Top 30 Anticipated Games of 2016

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Now that we’re well into the start of a new year – nobody’s still having to change their 5s into 6s, I gather? – it is time to take a good long look at the horizon and see what the wonderful world of videogames has to offer.

We settled on Top 30 instead of 10 or 50 because we felt it was a good compromise between comprehensiveness and length. There are always too many exciting games brewing out there, but if you feel we’ve undeservedly left out something then let us know!

With that out of the way, let’s get to business. The following games are listed by release date as far as possible.

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Hey, that’s today! The Witness is an exploration puzzle-game along the lines of Myst and The Talos Principle. Often associated as Jonathan Blow’s (Braid) next game, the game is also in the hands of long-time veterans who’ve worked at studios such as Rockstar, Crytek, and of course Cyan Worlds, the creators of granddaddy Myst.

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XCOM: Enemy Unknown stands in recent memory as an exemplary reboot, and it’s no secret we’re all excited for the sequel. This unforgiving turn-based strategy game now boasts even greater customization and tactical options in the fight to reclaim Earth, but as before, make one wrong move and the consequences will sting. XCOM 2 also features full mod support!

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This next step in the series holds more on its shoulders than just legacy, as Street Fighter V will be the future of Capcom’s eSports efforts. The game updates its fighting system with a set of V-gauge related abilities, allowing players more opportunities to affect the tide of battle. Capcom have also changed the netcode and introduced cross-platform play, a first for Street Fighter.

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And here we have not one, nor two, but three full-fledged stories in a beloved series. Fire Emblem Fates is separated into two games, while the third is available as DLC. The idea is to show the same conflict from opposing perspectives, which is always pretty cool. For those wondering, the third story follows a neutral path.

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Before the current console generation were even on sale, both Bungie and Ubisoft sold us the idea of online open-worlds to explore, fight, and loot together with friends. While Destiny released prematurely, The Division has been slowly biding its time for what appears to be a fun romp through post-Black Friday New York — no, not the crazed holiday sale, but a viral pandemic. Same difference?

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Remedy Entertainment sure has a fondness for manipulating time, which is to be expected from the studio behind Max Payne. Instead of superhuman reflexes, however, time itself has fractured in the world of Quantum Break. This Xbox One exclusive has players navigating both temporal stutters and environmental destruction, all the while trading bullets with the guilty corporation’s over-funded security team. (Rumor is the game might come to PC too.)

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The Crash Bandicoot of our time, only with an arsenal of crazy weapons and an awesome cast of characters. The 2016 reboot of Ratchet & Clank, a tie-in with the movie adaptation, goes beyond recreating the original game. There’s plenty of new stuff: story, cinematics, bosses, planets, gameplay segments, and more. Hopefully this refreshes a great franchise for a new generation of players.

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Dark Souls III has some high expectations to meet now that we’ve all experienced Bloodborne. And indeed, FromSoftware has carried over ideas such as better combat fluidity, speeding up the backstep and weapon attacks, while also introducing a new weapon stance. Don’t worry, fights are still designed to be slow, deliberate, and punishing — save the fretting for the bosses.

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With such an ominous subtitle, could Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End be the finale for Nathan Drake and company? It’s hard to imagine Sony letting this superstar end its run, but it does mean the series won’t die a slow death. Expect plenty of visually stunning set pieces and other production feats, as Nathan reunites with a brother long presumed to be dead.

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If there’s any reason to get excited for virtual reality gaming this year, it’s EVE: Valkyrie. Yes, there are games like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes but they’re very much worlds apart. Part of the EVE universe, Valkyrie is purely an online multiplayer dogfight with customization, progression, and the beautiful vastness of space. Don’t forget to bring an Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR headset.

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Raising over US$200,000 on Kickstarter, Compulsion Games describes We Happy Few as: “A game of paranoia and survival, in a drugged-out, dystopian English city in 1964.” One could compare its theme and aesthetic to BioShock, though the developer stresses they have a significantly lower budget than Irrational Games did. The result? This is a rogue-like.

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Indie games don’t often skyrocket to a level of fame that No Man’s Sky enjoys, especially when it hasn’t even released. Everything in here is procedurally-generated, from the maps and creatures right down to the music. The goal is to explore, survive, and collect materials, which can later be used to upgrade ships and equipment to undertake more perilous journeys.

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Blizzard’s first-person shooter needed only a month of Closed Beta testing to enchant the gaming world, which is all the more impressive considering how this is the only shooter the company has made in 24 years. Part of that success stems from their ability to create characters players love, and with 21 heroes to choose from, finding a favorite in Overwatch isn’t hard Look out, Team Fortress 2.

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Oh we definitely asked for this. Not for the silly pre-order scheme Square Enix has wisely scrapped, but for a new installment in the legendary cyberpunk franchise. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided sees this decade’s version of Neo return for more action role-playing goodness, with a larger range of augmented weaponry to dispose enemies with.

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Isometric turn-based RPGs are home to some of the most multi-layered stories there are in videogames, which is why it’s such a perfect fit for Masquerada: Songs and Shadows. Behind the beautiful hand-drawn art and Venetian masks lie a challenging tactics system and political intrigue, set against a city strangled by civil war. Preview builds have left us common-folk itching for more. (Note: It’s a Singaporean developer!)

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Persona 5 belongs to the illustrious breed of games that dives into the heart of the human psyche. The RPG series foregoes the typical fantasy or sci-fi routes by sticking to modern-day Japan, focusing on high school students as they juggle relationships, self-discovery, and of course, their titular Personas (used in combat). This latest installment bears the theme of “freedom”.

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Don’t let appearances fool you, for Yooka-Laylee is the spiritual successor to the Nintendo 64 classic, Banjo-Kazooie. The developers at Playtonic do happen to be former Rare employees, and this 3D platformer was finally realized after a successful Kickstarter campaign in May last year — we’re talking “funded in less than an hour” levels of success. Only time will tell whether Playtonic lives up to the nostalgia.

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Ah, bathrooms – in a horror game you can never tell whether they’re a safe haven or just an enclosed trap. Allison Road is the spiritual successor to P.T., which was itself a masterful teaser for Silent Hills. While not the same team, Lilith has managed to capture that same sense of foreboding, leaving us to look over our shoulders long after the demo ended. Tread lightly!

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The ambassador for third-person cover-based shooters, not much is actually known about Gears of War 4 right now. Perhaps Microsoft will only step up marketing at E3 this year, but we’re all curious as to how the series plans on moving forward, especially since the original trilogy concluded in 2011. Done right, this game could very well give the Xbox One a much-needed boost.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda is, quite simply, shrouded in mystery. Players will now be whisked away to the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, far-removed from Commander Shepard’s trilogy in both time and distance. All we’ve seen so far is an updated planet roving buggy… and that’s about it, really. But if it’s an excuse for more of BioWare’s RPG formula then hey, all aboard.

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Arkane Studios swooped out of nowhere to steal hearts and awards with Dishonored, a stealth action-adventure steeped in both technology and magic. It’s a lovely combination, the steampunk (it’s actually whale oil) aesthetic complementing the whole cloak and dagger business exceedingly well. Dishonored 2 grants players an additional character, who goes through the same set of missions as the other but via different paths — Tenchu vibes, anyone?

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Jokingly called a “boy band road trip” at times, Final Fantasy XV is now in its tenth year of development — the RPG was originally meant for the PlayStation 3! Square Enix has finally managed to tame this beast, having released an updated demo and scheduling a new developer update for this weekend. That 2016 promise may ring true, after all.

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Polyphony’s license-heavy racing game rolls onto next-generation hardware with Gran Turismo Sport. It packs three game modes with both online and offline functionality, skipping on other features normally found in the main numbered series. What it does have, however, is PlayStation VR support and plenty of regular online events, including a championship officially linked to the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

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Ever wanted to take on a giant, weapons-equipped robot T-Rex with a bow? Thanks to Guerilla Games now everyone can! Horizon: Zero Dawn is a breath of fresh air for both the Killzone studio and PS4 owners, because honestly, humongous guns and urban war-zones get tiring after a while. The bizarre wildlife on display is clearly attention-grabbing, and we’re keen to find out what ties it all together.

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It’s no secret that the recent Final Fantasy games have left many long-time fans feeling disillusioned. Thankfully, Project Setsuna (or “Ikenie to Yuki no Setsuna“ in Japan) is here to fix things. The RPG uses a battle system similar to Chrono Trigger, has gorgeous music and art, and dots the overworld map with towns and dungeons. The story’s about a maiden sacrifice’s journey to her ritual site, with a heavy thematic emphasis on life, death, and sadness.

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Yes, Pokkén Tournament (essentially Pokémon meets Tekken) releases in March and it sounds amazing. But the Pokémon franchise has a worldwide appeal so strong, that a mobile transition makes perfect sense. Cue Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game with an optional wearable device. It also has a ridiculous trailer, although full credit for placing that Snorlax on a bridge. Point is, this app has staggering potential.

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Originally announced for the PlayStation 3, The Last Guardian is now destined for PS4 after nine arduous years of development. We’re all patiently waiting because the adventure game is helmed by Fumito Ueda, the developer who gave us Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Some say it has suffered technically from the system leap, but we’ll wait and see how the final product turns out.

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The iconic action-adventure series is going high-definition for the first time, and its developers are squeezing every bit out of the Wii U to power the larger open world — it’s so large that Shigeru Miyamoto says the entirety of Twilight Princess can fit in one area. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better, of course, though this is a Zelda game we’re talking about. Hopefully we’ll get the full title soon.

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Another refugee from PlayStation 3 development hell, the new unveiling of Nioh was met with plenty of enthusiasm and comparisons to Onimusha (time to catch up, Capcom). Follow a silver-haired swordsman as he carves through Japan’s Warring States period, the action fine-tuned by the craftsmen at Team Ninja. It’s been a while since the last Ninja Gaiden so this is an alternative we’ll gladly lap up.

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Two isometric RPGs making the list? It’ll probably be unheard of were it not for Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general. Raising a total of US$5 million, inXile is ready to follow up on the success of Wasteland 2 with a fantasy universe, and folks in the know will already be aware that Torment: Tides of Numenera continues the legacy of Planescape: Torment. (Now on Steam Early Access.)

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And there you have it, the Top 30 games we’re looking forward to in 2016. From the look of things, RPG fans are going to have a wealth of things to read this year so prepare to get comfortable.

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Ade Putra

Ade thinks there's nothing quite like a good game and a snug headcrab. He grew up with HIDEO KOJIMA's Metal Gear Solid, lives for RPGs, and is waiting for light guns to make their comeback.