Gaming in 2015 was huge. Mostly because of the massive trend in open-world gameplay, as was evidenced by Stuff‘s top picks for the year. 2016 looks, if anything, to be even bigger though it seems that this could well be the year of the shooter rather than the role-playing game. As for virtual reality… that might come into it a little too.
We could be in for a few surprises come E3 but for now, this is what we know. And it’s more than enough for a year’s worth of gaming already. There really is something for everyone on the slate so, in alphabetical order, here are fifteen games that you’d better not miss in 2016:
This seems to be the start of a trend. Battleborn is an excuse to take several character classes and personalities, stick them into an arena and have them frag the crap out of each other or another team. Sounds great, right? Especially when the team behind this title is the same one that brought the world Borderlands. Colourful, goofy, irreverent, 25 different players to choose from and skill trees for upgrades in a first-person shooter? Yeah, that’s sounds like a good start. Expect Battleborn to launch in May this year.
Dark Souls III
April 2016 is coming and with it is our dose of gaming masochism. That can only mean another Dark Souls is on the way. Learn to master your patience when monster bosses, harsh environments and just plain plebs kill you over and over again in a symphony of pain, frustration and hatred. For a certain type of gamer, this is just what the doctor ordered. What the doctor didn’t order are those pyro dual-wielding gimps who drop into your game and make life hard just as you cleared that one section… you know the one we’re talking about (i.e. All of them). Seriously though, a new Dark Souls? We’re there.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
So apparently, and this is a massive spoiler by the way, you were supposed to survive at the end of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. We did, because we’re assholes like that, but it also sets the scene for Mankind Divided. The stealth-action game is back with Adam Jensen in the lead role and this time around he’s going up against the augmented who are being oppressed by the world at large. Unsurprising, really, given the events of the last game. As before, players will have an arsenal of gadgets and a host of mechanised upgrades to deploy and they’ll also have some choices to make, as well as the option of a pacifist run. Or, at the very least, the option to not slaughter everything that moves. Or you could, you know, go wholesale mass murder on everyone. That’d probably be allowed too. Seriously, why would you do that? Find out in August 2016.
We loved the first Dishonored. Not only was the idea a bit unusual but the way that the game world changed depending on your approach to it meant that taking the harder route frequently was the easier option at the end of the day. Dishonored 2 is a return to that, with the added benefit of letting players take the role of initial protagonist Corvo Attano or Emily Kaldwin – the young Empress that players were tasked with rescuing in the first game. A new story, new abilities and some robot opponents are the least of your worries this time around. Seems there’s a new disease to worry about as well and this one is a bit… gooey.
Media Molecule, of LittleBigPlanet fame, have long been about community-created content. Their latest outing, called Dreams, doesn’t shy away from that trend. The company have shown off a teaser detailing what can be made using Dreams but we haven’t actually seen what the whole… point… is. Is Dreams just a content creation engine for the PlayStation 4? Will there be a story? Both, by the look of things. Like LittleBigPlanet, Dreams is set to give you an example and then the tools to go and create your own awesome stuff. We’re expecting some mighty big things from this one.
EVE is a very complicated game. It’s got a fully functional economy, full-scale battles in space and an instruction manual the size of a three-year degree’s collection of textbooks. EVE: Valkyrie is different. You strap on a VR headset, on the PC or PlayStation 4, and fly around space in a customisable ship blowing things up. No degree in economics and diplomacy required. The early footage looks amazing and it’s not going to be restricted to the virtual reality crowd. If you’re a more traditional flat-screened gamer, you’ll still be able to play. Just without the immersion, obviously. Could be an Oculus-seller. We should know for sure some time in the first half of 2016.
Far Cry: Primal
Ubisoft have been making incremental changes to the Far Cry series, taking in aspects of their other successful franchises to see what works. And normally we’d have a problem with that but Primal is going to stick us into the Stone Age and give us animal companions to play with. We can’t be upset with them for that in the slightest, even if Far Cry: Primal’s late February release displays some repitition. We’ll take it if it means we can roam the tundra with a wolf companion and shoot enemies in the back of the head with flint arrows.
Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4, based on what we’ve seen, isn’t going to be your grandfather’s Gears of War (yes, we said it). There’s a new developer, new lead characters and a new colour palette (about time we saw less brown) but players will still be using a Lancer and going after nasty critters in the darkness. So there’s that. Seriously though, it looks as though GoW 4‘s approach is a lot like the original. It mostly comes across as a very late Alone In The Dark sequel in the video above rather than one of the most popular third-person shooters of all time. Time will tell if that’s a good thing. We’ll see the game in full action at the end of this year.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Horizon: Zero Dawn is another open-world game, which would have faced massive competition last year. This year, however, this PS4-exclusive robot-hunting nomadic title is basically in the running alone. Unless something sneaky rocks up to disrupt it. We’re glad that Zero Dawn is going to be getting all the attention in this genre though, because the concept will justify the time spent on it (we hope). Because how many games have you seen that let you hunt robot dinosaurs with an explosive bow? One, besides this one. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. And that’s not even close to Horizon: Zero Dawn.
Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda is a massive franchise. The much-loved series is iconic in the RPG genre and even has a place in bad cartoons but there’s one thing that they haven’t attempted: An open-world game. So… guess what’s coming at an unspecified time this year? That’s correct, an open-world Zelda which looks, in the preview footage, to be a very ambitious departure from previous entries in the series. Nintendo tend to be very careful with their games so we’re expecting this one to be just as tight and tweaked as their linear games. The main question now is whether we’ll see it on the Wii U or that NX console we keep hearing about.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
A new Mass Effect, though minus Shepard, sounds like just what we need this year. We haven’t actually seen any gameplay though, which means that Bioware and Electronic Arts could have some surprises in store for us at the end of 2016, which is when we’re expecting this one. It looks like it’ll be less tactical and more action, with jump-jets, a multi-wheeled exploration vehicle and a lot of conflict. And we’re okay with all of that, especially since it’s set after the events of Mass Effect 3. Should be fun finding out which of the controversial endings were considered canon, at the very least.
No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky is either going to change the way we see procedurally-generated game worlds when it launches in 2016 (they still haven’t said when) or it’s going to flop horribly. Our money’s actually on the former, because we want this one to succeed, but there’s no denying that this is perhaps the most ambitious console game attempted to date. Creating an entire, unique universe and populating it with gamers on a quest to the centre of it all? That sounds like the plot for a classic Star Trek film rather than a concept for a game that will use a PlayStation 4 in order to power all the fiddly bits. We’re looking forward to naming a few creatures come launch day.
Another multiplayer, multi-class shooter? We’re not even upset. Overwatch, from the minds at Blizzard, looks amazing. Gameplay is set to be smooth, varied and filled with options – even if those options mostly result in people being exploded. And it’s almost cute in its presentation. Not Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare cute, more like Team Fortress 2 without all the hats cute. We’ll see it closer to the middle of the year but expect to see it previewed a little while before the official launch. Maybe there’ll even be a beta…?
Multiplayer, multi-class games are going to be extremely popular in 2016 by the look of things. This one, Paragon, is notable because it’s being made by Unreal Tournament and Gears of War creator (as well the owner of one of the best shooter engines ever) Epic Games. Paragon is a MOBA that comes across as a cross between Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Evolve and a third-person Unreal Tournament but there aren’t that many details available yet. We’ll know more ahead of its Early Access launch later on this year.
And now for something completely different. Unravel is the story of a little man made from yarn who is on a quest. It seems to be thoughtful, gorgeous and a brain-bender, which are three things we like from our games, but there’s something else that is nagging at us. Unravel is also coming from Electronic Arts who… don’t really make games like this. As a result we don’t really know what to think but the early February launch means that our confusion will be laid to rest early on this year. Seriously, Unravel‘s looking like a hit already.