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The beginning of a new year is exciting for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the promise of the next wave of (hopefully) great games. As we start off this new year, there are two games announced for 2017 that I have pre-ordered: Mass Effect Andromeda and Red Dead Redemption 2. I’ll go a little more in-depth below, but the Mass Effect series is my favorite in gaming, and the first Red Dead Redemption was in my top 3 games on PlayStation 3 — Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 3 and Red Dead, if you’re interested. There is still a ton coming out in 2017 that I’m interested in.
I currently own the PS4 and Nintendo 3DS, and I’m looking hard at the Switch. Needless to say, don’t expect any Xbox One exclusives on this list. That doesn’t mean that Xbox doesn’t have some great exclusives to look forward to (Everspace, anyone?) Moving on, my top 10 most-anticipated games currently announced for 2017, plus a couple of honorable mentions.
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
Set in the far future, in a time after mechanical dinosaur creatures have taken over the planet and people are relegated to the shadows and use primitive tools to survive, Horizon Zero Dawn is at the top of many lists predicting what could become the next big PlayStation franchise. I think the game looks great and the setting is cool, but I’m keeping my expectations somewhat tempered until the game is out in the wild.
MLB The Show 17 (PS4)
As a Cleveland Indians fan, I’m more excited about baseball in January than I have been in nearly 10 years. I’ve loved The Show for many years, though I ultimately don’t buy because of the time investment involved and the overall difficulty. Still, the game looks amazing, and I kind of want to take the Tribe to the World Series. Add in Ken Griffey Junior and Retro Mode, and this could truly be the definitive edition of The Show — much like NBA 2K11 set the standard for that series last generation.
Old Time Hockey (PS4, X1, PC)
This game just exudes a retro style and is a throwback to simpler hockey games. I’ve fallen off from playing the recent NHL games, but NHL ‘94 will always be a favorite. The game features a handful of humorous fictional teams, a story mode set in the 1970s, trackable stats and a beer mode allowing one-handed controlling (with beer in the other). I’m far from the only PSVG member interested in this game — and I have a suspicion this would make the top 10 list on many other staffers’ lists.
One of the reasons I am interested in the Nintendo Switch is the prevalence of family-friendly games on Nintendo systems. As the parent of a couple budding gamers, I have really wanted more gaming options with them. Splatoon is at the top of my list of games I missed out on during the Wii U generation — now that I’ve got Mario Maker on the 3DS. I love how colorful the game is, and how the color mechanic puts a twist on traditional FPS mechanics.
10: Sonic Mania (PC, PS4, X1)
While my first game system was the NES, my fondest childhood gaming memories are from the Sega — from the Master System, through the Genesis and Sega CD. I especially loved the Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog. I’ve tried playing the original games, and I will admit that the experience doesn’t quite match up with my rose-colored glasses that I view them through. And that is why I’m so excited for Sonic Mania. It’s a game set in the classic Sonic style, but developed for modern consoles. The game looks gorgeous and (I hope) feels like how I remember playing Sonic when I was young. Also, that collector's edition looks dope.
9: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)
There are a few game developers that can sell me on a game just by having their logo stamped on the project. Naughty Dog is one of those developers. The Uncharted series is one of the best in gaming, and is a shining example of why to own a PlayStation console. Uncharted 4 is the best game on PlayStation 4 — and, if you listened to PSVG’s year-end podcasts, it was a unanimous game of the year pick in both the PlayStation and Nintendo-centric episodes. In The Lost Legacy, we will get to learn more about fan favorite Chloe and her relationship with Uncharted 4 baddie, Nadine. There’s a new setting, but this still has that Naughty Dog polish and should provide a fun side adventure within the Uncharted universe. The only reason this isn’t higher on my list is that 4 is still less than a year old. Also, we still don’t know how long the standalone story will be — it could be two hours, or it could be a little beefier at four or five.
8: Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (PC, PS4, X1)
Shovel Knight is one of my favorite games on the PS4, and is absolutely my favorite game on the Vita. This is a free expansion of the original game, where you take control of Spectre Knight and play through remixed levels from the game that will test Spectre Knight’s abilities. More Shovel Knight-style gameplay will always be a good thing.
7: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
The Legend of Zelda is one of the gaming series that I feel like I’ve largely missed out on. I played the original game back on the NES, and have played pieces of Ocarina and Twilight Princess, but I’m fairly confident that I’ve never actually beaten a Zelda game. I know some of the basic lore, of course, but I’ve just never gotten fully swept up in the series. I want Breath of the Wild to sweep me up. The game looks gorgeous, of course, and the promise of being able to explore the open world at home and on-the-go is tantalizing.
6: Persona 5 (PS4)
Outside of sports games like the NBA 2K series, I rarely put more than, say, 25 hours into a game. I like shorter games that have fun gameplay and a good story. There are a few exceptions: The Mass Effect series, which I’ve played 2 and 3 multiple times; Destiny; No Man’s Sky; and Persona 4 Golden. I put 60-plus hours into P4G, my first Persona game, on the Vita. I know very little about Persona 5. It has a signature style that I adore, and I am intensely excited about playing the game on the big screen, though I wouldn’t have said “no” to a Switch version of the game (which is, emphatically, not happening).
5: Super Mega Baseball 2 (PS4, X1)
Please don’t take my next sentence out of context. The first Super Mega Baseball is my favorite baseball game on the PS4. I’m not saying it’s the best representation of baseball on the system — clearly, The Show series is unparalleled in its representation of the sport — but it’s the most pure fun sports game on the system, depending on your Rocket League proficiency. The main thing going for the game is that you can get in a full nine-inning game in less than a half hour. It’s also a solid and challenging baseball game, especially as you increase the difficulty. As much as I love the first game, there are a few things that could make it even better: a team editor; trackable stats between seasons; the ability to play online with friends; and players that look slightly less goofy and that can actually run with some speed. Super Mega Baseball 2 checks literally every one of those boxes. I’m getting excited just writing about this game. I started out with it ranked at number 8 on this list, and had to bump it up to number 5 after writing the list. Seriously, Super Mega Baseball is a great game. If you love old-school baseball games, it is a must-buy. I expect more of the same in the sequel.
4: Pyre (PS4, PC)
Supergiant Games, the developers behind Pyre, are firmly in my “must-buy” list after the masterpieces that are Transistor and Bastion. Transistor is my second favorite game on the PS4, just behind Uncharted 4. On its site, Supergiant describes the game as “a party-based RPG in which you lead a band of exiles to freedom through an ancient competition spread across a vast, mystical purgatory.” I love the visual style and I am excited about seeing what Supergiant will do in a slightly different genre. I know nothing about the story of the game, and don’t endeavor to know anything more about it. (This is a repeated theme in the rest of the games on my list: I need to know nothing more to be excited about any of them).
3: Detroit: Become Human (PS4)
I loved choose your own adventure books when I was a kid, and that’s probably part of the reason I love games so much. Even games that are more linear — Uncharted — give you some ability to choose how they play out, while RPGs like Skyrim, Mass Effect and The Witcher also give players a lot of agency to impact their worlds and tell stories the player wants to tell. The Telltale games have a specific story to tell with a defined beginning and defined end, but let the player make decisions about who lives, how relationships are handled and more during the in-between.
And then you have Quantic Dream. Heavy Rain, despite its awkward controls and sometimes goofy voiceovers, is absolutely a must-play experience on the PS3. It tells the story of a father who lost one of his sons, and then his other son is kidnapped later after the rest of his life falls apart. You play as four characters involved in the story, including a private investigator, an FBI agent and a photojournalist who are each trying to solve the mystery of the Oragami Killer. Throughout the game, the choices you make and your proficiency at solving in-game puzzles has a direct impact on the story, including on who lives and dies. There isn’t a Game Over screen. The story that is told during your playthrough is your own story, with multiple endings possible.
The setting of Detroit: Become Human is somewhat familiar to sci-fi fans. You have robots that are very human-like in their looks, and these robots want to be recognized, essentially, as people. This is set in a futuristic Detroit. The gameplay sequence revealed at e3 last year was awesome, as the hostage negotiator robot is unsuccessful, only for the reveal that the scenario could have played out a dozen different ways (or more). Detroit has a ton of promise, and I can’t wait to get hands-on with the game. Here’s to hoping it’s more Heavy Rain (with better controls) and less Beyond: Two Souls.
2: Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4, X1, PC)
My love of westerns began during college from an unexpected source: Stephen King, who is one of my favorite authors. After King revived the Dark Tower series following his near-death experience, I decided it was high time for me to dive in. The first book, The Gunslinger, follows our hero, Roland Deschain, as he continues in his pursuit of The Man in Black and, ultimately, the Dark Tower itself. Roland is described by another character as basically looking like Clint Eastwood in the Man with No Name trilogy, with piercing blue eyes. (And, as much as I love Idris Elba...he’s not exactly a Clint Eastwood doppelganger.) One of my favorite books ever is Wizard and Glass, the fourth installment, during which Roland tells a tale of when he “became a man,” discovered an evil plot and fell in love, all in a classic western fantasy setting full of horses, ranches, saloons and (I can only assume) mustaches.
After finishing the series, I itched for more western-themed stories. I love the Man with No Name trilogy, books by Zane Grey, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and played Gun and Darkwatch on PS2. I also love Firefly, which is basically a western set in space. So what does this have to do with Red Dead Redemption 2? Clearly, the setting of the first game sold me. It was GTA — a favorite series of mine during the PS1 and PS2 generations — in the lawless west. It was open vistas, six-shooters, prairies, Mexico and horses, all set in a slightly nutty Rockstar-flavored world. I was blindsided by how much I loved John Marston. The story of the reformed outlaw, trying to do right by his family, who is coerced into killing again to protect the new life he loves is familiar, but still ripe territory for a game.
I’m going to spoil the end of the game in my next sentence...in case you haven’t played yet. After doing the dirty work of the government officials, by wiping out his former gang, Marston retires to his ranch and finally can become the husband and father he desperately wants to be. This lasts for a brief time until the soldiers come for Marston. During that final fight, Marston gets his wife and son to safety and stays behind in his barn for a last stand. As a player, you push Marston through the barn door to a waiting group of soldiers. Time slows down as you try to shoot as many as possible, but Marston is ultimately killed, sacrificing himself for his family. Sure, the game picks up a few years later with his son hunting down his father’s killer, but it’s John Marston’s final sacrifice — and the unexpected killing of one of my favorite characters in gaming — that forever sticks with me.
And that’s why I’m hyped for Red Dead Redemption 2. I was sold from the minute Rockstar revealed the logo. I don’t care when the game is taking place, or if it has any connection at all to the Marston saga. I’d love a peek into Marston’s years in Dutch’s gang, or even a follow-up with his son getting swept up in the outlaw life. But, mostly, I just want to be swept up in Rockstar’s vision of the American West again.
1: Mass Effect Andromeda (PS4, X1, PC)
The original Mass Effect is the game that pushed me into HD gaming back in 2008, when I bought a 360. I never did beat the first game — my 360 Red Lighted three times so I moved over to PS3 — but I continued to follow the series, and I loved Mass Effect 2. (It’s my favorite game, ever.) ME2 was the first RPG that I ever replayed immediately after finishing it. I just loved all of the loyalty missions, and the Shadow Broker DLC is one of the best DLC missions available in any game. And the final DLC mission, Arrival, sets the plate perfectly for the beginning of Mass Effect 3, and it is essential to play between the two games. The final mission of the regular game, where you destroy the Collector base (or choose not to destroy it) is exhilarating and one of the most tense sequences in gaming.
The third game really worked for me due to the stakes involved, and that it was our first real glimpse of Earth. The opening mission sees Earth under attack by the Reapers, before Shepard heads out to gather support from other races for a final stand against the Reapers. I also thought the ending was fine. The overall Mass Effect trilogy experience was about the relationships that players spent six years and 100-plus hours of gameplay developing, and how those relationships played out in the end.
I love Mass Effect. It’s my favorite franchise in gaming, and my favorite space/sci-fi property — more than Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. In Mass Effect Andromeda, we will take the role of a Pathfinder — either the male or female Ryder, who are siblings in the game universe — aboard a vessel that has taken representatives from every species in the Milky Way to the Andromeda Galaxy light years aways to try to preserve civilization. Apparently, the existing inhabitants of the new galaxy aren’t too happy about this new intrusion. The gameplay shown so far looks amazing — smooth, and still true to Mass Effect. I can’t wait to explore Andromeda on March 21.
What games are you anticipating that could be released this year? What games am I missing out on? Comment below to let me know!