2016 will eventually be riddled with headlines aplenty, with stories on the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, tales of Nintendo’s yet-to-be-revealed “NX” and the next step regarding Microsoft and Sony’s juggernaut consoles. But let’s not forget the real reason why this brand new year in gaming will be fabulous: the games that we will be playing eventually!
Yes, there are some anticipated titles pushed back for 2017, but that doesn’t mean that 2016’s cupboard is bare. In fact, there is a lot in store and to look forward to. Whether they’re huge triple-A meals or bite-sized indie fares, there is something for everyone within the hardcore and casual space.
Here are our picks of what titles to look out for, in no particular order:
Dark Souls III (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
When Is It Out? April 12
Why It’s Hot: Wow, it’s hard to imagine From Software being on a roll here in the RPG business with the Dark Souls games, considering that they started off with the nigh-unplayable-right-now King’s Field.
Since Demon’s Souls, the series has been annualized to an extent: 2014 had Dark Souls II and 2015 had the PS4-exclusive wunderkind Bloodborne. With the third game Dark Souls III coming this April, players can expect the unexpected: deathtraps, smart enemies, evil level design, and jaw-dropping bosses of large stature.
The third game will be the end of the Dark Souls cycle; From Software will definitely give fans and masochists an experience we may never forget.
No Man’s Sky (PS4, PC)
When Is It Out? June.
Why It’s Hot: It’s an exploration game! It’s a flying shooter! It’s also a flight simulator with trading elements!
Developer Hello Games promised a “science fiction game set in an infinite procedurally generated galaxy.” Skeptics may label this as a “Diablo game in space” but with flight combat instead of on-the-ground fighting. But the developer’s scope here is larger. We are talking heavy exploration and survival elements, discovering different planets whether they have hostile natives or trade-happy ones to keep your travel supplies stocked up.
Still, it has big shoes to fill. There are already sci-fi flight simulators like Elite: Dangerous and the X series that space-sim fans can head back to anytime. Fingers crossed then, that No Man’s Sky impresses and lives up to the hype.
Street Fighter V (PS4, PC)
When Is It Out? February 14
Why It’s Hot: The 20th game in the main series (counting all the Super Turbos and Ultra editions), Street Fighter V is taking a new approach not just in gameplay, but also in distribution.
While you still have to shell out a retail price for the game, the additional in-game content from characters to new colors will be pushed out for free (provided you have the time to unlock them) and will ensure the longevity of the series.
That is not to say that the actual game isn’t interesting. SFV is taking it old school (of sorts) with a huge emphasis on the footsies game and short-but-sweet combos. The game’s new V-Trigger and V-Skill system also makes each of the 16 fighters (with more available progressively) unique from one another, from the way they fight to how they move around on-screen. Truly this is something fighting game fans will tinker around with, and also will showcase on fighting game tournaments.
Masquerada: Songs & Shadow (PS4, PC, Xbox One – TBC)
When Is It Out? This year.
Why It’s Hot: If you long for the days of a computer RPG like Baldur’s Gate, Witching Hour Studio’s got you covered with their upcoming fantasy tale. This narrative-driven tactical RPG places you in the shoes of Cicero, an inspector pardoned from exile to solve a kidnapping mystery.
The game isn’t just an intriguing detective story that touches upon politics, religion, castes, and sexuality. In particular, the game is set in an Italian Renaissance-esque setting where magic masks are part magical instruments, part social status indicators, and plot macguffins.
Much like the developer’s last franchise Ravenmark, Masquerada is enriched with story and lore waiting to be untapped, fully voiced by a stellar cast of actors including Matthew “Attack On Titan’s Levi” Mercer and Jennifer “FemShepard” Hale.
Valiant Force (iOS, Android)
When Is It Out? 2016.
Why It’s Hot: Let’s not forget that there are pretty awesome games on mobile platforms too! Valiant Force looks to be one of them with its gorgeous artwork, a simple-yet-deep combat system, and a lovely score from Hitoshi Sakimoto’s Basiscape studio.
Your RPG party’s is customizable from their gear to their jobs and classes, and there are about 42 classes in total for you to mix and match with. You have a garrison which gives your team a much-needed stats boost and useable resources when built to the fullest. Seeing the game in motion will remind players that it is like a condensed version of Bravely Default, and we’re saying this with the highest of praises.
Rocketbirds 2 Evolution (PS4)
When Is It Out? Quarter 1 2016
Why It’s Hot: When was the last time you played a gorgeous 2D platformer like Flashback, Out of This World, or Blackthorne? Exactly! That is why Rocketbirds 2 Evolution will fill in that niche.
Players control Hard Boiled Chicken, an anthropomorphic gun-toting chicken as you can tell by the name, as he goes on a rescue mission to fight off the forces of the Space Owls and the Penguin Army remnants from the first Rocketbirds title. The game’s other touted feature is a four-player co-op rescue mission mode where players control weapon-slinging budgie commandos and have to complete rescue objectives.
The latter definitely is a highlight, as players go on a mad scramble killing enemy penguins and owls in large unrelenting waves, while also using their other commando pals as stepladders to reach switches and bypassing obstacles. If you ever wondered how those aforementioned 2D classics would be like if they had a well thought-out co-op mode, look no further than this game.
Persona 5 (PS4)
When Is It Out? Late 2016.
Why It’s Hot: It’s been quite a wait for the fifth game in the Shin Megami Tensei spin-off RPG. Persona 5 definitely have really big shoes to fill considering the juggernaut its predecessor has become.
This time, players control a group of teens who are students by day and thieves by night. With a bigger world, a reworked turn-based combat system, and a heavily stylized art style and soundtrack, the game seems to be shaping up great.
It’s definitely hard to tell if this will have the same lasting impact as Persona 4, but it’s high time JRPG fans need to let go and look forward to what they have in store.
Uncharted 4 (PS4)
When Is It Out? April 26
Why It’s Hot: This entry could be the end of the famous Uncharted series. The action adventure title will feature the usual mind-blowing set pieces and impressive visuals that everyone knows and loves.
New to this entry is the ability to pick between dialogue options that open up multiple outcomes and vehicle sections. It won’t be completely open-ended (Naughty Dogs still love their structured linear story paths), but these methods may instill some fresh air amidst the high-octane action to follow.
Naughty Dog’s (probably) final entry in the Uncharted series will resolve everything surrounding the protagonist Nathan Drake and close off that saga with a huge, PS4-powered bang. Fans of action games should start buying their PS4s and replay the past Uncharted games if they haven’t yet.
Crackdown 3 (Xbox One)
When Is It Out? Quarter 3 2016.
Why It’s Hot: The first Crackdown for the Xbox 360 was the killer title nobody knew about. An open world game where you were a superpowered cop who can only become stronger to the point where you can leap 30 stories and toss cars as if it were soccer balls. The city you were in was your playground of destruction.
Now imagine that game quadrupled in size and destruction potential. Crackdown 3 for the Xbox One will not only expand upon its predecessor, it also will use the power of cloud computing to make EVERYTHING destroyable, from buildings to the ground itself.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
When Is It Out? May 24
Why It’s Hot: There was a time when EA took chances with non-sports and non-shooter fares. The first Mirror’s Edge was an experiment that garnered critical acclaim, but its mediocre sales number was not enough for the bigwig publisher to sanction a sequel.
The cult hit first-person parkour adventure game now has an incoming reboot on the way; this Mirror’s Edge will have a more inspiring story and a more thought-out approach to platforming and wall-running action. While it is still objectives-based like the first game, the missions here are more creative with their layout and will test players on their navigating and platforming skills.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
When Is It Out? August 23.
Why It’s Hot: Square Enix and Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a multi-solution marvel. Each scenario and mission have multitudes of ways to be solved, be it guns ablazing or through non-lethal means.
Still, Deus Ex: HR had some issues; an easy choose-your-ending route and mandatory boss fights that require getting your hands bloody. This upcoming sequel will expand upon that on a whole new ball game. Main protagonist Adam Jensen has to quell an escalating class divide war between augmented humans and regular humans. No doubt there will come a breaking point in the story where Adam has to choose a side, as well as figure out if he should be proactively violent or sneaky about dealing with the game’s missions.
XCOM 2 (PC)
When Is It Out? February 5.
Why It’s Hot: The XCOM reboot that came out in 2012 surprised everyone with its hardcore approach to turn-based strategy and base-building gameplay where you control a government organization fending off an alien invasion. The sequel will up the ante further with more hidden difficulty and complex mechanics.
As if the previous game and its expansion Enemy Within wasn’t tough enough, XCOM 2 now puts your organization on the offensive. Because Earth is now overrun by aliens, your squad has to hit heavily-fortified targets as measurements to liberate humanity.
With a bigger and improved character creator, as well as more classes, weapons, mission types, and enemies, strategy game fans and XCOM enthusiasts will find a lot more to love here.
Torment: Tides Of Numenara (PC)
When Is It Out? 2016.
Why It’s Hot: The original 90s computer RPG Planescape: Torment was a marvel in story-telling, where players controlled an immortal entity called the Nameless One who had to figure out who he was and whether his existence is worth preserving. Torment: Tides Of Numenara is the spiritual successor to that game.
Kickstarted a while back by developer InXile Entertainment, the game takes place in a similar multiverse fantasy world and lets you control the destiny of The Last Castoff, a former human host of a demigod.
Torment will focus heavily on story-telling, though it will have its fair share of combat mechanics. InXile have already proven that it can bring back a classic RPG and make it relevant in this gaming era (see Wasteland 2), so we’re confident that Torment will do the same with the remnants of Planescape: Torment.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 (PC)
When Is It Out? December 2016.
Why It’s Hot: The first Divinity: Original Sin was a great throwback to the Baldur’s Gate style or computer RPGing and deep storyline delving. Not only was the fighting great, its key story points were driven not just between your player character and your random party members, it was between your first and second player characters from the start of the game, who have their own wants and needs.
This sequel will make things more interesting with a new competitive co-op mode. Your main characters can now choose to split up if they don’t agree on where to go. Depending on your party members, some new internal party conflicts can also arise while certain town NPCs will treat you differently depending on your race.
Legend of Zelda (Wii U)
When Is It Out? 2016
Why It’s Hot: We really have no idea what is going to be in Nintendo’s next Legend of Zelda game. All we have is this spiffy gameplay trailer.
So we have Link wearing blue who may be female, and he/she brought Epona along for this seemingly open world ride. Director Eiji Aonuma is on board this baby, most likely going to make it better than Wind Waker and Skyward Sword. And that’s about all we know until Nintendo releases a new Nintendo Direct video detailing the game and actual release date.
Final Fantasy XV (PS4, Xbox One)
When Is It Out? We’ll know in March.
Why It’s Hot: We are now down to every person’s most-wanted game of this year: the return of a brand new Final Fantasy title. Stuck in development hell since 2006, Final Fantasy XV underwent a name change and a gameplay modification of sorts.
Originally part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis movement set in motion by Final Fantasy XIII, it now became its own title, and even has its previous director Tetsuya Nomura replaced with another Square Enix veteran Hajime Tabata.
Sure, its rocky history may make fans feel indifferent about XV, but its impressive demo last year and open world concept and fast-yet-RPG-esque combat may turn them into believers once more. Whether it will be a good game in its own right or will live up to the legacy of its brand remains to be seen, but we are more than intrigued to see this long-delayed project come into fruition.
That’s our current list. Which games are you looking forward to? Which games do you think we missed out on? Fire at us at the comments section below, or on GameStart’s Facebook page.