Looking Ahead to 2016: What I’m Excited For

We’ve spent the last couple days looking back at the past year in gaming. Today though let’s look ahead to 2016. We had a really fantastic year this year, so I fully expect that 2016 will continue that and have some serious heavy hitters. With that in mind, let’s talk about some of what I’m excited about for next year.

No Mans Sky logo

We really don’t need to wait too long for some big names to drop. Uncharted 4 and The Division are both set to drop in the first quarter of the new year. While I’m personally more excited about The Division, I do understand the importance of Uncharted and why this next game is such a big deal. The Division has a beta coming down the pipe soon, so we should be able to get a decent idea about how the multiplayer side of it will work. We’ve also got No Man’s Sky coming out early in the year, which if you have a PS4 should be on your must-buy list. If that game can come anywhere near delivering on its promises, it could be the most important game in years.

Black Ops 3

We also have DLC to think about for the early part of the year. Black Ops III has its first DLC coming to PlayStation in February, and Xbox One in March. I feel confident in saying that Fallout 4 will have something in the first quarter as well, in addition to mods coming to console. We know that there are a couple timed events headed to Destiny – including “bigger events” than we’ve seen since The Taken King launched. I always keep my eyes out for big songs heading to Rock Band, and with Halo having monthly content updates, we know we’re bound to get a couple big additions coming to the game. Depending on timing and actual content quality, that DLC will be what keeps those games fresh until we get new games.

Final Fantasy VII

That’s all stuff that we know about though. When I start looking at the coming year, I always think about some of what we don’t know for sure. Things that we kinda can infer, but haven’t been confirmed. Things like exactly when Kingdom Hearts III and the Final Fantasy VII remake will be coming out. We know Crackdown 3 is coming out too, just not an actual release window yet. We know that Infinity Ward is working on their entry with Call of Duty, but we don’t know exactly what it will be. I think it’s fairly certain to be Ghosts 2, but we don’t know what direction they’ll take it. With Treyarch and Sledgehammer both having pretty sci-fi influenced games, I kinda want Infinity Ward to stick with the near future/modern setting. One thing that I don’t think we’ve seen a ton of talk about is Borderlands – I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we see something about a new main entry to the series announced. I’ve seen a couple rumors about the studio having some financial issues that could be impacting a Borderlands 3, but until I see it actually reported, I’m going to remain hopeful that we get a new one in 2016. One other game that I could very well see make a surprise return would be BioShock – a true next-gen entry, maybe returning to Rapture could be damn good to play. We also know about Mass Effect Andromeda but beyond that, we’re still waiting on some details. I could very well see that being one of the big names at E3 this year – and depending on the release window they’re aiming for, I could see a Next-Gen trilogy collection of the first three games to tide us over.

As great as 2015 has been for gaming, I think 2016 could equal it. We’re finally starting to really feel like we’re in a new console generation. I think we’re going to see games move away from last-gen support (Destiny 2 I’m looking at you) and really start to take advantage of the technology on our hands. Nintendo will be showing off their new console – the N-X – which I think is a very important console for the company. They need something to appeal more to people who focus on graphics and online play, which the Wii and Wii U didn’t really ever have.

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Weekend News Wrap Up

This past weekend was probably the busiest news weekend we’ve seen in December in ages. Between the Video Game Awards on Friday night, and the weekend’s PlayStation Experience; there was plenty of stuff to talk about. A couple big new games got announced, some nice new trailers and gameplay footage for upcoming blockbusters and quite possibly the most evil, diabolical troll ever. Let’s hit some highlights.

Street Fighter V

STREET FIGHTER V, DRAWN TO DEATH, DAY OF THE TENTACLE ANNOUNCED
Some of the big new games that we hadn’t yet known of from the weekend to get confirmed included the newest entry in the long running Street Fighter franchise. There had been some leaks and rumors last week indicating that we’d see it – and they turned out to be right. The biggest shocker in the announcement had to be that Street Fighter V will be PS4 and PC exclusive – through it’s entire lifespan. That’s a major win for Sony – Street Fighter still holds a high place in the fighting game world. Sony also announced David Jaffe’s new game, Drawn to Death, which looks…interesting. An arena shooter that’s set in a high schooler’s notebook almost seems like it was purposefully created for controversy. But that’s kind of how Jaffe has always done things – see Twisted Metal Black‘s stories and God of War‘s nudity and violence. It could work out and be awesome, but we have to see more. The other side of announcements was that we’ll be seeing a bunch of remastered versions of old classics. Grim Fandango will be showing up on PS4 in January, and they announced an HD update of Day of the Tentacle – a classic old adventure game.

Final Fantasy VII

SQUARE-ENIX PROVES THEY’RE EVIL WITH EPIC TROLL
Going off that idea, Square-Enix took the stage at PlayStation Experience in what might possibly be the most evil, diabolical troll I’ve ever seen. As they took the stage, the screen behind simply had a giant logo for Final Fantasy VII – prompting everyone to think a true HD remake was on the way; which would fulfill their tease from when they debuted the PS3 way back in the day. Of course, Square-Enix would go on to dash all those hopes and dreams by saying that it’s only the PC release of FFVII, with no real updates coming to the PS4. This continues to boggle my mind, because I just think that if Square-Enix did release a true HD update, they would have a console seller on their hands. I know I would pick up a PS4 just for it. I suppose we’ll just have to make due with the upcoming Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III.

No Mans Sky logo

NO MAN’S SKY, UNCHARTED 4 SHINE ON PS4
Speaking of console movers, Sony had new footage of two of their spotlight games, both showcasing the gameplay we can expect. Uncharted 4 had a live stage demo, which had a pretty interesting hiccup, but can be forgiven since it’s still so far out. One thing was sure though – that game looks incredible, and looks like it’s taking the series in a fresh direction while remaining true to form. Could be a major winner next year, we’ll see. And on a somewhat other level, No Man’s Sky took the stage and showed off an impressive demo of just what that game will entail. No Man’s Sky blew me away at E3, and every bit of news I see just continues to make me want to pick up a PS4 for it; and also fully impresses me with just the sheer scale of the game. Add in some non-exclusive games in next year and I think we have a bonkers year ahead of us.

E3 2014 – Post-Show Best Of Thoughts

Now that we’ve had a full week to really digest what we saw at E3 2014, I want to pick a few games that I think really were the standouts from the show this year. I won’t be quite as direct as some of the more official channels with having “Best of Show” awards, but still – there were plenty of games that I think deserve a little bit more talk.

Evolve Cover

With that said, I do think that over the course of the whole week, Evolve managed to set itself apart as being the “Best in Show” this year. 2K brought a new trailer that revealed a brand new Monster type – the Kraken. Beyond that they also had a large booth that had a playable demo, with all impressions coming out of it seeming to feel that the game was as fun as the trailers would have you believe. I think just based around the strength of this showing, on top of the early trailers and info from the beginning of the year, Evolve has probably the most hype going into the fall of the next-gen new IP’s.

Sunset Overdrive is another game that had some good momentum going into the show that had to have a strong show to really ramp up the hype train going into the final months before release. Luckily, if any developer knows how to show the spirit and tone of their games – it’s Insomniac. They arrived to the show in style, and had a nice new trailer to show at the Xbox conference, with a pretty important role, being an Xbox One Exclusive after all. All that doesn’t mean much if the actual gameplay doesn’t measure up, but all accounts seem to indicate that the game is as fun as it looks from the trailers.

No game really took me by surprise and totally got me excited for it as No Man’s Sky did during the PlayStation conference. While I think it’s still a PS4 exclusive, that game did more to make me want to get a PS4 than any other major Sony release. The procedural generation of a persistent universe, where every new thing is randomly created really struck me as the kind of game that could be a one with a really long, unique lifespan, much like Minecraft. If it stays a PS4 console exclusive, I think there’s a real argument to be made for picking one up for it alone.

Battlefield Hardline

Battlefield: Hardline had a really unique position coming in to the show since it had leaked a few weeks before the show. This really put the pressure on EA to deliver a strong demo and “reveal” to really get the buzz going for the game. Showing a pretty long reveal trailer with nothing but gameplay was definitely a great first step, but the fact it was playable on the show floor, as well as announcing the PS4/PC beta that started that day really did the job. As we’ve learned a little bit more about the details of the actual gameplay, I think that Hardline has done a good enough job setting itself apart from the usual Battlefield fare.

Two more that I think really set themselves apart were Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity, from Ubisoft. Now, ACU had some disparaging feelings toward the end of the show, about the “difficulties” that would result from adding in a female assassin, but I still think that the game had a really strong showing, looking really good all in all. Far Cry 4 may have been the Ubisoft game that stole their lineup. Between the ability to have PS4 players that don’t have the game still able to join in, plus the actual gameplay and setting looking quite strong, I think this might be one of the bigger hits for the fall/holiday.

Borderlands PreSequel

The last game that I think really had a strong show is Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Coming in on a really good trailer that nailed the Borderlands tone and style, as well as a longer trailer that showed off the Pax East footage with developer commentary; 2K and Gearbox really had the right circumstances to have a strong showing. Having the game playable, while not having a trailer at either event really focused the tone directly to the game itself. I think that because this is a 360 game, it might have slid under the radar a little bit, but will end up being a big player this fall.

Beyond those games, I think there were a few other great games that were showed, but may have missed that one thing to put them over the top. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is one – I think having a playable build at the show would have helped a lot, but the hype is definitely high with this one. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare I think was just too much of the same for this year’s show – gamers I think are starting to drift away from the CoD formula, but the only way to know for sure is waiting to see the final results. Arkham Knight and Mortal Kombat X both had great trailers showing really good gameplay, but are so far out that we just have too long a wait. Finally, I think that Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain looked great, but didn’t have gameplay to show, plus I’m just so far out of the MGS loop that the trailer ultimately was just eye candy for me.

E3 2014 Sony PlayStation Conference Impressions

E3 LogoSony held their press conference last night, after a busy day zero of E3 2014, and had a pretty big job to follow a really strong Microsoft showing. Overall, I think the show may have dragged on a little long, especially hitting a snag midway through, but there were definitely some really strong games shown. Just like I did with Xbox, here’s a quick rundown of the show and my thoughts.

Destiny
I figured they would open with new Destiny footage, and they did indeed. This trailer gave us a little bit more story background, told to us by Peter Dinklage. My only negative with the trailer, and this might be more to do with my stream having some issues, but the gameplay looked closer to a PS3/360 than the PS4/Xbox One that I would expect them to show. Not a major issue really, still hyped for it big time.

The Order: 1886
We got a new trailer for The Order: 1886, a game I’m admittedly not that knowledgeable about. But the trailer looked interesting, with what appeared to be a zombie/werewolf thing chasing a human. Could be a pretty cool game.

Entwined
Showing a bit of indie love, Sony brought out Entwined, a game which immediately had me thinking of Beyond: Two Souls based on the art style. It’s a twin stick puzzle/action game that looks like a lot of fun actually, with a pretty serious story behind it. The coolest part was that it is available on the PS4 now, with PS3 and Vita coming later.

Infamous: Second Son
Another series that, since I’ve not owned a PlayStation since the PS2, I’m woefully out of the loop on. From what I have been able to tell this year, Second Son has been doing quite well, and they announced new stand-alone DLC for it, Infamous: First Light which will be out August 3.

LittleBigPlanet 3
Another PlayStation exclusive that I’m familiar with, but haven’t really sat down with and played a lot of. The new trailer for the third installment showed off three new characters that join Sackboy in his adventure. The demo had such character and cuteness it was really refreshing to see. Also cool was that the levels created in the first two games will be able to be played on LPB3 when it comes out on PS4 in November.

Bloodborne
One of the big questions coming in was whether Sony would talk about Project Beast – the next game from Dark Souls creator From Software. We got our answer in the form of Bloodborne, a new IP from them, with a pretty gruesome trailer that really just served to get the name and game out there – it was pretty tough to glean any real story or character info from it. But it looked pretty damn dark and brutal and gruesome, just what Dark Souls fans want.

Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4
Ubisoft might have a real winner on their hands with Far Cry 4 if the pressers are anything to go by. It was shown not only at Ubisoft’s show, but had a much longer gameplay segment at Sony’s. Gameplay looked very similar to the previous entry, which was a really fun game. The big scoop comes with the announcement that there is drop-in/drop-out co-op, and that with the PS4, you can actually invite people without the game to play, and they can still hop right in. That’s a pretty damn big win for Sony right there.

Dead Island 2
Talk about a shift in tone between games – the reveal trailer for the original Dead Island was one of the most intense trailers from that year. Not so much with this one – much more irreverent tone to the trailer, but we have to wait to see if that translates over to the game too.

Magicka 2
We got a pretty clever trailer to introduce Magicka 2, an isometric hack-and-slash game. Looked pretty interesting, but nothing super extraordinary.

Grim Fandango
In one of the biggest surprises of the show, we got the announcement that Tim Schafer will be revisiting one of the best adventure games from the turn of the millennium – Grim Fandango. It’s first out on PS4 and Vita, with others to follow – that’s a huge win for Sony as not only is this a really beloved game, but it was probably the biggest surprise thus far.

Indie Support
Sony then showed off a number of Indie games coming to the PS4 in the coming months/year, including Broforce, Titan Souls, Not a Hero, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, and The Talos Principle. It’s always good to see indie games getting some good love on the big stage like that.

Let It Die
Another nice surprise was the announcement of a new Suda-51 game coming out. The PS4 exclusive Let It Die got a pretty crazy trailer, in typical Suda fashion. From what the trailer showed, it looks like it’s going to be Suda’s take on a zombie shooter/rpg – should be pretty crazy.

Abzu
Following the somewhat over-the-top nature of Let It Die it was nice to get a little refresher in the form of the new game from the creator of Journey. The same feel and emotion that Journey has seem to be present in Abzu, which reminded me of Journey just set underwater.

No Man’s Sky
In my opinion, No Man’s Sky really stole the first part of Sony’s show – the trailer looked absolutely incredible, and the scale and scope of the game look like it’s going to be a great example of what “next-gen” can be. The fact it’s an infinitely generating universe, with each player starting on different planets with totally different experiences blew me away. And it’s another win for Sony, as it’s going to make its console debut on the PS4

Now we run into the main issue I had with Sony’s presser – after this really great high from No Man’s Sky, they ran straight into talking about hardware. Project Morpheus (VR), PSN news, YouTube – nothing wrong with them, but after Xbox having 90 straight minutes of games, this just felt like hitting a wall. And you could tell online – twitter reactions were not pleased they had this big block of time set for talking about hardware and PlayStation TV, while only briefly talking about the Vita.

Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Kombat X
Following a pretty noticeable lull, they kicked right back in with gameplay footage of Mortal Kombat X, which we now know is pronounced as an “ex”, not 10. The gameplay footage showed two fights – the classic duo of Scorpion and Sub Zero going at it again, and two new characters, a bee-controlling lady, and a Master Blaster-esque giant. The actual fighting looks as brutal as ever, with the X-Ray attacks returning and fatalities as over-the-top as always. One other thing I thought looked really cool was the stages seem much more interactive in the actual fighting this time around.

Powers
After a really brutal trailer for Mortal Kombat X, the show took another hard turn into talking about TV and Film available on the PS4. The only real highlight I took away was the show Powers coming later this year, based on the comic of the same name. Nothing wrong with the announcement, but I don’t know that this was the time or place for it.

The Last of Us
The PS3 exclusive is getting an updated version coming to the PS4, and we got a trailer that really had me scratching my head. All the opinions were that this was one of the best games of last year, and the story was a big part of why – and yet this trailer started with a spoiler warning. It really just felt a little off, but the trailer was still strong.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Oh boy, where to start here. I’m way out of the loop with MGS games, having only played a little bit of the first one, so story-wise, I had no clue what’s going on in the new trailer. But that having been said, the trailer looked really really gorgeous. I think it’s one of those trailers that as an outsider I just have no chance of really “getting it,” but I’m sure that fans of the series really appreciated it.

Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar did a solid for Sony by showing off the PS4/Xbox One updates for GTAV on the PS4. GTA got it’s start on the Sony consoles, so it’s really only fair that the PS4 got the reveal I think. It was already a good looking game on the 360, but seeing it on the current-gen platforms was really eye opening – the game looks incredible.

Batman: Arkham Knight

Batman: Arkham Knight
Easily my most anticipated game for 2015 at this moment, I was a little curious what we’d see of it this year, especially considering that the date was just recently pushed back, so I figured it’s probably at a pretty playable state. Turns out we got an absolutely incredible looking bit of gameplay footage that blew me away. The scale and scope of this game look absolutely insane, not to mention the actual gameplay that they showed. I am absolutely on board the hype train for this one – it’s gonna be a major player next year.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Sony may have hit a wall in the middle of their show, but they definitely closed strong with Batman and then Uncharted 4. The trailer was showing PS4 captured footage, and looked absolutely gorgeous. Again, I’m a little behind with the series, but I do understand the importance to PlayStation the series has. I think this was definitely the trailer to end the show with, it was a great cap for the evening.

All in all, I think Sony had a strong conference, but to me it was just a little bit weaker than Microsoft’s. I’m not saying that as an Xbox fan, I just think that the middle section talking hardware dragged on a little long, not to mention the whole show felt long. Had they gone the same route as Xbox with nothing but games, I think it might have been the stronger showing, but really, the ultimate winners of the whole day were us gamers. There are a ton of incredible games coming our way soon – it’s a great time to play games.