10 Most Anticipated Games of 2017
2016 was a great year for gaming (except for some over-hyped games that totally didn’t cut it – yes, you know which ones..) but unfortunately 2016 is coming to an end. Luckily we’ve already seen some teasers and trailer for upcoming games with planned releases for next year. Without further ado, check out the 10 most anticipated video games of 2017!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
After punching holes in their last bucket trying to save the Wii U from sinking, Nintendo’s defecting back to the hardcore gaming crowd. With the NX they hope to regain the adventuring disciples they shunned after sacrificing themselves to casual gamers on the golden idol of the Wii. The question with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not so much “Will it be enough like Zelda?” but “Will it be enough like Skyrim?”.
After Nintendo fans realized that the best thing about Skyward Sword’s lukewarm trickle of adventure tropes was that it was sold with a shiny 25th anniversary soundtrack CD, they defaulted to their staples. Wind Waker HD and Ocarina of Time 3D have been the holding pattern spiel that captain Nintendo has been calmly breathing over the speakers in the hopes that we won’t look out and see that the wing’s caught fire. With Breath of the Wild I wonder if a trendy open world is enough to forgive the industry giant for abandoning the children it raised when the going got casual.
For those of us too enlightened to take the risk, Tequila Works is releasing Rime, an open-world action adventure puzzler where you’re the lone character in a coastal world full of Project ICO artifices and Studio Ghibli charm. Bloomier than a high-def day on sun-bleached Windfall Island and appearing to have the residual charm of the old MYST-esque adventure clickers, Rime looks like the perfect getaway from the oh so pressing question, “Will the new Zelda be just good enough for me to give in and not say anything bad about it?”
The trailer makes Rime look like a runny-jumpy-puzzle-solver, like The Wind Waker without the story or Shadow of the Colossus without any planet-sized beasties to nuzzle. Based on Tequila Works’ previous effort, Deadlight (which played homage to the realistic platformers of the 80s and 90s the likes of Prince of Persia or Oddworld), they’re a company with a passion for intuitive and nostalgic design. The world-building is the attraction here, so I have to wonder if a shiny little beach is going to best big brother Nintendo at its own goal to game with the grownups again.
God of War
Yes, Kratos has a beard. And a kid. And the direction SIE Santa Monica Studio is going with looks like they’re none too slow to hitch their wagon to Naughty Dog’s cinematic guides to parenting that have been playing so well on Sony’s flagship. Turning their backs on that fixed-perspective lone-wolf Greek in favor of what appears to be a Norse over-the-shoulder parental Kratos like The Last of Us modded for wilderness adventures, SIE may have a lot to answer for.
But God of War seemed pretty played out with Ascension and that retrograde re-styling of an adventure we’d been on three to five times before. So maybe a fresh perspective will be enlivening. The question is whether this has any business being labeled as God of War beyond Sony’s desire to square away the dump trucks they’ll need to carry off all their pre-order cash.
I’m aware that the release date is technically TBA, but Amazon lists the pre-order placeholder as December 29, 2017 so until I hear differently, I’m going with that.
The first thing many of us thought when we saw the tiny White Rabbit team’s violent side-scroller was, “Is that 2D Dark Souls?!” Apparently inspired by From Software’s efforts to bring old adventure gaming to modern consoles, Death’s Gambit shares the same sources, including the slashy old Castlevania adventures, sweeping animated epics like Princess Mononoke, and even an homage to Shadow of the Colossus that this writer thinks personally will hit people more like Attack on Titan.
The important thing is an adventurous design, the kind that used to make DOS coding woes worth the effort. Less the traditional cinematic platformer than an action-RPG that happens to be 2D, Death’s Gambit will be measured by its controls. If slaying beasties feels as epic as it looks, the platformer may finally come of age and fit in its 3D daddy’s adventure boots. Even if not, the crunchy hand-drawn visuals hold their own special promise for the year’s most resonant new hero’s quest, from publisher Adult Swim (yes, that Adult Swim) no less.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
So let me just blow the secret for you. Resident Evil 7 will be better than 6, better than 5, and not as good as PT. Now that it’s out of the way, let’s talk about retro-titled Biohazard. There are two things to realize here. One is that Konami is a bunch of narcoleptic gibbons for letting last light of their life Kojima slip between their gnarly fingers. The other is that Capcom is pretty alright for getting on the stylistic train with the Metal Gear Solid director’s tragically shorted vision for a new renaissance in horror gaming. Originality may pull through with this one.
Weighted with Western writers clinging to the grimy coattails of that horrifying teaser all the YouTube was screaming about for two months straight, my hope is that this Resident Evil will be the least convoluted of the series. If we can get beyond Umbrella corps.meanies and Scooby-Doo villain world-domination yarns with the Lord of the Rings monsters to match, we might have a few grand little frights in a good old-fashioned haunted house. Early next year we’ll see if the retroactively soiled first franchise of horror still has any crusty blood left in its veins.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Castlevania granddaddy Koji Igarashi had this on Kickstarter a bit ago and it’s finally ready for its painterly debut. Looking like the gameplay of Igarashi’s own Castlevania: Symphony of the Night with the artistic tint of VanillaWare’s Odin Sphere, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night seems like a nostalgic revelation. Anyone who grew up on 2D gothic adventures should feel right at home in what will hopefully be a better bet than the underwhelming retro-fest Might No. 9, which hit our bright-eyed mugs like a single slap of thick bathwater.
See, the problem is that those old games we love to death like Mega Man and Castlevania took risks in their design, while these homages take what they please and hope a bunch of disembodied feelings for old games will magically cohere into a new experience. Retro-styled releases like Shovel Knight and Bastion manage to base themselves not on those old titles, but on how we felt when we found the magic hidden between the coded lines. By contrast, Bloodstained may be playing it too close to the hilt, to much as those games really were instead of how they felt,to be much more than a novelty.
Still, the promise of yummy graphics and spunky toons should get Igarashi acolytes on the pre-order screens without much fuss.
Platinum Games sure is a fickle bunch. They’re the phoenix risen from the ashes of defunct Clover Studios (Okami and Viewtiful Joe) and it seems like every new game is a plunge into unknown wilds, with only their signature humor and wild action to carry you over. In Vanquish and Bayonetta they showed off the goods that will hopefully inspire Scalebound to break the curse of terrible dragon games, maintained with religious intensity since the last amazing Panzer Dragoon.
Devil May Cry on a dragon sure looks like a good time, right? We know this’ll be an action RPG and that there’s an AI component to that big scaly fellow, but what else do we need? Colorful fun is always a plus in the grey-brown mire of the modern market, but true to Platinum Games fashion, Scalebound might be too much newness for its own good. Personally I’m just hoping it ousts The Last Guardian at its own game in, like, 1/12 the time.
Nier was a weird little game, skimmed off the top of lower case cavia’s artsy froth by the publishing equivalent of Megatron over at Square Enix. After leeching cavia’s resources with vampiric enthusiasm for their hot-ticket goo puddle of shiny textured hallways called Final Fantasy XIII, Enix left Nierhigh and dry with the graphical capacity of a PS2 game (and not even one published by theirs truly). But there was a tasty weirdness down deep in that RPG. It felt creepily aware of itself, and at times reaped a little age-old adventurer’s verve the likes of which hasn’t been felt since text adventures were trendy.
But Nier: Automata doesn’t look much like Nier so what am I talking about? It looks like steampunk Bayonetta, the likely course for whoever at Platinum Games isn’t working on that knobbly dragon sim. But the best things about Nier were the rustic folk music and strange awareness, and the art design of the sequel makes some wonderful promises. Since the games industry needs a little weird awe, steampunk Bayonetta is just fine with me.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Okay, so, not everyone was overjoyed when Mass Effect 3 ended. But my more pressing question is, “Will this new entry have a reason to exist other than an extended apology?” The E3 trailer is like one of those “Experience the Magic” theme park announcements that doesn’t advertise a game so much as its scenery. Hard-working art school grads move some nodes around a fully rendered face on a fully rendered planet that looks great. But what’s the game about, in this commercial for a game?
Who knows. Maybe it’ll be as advertised: a fresh spaceman romp in alien wilds. Maybe the vehicle segments won’t be so much like trying to maneuver a bouncy castle while keeping all the elephant seals on top from falling off. Maybe this game won’t crash quite as much as the hallowed original. Star Wars Battlefront might have taught us not to take its designers’ passion for modeling grooves on the horizon of a thermal detonator as proof that the game will be good, but boy those Asari’s lips sure look real! What could go wrong? Well I have no idea, and that’s my point really.
Supergiant Games continues its combo string of juicy old-school romps with Pyre, the spiritual successor to their Bastion and Transistor with clear cues taken from the parallax beat-em-up masterpieces over at Vanillaware. A hand-drawn Day of the Dead vibe permeates the storybook look of this isometric RPG that seems to be raised with the care and kindness of ye old adventure days.
This kind of anticipation article is really about how games look, and to one person for that matter, and for an interactive medium this is judging the book by its cover to a libelous degree. So how can I place greater emphasis on a game like Pyre than Mass Effect? Well, a smaller development team means more creative consistency and overall control. Without squatting in the shadow of a looming franchise giant, games like Pyre can find their own aesthetic legs to walk on without worrying so much about a consistent fan base, or the kinds of miniscule decisions that it takes a boardroom a month to make and which have nothing to do with the game itself (Look! Commander Shephard has a beard?!). That’s when marketing takes precedence over game design, and is that ever good for us, the players? Supergiant has proven themselves as one of our pillars of sprite-worked ingenuity and until someone proves otherwise, crispy hand-drawn goodness wins out over hair follicles any day.