Hello again brave adventurers! You are all to be congratulated on having survived the dark year of 2016. Unless, of course, you were a genre celebrity in which case you’re probably reading this from the great internet café in the sky (ask your mom, kids) . For those of you still valiantly shuffling on this mortal coil I have some good news; 2017 looks like it’s going to be an awesome year for gaming!
So this week for a very special The Good, The Bad and The Indie I’ll be looking at the whole year ahead and trying to pick out some big titles coming up in the next 12 months that I’m excited about, some I’m dreading and try to peer into the murky world of Indie releases.
Onward brave gamers!
Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars was, in my mind, pretty much the only time any company (in this case 343) had ever successfully built an RTS that could be functionally controlled on a console. While the original game lacked some depth compared to its PC forebears, the campaign was fun, the controls were tight and a lot of people got some serious hours out of the Multiplayer.
It’s been a few years, and the IP is now in the hands of a new developer (Creative Assembly, they of Total War fame), but everything I’ve seen about the sequel makes me excited to jump back in to Humanities conflict with the alien Covenant.
Confession time: I was super up for For Honor from the moment I saw Vikings fighting Samurai (stupid mouthy Samurai…) but then they massively changed the art direction late in development and now the Vikings have gone from a mostly realistic-with-fantasy-touches aesthetic to full on horned helmets and bared chests. It might be petty, but it sapped a lot of my enthusiasm for the game in one fell swoop.
Still, I’m not petty enough to put it off this list as the combat still looks solid and early impressions by those who’ve played the game seem largely positive. Look for this to take up a lot of time for any competitive Multiplayers in your life.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
At some point, our civilisation will crumble and decay and then when alien archaeologists try to discern our culture all they will find is items branded under the Tom Clancy licence. Ok, so maybe it isn’t quite that bad yet but the master of the military thriller sure did stick his name on a lot of stuff over the years. In fact, I’d say only Games Workshop have been more prolific with their tie in games. Also, much like GW, the quality of Tom Clancy titles veers wildly from the sublime to the terrible.
Fortunately for its (sadly departed) namesake,Wildlands is shaping up to be one of the best third person shooters in years. Promising a massive open world with lots of variety, open ended missions and the ability to customise your squad of near-superhuman operators this seems like the coming together of a lot of great open world games (Shadows of Mordor, Just Cause, Mercenaries) into a single title. I’m pretty pumped.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Mass Effect 3 left a bad taste in everyones mouth, so I can understand a certain amount of hesitation jumping back into Biowares space opera. However, so far the extra-galactic shenanigans that have been showcased have definitely pulled me back into the series. Plus, whatever problems people had with the trilogies original ending it can’t be argued that 80-90% of Mass Effect 1-3 was pretty much pure gold.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Holy crap am I ever excited for this game. The original Red Dead Redemption is easily amongst the contenders for my top game of all time. A driving storyline set in an Old West at the tail end of its glory pulled me in and never let me go. The smooth gunplay, horse based shenanigans and other factors were all just icing on the cake.
Admittedly, cougars can go to hell but the rest of the game was awesome.
We don’t know much about the sequel just yet, but chances are good it may feature a storyline earlier in the timeline of the world we last saw through Marston Jrs eyes. Will John Marston make a return? My guess is no, that this will be focussed on whoever is being told to ‘run and don’t look back’ in the trailer voiceover. Still, Rockstar Games always excel at aping US cinema tropes and I love me a good Western.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
This game deserves to be on this list just for that title. Seriously, what the hell did I just type? Final Chapter Prologue? Wouldn’t that just be the entire book?
Moving aside from puzzling grammatical choices, there’s also the fact that I just hate JRPGs. What? You want something more fair and balanced? Fine: Throwing eight kids with tragically ridiculous fashion sensibilities into an adventure that takes multiple flow charts and at least a four page dossier to even begin to explain does not make something ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’ it just makes a mess.
This doesn’t get any better when you replace seven of those kids with Disney characters.
Berserk and the Band of the Hawk
Ok now this one actually needs a little explaining. This game, a combination of a longrunning Anime series and Dynasty Warriors style gameplay, comes from Omega Force the..uh..force behind Dynasty Warriors and its various spin off titles. Omega Force don’t make bad games in the traditional sense, no they instead specialise in that rare breed of So-Bad-Its-Good that SyFy has been trying to distill into TV movies for years.
Still, the Dynasty Warriors titles have basically been the same game for a decade now with minor changes and, while still fun to kill a little time with, no one can accuse them of being objectively Good Games.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew
VRing yourself onto the bridge of the Enterprise!? Sign me up!
But therein lies the problem; I just don’t think there’s any way this game, on the technology we have, is ever going to meet all the expectations people have from just the title. Adding to that, it requires 4 people to play every single time and, while most reviewers have been doing this in the same room over a LAN, I can imagine this going to hell pretty fast in the open wilds of the internet for those who find wrangling four other adults into the same room to be a challenge.
Oh, and they had to delay it from last year to ‘make it better’ which is rarely a good sign.
I can’t really get on board with Walking Simulators, and I was never a fan of point and click adventure games so Gone Home a game released last year which basically combined the two with a plot about a family splitting apart, went so far over my head that it might be in orbit. Tacoma is the follow up effort from the studio and everyone who’s seen it that I’ve talked to basically describes it as ‘Gone Home, but in Space!’
Yay, I guess?
You can call me out for this, as Gone Home got pretty glowing reviews from my fellow critics but with a user score hovering in the mid 5s on MetaCritic I’m pretty confident I’m not the only one who was underwhelmed.
Digimon World: Next Order
Digimon is just a poor man’s Pokemon. There, I said it. Add to that a vaguely fascistic title and I’m sticking this here on principle.
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Calling this one Indie seems a little unfair given it’s being made by a lot of gaming stalwarts from yesteryear. However, it’s been a big year for creators getting their titles Kickstarted so expect to see a couple more of those on this list. For a lot of people Planescape Torment was the cooler, edgier brother to the great Bioware Titles of the late 90s/early 00s and its quirky characters, dimension-hopping scope and epic storyline certainly made it a hard one to dislike.
While this latest title takes place in a different Fantasy setting then the original (Copyright is a bitch) it looks to have kept a lot of the same great features that made the original such a classic.
The original Nidhogg was a quirky sword fighting game wherein two figures attempt to kill eachother while running to opposite ends of the screen. Should one of them manage to reach the final stage they are gobbled up by the titular serpent (in Viking myths, Nidhogg was a dragon who gnawed on the world trees roots and traded insults with an eagle in its branhes…Vikings could be weird). Apparently serpent-related death was a good thing in this case.
Anyway, the sequel seems to have expanded massively on the lower budget original, while still keeping the soul of the gameplay in place. Should be more fun than jumping down a dragons throat.
A lot of people have fond, nostalgia-soaked memories of Disney animations. What those people have obviously forgotten is that early Disney animation was frickin’ terrifying! Luckily, the makers of Cuphead obviously do remember that as they combine the cutesy art style everyone remembers from old Mickey cartoons with all the fire-spewing demons that they don’t (but which were totally there).
Another crowd-funded success story here, and another one that features gaming veterans making use of the new marketplace. This is a spiritual successor to all those Rare titles from the N64 era, but most specifically Banjo and Kazooie. There was a delay in release for ‘extra polish’ to be added which makes a lot of people, myself included, nervous. However, everything that’s been seen of the game so far seems to be invoking fans Nostalgia in the best possible way and local co-op is a feature I’m always happy to see in a title.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
A medieval Western RPG without the fantasy elements is the basic plug here, essentially Skyrim with just swords and (real world) castles. However anyone who’s ever played the excellent Mount and Blade series of games will know that this is a formula that can actually work really, really well. So far things seem encouraging for developers Warhorse Studios pet project, with the particularly robust melee combat a definite selling point for my dark and violent soul.
So there you have it, The Good, The Bad and the Indie for 2017! While this is the stuff that has most leapt out to me, it is by no means an exhaustive list. The truth is we are all very lucky gamers this year as there’s a lot of great titles coming that didn’t make it onto this list.
Like my picks? Disagree? Let me know in the comments or by threatening my mother!
‘Making you a better Geek, one post at a time!’