My Most Anticipated Games of Q1 2017

First of all, I understand this is a different take on “Most Anticipated Games…” topic that so many like to do- but the truth is that by the end of March we will already have some serious potential Game of the Year candidates. When reviewing what we already know is set to release, unless I want to create a “Top 25” then I am going to miss something crucial. So instead I am going to follow up with this list at the beginning of each quarter to help keep things into perspective. Without further ado, here are my most anticipated games set to release by the end of March 2017.

1. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Release Date: January 24, 2017

I will be first to admit that it’s been nearly 8 years since I found myself excited to pick up a new entry in the Resident Evil franchise, but with Biohazard looking to take a big step back and re-evaluate what makes the name so special, I am once again ready to step back in the universe that haunted so much of my childhood. After the failure of titles like Umbrella Corp. or even the former Resident Evil 6, it appears that Capcom heard the outcry for less shoot em’ up action, and get back to their survival-horror roots. After having already completed the captivating demo that was originally released shortly after E3 2016, I have found myself spending more time booting up the new updates they have offered than I care to admit. Luckily, we don’t have much longer to wait in order to get our hands on the final product. The only thing left to question on this title, is if I want to try to play the game on the PSVR… *Yikes*

2. Horizon Zero Dawn

Release Date: February 28, 2017

After having spent some hands-on time with a demo build at PSX 2016, it is not difficult to see why Sony seems to be placing so much faith in the upcoming title. Horizon not only plays incredibly well, but with what looks like to be a captivating story from the mind that brought us Fallout: New Vegas, there is no doubt in my mind that we are looking at a new tentpole franchise for the PlayStation Exclusive lineup. While I only had about 10 minutes to spend with a vertical slice of the game, the skills, environment, animal AI, and Aloy herself were fleshed out and well polished. Every fight felt different depending on my approach and skill choice, which made running around looking for various elements a blast. For those of you with a PS4pro and 4k TV, this will be the game to show off to your friends- because every single moment in this world is gorgeous. 

3. Nier: Automata

Release Date: March 7, 2017

It’s definitely fair to say that there have been two different versions of Platinum Games; on one hand you have the fast paced bullet-hell style of the Bayonetta franchise that critically delivers, while on the other you have the dumpster fire that is The Legend of Korra. It’s almost incredible to think that both games came from the same studio. Needless to say, I was hesitant to test the waters with a demo for the upcoming Nier: Automata demo, however I had time to kill so I decided to see which rendition of Platinum showed up to the party. I am happy to report that not only does Nier deliver in the small portion that I have played, but I think this very well could be my favorite game to come from the studio yet. If you have not tried out the demo yet, I urge you to add it to your queue. The story looks unique, boss battles are epic, and the action is incredibly addictive when adding up your combos. Simply put: I cannot wait for this game. 

4. Mass Effect Andromeda

Release Date: March 21, 2017

What is there left to say about the greatness that is the Mass Effect franchise that has not yet already been said a hundred times over? With well more than 100 hours spent across 3 separate entries in the original trilogy, Andromeda has a lot to live up to. However, if there is one group that I have faith in to deliver, it is the folks with Bioware. From the small pieces that they have revealed and the promise of a clean slate for first timers to the series, everything looks like it’s in good hands. And let’s be honest, as long as there is a random dance club on some far off planet that you can show off your sweet moves, I will be happy. 

5. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

Release Date: March 3, 2017

If you had told me a year ago that I would be more excited for any other game than a new Mass Effect entry, I probably would have fought you- true story. However, since the gameplay of Breath of the Wild had been show cased at E3 2016, and the incredible trailer released for the Switch conference, my need to set off through Hyrule once again has become a real problem. The gorgeous art style, captivating story, new voice overs, and furtherance into modern RPG elements– I can already see every aspect of my life about to be put on hold for a while once this title hits my system. Whether you play this on your new shiny Nintendo Switch, or you blow the dust off of your WiiU, there is no reason why you should not play this game. Now don’t mind me as I go practice my Goron Dance in my green tunic. *Turns on some drums*

Playdead’s ‘Inside’ is a Must Play (SpoilerFree)

     Some will want to call this a review, for some it may be an opinion piece, whatever you want to call it, I hope you have one take away from this article: Playdead’s Inside is a game you need to experience. I choose the word ‘experience’ on purpose, because for the 4 hours I spent in this nightmarish world I quickly learned that this is one of those special games that comes around only so often and transcends the stereotype definition of the word video game. Now don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a game. It’s more than a walking sim, and it there will be long moments in which you scratch your head searching for that “Aha!” moment you can finally solve the next puzzle. Now before I go any further, let me preface that if you haven’t already played through this game, it would be wise to go play first then come back to this article. While I am going to stay away from any Spoilers, I still entirely believe this game shines best the less you know about it. 

     Since the announcement of this title back at E32014, this was one of those games that I knew that I was going to play regardless so I told myself I would go on a “media blackout” for this one. No walk throughs, no interviews, no tutorials, and anytime I may see a “Newest trailer from…” I would quickly scroll through to the next piece. The only thing is, with this game there was no need to “try” and stay away from new info; the info wasn’t even there. Playdead announced this game and as simple as that vanished for nearly 2 years until their announcement on the Microsoft stage at E32016 in which they announced the game would be available a few weeks later. The fact that Playdead took this approach the marketing the game (or lack-there-of) told me one of two things: Either this game is not half as good as they had wanted it to be, or it was so good that they knew it could sell on word of mouth alone. Luckily for them (and especially us) it was the latter of the two.

     From the moment I began my journey, it was immediately obvious of the polish this game had. In the 4+ years that they have been silent since they released Limbo, after playing this game I honestly feel like they developed the game in a years time and spent the next 3 combing over every tiny detail. Trust me, it is that beautiful.  The art style is something straight out of a Disney short you’d might see waiting for the newest Pixar film, one of those cosmetics that will not get old with time but allow you to look back and admire the accomplishment that they had in a day when everyone is focused on realism. They understood their direction, doubled down, and nailed it. From the camera angles, to the masterful way they told an entire captivating tale without a single word spoken, Playdead deserves game pushes the boundaries for not only “Indie-developed” titles, but gaming as a whole. Make no mistake, they are an indie studio, made up of 25 employees, it’s astonishing what they managed to do.

     Now if you are reading this and still on the fence because you weren’t really into Limbo, Playdeads previous title, honestly neither was I. While I played through the game, I never really understood the hype that was built around the game. It was solid, artistically beautiful, but for me it never really captured me the way that other titles like Journey did. Keeping that in mind, I came into this title very cautious. I honestly believe that if you’d be hard pressed not to have the need to finish this game if you gave it 30 minutes of your time, not because of the length of the game but because of the desire to unravel the mystery filled story they present. 

     Playdead’s Inside is a game that deserves to be played, for my fellow PS4 players out there, hold strong your time will come. This game has been confirmed as a timed Xbox One exclusive on consoles, similar to Limbo. Although the wait may be longer than you’d like, do your upmost to avoid spoilers, play throughs, and water-cooler chatter on the topic, this is a game that you will want to experience from start to end blindly. Now do yourself a favor, open up your wallet and keep an open mind, if you can manage to do both and purchase Inside I can promise you won’t be disappointed. This will be a game that will stay with you for years to come, and already finds it’s way into my mind when I consider my “all time favorites” list. 

     Now excuse me while I go for another play through… I am just not ready to let this one go, and expect I won’t be any time soon.

Final Grade: 10/10

Will Sea of Thieves dry out like Evolve did?

     It was shortly after watching the gameplay reveal during Microsofts showcase during E32016, that I really started to worry about the longevity of the upcoming title Sea of Thieves. Now let me preface that I am actually looking forward to playing the action-adventure pirate game sometime when it launches next year in 2017. I know that it will be an instant hit for me and my group of Xbox Live companions, trying to boast the baddest ship in the seven seas. As a matter of fact, we are already having arguments of who is going to be the “Music-guy” wielding musical instruments to give the rest of us a haunting sea melody as we look for buried treasure. This is the Rare developed game that I have been looking forward to playing since it’s glory days of Banjo-Kazooie, the kind of game that refuses to allow the player to stop smiling. But as quickly as my hype began to build- I immediately found myself wondering if the online community will give this the attention that it never gave other multiplayer games, such as Evolve?

     While the optimist in me wants to believe that a games fun-natured gameplay can transcend the normalities that you find wrong with a lot of multiplayer based games nowadays, the cold hard fact is that in order for this game to stay relevant months after the release of the game is entirely dependent on the players themselves, and their ability to pick up a microphone and communicate. In all areas of the game, this game demands collaboration amongst you and your team, the cheesy gameplay demo of people screaming at each other was more realistic than you probably think. From helping man the Crows Nest to watch for upcoming rocks, islands, and of course other ships- to informing the crew of holes in the side of your ship from enemy fodder, you must communicate with your team if you want your team to succeed. This is the reason that I compare this game to Evolve, many similarities follow the two in terms of player contribution demand, and we all know how that turned out for Evolve

     Now before you think I’m picking on Evolve, I enjoyed my time with that game but due to the issues that I am concerned about for Sea of Thieves, it was short lived. And from the way the community died out after a while, I know many out there had a similar experience. I feel like that could be a whole different topic in itself: is it wise for game developers to place so much trust in the community, that you the future of your title lives and dies by the online community? While there are definitely success stories for that, one right now is Overwatch; however with titles like Titanfall experiencing a similar fate, and Fable Legends was a key factor in a studios closing… It’s got to make you wonder if the reward is worth the risk. 

     I am looking forward to playing Rare’s upcoming title regardless of what the outcome may be a month or two later, but for the sake of the studio I hope that they find a crowd pleaser. The last thing that I wan’t to see is a world without developers willing to take risks in creativity to give us products like Sea of Thieves. You have to admit, although Call of Duty Battlefield are awesome annualized fall blockbusters, games would get boring pretty fast without your occasional cult classic or wild idea game. You need the Mirror’s Edge and Sea of Thieves to break the mold. Personally, I hope to find you all out on the seas, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the crew mates around you when Sea of Thieves hits shelves next year.