Each year is filled with anticipation and excitement for most gamers. 2016 looks to provide another year of compelling, innovative, and anticipated video games. You could easily fill each yearly ‘most anticipated’ list with the latest franchise blockbuster sequels. However, annually there are also dozens of independent, smaller scale projects that are full of promise.The picks for our list are a combination of both the independent and big scale projects due for release in 2016.
Platform: Linux, Mac, PC
XCOM 2 takes place on an Earth that has fallen to the alien invasion. Set 20 years after the critically acclaimed turn-based strategy sim XCOM. The XCOM team, acting as a resistance movement, has a new set of soldier types and specialisms. Their missions have taken on a guerrilla warfare feel. The game environments are now procedurally generated. Adding surprise and variety to the tense and tactical fun.
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
A fresh upgrade system and a new lead character, Emily Kaldwin, highlight the return of Arkane Studio’s steampunk stealth adventure. It also promises to take us beyond the grim, plague-ridden city of Dunwall, which should mean intriguing new environments to learn and navigate.
The fourth and final Nathan Drake adventure in the Uncharted series looks set to continue that legacy looks to push the envelop of epic cinematic storytelling. Drake is married and retired. However his desperate brother emerges with tales of a vast pirate fortune and our hero is pulled back into the fray. Expect sassy wisecracks, actual emotions, and huge set-pieces. It’s the classic “one last job” story.
Throughout 2015, developer Sensible Object successfully demoed its innovative game at a series of festivals and launched a Kickstarter campaign at the end of January 2016. Fabulous Beasts gets you to stack model animals on a RFID-powered plinth to inhabit a virtual world represented on your tablet or iPhone. The more animal blocks you balance the more fabulous the world you create. Best described as a cross between a creature simulation, a virtual pet, and Jenga.
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The latest Tom Clancy franchise, ‘The Division’, is set around a deadly pandemic hitting New York. A crack squad of spec-ops warriors goes around shooting everyone to restore order. The result looks like an urban survivalist take on Destiny, and if the server tech can handle the load, this could be the military shooter evolution we’ve all been waiting for. The interesting part is this is a co-op role-playing strategy shooter game set in a persistent online world inhabited by other player teams that you can trade with or fight.
Platform: Mac, PC, PS4
This first-person mystery adventure puts players in a remote watch tower, looking out for forest fires in the vast rural areas of Wyoming. But then weird things start happening and your only link to the outside world is a walkie talkie and a disembodied voice that you may or may not be able to trust. Expect plenty of creepy atmosphere since the game’s developer, Campo Santo, was formed by Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman who previously oversaw Telltale’s excellent Walking Dead games.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a game where you’re a hunter on a post-apocalyptic planet battling robot dinosaurs. From Amsterdam-based PlayStation veteran Guerrilla Games, this action role-playing adventure looks beautiful though, mixing open world exploration and survival with varied combat techniques.
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
This cute platforming game has you using your slowly unraveling yarn-body to explore a wilderness based on creator Martin Sahlin’s homeland of Sweden. Sahlin came on stage at the E3 conference in LA last year to pour his heart out about his incredibly personal development journey. It’s hard to tell whether we’re more in love with Unravel’s handicraft mascot, Yarny, or his creator.
Finally the follow up to Fumito Ueda’s legendary PlayStation titles Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Most of us had given up on ever seeing it happen. We’re expecting another ennui-driven, atmospheric adventure. This time following a young boy and his giant bird-fox, as they seek to escape a crumbling city.
Platform: Xbox One
Under the guidance of Dave Jones, DMA Design founder and father of Grand Theft Auto, this classic sandbox shooter game is set to finally return. Sure to be huge with YouTubers, the big sell right now is the game’s use of cloud computing to allow for totally destructible city environments.
Platform: PS3, PS4
Since the original spun off from the Megami Tensei series of RPG adventures in 1996, the Persona series, described as a combination of traditional Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) and Pokemon, has been a cult hit. The richly imaginative Persona 5 tales of high school romance, murder, friendship and occult power promises to live up to the series that’s spawned musicals, fan fiction and many crushes on creepy dudes dressed like an ovoid teddy bears.
Platform: Linux, Mac, PC, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One
Answering the prayers of N64 nostalgics everywhere, in 2015 a group of veteran Rare employees set up their own studio named Playtonic. They immediately set about developing a sequel to Banjo Kazooie. The story, setting, and humor of this story are unmistakable in their origin. The co-op characters at the centre of this appropriately playful and bright platform adventure are a bat and a chameleon rather than a bear and a bird.
Platform: Linux, Mac, PC, Xbox One
Tacoma is brought to us by the same team, Fullbright,which produced Gone Home. With significantly greater backing after their first runaway success we get Tacoma. In reality Tacoma can be seen as Gone Home in space. Think Gravity meets Portal meets Gone Home. This could be a another breakout success.
Platform: Mac, PC
2016 should finally see the release of Routine, a chilly horror adventure set on an abandoned moon base. Routine uses a “perma-death” mechanic, which means you get no health packs or lives, as you explore the dark confines, trying to work out what has happened. It’s a first person adventure game realized as a very edgy, low-budget 1980s sci-fi movie.
No Man’s Sky is a vast space exploration adventure filled with creatures and spacecraft in gorgeous teal and deep-pink candy worlds. At a time when our troubled planet seems ever more chaotic and weather-beaten, it’s little wonder this bright vision of the future has enraptured so many.
That’s our ‘most anticipated video games of 2016’ list. I hope you have found some new games to check out this year.
Give us your feedback on how you think we did. What games are you excited about? What games do feel should be on the list that’s not? Give us the pros and cons in the comments below.