With 2016 in the rearview mirror, let’s look forward to all the games looming just on the horizon. There’s a lot to be enthusiastic about, because this year looks like it’s going to deliver a strong combination of fresh ideas and sequels taking beloved franchises in new directions. Here’s a list of 35 games we think should definitely keep an eye out for in this new, hopefully better, year.
Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (January 24)
Capcom’s next entry into its long-running survival-horror series is dialing back to its roots — complete with a creepy house and esoteric puzzles — while simultaneously taking a whole new approach. A first-person perspective and a vulnerable main character are bringing Resident Evil VII a completely different kind of horror from the rest of the franchise (to say nothing of horrible monsters that have more teeth than face), and we can’t for Capcom to make Resident Evil scary again.
For Honor (February 14)
Intense melee combat between knights, samurai, and vikings — sounds like a winner. For Honor is all about sword duels in the midst of huge battles, as players go hacking through foot soldiers to take on commanders. Each fight is all about anticipating enemy attacks and reading their stances, while switching your stance and attacks to land your blows. Our hands-on suggests For Honor will deliver an intense sword-fighting experience with lots of strategy involved, and we can’t wait to wreck some vikings with well-placed katana strikes.
Horizon Zero Dawn (February 28)
A post-apocalyptic open world that lets you hunt giant robot dinosaurs? Horizon Zero Dawn basically sells itself. The PS4 exclusive will force players to rely on stealth and quick thinking to hunt and gather much-needed resources from the corpses of their mechanized enemies. Horizon looks gorgeous and unique. Plus, who doesn’t want to scale a brachiosaur-looking mechanical monster?
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (March 3)
An open-world Zelda game sounds like an evolution that could revamp the series in some great ways, and all the footage to come out of Nintendo so far of the next entry into the decades-long franchise looks great. With a massive game world to explore that Nintendo says is 12 times the size of Twilight Princess, plus new systems emphasizing Link’s need to find new uses for his weapons and equipment, this is looking like the game that sends everybody out to buy a Nintendo Switch console on launch day.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands (March 7)
Ubisoft is putting major emphasis on the cooperative nature of Ghost Recon: Wildlands, in which players control government agents running around Bolivia, fighting drug cartels. From the looks of things, teaming up to take on missions, determining the best tactics and options as a group and then relying on your pals to execute their roles, will be a big part of the experience. Ubisoft’s focus on teaming up with friends has been a big part of its recent shooters, such as The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege. We’re excited to see that applied to the open world of Wildlands, where you can add vehicles like helicopters and motorbikes to the fight.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew (March 14)
If there was ever a reason to get excited about virtual reality, Star Trek: Bridge Crew is it. It’s a game about being a member of a Star Trek bridge crew, complete with future-y controls and, almost undoubtedly, consoles that explode in your face at the first hint of a Klingon disruptor strike. Bridge Crew is looking like a great VR party game about cooperation while boldly going, et cetera, and might be a great reason to invest in a VR headset.
Mass Effect: Andromeda (March 21)
BioWare’s epic role-playing series is back in a whole new galaxy, emphasizing some of the same ideas as in the original game — exploring the vastness of space and interacting with the aliens you find there. Getting back to those Star Trek-like roots and filling out a whole new galaxy with civilizations are exactly the things we want BioWare to do with more Mass Effect. We still don’t know much about it, but so far, BioWare’s screenshots and videos are looking like a gorgeous return to the form that made the series so beloved by fans. It will be available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC March 21.
The first adaptation of South Park as a role-playing game, The Stick of Truth, turned out to be a pretty solid, pretty funny game, perfectly capturing the spirit of the series while delivering a fun, light RPG on top of it. The next South Park RPG, The Fractured but Whole, trades the Lord of the Rings parody of The Stick of Truth for a superhero story in the vein of Marvel’s “Civil War” comics — there’s a schism brewing in South Park, and as the new kid, you’re caught in the middle of it.
Persona 5 (April 4)
The next entry in the Persona series promises more high school drama, tinged with demons, fantastical locales, and awesome characters. It also has a great look, with a vibrant user interface and an explosive, comic-like art style. Players will work their way through the troubles of high school and part-time jobs by day, then venture to another alternate dimension — the Palace, full of demons to coerce and the shadowy versions of adults from school, all of whom are generally some form of evil. Persona 5 looks like it’ll be another intriguing entry into the series, refining a lot of its best ideas along the way.
Prey (May 5)
Fresh off two hit Dishonored games, Arkane Studios has resurrected Prey, although the developer is taking this new title in a completely different direction from the original or its now-defunct sequel. The new Prey is a first-person shooter set on a space station, with plenty of emphasis on story, lots of spooky black aliens to shoot, and the ability to become inanimate objects like a coffee mug. Prey looks like a cool, weird reimagining of some of the concepts of developer Human Head’s 2006 original. And do we need to say anything more than “ability to become a coffee mug”?
Injustice 2 (May 16)
DC Comics’ superheroes wailing on each other was a lot of fun in the dark fighting game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and we’re expecting things to be just as intense and charged with crazy superpowers in Injustice 2. This time, developer Netherrealm is expanding on Injustice’s fighting style to include role-playing game features like stats and collectible loot, which should expand the game considerably. The equipment you put on your superheroes (and villains) will change how they fight and how they look, adding a new level of strategy to the game that sounds like it could add quite a bit to the experience. The game is out for both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on May 16.
Tekken 7 (June 2)
Things are looking very pretty in Tekken 7. It’s the first title in the long-running fighting series to use the Unreal Engine (in this case, the gorgeous Unreal 4), and the results are bringing pummeling enemies to new heights. The game’s also adding a few new tricks, including the strategic ability to keep hitting and damaging enemies even while you’re being hit, and Rage Art, which can give fighters a major power boost when their health bars are at critical levels. You can also play as a big panda. We can’t wait.
There’s a reason Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption is held in such high esteem by its fans. The open-world action game and Western had a great story and some well-drawn characters, matched by an explorable world filled with plenty of interesting things to do. It also had a phenomenal, emotional ending. Everybody who loves Red Dead Redemption has been dreaming about a Rockstar return to the West, and though we know absolutely nothing about Red Dead Redemption 2, we can’t wait to see where it’ll go. Hopefully it’ll get there in 2017 and not later.
Splatoon 2 (Summer)
One of Nintendo’s most beloved new IPs, Splatoon 2 brings back 4-on-4 turf battles with this sequel. Filled with new stages, weapons, and fashions, Splatoon 2 looks to up the ante on everything we know and love from the original. Taking advantage of the Switch’s multiple control schemes, player can shoot paint across their TV screens with the Joy-Cons together as a traditional controller, with the gyro motion controls, or take their battles on the run with the portable unit. Local and online multiplayer will be included, with the latter supporting voice chat with Nintendo’s smart-device app. Are you ready to jump into more addictive splatfests?
Capcom’s fighting game that’s chock-full of classic game characters and the cast of Marvel comics will return, and it’s packing lots of changes. For one, it’ll have a full single-player story mode, and it’s ratcheting down the size of player teams — where players used to choose three characters for each fight, with the ability to switch between them, they’re now constrained to two. We’re waiting to see what other ways Capcom is looking to change the next entry into its beloved, classic fighting game series.
Days Gone (Q4)
Open-world action survival horror — with zombies. Bear with us now, though: it stars Sam Witwer, of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Being Human and Battlestar Galactica fame. As a former bounty hunter trapped in a world of undead-like creatures, Witwer’s character Deacon St. John has to navigate a post-apocalyptic world and fight to stay alive, using his bike, his wits, and some pretty sick combat and stealth capabilities. Days Gone has the mark of a brooding survival-horror experience similar to The Last of Us, but with more time cruising on an awesome motorcycle.
Super Mario Odyssey (Q4)
The next Super Mario title is set to be an open-world adventure in the vein of Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario 64. Super Mario Odyssey will send the plumber on a journey across wide-ranging environments to save Princess Peach from an unwanted wedding with Bowser. This time around Mario has his own airship to jet from one area to the next, suggesting that Odyssey could be the most expansive sandbox Mario game yet. All of Mario’s signature moves seem to be back, along with the ability to throw his cap like a boomerang and use it as a springboard. Mario will even hop, skip, and jump alongside regular folk in New Donk City, a fictional representation of New York City.
The next Assassin’s Creed (November… probably)
In 2016, Ubisoft took a year off from producing Assassin’s Creed games, maybe in order to focus on producing the Assassin’s Creed movie. With that out of the way, we expect the publisher to go back to making games about traveling back in time to stab people. The last entry in the series, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, offered players dual protagonists to control in Victorian England with some nice improvements in stealth and action. Ubisoft has been refining Assassin’s Creed more and more in its last few entries, and with a year off to really work on it, we’re excited to see what kind of improvements (and new historical backdrops) pop up in 2017.
The next Call of Duty (October/November)
There are a couple of things that make the next Call of Duty worth waiting for in 2017. First, Sledgehammer Games, the developer behind 2014’s Advanced Warfare, retakes the helm on the series. Second, it’s on the heels of the last two games, Black Ops 3 and Infinite Warfare, which have stretched the series with deeper character development and some pretty cool, out-there settings. Sledgehammer has to one-up traveling the solar system on your own personal Star Destroyer, so there’s a good chance 2017’s Call of Duty will be pretty crazy.
Gran Turismo is back with beautiful environments and even more beautiful cars. Polyphony’s racing simulator is pushing the cutting edge of graphics technology and it looks absolutely phenomenal. It’s also sporting some new features like a photo mode to take advantage it’s awesome visuals. For PlayStation players who can’t get enough real world cars and gorgeous racing action, this is a must-have title.
French developer SloClap is creating a shared-world fighting game with a lot of cool ideas. First, its martial arts-inspired hand-to-hand combat system is rhythmic, strategic, and deep, making it extremely fun to pummel enemies (and other players) while avoiding taking a beating. Second, the ability to challenge real people you come across as you play, or team up with them, sounds like it’ll offer a lot of cool and intense gameplay moments when you don’t know who you can trust. Finally, a system that lets you take on students and mentors makes Absolver sound a bit like a kung-fu movie in video game form.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Combining a bit of Gone Home’s exploration with a series of short stories about the final moments of the lives of various characters, What Remains of Edith Finch is the experimental narrative on our radar for 2017. The game is composed of playable vignettes, each a little different from the others, and demos so far have been very promising — like one about a little girl who imagines herself as a cat, an owl, a shark and a sea monster, and then lets you play as each one, eating everything that gets in your path. Edith Finch is looking like a pretty dark, emotional game with lots of depth to explore.
The hand-drawn art style of side-scrolling action game Sundered is the first thing to catch your attention, and its fast-paced gameplay and huge bosses are the second. With the look of something between Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid, our interest is definitely piqued. Sundered mixes in a lot of cool ideas, too, like procedural levels along with hand-crafted ones, multiple endings, hack-and-slash battles and the ability to blast stuff with a giant energy cannon.
The third installment of the Xbox-exclusive open-world Crackdown is taking things even further over the top somehow. Earlier games in the series were about hunting down criminals, blasting through gangs with all kinds of different weaponry, blowing up cars, climbing buildings and basically becoming a superhero super-cop. In Crackdown 3, all that insanity is back, but now you can blow up buildings. We’re totally in. Plus, rumor has it the game will be among the first to support the full power of Microsoft’s more upgraded version of the Xbox One, “Project Scorpio.”
Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy
The next licensed adaptation from Telltale is Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and it sounds like a perfect fit. Telltale’s story-heavy adventure game titles have been generally pretty solid, whether picking up tales from the Batman universe or The Walking Dead, but possibly the best of them all is the comedy game Tales from the Borderlands, set in Gearbox’s Borderlands universe. If Guardians is half as funny as Tales from the Borderlands, this could set a new gold standard for the studio.
Developer Dontnod has put out some very intriguing titles in its lifetime: first the flawed but fascinating Remember Me, and then the teenage time-travel drama adventure game Life is Strange. Dontnod’s third game, Vampyr, is an action role-playing title that explores life as a vampire, requiring players to kill and feed on characters without getting outed as a member of the undead. That means investigating characters’ lives to find suitable victims, but who you choose to eat can have major effects on Vampyr’s unraveling story.
Developer Supergiant Games has created some acclaimed action-RPGs in its life: first Bastion, and then Transistor. Its third outing goes in a new, more sporting direction, giving players a team of three different wizards and pitting them against another team in a sort of magical NBA Jam-like competition. We’re not sure where all this is going, but with a single-player campaign and local multiplayer, we’re looking forward to zapping each other with fire waves and making some wizard dunks.
Sea of Thieves (2017)
In Sea of Thieves, it’s a pirate’s life for you and, apparently, all your friends. You join together as the crew of a ship, each taking on different roles as you set sail for plunder, engage in sea battles with other crews, and basically just kind of do your best at the whole pirate gig. Developer Rare is behind Sea of Thieves, and while early videos don’t really make clear what the objective is beyond guzzling rum and doing other pirate things, it’s already shaping up to be a hilarious and fun experience with friends.
Way back during E3 this year, id Software announced the return of its classic multiplayer arena shooter, Quake. Details are a little thin on Quake Champions but we know it’ll be a return to the fast-paced first-person shooter frag fests of id’s original games, full of rocket jumps and some crazy gibs. From all accounts so far, Quake Champions is a return to form that’ll undoubtedly be holding a spot in every shooter fan’s multiplayer lineup next year.
The creators of Ratchet & Clank are making a Spider-Man game, possibly based on the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming movie. We haven’t been shown much yet, but we know that this is an original Spider-Man story, and it’s going to feature things like parkour-like traversal through New York City and plenty of webslinging. The teaser trailer looked fast-paced and cinematic, and if how good it looks is an indicator for how well it plays, Spider-Man is going to be one to watch in 2017.
Last time God of War protagonist Kratos was a father, he murdered his child and wife in a fit of rage induced by the Greek god Ares. After stomping Ares and pretty much everybody else in the Olympian pantheon of gods, Kratos has opted for the simpler, beardier life of living among Vikings — and now he’s got a son that he’s trying really hard not to mentally scar for life. That’s what we’ve seen of the new God of War so far, and it’s looking like a big step in the evolution of Sony Santa Monica’s Ghost of Sparta. We’re excited to see Kratos try to be a good dad between bouts of tearing the heads off giant Norse monsters.
Developer Red Barrels released a scary, shocking first-person horror game in the original Outlast, where players had to hide from enemies and run like hell to avoid getting murdered as they worked their way through a mental hospital that had turned into the site of a disaster. In Outlast 2, players are still running away in terror with only the night vision mode on their digital camcorders to help them find their way, but this time, they’re out in rural America, surrounded by murderous weirdos. Outlast was frightening as well as pretty disturbing, and Outlast 2 looks like it’s only going to ratchet up the horror, much to our delight.
Uncharted 4: Lost Legacy
Nathan Drake’s story might have closed with Uncharted 4, but there’s still more to tell in Naughty Dog’s treasure-hunting universe. Lost Legacy is a standalone chunk of downloadable story content for Uncharted 4 that catches up with a couple of favorite characters — antagonist Nadine Ross from the main game’s story, and Uncharted 2’s Chloe Fraser. Naughty Dog is telling a new story in Lost Legacy while continuing to expand on Uncharted, which bodes well for the future of the series and will help players scratch their itch for super-dangerous archaeology in the meantime.
Battle Chef Brigade
An anime-styled fantasy world, filled with elves and ogres to meet, and monsters and dragons to fight — and cook. That’s Battle Chef Brigade — a side-scrolling role-playing game where your goal is to win an Iron Chef-like cooking show, but your ingredients are the various creatures you meet in RPG forests and dungeons. Battle Chef mixes action-RPG fighting against monsters with a match-three mini-game for cooking, and surrounds all of that with plenty of characters and story to work through. We already want more of Battle Chef Brigade’s unique take on RPG structure.
Nobody makes games quite like developer Quantic Dream and its founder, David Cage. Whether that’s a good thing depends on whether you like games such as Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, all of which vary in quality — but all of which bring something unique to the conversation, with a focus on storytelling and awesome graphical fidelity. All we’ve seen from Detroit so far is a teaser, but we know it’s pushing the envelope in the graphics department, it’s all about story, and it’s going to be full of David Cage melodrama. We’re too fascinated not to see what Detroit: Become Human is all about.
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