't played X sadly, hopefully Nintendo gets on a Switch port
Phantasy Star 1,2 & 4
Shadow Hearts 1&2
Persona series
Yakuza franchise(Like a Dragon is muh fave tho)
Valkyrie Profile
SMT series and spinoffs

Honestly though I think it depends on what you want at the time and in general. Right now I'm going through smaller jrpgs to satiate that desire rather than longer games, I needed a break for the build up. Also, I've had a ton of fun with games that wouldn't be considered top tier but have plenty of heart and soul. I know most would poo-poo the stories since they aren't translated well or the usual fare but I don't always want a save the world schtick. Atelier, Nights of Azure, Tales Of, Valkyria Chronicles 1&4, tons of dungeon crawlers man the list goes on. I hope you manage to find something that does it for you.

Oh yeah! It had a low budget but Trials of Mana remake was among my favorite games of that year, I had such a good ol' fashioned time running through the story. Played it on PS4, might snag it on Switch to do it all again. I love the character art and the gameplay is just fun for me. Simple but fun combat and story.
 

Graciaus

Member
Tales of Graces f has the best non turn based combat system. I'd also vote for the Shadow Hearts series and Grandia 2/3 for more unconventional good stuff.

Don't play anything in the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy. If you play Xenogears do it on an emulator with a text speed hack you'll thank me later.
 

Faithless83

Banned
I'm gonna get some flak for this as its definitely debatable whether it qualifies as an rpg, but since I've seen it listed as such several times and I think it deserves some more love, especially in introducing certain visual novel aspects to the community I want to say 13 Sentinels Aegis Rim. Fantastic story and for me anyway, a really fun arcade style combat system that was quick and punchy, which felt great thematically as well. The art and sound design really round out a stellar package.

Some of my faves overall would be,
Shining Force 1/2/3
Dragon Quest franchise
FF IV-IX
Parasite Eve, Vagrant Story
Xenoblade Chronicles 1-2, haven't played X sadly, hopefully Nintendo gets on a Switch port
Phantasy Star 1,2 & 4
Shadow Hearts 1&2
Persona series
Yakuza franchise(Like a Dragon is muh fave tho)
Valkyrie Profile
SMT series and spinoffs

Honestly though I think it depends on what you want at the time and in general. Right now I'm going through smaller jrpgs to satiate that desire rather than longer games, I needed a break for the build up. Also, I've had a ton of fun with games that wouldn't be considered top tier but have plenty of heart and soul. I know most would poo-poo the stories since they aren't translated well or the usual fare but I don't always want a save the world schtick. Atelier, Nights of Azure, Tales Of, Valkyria Chronicles 1&4, tons of dungeon crawlers man the list goes on. I hope you manage to find something that does it for you.

Oh yeah! It had a low budget but Trials of Mana remake was among my favorite games of that year, I had such a good ol' fashioned time running through the story. Played it on PS4, might snag it on Switch to do it all again. I love the character art and the gameplay is just fun for me. Simple but fun combat and story.
Came for Phantasy Star and Valkyrie Profile.
VP combat is top notch and the story is quite unique.
 

Croga

Member
I've been thinking about trying out Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenogears or Final Fantasy 13-3 next but FC's massive slow burn has again killed my interest in giving the genre a chance. Has anyone played these and can suggest which one has the most mind blowing story among them?

Just a note on Trails games: They are a pretty slow burn when it comes to the story, it's a pretty big time investment across multiple games / series, so if you're not feeling it there's no shame in putting it down, plenty of good games out there.

Out of your other choices:

Xenoblade Chronicles: Great story, I loved it. One of my favorite stories in years. I originally bought a Wii just to play it. Combat doesn't have much depth, but it's fun.
On another note, the sequel has much improved combat, and some of the best standalone DLC in Torna that any JRPG has received IMO.

Xenogears: Classic stuff from the golden age of Squaresoft. It's aged a lot, but a solid story. The 2nd half of the game was rushed massively though, so the quality dips in the 2nd half for me, but I do love the game.

Final Fantasy 13-3: Not being funny, but I wouldn't associate the FF13 series in any way with a "mind blowing story". Maybe mind blowing in the sense you'd want to shoot yourself for playing it. Yeah I wasn't a fan lol
 
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cireza

Member
Final Fantasy 13-3
Best modern J-RPG, as far as I am concerned. Excellent combat, great setting. Must play.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is an awesome game as well with great combat and a good story with many characters.

Older games : Phantasy Star IV and Shining Force III.
 
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Gandih42

Member
Didn't see it mentioned yet - I think Octopath Traveler has some really fun old-school JRPG combat with a few good twists. And the difficulty is balanced fairly well, provided you don't grind and overlevel too much.

I wasn't blown away by the story, but it's not bad by any means. For anyone getting into it, I would definitely recommend doing the endgame content as it has major story significance as well.

I blew many hours on the toilet playing it on the Switch while also blowing out my ass.
 

TintoConCasera

Gold Member
For gameplay/combat, my favorites are Final Fantasy V and any Shin Megami Tensei game that uses the press-turn battle system. The later is specially good and engaging, and combined with the demon fusion mechanics they end up resulting in the most engaging JRPGs you could get.
Sadly, the story is a bit barebones in the mainline SMTs. They aren't bad by any means, but they are much more about the world than the characters, and that's somethign some people might not like. If you want something similar but with more character-focused stories, check out Digital Devil Saga.

Also the music in those games is just :messenger_ok:.



All of them have great OSTs, specially when it comes to battle themes.

Persona 5 might be the best entry point, as it has lots of story (some parts are better done than others tho) and a really engaging gameplay loop. Grandia games also have a great combat system.

For story I would go with Chrono Trigger, Dragon Quest V or, if you want to get depressed, Valkyrie Profile. Their gameplay is also cool ofc but not as great as the other games I mentioned early, imo.
 

Guilty_AI

Member
Crosscode probably. Story isn't the best ever in the genre but its still enjoyable, and combat/mechanics really shines mixing up JRPG elements with great real time combat, zelda-ish world design plus many great side-quests you'd find in an arpg.

Aside from that, if you liked Nier Automata, there's Nier Replicant remake they launched recently, though i haven't tried that yet. Theres also SMTV.
 

GymWolf

Gold Member
Same re X2 - I remember getting fairly far into the game, but the combat didn’t click - tbh, I didn’t think much of the story or characters either - not my bag unfortunately. Persona 5 is great though, really cool turn-based combat - the game is just a little too long in the tooth in my opinion.
Are you me?
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
SMT or Persona games reliably have interesting stories and excellent turn based combat.

Tales games are great for combat, but not always great for story. Stronger entries are Symphonia, Eternia, and Vesperia.
 

Fbh

Member
Do the Yakuza games count?
It's not traditional fantasy but you basically go around completing main and sidequests, fighting and gaining XP which you can use to unlock new skills, you can buy and equip gear, etc. I think if Nier automata counts as a JRPG so does Yakuza and they are definitely some of my favorites because of their story and game balance. The combat is fun if a bit simple and the stories and characters are great

More recently I also loved Triangle Strategy.
It's slow paced and very story heavy but has one of my favorite JRPG stories in recent years. The story felt a bit more mature and grounded than what we usually get from JRPG's, and it was nice playing something that isn't full of anime tropes for a change. The game has a really interesting decision making mechanics and some really though decisions that just made me put down the game for a bit to think about what to do.
The gameplay is really fun too and offers a surprising amount of challenge even on medium.
 

BadBurger

Gold Member
When it comes to gameplay and mechanics design, Dragon Quest XI was the best JRPG I have personally played in the past decade. However, the art design and story aren't exactly my favorite. For the outlandish and emotional story, and great art and presentation, I really liked FF XV - but the gameplay got a little button-mashy at times and I didn't find their magic system terribly compelling. Persona 5 exists someplace between the aforementioned two titles for me.
 
I feel like I need to try 13 Sentinels, there seems to be healthy praise for that one.
Story, yes. Albeit it tries to do a lot by the end of the game that it ends up being overbearing.

Combat, ehhhhh. The RTS system is undercooked and Easy/Normal are no challenge at all; a player can just tear through battles picking any moves you want.

Per OP:
FFVII
FFVII Remake
FFX
Legend of Legaia
P4G
P5R
FFT

I also nominate FFIX, but its battle system is a bit more straightforward. It's good, sometimes great, but there are better, admittedly.
 

Xeaker

Member
There hasn't been any good RPG in the last 5 years.
If you have not yet done I would play all those RPGs from SNES to PS2 generation. A lot of good stuff there.
I am playing Romancing Saga 2 right now for the first time, it's fun a lot of adventuring.
 

PhaseJump

Gold Member
CrossCode is the best thing the genre has seen in years, and it's not even Japanese.

I would throw a bit of hype at playing Xenoblade Chronicles, Dragon Quest VIII, Tales of Vesperia, Grandia 1 and 2
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
I wasn't blown away by the story, but it's not bad by any means. For anyone getting into it, I would definitely recommend doing the endgame content as it has major story significance as well.
The endgame content amounts to and endless grind to get a chance to survive the ridiculous final gauntlet, all for the most disappointing final scene and text that was ever seen in a JRPG since the early 16-bit era. I loved Octopath Traveler like a lost child come back home, but after hours of trying the endgame boss I watched the final scene on YT and… really? Really?

Xenoblade 2 is the most fun I’ve had with a combat system in recent years, even if I never grasped it fully. When it clicks and it starts just flowing, it’s fantastic.
 

Gandih42

Member
The endgame content amounts to and endless grind to get a chance to survive the ridiculous final gauntlet, all for the most disappointing final scene and text that was ever seen in a JRPG since the early 16-bit era. I loved Octopath Traveler like a lost child come back home, but after hours of trying the endgame boss I watched the final scene on YT and… really? Really?

Xenoblade 2 is the most fun I’ve had with a combat system in recent years, even if I never grasped it fully. When it clicks and it starts just flowing, it’s fantastic.

I personally didn't end up grinding much before the final gauntlet but I can easily imagine having that experience. I think I succeeded on my second attempt so I didn't come away frustrated and enjoyed the way it tied things up. If it is really frustrating getting there, it's definitely not worth the payoff though.

Having finished the Xenoblade Chronicles 1 epilogue recently, I'm super pumped about playing the second one. Glad to hear the combat is fun!
 
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