Looking ahead at 2017, the long list of games scheduled for release is astonishing. Several massive titles delayed out of 2016 join brand new games, exciting indies, fresh sequels and expected annual releases to make for a list with too many good-looking games to possibly play in a year.
This article originally appeared on SMH.
This is to say nothing of the games releasing this year that we don’t even know about yet (and considering both Nintendo and Microsoft are releasing new machines this year, there are probably quite a few).
In putting together a shortlist of promising games, I’m discounting those that may come out but that we don’t have solid details on at this time (like God of War, Destiny 2 or Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy). Of the dozens of great-looking games remaining, here are the 17 I’m most excited to get my hands on:
A unique hand-drawn game, Cuphead blends the style of 1930 surrealist cartoons with old-school action game mechanics for an incredible look and feel unlike anything else. This was originally slated for release in 2015 as a collection of boss battles, then moved to 2016 when the decision was made to expand it. 2017 may be Cuphead’s last chance to make an impact.
Detroit: Become Human
Quantic Dream’s games have all been heavily flawed attempts to blend the agency of video games with the manifest nature of cinema, with only Heavy Rain so far managing wide praise for its dilemmas and interesting story despite its rough edges. It remains to be seen if Detroit — a story of synthetic humans becoming self aware and rejecting their place as second class citizens — will be ultimately successful, but you can’t deny its intriguing premise and outstanding presentation.
Horizon Zero Dawn
It’s an open-world techno-cavewoman RPG. I don’t think there’s ever been a game that sells itself better than that. Long after the apocalypse, primitive humans live alongside robotic lifeforms that bear more than a passing resemblance to dinosaurs, and the outcast Aloy embarks on a quest to find out the truth about those who came — and apparently vanished — before her.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The latest Zelda epic is set to launch on both the all-but-forgotten Wii U console and the soon-to-be-released Nintendo Switch, and ever since I played a chunk of it at E3 last year it’s been my most anticipated game. Reverting to the freedom and exploration of the original 1986 release while also embracing the open-world conventions of many modern games, Breath of the Wild is a big risk for a beloved and famously slow-evolving series, and I can’t wait to find out if it pays off.
Mass Effect Andromeda
The Mass Effect trilogy earned so much respect for its huge scale and sheer sci-fi awesomeness that I can ignore the delays and vague gameplay details that might otherwise indicate development on Andromeda has been pretty rough. The game looks to amp up the customisation, exploration and alien romancing of the original while moving the action away from Earth to an all new galaxy. If it can pull it off, it might be one of 2017’s best.
A minimalist fencing game that pits two stick figures against each other in a fight to the death, Nidhogg is an incredibly deep game that is still a go-to option for many game nights. Its sequel, despite moving to a divisive new art style that very much changes the tone of the experience, looks like it will be every bit as fun and frantic as the original.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
A role-playing game from famed Japanese developer Level 5 and animation house Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni was a dream game for many. Ghibli may not be involved in this sequel, but the art on display indicates this will be another captivating, beautiful experience.
At this point I honestly don’t know what to think about Prey, except that I want it. A shooter which looked like a mysteriously futuristic art deco nightmare when unveiled in June, it has only seemed weirder as more details emerge. Kennedy survived assassination and funded a crazy new space program? Powerful augmented humans live in a floating alien prison above Earth? You can transform into a coffee mug? OK.
Red Dead Redemption 2
When the makers of Grand Theft Auto took over this atmospheric series set amid the decline of the American frontier, the result was one of 2010’s most impressive and well-received games. Though details are sparse on the 2017 sequel, anything less than a highly polished and evocative adventure would be a surprise given Rockstar’s unrivalled pedigree.
Resident Evil VII: Biohazard
Though it remains popular, the Resident Evil series has lost much of its dedicated fanbase as it’s moved away from survival horror and towards generic action in the years since 4. Though not a hard reboot, VII refocuses on unsettling themes and scarce resources, following a civilian’s encounters with horrible creatures inside a derelict Louisiana mansion. Interestingly, the whole game can be played in VR on PlayStation 4.
Sea of Thieves
Though initially revealed as an online multiplayer sailing and naval combat simulator with optional alcoholism and shanties, the full Sea of Thieves vision is gradually coming into focus as new features are shown off. Groups of players need to work together in this colourful, playful, pirate-infested world to navigate, find booty and fight off rival pirate groups.
As a Sonic fan who’s long maintained that a yearly sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles would be preferable to many of the series’ post-90s releases, Sonic Mania scares the hell out of me. A passion project made by noted and talented Sonic-loving indie developers, Mania looks partly like a homage and partly like a lost 32-bit entry in the once-beloved series. This is the best chance for many fans to have their 20-year cries for a new classic Sonic validated, and there probably won’t be any more if it fails.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
The Stick of Truth was the first South Park game to nail the look and feel of the show, thanks in no small part to the close involvement of creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. But the kids were playing Lord of the Rings in that game, and now they’re playing superheroes, with The Fractured But Whole doubling down on both the pop culture critiques and the role-playing complexity this time around.
From the team that brought us Gone Home, Tacoma blends a nerdily realistic prediction of the near future with a very down-to-earth story about the crew of a centrifugal space station between Earth and the moon. As a contractor sent to the station to investigate in the aftermath of a disaster, you experience the story through hologram-style recreations of the events that took place there.
A very ambitious game from the very small studio, Vampyr casts players as a young doctor in early 1900s London, coming to terms with his vampirism as he tries to help those afflicted with a terrible strain of flu. Every Londoner can be saved or killed, and it’s up to you to strike a balance. You’ll need to kill and feed to grow stronger, but there’s a heavy cost.
What Remains of Edith Finch
A surreal and incredibly dark collection of stories, Edith Finch takes place in a mysterious house where each room lets you relive the last memories of the person who once lived there. While playing through a long series of deaths might sound hard to enjoy, the tone and style of each story differs wildly — from blunt and morose to whimsical and abstract — so you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get in each room.
If you remember Banjo Kazooie, you can go ahead and put this spiritual successor on your radar. Created by a small team of industry veterans, this throwback character platformer sees a bat and an iguana party likes its 1998 as they learn new abilities and transformations, collect heaps of items and engage in some incredibly British humour.