2016 was a good but not spectacular year for video game releases. Plenty of games enjoyed commercial as well as critical success, but there were few stand-out hits, for me anyway. Looking at Metacritic’s top 100 games for 2016, it’s not until no. 27 that a standalone game appears which appealed to me. Good job then that 2017 is looking very promising indeed, with a number of blockbuster games slated for release before the year is out. Fingers crossed their release dates don’t slip too far!
5. Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar’s open-world Western epic Red Dead Redemption, released in 2010, is one of my favourite games of all time. The game was a bloody homage to classic Westerns like Unforgiven and The Wild Bunch, and an excellent video game in its own right. Not much information has been released yet about its sequel, but presumably the game will have a massive budget, and the few clips released so far suggest Rockstar hope to eclipse even The Witcher 3 in terms of scale and ambition. RDR 2 was only announced in late 2016, and I would be more excited were it not for the fact there are a bunch of important games due out much sooner. Moreover, there’s a good chance the release date for this one will slip into 2018.
4. Resident Evil 7
I must be one of the few people who thought Resi 6 was a really good game. When I finally played it, on PC in 2015, I enjoyed it immensely and found it an exceptionally satisfying action-horror game. I’m actually playing the HD remake of Resident Evil on PS4 at the moment–the first time since I played it on Gamecube over a decade ago–and while it’s still a good game, I find I don’t miss the endless backtracking and inventory management. However, the masses have spoken and Capcom seem to be heeding the popular call for a return to the survival horror roots of the series, at least in part. One of the exciting things about Resi 7 is its bold use of VR, as Capcom have indicated the entire game will be playable on Playstation VR. The potential of this is huge, both good and bad. I’ve experienced how immersive VR can be, and the prospect of playing through a Resident Evil game in a VR headset is exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure. It’s a risk to include this in a franchise main entry rather than testing it out in a spin-off first. But whatever, we don’t have long to wait until we know what it’s like: the game is due out on 24 January.
3. Tales of Berseria
Another game due out in January, Tales of Berseria has actually been out in Japan for some time, where its reviews have been very positive. This is good news, as the last entry in the franchise, Tales of Zestiria, was a bit of a mixed bag and something of a disappointment as the first Tales game to hit the PS4. At its best, the Tales series delivers an unparalleled RPG experience, with a knack for creating interesting characters and worlds, colourful graphics, and deep and engaging real-time combat systems. It’s also exceptional among RPG franchises for its regular inclusion of couch co-op, making it a massive favourite in our household. We can’t wait to see how the adventures of Berseria’s heroine and her crew match up to previous Tales games.
2. Mass Effect: Andromeda
The Mass Effect trilogy provided an outstanding, inspirational story and setting, one of the best I’ve enjoyed in any medium. Naturally, therefore, I’m excited to see what the next Mass Effect game has in store, although it will be strange not to share it with Commander Shepherd and the crew of the Normandy. I expect I’m not alone in feeling some trepidation about the prospect of a new ME game, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be concerned at how publisher EA will handle this beloved franchise. The developer, Bioware, has a lot of good will in the bank, but this isn’t really the same Bioware that released the first Mass Effect game almost a decade ago. The lengthy trailer that came out a month or two back raised as many questions as it answered. Here’s hoping the game does justice to the legacy of its predecessors. I’m also looking forward to its multiplayer, as the online co-op horde mode included with Mass Effect 3 was really excellent, and not just because it finally let you play as a Biotic Volus.
1. Persona 5
I’m a latecomer to the Persona party, having played my first Atlus game last year. But Tokyo Mirage Sessions was my game of 2016, and I’m now hooked on the formula used by the Shin Megami Tensei/Persona games and their various spin-offs. Persona 4 regularly features in best-game-ever lists, and Persona 5 has already attracted rave reviews since its release in Japan last year. This game has been delayed almost as often as Duke Nukem Forever, but the experience of Doom last year seems to have proved that interminable delays aren’t always a bad thing. Going by the trailer alone, Persona 5 looks like it will be awesome, and it could well be the stand-out game of a very promising year. Fingers crossed.
It’s not a coincidence that all my most anticipated games of 2017 are coming to PS4, though they’re not PS4 exclusives. Sony’s console is firmly ensconced as the main console of this generation, so it’s obvious why developers want their games to appear on it. Plus, the PS4 is particularly well catered for with JRPGs.
That said, two other games deserve a mention here. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is due out soon, and does look pretty appealing. I was a Zelda fanatic as a teenager, but I haven’t been excited for a Zelda game since Twilight Princess. As a loyal, suffering Gamecube owner, I grew increasingly frustrated by that game’s endless delays, and was disappointed by the lacklustre final product when it was finally released for the Wii. Breath of the Wild is thus the first Zelda game in a decade to stoke my interest, but I don’t know yet if I’ll get it on the Wii U, or wait and maybe buy it on the Switch some point down the line.
The other RPG I’m curious about this year is Dragon Quest VIII, due out imminently on the 3DS in just a couple of weeks’ time. I never owned a PS2, so missed out on Dragon Quest VIII the first time round (just like I missed out on Persona 3 and 4). But it seems to be regarded as one of the best entries in the franchise, so I’ll try to pick it up at some point this year.
So, all in all, it looks like there will be plenty to get stuck into in 2017–even leaving aside the dozens of already-released games I want to play this year.