By Tom Tolios / December 26th, 2015
oprainfall is proud to present our annual lists of Most Anticipated Games. Just like last year, we will be publishing one per day as we move closer to 2016. Today, we have writer Tom Tolios.
2015 was a very busy time for video games and the industry as a whole. This was a year that saw real diversity of different types of games and genres, with titles ranging from the high fantasy exploits of Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to the morbid and unfortunate fate of the city of Yharnam in Bloodborne. From the failure of AAA juggernauts such as Halo 5 and Batman: Arkham Knight to be the scintillating chapters in their respective franchises, to the premiere of surprising and exciting new IPs and entries in existing franchises that brought much needed innovation such as Splatoon and Super Mario Maker. It was a year for niche titles and indies to make a strong showing, such as Senran Kagura, Dungeon Travelers 2, Undertale and Rocket League. And there were some expected (and very welcome) HD remasters added to the library of gaming congress, such as Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition, Resident Evil Remake HD and Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. All in all, it was an exciting year for gamers, if you ask me.
Now 2016 is upon us, and with that comes the promise of more games on the horizon that we just cant wait to play. Here at oprainfall, we are putting together our ‘most anticipated’ lists for next year and this is my offering. I have no rules as it regards to my top five ‘most anticipated’ except for one: how much am I looking forward to playing this game that I know is coming in 2016? Anything and everything that can reasonably be expected to release next year is fair game, be it an HD remaster, a remake, a port, or an original title. Because let’s face it, sometimes an old game with a fresh coat of paint or a new chassis is still more exciting than anything we haven’t tried yet. I have also chosen to leave out titles that aren’t 100% confirmed for a 2016 release, such as The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy XV and the much ballyhooed Final Fantasy VII remake. I know it’s likely we’ll see some of these games with a ‘sometime in 2016’ release date hit the streets next year, but I am focusing on titles that are further along in development and/or localization. But before I get into my top 5, here are some titles that just missed the cut.
- Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 — I am not the biggest fan in the world of this particular offshoot, but I am really curious to see how a fan service game developed by Team Ninja will turn out when taking advantage of the robust PS4 architecture. Will they actually find a way to make this game something more than its predecessors in terms of animation, visuals and other aesthetic touches or is it destined to be a high profile but ultimately underwhelming entry in an already beautiful looking but ultimately disappointing series?
- Street Fighter V — As a fighting game aficionado, of course I would be interested in the next entry in the seminal series that kicked off both the genre and an entire generation of video game culture. I’m not too thrilled about some of the alterations being made, some of the roster decisions are puzzling to me and I’m not really liking what I’m hearing about Capcom’s focus on leveling the playing field (although I understand it from a business sense). But they are attempting to innovate with the proposed changes to familiar systems and the promise of unlocking all the DLC characters through normal play is something we should be taking note of.
- Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR –– In my opinion, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- was the best fighting game of 2015 (not Mortal Kombat X, Game Awards) and also one of the best fighting games of the last half decade. It has all the hair metal J-rock style we’ve come to expect from the series, an amazing roster of characters to choose from, awesome mechanics and revolutionary visuals that perfectly fits the rebellious style of the Guilty Gear IP with its vivid colors, creative finisher animations and glorious backgrounds. -REVELATOR- is the next step in the evolution of the series and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
- Valkyria Chronicles HD — The original Valkyria Chronicles for PlayStation 3 remains one of the best five games on that platform, a timeless turn-based military strategy sim with an enchanting anime aesthetic that deals with themes of loss, love and unfair social stigma set against a backdrop of war between an invading empire and a small but determined country that refuses to submit when its back is against the wall. Intricate leveling systems accompanied a need for proper tactics and troop deployment, all occurring within the confines of lush, gorgeous cel-shaded anime environments. A charming cast of characters and a heartwarming story filled with tragedy and triumph, Valkyria Chronicles HD is a great chance for SEGA to revitalize both this game to see if it can become the smash success it deserves to be and the IP as a whole.
- Dark Souls III –– Even after playing through the frustrating and disappointing Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin earlier this year on my PS4, my love for the franchise as a whole is not diminished. Despite making some ill conceived fundamental changes to both the gameplay and the pace of the narrative, the series has always had compelling lore, an arresting visual flair and a tragic futility that is second to none in this hobby. With the arrival of Dark Souls III early next year, helmed once again by the talented Hidetaka Miyazaki (who left Dark Souls II to his colleagues while he worked on Bloodborne), I expect good things. I am looking forward to seeing what From Software can do to right the Dark Souls ship and get this punishing series back on course. Of course I’m “Prepared to Die” over and over all over again.
And now for the moment you’ve hopefully been waiting for. Que up your drum roll in your respective audio devices, please.
5.) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt-Blood and Wine
The only reason that this isn’t rating higher on my list, given my opinion that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the greatest video game ever made, is because it’s not a new entry in the series. This is the second of the two ‘pay DLC’ expansions for 2015’s Game of the Year (according to the Game Awards as well as many sites and publications), and after experiencing the sublime majesty of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt-Hearts of Stone (my review is here) my body could not be more ready. Given what we’ve already seen from both the core game and the first major add on, I expect nothing less than an adventure that will either rival or surpass them. And Blood and Wine is supposed to be twice as big as Hearts of Stone. Given CD Projekt Red’s track record of late, there is no reason to doubt that this will be as good as any video game seeing release in 2016 despite being an expansion.
4.) Nights of Azure
Gust is a developer that I have a lot of affection for despite not being the world’s biggest Atelier fan. However, I like the games well enough and, more importantly, I appreciate that publishers are willing to take a chance to release niche series like this on western shores. There are a lot of virtues you can tout as it regards Gust’s output, from the colorful and lively presentations to the fantastic and whimsical character and costume designs to the intricate crafting systems and game mechanics. There is a lot to appreciate with each and every game they produce, and I am always excited to see what’s coming from them next. I fell in love with Nights of Azure the first moment I laid eyes on Arnas and Lyuritis during the announce trailer. They popped right off the screen with their striking look and close relationship, and the story of a land where no one sleeps because monsters steal the night is an intriguing idea that makes me want to go on the journey with them all the more. This is one of those titles that I get thrilled for precisely because of its unique niche identity. Can’t wait!
3.) Nier: Automata
Let me just get this out of my system. I LOVE Yoko Taro games or anything that he is involved with. The first Drakengard is a broken mess in terms of mechanics and pacing but man, what an insane journey it was! The discordant and disturbing music, the mature and unsettling themes, the morbid and dark characters and the absolutely apocalyptic endings are a once in a lifetime gaming experience. Even though Taro was never able to match that first’s game’s pure vision with later entries or with the spinoff Nier (although he came damn close with Drakengard 3), he continued to push boundaries and themes with every title he worked on, tweaking the technical aspects and improving on them with every outing. He was never able to hit that sweet spot as it regards the gameplay despite his best efforts, but with the forthcoming Nier: Automata, he doesn’t have to bother with it because action auteurs Platinum Games are working on that part for him. Now Taro can just focus on the aspects that are his unique gifts as a director and developer: story, characters, visuals and music. Honestly, if this isn’t the magnum opus of Taro’s career and one of the three best games Square Enix ever releases in its lifetime, I’ll be quite put out.
Team Ninja is mostly identified with fast paced action fare such as Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive. But this year we saw the announcement of a new IP they are working on called Ni-Oh, which appears to be a more methodical style of game along the lines of Dark Souls. Rather than aping the medieval/dark fantasy setting off From Software’s legendary series, Ni-Oh has you playing a samurai of some sort (or maybe a ninja or shugenja if they include a class system) who navigates his (or her, I’m sure) way through castles, fields and underground environments inspired by the sengoku era of Japanese history. The footage I’ve seen so far looks to be methodical, tactical and position based rather than relying on crack timing and intricate combos. I’m very excited about this mostly because Team Ninja is trying their hand at a more deliberate style of gameplay and I am thrilled to see what they come up with.
1.) The King of Fighters XIV
As I’ve already established, I’m a big fighting game fan. This is not a new affection for me, as I was in the thick of things during the early 90s when fighters and the competitive scene were the only reason you went to an arcade. I made a lot of friends, and a few enemies, during that golden time in my life and we all shared a passion for the quarter munching cabinets that lined the walls of Aladdin’s Castle and Haunted Trails. Most were fans of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, but there was a small group of us that had even greater affection for the Neo Geo, which hosted many of the greatest fighting game series of all time, perhaps none as noteworthy as SNK Playmore’s signature series The King of Fighters, which crosses over many characters from their different franchises, adds in some originals, and throws them into one massive fighting tournament.
I saw the peerless The King of Fighters XIII as a marvelous swan song for a series doomed to obscurity as the parent company seemed destined for the mobile markets and pachinko parlors. The announcement of a new entry earlier this year came from out of nowhere and it tugged at those strings of my heart forever entwined with my nostalgia for the glory days of SNK. The giant has been sleeping and now it’s waking up once more. I’m not sure what to make of the visuals of KOF XIV so far but that doesn’t diminish my anticipation or enthusiasm for this title. There was a time in my life when Terry Bogard was my favorite character in video games (he’s still top three in my book) and SNK had a stronger grip on me than any other gaming company. I thought SNK Playmore was done with KOF as a fighting series. That they aren’t means that I’m not done with them, either. And any chance to play as my main man Terry Bogard in a new video game will only ever be rivaled by the announcement of a new Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry (original Dante) game. ARE YOU OKAY!? Yes, SNK Playmore. I’m okay. Better than okay. Thank you for not giving up on us.
Access GamesArc System WorksCapcomCaviaCD Projekt REDDark Souls IIIDead or Alive Xtreme 3From SoftwareGuilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-Gust Co. Ltd.Koei TecmoMost Anticipated Games of 2016ni-ohNier: automatanights of azurePlatinum GamesSegaSNK PlaymoreSquare EnixStreet Fighter VTeam NinjaThe King of Fighters XIVthe witcher 3: wild hunt - blood and winevalkyria chronicles HDYoko Taro