Refined Geekery Video Game Guide for 2016 (Part 1)

centered.jpgWelcome to 2016! With the new year upon us, it feels like the perfect time to look ahead at the year to come. The modern generation of consoles are finally hitting their strides with great exclusives and welcomed 3rd party titles, not to mention all of that indie goodness scattered throughout the year. Now, I made a similar list last year, and wouldn’t you know, a lot of those titles are going to appear in this same list as 2015 could easily have been titled the year of delays. Well absence has only made the heart grow fonder and my anticipation for some of these titles is now reaching a fever pitch. So without further ado, here is part 1 of my list of games (in alphabetical order) that I am looking forward to in 2016.

Adrift

This space exploration game is one of the many titles that were anticipated for 2015 but were then later pushed into the new year. That said, the gorgeous looking take on the concept introduced in the 2014 film Gravity, free-floating amongst the debris of a destroyed space station, looks absolutely thrilling from Adrift’s first-person perspective.

Ashen

First introduced at Microsoft’s E3 conference last year, Ashen looks to marry a simplistic character design with a gorgeously rendered 3D environment. The game has a strong Ico-like aesthetic and it’s giant flying whales add a cool level of mystery to the game’s world-building that I can’t wait to investigate.

Batman: A Telltale Game Series

I know, I feel it too. That burn out that occurs when you realize just how many Telltale games there are. The developers have come a long way since the dark days of Jurassic Park, now possibly one of the most successful licensed franchise game developers around. Though their games have varied in quality throughout their tenure, I cannot wait to see what their style of storytelling brings to the Batman universe. Please do right by the Dark Knight.

Battleborn

Though inundated with trailers throughout 2015, not to mention a multiplayer beta, I am still not 100% sold on Battleborn. There are a lot of Hero shooters coming out in 2016, and while I dig the aesthetic of Battleborn, I can’t help but feel that Gearbox has a lot to prove with this new franchise, especially given that we are also getting Overwatch.

Below

It seems like forever ago that Below was announced. The Toronto-based indie developers, Capy Games, announced Below way back at the launch event of the Xbox One and ever since I have prayed that this game would see light. Capy has proven themselves to be one of the most exciting independent game producers out there and the art of Below is just breath-taking. Add to that a score by Jim Guthrie and you can consider me sold. Just bring it out already!

Crackdown 3

The success of the original Crackdown is well documented. Tied heavily to the release of the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta, many a person bought Crackdown not for the actual game but for the content that it unlocked. That said, once they actually started Crackdown, what they received was an addictive open world 3rd person shooter that made collecting side objects fun and addictive, more so than any game before it. Sadly the sequel was an almost paint-by-numbers recreation of the first (only with zombies) and was less than thrilling. With the awesome implementation of cloud technology, allowing for unparalleled levels of destruction, Crackdown 3 looks to be an impressive return for the series.

Cuphead

What hasn’t already been said about the glory that is Cuphead. Previously on my 2015 list, Cuphead has struggled to actually come out it seems, though the anticipation hardcore gamers have for the game has yet to be quelled. That gorgeous 1930s animation style is just to impressive to pass on. It’s boss-rush style of gameplay is somewhat disappointing as I would love to see that level of fidelity applied to an actual full-fledged platformer. That said, I am still getting this game on day one. I can’t wait to play it.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

The Deus Ex reboot in 2011, Human Revolution, was a beautiful firs person cyberpunk noir thriller that, aside from a few bad boss fights, was one of the most thrilling games of last generation. I can’t wait to see how that style of futurism is displayed with this generations significant bump in graphic potential. Also, as far as those bad boss fights were concerned, developers Eidos Montreal have declared that they learned from their mistakes and will have much better boss encounters in the upcoming sequel.

Dishonored 2

From the moment Game Informer first plastered images of the first Dishonored game in 2011, it was clear that the people at Arkane Studios were making something special. Dishonored made stealth gameplay absolutely thrilling, but what it did supremely well, first and foremost, was world building. The steampunk pseudo-Victorian city of Dunwall was gorgeously articulated, matched with interesting characters scattered throughout. With the sequel, Arkane looks to be doubling down on the atmosphere. Also, the new playable character, Emily Kaldwin, looks simply bad-ass!

The Division

It’s clear by now that The Division was announced far too early. This game has been delayed so many times that it could never come out and I may be okay with that. That being said, what has been shown is engaging and hauntingly beautiful. From a gameplay standpoint, it looks to be a 3rd person modern take on the Destiny formula (ie MMO mechanics in a more controlled, AAA looking environment. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t have the dearth of content that Destiny launched with.

Doom

A follow-up to the legendary first person shooter that made parents in the early 1990s squirm, the reboot of the Doom series looks like a slickly produced, slightly less verbose (narratively at least) shooter experience that wants to re-capture that initial run and gun spirit of its predecessor. In the looks department, ID Software looks to have crafted a glorious homage to the heavy metal album art of the 70s and 80s. Their version of hell looks uncomfortably grotesque. What more could you ever want from a game called Doom?

Far Cry Primal

The announcement of Far Cry Primal seems to have come out of nowhere. A stone-age iteration of the formula first developed back in 2004, and perfected in Far Cry 3 and 4, Primal has you surviving the elements, the beasts of the wild, and the raging men and women of the time with nothing but your spear, bow, and the aide of your animal counterparts. The map looks open and varied and will no doubt cause countless amounts of chaos as you fight your way through its many dangers. Oh and you get to hunt a mammoth… which I am somewhat divided on…

Final Fantasy XV

The Final Fantasy series has never really drawn me into it’s many narrative arcs. There is a level of intimidation when it comes to these games that just seems impenetrable to me. That said, everything I have seen for Final Fantasy XV has me intrigued. That first trailer where the boy-band looking crew were just driving and you saw the multiple creatures of its open world just existing had me excited to see just how interactive this world is. I hope the game lives up to the potential it has inspired in my mind.

Firewatch

There are countless indie games coming out in 2016 but Firewatch may be the top of my most anticipated list. Firewatch is a simply gorgeous looking world that feeds my longing to live a more outdoor inspired life. That sunset soaked aesthetic married with a somewhat cartoonish approach to character design just speaks to me.

The Flame in the Flood

Few rogue-like games tend to grab me, but I am almost certain that The Flame in the Flood will be one of them. It’s survival-based structure looks deep, but it’s art is what is really winning me over. The strong use of colour has me more excited for this game than I tend to be for most survival games, reinforcing an aesthetic vibe that subdues the dowerness of its content.

Gears of War 4

The first original game from the new house of Gears, the aptly named Coalition, Gears of War 4 looks to attempt to bring back the horror roots of the series. Downplaying the traditional macho-ness of the last few entries in the Gears seies, the new characters look more to be your average every-man/woman surviving amongst the destroyed beauty of Gears’ world. The demo showed at the last E3 was good, but it wasn’t great. I hope that we get a new gameplay reveal soon that really proves what the Coalition has to deliver.

Gigantic

Gigantic seems to have gotten lost in the discussion among the other hero shooters coming out this year (Your Battleborns and your Overwatches), but from all of the gameplay revealed thus far, it looks like a rather entertaining take on the MOBA-shooter. I am really enamored with the game’s aesthetic and cool charcter designs and hope that it can stand among the rest in 2016.

Halo Wars 2

The original Halo Wars seems little more than a cult classic when you look back on it, but it is easy to forget just how well it was able to nail the mechanics of the RTS on a console controller. Developed by the now defunct Ensemble Studios, a top-tier strategy developer, it was difficult to see how any sequel could be developed without their pedegree. Thankfully, Microsoft and 343 Industries seem to have gone all out with the folllow-up, bringing in the masterful developers at Creative Assembly. A strange pairing considering CA is wholly owned by Sega, however, for strategy fans, there are few developers more talented and capable of bringing a stellar sequel.

Hellblade

I have been waiting for a new original game from developer Ninja Theory since the moment I finished Enslaved. Exploring the darkness of mental illness with the studios expert approach to character defining realism, this indie-AAA game is one to watch in 2016.

Hitman

The story of the most recent Hitman announcement is bizarre. Originally listed as an episodic game in which you need to pay the full price right up front, a strategy that got a fair share of negative attention, the latest entry has gone into hiding for some time as the release strategy has been retooled. That said, I can’t wait to try the newest release from Io Interactive. Hitman has always been a fun series to enjoy, dark and brooding with a somewhat intellectual European bend. I hope this next game delivers.

Homefront: The Revolution

The first Homefront was a flawed mess of a game. While entertaining at times, it’s tired narrative set-pieces failed to live up to the potential set by other domestic invasion games of the time (especially the best parts of Modern Warfare 2). With a new developer, and after many years of property rights changing hands, Homefront seems ready for a reboot with The Revolution and its gritty, guerrilla style battles.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

One of the most exciting reveals at last years E3, it is surprising that a game of such originality is coming from Guerrilla Games, the studio that brought us the incredibly bland Killzone series. While technically brilliant, those games felt like hollow shells. Thankfully, while the technical superiority of Guerilla’s talent is surely making its mark with Horizon, the company also seems to now understand that we need compelling characters and world building to push narrative games, not just pretty pretty graphics, and when it comes to world building, few games are as intriguing as Horizon.

Hyper Light Drifter

While there has been no shortage of retro-themed indie games this generation, there is something unnervingly beautiful about Hyper Light Drifter. With an atmospheric soundtrack by notable electronic musician Disasterpeace, and a controlled neon aesthetic that excites without inducing nausea, Drifter looks to be one of those retro games crafted with so much heart and passion that it looks impossible to pass up.

Follow Tom on Twitter @thomaskagar

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One response to “Refined Geekery Video Game Guide for 2016 (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Refined Geekery Video Game Guide 2016 (Part 2) | Refined Geekery·

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