NieR Automata

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. Finishing this year, we have top Translator Will Whitehurst.

Hey, guys! It’s that time of year again, and even though some of my predictions from last year’s list were refuted (Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water came out and it’s glorious, while Mighty No. 9 got delayed again), there are still plenty of amazing games coming out next year! Just like last year’s list, for my list of the most anticipated games of 2016, I am including games that will come out on systems I own only. In addition, I am not including remakes, so although The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD is high on my list, I will not put that here. Yet, contrary to last year’s list, almost everything here is a sequel. Interesting, right?

As with last year, I have a laundry list of honorable mentions and things I can’t wait for in 2016, which include:

  • The aforementioned Mighty No. 9, as well as other Kickstarter-backed spiritual successors like Bloodstained and Yooka-Laylee.
  • Fire Emblem Fates (Conquest FTW), Shin Megami Tensei IV: FINALBravely Second, and Project X Zone 2: Brave New World, because you know what a console with a ton of good RPGs needs, right? Good sequels to those RPGs!
  • Dark Souls III. I’m just hoping it isn’t the end.
  • Hyrule Warriors Legends. Linkle should be fun to play!
  • Scalebound. The only reason I’m not placing this on the list is because I don’t have an Xbox One.
  • Pokkén Tournament. The only reason I’m not placing this on the list is because Zangoose is conspicuously absent.
  • Five Nights At Freddy’s World. Yes, really.
  • Lost Reavers. Could it be freemium done right?
  • For the love of god, a new F-ZeroFast Racing NEO is quite alright, 200cc in Mario Kart 8 comes close, and I still play the heck out of that Nintendo Land mini-game, but F-Zero GX is easily my favorite racing game of all time. It’s been almost 13 years since that masterpiece came out!
  • The last bit of Super Smash Bros. DLC. You know what three gaming-related words made me scream like a little girl at the tail end of 2015? “BAYONETTA IN SMASH.
  • The last few waves of Super Smash Bros. amiibo. See above. Not to mention Ryu and Roy, for the record. And, from the looks of the non-Smash waves, amiibo are becoming just a little less rare these days, so I’m looking forward to that as well. All I need is a Disney Infinity-style game for the $200+ I’ve spent in awesome plastic toys cluttering the desk in my dorm room.
  • The game-based movies coming out this year. Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed are backed by great directors Duncan Jones (Source Code) and Justin Kurzel (Macbeth), and feature actors like Travis Fimmel (Vikings) and Michael Fassbender (Macbeth), respectively. In addition, Ratchet & Clank looks like it nails down the spirit of its series. Although we still have the Angry Birds Movie, 2016 will no doubt be the litmus test for gaming and cinema to finally be on the same page.
  • Shenmue 3… Oh, wait, that’s for 2017, or so the Kickstarter said. Either way, I’m glad I can finally put that on one of these and not have it as a joke!

So, without further ado, here’s my top 5 most anticipated games of 2016.

5. Star Fox Zero (Wii U)

Star Fox Zero - Arwing

Here’s the deal. I’ve been waiting for a new Star Fox since Star Fox 64 3D came out on the 3DS several years ago, and the fun Fox costume Easter egg in Bayonetta 2 only heightened my anticipation. So, imagine my shock and disbelief when Platinum Games, maker of ought-to-be-Wii-U-system-sellers Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101, would be working on Star Fox Zero. These guys know how to make action games, and placing one of Nintendo’s best action-focused series in the hands of one of the genre’s best developers will lead to excellent things, I’m sure. Also, here’s hoping the delay from this November to next April has helped smooth things out before this game comes barrel rolling to Wii Us everywhere, because seriously, it’s been ages since a new Star Fox.

4. Persona 5 (PS3/PS4)

Persona 5 - Phantom

Speaking of games that have been in the making for what seems like forever, it’s been at least six years since Atlus last published a Persona game. The RPG standby’s jump to HD consoles as a main series title (no, P4A does not count) looks to be worth the wait, though. The series’ trademark elements, mixing dungeon-crawling gameplay, an incredible soundtrack, and plenty of strange and wonderful characters, are all intact. What makes Persona 5 particularly intriguing, though, is its presentation. Rebellion is the major theme here, and the smooth jazz aesthetic shown in the trailers, character designs, and music so far echoes Cowboy Bebop in a way, and that is one of my favorite anime series of all time. So yeah, I’m excited for Persona 5, and cannot wait to see what Atlus is doing with it.

3. NieR Automata (PS4)

NieR Automata

The reception to the first NieR is proof positive of the ridiculous herd mentality some mainstream game critics have, as many of them seemed to miss the bigger picture. Rarely does a game mix a deep combat system, a compelling story, multiple endings, and absolutely incredible boss fights so very well, and the truly human and personal protagonist holds it all together. It’s no wonder NieR has a deserving cult following. But despite a great sequel hook, the middling critical reception seemed to doom this game to the same big “Games That Absolutely Deserve Sequels” pile. Well, the realization that NieR was getting a sequel, developed by Platinum Games no less, made my decision to get a PS4 in 2016 rather easy. NieR Automata, which takes place after Ending D of the original NieR, seems to mix the action RPG elements that made the first game so great with the breathtaking action that has become a Platinum Games trademark.

2. Genei Ibun Roku #FE (Wii U)

Genei Ibun Roku #FE

Nintendo has certainly taken their fair share of risks over the years, but this one’s huge. When the Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem crossover project was first announced, I bet many of us were expecting a combination of Fire Emblem‘s addictive strategy RPG gameplay and mechanics, such as permadeath and the weapons triangle, with the controller-busting Atlus challenge and strange demons that pervade the dungeon-crawling in a classic Shin Megami Tensei game. But when Genei Ibun Roku #FE (still a working title, oddly enough) was revealed to the public, it was made clear that the candy-colored fusion of locales in Tokyo’s ward of Shibuya, a story set in the music business, uptempo electronic music, and original characters with alter egos called Personas Mirages made this more in line with an SMT spinoff like Persona or Devil Survivor. And you know what? I’m more than okay with that! It will be interesting to see how these two series mix together. Not to mention, even with the truly amazing Xenoblade Chronicles X, saying the Wii U needs more RPGs is like saying the sky is blue. #FE should be another great RPG for the system, and I am more than willing to take my chances on it.

1. Zero Time Dilemma (3DS/PS Vita)

Zero Time Dilemma - Concept Art

I am a huge fan of Kotaro Uchikoshi. His stories, along with the likes of Hideki Kamiya, Yu Suzuki, Tetsuya Takahashi, Hideo Kojima, and Quantic Dream’s David Cage, strike the delicate balance between the interactivity of gaming and the narrative scope of film without sacrificing the qualities of either. Uchikoshi might not be a household name, but odds are you may have heard of Ever17: The Out of Infinity999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, or Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward. And after breaking into anime with the bizarre and divisive yet truly endearing Punchline, Uchikoshi is back to the medium he knows best. Zero Time Dilemma is the third installment in the Zero Escape trilogy, which was preceded by 999 and VLR. And how. For the unacquainted, Zero Escape is a series that mixes the fantastic storytelling and multiple endings of a visual novel with the puzzle-solving action of an “escape the room” game. This is not a series where you can check your brain at the door, folks. If the excellence of the series’ first two installments is any indication, Zero Time Dilemma will send the fantastic Zero Escape series off with a bang, and that’s exactly why it’s on the top of my list of the most anticipated games of 2016, even though there has not been a substantial reveal of any sort besides an announcement and a piece of concept art. That should tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this game.

Will Whitehurst
Will joined the Operation Rainfall Campaign soon after news broke of that infamous French interview about Xenoblade. Subsequently, he got actively involved and became a staff member in July/August 2011. He is currently the head of the Japanese translation team, and loves to play, discuss, debate and learn more about games. Will gravitates towards unconventional action games and RPGs, but plays pretty much anything except Madden. He is also currently attending college, honing his Japanese skills and preparing for medical school. (Coincidentally, Trauma Center is one of his favorite game series of all time.)