The 30 most anticipated games of 2016

Starting with a rather massive list, I’ve whittled it down to just 30 picks – these are the games that I most excited to see and play in 2016. And please check back regularly, as I’ll update the list throughout the year as new games are announced and others released.

1. NO MAN’S SKY

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC 

Who knew that a game made by a tiny indie team would be one of the headline games of the year? That’s the case with No Man’s Sky, a jaw-dropping space simulation that gives you your very own procedurally generated planet to explore, full of odd creatures and distinctive sights. And at any time, you can fly your ship into the stars and drop in on other users’ planets as well. It looks amazing, but can it really live up to the surprising hype?

Due: TBD 2015

2. THE LAST GUARDIAN

Platform: PlayStation 4

The Last Guardian – the long-awaited follow-up to Team Ico’s Shadow of the Colossus – was announced in 2009, and then it more or less disappeared. Just straight-up vanished.

But the stunning-looking adventure about a boy and his bird-dog-thing has resurfaced on the PS4 and will hopefully, barring further painful delays, release in 2016. The delay has only intensified our interest in this surely-emotional quest, and we can’t wait to finally experience it.

Due: TBD 2016

3. ADR1FT

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Essentially an immersive video game twist on outer space nightmare film GravityAdr1ft finds you awaken on a demolished space station, alone and unsure of what happened.

With limited oxygen and minimal resources, you must float through the wreckage in zero gravity and piece together the events to led to your situation – and find a way back to Earth. It’s coming to consoles, but we may well wait to enjoy it with Oculus Rift, which sounds like the ultimate way to play something like this.

Due: Q1 2016

4. MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

What, you thought Mass Effect 3 was it? True, Commander Shepard’s story is complete, but EA’s beloved sci-fi universe is about to show off its true vastness with Mass Effect Andromeda.

It’s set well after the earlier trilogy, in the titular galaxy, and will use the Frostbite 3 engine to power “exciting new worlds, great characters, and intense action,” says EA. We don’t know a ton more than that for now, but hey, that’s a promising start.

Due: Q4 2016

5. UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END

Platform: PlayStation 4

Naughty Dog’s blockbuster action-adventure trilogy delivered some of the most amazing moments we had on PS3, and now Uncharted 4 looks to do much the same on PS4. Expect more tense set-pieces, thrilling shootouts, and remarkable performances, along with some new tweaks: more open-ended navigation, along with conversational choices.

Will this really be Drake’s demise? We doubt it, but we can’t wait to find out either way. Don’t miss The Nathan Drake Collection in the meantime!

Due: 18 March

 

6. Inside

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, PS3

Inside hails from the studio behind 2010’s marvelous indie side-scroller Limbo, which is enough to get us interested. Need more than that? Just check out the mysterious teaser trailer above, which oozes with style and utter dread. And… well, what’s inside that vat at the end?

We imagine the answer will drive this side-scrolling adventure, and if Limbo is any indication, it should be an amazing, memorable journey.

Due: TBD 2016

7. Rez Infinite

Platform: PlayStation 4 (VR)

If there’s any classic game that seems like a perfect fit for a virtual reality reboot, it’s certainly Sega’s Rez. And thank the heavens, it’s coming to PlayStation VR.

The dazzling, rhythm-matched shooter will be enhanced for PS4, with updated graphics and a brand new world, and the vivid wireframe worlds should be rather mind-blowing when surrounding you in the VR headset. It’ll work on PS4 without the headset too, but it ought to sell non-believers on Sony’s VR plans.

Due: TBD 2016

8. The Legend of Zelda

Platform: Wii U

Nintendo’s NX will debut in 2016, and is rumoured to possibly release this year as well – but the fantastic-looking, open-world Legend of Zelda seen at E3 2014 is still slated for the Wii U, the company says.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see it release on both, Twilight Princess-style, but whatever the case, we want it. Slated to be the largest and most open-ended entry to date, it should be a fine sendoff for Nintendo’s quirky, underperforming console.

Due: TBD 2016

9. Firewatch

Platform: PC, PlayStation 4

Hailing from a dream team of indie game makers – including the former leads of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, plus artist Olly Moss – Firewatch might not have the profile of most games on this list, but it looks absolutely dazzling.

As the trailer shows, it’s a first-person adventure in the wilderness of Yosemite National park, with equal parts humour and mystery, and it offers dialogue choices that can shape the storyline. Sign us up for this digital nature walk.

Due: 9 February

 

10. Batman – A Telltale Games Series

Platforms: TBD

We’ll be honest: we don’t know much at all about Telltale’s plans for its Batman episodic game series, but if there are two pop culture forces that we trust on legacy alone, it’s Telltale and Batman.

The developer’s recent run with The Walking DeadThe Wolf Among Us, and Game of Thrones (among others) has been mostly sterling, and Batman’s mythos is ripe for a conversation-driven adventure game. This ought to be something special. Fingers crossed.

Due: TBD 2016

 

11. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Finally! EA and DICE’s under-appreciated first-person free running game is reborn on new hardware with a game that falls into the middle ground between a prequel and a full reboot.

While it maintains the dazzling style of the 2008 original and a similar focus on speedily sprinting across rooftops, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst introduces an open world full of obstacles to bound over, slide down, and vault across. And to really showcase Faith’s parkour talents, you can’t use guns anymore. Nice.

Due: 24 May

12. EVE: Valkyrie

Platforms: Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR

EVE: Valkyrie is the kind of game that can convince non-believers in the power of virtual reality – which is probably why it’s being bundled with the first-run Oculus Rift.

Unlike the vast, cutthroat MMO it’s spun off from, EVE: Valkyrie focuses solely on intense, outer space dogfights. Were it simply seen on your TV or monitor, it’d be a fun, but largely familiar experience. But in the VR cockpit, it’s damn near mind-blowing in the demos we’ve had, and we can’t wait to strap in for more.

Due: Q1 2016

13. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Beloved shooter Deus Ex got a smashing modern revival with 2011’s Human Revolution, and Square Enix is primed to release the follow-up almost exactly five years later.

Mankind Divided will explore a future in which natural humans rebel against their augmented counterparts, and lead Adam Jensen helps try to stop the anti-augmented terrorist attacks. Expect all manner of cool new upgrades and gadgets for this techno-stealth-action-thriller.

Due: 23 August

14. Paragon

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4

Paragon is Epic Games’ attempt to inject a bit more active participation into the classic MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) framework, delivering the kind of intensity we’re used to from its classic shooters.

It’s a 5-on-5 team-based battle with an array of character options, but instead of an isometric viewpoint, you’re right there in the action with a third-person camera. It’ll debut in paid Early Access in spring, with an open beta in the summer.

Due: Spring 2016 (Early Access)

15. Job Simulator

Platforms: Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive

You couldn’t come up with a more boring title than Job Simulator, but that’s the joke: it’s not nearly as mundane as you might imagine. In fact, this hilarious-looking VR game is set in the year 2050, when the robots who ultimately replace human workers try to learn about dull, 9-to-5 cubicle gigs.

While not the game you’d expect to be wowed by in VR (see EVE: Valkyrie above), it could really show the value of the medium for “experiential” games of all sorts.

Due: TBD 2016

 

16. Street Fighter V

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC

Street Fighter V looks a fair bit like Street Fighter IV, but also has returning elements from Street Fighter III – and if you don’t know why any of that is important, just know that it’s pretty certain to be another great fighting game.

It has a pared-down cast punctuated by a few newcomers, along with cross-platform online play and some new-gen graphical punch, and the series’ core entries have never disappointed.

Due: 16 February

17. The Witness

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC

Like puzzles? Great: here’s a stunning island full of them. The Witness is the game that Braid creator Jonathan Blow has poured all of his indie money into, and it’s a stunning experience, dropping you into the middle of a vibrant setting that’s just loaded to the brim with brain-teasers.

Good thing the environments are so calm and pleasing, because we have a feeling these puzzles are going to drive us batty (in a good way).

Due: 26 January

18. Dreams

Platform: PlayStation 4

Media Molecule made the first two LittleBigPlanet games and then Tearaway, so as far as we’re concerned, they have a magic touch. And from what we’ve seen of Dreams, that’s very real indeed.

Like the LBP games, Dreams puts a big focus on creation, letting you paint wildly imaginative worlds using your controller. It has a mesmerising look to it, and seemingly plenty of flexibility to what you can generate. We’re already charmed from the trailer alone.

Due: TBD 2016

19. Far Cry Primal

Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Ubisoft’s Far Cry franchise is one of our favourite open-world offerings of the last few years, but Primal is going old-school – back to the Stone Age, actually.

It’s a big shake-up from the modern entries, but the first-person action should stay plenty compelling in that new era. You’ll be able to recruit beasts to follow you around the savage wilderness, plus the lack of guns should make the combat feel all the more visceral, desperate, and memorable.

Due: 23 February (PC: March)

20. RIGS Mechanized Combat League

Platform: PlayStation VR

Sony has a wealth of existing franchises to bring into virtual reality, but RIGS Mechanized Combat League might be the one to really bring PlayStation VR to the masses.

This original effort is a mech brawler that you’ll experience in first-person using the VR headset, and it looks like immersive, aggressive fun. As we said after a hands-on, this game won’t only sell the PlayStation VR to existing PS4 owners, but also the PS4 itself to anyone who doesn’t already have it.

Due: TBD 2016

 

21. Unravel

Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Yarny is the new Sackboy, as far as we can tell, and this fabric-made hero arrives in a rather captivating-looking quest out of Electronic Arts.

Unravel is a side-scrolling affair through realistic-looking environments, with the yarn-man using his body to solve puzzles and swing across gaps, plus it has a very affecting, wordless storyline beneath about reconnecting a separated family’s memories. Should be an emotional one!

Due: 9 February

22. Dark Souls III

Platform: PS4, PC, Xbox One

Who knew that such a brutally tough game would be such a sensational hit? Dark Souls continues its reign among hardcore gamers with this trilogy-maker, which promises to make some small tweaks for accessibility while still offering the high-end challenge for experts.

It looks fantastic on the new consoles, and the bosses we’ve faced so far in preview turns have really impressed us with their creative designs. Sign us up for more delightful misery!

Due: 12 April

23. Overwatch

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4

Blizzard, the beloved studio known for ponderous real-time strategy affairs and (now) a staggeringly popular card game, is making one of the craziest-looking competitive shooters we’ve ever seen.

Compared to the dark and dour look of most genre leaders, Overwatch is a blast of fresh air, with a wild array of anime-esque heroes featuring distinctive weapons and abilities. It looks like an amped-up Team Fortress 2, which sounds like a very good thing to us.

Due: Spring 2016

24. Horizon: Zero Dawn

Platform: PlayStation 4

Killzone was always a solid shooter series, but rarely stood out in a crowded genre. Fortunately, Guerilla’s new game has immediate appeal, offering a vision of a de-technologised future in which a bow-and-arrow wielding huntress battles against weird robotic animals.

Horizon: Zero Dawn‘s open setting looks fabulous and should provide a compelling world like The Witcher III‘s, albeit with a very compelling original premise driving the action/role-playing blend.

Due: TBD 2016

25. Battleborn

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC

No, it’s not a new Borderlands, but Gearbox’s new IP looks to have the same kind of brash energy wrapped up in a new kind of package.

Battleborn is a first-person shooter fused with a League Of Legends-like MOBA, and it has a delightful cartoonish energy that resonates from the 25 diverse heroes through to the colourful locales. The story mode offers solo and co-op play alike, plus the competitive multiplayer options should be a blast.

Due: 3 May

 

26. Final Fantasy XV

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

After the underwhelming Final Fantasy XIII and the rough start the online-only Final Fantasy XIV had, it’s high time for the once-legendary RPG series to have a big win.

And so far, Final Fantasy XV looks like it’s up to the task. It’s big and beautifully rendered, of course, with an intriguing story about warring nations and powerful beings, plus it has cool dudes who go on a road trip together. So long as the lengthy quest isn’t a grinding slog, it could be something special.

Due: TBD 2016

27. Dishonored 2

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One

One of the last generation’s finest stealth-action experiences is back next year in Arkane’s sequel, which delivers a second playable lead – Emily Kaldwin in addition to Corvo Attano – and it’s still possible to complete the game without taking a life.

We haven’t seen too much of this one just yet, but the debut was spectacular, and we can’t wait to see more. And if you missed the first Dishonored, it was recently remastered for PS4 and Xbox One.

Due: Q2 2016

28. Edge of Nowhere

Platform: Oculus Rift

Edge of Nowhere is the first VR game from Ratchet & Clank and Resistance maker Insomniac, and at first blush, it sort of looks like a generic Uncharted. Actually strap on the Oculus Rift, however, and it’s a spellbinding experience.

Danger scenes are framed perfectly from your immersed third-person view, plus there’s an incredible sense of depth to the world that’s used to staggering effect. It’s one of the first “wow” games on the Rift.

Due: TBD 2016

29. Doom

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Last we saw Doom in 2004, it had become darker and moodier – to great effect, too. But now id Software is creating a modern Doom in the image of the old-school originals, which means it’s super fast, horrifically violent, and should be a total blast in the process.

If you’re tired of cover-based shooters or those with frequent cinematic asides, this blast of badass action should be a welcome return from an all-time classic.

Due: TBD 2016

30. Gears of War 4

Platform: Xbox One

Gears of War is your Xbox destination for big, brash action, but Gears of War 4 – the first new entry on Xbox One, and first from new developer The Coalition – apparently aims to take things down a notch.

Last year’s E3 demo was dark and eerie, much unlike what we saw in Gears of War 3 a few years back, but it’s a potentially promising twist and return to the approach of Epic’s original hit. Here’s hoping it’s the right move for Microsoft.

Due: Holiday 2016

 

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