5. Horizon Zero Dawn
February 28, 2017 (North America), March 1, 2017 (Europe), March 3, 2017 (UK)
First things first, this game looks beautiful. The environments are stunning, and those mechanical beasts are a complete contrast to the wonders of nature. Incredible juxtaposition. You have my attention, Guerrilla Games.
Now, because it’s an action role playing game with a big emphasis on open world, I can’t help but compare this game to the Witcher series. That was the first thought I had when I saw this game’s reveal at E3, but there are enough unique points about it that differentiates this game from the behemoth that is Witcher. Our protagonist, Aloy (or Ygritte as I have heard people comment), uses an array of ranged weapons and stealth attacks to take down Machines, which can be looted for parts. The world is divided into sections, which are controlled by different tribes. Aloy’s adventure takes her across the world, which she was shielded from her whole life, and the player is able to take on quests from different tribes. Exploration is key in this game, and Guerrilla Games have stated that there will be no loading screens when entering new areas, which is ambitious and I commend them for that.
Guerrilla Games have also claimed that this game will be heavily based on trial and error, and as such, there will be no tutorial. I can’t tell you enough how happy I am to hear this. I’ve found recently that I have preferred to figure out controls myself rather than be thrown in and out of tutorials to tell me basic controls, like how to move my character. Sometimes teaching controls is useful, but more often than not I feel as though tutorials can hinder the player and ruin the immersion. So, I am pretty ecstatic that the developers aren’t going to be holding our hands during this game. It will really feel as though the players are Aloy, who is going out into the big wide world for the first time, and we will learn about her own abilities as a huntress and the world around her as we embark on the journey together.
4. Corpse Party 3DS
TBA (Europe), TBA 2016 (North America), July 30, 2015 (Japan)
It’s not necessarily the game that I am excited for in this case, I just can’t believe that it’s coming to 3DS. Corpse Party is one of the best RPG maker games ever. The story line is great, the atmosphere is chilling and the soundtrack is unbelievably catchy. It was around when I discovered Corpse Party that I was also very much into Ib and The Crooked Man, both of which I thought were great RPG maker games too. I think there’s something about horror and RPG maker games that goes really well together, and Corpse Party got it just right. The campaign is long enough to keep you interested and there are several characters to get attached to, though that is a fool’s errand because these characters drop like flies. Especially if you start to get things wrong.
You play as various characters, all of whom are students, but after school activities go awry when one of them suggests that they perform a ‘ritual’ to mark their everlasting bond as friends. After a sudden earthquake, the students find themselves in an abandoned school, separated from one another and with evil things lurking in the darkness. They encounter the bodies of those who were trapped in the school before them, and the malevolent spirits that are trying to lead them to the same fate. The students of Kisaragi Academy must survive several obstacles in an attempt to solve the mystery surrounding the ominous place, and to finally reunite with their friends.
You really wouldn’t think that small 8-bit characters have the ability to scare you, but I really do think that this game makes a lot of triple A title horror games look like chumps. I don’t usually play horror games, but RPG maker games have a certain charm to them. You can’t help but be drawn in by them. I am a big fan of anime and manga, and so the art style and voice acting is definitely up my street, as it feels as though I am playing through an anime rather than simply watching it. The game is already out in Japan, and America are likely to get it before us here in Europe, but I can wait. It’s just going to feel like forever.
3. For Honor
February 14, 2017
Move over, Chivalry. Your time is over.
I adore the medieval period (though the literature can be quite taxing), from the architecture to the artwork and, most importantly in this case, the warfare. For Honor gives players the chance to play as Knights, Vikings or Samurai, all in a medieval setting. Where it differs from Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is that it’s not just the players in the game, but instead the AI makes up a lot of the armies, which makes it feel a lot more like a siege or battle scenario. There will be multiplayer options, so don’t worry, you’ll be able to hack your friends up to your heart’s content. But, if you’re like me and you’re not someone who plays online very much, you’ll be pleased to know that For Honor features a full single-player campaign that is completely separate from the other game modes.
Also, this is probably going to be the best Valentine’s Day gift ever. However, at the same time I don’t want to get my hopes up too high. While this game looks awesome in many ways, the gameplay that I’ve seen doesn’t make me say “Wow!”. I love the fact that Ubisoft have implemented a slightly more complex control system. The right analogue stick serves as directing your guard for opposing attacks, and it seems as though they have taken inspiration from Dark Souls and Bloodborne with the inclusion of light and heavy attacks, coupled with a dodge button. At the same time, when you watch gameplay it does look as though you’re simply just slashing your way through enemies with ease. There doesn’t seem to be any weight to your weapons, so the impact and damage they inflict appears superficial.
There is time for Ubisoft Montreal to reflect on any criticisms they have received, and I do hope that they try to do their best with this one, because this game looks like it has some real promise and potential.
2. We Happy Few
July 26, 2016 (Early Access)
There’s something about pairing excessive happiness with a horrific dystopian world that grasps my interest. I mean, look at these people. Their appearances are so disconcerting and I love everything about them.
We Happy Few is set in a fictional English city in an alternate timeline during the 1960s. The people have begun to take a hallucinogenic drug known as ‘Joy’, and as the name suggests, Joy makes them happy. But it also comes with serious side effects. People on Joy are left with little morality and are very easily manipulated. People who refuse to take their Joy are known as ‘Downers’, and can actually see the decrepit nature that they really live in, but Downers are greeted with violence by others. Players will control one of three characters who are Downers and must survive and escape the city, all the while trying to complete a task that is personal to their specific character.
This game definitely has influences from Orwell and Huxley from a concept point of view, which is clear to see. I did also feel as though the animation style was reminiscent of Bioshock, which I don’t think is a bad thing. I also got Tim Burton vibes from the character designs – large eyes, long limbs and skinny frames. With that combination, it’s safe to say that this is the type of game that I’ve been waiting for. In an industry that is saturated with ‘new’ ideas, this one stood out against all the big triple A titles. When I first watched the trailers and gameplay, I really couldn’t hold back my smile. The happy, colourful atmosphere is completely torn apart by the brutality of violence and paranoia, but people continue to take their Joy because they don’t want to see that side of life. It’s so brilliantly done!
I like that Compulsion Games have also steered away from Contrast but kept the intrigue. I enjoyed Contrast as it’s a platform game (anyone who knows me understands my love for platform games), but I also fell in love with the setting and the story. Shifting in and out of a shadow form to get past levels felt ingenious, but now we’re in a much darker area than that of simple shadows. I really cannot wait for the full game so I can experience what it’s like to be “off my Joy”.
1. Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon
November 18, 2016 (Japan, North America, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan), November 23, 2016 (Europe)
Thanks to Pokémon Go, my excitement for Sun and Moon is ridiculous. The mobile app has served as an appetiser, but I’m ready to throw myself back into another Pokémon adventure. I am finding the designs of the new Pokémon interesting, and it doesn’t seem as though Nintendo are running out of ideas (I’m looking at you Chandelure and Vanilluxe)… at least not entirely. I mean, Shirodesuna is pretty much a sand castle. Although, the name seems to be a play on the words shiro desu na, which literally translates to “That’s a castle, huh”. So, well played with the humour there, Game Freak.
I am leaning towards getting Pokémon Sun over Moon, because Solgaleo looks so much cooler than Lunala in my honest opinion. I do usually get lean towards blues and purples, but this time around I’d rather get the sun lion over the moon bat. I also think that my starter will have to be Litten because that cat looks adorably grumpy, and I can’t help myself. Another thing that I was a little confused about at first was the Alolan Pokémon, but after a little research I found that these Pokémon have become slightly different to what they usually appear as in other regions. Generation One Pokémon such as Vulpix, Sandshrew and Marowak have become ice, steel and fire types respectively, because of the different microclimates in the Alola Reigon. Marowak is definitely the coolest looking one so far, and I cannot wait to use him as a fire type this time around.
The new Battle Royale feature that will be introduced in this game sounds extremely fun. Up to four players can battle and the trainer who has accumulated the most amount of knockouts and with the most Pokémon remaining is the winner. I’m not usually one for online battles on Pokémon, but this is different to the standard battles that we have had before and I like that Nintendo are attempting something new. Until this game comes out, I have been considering replaying Omega Ruby (because I have all the Eeveelutions on Pokémon X and I’m not willing to give them up) to satiate my need for a Pokémon fix.
And that’s my final list! A couple games that should get honourable mentions are Battlefield 1 and Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom. The only reason I didn’t include them was because I’m still a bit skeptical of AoT as it looks a little skittish in the gameplay, and I personally have not played Battlefield before but the new game does look like it will be incredible.
I’m sure I’ve missed out plenty of games that deserve to be on this list, so write them in the comments and let me know what you’re excited for!