2016 is going to be huge. This will be the year of virtual reality as well as the next glimpse at Nintendo’s plans for the home console market. It’s also been three years since the current generation of consoles launched and developers are really starting to harness the power of the systems to help make games reach their full potential. This year promises not to disappoint, regardless of what platform you’re playing on. From robust, AAA blockbusters to intriguing, creative indie games 2016 has it all. But as everyone knows there will most likely be quite a few delays. Keeping that in mind here’s what gamers should keep an eye on in 2016:
Oculus Rift (Oculus VR) – Spring
The phenomena that made its way onto the cover of Time magazine is at last coming out for consumers to get their hands on. The virtual reality frontier is more exciting than it has ever been with plenty of competition hitting the market soon and many are anxious to see how Oculus Rift performs when it hits shelves in June. For more info or to pre-orderone head on over to their site.
Firewatch (Campo Santo) – February 9th on PS4 & PC
Firewatch is a first person adventure game starring a chubby park ranger trying to uncover a mystery within his park. It’s a truly gorgeous game and not knowing a lot about the story or what to expect makes many all the more excited to play it. Fire Watch is vibrant begging to be explored and experienced. As the first title from Campo Santo this is a very important release for them and will give the world a taste of what they’re capable of doing.
Unravel (Coldwood Interactive) – February 9th on PS4, Xbox One & PC
In one of the most memorable E3 demos ever lead designer Martin Sahlin eagerly (and very, very nervously) introduced the world to Unravel. Unravel stars Yarny, an adorable character made entirely of one strand of yarn. Yarny’s adventures will take him across a gorgeous world inspired by the Norwegian countryside where the developers of this game live. This is an endearing and adorable little puzzle platforming indie game which everyone should check out. At the very least it will show EA that these small games are viable and hopefully encourage them to publish more in the future.
Mighty No. 9 (Comcept) – February 9th on literally everything
The Mega Man game that isn’t called Mega Man, Mighty No. 9 is for all intensive purposes the next instalment in the beloved franchise that Capcom refuses to make. It’s being made by the Keiji Inafune the original illustrator of Mega Man on the NES and SNES. While retaining a lot of the core Mega Man tendencies like platforming and upgrades earned by beating bosses, Mighty No. 9 sets itself apart from the hit 90’s franchise by being about speed rather than careful calculation. Mighty No. 9 is about movement. Constant movement. Mighty No. 9 is releasing on every platform but mobile so there are plenty of options to get your hands on this game.
Far Cry Primal (Ubisoft Montreal) – February 23rd on PS4, Xbox One & PC
In a massive departure from the usual formula of the series, Far Cry Primal takes players back to the age of Neanderthals, sabertooth tigers and the great woolly mammoth. With this new time period Ubisoft has scratched all of the guns and explosives players used in all of the other games and has created primitive tools and weapons to use in combat. Will Ubisoft manage to make spears and bows interesting, after so many years of guns and exploding honey badgers have defined this series?
Star Fox Zero (Nintendo) – March on Wii U
Star Fox Zero is a game many desperately want to be good. The Wii U needs games, it needs first party support and it simply isn’t getting it. With graphics that look not that much different than the GameCube Star Fox games the only saving grace for Star Fox Zero will be gameplay. If Nintendo can nail the flight and combat that fans have come to love and expect from Star Fox games then there may be hope for this game yet. Wii U owners should definitely check out this game because honestly, what else have they got to play?
Quantum Break (Remedy Entertainment) – April 5th on Xbox One
From the studio that brought Alan Wake to the Xbox 360 comes their next ambitious project. Pitched as a game and television show mashup Quantum Break seems to be one of those mind bending games that plays with physics to keep combat interesting and unique and make this game something special and not just another generic third person shooter. Visually the game is stunning. Particle effects when time stops during an explosion are jaw dropping. Definitely a game that will be touted by Xbox as an example of what its hardware can do. And with an intriguing science fiction story starring Hollywood actor Shawn Ashmore (Smallville, X-Men, Frozen) there is a lot of potential for an interesting and engaging narrative.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Naughty Dog Inc.) – April 26th on PS4
What to say about Uncharted 4 that hasn’t already been said? It’s the most important game to PlayStation fans, the game that’s been promised to them since the PlayStation 4 was announced. This is the game that will justify their purchase of PS4, the game that will show them all that PlayStation is where the best games are. But after a rocky development with notable leads leaving the project mid development and quite obvious rethinking done by the new leads there is a lot of questions that will probably remain unanswered. Regardless, the Uncharted 4 that player’s get in April will not be the same game that was shown to the world back in 2013. But after a very promising multiplayer beta in October the game seems to be on the right track. And with a track record like the one Naughty Dog has with games like The Last of Us and the previous Uncharted games there is no doubt that this game will be incredible.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst (EA DICE) – May 24th on PS4, Xbox One & PC
A prequel to 2008’s very well received first-person parkour game that features one of the strongest female characters of the last generation was seriously underrated. EA hopes to fix that with the release of Catalyst. By making this game a prequel they don’t alienate players who would’ve passed on it because they hadn’t played the original. This is a game that has the potential to be a sleeper hit and many hope it will be. Showing the origins of the main character Faith as well as the rise of the couriers who she works for has many fans excited to dive into this game.
We Happy Few (Compulsion Games) – June on Xbox One & PC
This is a game that has many intrigued. Set in an Orwellian, retro-futuristic city in England during the 60’s the player is trying to escape from a town where the citizens’ emotions are regulated by drugs that keep them blissfully happy. There is a Big Brother-type figure known has Uncle Jack who tells people what to do, what to think and how to live. Escape is imperative. We Happy Few is very reminiscent of BioShock in both how it looks and how it develops its characters, drawing from real world themes and issues to create a compelling story. And it looks creepy as hell.
No Man’s Sky (Hello Games) – June on PS4 & PC
There was an E3 demo hown at PlayStation’s press conference that showed just how massive the universe in No Man’s Sky is by zooming out and out and out revealing thousands upon thousands of systems with even more planets within. This is when players really got a feel for what No Man’s Sky is: ambitious. The level of grandeur and utterly massive scale of No Man’s Sky is what excites gamers the most.
With this level of ambition and the promise of potentially unlimited world to explore it’s no wonder this game is so highly anticipated. As some might not know Hello Games had a bit of a natural disaster at their studio and thus the game was pushed back. The game is back on track though and some are speculating that the developers are taking the extra time to incorporate virtual reality support. This would definitely make sense for a game as immersive as No Man’s Sky wants to be.
Yooka-Laylee (Playtonic Games) – October on PS4, Xbox One, Wii U & PC
For what Mighty No. 9 is to Mega Man, Yooka-Laylee is to the hit Rare series Banjo and Kazooie. One character with another on its back, the duo is essentially the same as the lovable bear and bird team gamers fell in love with back in 1998. Except now it’s a lizard and a bat. And it looks way better than anything fans saw on the Nintendo 64 or even the Xbox 360. Yooka-Laylee is a return to the 3D platformer that fans have been wanting ever since Mario Galaxy reminded the world how good it can be.
Friday the 13th: The Game (Gun Media) – Fall on PS4, Xbox One & PC
This huge kickstarter success is lots of peoples’ most anticipated horror game of the year. Featuring asymmetrical four versus one gameplay, one player takes the role of Jason Voorhees, the iconic serial killer. The other players choose from different characters like the jock or the nerd, the stereotypical horror movie cast. The game is then begins, Jason spawns in the woods and makes his way towards Camp Crystal Lake while the other players frantically try to find a way out of the camp. Jason wins if he kills all the campers, a camper wins by escaping. Campers can work together to get out alive… or they can double cross each other to save themselves.
Project leader Adam Sessler describes this game as “one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve ever heard.” The team behind the game is small but they’re passionate. They’ve even managed to get creative help from the talent behind the guy who designed the original costume for Jason in the movies. There’s a lot of attention to detail being given to everything in this game to make sure it is the horror experience fans want.
Halo Wars 2 (343 Studios) – Fall on Xbox One & PC
This is the sequel no one thought fans would ever get. The hit 2009 real-time strategy game Halo Wars delighted many with its clever design and thoughtful use of the Halo property. The reveal of Halo Wars 2 at E3 surprised many and generated a great deal of excitement. Hopefully the game retains the core formula that made the first so successful while still bringing something new and interesting to the table.
Mass Effect Andromeda (BioWare) – December on PS4, Xbox One & PC
Many are skeptical whether Andromeda will come out this year. Games given December release dates are so often pushed into early the next year (like Hitman in 2015). But EA says it is coming out this year and that has many excited. After many were disappointed by Mass Effect 3’s samey ending and many more complained for so long about how the series was ruined this all seems to be forgotten amidst the new found excitement of once again returning to space and exploring the cosmos at the helm of a space ship.
Batman (TellTale Games) – TBD on PS4, Xbox One, PC & Mobile
After a lot of concern about the over saturation of TellTale games people are starting to say that they’ve finally jumped the shark. After four years riding the success of The Walking Dead and pumping out games for many licensed properties like Game of Thrones, Borderlands and Minecraft TellTale has finally set their sights on Batman. TellTale will have to do something really interesting with Batman to avoid retreading the familiar stories that Batman fans have been reading for over seventy years.
Below (Capybara Games) – TBD on Xbox One & PC
Below was one of the first games shown as a part of Xbox’s ID@XBOX program. This program was created to get more incredible indie games on the Xbox program and it definitely did its job snagging Below. Players take control of a robed figure who enters a mysterious dungeon. Below looks elegant in its presentation. There’s no health bar, no ammunition count, nothing. There is just the player and the environment. If the player is injured they’ll bleed until they can build a campfire and cauterize their wound. Below is very mysterious which is refreshing in a time when gamers usually know everything about a game before it’s even out.
Cuphead (Studio MDHR) – TBD on Xbox One & PC
The first time Cuphead was shown many were confused. “Is this a trailer? Is this gameplay?” said some. “No, this can’t be gameplay… it looks like an old Disney cartoon,” said others. But what was shown was in fact the game. The most unique looking game ever shown on an E3 stage, Cuphead quickly became a phenomena. As people got their hands on it they quickly discovered that not only does Cuphead look amazing but it plays great too. Offering a steep challenge Cuphead does not tolerate anything less than 110% from players so be prepared for a challenge.
Dishonored 2 (Arkane Studios) – TBD on PS4, Xbox One & PC
Dishonored delighted gamers back in 2012 with a fresh, first-person and narrative driven experience. It gave players the freedom to play the whole game without hurting a soul or blast through everything murdering any and all who stand in their way. Dishonored 2 promises to deliver that and more. Dishonored 2 is told from the perspective of Emily Kaldwin, the princess Corvo was protecting at the start of the first game. The trailer shows Emily with the same powers and abilities Corvo had which raises so many questions with even more exciting possible answers. And in a medium over saturated with dudebros shooting their way out of all their problems it’s so nice to see a AAA game star a female heroine.
Perception (The Deep End Games) – TBD on PC
Designed by some folks who worked on BioShock, BioShock Infinite and the original Dead Space, Perception is about a blind woman who uses sounds to see the world. Through noises and the reflection of these noises as well as her can she explores a house from her past. There is a supernatural element though and the game quickly becomes takes a turn for the survival horror. This game is a first-person, narrative driven experience and given the track record of the talent behind it Perception will undoubtedly be an awesome game. For more information and to contribute to the kickstarter check out their page.
Gravity Rush 2 (Sony Japan Studio) – TBD on PS4
Many are angry that Gravity Rush 2 isn’t coming out on Vita where the series gained all of its support and where all of its fans championed it. But good games are good games, regardless of platform. And if releasing Gravity Rush 2 on the PS4 means it will reach more players and that increases the chance of there being a Gravity Rush 3 then fans should be excited. This sequel doesn’t seem to innovate much in the realm of gameplay (from what we’ve seen) but where it does shine is in it’s visuals. Where the Vita only offered mediocre graphics at best by harnessing the PS4 Japan Stuio is able to make Gravity Rush‘s unique, graphic novel style of presentation shine like never before.
Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games) – TBD on PS4
The biggest game shown at E3 2015 and tons of critic’s game of the show, Horizon Zero Dawn is the next AAA blockbuster from Guerilla Games. After spending the past fifteen years making the dark and dreary Killzone franchise fans finally got a small taste of their true potential with Killzone Shadowfall at the launch of the PlayStation 4 back in 2013. This game was so vibrant and so full of wonder and incredible vistas and vast skyscrapers. The only thing that held it back was that it was still a Killzone game that didn’t offer anything new in the oversaturated world of first-person shooters starring dudebros with a little stubble and a sorted past.
But with Horizon Zero Dawn Guerilla Games have created an all new heroine named Aloy. Horizon is also third person which is a big change for Guerilla. Little is known about the premise but what is know is very interesting. Set long after humans have been usurped as the dominant species by a new race of mechanized dinosaurs the few remaining humans have returned to a tribal state and hunt these creatures much like how the early humans hunted ice age creatures. This premise with an incredible heroine at the helm is why everyone should be very, very excited for Hoizon Zero Dawn.
Severed (DrinkBox Studio) – TBD on PS Vita!!!
If you liked the positively delightful Guacamelee! and own a PlayStation Vita then you will definitely want to keep Severed on your radar. Severed features a very similar art style art style to Guacamelee! but it’s gameplay couldn’t be more different. Severed is a first-person, RPG-light adventure starring a one armed woman trying to find her lost family in a nightmarish land of horrific monsters. Severed will probably be one of the last great Western developed games to release on the platform and features smart touch based controls which will probably prevent the game from being ported to PC and consoles. So if you’re looking for something unique and interesting to play on your Vita Severed is definitely that game.
SpyJinx (Chair Entertainment & Bad Robot Productions) – TBD on PC & Mobile
SpyJinx is a collaboration between Chair Entertainment (Shadow Complex, Infinity Blade) and Bad Robot Productions (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek, Lost). The talent behind this game alone is reason for excitement. J.J. Abrams is working very closely with Chair on the design of the characters and the story as well as the game’s overall development. SpyJinx is described on its official site as “a unique mix of action strategy gameplay, dynamic world building and RPG character development — all set in a thrilling, treacherous world of espionage”. For a more in depth look into how SpyJinx came to be and how Chair approaches their projects check out this cool article by Dave Tach over at Polygon.
Persona 5 (Atlus) – TBD on PS3, PS4
Ever since Persona 4 really brought the series to popularity and the even more refined Persona 4: Golden cemented the franchise as an essential JRPG experience fans have been pining for the next main instalment. And this year their wishes will be granted. Atlus has been long at work crafting an incredible Persona game for the PlayStation 4. From what has been shown the game will function very similar to the others except for one huge change. This time around the game has a cat companion. And you can play video games with it. Yes, video games. Within a video game. With a cat. Is it too early to say game of the year?
The Last Guardian (Sony Japan Studio) – TBD on PS4
After being in the seventh circle of development hell the long awaited game from the team behind Ico and Shadow of the Colossus is finally, FINALLY coming out. It won’t be long before bird dog and his human will be travelling across their world and across player’s televisions so that everyone will finally be able to see what all the fuss really is about. With the most hype any game can possibly handle it may do more harm than good. With such high expectations can The Last Guardian deliver? Many hope so.
The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo) – TBD on Wii U (Hopefully)
After an incredible showing at E3 in 2014 during a Nintendo Direct fans saw the most ambitious Zelda game ever shown. With incredibly vibrant visuals and a seemingly massive map there is a lot of hype surrounding this game. But many are concerned that a this game will get the same treatment that Twilight Princess got and be ported to the NX as well as release on the Wii U or maybe even left off of the Wii U entirely. Nintendo has said they aren’t going to do that but the fear still exists. Regardless The Legend of Zelda always delivers a thoughtful and beautiful game and this one will no doubt be more of that. This will also be the first Zelda game released in HD. Because it’s 2015, right Nintendo?
PlayStation VR (Sony CE) – TBD for PS4
PlayStation’s bold step into the VR market already has dozens of games announced and confirmed for launch with the promise of much more first party support in the future. President of Sony Worldwide Studios for SCE Shuhei Yoshida has stated that he views the launch of PlayStation VR like the launch of the original PlayStation back in 1994. This attitude will be crucial in establishing PlayStation VR as a long term platform for games and making sure that it doesn’t go the way of PlayStation Move or Sony’s 3D initiatives.
Skip to 1:33:00 for a great interview with Yoshida about PS VR.
NX (Nintendo) – Who the hell really knows
The quick turnaround from Wii U to Nintendo’s next home console shows how much of a flop the Wii U really is. It’s under performing the GameCube which is widely regarding as one of the worst selling major home console ever conceived. Their new console, code named “NX”, is rumoured to be a portable console blended with a home console. It’s also rumoured to be more powerful than the PlayStation 4 which would be really interesting considering Nintendo almost never has the most powerful device among its competitors. The other thing Nintendo needs to fix with their next console is to reestablish connections with third party developers. After an absolutely abysmal third party performance at the launch of the Wii U and essentially no third party support anymore the NX needs to fix this and provide fans with games to play in between Nintendo’s first party releases. So whether or not it’s released in 2016 the world will certainly know a lot more about the mysterious NX by the year’s end.
While these certainly aren’t all of the best games coming out this year they are all games that everyone should keep an eye on. And who knows how many games will get announced and released all within the year like Fallout 4 did in 2015? It’s definitely exciting and hopefully something on this list caught your attention. Are there any games I missed? Are there any that you hadn’t heard of before now? I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!
All of the images in this article were labeled for reuse. All videos are direct links to the original trailers.