We thought we'd kick off the New Year with a simple, but timely question about your most-anticipated title of 2016. There's a host of amazing-looking games scheduled for release this year, but which one are you most excited about?
While you figure out your choice, these are the games that the USgamer team just can't wait to get their hands on.
Where were you when Square Enix announced Final Fantasy XV? I was there at their E3 press conference in 2006, when the game was called Final Fantasy Versus XIII. And I was at the press conference in 2013 when it was renamed. And I was at Square Enix's headquarters interviewing Hajime Tabata last year at Tokyo Game Show when I learned he had been named the game's director, taking the place of Tetsuya Nomura. In other words, I've had a front row seat throughout Final Fantasy XV's rocky existence, and now—a decade later—I figure I might as well see it through, you know?
Even beyond its impressive history, FFXV holds a lot of interest. It represents an attempt by Square Enix to really and truly modernize Final Fantasy, with an open-world design and a heavy emphasis on action-based mechanics. Will it remain faithful to what we think of as "Final Fantasy"? Will it be a good game in its own right? It's hard to know yet, but the demo that arrived early this year with Final Fantasy Type 0 HD seemed promising, albeit rough. I have a lot of confidence in Tabata and in pinch-hitter studio Avalanche to put together an intriguing game with a solid story and addictive mechanics—as long as they can deliver on that front, I think I'll be OK with whatever this long-suffering game turns out to be.
No Man's Sky is described by its developer Hello Games as a "science fiction game set in an infinite procedurally generated galaxy." Just think about that for a moment. A massively-multiplayer game that promises to let you - and everybody else who plays it - loose in a galaxy filled with an infinite number of planets and stars. It sounds unbelievable, right? Yet so far, demos have shown exactly that: A universe of stars to discover, each with its own planetary system whose heavenly bodies you can travel to, land on, and explore. Some worlds have life, others don't - but you won't know until you travel there and find out.
Exploration and survival are headlined as No Man's Sky's main objectives, but the game also features combat and trading. You can dogfight enemies in space, engage in first-person combat on the surface of a planet, as well as collect resources and trade them for new ships, space suits, and gear. It all adds up to a game that sounds mind-boggling in size and scope.
Is it all too good to be true? That's what I'm really looking forward to finding out in 2016. Hopefully No Man's Sky will be more than just an astonishing technical showcase, and will be a great game in its own right - and one that will let us all boldly go where no-one has gone before.
Persona fans have been waiting for this game for almost as long as Star Wars fans have anticipated a new film. The last numbered sequel in the series was released back in 2008, and it was on the PlayStation 2. There have been remakes and spinoffs since, some of them very good, but Persona 5 is the game we've wanted all along. And now, finally, we're probably going to get it.
The new game will feature a handful of teens who are students by day and thieves by night, making them very different from the do-gooders of Persona 3 and 4. The story will be set in Tokyo, taking advantage of the power of the PlayStation 3 and 4 to depict a city larger and more varied than anything in the series that has come before it. At the same time, though, it looks set to be everything that fans have come to expect from the series - deep and heavily stylized with a great story and an even better soundtrack.
It will have big shoes to fill in trying to follow Persona 4, which is one of the best and most popular Japanese RPGs of the past 15 years. The initial trailers have been extremely promising, though, and no one will accuse Atlus of trying to rush it out the door. It's been a very long wait, but it looks like fans of the series are about to get everything they want and more in Persona 5.
From Software has really been on a roll over the past six years. The Japanese developer has been making games for much longer than that, of course, but the PlayStation 3 exclusive Demon's Souls definitely put them on the map for most people. Since then, their particular brand of RPG has essentially become an annualized release with Dark Souls 2, Bloodborne, and Dark Souls 3 being separated by just a single year. And while I don't think their design philosophy falls victim to the same diminishing returns we see in other series that surface once a year, I'm more than happy that Dark Souls 3 stands as the end of its particular saga. Knowing how much From loves building off of their past work, I fully expect Dark Souls 3 to be an absolute show-stopper, giving fans of From Software RPGs the content they've been begging for—along with some surprises they weren't sure they wanted. Then, those talented developers can finally shift gears and figure out a way to endlessly kill us outside the context of dark fantasy.
Just the thought of The Legend of Zelda for Wii U (and/or NX, maybe) makes me smack my hands together and rub them while declaring “Oh boy!”
Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. We don’t know anything about this mystery Zelda title, except Epona returns and Link is wearing blue for some reason (is a complicated backstory involved? I hope a complicated backstory is involved. Something about a destined hero).
Still, I’m comfortable about saying "Yes! Zelda!" because I know Nintendo is probably good for it.
I get the impression Eiji Aonuma realizes The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has problems that he aims to fix. We already know Zelda Wii U is a sprawling open world versus Skyward Sword’s more controlled environments. That’s a great start.
Also, Skyward Sword’s problems don’t negate everything it did right, e.g. provide us with a world of beautiful colors, bestow a personality on Link, and introduce us to Groose. I hope Aonuma remembers to hang on to all that good stuff.
From where I’m standing right now, The Legend of Zelda for Wii U is looking like Nintendo’s colorful, highly appealing take on Skyrim. I am so, so down with that.
Yeah, that's right. I'm anticipating another RPG, despite Kat being our local RPG guru. Divinity: Original Sin was a great RPG in the style of Baldur's Gate. You could create your own pair of adventurers, meet up with another two characters to create your party of four, and then you head out into the world to solve solve a murder.
Divinity: Original Sin delivered on combat and story. The combat system is complex, with a number of different combinations of spells and abilities you can put together. Create a raincloud to put out a fire and then follow that up with an ice attack to freeze enemies. Hell, there's role-playing between your two created characters, who have their own wants, needs, and personalities. Talking isn't just between you and the NPCs, it's between your characters and the NPCs.
Divinity: Original Sin II looks to expand on that idea with competitive co-op, where you party can split up because you simply don't agree on where to go. The lives and desires of your four party members intersect and diverge at different times; perhaps your noble-born human doesn't want to let another noble die, while your dwarf wants the noble dead, and your thief wants to see if they can't free the noble to make money. It's all about what you want to do within the constraints of the characters you've created. Some NPCs won't even talk to specific characters or have new dialog for others.
And that's before we get to the expanded spell and combat system and improved enemy AI. Even better, developer Larian Studios kickstarted Divinity: Original Sin II and based on the strength of the first game, fans destroyed the funding goal and every stretch goal. More skills trees, the writing prowess of Torment, Fallout: New Vegas, and KOTOR 2 designer Chris Avellone, and an all-new game master mode have all joined the party! If Larian pulls it off, Divinity: Original Sin II might be one of the best RPGs ever. Yeah, big words.
We haven’t gotten an official reveal yet, but there have been plenty of hints online that we’ll see the next Battlefield game near the end of 2016. We don’t know what it will be called, so it could very well be a Bad Company game for all we know. My hope is that we’ll see Battlefield 5, a similar experience to Battlefield 4, except much better out of the box.
Battlefield 4 had a horrible launch in terms of bugs and its infamous netcode. Players frequently died behind cover, or had no idea how they died at all. The leveloution would grind the game to a halt because of frame rate drops. Matchmaking was a mess and the server browser rarely worked properly. The game even crashed for just about every player on every platform.
A lot of people gave up on Battlefield 4, including myself. However, I recently went back to it after spending a little time researching the game’s progression. DICE implemented the CTE (community test environment), where it pushed fixes and improvements to a select few players that wanted to help fix it. They are, even to this day, working on upping the tickrate for not only PC servers, but also PS4.
I played a few rounds not long ago, and although I’m back at noob levels in terms of skill, the game works like I wished it had of back when it released. The Frostbite 3 engine seems to be holding up well, as it is with Star Wars Battlefront. This has me hopeful that my all-time favorite first-person shooter franchise will deliver a solid Battlefield experience this fall. No other game has me as excited for its potential, or as nervous that it might not realize it… again.