We’re wrapping up Loresworn Games of the Year Week with a countdown of our Most Anticipated Games of 2016! If you’re just now joining us, be sure to check out Most Improved Games of the Year, Most Overrated/Underrated Games of the Year, Games We Didn’t Get To in 2015 (But Wish We Had), and Games of the Year!
Telltale just keeps getting better at crafting deep, impactful, emotional sagas that deftly weave an unlikely pairing of minimalist, stylized art with heavy concepts and heavier story beats. I’m invested enough in the star of their Walking Dead franchise at this point that simply getting to follow her a little further down the path would make Season 3 an instant buy. And even if Clem’s not involved, I’d probably pick it up immediately anyway. The storytellers behind the series have earned my loyalty.
It would be super easy to be really cynical about a set of small-scale mission packs being released as paid DLC for StarCraft II. However, Blizzard said all the right things to get me excited. “Game of Thrones in space.” Continuing the story of the Korprulu sector beyond Legacy of the Void’s finale to tell smaller, less galaxy-shattering stories about its characters. Valerian Mengsk and Nova bro-ing it up to bring down some crazy racists. And of course, Blizzard’s standard production values. I think this little miniseries is going to punch well above its weight class, narratively.
I did ask for this. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a thrilling, thought-provoking action RPG with a cool-as-chrome main character and a thousand and one ways to customize him. More Adam Jensen is just what I’m looking for in my cyberpunk diet these days. Especially if we avoid boss battles at all costs. As long as the devs don’t fall too hard for the “it’s streamlined lol” philosophy that stripped most of the RPG elements out of similar, otherwise fantastic sequels like Mass Effect 2, I don’t think mankind will be divided on calling this one a classic.
I hated Dark Souls the first time I played it. And the second time. And the third time. I had about 20 hours in the game and hadn’t passed the Taurus demon, over a year after I originally purchased it. Then I hit a groove, and now I have close to 300 hours in Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 combined. They fulfill a need I didn’t even know I had to be a squishy guy in a world full of terrifying monsters, protected by only a flimsy shield and a good sense of timing. To more of that punishment, I will always say, “Yes please, Master Miyazaki.”
We’re about halfway through the 2010s, and when my mind wanders towards what would be on my Games of the Decade list, XCOM: Enemy Within is almost always in prime contention. The tactical battles, the story, the strategic layer, the aesthetic, and the emotional tone are all so pitch perfect. It’s a game that succeeded gloriously at just about everything it set out to do. The sequel looks to be a great blend of keeping things the same and making them new. Sign me up, Commander.
I was just going through some Steam screenshots to put our Games of the Year post together yesterday, and realized I still had a few from the (now deactivated) press preview build of Paradox’s upcoming World War II grand strategy game, Hearts of Iron IV. I was consciously aware at that moment that none of the hundreds of games in my Steam library were Hearts of Iron IV, and that made me less excited about each and every one of them. Europa Universalis IV was my Game of the Year for 2013, and my Most Improved Game of this year and last. Paradox is well on the path to nailing EU4’s same, tricky blend of depth and accessibility in portraying one of the largest, most complex, and most interesting conflicts in human history. My hotkeys ache for the day I can return to it.
Especially after finally knocking out Wasteland 2, the idea of an inXile-helmed spiritual sequel to Planescape Torment has me practically drooling. Brian Fargo and Co have proven they can make an excellent, balanced, and fun to use turn-based combat system in a modern engine, and that was possibly my only concern about Numenera. What I was never concerned about the least bit was the writing. Chris Avellone. Colin McComb. George Ziets. Monte Cook. Patrick Freaking Rothfuss, are you kidding me? If this doesn’t turn out to be one of the best-written RPGs in years, that will have been its own title to lose.
Total War and Warhammer is a pairing made in the depths of the Chaos Wastes, sanctified by blood raining from the sky and wails of madness that will echo into all the souls of mankind for eternity. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Really, it’s an ideal marriage, in that each partner helps to shore up the weaknesses of the other. The Total War engine allows for the kind of huge, epic battles you envision when thinking about the Warhammer tabletop game, without having to deal with Games Workshop’s price gouging for miniatures and the nearly full-time job that is painting said miniatures and learning the rules. The Warhammer universe plays right into Total War’s traditional mechanics much more so than actual history does. It looks epic and amazing, and I expect to lose no less than a dozen nights of sleep to it.
What is there to say, really? Andromeda will be more of my generation’s defining, interactive space opera. More of the franchise that brought video games closer to a quality, big budget movie or TV series than they’ve ever been. More of an expansive, engaging sci-fi universe that stands unflinchingly beside the likes of ‘Wars, ‘Trek, ‘Gate, and Galactica. It’s more Mass Effect. And if I need to explain why I’m excited about that, you just haven’t been paying attention.
Oh my tentacle-faced, space-faring gods.
Developers from far and wide have been toiling for years to create the ultimate sci-fi 4X game, often holding up classics like Master of Orion 2 and Alpha Centauri as influencers and targets to hit. But they’ve been missing the space forest for the space trees. Paradox is finally doing it right by charting their own course and expanding what the genre can be, not just perfecting what it is or trying to recreate what it was. And if they deliver on everything they’ve promised, they will make me forget that Master of Orion ever existed.
Deep exploration. Complex politics and population interaction. A new, dynamic galaxy and dynamic alien species every campaign. Fallen empires. Uplifting primitive races to fight for your empire. Wide variety in governments, citizen ideologies, species and sub-species biological traits. Dynamic galactic crises. And we know the gameplay won’t suck, because Paradox Development Studio lives and dies by their gameplay above anything else. Just… holy shit. Holy shit. I don’t have anything more to say about it. This one can’t get here soon enough.