2016 was a trying year, one which had more than a few blows for us. Between every single No Man’s Sky fan committing ritual seppuku, Overwatch actually genuinely killing off League of Legends, and Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian being released from development purgatory, finally seeing the light of day and most astonishingly of all, not unequivocally sucking (that last one being simultaneously the least likely fact to be true and yet the only one that is), we’ve weathered a fair number of surprises, shocks, and depressing insights regarding the futility of life. But 2017 is a new year, and that means a fresh start – another batch of new years resolutions to forget about, a new bunch of reasons to hate our fellow man, and of course, another set of upcoming games to mindlessly hype up! What are we waiting for?
Reasons to love and adore Dark Souls are many and varied but one that springs to mind was that it had the guts to end. Rather than join the Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty school of annualising and stapling an extra number onto the end of the title each year, Dark Souls ended itself for good, ensuring that all the fans can retain their fond memories without fearing a parade of Dark Souls N+1’s each year completely draining any remaining goodwill and turning our memories bitter and sour. No, rather than doing it themselves, From Software has rented out the task of making us utterly tire of the Souls formula to the legion of developers hard at work on their new entries to the thriving Souls-like genre, an arrangement I couldn’t be happier with. The only problem with this is that each new Souls-like game can become a little awkward to describe after the appropriate variant of “It’s Dark Souls with X.” But Nioh isn’t going to mindlessly hype itself so here goes – It’s Dark Souls but set in 17th century Japan with demons and monsters taken from Japanese lore, and with, according to alpha and beta testers, incredibly tight and satisfying controls. It looks brutal and beautiful, and coming in February, it marks the first chance the gaming industry has this year to earn back some lost faith.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
With Breath of the Wild set for release alongside the upcoming Nintendo Switch, Nintendo seems to be running away from the burning wreckage of the Wii U’s failure as fast as they can. Fortunately for them, the new instalment in the Zelda franchise – one so momentous it skipped a console generation – looks like it might just be the thing to catapult Nintendo to another era of success (or it might do if they hadn’t insisted on making an absolute pig’s ear of the Switch reveal event). However, despite my weariness at the unending slew of open-world games in recent years, Breath of the Wild’s locales appear varied and vibrant, assisted by charming artistic and aesthetic direction. It’s also interesting to see the degree to which the game appears to be willing to shed the rather rigid conventions of past Zelda’s, whilst still attempting to stay true to the franchise. How this actually turns out remains to be seen but this is certainly a game worth keeping an eye on. Who knows? It might end up not completely sucking.
Horizon Zero Dawn
A good title has a lot of tasks to juggle. It has to roll off the tongue, and feel good to say. It has to give a sense of the flavour of a work – a tonal signpost of some sort. Last, it has to actually give us an inkling of what the work is about. Take Dead Rising 4. It involves dead people who, as it so happens, have risen in some manner, and sure enough, it’s the fourth game in the series. A simple title which works (even if the games’ list of merits begins and ends with that). Now consider Horizon Zero Dawn – yeah, I have no idea what it’s about either. About all we know is know is that it’s open world (because there’s a slim chance everyone isn’t yet completely sick of open worlds), involves various robot animals (why not), and has been nebulously described as an ‘action-role-playing’ game, which is about as informative as the title. It looks pretty though, and if you need a reason to convince yourself that your PS4 wasn’t a waste of money (if you haven’t yet bought Bloodborne, which is all the justification you need) then you could probably make worse bets than a game in which you (ostensibly) get to take the role of a woman with a spear trying to take down robot dinosaurs.