Now that our Game of the Year Awards are out of the way, it’s time to take a much needed rest and…ah, who are we kidding? We might have just kissed the best of 2016 goodbye, but we’re already rearing to check out the best of 2016. As such, we’ve put our heads together to come up with our top ten most anticipated games of 2016. With at least half of 2016’s games delayed into the year, 2017 is shaping up to be a strong year.
10. Agents of Mayhem
If developer Volition has shown us anything about themselves, it’s that they know how to craft a game. The Saint’s Row series started off as the open world Grand Theft Auto rip off that was sorely lacking early in the previous generation’s lifespan, morphing into the smart/stupid franchise that begs for continuous play just to do something else stupid. The thing is, they kind of backed themselves in a corner plotwise with IV. Agents of Mayhem serves as the perfect solution, a new IP that merges the fun and chaos of the Saints with the conceit that, this time, the player is supposed to be the hero. The fact that the studio is taking their expertise that comes from making two of the best games from the last generation, and are merging it with what appears to be a deliberate tweaking of 80’s era cartoons means that this title is certainly one to watch.
9. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Have you ever been so engaged in a video game and its story that it kept you hypnotized to the point where you just playing and playing until next thing you noticed, it was 5 AM in the morning and yet you still didn’t want to stop until you learned how everything ended? That basically describes how we felt when playing the Danganronpa games as they first creeped onto the Vita for Western audiences. And now, with the second game of the series having seemingly wrapped up the series’ major arc, how will the stories of the torturous teddy bear Monokuma and his little murder games with the students of Hope’s Peak continue? Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony will provide the answer to that, with a fresh new crop of students thrown into a new murder mystery, complete with even more Monokumas this time around. Given how many twists, deconstructions, and mind screws the previous games have had, can this third offering still top them? We’ll see about that when the latest trials go down this year.
8. South Park: Fractured But Whole
Trey Parker and Matt Stone love them some gaming. Their show’s continual reference to the pastime makes that clear. After many shoddy licensed titles, they were finally able to make their mark with The Stick of Truth, a tight, focused and impeccably-written RPG. Instead of continuing with the fantasy themes of the last title, their latest outing, once again in partnership with developer Obsidian, will tackle superheroes. Players will take control of the New Kid, and enter the world of The Coon, Mysterion, and maybe even encounter the alien powers of Mint Berry Crunch.With shake ups to the battle system, new ways to harness the power of farts, and what is sure to be some of the best comedy writing in gaming, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is something that gamers will need in their life.
7. Horizon: Zero Dawn
Guerrilla Games and Sony’s brand new IP is finally launching in 2017 after numerous delays. Aloy’s adventures in this gorgeous post-apocalyptic title has had many salivating over it for years, and we’ll only need to wait till February to play. Horizon: Zero Dawn will feature a large open world teeming with robotic dinosaurs. Like Naughty Dog, Guerrilla Games is well known for delivering stunning visuals, and everything we’ve seen from Horizon suggests this game will be no exception. Probably what’s most exciting about Horizon: Zero Dawn is that it’s a new IP. In a generation that has been lacking new IPs, getting something new and fresh is exciting. Horizon: Zero Dawn hits PS4 February 28.
6. Sonic Mania
The Blue Blur, Sonic the Hedgehog, has been an industry icon for over two decades. In fact, 2016 was the game and character’s 25th anniversary. To mark such a momentous occasion, the team over at Sega has been hard at work coming up with a huge announcement for the return of the classic character. Sonic Mania is going old school in the hopes that a retro revamping will bring back the luster Sonic once had. It’s about time too — many of Sonic’s other endeavors have been met with terrifying scores and the beloved speedster in questionable territory. While we’ve really only gotten to check out the announcement trailer and a couple of sneak peeks, one can clearly see Sonic Mania is meant to recapture the glory days. We can’t wait to dash and spin our way to new heights in the style that made the series a star. It’s scheduled release is Spring 2017 and hopefully it stays that way, especially since Sonic uses springs to jump and that way it’ll make sense.
5. Mass Effect: Andromeda
The Mass Effect series as a whole has transcended what it means to tell a story inside of a video game. We left off with Mass Effect 3 as it redefined role-playing games as it was considered perfect by many fans and critics. Next up is Mass Effect: Andromeda, which will take place 600 years after the events of the previous games. This gap in time will be crucial as there will be entirely new weapons, alien races, plot points and more to experience. It has given the in-game universe centuries to reorganize itself to present all sorts of interesting ideas to the player. Survival techniques are critical when covering the vastness of space. Andromeda is meant to hold a grand, open system allowing for exploration of unique planets as well as more character development to help push the story along. Go as far as you need in order to survive making enemies and allies along the way. We are expecting a lot from Mass Effect: Andromeda, but we’re not the only ones. Hopefully its release in Spring 2017 will keep all satisfied until the next N7 Day.
4. Dragon Quest XI
While Final Fantasy has progressed rapidly from its humble beginnings, Dragon Quest has stayed true to its forerunners. As such, it’s never surprising when the announcement of a new entry in the series brings with it a wave of nostalgia the second you see a Slime and hear the iconic theme song. Dragon Quest XI is still very under wraps, but the reveal trailer and ensuing gameplay shown during Jump Festa immediately made it known that this will be the most exciting release in the series since Dragon Quest VIII. The characters look intriguing, the visuals are gorgeous and the decision to render the game entirely in 2D for the 3DS will make it impossible to ignore, no matter your RPG preference.
3. Persona 5
Persona 5 made the “most anticipated” list last year and yet here it is again. Persona 5 is the long-awaited next Persona game. Fans are all too aware that the latest mainline entry in the series came way back in 2008 with Persona 4 on PS2. It has seriously been that long. Persona 5 continues its focus on high school students – this time with a penchant for masked vigilante justice. The game oozes style on every screen, making one wonder if it’s even possible for future games to do even better. Of course, Persona 5 still features strategic RPG battles and social simulation that fans have come to love. The agonizing wait is nearly over. After an unsurprising, but disheartening, delay by Atlus, Persona 5 is now set to launch on April 4, 2017. Fingers crossed that this is the absolute final delay that the game receives — or JRPG fans might just start a riot.
Memory is a selective thing. It’s easy to gloss over the bad or annoying bits in a classic game while emphasizing the highlights, but Rare’s output in the N64 days really was something special for the time. The three year period between Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day had an incredible impact on 3D platforming, and while there was an overabundance of in-game collectibles and a sense of Big for the sake of Bigness, those games defined an era and a console. Yooka-Laylee is a throwback to those days by the same crew using the lessons of the intervening seventeen years to reinvigorate the abandoned genre, plus all the shiny new tech of today to round out those jagged polygon edges. The team of Yooka (a lizard) and Laylee (the bat) work together as a unified team using a unique combination of abilities to explore massive levels packed with details, secrets, and of course a nice helping of collectibles. It’s all set to a soundtrack by Grant Kirkhope and David Wise, whose fantastic sonic landscapes brought Rare’s work to such vibrant life. Yooka-Laylee is the continuation of Rare’s N64 work almost twenty years later, and that’s something worth getting excited for.
1. NieR: Automata
2010 saw the release of a Drakengard spin off entitled Nier. While this title never became a household name, the fantastic soundtrack, an emotional story about a father and his sick daughter Yonah, and humorous banter between the titular protagonist, Kainé, Emil, and talking book Grimoire Weiss helped this action RPG develop a strong cult following. NieR: Automata is the long awaited follow up, and while details are limited on what all this upcoming title entails the information we do have suggests the sequel will be worth the seven yier wait. NieR: Automata takes place in a dystopian future where humans are no longer on Earth and the androids are at war.
As 2016 draws to a close, the recently released demo showcases the improved visuals and gameplay while maintaining the essence of what made the original Nier great. Fans have been waiting for this one for quite some time, and as more information about NieR: Automata becomes available this highly anticipated title is showing potential to surpass its predecessor. 2017 will see the release of many great looking titles to get excited about, but NieR: Automata is the title that has generated the most anticipation.