Is it a cop-out to do a “Top Anticipated” list instead of actual analysis? Yes. Have I had time to compose thoughtful analysis, or even to play any games, over the last couple of weeks? Hell no. It’s finals.
So, instead, here’s a quick overview of the games I’m looking forward to the most in 2017. Normally such lists are extremely dry and full of vapid hype, but I’m going to go into a bit deeper mechanical detail about why the designs of these games have me excited, instead of just saying “Herp de derp I love new video games”.
I should probably write an article about Crackdown.
I really, really, really love the Crackdown games. Depicting a city rife with criminal gangs, and an omnipresent Agency that sends out superpowered Agents to fight crime, Crackdown will always be my ultimate “just dick around” game. The thing these games do the best is reward you for doing the things you find the most fun by making those things more fun. Driving better and more recklessly, as well as winning races, nets you driving experience points that make cars handle better and make your custom Agency cars do cooler tricks. Exploring the city to find Agility Orbs (I can still hear the hum) makes you better at exploring the world, and lets your character jump farther and higher. Everything is a positive feedback loop.
Crackdown 2, while mechanically superior to the first game in a lot of ways (notably the Wingsuit, the inclusion of helicopters, and better melee combat) suffered from same-y enemy encounters (mostly due to shoehorning zombies into the game for…some reason), so some good mission design will bring Crackdown right back into my heart.
Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
Hell yeah, it’s MAHVEL BABY. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was the fighting game that got me into fighting games, so hearing that the series has not only been dusted off and returned to shelves, but we’re getting a brand new game, makes me ecstatic.
The roster for Marvel vs. Capcom games has always been the main draw for me, for a variety of reasons. For starters, having a lot of characters gives the designers more room to put in very unusual characters, knowing that people who prefer more meat-and-potatoes characters will have plenty of options. From the risky play of fielding Phoenix, to the absolute nonsense of putting Phoenix Wright, who is just a lawyer, against characters like Thor or Iron Man, Marvel vs Capcom keeps itself from getting stale by allowing itself characters who radically change the way you play the game.
The thing I’m the most interested in (besides whether or not my boy Doctor Strange will be in the mix again) is the inclusion of Infinity Stones, the all-powerful objects of power from the Marvel Universe. It sounds like players will select an Infinity Stone to bring with them into each match, each offering different boosts (the Power Stone increases strength, the Time Stone speed, etc.) These seem like an interesting way to diversify the ways even a single character can play (imagine a fast Hulk, or a stronger Wolverine), and thus increase the ability to experiment. Very exciting stuff.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III
I’ve already written extensively on this blog why I think Dawn of War II is a masterpiece, but my excitement for the third installment in the series is a bit more reserved. After a largely mixed public response to Dawn of War II, this game has been said to mix elements of both Dawn of War games together, sort of finding a happy medium.
Not that I dislike Dawn of War, but the second game was always the one that captured me, with it’s RPG-like campaign and the endless tweaking you can do to individual units. I very much liked the pervading idea of “build on what you have” in regards to units, equipment, and even maps from II, but maybe increased basebuilding could tie into that even more, with the ability to build permanent, long-lasting bases, with a few significant characters that linger amongst the hordes of cannon fodder.
Ultimately, I’ll have to see what this game’s mix of its forefathers looks like, but for now, color me curious.
While the game mechanics of the Persona series are pretty solid (I really like the Press Turn battle system, Social Links are a really cool idea, and the concept of “Pokemon, but demons” makes me giddy), the thing that actually gets me really excited for this game is the style. Everything in the game just oozes this jazzy coolness, this tone of being a suave master thief, that it’s just infectious. Lately I’ve been jamming to this game’s soundtrack in the car, because it just feels like everything in this game is coming together to form this mood, and that’s not something you see in RPGs a whole lot.
That focus on mood, plus the unique setting, great character design, and the promise of top-notch writing from some of the best in the business, keep me excited for this one. Also, reviews are already out, and they say its great, so that helps too.
Hahaha just kidding who fuckin’ cares.
While I’m deeply saddened by the fact that I’ll never get to play the space bounty hunter epic that the now-shuttered Prey 2 was touted as, 2017 reboot Prey seems like its got even more interesting stuff going on, mechanically.
Early interviews with the developers describe this game as open-world, where you’ll be exploring an abandoned space station fending off assorted baddies, but the interesting thing to me is the idea that you’ll be collecting assorted superhuman powers along the way, including a confirmed ability to transform into scenery objects, including a mug and a chair.
There are a lot of things about this game that get me excited. I like the potential for environmental storytelling. I like the idea of exploring an open space station and the potential for non-traditional spaces. I like the idea of zero-G exploration. But what I like the most is the completely untapped possibility space of playing a chair.
Well, those are some of my most anticipated games of next year! There are others, of course (Horizon: Zero Dawn comes to mind), but these games I think will present something interesting that we don’t necessarily have in the current games space, which hopefully will result in some interesting design come next year.