We take you through some of the GOTY candidates for 2017Now that Christmas is a distant memory, the party hangovers are long gone and all of your New Year’s resolutions have already been abandoned, it’s very easy to get a little bit down at this time of year. January can be a bleak, uninspiring month as we trudge back to regular life in non-decorated offices and with summer oh so far away.
But, the start of a new year isn’t all bad. A new year brings new opportunity, and nowhere is this more exciting than in the video game release schedule for the next twelve months! Well, maybe there are some things that are more exciting – birthdays, holidays, the odd marriage – but let’s not get bogged down in real life.
The current slate of games set to hit the shelves in 2017 is looking pretty sweet right now, so it’s time to dust off the despair and take a look at some of the fantastic games we’ll most probably be able to get our hands on this year! # 10 // Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: WildlandsThe latest instalment to the massive 21st Century Ghost Recon series is set to take a few drastic twists and turns away from the formula that’s been so successful thus far. These changes are representative of emerging trends in modern gaming, however, and the majority of them look pretty damn good.
For a start, Wildlands looks like it could be the game Ubisoft wanted us to play when they launched The Division in March 2016. Players will take control of their team in third person view, completing missions throughout the dangerous open world set in Bolivia. Tasked with exposing the links between a prominent drug cartel and the local government, you’ll be able to approach your objectives however you see fit in a fluid narrative progression.
What looks most exciting about Wildlands is that it looks like proof Ubisoft are starting to learn from their mistakes. Early reactions say the developers have avoided their typically ‘cookie-cutter’ open world environment and the story elements look likely to give players much more activity than what The Division ended up offering. The start of a renaissance for the much-maligned developers? Let’s hope so!
# 9 // Sea of ThievesFirst unveiled at E3 in 2015, Sea of Thieves is an upcoming multiplayer adventure that will let you set sail across quintessentially pirate-y lands for all manner of swashbuckling and, hopefully, the odd sea shanty.
Developed by Rare, the game will also feature user-generated content. Suggestions are that players will be able to hide treasure and challenges for fellow crew mates to uncover as they travel throughout the world. You’ll also be able to join them on these adventures, meaning Sea of Thieves looks like it’ll be the kind of fun, sociable adventure that the MMO Adventure genre is perfect for.
The game may be exclusive to PC and Xbox One players, but those who do get to experience will surely be in for a treat. The gaming public have been crying out for a new pirate adventure since Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but Sea of Thieves could well be the perfect title to satisfy those masses. # 8 // South Park: The Fractured But WholeAfter proving to be slightly underwhelming in the face of a world that apparently out South Park-ed South Park, the 20th season of the popular cartoon series left an odd taste in the mouth of many fans. Fortunately, however, a palate cleanser could be on the way in the form of The Fractured But Whole.
Okay, that sounded a little bit wrong. The point is that the hotly anticipated sequel to South Park: The Stick of Truth will be arriving in 2017, taking the wonderfully faithful yet delightfully warped RPG formula to new heights as the young residents of South Park don their superhero attire for a brand new quest.
What was amazing about The Stick of Truth was that it managed to actually be a fantastic RPG in its own right, rather than simply being carried by the strength of the series’ fanbase. Sure it was funny and crass and alarmingly relatable, but it was also a damn good game. With the formula being expanded and brought to next-gen consoles, The Fractured But Whole looks set to be even better. # 7 // Resident Evil 7: BiohazardThe next instalment in the Resident Evil franchise has been a long time coming after the sixth entry failed to capture the hearts of many players, but the build-up to this new release hasn’t been completely smooth. Many similarities have been drawn between this and Konami’s cancelled Silent Hills game; could the developers be running out of ideas?
Well, no, not really. Capcom have demonstrated that this game was in development long before the Silent Hills demo was made available, so let’s stop theorising conspiracies. Resident Evil 7 has pleased many previewers already by showing it’s distanced itself from many of the flaws of its predecessor. The action-oriented gameplay has been cast aside in favour of a truer horror experience – this one’s going to get the heart racing again!
Anyone who’s already played the Beginning Hour teaser will have experienced early examples of this horror narrative for themselves. Resident Evil 7 will benefit from what looks to be a return to more familiar territory and – perhaps – from the hole in the market left by that unfortunate Silent Hills cancellation.# 6 // Blackwood CrossingGames like 2016’s Firewatch have breathed new life into heavily narrative-driven games of late, so PaperSeven’s Blackwood Crossing is definitely going to be arriving at the right time. Set on a magical train, players will experience fantastical events unfolding as they navigate their relationship with both each other and their parents.
Basically, if this game were a film, it would be a surefire hit at the likes of Sundance. At its heart there’s a story about a child’s journey through adolescence and into adulthood, but the whole thing is framed around engaging puzzle-solving and Wonderland-esque mystery. Unusual characters and strange places will open up as players progress through the game, but there’s a darker edge that will constantly push the narrative onwards.
You may say you don’t play video games to experience subversive stories and coming-of-age dramas, but if you overlook this intriguing indie title you’ll definitely be missing out on an absolute treat. Given the recent success of this type of game in the critic’s market, don’t be surprised if this one scoops some major accolades in 2017.# 5 // Red Dead Redemption 2If you’re anything like me then you’re probably still struggling to get over the cruel and untimely death of John Marston, the reformed hero of Red Dead Redemption. After adventuring with the outlaw-turned-everyman for forty-odd hours, seeing him gunned down in cold blood was undoubtedly one of the most upsetting moments in 21st Century gaming.
But Red Dead Redemption was much, much more than just that one heartbreaking moment. The sprawling open world that Rockstar are famously adept at crafting was perfectly executed to capture the perilous Wild West adventure. No game has ever been as successful in taking us back to Frontier times and fans have been crying out for a sequel for years now.
So, when we were treated to a teaser trailer for the next instalment back in October, the world rejoiced! Not much is known about the sequel at present, but the first trailer has already captured so much attention as it happily recalls so many of the exciting aspects of the 2010 title. Let’s face it, if this game simply ends up being a clone of its predecessor improved by the hardware of a new console generation then it’s already guaranteed to be a winner!# 4 // Super Mario OdysseyWhile the Nintendo Switch may not be winning fans over as much as the company would have hoped, there’s no denying one of the standout moments from its recent unveiling was the introduction of Super Mario Odyssey. The first trailer showed that this game will take Mario out of the Mushroom Kingdom as players will take him adventuring through a version of our own world.
The early footage has shown Mario making his way around New Donk City – the game’s NYC clone – in glorious 3D rendering and a fully 360 perspective. Hardcore fans of the “classic origins” may still find it hard to take to such a change, but the success of the likes of Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Sunshine will always be a concrete reminder that Nintendo know what they’re doing when they sling Mario into unfamiliar territory.
Main series Super Mario games are virtually always greeted by scores of near-flawless reviews and it’s hard to see Nintendo getting this one wrong as they take their new console into the next festive period. This one simply cannot fail.# 3 // Ni no Kuni II: Revenant KingdomNi no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was lauded when it released for PlayStation 3 in 2013 with many commentators calling it the console-based Pokemon game we’ve always wanted. Impressive praise that may be, but Ni no Kuni was worth so much more than just that comparison.
If you grew up playing games like Zelda and Final Fantasy then Ni no Kuni will have been the perfect RPG to take you smiling back to that wonderful time. The world was simply engrossing and the population filling each of its locales was perfectly pitched. NPCs and interactive Familiars bring the adventure to life in adorable detail.
Ni no Kuni II will bring the series to the PS4 and will take players on an even more ambitious quest than before. So few games manage to capture the true roots of the RPG genre anymore (even Final Fantasy XV struggled to recapture former glories) but Ni no Kuni is still a series we can rely on as we drag our childhood nostalgia kicking and screaming into the new generation!# 2 // Death StrandingPerhaps it’s wishful thinking to hope that we’ll be getting our hands on this intriguing new title from Hideo Kojima in 2017, but until we’re told it’s not happening then we still have to believe!
The first game from Kojima following his well-publicised split from Konami in 2015 and the disappointing cancellation of Silent Hills, Death Stranding had a heck of a lot of attention even before we started to see teasers and trailers. Now, with early video footage showing Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen and Guillermo del Toro playing unknown roles in the game, that level of attention has soared even higher.
Kojima’s work has led to a remarkable number of critical and commercial hits over the years and his company’s unique eye for blending grim reality with scientific fantasy has brought them a devout following. Death Stranding will be an action game set in a dark open world, but little more is known at this point. It’s a dangerous thing to rely on reputation, as Adam Sandler has been showing us for years, but in this case we think it’s more than justified.# 1 // The Last of Us Part IIWell, there was only going to be one very obvious option at the head of this list, wasn’t there? Already topping so many players’ “most anticipated” lists for 2017, The Last of Us Part II is a game that most people have been looking forward to from the moment they completed the first instalment.
Set to continue the harrowing tale of Ellie (and Joel?)’s struggle to survive in a world left devastated in the aftermath of a fungal epidemic, players will take control of the girl five years after the events of the first game. Anyone who’d hoped Ellie’s fate would be much happier at the end of that game is in for a nasty shock, of course, as the teaser trailer for this game has shown that things haven’t exactly been rosy since we left the duo behind.
Ellie now appears to be even more hardened by the constant struggle to stay alive and the nomadic life of the survivor. It’s unclear what role, if any, Joel is going to play in the actual gameplay but the first trailer does at least suggest he will have some presence. Finding out what happened after the credits rolled on the first game and getting a look at how the world has deteriorated further in those five years is without doubt the most exciting gaming prospect on the horizon in 2017.Of course, we may have left some of your picks out of our list, we can’t include them all can we? Let us know what you would have included instead or if you agree with us…
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