Switch is your destination for RPG-powered procrastination - TechCrunch

With the start of a new school year, a new group of students will soon be hard at work finding ways to avoid writing papers and watching lectures they slept through, and generally finding ways to waste class as efficiently as possible. Fortunately, the Switch is currently an absolute treasure trove of time-wasters of the RPG variety.

If you’re thinking of putting off that task for a little longer—say, 80 to 100 hours or more—check out some of the latest games that make the Switch a procrastinator’s paradise despite its age.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Image Credits: Nintendo/Monolithsoft

As someone who wasn’t really intrigued by the first in the series, and essentially turned off by the anime excesses of the second (and I say this as a Genshin Impact player), I can’t say I was really all that excited about Xenoblade Chronicles 3. But this A game has its hooks in me and I’m in it for a long time.

A large open world RPG with MMO-like combat and perhaps more systems than I’ve seen in any game except Horizon: The Forbidden West, XC3 is stunning from the start and continues to pile on new things for dozens of hours. The difference is that many are optional, simplistic, or impossible to mistake, which means it adds up opportunities to commit, not traps if you don’t.

Developer Monolith Soft is clearly pushing the Switch to its absolute limits, and there are moments where you’ll forget you’re playing on five-year-old hardware that was a bit dated when it debuted. But it certainly lacks fidelity compared to its open-world peers, so if that’s important to you, I’m afraid it won’t cut it – this next-gen one isn’t.

But the real star of the game is its characters, script and story – I was afraid that the team of rebels you control would be ordinary or trope, but they are actually great, really funny and real, and the story is compelling, complex and quite a lot long. Accept the maximalist nature of things and go with the flow and you’ll soon find yourself sucked in the way I was. (But change the language to Japanese so you don’t get inundated with barks mid-battle.)

Triangular strategy

Image Credits: Nintendo/Square Enix

From the creators of the beautiful but somewhat boring Octopath Traveler, Triangle Strategy (like its predecessor, a working title that remained) brings the lovely “HD-2D” look of a long story-focused tactical RPG.

The plot sounds a bit dry: three countries move into an uneasy peace after a war over salt and iron (called the Saltiron War), and you play a scion of a noble house promised to marry a princess from one of the rival nations. But it will come as no surprise to hear that this is all going to hell in a hurry and is quickly turning into a high-stakes military and political game. You will be forced to make increasingly difficult decisions about which course to take, and the results of those decisions can be quite devastating.

I was very impressed with the quality of the story and writing in this game as well – in a tactical RPG one often finds the story just an excuse to move the player from one battle to another, but in Triangle Strategy you’ll split your time more or less evenly between long — extremely long, to be honest — fully voiced cutscenes (switch the language to Japanese, trust me) and grid-based battles.

It took me dozens of hours to get through it and I enjoyed every last bit of it, although I’m not sure I’d play it again since it clearly hopes you will; unlike Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the plot is pretty much the same every time (albeit with some major deviations). This made me sit down for an hour-long “episode,” as I thought of the various sections, almost every night.

Fire Emblem: Three Hopes

Image Credits: Nintendo

If you enjoyed Fire Emblem: Three Houses but felt too disconnected from the combat, Three Hopes is right up your alley.

This transposition of the iconic tactical JRPG series into the musou genre, with its ridiculous battles of blowing hundreds of soldiers up in the air, is surprisingly successful. While it lacks the level of communication and other role-playing mechanics that made Three Houses such a rich experience, and the story isn’t as compelling, it lets you take control of your favorite student soldiers and wreak almighty havoc on opposing armies. That alone is good fun.

The moment-by-moment action feels a bit mindless as you’ll be doing the same thing over and over, but the layer of strategy on top keeps things fresh. Of course you’re going to crack everyone up with Petra anyway, but who’s going to support her? Who do you trust to take on a critical bottleneck without your help? Which units counter the enemy units best and how should you strike or prepare for the unexpected?

Three Hopes is a powerful fantasy, and the difficulty is distributed sensibly enough that you rarely feel really challenged unless you want to raise the difficulty level. I found it a great way to while away an hour, always ready to do another mission to get some units into a new class or pick up some extra materials to update my gear. If you haven’t played the original game, definitely do that first, but this is an easy recommendation for anyone who has.

Persona 5 Strikers

Image Credits: Atlas

Very similar to Fire Emblem: Three Hopes, Persona 5 Strikers puts P5’s turn-based combat into a highly immersive action package. I’m only a little into it and had to stop to review a few other games, but just a few missions into them it was already clear that this game, far from being a cash grab in the power of an amazing RPG, is an excellent title in its own right – and just as complicated.

You’ll want to have played Persona 5 before playing this one for sure, as it’s basically a direct sequel. And you might also want to clear your schedule, because like its predecessor, this game is long! (It’s also on PS4 and Steam, FYI.)

Don’t forget that the other Persona games are also coming to Switch. I personally can’t wait for P3P. Another month of my life has passed.

Live live

Image Credits: Nintendo

An “HD-2D” remake of a 16-bit classic that few outside of Japan would play (it came before the director’s big hit, Chrono Trigger), it’s more of a time capsule than anything else, but in every way a classic that worth playing through like the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series. While it probably won’t dethrone CT or FFVI as the reigning SNES JPRG champion, it should be an amazing time for anyone who enjoyed those games. It was probably too weird for American consumption at the time, which probably means it’s about right now. How often does a blast from the past like this come along? Okay, pretty common these days, but this is hot.


Reworked Ogre tactics

Image Credits: Square Enix

Tactics Ogre may have an odd name, but it’s considered the granddaddy of tactics games, sharing the throne with Final Fantasy Tactics as the largely unsurpassed originals. The game’s merits have been proven time and time again for years, but I’ve never played it — unfortunately, the best version was on the ill-fated PSP.

I’ve only heard good things about this game and I’m curious about the origins of this genre; when that comes out i’ll take a week or two to study it.

Diofield’s Chronicle

Image Credits: Square Enix

A different take on the semi-real-time tactical genre, it’s a more free-form fighting game where there’s no grid and no turns. Doesn’t that just mean it’s RTS? Maybe… somewhat… but maybe not. With a style and focus borrowed from FFT, Tactics Ogre and others in the genre, Diofield looks like a fresh take that gives the player a bit more freedom to maneuver. There is a demo available, but as is usually the case, it only gives a small fraction of what you can expect.

And you better believe it’s going to be long!

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

Quaxly forever. Image Credits: Nintendo

The latest core Pokémon games are about to hit this winter. We’ll see how they handle the somewhat lackluster Sword/Shield and surprisingly good Legends: Arceus, but millions will buy them regardless. The reveal of a Pokémon that you ride and have wheels but run despite having wheels has led some to worry that this iteration of the series isn’t from Game Freak’s A-team… but others speculate that the developer might not they have The A-Team.

All I know is, give me that Quaxly! My child!

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