- For Honor (Ubisoft Montreal) Valentine’s Day
I spoke to a former game developer at Ubisoft and pro gamer who revealed in a talk that the company has been pushing really hard for e-Sports with this latest effort, and from playing the alpha (captured above) I can tell.
For the first time in forever I began a multiplayer game on even footing with everybody. These were my first two games, and you can tell after getting my ass whooped in the first two rounds I made a stunning comeback. It is so odd that it seemed actually funner to watch than it was to play, and that’s saying something.
A third person action Deadliest Warrior type game from Ubisoft’s A-Team that pits Knights, Vikings, and Samurai against each other this online smash is the funnest time I’ve had in some while. If you go to the website you can register for the beta. A final sad note: they recently cut split screen multiplayer to make way to support online co-op. This has to stop among developers.
- Ghost Recon: Wildlands (Ubisoft Paris) March 7th
This blew the doors off of Ubisoft’s E3 2015 press conference. Developed from their main headquarters in Paris, I’m excited for this game for different reasons than For Honor. I enjoyed the deeper level of strategy present in Future Soldier that I haven’t found as accessible since Tom Clancy’s EndWar or the first three SOCOM games. More so, I’m excited most of all to play through an adventure with four (likely strangers-then online) friends.
- Mass Effect: Andromeda (BioWare Montreal) March 21st
Mass Effect 2 is my favourite game of all time. The original is a very strong entry with a very good story, and the third game was the most ambitious game I’ve ever played. Time will tell if the new galaxy is as open as the previous entries (as suggested by the re-introduction of the MAKO vehicle) or slimmed down and more focused in its long-term transition between entries. This would be similar to what Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was to GTA IV.
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory) 2017
Ninja Theory does story well. Cutting their teeth on the PS3 exclusive Heavenly Sword, then going multi-platform with Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, they went hardcore with DmC: Devil May Cry which again like all their products was lauded for their story. Their voice acting is always top-notch and they’ve pushed the bar even further on this one as you can tell in the video above. The angle they are exploring this time via yet another female protagonist (always welcome here) has some sort of mental illness which is both an interesting and risky proposition. You can follow the game’s progress in weekly developer diaries released on their YouTube page.
- Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Naughty Dog) 2017
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is tied with Mass Effect 2 (and two others) for my favourite game of all time. I was kind to Uncharted 4 though was expecting a little bit more darkness and as long as they were promising it… finality. This drake-less title at least promises to deliver on the darkness aspect. It could see release as soon as February similar to The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC or go on a year later like Wolfenstein: The Old Blood in May time will tell but I certainly hope it is sooner rather than later. This small bit is my most anticipated release.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo EPD) March 3rd
Of course Zelda is going to be on here! Its been on everyone’s list since it was announced. The thing for me is that as much of a gamer as I am, I have never played a Zelda game. Even though Ocarina of Time came out around the perfect time for me when I was younger as I was five and just getting into video games like Crash Bandicoot which is getting a remaster this year. It seemed so epic and slightly daunting to me although many of my friends played it. Because of that I treat the series with a sort of reverence that I was not going to force myself to enter into it. Since I did not receive an N64 until around 2000 and obviously had little cash flow I left it be. I bought a Wii-U as my first Nintendo console since then two years ago and have been awaiting a brand new entry to latch onto.
With the Nintendo Switch coming in March I hope to God that this game comes out for my platform at least before June, or else I would honestly consider suing if they decided to throw their hands up at that point and said that Wii U development was too hard, cancelled and decided not to release it. Signs do however most likely point to a Twilight Princess style release structure where the lesser version is released a few weeks later. Considering the amount of times AAA games in the last 10 years have casually missed their release windows again and again after lack of tight planning and early reveals I find it unprofessional and grow impatient. Consider me as one of the 13 million people who voted with their wallet in support of a platform that has always held a Zelda promise and was just discontinued.
Obviously, the game has a lot to live up to but all I’m asking for is a polished neat looking game that entertains me for at least 60 hours and has good music. I’ve spent more time with games that were valued much less [New Vegas] and this is a company that has been doing this for over 30 years (a decade longer than I have lived) with a franchise director on its hands and the full power of Nintendo’s development studios. And I have full confidence.
- Spider-Man (Insomniac Games) Q3
One of the best games on the Xbox One is Sunset Overdrive. A game shipped by the widely talented Insomniac Games whose diverse output over the last 20 years has been so impressive and above all fun. This game, likely a kickback of the Sony-Marvel Spider-Man deal that could very well prove well spent and will likely coincide with the release of the newest movie. The developers are not some half-rate licensing box so hopefully they can hit the highs of Treyarch on Spider-Man 2 or Neversoft’s Spider-Man (2000). One things for certain as far as Sony goes. They have the money to do it.
- Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games – San Diego) Q4
I enjoyed the first game, though not quite to the extent everyone else did as my 360 was recovering from playing a damaged copy of Halo Reach thus the presentation suffered. However what shined through was a supremely fine-tuned game with excellent production value; replete with physics, grand graphics to support its desert vistas and an unforgettable score. That’s enough for me to warrant a return trip to the old west. Hopefully its developers will suffer a bit less this time. I’ll afford them one delay since Rockstar is notorious for this. Almost all of their previous games in the last decade have been delayed and I’ve learned my lesson, but waiting and being optimistic is still worth it. I just wish they would learn theirs.
- Sea of Thieves (Rare) Q4
A rare return to form perhaps? This game looks like pure fun from a company who used to effortlessly deliver classics in spades. I’m excited for another good pirate game coming off my enjoyment of the best Assassin’s Creed game [IV] that I played last year. This very well could be a sleeper hit, since it seems more kid friendly than most other games on this list and I doubt people are expecting much from the company that made Kinect Sports.
Curiosity Factor: As I am known to be precautious (I was never sold on No Man’s Sky btw) here are some games I’m not totally sold on yet.
- Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Capcom) — REVIEW
Resident Evil returns to its more horrific, action-less roots, adopting a first person perspective for the first time. Release Date this month is January 24th. However I wasn’t crazy about the demo which was intentionally departing of the brand. I fear the slow-moving camera crawl of the player will prove frustrating, and that the Amnesia/ Slender minimalist well is too close to drying up. We’ll certainly see.
- Horizon: Zero Dawn (Guerilla Games) — REVIEW
The German developers finally step outside the Killzone franchise for the first time on February 28th. They aren’t known for delivering good stories beyond a baffling best story trailer to court their techno-infused marvels. They are all probably dying for something different though. As with No Man’s Sky I just haven’t seen enough gameplay variety beyond the impressive premiere demo to be sold. However a reason to be optimistic is that the developers hired the New Vegas [second mention in one article!] lead writer to aid with the story.
- We end naturally with The Last of Us: Part II (Naughty Dog) as Uncharted 4 director Neil Druckmann returns to the title that put him front and centre on Naughty Dog’s A-Team. It is likely going to be the most anticipated game since Uncharted 4 if not Grand Theft Auto V or Fallout 4. The capita of the title has raised significantly in the three and a half years since its original release, And though I am much assuming a late 2017 Release Date in Q4 here, the reality is that a solid announcement is likely in place for Christmas 2018. Oh why must we be teased with good games for so long? I feel like such practices won’t be out-of-place until Half Life 3 comes out. Until then at least with have some decent options.