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Japan seems to be going from strength to strength when it comes to making PlayStation 4 games. The country had a solid 2016, pumping out notable titles like Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian, while smaller releases such as Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth and Dragon Quest Builders were very positively received here in the West. 2017, however, looks to be even better.

Indeed, this year has already gotten off to a stupidly strong start. January saw Gravity Rush 2, Yakuza 0, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and Tales of Berseria all launch within a few weeks of each other - and every one of them is worth owning. Now, here we are in February, and truth be told, we can't see the momentum slowing down anytime soon. With the help of the 20 titles that we've listed below, Japan's looking to smash it out of the park in 2017.

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Nioh

Release date: 7th February (NA) 8th February (EU)
Publisher: Sony

We're going out on a limb here, but you may have heard about Nioh - that brutally difficult title which is out either right now or tomorrow, depending on where you are in the world. Naturally, the reviews are already in for this one, with critics heaping praise on its engrossing gameplay and lovely loot system. A samurai slash-'em-up that, let's face it, owes a lot to the likes of Dark Souls, this is a fantastic return to the action genre for Team Ninja.

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Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

Release date: 21st February (NA) 24th February (EU)
Publisher: Koei Tecmo

It wouldn't be a memorable year for Japanese games without at least one Warriors title, so it's a good job that we've got two of them on this list. First up is Berserk and the Band of the Hawk - a hack and slasher that Berserk fans are unsurprisingly hyped about, despite its baffling name. Boasting way more blood than your average musou game and a full story campaign, this should be a satisfying take on the property - assuming that the gameplay holds up.

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NieR: Automata

Release date: 7th March
Publisher: Square Enix

As if the previous two action titles that we listed weren't enough, we're getting another adrenaline-pumping jaunt from Platinum Games next month in the shape of NieR: Automata. A follow-up to cult PS3 release NieR, there are definitely still role-playing elements at work here, but we're expecting the slick swordplay of android protagonist 2B to steal the show. If the full game is as fast and fluid as the recently released demo, then we're in for a treat.

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Toukiden 2

Release date: 21st March (NA) 24th March (EU)
Publisher: Koei Tecmo

For our money, Toukiden: Kiwami is one of, if not the best monster hunting title currently available on PlayStation platforms, and this follow-up will hopefully build upon everything that it got right. Introducing open environments, new weapon types, new characters, and a whole new story, Toukiden 2 is clearly billing itself as the stereotypical bigger and better sequel. As long as it hits that healthy balance between deadly encounters and glorious loot, we'll be happy.

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Persona 5

Release date: 4th April
Publisher: Atlus (NA) Deep Silver (EU)

Easily one of the most anticipated games of 2017, Persona 5 is bringing serious style to the PS4 in April. Yes, it does sting when you remember that it was supposed to launch next week, but you can't p*ss about with perfection, which is hopefully what we're going to get. Promising a darker story, more creatively designed dungeons, and the slickest in-game menus that you've ever seen, there's every chance that Persona 5 will end up being a Game of the Year contender. Would you bet against it?

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Dragon Quest Heroes II

Release date: 25th April (NA) 28th April (EU)
Publisher: Square Enix

Much like Toukiden 2, Dragon Quest Heroes II is aiming to be a bigger and better sequel - one with a whole new world to explore, and a slew of fresh playable characters to try out on the battlefield. As is the case with most Omega Force's projects, we expect this to leapfrog its predecessor in almost every department, but the difference here is that the first game was pretty great to begin with. We should be on to a winner, then.

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Tekken 7

Release date: 2nd June
Publisher: Bandai Namco

The PS4 is in need of more fighting games, and Tekken 7 looks set to deliver the swift kick up the arse that the system needs. It's been a whole eight years since Tekken 6 back on the PS3, and although we've had Tekken Tag Tournament 2 since then, we're looking forward to the return of strictly one-on-one slugfests. The arcade version's been available in parts of Asia for ages, but what extras could be in store for the console release? We're looking forward to finding out.

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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

Release date: 11th July
Publisher: Square Enix

The last game on this list with a confirmed release date, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age brings one of the series' most divisive entries to the PS4 with remastered visuals and the international edition's reworked (and better) job system. Okay, so Vaan's a crappy player character and the story can be a bit hard to follow at times, but an incredibly inviting world and those super addictive monster hunts are well worth getting excited for all over again. Oh, and that soundtrack.

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Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

Release date: 2017
Publisher: Bandai Namco

Back with what looks to be a banging seventh instalment, the Ace Combat series is retracing its roots - at least to some extent - by embracing a seemingly bonkers story and sticking firmly to the adrenaline rush that comes courtesy of hectic aerial combat. Like many Japanese properties, the franchise lost its way a little during the last console generation, but early signs point to this being a roaring return to form.

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Danganronpa 1&2 Reload

Release date: 2017
Publisher: NIS America

Throwing two fantastic Vita titles into one sinister package, Danganronpa 1&2 Reload promises hope, despair, and a whole lot of Monokuma. Visual novels with courtroom twists, the Danganronpa games shouldn't be missed by those in search of an engaging story. Memorable characters and mental murders combine to create a cautionary tale of why standing out from the crowd can be a death sentence.

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Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

Release date: 2017
Publisher: NIS America

A remastered collection not quite enough for you? Then how about a whole new Danganronpa to go along with it? Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is the series' third main instalment, and could end up being the most preposterous of the bunch. While we do have some concerns that the release of three murder mystery titles in the space of several months may curb our enthusiasm, we'd be lying if we said that we didn't want to see more of Monokuma and his lovably evil antics.

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Dragon Quest XI

Release date: 2017
Publisher: Square Enix

Pegging Dragon Quest XI as a 2017 release here in the West does perhaps seem a little hopeful, but we're so excited to get our hands on this latest adventure that we simply had to include it in this article. One the the genre's oldest, most beloved properties, Dragon Quest is returning to PlayStation with its eleventh instalment - and boy does it look like it belongs here. Vibrant, vast, and bustling environments are the order of the day, and as always, we're just desperate to see more.

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Gran Turismo Sport

Release date: 2017
Publisher: Sony

While the secret agenda of this article is to showcase how Japanese game development is back at its best, it's business as usual at Polyphony Digital while director Kazunori Yamauchi spreads his team far too thin for yet another game. But while Gran Turismo Sport should have already been out and currently exists without a firm release date, you can practically always guarantee that the studio will deliver something special.

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Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Release date: 2017
Publisher: Capcom

Capcom is far from the cream-of-the-crop publishing powerhouse that we once held so dear, but in recent times, it has shown that it still knows how to party. Despite still being half a game, Street Fighter V is mechanically superb, while Resident Evil 7 is easily the best instalment that the series has seen in years. Hopefully, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite can continue this trend; there are so many properties to draw upon from both sides that this has the potential to be a huge crossover hit. Let's just hope that Disney doesn't get too involved.

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New Hot Shots Golf

Release date: 2017
Publisher: Sony

Heaven only knows why it's taking an eternity to get a Hot Shots Golf game on the PS4, but Clap-Hanz, to its credit, is being a little more ambitious with the latest entry in its arcade sporting simulation series. Boasting large sandbox courses brimming with side-activities such as buggy racing and fishing, the Japanese developer may have bitten off more than it can chew, but we're sure that it will give the title a Nice Shot all the same.

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Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

Release date: 2017
Publisher: Bandai Namco

Good golly, it looks gorgeous, doesn't it? Ni no Kuni II is supposed to be bringing its distinct brand of whimsical story telling to the PS4 at some point this year, and we can't wait to see what fantastic adventures young protagonist and usurped king Evan gets up to. A reworked battle system - this time almost entirely action-based - and a delightfully colourful cast of characters make this an RPG that demands your attention.

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Samurai Warriors: Sanada Maru

Release date: 2017
Publisher: Koei Tecmo

The Samurai Warriors series already has three games on PS4; one's a strategic Empires spin-off, one's a sort-of-sequel, and one's Samurai Warriors 4, which is, as far as we're concerned, one of the best musou titles on the market. Samurai Warriors: Sanada Maru is yet another offshoot, but at least it's trying something a bit different by framing the plot from the perspective of Yukimura Sanada and his clan over the course of his rather exciting life. More RPG elements and a story that boasts a personal touch could give this instalment a surpirsing edge.

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Shenmue III

Release date: 2017
Publisher: Ys Net

This is the year where Yu Suzuki needs to show more of Shenmue III than illustrations of mountains. There's a big question mark over whether the Kickstarter will meet its intended 2017 deploy date, but we're hoping that series protagonist will at the very least be back on his feet and in pursuit of Lan Di before we're all merrily chirping Auld Lang Syne.

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Tokyo Xanadu Ex+

Release date: 2017
Publisher: Aksys Games

Tokyo Xanadu made waves in 2015 when it originally launched as a Vita title in Japan, and now, after plenty of clawing for a localised release, it's heading Westwards later this year. The PS4's getting an enhanced edition of the action RPG known as Ex+, which features more story stuff and post-game content. Let's just hope that it lives up to expectations, eh?

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Yakuza: Kiwami

Release date: 2017
Publisher: SEGA

Two Yakuza games in one year? Absolute madness. We find ourselves in an alien situation - one which makes us question if we're even ready for more Kazuma Kiryu after spending close to 80 hours with Yakuza 0, but at the end of the day, we're just happy that the superb series is finally getting the attention it deserves. Kiwami is a remake of the very first Yakuza game on PS2, and should be the perfect follow-up to January's prequel, which strings together the main story's narrative threads so well.


Phew, that's a lot of Japanese goodness - but did we miss anything off that you're really looking forward to in 2017? Vote for your most anticipated game in our poll, and then don't hesitate to go full weeb in the comments section below.

Which Japanese game are you most looking forward to in 2017? (123 votes)

Ace Combat: Unknown Skies

3%

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk

1%

Danganronpa 1&2 Reload

  0%

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

2%

Dragon Quest Heroes II

1%

Dragon Quest XI

10%

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

4%

Gran Turismo Sport

5%

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

3%

New Hot Shots Golf

2%

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

11%

NieR: Automata

11%

Nioh

4%

Persona 5

28%

Samurai Warriors: Sanada Maru

  0%

Shenmue III

7%

Tekken 7

3%

Tokyo Xanadu Ex+

  0%

Toukiden 2

1%

Yakuza: Kiwami

4%

Other

2%

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