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Best Games of 2019 and A Look Ahead to 2020
posted on: Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year!

Wow, 2019 is already at an end, I can hardly believe it! That means it is time for our annual recap post. Grab a drink, get comfortable, and let's take a look back at 2019 in gaming and guess what might be coming in 2020.

F5 Games News from 2019

Before we start talking about other people's games from 2019 let's talk about our own! F5 Games released its first game in nearly 4 years just this month. Our latest game, Blackjack Masters, entered soft-launch on iOS and Amazon Kindle a couple weeks ago and so far things are looking good. In Blackjack Masters you can practice your blackjack skills with the help from Basic Strategy and Hi-Low Card Count helpers that teach you how to play each hand correctly. Before you know it you'll be increasing your bank roll and going on a Blackjack World Tour, playing in different casinos with more decks and higher betting limits!

The current version of Blackjack Masters is just the beginning though. We're currently working on daily missions, leaderboards, customization, and even weekly tournaments so there will always be something fun to do in the game. If you have an iPhone or Kindle Fire please download Blackjack Masters and let us know what you think!


Best of 2019

This has been an interesting year for gaming. While Playstation and Xbox are gearing up for their next-gen fight the Switch has continued to turn out hits and gain market share. We also saw the release of Apple Arcade bring back 'premium' games to mobile in a way that has been really refreshing. As a game developer I'm very interested to see where Apple Arcade goes from here. Will people continue to pay for the subscription month after month? Will Apple continue to work with developers to bring new games to the platform? These are all questions that will take time to answer but so far I think the answers are encouraging.

Alright, that's enough waxing poetic; let's get to the awards.

Best Mobile Game of 2019 - Grindstone

We saw some really huge mobile releases in 2019. Nintendo kicked it off with the release of Dr. Mario World and then kicked it into another gear with the release of Mario Kart World Tour which set records for most downloads in a week and month. Then those records were eclipsed just a couple weeks later by the release of Call of Duty Mobile which went on to record over 100 Million downloads in no time at all.

However, for my money, the best mobile game of 2019 was Grindstone. This Apple Arcade puzzle game is such a joy to play that I have continued to grind my way through its levels since release. It combines the traditional saga-style level progression with light RPG mechanics and a puzzle/combat system that is very inventive and a blast to play.

If you haven't given Grindstone a try yet I highly recommend it.

Most Inventive Game of 2019 - Creature in the Well

Creature in the Well is an indie delight that really stood out for me in 2019. As soon as I heard it was a mashup of Pinball and Dungeon Crawling I was interested, once I got a look at the awesome art style I was onboard, and once I started playing through the puzzle-combat rooms, I was hooked.

There are a couple rough edges. This is definitely an indie project made by a small team and not everything is polished to the same degree that you may get from a first-party Nintendo title. Honestly though, the little imperfections make this game even more endearing in my opinion.

Playing Creature in the Well feels like a breath of fresh air because it is just so different from most things on the market. There are basically no enemies, or I guess just one enemy, the titular Creature. As you work your way through the game world, restoring power and righting wrongs that had been lost to time, the game slowly builds up the tension between you and the Creature. At every encounter you know that you're building toward an incredible final confrontation. But, if you're like me, you'll also be sad to see it end.

Creature in the Well, highly recommended

Best Long Running Game About Space Ninjas - Warframe

I'm extremely late to the Warframe party, but as the game was released for the Switch this year I'm going to slide it in here on a technicality. After watching the NoClip documentary about Warframe and how it was developed I became very interested in trying it out for myself. Once I heard it was released for the Switch I decided to give it a try, and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Warframe can be pretty inscrutable at times, everything has a weird name and almost nothing about the story makes sense early on. But its kinetic combat, huge game world, and co-op multiplayer make it a really interesting place to spend some time. It also looks incredible on the Switch, to the point that you almost can't believe it is running in the palm of the hands. If you haven't tried it yet I definitely suggest giving it a try. Because, as always, Ninjas play for free.

Best Multiplayer Game - Tetris 99

I love Nintendo Directs. You just never know what is going to be announced, it could be a new Zelda game, some new indie fever dream, or a 99 player battle-royale Tetris game! Tetris 99 came out of nowhere as an add-in for Nintendo's online subscription service and it quickly became one of my most played games of the year. In a year full of Battle Royale game modes Tetris 99 was the perfect combination of fast puzzle gameplay with the building tension and excitement of fighting your way to be the last Tetrimino standing.

The beauty of Tetris as a game is undeniable. To go from the solitary and almost meditative Tetris Effect in 2018 to the frantic and combat focused Tetris 99 in 2019 just shows how timeless and malleable the Tetris framework really is. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Game of the Year - Luigi's Mansion 3

Luigi's Mansion 3 is a joy to play. It is amazing to see in motion. It is the best co-op gaming experience of the year. It has the best boss design, best level design, and most satisfying moment to moment gameplay of any game I've played this year. It is the quintessential Nintendo game, polished to a shine that almost no other developer can equal. If you own a Switch then you absolutely need to own a copy of Luigi's Mansion.

Luigi's Mansion is so great that my two oldest children played through it together in co-op, my wife and I are currently doing the same, and our youngest daughter asks if she can 'watch Booigi's Mansion' because to her it's like a cartoon about Luigi's ghost busting adventure. It's just incredible and it is definitely my Game of the Year.

Notable Mentions

I recently picked up God of War through PS Now and have really enjoyed its early levels. I also received Days Gone for Christmas and have started playing it when I can find the time. So far it feels like 'Daryl Dixon - The Video Game' and I'm totally okay with that.

I have heard so many great things about Remedy Entertainment's Control that I had to pick it up at Christmas as well. I haven't had a chance to dive in to it yet but when I do I'll do a post to let you know my thoughts. May people have been naming Control as their game of the year so I'm excited to dive in and see what they enjoyed in it.

Looking Ahead to an Incredible 2020

2020 is going to be a very exciting year for gaming. By the time I do this post again we will likely have seen the release of the PS5, Next Xbox, and possibly a more powerful Switch model. We will also get to see all the new launch titles for these systems which is usually interesting because publishers are more willing to take changes when a new generation starts. Hopefully we'll see some interesting new titles announced in the next couple months.

There are also a ton of games that have been pushed into the first half of 2020. I'm especially looking forward to Doom Eternal and Cyberpunk: 2077, both of which look incredible and will likely look and play even better on the PS5 with its rumored backwards compatibility. I'm still waiting on more info for Bayonetta 3 and Metroid Prime 4 but those are likely the games Nintendo plans to use to combat the next-gen systems next holiday season. I'm planning to do a post in the next few weeks that takes a look at what Nintendo could do in the next year as it has to face off against two new system that will greatly outclass it in power. I think this could be one of the most interesting questions of 2020.

F5 Plans for 2020

Here at F5 will are really excited about 2020 and what it will bring. Early in the year we will be updating and fully launching our latest game, Blackjack Masters. After that we have several other card and puzzle style games planned for release in 2020. We're hoping to launch 2 or 3 new games next year so stay tuned here and to our Twitter account for more info in the coming months.

I hope you had a great 2019 and an even better 2020 is on the way for you. Thanks for reading!

Blackjack Masters
Mario Kart Tour and Nintendo's Mobile Strategy
posted on: Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Mario Kart Tour has garnered a lot of discussion in the games media since its launch last month. There have been articles chronicling its record breaking downloads of over 20 Million on the first day and over 90 Million Downloads in the first week. But, almost as soon as it was released, there were also articles slamming the game for aggressive monetization, poor controls, and a lack of meaningful gameplay. While I think there is some validity to these criticisms I also think that the highly negative reaction of the game press and 'hardcore' gamers may have created an echo chamber that caused many people to simply write the game off as a flop and move on to the next story of the day. In this is post I would like to take a step back to understand how Nintendo's mobile strategy has changed, and what we can see about that change in Mario Kart. We will also take a look at how the game has done with players since launch.

Industry View on Mario Kart Tour

In the article linked above Sensor Tower states that while Mario Kart Tour is the most downloaded Nintendo game its first week it is only third in revenue, coming in at an estimated $12.7 Million. This gives Mario Kart a revenue per user number of only about $0.14, which is low for this style of game, and is why many people in the mobile industry are writing it off. I think it is highly likely that a large number of players downloaded Mario Kart based on brand recognition alone and then bounced off the game either due to the required Nintendo ID or by the floaty controls. I'm not making excuses for Nintendo, these are both issues that they should have done better with but I think they are likely to give us a muddled picture of just how many players this game currently has.

Another issue that many people have voiced concern over is the inclusion of the Gold Pass in Mario Kart Tour. The Gold Pass is a $4.99 per month subscription that works like a Battle Pass and offers additional rewards to players for playing the game while also opening up the 200cc race mode for the fastest cart action. There have been many articles lambasting the Gold Pass, like this one from Polygon: Mario Kart Tour's $4.99 monthly subscription fee is out of touch with reality. I think the timing aspect of this subscription coming out just weeks after Apple Arcade, and at the same price point, has a lot to do with the negative coverage. Many people feel that the value of Apple Arcade is much better than simply unlocking rewards in Mario Kart, and while that may be the case for them it isn't necessarily how fans of Mario Kart see it.

What I find interesting about this comparison between Apple Arcade and Mario Kart Tour is that while Apple is currently seen as trying to 'save' mobile gaming from free-to-play monetization it was just a few years ago that Nintendo was being lauded for trying the very same thing! Super Mario Run was billed as a push back against all the F2P games that constantly asked players for more and more money. Nintendo was going to change mobile gaming by focusing on quality and allowing players to try the game before asking them for a one-time unlock purchase that would let them play forever. What Nintendo quickly learned was that most mobile game players hated this approach and very few people bought the unlock. While the game press was lauding Nintendo for fighting back against aggressive monetization the market slammed Nintendo with poor reviews and revenues. All of Nintendo's mobile releases since that point have done more and more to try and find the sweet spot between what players on mobile actually want, and how Nintendo feels comfortable monetizing their players. Mario Kart Tour is just another step on that journey.

Stepping Outside the Bubble

With all of the negativity and disappointment that the press and industry insiders have leveled at Mario Kart Tour you might expect that it has been a massive flop. However, if you take a look at the available data you'll find a very different picture emerging. At the time of this writing Mario Kart Tour has a 5 star average rating on the App Store with over 750,000 reviews! It has also continued to chart as a top 10 game for downloads and top 20 in grossing since launch on iPhone. When you actually look at the response from players, and not members of the games industry, you'll find that Mario Kart Tour has been very well received. People are playing the game, reviewing the game well, and they have made the Gold Pass the top In-App Purchase!

Nintendo has also already updated the game with two new 'seasons' that change out the race tracks and available rewards for players, and this has had a very positive effect on its monetization. After dropping down to a low of 16 in the grossing ranks Mario Kart Tour quickly jumped back up into the top 5 after the release of the Tokyo season. If they can continue the planned two-week season schedule I think that their monetization numbers will continue to spike with each new update. Also if the Gold Pass subscription continues to be the most popular In-App Purchase that will mean that there is a high level of repeatability to the revenues for Mario Kart Tour every month. This is the first time that Nintendo has sold a subscription in any of their mobile games so it will be interesting to see if players stick with it.

Again, this isn't to say that the game doesn't have problems. And I think it's fair to discuss the problems and odd choices that Nintendo and DeNA made in the development of this game. But it is also useful to take a step back and see how mobile players are actually interacting with a game before we assume that it will be a failure. Earlier today Sensor Tower released an article stating that Mario Kart Tour has earned nearly 124 Million Downloads and $37.5 Million in revenue through its first month! This means that Mario Kart Tour has been Nintendo's most successful release in terms of downloads and the 2nd most successful release from a revenue perspective. With continual updates, and the expected multiplayer modes that are surely coming, I expect Mario Kart Tour will be one of Nintendo's most successful mobile games yet.

What Does This Mean?

What I take from all of this is that while members of the gaming press and so-called 'traditional' gamers may not like the design decisions that Nintendo has made with Mario Kart, they actually aren't the target audience for the game. I've seen many people cry that for the price of one In-App Purchase in Mario Kart Tour a person could buy a 'real' Mario Kart game on the Switch and play forever. What they don't realize is that most of the people playing Mario Kart Tour have zero intention or desire to purchase a home gaming console. By adapting to the desires and expectations of the mobile market Nintendo is showing that they can provide products for two different breeds of gamers, and hopefully give them all something they want to play.

I'm definitely interested to see where this goes. Will Nintendo continue down this road with their other franchises? What would a F2P Mario game really look like? What about Zelda? Would it be better for Nintendo to leverage their lesser known IPs on Mobile so they don't alienate 'core' players, or are they such a small part of the overall player base that it doesn't matter? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Don't Write Off Apple Arcade, and Don't Miss These Great Games
posted on: Monday, September 23, 2019

Apple Arcade made its debut this week with more than 70 games launching on the service; and wow, what a lineup! I have heard many people in the mobile game industry, especially Free to Play developers, write off Apple Arcade over the last couple months but I don't think any of them could argue with the quality of the games that Apple has launched with. There are games for everyone in this first batch of releases, so many in fact that I'm afraid several great games will fall between the cracks.

To try and help you find some of these quality titles I've put together a little list of the games I've enjoyed the most over the first few days. I obviously haven't tried all the games on the service yet but so far these are my favorites.

Best iPhone Game on Apple Arcade - Grindstone

Grindstone is a new game by Capybara Games that they describe as a 'puzzle-battle splatter-fest', and I couldn't come up with a better one-liner than that! Grindstone is an awesome melding of line-drawing puzzle games like Jelly Splash with Dungeon Crawling and lite RPG mechanics. It also has an incredible presentation with great sound and stunning hand-drawn graphics.

In the game you slide your character around the puzzle grid by connecting 'creeps' of the same color into the longest chain you can create. Once you have planned out your move, a quick tap on the 'Go!' button will send your character swinging and swirling his way through the enemies in a haze of cartoon blood and guts that is always satisfying. Each level also adds a new enemy, hazard, or item mechanic that keeps the gameplay interesting and ramps up the challenge.

If you're at all a fan of puzzle RPGs then you should definitely give Grindstone a try.

Best iPad Game on Apple Arcade - Mini Motorways

While all the games on Apple Arcade will work on your iPad there are certain games that just cry out for that extra screen real estate. So far, I haven't played any Apple Arcade game that is better suited to the iPad than Mini Motorways.

Mini Motorways starts as a relaxing game where you are simply drawing roads to connect commuters' homes with their offices. However, connecting each new house or office to your grid of roadways ramps up the complexity and difficulty of the game to the point that you will be sweating by the time your city grinds to a halt in gridlock.

While the premise of Mini Motorways is fairly basic it continues to draw me back in. In some ways it reminds me of Tetris, in that it takes a straight-forward and simple idea and then amps up the pressure until you don't see how you could keep playing. However, just like Tetris, you'll be drawn back to the game and find that with each city you plan your roadways will fair just a little better, and get you just a little higher on the per-level leaderboards.

If you enjoy puzzles, Simcity, or just watching tiny cards drive around like ants, then Mini Motorways may be for you.

Best AppleTV Game on Apple Arcade - Exit the Gungeon

You could also say this is the 'Game in most need of a traditional controller.' Enter the Gungeon is one of my favorite games from the last couple years. It is an awesome rogue-like experience of bullet-hell dungeon exploration that keeps me coming back for more. Exit the Gungeon, which surprise launched on Apple Arcade this week, keeps all of the charm and awesome gameplay of the original but places it in a side scrolling style that mimics an escape sequence from an outrageous action movie.

So far, I'm loving this game. But only when playing with a controller. While the developers have added a touch based control scheme it really doesn't work for me, and it takes away from the precision that a game like this requires. Playing on the Apple TV or an iPad with a bluetooth controller is definitely the best way to enjoy this gem.

What Apple Arcade Could Do For Mobile Gaming

If you can't tell from this post, I've really excited about the prospects of Apple Arcade; both as a player and a game developer. The gamer in me is excited by the prospect of a constant flow of new and high quality games that don't need to monetize through advertisements and in-app purchases. As a developer, I'm very excited by the idea of being able to bring some of the game ideas we have had on the back burner to the service. If Apple is able to bring in an audience to the service, and keep them subscribed, it could really change the type of game, and the type of developer, that can succeed on mobile.

There are definitely still a lot of questions to ask. Will players stick around after the first, free, month ends? Will there be enough players on the service for it to make economic sense for developers to release their games on Arcade? Will Apple be able to continually deliver high quality releases every week to keep players engaged? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out! For the first time in quite awhile the mobile gaming space feels exciting again, and I'm really happy to be a part of it.

Thanks for reading! We'll be back next week with another update.

Sounds like a 'PAYDAY: Crime War' Beta is Coming Soon
posted on: Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Venturebeat is reporting that the upcoming mobile version of the PAYDAY franchise will have a open beta release in the next few weeks.

In PAYDAY: Crime War players will face off in 4v4 matches with teams taking the roles of thieves and the police squad ordered to stop them. Based on the trailer below it seems to include the same kind of heist gameplay as other games in the franchise, but now on your phone!

I'm very interested to see how well this game plays, and how it is received by the mobile gaming community. Not only is it a first person shooter, which is difficult to pull off on mobile, but it will be a strictly PvP and F2P affair. While Fortnite has shown a path to success in this market it's not clear how much room there is for other entrants.

As someone who has always been interested in PAYDAY but has never taken the plunge on PC or console I'm definitely excited to give it a try. I'll let you know my thoughts after I get my hands on the beta.

Best Games of 2018 and What's Coming In 2019
posted on: Friday, January 11, 2019

Happy New Year!

It is that time again. Time to take a look back at what interested us in 2018 and to look forward to what is on the horizon in 2019. Grab a warm drink and settle in for my annual recap post.

My gaming habits in 2018 continued to change from previous years. I think it's fair to say that I likely spent less time gaming in 2018 than I have in any year of recent memory. While I think this is mainly due to time constraints I also think that the experience I'm looking for from games is changing and that has been interesting to reflect on.

I recently tweeted an article from Ars Technica that evaluated why gamers start to drift away from their hobby as they get older. I thought the article did a great job of recounting an experience similar to my own and then diving into research as to why that may happen. If you're interested in gaming habits, or in the types of games that people gravitate toward as they age, it is worth a read.

What I have found over the last year is that I am spending much less time playing large single-player focused games and much more time in local co-op or multiplayer games. Gaming for me is transitioning from a solitary experience to a shared activity with friends and family. Most of my gaming time is now spent with my kids and my picks for the best games of 2018 will reflect that.

While I may not have played a ton of games this year here are some of the ones I enjoyed the most in 2018.

Best of 2018

Mobile Games I enjoyed - None

Such is the state of mobile gaming that I literally did not spent any significant amount of time with any game this year. I feel that the industry trend toward free to play mechanics has made most mobile games all feel the same, or feel pointless. Hopefully F5 Games can help to address this in a small way in 2019.

Best Hardcore Games I Played in 2018 - Bloodborne and Dark Souls: Remastered

After hearing so many great things about the Souls games, specifically Bloodborne, I decided to pick it up on sale in February. While it took a while for me to get used to the difficulty of Bloodborne I completely feel in love with the gameplay and dark horror setting. The world of Bloodborne sunk its talons into me and made me spend many a night fighting horrible creatures in our dark living room.

Once Dark Souls: Remastered was released for the Switch I dove into it as well and really appreciated the ability to play in handheld mode whenever I could find a spare moment. I'm currently stuck in Blightown but I expect I'll be playing both Dark Souls and Bloodborne well into the new year.

Best Co-op Gaming Experience - Fortnite

Fortnite was the gaming phenomena of 2018 so I'm sure you already either love it or hate it. And while I'm not one to sit down and play Fortnite on my own, it has been a blast to play with my son. Thanks to the Switch he can play in handheld mode while I play on the PS4 and we can run around together helping him complete challenges. It may not be for everyone, but it has been a great gaming experience for our family this year.

Best Downloadable Game - Bloodstained : Curse of the Moon

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was a very welcome surprise for me this year. I haven't followed the Bloodstained Kickstarter all that closely but when they announced they were releasing an NES style Castlevania throwback game I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Thankfully it delivered a great gaming experience that only gets better the more you play. While the initial game may seem short there is plenty to unlock with additional play-throughs and I've enjoyed trying to find all the secrets it has in store.

If you played any of the old Castlevania games on the NES you should definitely give Curse of the Moon a try.

Game of the Year - Puyo Puyo Tetris

While it may seem to be a strange choice for 'Game of the Year' Puyo Puyo Tetris was, by far, the game I played the most in 2018. There were many nights that my friends and I stayed up until 2:00 or 3:00 AM playing, 'just one more' round of Swap Mode to see who would come out on top. The combination of Tetris and Puyo Puyo in a 4-player single screen game is just fantastic. It's one of the best examples of a 'fighting puzzle game' I've ever seen and I know it will continue to be played throughout 2019.

Notable Mentions

My son received Super Smash Bros Ultimate for Christmas and we have had a blast playing it together. Other fun games I played this year include Celeste, Hollow Knight, and Towerfall. This year has really been dominated by the Switch in our home.

Looking Ahead to an Exciting 2019

While the Switch has been the gaming system of choice in 2018 there are a few upcoming games on other systems that I'm excited to try. Metro: Exodus, Days Gone, and Rage 2 are all games I'm excited to pick up for the PS4 this spring. I'm also hopeful that we may see Doom Eternal before the end of the year, but I'm not going to hold my breath on that one. There are also likely to be some great Switch releases this year with Bayonetta 3 and Metroid Prime 4 topping my wishlist.

We do have some game development plans in motion at F5 that I'll share more information on as the year progresses. This year we are learning some new technologies so that we can launch our games on more platforms and explore new styles of games. We're also currently working on an update to our website that I'm excited to roll out. Stay tuned to our blog and Twitter account for updates throughout 2019.

I hope you had a great 2018 and an even better 2019 is waiting for you. Thanks for reading!

Top 5 Best Nintendo Switch RPG Games in 2018
posted on: Wednesday, June 13, 2018

If you're like us then you absolutely love playing games on the Nintendo Switch. We have been playing the Switch since its release and because of that we are always on the lookout for great new games to play. To help others find games that they may not have played yet, we've put together this list of the Best RPG Games on the Switch. We have a collection of Western RPGs as well as more traditional Japanese RPGs (JRPGs), and we even have a couple games that you may not immediately think of as 'role playing' but we'll do our best to explain our choices.

Take a look and let us know if you think we missed something.

Switch RPG Games Coming Later this Year

Before we dive into our list of the Top 5 Best Switch RPGs currently available we thought we would highlight a couple Switch games that will probably earn a spot on this list in the coming months. If you don't have these games on your radar, or your pre-order list, pick them up now so you can be there on release day.

Dark Souls Remastered

Dark Souls Remastered

Just mentioning the name Dark Souls can stir up emotions. For those who have played it and been driven away by its sharp difficulty curve and lack of hand-holding just thinking about it can boil over their temper. But for those who have unlocked its secrets, mentioning Dark Souls will bring back thoughts of victories achieved and challenges overcome like almost no other game in history.

In Dark Souls you can build your character however you'd like, as a strength based heavy weapon master, a lithe archer, or a magic slinging wizard. Exploring this wide open and interconnected world will make your head spin, and leave you holding your breath as you try to reach the next bonfire and create a checkpoint with your health running low. Secret items, secret pathways, and even secret worlds await the adventures who explore every nook and cranny or who can decipher the clues strew around the ruined landscape. It may not be for everyone but, if it sounds like something you'd like, Dark Souls will probably sink its claws in you and not let go.

The upcoming Dark Souls Remastered for Switch looks to be an incredible version of this classic action RPG. With enhanced graphics and a stable frame rate in both docked and portable modes you might find it hard to pull yourself away from this one. While it was originally slated to release in May it looks like the developers are now shooting for a late summer release, so we shouldn't have to wait too long before we get to die again and again.

Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveller

Octopath Traveler is a highly anticipated Switch RPG that is scheduled to release in July 2018. Described as a '2D-HD' game it has a very distinct visual style that blends together high quality pixel art with interesting scaling and 3D effects. The game itself centers around eight distinct characters, each with their own job, skills, and personality. By switching between these characters you will be able to approach the quests in the game in different ways, which should give the game massive replayability.

Combat in Octopath Traveler is based on the classic Final Fantasy - 'Active Time Battle System' but with some interesting additions from the recent Bravely Default games. These new abilities allow you to 'Break' an enemy's defense by using the correct weapon or magic against them. Once an enemy's defense is broken you can stun them to deal extra damage until they can recover. You also have the option of saving up attacks throughout turns and then spending them all at once to add power to skill attacks or score numerous hits on an enemy at precisely the right moment.

Needless to say, pretty much every Switch RPG fan is looking forward to Octopath, so if you haven't pre-ordered it yet now is the time. Octopath Traveler is set to release on July 13th and there is a demo available on the Nintendo eShop if you'd like to try it out before that.

Alright now that we have the challengers listed, it's time for the main event. Here is our list of the Top 5 Switch RPGs available in 2018!

5 - Lost Sphear

Lost Sphear

I know that some people get apprehensive when a game is described as retro, but that shouldn’t worry you here. While the style and feel of the game is a deliberate 90s throwback to games like Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, the developers of Lost Sphear have also learned a lot from the last 20 years of evolution in game development.

The story of Lost Sphear centers around the player restoring 'lost' sections of the game world through the recovery of memories. This is not only an interesting mechanic to expand the game world but it is also accompanied by a cool visual effect that fades in parts of the world as your progress. Once you recover an area that was previously missing you can then enter it and interact with NPCs, raid dungeons, or explore new towns.

The visual style of Lost Sphear is also very striking. It combines the classic pixel art RPGs from the SNES era, such as Final Fantasy IV and VI, with the low-poly 3D style of Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Cross. This style is also enhanced with full HD resolutions and all the latest graphical effects, and it looks great running on the Switch in both TV and handheld mode.

Lost Sphear Gameplay

Another area where Lost Sphear compares with classics like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy is through the use of a similar ‘Active Time Battle’ system. This system is augmented with the ability to unlock special attacks and to gain better control over the battlefield based on your player's positioning. As you progress through the game, you also unlock combo moves that allow you to incorporate multiple character's abilities simultaneously for joint attacks that deliver big damage and awesome visuals.

One of the ways that Lost Sphear evolves from its classic roots is by banishing the random enemy encounter that could often feel punishing in older games. There is also no combat on the over-world map so you can freely make it from one region of the world to another without being constantly stopped.

Lost Sphear is a great game that expertly captures the feeling of the RPGs of my youth. If you have fond memories of the SNES era then you should let this game recover your memories and give it a try.

4 - Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Okay, hang with me for a second. I know that Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle probably isn't what you immediately think of when you hear the term RPG, but I'm going to try and convince you otherwise. M+R (as Mario + Rabbids will now be known) has a party of characters, who progress through multiple worlds and battle foes in highly tactical and strategic battles. It also has player progression through leveling up and a skill tree for selecting different attacks and abilities. Those all sound like RPG elements to me!

Besides this game is such a great mashup of styles, game types, and universes that it deserves to be enjoyed by as many players as possible.

In case you aren't familiar with the game, M+R is a tactical 'RPG' where you build a party of characters from both the Mario and Rabbids universes in an attempt to save the Mushroom Kingdom. You'll progress through multiple worlds that are all beautifully rendered and presented. In fact, the visuals on this game are outstanding. It's almost as if Pixar got ahold of the Mario assets and started working on an awesome new movie but then the Rabbids showed up and everything got tossed out the window.

Mario + Rabbids Strategic Gameplay

While the exploration and zany story in M+R are all great it is the combat encounters that really stand out. While at first the tactical combat may seem like a poor-man's XCOM you will quickly be introduced to a deep tactical game that will keep you on your toes. Between multiple weapons, character specific abilities, and varied enemies there is almost always something new to take in to account in each battle.

On top of everything else you can also utilize the position of your party to great advantage. Your characters can take cover behind obstacles, some of which are destructible, and they can then be used as a vault point for other characters so they can reach previously inaccessible locations. This lends gravity to every move of each turn in a way that really satisfies.

I could go on and on heaping praise on Mario + Rabbids but if you haven't taken this wild trip yet then you really just need to give it a try for yourself.

3 - Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

If I didn't convince you that Mario + Rabbids belongs on a list of RPGs, and you like your RPGs a little more on the 'traditional' side, then this next entry is for you. It doesn't get more hardcore JRPG than Xenoblade Chronicles 2! This epic game can easily clock in at over 100 hours of game time in a sprawling open world that will see you soaring through the skies and exploring the backs of massive titans.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes the classic JRPG story and combat styles, and places them in a huge open-world environment that is constantly pulling you to explore and encounter new characters, enemies, and quests. One unique aspect of this series are the Blades, which are living weapons that make up your arsenal as well as drive the story forward. Blades come in different types, some that absorb damage, others that focus on dealing damage, and some that heal. There are also rare blades that can open up new skills, quests, and locations in the game world.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Gameplay

Battles in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 feel different from many other RPGs of this type. Instead of being a strictly turn-based affair there are multiple elements of timing to your attacks and abilities that almost inject a combat rhythm to each battle. In addition to this you will need to adjust your tactics depending on each enemy you face as well as consider the positioning of your characters and their blades. While it can be a lot to grasp at times it creates a very deep and rewarding battle system.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 also has a well told and engrossing story, littered with lengthy cutscenes, that will take you on a roller-coaster of twists, turns, and emotions. If you're a fan of the drama found in traditional Japanese RPGs then you're in the right place. In addition to all of the incredible gameplay that comes in the main game there will soon be a large expansion for the game that will open up the world even further. You can check out this recent E3 trailer for more details on the expansion.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a fantastic example of taking the traditional elements of a classic JRPG and infusing it with the great advances that have been made in open-world game design over the last several years. If you're looking to really get lost in a grand story and fantastic battles then don't miss this one.

2 - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I assume that if you are interested in a list of RPGs then you have probably played Skyrim, if not feel free to just skip down to the purchase button and get ready for the ride of your life. Skyrim is one of the greatest, and most well known, RPGs in gaming and it earns every one of the accolades it has received. From its grand open world, both above and below ground, to its hundreds of characters there is perhaps no better game to allow you to actually Role Play than Skyrim.

Very few, if any, games offer you the freedom that Skyrim provides. The ability to make your own choices, and have those choices impact you and the world is very engrossing. The world of Skyrim is also one of the best to ever be rendered for the screen. And with its focus on allowing you to visit every location you can see there are thousands of incredible vistas for you to discover during your adventures.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Gameplay

So what makes the Switch version of Skyrim different from all the others? First, and most obviously, you can play it on the go! Not only does the Switch make Skyrim portable but it also allows you to pick up and play the game in a way that has never really been possible before. The Switch version also includes all the DLC that was ever released, making an already huge game even more massive. In addition to that you get Switch specific motion controls and special gear drops by tapping your Amiibo during game play. If you have a Link Amiibo you even get a chance to acquire Link's outfit from Breath of the Wild, the Hylian Shield, and the Master Sword!

Whether you missed out on playing Skyrim at its original release or you want to take another stroll through Tamriel to experience all these great new features; the Switch version is definitely the way to play.

1 -The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is, in my opinion, the best game ever made. So not only would it appear at the top of my list of the Best Switch RPGs but it would also sit at the top of my list of Best Switch Games, period. Breath of the Wild is a revelation, it has an open and enchanting world that can be explored in any order you wish. In every direction adventure awaits, and if you can see it you can not only go there and explore it, but you can probably climb it as well.

Not only does Breath of the Wild embrace and enhance the existing open-world style of game but it also upends the existing Zelda formulas that had become so entrenched over the last 20+ years. These changes enable such enormous freedom for the player that Hyrule finally feels like the living and breathing world it has always been only in our imaginations.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Gameplay

Combat in Breath of the Wild is fast and fluid, and thanks to the breakable weapons you are constantly juggling your options to determine how to handle each situation. Exploration is constantly rewarded with new shrines to challenge, new enemies to battle, or ancient Hyrulian secrets to unearth.

In addition to the fantastic main-line story there are dozens of side quests to complete and now several DLC expansions that extend the story and add new treasures to discover. In short, this is a game you could play for years to come.

In the off-chance that you don't already have a copy of Breath of the Wild you should definitely pick it up, it's one game that needs to be in every gamer's library.

There you have it, our list of the Best Switch RPGs Available in 2018. If you think we missed something, or you want to refute our rankings, let us know on Twitter @f5games. Until next time, happy questing!

F5 Games is an independent game developer in Tulsa Oklahoma. We strive to create the very best in tablet and mobile games.