As 2015 draws to a close, it’s time to look ahead to a brand new year. 2016 will likely be one of the most exciting years for gamers in a long time. Now that the latest next-gen consoles are hitting their stride, the games releasing over the next year will be able to take advantage of each console’s near-full potential.
Whether you’re a fan of the PS4, Xbox One, or the good ol’ PC, these games appeal to a variety of tastes. If you’re a Wii U owner, there’s a special message for you at the end of this post. Without further ado, here are the Top 5 games that should be on your radar for 2016:
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex is among the elite tier of gaming franchises that have been important to gamers since the year 2000. From its debut PC title that made the world realize games can tell compelling stories, to its most recent console release, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, featuring both dialogue and gameplay choices that shaped the world during play, the cyberpunk IP has delighted audiences for a decade and a half. The newest incarnation, Mankind Divided, promises to challenge our beliefs about human augmentation as the line between technology and man continues to blur. The game boasts stellar visuals, top notch voice acting, and varied gameplay that can be tailored to individual players. With that in mind, the fifth installment in the Deus Ex main series promises to be great; once again elevating our standards for what we expect from a video game.
Release Date: February 23
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Switching gears from cyberpunk to steampunk, both Deus Ex and Dishonored have a similar gameplay structure in that players can choose to either burst into a room and brute force their way through enemies, or play it stealthy and progress using only non-lethal options. That’s about where the similarities end, though. Whereas the former focuses on technology, Dishonored 2 has an arcane magic element to it (the studio developing the game is, incidentally, Arkane Studios). The sequel picks up some time after the first game, and judging by the two playable characters available — the returning empress’s guard-turned-assassin Corvo Attano, and newcomer Emily Kaldwin (said empress’s daughter) — playing the original may be necessary in order to truly appreciate the connection between them both.
Release Date: Spring (TBD)
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
When Firewatch took the stage at E3 2015 (The Electronic Entertainment Expo is a video game-centric convention held in Los Angeles each year), it felt like the entire gaming world did a double-take. The indie project in development at Campo Santo quickly chopped its way into the hearts and minds of everyone who saw the latest trailer. Originally announced at PAX Prime 2014, Firewatch is centered around Henry, a man who elects to takes some time off from his messy, regular life to volunteer as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness. The first-person adventure game takes a thriller twist when Henry gets roped into exploring the wilderness to uncover a series of mysteries, including what happened to two missing women (whom he was the last to see). Things only get more heated from there.
Release Date: February 9
Platforms: PS4, PC, Mac, Linux
Horizon: Zero Dawn
It’s hard to choose between what’s cooler: Robots or Dinosaurs? Horizon: Zero Dawn takes the age-old debate and throws it out the window, electing to instead let us have our cake, and eat it too. In what I can only describe as an attempt to dethrone the Dinobots as the coolest robot dinosaurs ever, Guerrilla Games is taking us 1,000 years into the future where, despite the existence of advanced robotic creatures, what remains of the nearly extinct human species still prefers to hunt with bows and arrows. (High-tech bows and arrows, but still…) Featuring a female protagonist named Aloy, players hunt these larger than life not-Dinobots and take their parts for scrap. Where the adventure goes from there is up to players to decide, as a vast open-world will be available to explore from start to finish.
Release Date: TBD
No Man’s Sky
I’ll be the first to admit that No Man’s Sky has an astronomically high chance of failure. The hype surrounding this game is building to a level that is simply impossible to match. There’s just no version of the game that will live up to what we expect. That said, the game’s undeniable allure comes from an exciting premise we want to have faith in. The idea of a procedurally generated galaxy that is infinitely explorable is just too enticing to resist. No Man’s Sky promises to let players explore the cosmos before landing on thousands of planets, each completely different than the last in nearly every single way. From atmospheric changes and entirely new fauna and wildlife, to vastly different stages of technological advancement, each world presents unique challenges and opportunities for those adventurous enough to explore them.
Release Date: June (TBD)
Platforms: Windows PC, PS4
A Special Message for Wii U Owners
As Nintendo fans already know, 2016 may turn out to be a bittersweet year. 2015 was an unexpectedly incredible year for the Wii U console; with amazing titles like Bayonetta 2, Splatoon, and most recently, Xenoblade Chronicles X. Despite this, all signs point to Nintendo releasing a brand new system (codenamed “Project NX”) during the 2016 holiday season. Usually, a new console launch is an exciting time. But the Wii U was never really given a fair shot at success. Between the confusing name that led consumers to believe it was just a tablet accessory for their Wii; to a lackluster game lineup at launch; to a frankly uncomfortable controller (neither the Gamepad nor the “Pro Controller” are anywhere near as enjoyable to use as the PS4 and Xbox One controllers) that deterred most hardcore fans, the console had too many obstacles to overcome.
It’s a shame to see a console that hosted some truly incredible games be put to rest early. However, the NX seems to hold a lot of promise. With that in mind, while Nintendo didn’t get a game on our list of what to look forward to in 2016 (there’s no guarantee the latest Legend of Zelda pictured above will be ready in time), they do have a console worth keeping an eye on.
Hero (Top) Feature Image: ©
Additional Images (in order) Courtesy:
Eidos Montreal / Website
Arkane Studios / Website
Campo Santo / Website
Guerrilla Games / Website
Hello Games / Website
Nintendo / PC Advisor