Ten Anticipated Games of 2016

Well, 2015 is officially over, and what a year it has been for the world of videogames. We had a lot of fantastic titles released in the last twelve months; fans of The Witcher were treated to a fantastic third title that showed that DLC didn’t have to be terrible, Nintendo made a successful jump into the world of online-shooters with Splatoon, and the Internet found a new favourite game ever in the form of Undertale.

However, it was also the year where Batman: Arkham Knight’s release was mired with a terrible PC port and an incredibly greedy season pass, Konami revealed to the world what utter cocks they are thanks to their outright atrocious treatment of Hideo Kojima and the cancellation of Silent Hills (I’d list more examples but we’d be here forever) and, arguably most tragically of all, we lost one of the greatest members of the videogame industry – Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, who passed away in July.

It’s all too easy to get depressed about what sort of horrors await in 2016 but I choose to remain positive. While there may always be terrible videogames ready to waste our time and money, there will also always be engaging, fantastic and just plain fun videogames too. And I would like to share ten that I’m personally excited for with you.

I would also just like to give special mentions to Persona 5 and The Legend of Zelda Wii U. Even though they are scheduled for 2016 releases, I already mentioned them in the last list I did (back when we foolishly thought they’d come out in 2015). I’m still excited for them, but I’d just be repeating myself if I included them here.

Right, enough prattling. Let’s get started!

1. Unravel (PC, PS4, XBone)

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Here’s something I’d never thought I’d see – an EA published game that I’m actually interested in. Yoshi’s Woolly World captured the hearts of gamers everywhere thanks to its adorable aesthetic alone, but Unravel looks set to play with the idea of having a character made of yarn in a very different manner.

Whereas Woolly World utilised very bright colours and possessed a children’s storybook feel, Unravel takes its yarny protagonist (who is actually called Yarny) and puts him into the real world. His yarn is affected by real world physics and the like; he’s forced to trudge through thick forests and harsh conditions like rain and snow. All the while, Yarny slowly unravels and you have to use said yarn to traverse and navigate the environment.

It may not be a super-epic title but it may very well be entertaining, clever and charming enough to get a high-ranking spot amongst other amazing puzzle-platformers.

2. Ratchet & Clank (PS4)

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When I found out Ratchet and Clank’s first PS4 outing was both a remake of the first game AND a tie-in to the upcoming movie, I was initially put off. I didn’t want a retread of an old adventure; I wanted something fresh and new, especially considering it’s a new console. But once gameplay started being shown off, I found myself being slightly drawn in.

After all, it’s still the same fun and engaging gameplay. Ratchet will still get all manner of explosive and no doubt goofy weaponry. Visually, it looks amazing; the previous PS3 titles were practically on the same level of quality as Pixar, and this one only pushes that. And while it may be a new origin story, the characterisation and humour are still strong. Ratchet was kind of an asshole in the first game so seeing him portrayed as being more wide-eyed and overall “nice” isn’t too bad, even if this kind of character’s been done a million times before.

Maybe part of it is down to my personal hankering for a new R&C but you can bet I’ll be giving this one a closer look if only to hang out with the old gang again.

3. Batman: A Telltale Games Series

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I can’t help but feel I’m cheating with this considering we know bugger all about this game. That, and I’m sure some people will be annoyed with this choice considering Telltale would rather make more and more games than fix the problems they still have with their game engine. But I’m sorry; I can’t help but get excited for this.

I absolutely loved The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us so the idea of Telltale giving Batman the same treatment just blows my mind a little. Telltale have proven that they’re good with stories and characters and the city of Gotham is filled with great stories to tell and interesting characters to show, particularly Batman himself.

The likes of Clementine and Bigby Wolf always had some level of personal customisation when it came to how they interacted with others. Depending on the player, they could be kind, cold, quiet or just be a complete asshole. Batman has been portrayed various ways before so this game can allow players to be the Batman they’ve wanted to see. He could be gruff, violent, intimidating, calm, sincere – he’s always had a multi-faceted personality.

Plus, as much as I loved the Arkham games, story was never their strongest point. In the hands of Telltale, we could get a slightly more complex, detailed, possibly more grounded tale as opposed to the likes of Arkham Knight‘s blockbuster-esque scenario.

That, and we might finally get a Batman game where Joker isn’t the final bad guy. Batman has an impressive rogue’s gallery, and this could be the perfect place to show off characters that might not have worked in the context of the Arkham games.

As long as Telltale (hopefully) gets their recurring bugs and glitches fixed, I see no reason not to look forward to a new outing with the Dark Knight.

4. Yooka-Laylee (PC, PS4, XBone, Wii U)

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I already wrote an article all about why Yooka-Laylee interests me so I’ll try and keep things brief here. Essentially, it’s the Banjo-Kazooie game people have wanted for years – just without Banjo and Kazooie.

The names may be different but it’s clear that Playtonic are attempting to recreate the same magic they made back in the 90s when they were employees of Rare. And I have no qualms with that. The collectathon platformer has become quite the rarity these days, with only independent studios like Playtonic willing to give them another go.

There’s just something satisfying about being dropped into an open-world filled with things to collect and discover. Banjo-Kazooie had an odd but amazing world to explore, complete with hidden secrets and all manner of humour and memorable moments. If Yooka-Laylee can pull off the same thing and have enough surprises to call it’s own, I’d be more than happy with it.

5. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (PS4, Vita)

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I think Digimon Adventure tri. has reinvigorated my interest in this franchise, since I’m pretty sure if this game was coming out a few years ago, I wouldn’t have paid it much notice. Now, though, after somehow stumbling across a trailer for it, I’m pretty interested.

Much like tri., this game seems to be edging towards a slightly more adult tale, with a deep and complex mystery to solve. And the fact that you play as a rookie detective means you can actually feel like you’re solving it. I’m not sure how much ‘detective’ stuff you do in the gameplay (I’m hoping it’s not all kept to cutscenes) but the Digimon side of it sounds fun enough.

I think my nostalgia is playing a big part as well, since seeing all these old faces and being able to have them in a team fighting the forces of evil just makes me grin with childlike glee. Plus, there’s a tonne of Digimon I don’t know so there’ll be plenty of surprises for someone who’s not kept up with the franchise for so many years.

That, and I think I’m in the mood for a classic turn-based RPG that isn’t Pokémon.

6. Pokkén Tournament (Wii U)

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Speaking of Pokémon, while there may not be a new main series game coming out yet (or at least, not one we know about), Pokkén Tournament could scratch that itch at least, even if it is a completely different game.

Aside from Super Smash Bros., I’m terrible at fighting games but I’m willing to try with Pokkén Tournament since it looks amazing and it’s Pokémon. Remember all those cool fights in the anime that we wished we could recreate? This game does those fights but makes them 100 times more hype. I mean, this is a game where Pikachu can suplex Charizard.

I was a little bit worried that this game would remain an arcade exclusive in Japan, but thankfully Nintendo know how much people want this game and, hopefully, its success will lead to more awesome collaborations with third-party developers.

7. Ace Attorney 6 (3DS)

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While Dual Destinies certainly wasn’t a perfect game, I was still happy with it, if only to see Phoenix Wright return to the courtroom. For me, it put Phoenix in a good place. Not only was he was a lawyer again, but he had a new, likable supporting cast composed of apprentice lawyers. He was the boss now, with new responsibilities and new potential for stories. Which is why I’m super happy to see a sixth entry in the main series coming very soon.

Because he’s too good of a lawyer, Phoenix has to be taken to a completely different country with a completely different court system. One where there are no defense attorneys and the courts heavily rely on actual magic. The series is no stranger to more fantastical elements, but it’s been absent for several games now, so seeing it return somehow makes it seem more refreshing. Plus, the spirit medium stuff he encountered was mostly kept to the side. Now, we may have far more ludicrous and interesting cases to solve.

The decision to take Phoenix abroad, though, worried me slightly. Does this mean no Apollo or Athena despite them being part of his team? Thankfully, no. They’ll be covering the home front with their own cases to deal with. Apparently, Apollo will be dealing with some mysterious figure from his past. Between this and his development in Dual Destinies, it seems the new writing staff are going out of their way to make up for how much he was shafted in his own game.

Between some other old faces returning and no doubt all new ones, including the somewhat antagonistic Princess Leifa Padma Kurain (who sounds an awful lot like a Star Wars character), Ace Attorney 6 has plenty of reasons to be excited for. Slightly improved gameplay, new stories and mysteries, familiar faces and maybe, just maybe, good old Maya will show up at some point. We can hope.

Oh, and Capcom – release The Great Ace Attorney over here too, damn it!

8. Genei Ibun Roku ♯FE (Wii U)

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Also known as Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem (which is a better name, by the way), it’s probably safe to say that nobody thought this would what this out-of-nowhere collaboration would look like. Despite being one of the first Wii U games announced for the system, we knew bugger all about it until a surprise trailer dropped in April last year.

I’m not a fan of either series but that one trailer gave me an almighty need for it. I mean, it’s so anime. Hilariously so. Some have said it’s more reminiscent of a Persona game than a SMT one but that works fine with me since I love me some Persona.

From an outsider’s perspective, the two series seem to blend together pretty decently, with a modern day setting reminiscent of SMT but the characters of Fire Emblem. The battle system is traditional turn-based goodness with both series lending elements. All of this wrapped up in some J-pop, idol industry goodness. Visually, it looks damn pretty as well.

I know some fans aren’t happy with this collab and, again, I can’t comment on whether this decision works for either series but, for my money, it looks like a really fun RPG with pretty graphics and cheesy anime goodness.

9. Project X Zone 2 (3DS)

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If you’ve been following my writing for the last couple of years, you’re probably not surprised to see this game on the list. I devoted an entire month’s worth of articles all about why I loved the first Project X Zone so you can probably guess what my reaction was when it was revealed a sequel was being made.

I honestly would’ve been fine if Project X Zone 2 was the exact same game, just with a new cast and plot, but the developers clearly wanted to make improvements to pretty much every aspect. The gameplay seems more developed but still simple. Chapters seem to no longer drag as much as they did in the first game, meaning things go quicker and the pace doesn’t drop. The cast is slightly smaller but features more familiar faces, including some guest stars from Nintendo games, which makes it, like, 1000 times more awesome. Seriously, I was going to buy this game anyway but the fact that characters from Xenoblade Chronicles (aka my favourite game ever made) are showing up actually made me shriek with delight and giggle like a lunatic for a whole day.

Apparently, in Japan, it even got some post-release support like a new update that tweaked some things and some optional missions (I’m guessing here; the game’s official blog is in Japanese and Google Translate only does so much). The point is, the original game’s success showed that there is a market for crossover games like this. We don’t always want to see characters beat each other up. We want teamwork, character interaction, actual plots – and given the effort that’s gone into the sequel, it seems Bandai Namco want this game to do well as much as the fans do.

I didn’t think Project X Zone would get a sequel for years; hell, it might not have got one at all. It’s only been three years since the last one released in Japan and I hope that this will pave the way for similar titles being made.

10. Zero Time Dilemma (3DS, Vita)

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You have no idea how happy I am that this will exist soon. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward was one of those games that surprised me with how much I enjoyed it (hell, I wrote a whole review about it). Despite having never played its predecessor, I was still gripped by the characters and narrative; a story that challenged you and discussed incredibly complex themes without feeling unintelligible.

Yet when it seemed that the inevitable third title would never come to be due to poor sales in Japan, I was naturally crestfallen. Despite there being so many unanswered questions and unknown fates, there was to be no conclusion. Until suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, it was confirmed last year in July that the third title (now known as Zero Time Dilemma) was in development.

Part of the reason I’m so excited for this game is just that it’s actually happening. And how? Because of the fans. Die-hard fans who made their voices heard; fans that told the world how much they loved the series and how badly they wanted to see this game come to be. And it will. The series creator and head writer even said that Zero Time Dilemma wouldn’t exist if not for the fans.

I mentioned earlier in the article that it’s easy to be pessimistic about videogames these days. Sometimes, it feels like developers and publishers don’t care about making games that are fun to play, tell interesting stories or do something completely new. They just throw them at us in broken states, making promises that they never keep, all the while telling us to spend more money on crappy pre-order bonuses and pointless DLC. Zero Time Dilemma‘s mere existence shows that that’s not always the case. Some of them do listen, and they want to create new journeys for both themselves and for us; memories that we hopefully won’t want to forget.

Here’s hoping all these games will live up to our expectations, and if none of these games excite you at all, I hope the ones that do will be as good as you want them to be.

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