I’m glad that both January, and at least part of February (at this stage), are relatively quiet in terms of game releases. It gives me a chance to play through as many of the late-2016 releases as possible… and maybe even some of the ‘I really don’t need it, buuuut…’ games I bought during the very recent Steam sale.
While researching this article to refresh my memory on what’s coming out, I compiled a not-so-shortlist of 50+ titles, across a range of genres. So instead of just listing my pick of the ones I’m most excited for, I’ve decided to share the love of multiple games per genre under some key categories. Here goes.
Promising first-person shooters
It should come as no surprise that 2017 will see the release of a lot of shooters (like any year, really). There’s a nice variety of them on the horizon, though. For fans of patient, long-range stuff, you’ll be able to choose from the World War II antics of Sniper Elite 4 and the contemporary open-world snipe-sim Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3. Hardcore shooter fans will likely sink their teeth into the likes of the return of the WWII FPS with indie title Battalion 1944, advance time a little for Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, or can try their luck with the high lethality of modern shooters like Squad or Insurgency: Sandstorm.
The arena shooter is seemingly returning in a big way, too, with gravity-defying LawBreakers, alongside the return of the ’90s arena-shooter showdown: Quake Champions vs Unreal Tournament (assuming the latter properly releases later this year). Speaking of Quake, Strafe is an old-school Quake-inspired shooter that’s looking like a tonne of fun.
There’s also a Star Wars Battlefront sequel at the end of the year, which will hopefully ship with more content than its predecessor, and there’s even a VR game called John Wick Chronicles shipping early in the year to coincide with the theatrical release of John Wick: Chapter 2.
Time-destroying role-playing games
There’s nothing quite like sinking untold hours into an engaging and sprawling RPG: unless, of course, you have other things you need to be doing. Prepare your time budget for a great range of RPGs in 2017. Mass Effect: Andromeda is the most obvious most-anticipated choice, this time in an open-world environment. Hell, even though I never played the originals (don’t shoot me!), I’m still excited for this; Andromeda launches on March 23. For a change of pace, South Park: The Fractured But Whole builds on the combat shortcomings of the first game and takes the piss out of the mainstream obsession with superhero stuff.
The ambitious medieval game Kingdom Come: Deliverance is on target for a 2017 release, and the Chivalry lover in me can’t help but be excited by the prospect of physics-based first-person duelling (oh, and the RPG stuff). If you’re into that setting but want a bigger scale, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord might be more your speed. Back up into space, and from what I’ve seen of the Prey reboot, it’s more RPG than shooter (in a Deus Ex kind of way), with a strong emphasis on solving puzzles.
If you’re a fan of Bastion and/or Transistor, Pyre will likely be of interest, if only for the pedigree of developer Supergiant Games, but also possibly for the action-RPG set in a high fantasy space. Speaking of developer pedigree, fans of Gothic and/or Risen may be curious to hear that ELEX is the next game from developer Piranha Bytes, albeit with the fantasy setting replaced by a sci-fi theme. It’s still an action-RPG, mind you but, as a Gothic fan, I just hope it launches in a stable state. For those looking to support a local RPG, Hand of Fate 2 seeks to expand on its iconic splicing of action-RPG, roguelike and digital card game.
Strategy titles for different tastes
Just three for this category, but something for different tastes. Halo Wars 2 is the first strategy game off the rank this year, launching on February 21. You don’t really need to be a fan of the Halo universe (though that’s obviously an extra level of rewarding if you are) to play the RTS sequel, and it actually has modes that are specifically designed to be played by strategy newcomers. You can also purchase the remastered version of Halo Wars to play ahead of Halo Wars 2. For bigger-scale RTS, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III is out later this year and it’s shaping up to be awesome. Those familiar with my ramblings will know I’m not a big fan of turn-based games, but even I’m considering delving into the MechWarrior awesomeness of turn-based title BattleTech.
Edge-of-seat survival games
Survival games are an increasingly popular genre year in year, out. 2017 will be no exception to this rule. Things start early with the release of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which shifts the long-running series into first-person survival-horror territory. It’s due for release on January 24. Outside of Biohazard, the rest may be relatively unknown, depending on your familiarity with independent games, perhaps with the exception of Epic’s Fortnite: a “Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead” game that splices base building with zombie slaying.
A three-person team is building the ambitious Prey for the Gods, which has players handling an exhaustion system atop the dangers of a frozen wasteland. If that sounds somewhat familiar (at least the frozen part), beloved Early Access survival title The Long Dark will reportedly see the release of solo episodes in 2017, too. Speaking of beloved Early Access games, underwater survival/exploration game Subnautica is due for its 1.0 release early this year.
If you’d prefer to throw others into the mix for your survival experience, The Wild Eight offers up to eight-player (as the name suggests) survival co-op in a procedurally generated world. You can grab a for it right now, too. For something closer to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, Escape from Tarkov is pitched as a hardcore survival title with MMO features that can be survived alone or with friends. If straight-up horror is more your thing, Friday the 13th: The Game is supposed to land early this year, and I’ll be interested to see how different it is to the similarly themed Dead by Daylight.
Hopefully (fully) released in 2017
There’s no point avoiding the elephant in the room, so let’s get it out of the way upfront. Star Citizen. Mind you, the release date has been shifted to more of a ‘when it’s done’ nowadays, which is a practical way of looking at the ambitious space game, and also might mean that it’s not released (at least not in a traditional digital sense) by the time 2018 rolls in. The next obvious inclusion for this category is Red Dead Redemption 2. Yes, it’s been announced for a console release in 2017 (though that may shift; it wouldn’t be the first time Rockstar has delayed a game), but I’ve got my fingers crossed for a PC version in 2017.
As for the others, well, it just so happens it’s a trio of games published by Microsoft Studios. Sea of Thieves is a fun-loving open-world pirate adventure, State of Decay 2 has the potential to build atop the solid zombie survival foundation of the original game, and Crackdown 3 looks like bonkers superhero-fuelled fun (but with guns). Outside of Sea of Thieves, not a lot has been shown of State of Decay 2, and Crackdown 3 was strangely absent from Gamescom 2016 (despite an impressive showing the year before), but Microsoft seems confident these titles will all hit this year.
As for the others that don’t neatly slot into the categories above, Ubisoft has my attention for three of its upcoming titles that aren’t too far apart in terms of release dates. Ghost Recon Wildlands (March 7) looks like a whole lot of open-world third-person shooter fun, Star Trek: Bridge Crew (March 14) will be fun to revisit cooperatively, and For Honor (February 14) impressed the hell out of me the last time I played it. The other three I have on my refined list aren’t so easily united. I love the look and the idea of consequences at play in Vampyr, Cuphead looks like a tonne of well-presented insane fun, and Full Throttle Remastered has my guilty attention because I never got around to playing the original.
Phew. That’s a hell of a lot of games to look forward to, and that’s just my list. Be sure to let me know if there are any PC titles you’re looking forward to in 2017 that weren’t mentioned above.