Middle Earth: Shadow of War – October 10
I keep using this dumb Middle Earth: Shadow of More-dor joke to describe upcoming sequel Shadow of War ($60 on Amazon), but it’s not without merit—this is definitely a case of “Don’t mess with a winning formula.” Monolith has taken the Nemesis System and the open-world Mordor of the first game and expanded it in a million directions, but moment-to-moment it’s still...pretty much the same game as before. Which is to say, Lord of the Rings crossed with Assassin’s Creed.
The Nemesis System is still great though, giving you army after army of unique orcs to fight against, as well as customized strongholds that reflect their personalities. And for the lore buffs? It seems like Monolith’s taking many more liberties with the Lord of the Rings universe this time around—namely, Shelob can shed her spider skin and turn into a pale-skinned woman. Whether those changes are a good thing or not? Well, we’ll have to wait until October to find out.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole – October 17
South Park: The Fractured But Whole ($60 on Amazon) joins the same ignominious club as Cuphead, victim to delay after delay. Get this: We were originally supposed to see The Fractured But Whole last December. Now, nearly a year later, we’re closing in on its latest release date.
Hopefully the delay was worth the wait. It’s been a while (almost a year) since I put in any hands-on time with The Fractured But Whole, but what past-me played was excellent—a more varied, more complex version of its already-solid predecessor Stick of Truth, but with superheroes instead of swords and sorcery.
Best case scenario: Ubisoft delayed almost a year to pump out Nosulus Rifts for everyone. We can only hope.
Destiny 2 – October 24
After playing a bit of Destiny 2 ($60 on Amazon) during E3, I called it “one of the prettiest PC games ever.” I know—I was surprised too. After all, this is Bungie, a studio that hasn’t actually released a game on PC since Halo 2.
It’s brilliant looking though, especially running at 4K. And it plays surprisingly well. I wasn’t sure what to expect, given how console-oriented the original Destiny was, but guns feel powerful, kills feel snappy, and there’s a momentum to its action that I really enjoyed. This is how you blend a shooter and an RPG— not The Division.
Unfortunately the PC version of Destiny 2 releases about a month after the consoles, so you’ll have to be a bit more patient if you want to hold out for the prettiest version. You’ll get to test it out first though—there’s a beta scheduled for August 29. Keep an eye out.
Assassin’s Creed Origins – October 27
Okay, I’ll say it: I expected Assassin’s Creed Origins ($60 on Amazon) to be a lot more imaginative for 2017. After taking a year off from the grind and reworking Assassin’s Creed from the ground up, I expected...well, something. Instead, what I played at E3 feels quite a lot like old Assassin’s Creed, but in a different era and with a larger map.
Maybe that’s enough, though. Ptolemaic Egypt is at least an interesting setting, and a reworked combat system at least promises to be interesting for people who prefer to fight their way through Assassin’s Creed games instead of proceeding stealthily. And hey—maybe there are more surprises we haven’t heard about yet. Here’s hoping.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – October 27
If Divinity II isn’t my most anticipated (or, heaven forbid, it turns out to be terrible) then Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus ($60 on Amazon) takes the award. Its 2014 predecessor, Wolfenstein: The New Order ($20 on Amazon), is one of my favorite shooters of the past decade and pretty high on the list of my favorite games, period—a near-perfect blend of dumb ‘90s-style shooting with Escape From Butcher Bay-esque stealth sequences. And that blend makes perfect sense once you find out that a lot of Butcher Bay alums worked on this new-era Wolfenstein.
Wolfenstein II seems like it might recapture the same magic, bringing the Nazi threat to a conquered America, continuing with its alt-history into the 1970s, and with an opening level that features longtime protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz slaughtering Nazis in a wheelchair. Get this: Every time you fire your weapon, the recoil pushes your wheelchair back.
Those small details and creative scenarios are what I love about Wolfenstein, and while I generally try to avoid hype I’m finding it difficult to be blasé about The New Colossus.
Call of Duty: WWII – November 3
Back to World War II. After running the modern warfare setting into the ground, then churning out a few years of bad-to-decent science fiction stories, Call of Duty is finally returning to the setting that started it all in Call of Duty: WWII ($60 on Amazon).
And you know what? I can’t wait. I’m unabashedly excited. Yes, it’s still Call of Duty. Yes, we’re probably in for a theme park version of World War II, hitting the same old Normandy-centric sights we’ve seen in World War II games since the Medal of Honor days.
But it’s been almost a decade since we had a big-budget World War II game. Played any 2007 games lately? Technology’s changed a lot in the ensuing years, and I can’t wait to see the D-Day landings done up with all the bells and whistles of a modern engine and hardware. Call of Duty is pure popcorn entertainment at this point, but that’s fine with me.
Star Wars Battlefront II – November 17
Will Star Wars Battlefront II ($60 on Amazon) be any good? Hard to say, but what I saw of it at E3 indicates at least one truth: This is the game DICE should’ve made two years ago. Forget the last half-finished Star Wars Battlefront. This is the true Battlefront II successor.
Space battles? Check. An actual single-player campaign? Check. Class system? Check. Maps spanning the entirety of the Star Wars canon? Check, check, check. With a script penned by Spec Ops: The Line writer Walt Williams and a vastly expanded scope, Battlefront II looks like it could finally win over fans of the 2005 Battlefront II (still confusing) and give EA a much-needed win for the year.