Coming up with a list of our most anticipated games of the year seems like a bit of a fool’s errand. Game development is a long, and excruciating process, and more often than not, video game releases are delayed. Take, for instance, two of 2016’s most anticipated titles, Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian — the first announced ten years ago, and the second seven years ago. And let’s not forget The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was our number one most anticipated game of 2016, and it still isn’t out. That said, we here at Goomba Stomp have gone ahead with our yearly tradition but we did try our best to avoid including certain titles which have nearly no chance of getting a release date in 2017. I’m referring to the likes of Spider-man for the PS4, Shenmue 3, The Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding, to name just a few. Below is a list of the 30 games we are most looking forward to in alphabetical order.
For years, rogue-like games were something of a forgotten relic, an idiosyncratic offshoot of the role-playing game genre that the video game industry seemed to almost abandon. That all changed and in recent years, the style of game has made a comeback. In fact, one of our most anticipated games of 2017 is the indie title Below, from Kris Piotrowski, creative director at Capybara Games, the Toronto studio responsible for Sword and Sworcery. Below was first announced in 2013, and immediately won gamers over with its minimal art styles and design choices like permanent death and high difficulty. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer described the game as a “creative take on rogue-like gameplay” in a “mysterious world” and in an interview with Polygon, Capybara’s Nathan Vella said, that while Below is a minimalistic video game in terms of the design, the missions and challenges aren’t something that should be underestimated. (Ricky D)
Crackdown 3 had all but been wiped from my memory until the end of last year. Announced almost three years ago at Microsoft’s E3 press conference, Crackdown 3 came as a welcome surprise given how poorly the second entry in the series was received. However, after this announcement, and a trickle of information out of Gamescom the following year, Crackdown all but dropped off the face of the earth. While this didn’t bode well for the title, developer Reagent Games promised us a 2017 release, now all we have to do is wait with bated breath. From the look of things, Crackdown 3 is bringing the series back to what made it great in the first place. The complicated zombie nonsense of the second game has been done away with, and once again the player is back to a cleaning of the gang-ridden streets of a futuristic, unnamed city. By far the most exciting part about a Crackdown game is its level of destruction. With the use of Microsoft’s new Azure engine, Crackdown 3 will feature fully destructible environments and a wide array of vibrant weapons and devastating powers unleashed by the player’s character. If all goes according to plan, Crackdown 3 will be one game you won’t want to sleep on in 2017. (Carston Carasella)
Crash N.Sane Trilogy
Who would have thought it? In 2017, one of Sony and PlayStation’s earliest mascots will return, re-birthed on the PS4. It has been well over a decade since Crash Bandicoot was a prominent icon of gaming, instead falling into obscurity as Activision took control of the series’ rights back in the mid-00s. Crash was always going to struggle to fit in the FPS dominated landscape that arose around the turn of the millennium, as were many of the platforming gems of the PS1 era, so perhaps it is high time that old bandicoot had his chance to shine again.
Developed by Vicarious Visions, who have worked on many games for Activision over the years on various series, the Crash N.Sane Trilogy brings together the 3 titles that started it all in 4K resolution: Crash Bandicoot, Crash 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash 3: Warped. The journey will be exactly how we remember it, albeit with some modern additions such as manual and automatic save files and time trials across all 3 games.
What the Crash N.Sane Trilogy stands for is much more than simply being a glorious nostalgia trip to the 90s. If Crash’s return is well received critically, financially and personally by the gaming audience, the signal could be lit for the return of the platforming genre as a whole. Yes, we still have Mario and the numerous outstanding indie platformers, but it has been many years since the genre had a place in the hierarchy of gaming; Crash, with one spin, could change all that. (Patrick Webster)
Cuphead is the run-and-gun platform indie game (developed by Canadian brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer) that pretty much stole the show during Microsoft E3 presentation a couple of years back. Obviously, the visuals are what first grabbed everyone’s attention – Cuphead combines the look of hand-drawn, hand-inked cell animation reminiscent of 1930s cartoons with the sort of shooting challenges that Treasure provided in its early 90s games. It also includes its own original jazz recordings and a series of strange bosses that you must defeat in order to repay a debt to the devil. The game is said to be partly inspired by the works of such legendary cartoonists as Max Fleischer’s Fleischer Studios and has sought to keep the works’ subversive and surrealist qualities. Everything is alive in the world of Cuphead: and more importantly, it looks like a blast to play. (Ricky D)
Days Gone appeared as somewhat of an anomaly at Sony’s E3 press conference last year. The open-world action game will be the first I.P. created by Sony Bend since Syphon Filter in 1999 and seemed to come completely out of left field for most of us watching. While little is known about the story of Days Gone, the gameplay seems to be akin to the likes of The Last of Us, with the player utilizing much of the environment to accomplish their objectives. The world of Days Gone appears to be one of deadly tranquility, as nature has taken back much of the world, and humanity struggles to survive. The main enemy of the game appears to be a variety of zombie-like creatures called Freakers. Days Gone will feature a day/night cycle that has a direct effect on these creatures. During the day the Freakers are slow and weak but at night their movement and strength increase. The most intriguing aspect of the game for me is how vehicles will play into the narrative. While a variety of transportation has been confirmed, the most prominent are the use of motorcycles. This looks to play heavily into the story, as the main character Deacon St. John, a one-time bounty hunter, appears to have once been part of a biker gang. While the post-apocalyptic genre is beginning to get a bit overused in almost all forms of media, I’m still excited to see what Sony Bend has up their sleeve, and how consumers will take to a second PlayStation exclusive, post-pandemic based, action game. (Carston Carasella)
Detroit: Become Human
Inspired by our short called Kara back in 2012, Detroit Becomes Human is a sci-fi neo-noir thriller set in the near-future city of Detroit. The story centres around an android named Kara, who escapes from the factory she was made in. She finds herself in Detroit, USA, where other androids are not uncommon but have been stripped of their consciousness, and are simply used as tools to improve the lives of humans. We follow her as she makes her way into a nightmarish version of the Motor City.
Quantic Dream founder and CEO David Cage has said: “It’s very, very exciting; something different from Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain. Building on the same grounds but in a very, very different way.” It’s a game of staggering ambition that took David Cage two years to write and Quantic Dream built a new engine to complement the game and cast hundreds of actors from Los Angeles, London and Paris before commencing a year-and-a-half-long process of shooting and animation. Like all David Cage games it’s a story that tries to put the player in the role of storyteller, and in this case, there are multiple playable characters in the game who can die as the story continues without them. (Ricky D)
God of War
It’s hard for even a casual fan not to be excited about the new God of War. Sony Santa Monica’s behemoth of a franchise garnered massive amounts of critical and commercial success over its decade-long existence, and this next entry in the series looks to follow that similar path. While the game will still revolve around Kratos, it’s confirmed that he’s moved from Greek to Norse mythology. Furthermore, it appears that the one-time godkiller is now the caretaker of a young boy. This begs several questions: is Kratos still on a mission to kill the gods? What’s his relation to the boy? Does he still have some connection to Greece? Who’s his main opposition? While we didn’t get much on the narrative front from the gameplay trailer released at E3 last year, we did get a solid look at gameplay and combat. While Kratos still seems to embody the vicious and rapid combat techniques of his yesteryear, the god of war has aged considerably, and it shows. Kratos’s movement and attacks seemed more labored and slow, especially when he has to deal with larger foes like the troll that appears halfway through the video. Something else of note comes from how open and vast the game world looks. No longer burdened with a fixed camera, the new God of War seems to emphasize a more exploratory gameplay style, and quite possibly some sort of leveling system akin to a modern RPG. While I much preferred the linear nature of the original games, I’m open to positive change, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for Kratos. (Carston Carasella)
Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars surprised a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. Not only was it an RTS – a genre of video game generally associated with the PC crowd – but it was an RTS that functioned and played well on the Xbox 360, a rare feat for a home console. Halo Wars was also praised for its compelling story and entertaining pre-rendered cinematics introducing the player to the brave crew of the Spirit of Fire, and their battle against traditional Halo enemy, the Covenant. Halo Wars 2 is a direct sequel taking place after the crew of the Spirit of Fire awaken from their Cryo-sleep to discover that, while the war is over, a new and even more vicious enemy is born in the form of the banished.
Renowned RTS developer Creative Assembly have lent their extensive experience to the project to build upon the solid foundations of the prequel rather than reinventing it. Halo Wars 2 newest features lie in its dynamic multiplayer options that support up to six online players. Modes range from the simple pleasures of death match whereby the last player to survive wins, to the game-changing Blitz mode where buildings and resource management are replaced with a deck of cards to determine what units the player can deploy. With the sheer variety of multiplayer options and thirteen brand new campaign missions, 343 Industries and Creative Assembly have taken great strides in appealing to both solo players and the multiplayer crowd Halo is traditionally known for.
Halo Wars 2 might not be the right fit for seasoned PC RTS fans – the complexity of multiple resource management and intricate user-interfaces do not reside here – but early impressions and the post-E3 multiplayer beta go a long way to suggest a title with a robust controller layout that refuses to bow down to its older and more complicated peers. For fans of the Halo story and real-time strategy, this is the game to look out for. (Craig Sharpe)
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Two words are all it takes to get a hack-and-slash fan’s adrenaline pumping: Ninja Theory. Almost four years after the massive success of the DmC: Devil May Cry reboot, Ninja Theory is set to release their new IP in 2017: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Known for its incredibly responsive combat and engaging characters that resonate with the player, Ninja Theory is pushing boundaries by trekking into the taboo. Senua will take the player on a journey through hell – though whether this hell is real, or a manifestation of a disordered mind, is unclear. The premise of the story relies heavily on the psychoses of the mentally unstable protagonist – a subject that has not been delved into and fleshed out in gaming up until now. Although very little has been disclosed regarding the story, Ninja Theory has been keeping fans in the loop of the game’s development through a blog informing the public about various stages of production. What is known, however, is that the game will be set against a backdrop of Celtic mythology and that Senua will be struggling with both inner demons, and real ones, while fighting her way through hell to find a man named Dillion. Any fan of DmC, Heavenly Sword, or Enslaved: Odyssey to the West will undoubtedly be ecstatic at the thought of another brilliant offering from the godfather of action games, but what really makes this title unique is the way in which Senua’s psychopathy is portrayed as a character in the game. The voices she hears each have a distinct personality and portray a different facet of Senua’s character, while intensifying the plot. With a true commitment to the realistic and candid depiction of schizophrenia, even in a fantasy world, Hellblade promises to be both intellectually and emotionally stimulating. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is set for release on PS4 and Microsoft Windows.(Belinda Brock)
Horizon: Zero Dawn
There’s nothing more tired in the game industry right now than the post-apocalypse. Triple-A titles like Fallout 3, Last of Us, and Metro 2033 have you explore vast post-event wastelands, and it really doesn’t seem like there’s room for another major player. Well, that’s what I thought until E3 2015. During the Sony press conference, Guerilla Games dropped a trailer for their new title, Horizon: Zero Dawn. Zero Dawn is an open-world third-person shooter featuring a regressive, tribal human society living 1,000 years in the future, after some apocalypse. These tribesmen survive under the shadow of an animalistic, mechanical menace – also known as super-rad robot dinosaurs. Viewers marveled at the juxtaposition of Aloy, the main character, using a bow and arrow to take down laser-blasting, fire-breathing mechanical monstrosities in scenic vistas, and it has captured the imagination of gamers since. Critics are excited as well: Horizon would go on to win the Game Critics Award for Best Original Game post E3 2015, and would also win the award in 2016. So, while the post-apocalypse might be getting a little crowded these days, let Horizon show you, there’s always room for Robot Dinosaurs. (Joseph Ulfsrud)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
It’s no secret that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is on most gamers’ radars. It’s E3 2016 showing stunned audiences enough to earn it the coveted “Best of Show” award from nearly every gaming news publication that contributed, which is no small feat. But what exactly is it that makes Link’s next outing so enticing? Breath of the Wild changes the timeless Zelda formula more than any other entry to date. Players can now look forward to a completely open world in every sense of the word. Dungeons can be tackled in any order, at any pace, or even not at all. Mini dungeons, called shrines, have also been scattered around the world map for those willing to hunt them down.
Exploration and discovery are encouraged this time around; if it can be seen, it can be reached. The weather also plays an integral role in Breath of the Wild. Fires can be started and spread through the wind, Link’s temperature can drop to dangerous levels if it gets too cold, and rain storms can appear in the blink of an eye. All of these weather changes aren’t just for show either. In true Nintendo fashion, they all affect the gameplay in one way or another, which is an exciting thing to think about. It’s hard not to have high expectations for a new Zelda title. Breath of the Wild has succeeded in getting both fans and newcomers excited for its release, and it is sure to be one of the year’s best. (Zack Rezak)
Mass Effect: Andromeda
As much as fans love the Mass Effect series, there isn’t a lot of information yet pertaining to the latest installment, Andromeda, outside of a brief synopsis and some snappy trailers here and there. Still, Bioware has an impressive track record and it’s hard to contain even a modicum of excitement when you imagine exploring another galaxy of unique planets and getting re-invested in the highly unique lore of the Mass Effect universe. After the mixed reaction to Mass Effect 3, the pressure is going to be heavily magnified for Bioware to deliver a worthy successor, and as such, they won’t be sending Andromeda out of the gates without a ton of polish and forethought. Little as we know, this is still a big game to watch out for in 2017. (Mike Worby)
New Danganronpa V3: A New Semester for Everyone’s Killing Life
The Danganronpa series has been a surprise hit for Spike Chunsoft, finding a small but passionate audience in the west. The games see gifted teenagers kidnapped, locked up, and forced to enter a deadly game in which the only escape from their prison is to murder one of the other kids and get away with it. After a murder, the teens have to investigate the crime and find out whodunnit, and then the game turns into a Phoenix Wright-esque class trial, with the courtroom drama being presided over by an evil robotic teddy bear named Monokuma. Both of the first two games, Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair, told gripping, ambitious stories featuring eccentric and memorable characters. Seeing where this story goes is something I’m really looking forward to in 2017. (John Cal McCormick)
It feels like there really hasn’t been a new and exciting 3D hack and slash action game in a long time. Bayonetta 2 came out almost two and half years ago, Capcom hasn’t touched Devil May Cry since the mixed reception of the reboot (I don’t count a slightly updated port of DMC4 as “new”), and Platinum’s last few licensed action titles have all been a little disappointing in one way or another. Queue Nier: Automata. Being a game developed by Square Enix and Platinum that serves as a spin-off to a niche action-RPG that came out almost seven years ago, I, like many others, wasn’t really sure what to expect when Square Enix first teased this game a few years ago, but I saw “Platinum” as a developer and was ready for more details. Teasers and short trailers slowly trickled out through 2015 and 2016, and the game was certainly starting to shape up, but I still wasn’t fully onboard. E3 2016 was the turning point for me, though. The boss battle trailer Square Enix released finally gave a good long look at Automata’s gameplay, and confirmed that it will be a hybrid action and bullet hell game like the original Nier. Platinum’s clean combat choreography and style feel like a perfect match for this type of game, and Automata is looking like a much smoother experience than the original game.
Automata received a demo at the end of 2016, and it does a great job of conveying everything the trailers have been for years. Combat is smooth and elegant, the player character moves more like a dancer than a fighter, and it does a great job of making the game stand out stylistically from the more over-the-top trends of other action games. One of the more artsy decisions in Automata is its use of fixed camera angles, but it feels natural for the game when combined with the myriad of interesting bullet patterns that bosses and enemies throw at you. Some patterns would be difficult to read and react to if you had a simple free-roaming camera. Ultimately, I’m looking forward to seeing the final product, and seeing how far Platinum and Square Enix can push their respective ends of development to make, what I feel will be, one of the more interesting games of 2017. (Taylor Smith)