It’s hard to believe 2016 is half over. So many amazing games have come out this year. From Naughty Dog’s phenomenal conclusion to their beloved franchise Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End to Drinkbox Studio’s stunning PS Vita adventure Severed there have been loads of great games to play from small indie games and AAA titles alike. But there is still so much more to play in the coming months and several undoubted “Game of the Year” contenders. So to keep track of all the awesome games still to come I’ve decided to update our previous list published back in January. Take a look at all the exciting games you’ll (probably) be able to play in 2016!
Headlander (Double Fine Productions) – July 26th on PS4 & PC
A ridiculous action game from critically acclaimed Double Fine Productions has players take control of the last human on a space station where a malicious AI has enslaved humans whose consciouses have been transferred into robotic bodies. You only have your head, however, which is preserved in a special space suit helmet. This is hardly a handicap as you can detach your head and rocket around, taking over other robot bodies and controlling them as your own. Using your head landing skills you’ll need to save humanity (or robotity?) from enslavement. Absurdity at its finest and I can’t wait!
Chambara (Team Ok) – July 26th on PS4
A unique take on split-screen competition, Chambara is a competitive fighting game based on hide and seek using colours. Simply put, there are two colours, each player is a different one, and they fight it out on a map of the same two colours using their ability to blend into their surroundings to out manoeuvre and kill their opponent. It’s a genius idea and from the trailers and gameplay I’ve seen this game is shaping up to be the next Nidhogg in terms of its simple mechanic and style but endless replayability with countless exciting couch coop moments.
We Happy Few Game Preview/Early Access (Compulsion Games) – July 26th on Xbox One & PC
Coming to Steam Early Access and Microsoft Game Preview, the non-narrative aspects of We Happy Few will be playable for fans who can’t wait for the full release. Essentially all of the mechanics (hiding, fighting, etc.) are functioning and the game is feature complete. It’s coming early so that the team can get feedback and have more time to create the narrative components like the story missions, cutscenes and more. So if you want to hop into the terrifying dystopic world of Wellington Wells and start popping Joy pills than be sure to buy the early access.
Batman: The Telltale Series (Telltale Games) – August 2nd on PS4, Xbox One, PC & Mobile
Announced at the Game Awards in late 2015, Batman: The Telltale Series will be a 5 episode adventure starring the famed caped crusader. Interestingly this game will place a lot more emphasis on Bruce Wayne’s role in Gotham. Players will be able to approach a situation either as Batman or as Bruce Wayne with vastly different experiences. This emphasis on player choice has always been a crucial part of Telltale games but letting players actually choose who to play as takes it to a whole new level. As a Batman and a Telltale fan, I’m very excited not only because Telltale has stated Batman will be similar in maturity to The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead but also because this will be the first Telltale game utilising their upgraded engine.
Abzû (Giant Squid) – August 2nd on PS4 & PC
I wasn’t sure what drew me to Abzû so strongly until I found out that it is the next project from Flower and Journey art director Matt Nava (@). Once I learned that it made sense why the gorgeous art style and simple yet deeply engaging underwater world grabbed me so much. This is the same style with which Journey took the gaming community by storm with its unprecedented critical success and put indie games on the main by winning several “Game of the Year” awards. Interestingly Abzû is going with an underwater setting, the extreme opposite of JOurney‘s vast desert setting. Whether these contrasting settings were deliberate or merely a coincidence I’m not sure. While I don’t believe Abzû can match the emotional power and resonance that Journey did I am still very interested in seeing the evolution of an artist’s style and an exploration of an underwater world.
Overcooked (Ghost Town Games) – August 3rd on PS4, Xbox One & PC
I have been in love with Overcooked, the debut title from two-man indie team Ghost Town Games, since I first saw it back in February when it was announced. Couch co-op madness is Overcooked‘s bread and butter. It’s incredibly refreshing in light of the trend towards online only multiplayer to have a game pushing classic couch co-op so hard. With AAA titles whose foundation has been couch coop like Halo dropping split screen co-op entirely, I believe the future of the couch coop is with indie developers and Overcooked looks like an awesome title that everyone should keep on their radar.
No Man’s Sky (Hello Games) – August 9th on PS4 & PC (hopefully)
Plagued by delay after delay, it seems Hello Games space adventure No Man’s Sky will finally be taking off in only a couple weeks. Announced way back in 2013 at the PS4 reveal event, No Man’s Sky has had an unbelievable amount of hype behind it for years. The incredibly ambitious title claims players will be able to explore over 18 quintillion planets and that it will take more than 5 billion years to fully explore its universe. Whoa, whether No Man’s Sky will live up to the hype or more importantly whether it will work on day one or crash like every other multiplayer game this year remains to be seen. Despite the scepticism fans everywhere (myself included) can’t wait to start exploring the universe of No Man’s Sky.
Bound (Plastic Studios) – August 16th on PS4
I got a chance to play Bound early at Montreal Comic Con and instantly fell in love. The main character moves only in dance. From her jumps to the way she shimmies along edges every single movement is made with the grace and beauty of a ballerina. She moves through a low-poly world that is just as beautiful and graceful as she is. Another game being published by Sony Santa Monica that is absolutely stunning, adding to their track record of other indie titles like Flow, Hohokum and 2012’s smash hit Journey. Given Santa Monica’s track record for finding hit indie titles and how much I loved the demo I played, I can’t wait to leap into the world of Bound and dance everywhere.
Persona 5 (Atlus) – September 15th on PS3, PS4
Ever since Persona 4 really brought the series to popularity and the even more refined Persona 4 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”?
Final Fantasy XV (Square Enix) – September 30th on PS4 & Xbox One
Fun fact, in the time since FFXV was announced back in 2006 as Final Fantasy XII Versus and was repeatedly delayed over the next 10 years Naughty Dog released 4 Uncharted games and The Last of Us. Once the absurdity of that fact sinks in you’ll see that there’s no doubt that FFXV will never live up to the hype that has been building for over a decade. Not only will it not live up to the hype but Square Enix has revealed that it wants to sell 10 million copies to consider the game a success. That’s an incredibly ambitious goal for a series that in over two decades has only every had one game, Final Fantasy VII, reach lifetime sales of over 10 million.
That said there is still hope for FFXV to be a great instalment in the waning JRPG series. FFXV is positioning itself as a great Final Fantasy game for veteran players and those who have never played Final Fantasy, despite being the fifteenth instalment in the main series. Square Enix has stated that through a multimedia strategy of movies, anime and the comics they hope to woo new players to the series who’ve never played a Final Fantasy game before. Whether or not this will help remains to be seen but many are speculating that releasing two weeks after up and coming JRPG hit Persona 5 will not only hurt sales but draw a great deal of attention and potential players away.
Mafia III (Hangar 13) – October 7th on PS4, Xbox One & PC
The third game in 2K’s hit Mafia series sees Vietnam war veteran and African American Lincoln Clay return from the war to find his friends and family in New Bordeaux (essentially New Orleans) have been murdered by local gangs. With a burning desire revenge and an internal struggle with what he saw during the war he takes to the streets and joins the black mob to avenge his lost loved ones.
From the gameplay trailers, we’ve seen Mafia III has refined the gun combat and driving mechanics that have been integral to the series as well as adding new mechanics such as recruiting non-playable characters to the crime family and completing missions to slowly take control of the city. On the surface it appears to be just another open world crime game but when you really look at the story trailers and read the narrative there is a great deal of social commentary being made. Playing as an African American in the 60s will expose some (white) players to the nasty truths of racial profiling, social injustices and the daily struggle of being a person of colour in the United States which still rings true to this day. Whether or not Mafia III will fall into the same stereotypes that games which feature black gang members so often do remains to be seen but I am hopeful that it will offer up something new.
Gears of War 4 (The Coalition) – October 11th on Xbox One & Windows 10
With Gears 4 being the first Gears game not developed by Epic Games the Xbox community finds itself in a very similar situation to when Halo 4 was released by 343 Studios instead of longtime Halo studio Bungie. A beloved Xbox franchise has been taken on by a new studio who from all appearances seems to be on the right track. Gameplay looks crisp and cover-based as always with new weather features like wind and lightning creating unpredictable firefights.
Battlefield 1 (EA DICE) – October 21th on PS4, Xbox One & PC
While EA was hesitant to go back to a World War setting because they weren’t sure their target audience (prepubescent boys) would know what World War 1 was I’m certainly glad they have. As the first person shooter genre seemingly got further and further into the future with Advanced Warfare and Battlefield 4 it’s going to be a refreshing change of pace to revisit the World War settings that made the genre so popular in the early 2000s. Choosing to go back even further to World War 1 is especially interesting as that was a war where not a whole lot of epic action happened. It was mainly trench warfare which while equally as brutal and morose as World War 2 was not nearly as active and moving. Whether or not it pans out will remain to be seen but I’m certain this will be a big seller come the Fall.
Civilization VI (Firaxis Games) – October 21 on PC
After the lacklustre Civilization: Beyond Earth underwhelmed fans back in 2014 it seems Firaxis has taken the hint and returned to form with Civ VI. This time around the big changes aside from cities being able to stretch over multiple tiles and a new district feature is a very distinct new art style. Everything has changed from the fog that used to cover undiscovered areas of the map (now replaced with ancient maps) to the character models of the world leaders and the terrain itself. Everything feels fresh and that’s especially important for a game that’s the sixth title in a longstanding series.
The Last Guardian (SIE Japan Studio) – October 25 on PS4
As with Final Fantasy XV, The Last Guardian is another title that for unknown reasons has remained in development hell for over a decade. But Sony surprised many with a re-reveal of the title at last year’s E3 and received a boisterous applause with a launch date at this year’s E3. Following the likes of cult classics like Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, it won’t be long until we can finally see whether Japan Studio’s latest bizarre adventure lives up to the hype and the long wait.
Titanfall 2 (Respawn Entertainment) – October 28 on PS4, Xbox One & PC
The successor to the Xbox One’s first great hit, Titanfall 2 promises to bring everything fans loved about the original and more. At the same time, they will deliver what the fans wanted so badly, a single player campaign. This winning combination positions Titanfall 2 to be a respectable contender in the first person shooter market that Battlefield and Call of Duty have dominated for so long.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (Infinity Ward) – November 4
I have never been excited for a Call of Duty game before. Annualised franchises lose their appeal and wonder so quickly as fans of Assassin’s Creed know so well. That’s why when I started reading up on Infinite Warfare and seeing gameplay at E3 I found myself surprised at my excitement. Firstly, I love space. Zero gravity physics and blood boiling space battles are terrifying and seeing players smash in enemy masks and die from exposure gave me chills. Secondly, two ex-Naughty Dog developers are heading up this project which gives me hope that the story will be on the same level of polish as the Uncharted games. Taylor Kurosaki (@) is the lead writer and Jacob Minkoff (@) is the design director and these two gentlemen are responsible for some of my favourite Uncharted moments so here’s hoping they can breathe some of that magic into this stale franchise.
Dishonored 2 (Arkane Studios) – November 11 on PS4, Xbox One & PC
The sequel to 2013’s surprise hit was the big game at Bethesda’s E3 press conference this year. Taking place several years after the events of the first game, players can choose to play as either Corvo or Emily the now empress of her late mother’s kingdom. But Dishonored 2 sees players travelling to a completely new area of the kingdom. Whereas Dunwall was a bleak and drab whaling city, Dishonored 2 takes place in Karnaca which is known as “the jewel of the south” by those who live there. Again players gain supernatural powers and combine them with melee and sword fighting to stealthily make their way through the missions. Also, everyone who preorders will get Dishonored Definitive Edition for free! Dishonored 2 promises to be one of many exciting sequels coming this fall just like…
Watch Dogs 2 (Ubisoft Montreal) – November 25 on PS4, Xbox One & PC
…Watch Dogs 2! The sequel to the game that was pitched as the first true next-gen experience but turned out to be much less. This time around it seems the developers have learned from the mistakes made with the first game and have dropped the serious story and characters in favour of a lighthearted and more fun tone. They’ve also swapped out the windy city for San Francisco which makes sense being the tech capital of the world in a hacking game. Things seem to be looking good for this title and many believe that Watch Dogs 2 has the potential to be for this series what Assassin’s Creed II was for that series.
Pokemon Sun & Moon (Game Freak) – November 18 on Nintendo 3DS
The most ridiculous abbreviated title in games history. Honestly, how did no one at Nintendo caught this? Title aside, Pokemon S&M‘s gorgeous tropical island setting and adorable new starters have the Pokemon community eagerly eating up any and all information about the new games. The hype train will ride on into the fall for what might be one of the last great 3DS game if the rumours about Nintendo’s NX being a mobile hybrid. We’ll have to wait and see!
Gravity Rush 2 (SIE Japan Studio) – December 2 on PS4
I absolutely adored the first Gravity Rush when it debuted on the PlayStation Vita back in 2012. One of the only Vita games to smartly use the console’s front and back touch screen and one of the most accessible Japanese games I’ve played. I rarely play Japanese games but something about the art style in Gravity Rush really connected with me. From the comic book style used to present the story and dialogue to the vibrant colours, I loved it. That’s why I’m all the more excited for the sequel, now able to harness the power of the PS4, to deliver the same great gameplay and style all in greater detail and scale.
From what I played at Montreal Comic Con, Gravity Rush 2 is every bit as delightful and fun as the original. The game looks absolutely incredible on the PlayStation 4. The new setting is incredibly colourful compared to the brown and greys of the first. Gravity Rush 2 handled like a dream. After playing the original for dozens of hours I was able to pick up the controller and get right back into zipping around using gravity shifts and fighting off nevi with my gravity kicks and dodges. Needless to say, I’m very excited for this game to grace my PlayStation 4 later this year.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole (Ubisoft San Francisco) – Dec. 6 on PS4, Xbox One & PC
What a title. Do I need to say anything more? The trailer shown at Ubisoft’s E3 conference is what sold me. I love making fun of superhero movies and this game is entirely based around the ridiculousness of Marvel’s movie phases as well as all the tropes they use so frequently. Beyond the superhero, satire seems to be a more fleshed out RPG experience than Stick of Truth‘s fairly basic setup. Players can now move around the battle and use cover to protect themselves and set up more devastating attacks. So whether you love superheroes, South Park or unorthodox RPGs then this one is for you. Another title where pre-ordering snags you the first game for free!
Yooka-Laylee (Playtonic Games) – October on PS4, Xbox One, Wii U & PC
For what Shovel Knight was to classic NES games like Mega Man and Castlevania, Yooka-Laylee is to the mascot platformer genre that was so popular during the N64 days with hits like Mario 64 and Banjo & 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. Under development by Playtonic Games, the team working on Yooka-Layleeis composed of a lot of the core team that developed Banjo & Kazooie at Rare Ltd. in the 90s. 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 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.
Below (Capybara Games) – Summer 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 are just the player and the environment. If the player is injured they’ll bleed until they can build a campfire and cauterise 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
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 she 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 check out their (successfully funded!) Kickstarter page.
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 SpyJinxcame to be and how Chair approaches their projects check out this cool article by Dave Tach over at Polygon.
Xbox One S
The long rumoured slim version of the Xbox One was announced and the 2TB version is set to release in August of this year with different storage sizes coming at a later date. The Xbox One S is much slimmer than the original, comes in white and will retail for $299 USD ($499 CDN). A special Gears of War 4 edition of the Xbox One S was also announced and is a must buy for any Gears fan. So whether your Xbox One is getting sluggish or you find yourself running out of space it might be time to upgrade.
PlayStation VR (SIE) – October 13th for PS4
PlayStation’s bold step into the VR market already has dozens of exciting 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.
PlayStation VR will launch in North America on October 13, 2016, for $399 USD ($549.99 CDN) and will have over 50 games from launch until the end of 2016. The ridiculously high price in Canadian dollars is in no small part due to the weak dollar, but the actual conversion of $399 USD to CDN is $515 so I guess that extra $35 is just because they can.
I got a chance to play PlayStation VR at Montreal Comic Con and was quite impressed with how light and comfortable the headset felt in comparison to the HTC Vive. PSVR will be an excellent first step for many players into the exciting world of virtual reality. While gaming VR headsets like the Vive and Oculus require powerful computers that can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 in addition to the cost of the headset the PSVR will run just off of a PS4 which millions of people already own. Seeing as preorders sold out almost instantly it seems the excitement for VR on a home console is growing among consumers.
Skip to 1:33:00 for a great interview with Yoshida about PS VR.
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. Undoubtedly some will be delayed and others will be announced with an impending release date. 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!