It’s a new year, and that means brand new video game experiences. 2016 may have been a big year for games, but 2017 is arguably poised to exceed it by leaps and bounds. There are some big releases from top publishers planned for this year, but the AAA titles aren’t necessarily all the ones I think will turn out to be the best when the dust has settled. Here are the five video games I’m most looking forward to (plus some bonus thoughts) in 2017.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom doesn’t have an official release date just yet, but its arrival is expected in 2017 after it was shown off at PlayStation Experience in December 2016. It’s the followup to a solid RPG game that came late in the PS3’s life. Developer Level-5 has an outstanding pedigree, having previously put out the Professor Layton and Yo-kai Watch games. I’m most excited about the art, though. Studio Ghibli, founded by the famous animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Ponyo, The Wind Rises), does the animated sequences for Ni No Kuni.
Star Wars Battlefront II (which is weird to say because there was already a Star Wars Battlefront II) doesn’t have an official release date either. But we know from statements on the publisher’s investor calls that it’s expected to hit our consoles this fall, likely in November just before the release of Episode VIII in theaters. Although I felt the first game in this rebooted shooter franchise was the biggest letdown of 2015, I’m hopeful the team working on it has learned from its mistakes. If we get another game that’s so pretty and polished as a shooter, and they throw in a campaign and decent flight combat, this could be the game Star Wars fans are looking for. At least to hold them over until Visceral’s much-anticipated Amy Hennig-penned Star Wars title finally comes out in 2018.
I think the original Gravity Rush is perhaps the most underrated game of this generation so far. It was amazing as an entrée to the Playstation Vita, and the more recent remastering on the PS4 (which includes all of the DLC packs) held up perfectly. I got the platinum in both versions because the game is just so fun to play. You defy gravity by walking on walls, flying and fighting your way through colorful worlds. And you do it all alongside lovable comic book-style characters. The main character, Kat, is full of personality. The combat is fluid and never frustrating. The game allows you to be creative in how you approach situations. And the story is interesting at least. I can’t wait to dive back into that world, especially knowing this sequel adds a second playable character who was a pseudovillian in the original game.
Nintendo has tried to sell a certain narrative when showing off this game. They say it reinvents Zelda and plays in new ways that we’ve never experienced before. Nothing I’ve seen to date has convinced me there’s any truth to those statements. And you know what? That’s OK. The Zelda formula works, and with the exception of Spirit Tracks, there’s never been a bad one. Would I love for Zelda to iterate on its tried and true formula a bit in order to surprise me with some new experiences in that world? Absolutely. But if not — will I still be absolutely giddy playing a brand new Zelda with this beautiful new art style they’ve introduced and (finally!) the introduction of voice acting to the series? Absolutely.
There’s no official launch date yet for Pyre, the third game from Supergiant Games. However, all signs point to it releasing this year, perhaps in Q4. I absolutely love this developer, and until they put out a mediocre game, I’m going to be very hyped for every new project from Supergiant. The studio’s first game, an action RPG called Bastion, is in my top 10 games of all time. Its second game, Transistor, a turn-based tactics RPG, is amazing and probably just outside my personal best of all time list. Both are must-plays for every gamer. Pyre has been described as a mix of DOTA and Rocket League. So you have a developer I love, mixed with extremely fun eSports concepts? Sold.
The original Mass Effect trilogy is without a doubt one of the greatest achievements in the gaming medium ever. To this day, no game has put such a slick RPG spin on the third-person shooter genre. Few have dared to have such well-rounded, interesting and mature characters. None have come close in writing a truly compelling science fiction story that rivals that of Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica. And, perhaps most surprisingly, the concept of carrying save files from one game to the next to allow your decisions carry meaning hasn’t been effectively replicated. Despite the sour taste Mass Effect 3’s ending left in the mouth of many fans, myself included, it’s important to remember that was a small percentage of hundreds of hours of compelling content. I’m glad EA has hit the reset button on this franchise from a storyline perspective. But I just hope at its core we still get a really solid RPG with fun shooting and biotic power mechanics, weaved together by a strong narrative and lovable characters.
Since the very first showing of this game, I’ve wanted to get my hands on it. It looks like Tomb Raider with cyborg dinosaurs and a wide range of weapons and skills with which to fight them. The story, though I’ve remained mostly unsullied by not diving too deeply into the available story information, sounds like a very interesting dystopian premise. And perhaps most importantly, Horizon promises to be a relatively deep RPG with a large world to explore and many ways to customize your character’s approach to situations. Visually, Horizon looks like it very well may rival Uncharted 4’s beauty. If you’ve been sleeping on this game because it’s a new IP you haven’t heard of, it’s time to wake up.
It looks to be a jam-packed year for gamers in 2017, especially when it comes to PS4 console exclusives. Q1 is looking crowded, at least for my own most eagerly awaited games. But what games are you most looking forward to this year and why? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, and we’ll use them in a future podcast episode or article.
— Joshua A. DeLung