2016 is a strange year in the making. In 2015 games were diverse, they were epic in scope and ambition, they were unique and innovative. They were beautiful; they were ugly in the best way. When all is said and done 2015 might be one of the best years for gaming ever.
2016 already has a different feel. For one thing there are far less ‘big hitters’ looming. I suspect 2016 will be defined by the surprise packages, the games we don’t even know about yet.
Which makes putting together a list of ‘most anticipated games of 2016’ a lot more difficult than I um... anticipated.
No Man’s Sky
What will we say about No Man’s Sky when it’s no longer an idea but an object we can interact with? I can almost taste the disappointment.
The problem: No Man’s Sky is one of those video games. At this point it’s a blank canvas upon which we project our most outlandish ideas about what video games are and should be. Can any game live up to that promise? Especially a game made by a small team of developers whose last release was Joe Dangerous, an unremarkable video game about motorbike stunts. It's hard to say.
Look – No Man’s Sky has stumbled on something spectacular, that much is clear. It’s captured our imagination in a way that most games simply couldn’t. It’s captured the spirit of exploration and pure adventure. And personally, the more people complain about not understanding what we’re gonna do in No Man’s Sky the more excited I become. I hope it’s stripped back. I hope it’s minimalist as fuck and I hope it’s just powerfully empty.
There I go again, projecting my own outlandish idea about what video games should be.
Dark Souls III
In a year packed with incredible games, Bloodborne was a standout. For me it was the standout. A clear game of the year in a 2015 stacked with incredible experiences across every possible spectrum.
Could From Software do it again in back-to-back years? Surely it's impossible.
Bloodborne was a unique composition. It was dense, dark, precise and deliberate. A brand new universe, a completely original object. Dark Souls III at least has something to build from (pun intended). It also has a solid foundation in terms of its systems. All that plays in the game’s favour, but it’s also a curse. Have we seen too much Dark Souls? Bloodborne was refreshing in all the ways that it wasn’t Dark Souls.
I wonder if that will work against it?
It’s difficult to say. Regardless, I’ll play it. And I’ll probably love it with a passion that would melt glass.
The Last Guardian
I have some serious concerns about The Last Guardian. Has a development story like this ever ended well? Has a game ever had such a storied history of delays and internal struggle then come out the other side fresh as a daisy?
I want to believe. We all want to believe.
So I choose to believe this video game will be all we hope it will be.
I am also preparing myself for crushing disappointment.
The Legend Of Zelda
I want to love a Zelda game again. Like really love it. Wind Waker love it. A Link To The Past love it.
There are reasons to be optimistic. Nintendo’s last serious Zelda (A Link Between Worlds) game was spectacular and it was spectacular for the ways it subverted the structure that’s had Zelda in the quagmire for well over a decade.
Is that a sign that Nintendo is willing to take Mario Galaxy sized risks with its other prized franchise? I certainly hope so.
Nintendo has hinted at a more open world. We don’t know what that mean yet but I hope it remains focused in its scope but flexible in its approach.
What the fuck is happening in The Witness? What kind of video game is it? I’ve given up trying to work that out but Jonathan Blow’s last video game arguably kickstarted a movement that resulted in indie games being tossed to the forefront. That, combined with the whole digital distribution thing, really changed video games for the better.
Will The Witness have a similar impact? Probably not, but I expect it will be a mind blowing video game in spite of that.
Every morning I wake up and I have a different opinion about how VR will play out.
Sometimes I wake up and I think VR will change everything. Other days I wake up and think it will be a spectacular failure. But more and more I'm coming to the conclusion that VR's best chance at success won't come via the Oculus Rift. It's just too niche, has too many obstacles. They're catering to a small crowd and I find it difficult to see how the Rift will appeal to anyone outside a small group of hardcore PC gamers.
Bizarrely I believe that VR's best chance at real success is through mobile devices. Gear VR is great and if Apple decided to run with VR its success would be all but guaranteed.
But in terms of gaming, PlayStation VR has a real chance at doing well. Personally, it's been my favourite VR experience so far. The price point is everything here. PlayStation VR will launch with an additional processor to help bear the weight of all the extra frames it needs to render. How much will it cost? It might end up being more expensive than the Rift. That would probably be disastrous. Time will tell.
What games are you most looking forward to in 2016? Let us know in the comments below!