Every year seems to get bigger in terms of releases, both exclusive and multiplatform, for our beloved gaming platform, the PC. Given that some of the biggest titles of this year are scheduled to drop later this month (Homeworld: Deserts or Kharak is already here), with plenty of other worthy entries scattered throughout the gaming year, I felt it prudent to flag a handful and a half of the ones that are worthy of your attention.
If it was entirely a list of my personal preference, it would be filled with shooters, RTS titles with the odd sci-fi RPG thrown in for good measure, but there’s no fun in that. Instead, I’ve taken a broader approach to cover more than just my personal preference to present some of the biggest exclusive PC titles of 2016.
In no particular order, here we go!
Scheduled for release on the 5th of February, XCOM 2 acts as a PC-exclusive sequel to 2012’s multiplatform XCOM: Enemy Unknown (how often does that happen these days?), set 20 years after titular XCOM has lost the war. It’s a turn-based title, which guarantees I’ll probably never touch it, but even turn-based haters such as myself can acknowledge the appeal of character attachment and constant tension caused by unforeseen consequences around every corner. Oh, that and the very real threat of permadeath. It’s also escalating in all the right ways, with a variety of new enemies, as well as procedurally generating levels and events. If I keep typing about it, I’ll probably have to play it. Check out the trailer below.
Despite delays and rumours of behind-the-scenes mayhem, Star Citizen looks like it’s finally (and thankfully) on track for a proper release later this year. As far as star-faring simulators go, it doesn’t get any better than this. The hangar and dogfighting modules have been available for quite some time to pledgers, but the late-2015 release of the 2.0 alpha brought with it new ships, extra-vehicular activities and new flight modes. There’ll be more content released prior to the official launch for hungry fans who can’t wait, but it’s good to know the wait for Chris Roberts’ ambitious space title is coming to an end. Personally, I cannot wait to take this thing for a spin with Oculus Rift.
Total War: Warhammer
Considering Relic Entertainment is content to continue to focus on Company of Heroes 2 post-release content three years after the fact, it’s unlikely we’ll see another Dawn of War game from them anytime soon. Cue the entry of strategy maestros Creative Assembly, creators and custodians of the long-running Total War series with an entry in the beloved grand-strategy franchise that’s all about Warhammer. Sure, it’s not of the 40K variety, but it’s the turn-based/RTS glory (even I don’t mind the turn-based elements) of the Total War series spliced with the rich mythology of the Warhammer universe. Considering how well Creative Assembly handled the Alien licence with Isolation, I reckon Warhammer is in safe hands.
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Pitched as a spiritual successor to the beloved Planescape: Torment, there are certain pillars you can safely assume will be part of Tides of Numenera: an isometric perspective, deep RPG mechanics, and a story-driven single-player experience. Tides of Numenera is a Kickstarter-funded Unity-powered game that left Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity in the dust for most Kickstarter money raised for a game. That should give you an idea of the popularity of the concept of a sequel, spiritual or otherwise, to Planescape. It’s been delayed a couple of times already, but the wait promises to be worth it with claims of a “rich, personal narrative”, and three base classes (rogue, wizard and warrior) that can be customised to match a player’s preferred RPG play style.
The ex-face of Epic Games, Cliff Bleszinski, may be off making his own shooter stuff now, but his old company is co-developing the enticing-looking Fortnite with Bulletstorm devs People Can Fly. It’s the first Epic-forged game to take advantage of the in-house Unreal Engine 4, and while its stylised art design doesn’t lend itself to the usual eye candy you’d come to expect from Epic (nor the fidelity potential of UE4), the gameplay looks incredibly addictive. Fortnite is a co-op shooter experience that’s part exploration, part survival game, and part fort builder. During the day, players must work together to scavenge the necessary items required to build freeform defensive structures, and at night put their fort to the test against waves of zombies. All of this takes place on procedurally generated maps, which promises a lot of replayability. Oh, it’s set to be free-to-play, too, so no investment is required to take it for a spin.
There’s no need to spellcheck the title of this game as it’s from the minds behind made-up titles such as Myst and Riven. Okay, so Riven is actually a word, but Macquarie Dictionary assures me that Myst and Obduction are not. Digression aside, Obduction is another successful Kickstarter project that’s being sold as a spiritual successor to Myst and Riven (there sure are a lot of spiritual successors slated for release in 2016). Mastermind of those puzzle titles Rand Miller promises the development team is comprised of Myst and Riven alumni, with talent from Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, thrown in for good measure. Apart from the pedigree, Obduction will involve exploration, adventure, puzzling, and will have Oculus Rift support in 2016, the year of the VR zeitgeist.
These kind of lists feel incomplete without the addition of an MMO of one variety or another. Far be it from me to include another ‘spiritual successor’ entry, Camelot Unchained is another game that’s being described as an unofficial sequel, but this time Dark Age of Camelot guru Mark Jacobs says it could have been a full-fledged successor if he wanted it to be. The pitch is to use the classic Arthurian legend as a foundation for what’s promised to be a PvP-focused MMORPG. And not just any sort of PvP, mind you: Jacobs has grand plans for large-scale players as the primary gameplay in Camelot Unchained. You can check out some of the epic battles in the video below.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada
Just when you thought that my earlier gripes about a lack of a Dawn of War sequel from Relic Entertainment were indicative of the lack of strategy titles in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, along comes Battlefleet Gothic: Armada. Instead of trying to follow what Relic did with Dawn of War, developer Tindalos Interactive is taking an Unreal Engine 4-forged adventure into the rich fleet combat set in the stars of the 40K space. With an armada of beautifully recreated ships from four factions (Imperium, Chaos Undivided, Craftworld Eldar, and Orks), players will have to manage the speed of smaller frigates with the firepower of everything up to battleships. Different special abilities allow for deep tactics, while players will be required to customise parts of their fleet to match their play style or go toe-to-toe with a particular threat. Also, you can ram other ships, which is all Tindalos had to tell me to get me interested.
So that’s the list of exclusive PC titles in 2016 that are well worth a peek-in (if the genre is of interest to you, of course). Dreadnought, Factorio, Seasons After Fall and Cossacks 3 stand as honourable mentions, but if there are any other titles you feel should have been in this list, be sure to let me know in the comments below.