Out with the old and in with the games that got delayed into 2017
We’ve already rounded up the best PC games of 2016, plus the year’s overlooked gems, and now with ol’ Father Time officially dead and reborn as a beautiful, flaming phoenix or whatever, it’s time we turn our attention to 2017.
From spring to fall, from games delayed past 2016 to those that’ll probably be delayed into 2018, from jumping lizards to LucasArts revivals to grog-swilling pirates, here are the 2017 releases we’re most pumped about.
Thimbleweed Park - January
Equated with “finding an undiscovered LucasArts adventure game,” Thimbleweed Park is Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick, and Co. making a Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick, and Co. SCUMM-style adventure game, complete with a grid of nine verbs in the lower left corner.
Yes, it’s the return of the ol’ “Give [BLANK] to [BLANK]” structure. Archaic? Sure—but also really humorous. Get ready to try and open chainsaws, push random civilians, and experience the mayhem that accompanies a point-and-click without contextual commands.
And if none of this makes any sense? Well, maybe you should go play The Secret of Monkey Island, because Thimbleweed Park is about as PC-centric as PC gaming gets in 2017.
For Honor - February 14
There are some aspects of For Honor that have me worried—namely, a lack of dedicated multiplayer servers. For a game of this budget, in 2017, that’s unacceptable, and I can’t believe it’s Ubisoft doing this, of all studios. After the Rainbow Six Siege server controversy, I thought some lessons would be learned.
It’d be a shame if that’s what ends up killing For Honor. Its sword-and-board combat, like Chivalry but slower and more tactical, makes for a unique and exhilarating player-versus-player experience. I can’t say the same of its campaign. Despite the bizarre Vikings-vs.-Knights-vs.-Samurai setup, what I’ve played so far felt pretty rote. But For Honor has the potential to be a hit multiplayer game... provided Ubisoft supports it properly.
Torment: Tides of Numenera - February 28
When we’re talking “best CRPG of all time,” it typically comes back to two games, Baldur’s Gate II and Planescape: Torment. So a follow-up to Planescape? Yeah, some big shoes.
But InXile did a wonderful job with Wasteland 2, PCWorld’s 2014 Game of the Year, and what I’ve seen of Tides of Numenera looks gloriously weird. Like, “You can enter someone’s past and change it, with the effects rippling into reality” or “Talk to ghosts inside your own brain” weird. Also there’s an entire city contained within a giant slug-beast known as The Bloom.
Even better: InXile borrowed the Pillars of Eternity engine for Torment, meaning it mostly matches the painterly style of the original Infinity Engine games. This one goes right at the top of my most-anticipated list.
Mass Effect: Andromeda - March
Can you believe it? A new Mass Effect releases in March and we’ve barely seen any of it—maybe 10 seconds of actual game footage so far, mixed in with a handful of cinematics.
But that hasn’t stopped the hype train. Jumping 600 years into the future and heading to the ends of the universe, Andromeda abandons the tale of Commander Shepard to start a whole new story. Oh, and it seems like they’re bringing back the original game’s Mako exploration. Surprise!
Even though the last standalone BioWare release was 2014’s good-but-not-great Dragon Age: Inquisition, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more universally anticipated release for 2017.
Yooka-Laylee - March
Yooka-Laylee is a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, created by many members of the original Banjo-Kazooie team, except the bear is a chameleon and the bird is a bat.
So, like, Banjo-Kazooie crossed with Gex.
Nineties references aside, Yooka-Laylee seems like an excellent throwback to the mascot-based platformers of that era. It’s bright, it’s colorful, and it just looks fun. Side note: It’s also one of the last big Kickstarter games. Fingers crossed it satisfies everyone’s nostalgia.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole - Q1, 2017
Another game that got hit with a last-minute delay, South Park: The Fractured But Whole abandons its predecessor’s fantasy tropes as the kids move on from swords to off-brand superheroes like Mysterion, Human Kite, and Toolshed.
It looks excellent, like the first game but with a livelier city and more tactical combat. The only downside? Ubisoft won’t actually be selling the Nosulus Rift fart simulator it demoed at PAX, so you’ll have to provide your own flatulence for full immersion.
Outlast 2 - Q1, 2017
Yet another one that fell prey to the last-minute delay machine, I originally thought we’d be playing Outlast 2 around Halloween 2016. Alas, it was not to be, and so this Children of the Corn-style rural horror game slipped to early 2017.
It seems great though. Outlast is one of the only games I’ve seen successfully capture the helplessness of Frictional’s horror output (Amnesia, Penumbra), and from what I’ve played this successor appears to be more of that, but hunted by a literal pitchfork-wielding mob.
Sea of Thieves - 2017
After years of thinking, “I wonder what Rare’s up to” and the answer being Kinect Sports or something, Microsoft’s finally making use of the studio to do something cool. Sea of Thieves won my heart at E3 2016, as a few friends and I steered our ramshackle pirate ship through the seas, drinking grog and firing off cannons and playing “Ride of the Valkyries” on accordion. Every role on the ship has to be filled by an actual player, leading to all kinds of emergent craziness.
Now this is an MMO I could get into.
Worlds Adrift - 2017
I’ve been seeing Worlds Adrift for going on two years now, and I still don’t quite know what to make of it. A massive physics-based MMO from the makers of Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread, Worlds Adrift takes a decidedly more serious approach, with players exploring a vast network of floating islands on flying vessels cobbled together from boards and scraps of metal. Like Sea of Thieves, but in the air.
I was intrigued even before Bossa added a custom ship-building option; now I’m doubly so—and I don’t typically like crafting-centric games. A last-minute delay pushed this one into 2017, but hopefully the wait won’t be much longer.
Divinity: Original Sin II - 2017
Divinity: Original Sin II is slated for a 2017 release. I’m not sure I believe it—the game’s so damn ambitious—but we might as well take Larian’s word for it until we hear otherwise.
The follow-up to 2014’s surprise hit CRPG, Original Sin II expands on the emergent, systems-driven wackiness that made the first one such a joy to play. Talk to dead people, design your own ridiculous spells, play as an exiled lizard king—there’s a lot to love, even in the short Early Access build released earlier this year. And hey, maybe this one’ll have a decent story too. That’d be a definite improvement.
Pyre - 2017
Supergiant puts out quality games. That’s all I need to know to look forward to Pyre. No, I wasn’t as big a fan of Transistor as I was of Bastion, but that’s not to say Transistor was a bad game—not at all. It’s wonderful, but Bastion’s just that excellent.
So Supergiant is two for two, and Pyre looks like the studio’s most ambitious game yet. It’s described as a “party-based RPG,” but this is no Pillars of Eternity. Combat instead plays out almost like a football match, with you trying to get a golden orb into your enemy’s base. Then in between these matches there are lengthy stretches of visual novel-style dialogue.
It’s an interesting change from Bastion and Transistor, and I’m curious to see how it works out.
Endless Space 2 - 2017
Amplitude took me by surprise in 2014. Rarely these days do we see a 4X game as unique and genre-pushing as Endless Legend, and then Dungeons of the Endless—Amplitude’s “side project” for that year—ended up as one of 2014’s best tactics games.
Point being, my expectations are pretty high when it comes to Endless Space 2. The original Endless Space was nothing special, but its sequel looks to fold in many of Endless Legend’s best systems, simplify everything with a gorgeous and minimalist interface, and create something a bit more memorable. Here’s hoping.
Cuphead - 2017
I’m feeling a bit nervous about Cuphead these days. On our list of most-anticipated games last year and originally intended to be a straight-ahead boss rush, the game’s developers instead spent 2016 fleshing it out and adding some platforming sections. Is it an improvement? We’ll see.
But the core of the game, the aspect that drew people to begin with, is still intact: Those beautiful 1920s Max Fleischer-style cartoon graphics. Cuphead looks gorgeous as ever. Hopefully we get our hands on the full experience in 2017.
Star Wars Battlefront II - Fall 2017
Okay, so EA’s first stab at Star Wars Battlefront was underwhelming. “No space battles!” quickly became the complaint people rallied around, but even overlooking that, Battlefront felt like half a game at launch.
I’m hoping lessons were learned though, as we gear up for yet another. I’d like to see space battles, sure, but more than that I’d like to see a proper campaign—hopefully one that draws on what DICE did with Battlefield 1’s excellent vignettes. Or even just one that draws on what the original Battlefront 2 did a decade ago.