Guide to the games of 2016

Action and stealth

Dishonored 2

Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release date: Spring 2016
Links: Official site / Amazon

Dishonored 2 robots

The return of Arkane’s clockwork punk stab-’em-up might just be the most exciting thing about 2016. There’s been so little new info about Dishonored 2 beyond what we discovered from its CG trailer reveal that it’s easy to forget it’s happening at all. This time you’ll be able to play as either returning hero Corvo Attano or the more fragrant Emily Kaldwin, who’ll have a bespoke set of supernatural powers. It’ll be interesting to see what the art team, led by the brilliant Raphaël Colantonio, gains from the switch to Bethesda’s id tech 6-powered “Void” engine. There’s also talk of a sterner challenge, though given the lack of noise otherwise, a delay feels fairly likely.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

Developer: DICE
Publisher: EA
Release date: May 24
Link: Official site / Amazon

Mirror s Edge 2

Much like Dishonored 2, here’s another returning parkour-flavoured, open world-ish game in which the protagonist must triumph against the backcloth of a beautifully drawn dystopia. Catalyst is a reboot rather than sequel though, with notable changes including more freedom to explore the city (which is called, in a victory for nominative determinism, “Glass”) and the removal of any player-controlled firearms. Much will depend on whether DICE has been able to get the combat to feel right, but that system has apparently been a key focus. Certainly the first gameplay trailer certainly looks promising enough, even if the inevitable deluge of Faith-based puns remains a serious misgiving.

Hitman

Developer: Io Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: March 11
Link: Official site / Amazon

Hitman3

Having been delayed into 2016, the PC beta of Agent 47 prequel-come-reboot will go live on February 19, followed by a full release the month after. Given the disappointment over Absolution, much will hinge on how this new Hitman’s intriguing approach to mission structure plays out. Levels are said to be more sandboxy, and much bigger than those of their predecessor. Most interesting is the suggestion that some contracts will be time limited, and the release of the complete set of missions will be staggered following the base game’s release. It’ll likely either be a bold new dawn for how action games get made, or next year’s first fan uprising.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: August 23, 2016
Link: Official site / Amazon

Deus Ex Mankind Divided

Adam Jensen returns for another cyberpunk adventure in the near(ish) future. Mankind Divided is set two years after the events of Human Revolution. Augmented citizens now form an unruly underclass, oppressed by governments terrified of their abilities. Jensen, now working for interpol, is on a mission to confront the conspirators responsible for the world’s ills. New high-tech abilities will help, giving Jensen more ways to tackle Deus Ex’ open-ended challenges. Tom loved it when he played it, and you can see the game in action in this 25 minutes of in-game footage.

Mafia 3

Developer: Hangar 13
Publisher: 2K Games
Release date: 2016
Link: Official site / Amazon

Mafia 3

The third entry in this series of open world crime games is set in New Orleans, in 1968. As Vietnam-vet-turned-gangster, Lincoln Clay, you’re on a mission to cleanse the streets of the ruling Italian Mafia. Previously Mafia’s cities have tended to form backdrops to a linear series of story missions, a la LA Noire, but Hangar 13 promises that New Orleans will be a “true open world”. We’ll have to wait and see what that means exactly, but Phil was impressed by the setting in our Mafia 3 first look.

Everspace

Developer: Rockfish Games
Publisher: Rockfish Games
Release date: TBA
Link: Official site

Everspace

A gorgeous roguelike space dogfighting game, Everspace raised hundreds of thousands of dollars on Kickstarter thanks to just a few videos. But wow, just look at it. The devs hope space mining and a non-linear story will add depth and a bit of longevity, but the focus is on pretty satisfying arcade shooting and a loot system that lets you upgrade your ship between runs. “Every time you die you are going to be rewarded”, claims Rockfish on the Everspace site.

Ghost Song

Developer: Old Moon Games
Publisher: Old Moon Games
Release date: TBA, “likely late Q1 2016”
Link: Official site

Ghost Song

Developer Matt White cites an “infatuation with Super Metroid” as a key motivation for making Ghost Song, and you can see that immediately in the first in-game footage. Dark Souls and Phantasy Star Online provide further influences in a wonderfully moody Metroidvania game with satisfying, crunchy weapons. White promises that the game will be full of secrets, including optional abilities and a pet that evolves when you feed it.

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers

Developer: Traveller’s Tales, Marvel
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release date: January 26, 2016
Link: Official Site

Lego Marvel Avengers

Be careful yelling “Avengers Assemble” because you could wind up with a major traffic jam—there will be over two-hundred playable characters, including those from the Avengers movies, comics, and the previous LEGO Marvel game. The plot of the action-adventure, which will include two-player co-op, is also drawn from Marvel’s Avengers, Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America films.

Descent: Underground

Developer: Descendant Studios Inc.
Publisher: Descendant Studios Inc.
Release date: March, 2016
Link: Official Site

Descent Underground

After a successful Kickstarter campaign and a stint in Early Access, this prequel to 1994’s Descent is a single- and multiplayer FPS in which you fly and fight ships in subterranean labyrinths. It’s being made by Descendant Studios, which was formed by several former developers of Star Citizen, and includes music by Dan Wentz who scored the original game. It’s also planning to support Oculus Rift VR.

Friday the 13th: The Game

Developer: Gun Media
Publisher: Gun Media
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site

Friday the 13th

Originally titled Summer Camp, developer Gun Media acquired the license to the Friday the 13th franchise and launched a successful Kickstarter. This asymmetrical multiplayer game will cast one player as the iconic killing machine Jason Vorhees and up to six others as helpless campers trying to survive the night at Crystal Lake. Only by working together will the campers stand a chance.

Far Cry Primal

Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release date: March 1, 2016
Link: Official Site / Amazon

Far Cry Primal

Far Cry Primal marks a big departure for a Ubisoft series that had begun to feel a bit cookie-cutter. Primal’s Stone Age setting means bows instead of guns, and no vehicles (apart from hitching a ride on a passing mammoth, we presume). As you battle hostile tribes and survive a harsh environment, you’ll be able to tame animals like wolves and saber-toothed cats to sic them on your tribe’s foes. You can also use an owl as binoculars, sorta, as we discovered when we had a little hands-on time with it.

Update: It's out now! Here's our Far Cry Primal review.

Resident Evil Zero HD

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release date: January 22, 2016
Link: Official site

Resident Evil Zero HD

Return to the beginning before the other beginning (again) in Resident Evil Zero HD. Following in the shambling footsteps of the excellent Resident Evil HD, Zero isn’t as beloved a game, but will find a second life on PC with better textures, widescreen support, and simpler control schemes. Whether or not an HD upgrade will also upgrade our feelings for the game remains to be seen, but at least it’s looking slick.

Update: It's out now! Here's our Resident Evil Zero HD review.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: Q1 2016
Link: Official site / Amazon

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Arguably, the Tomb Raider hasn’t risen quite yet. Buried under Xbox One exclusivity and Fallout 4’s release, Rise of the Tomb Raider was loved by critics, but eluded public consciousness. Things might change with the impending PC release. The 2013 reboot was a lovely PC game, wrapping in thrilling platforming segments with hectic combat scenarios, while giving Lara agency and depth—it also looked amazing on a good PC. If Rise throws in what it already reportedly has—better supporting characters and more actual tomb raiding—then it’s bound to be a must have PC game in 2016.

Update: It's out now! Here's our Rise of the Tomb Raider review.

We Happy Few

Developer: Compulsion Games
Publisher: Compulsion Games
Release date: June 2016
Link: Official site

We happy few

On the official website for We Happy Few, ‘Suspicion and Joy’ is listed as a prominent feature set. Joy, because you play as someone walking amidst the eternally beaming, grinning citizenry of Wellington Wells, a town in retrofuturistic 1960’s England. Suspicion, because those grinning citizens are super super high on a government mandated drug, and it’s up to you to help lead a resistance movement out of there. Posited as a stealth survival game with permadeath, We Happy Few look set to make more than a few people happy in 2016.

Dead Island 2

Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: 2016
Link: Official site

Dead Island 2

We’ve been excited about a return to the bat-swinging, zombie-smacking world of Dead Island since the olden days of 2014. Back then, Spec Ops: The Line developer Yager was making Dead Island 2 a huge, 8-person co-op adventure through zombified California. Sadly, 2015 was not kind to Yager or Dead Island 2. First, a delay to 2016 was announced. Then, Yager was suddenly kicked off the project due to conflicting visions for the game. Since late summer, it’s been radio silence from publisher Deep Silver. The official site hasn’t been updated since winter 2014, and Dead Island 2’s Steam page still lists Yager as the developer. Will we ever get to attach an electrified saw blade to a kayak paddle and whack a corpse with it? Here’s hoping.

Styx: Shards of Darkness

Developer: Cyanide Studios
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release date: 2016
Link: Official site

Styxx

Styx: Master of Shadows was a pretty fun stealth game, probably overlooked by too many. The combat wasn’t great, but if you’re the type to avoid it anyway, there’s some quality lurking to be had. Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide Studios say they were so happy with the reception, the sequel—which has been in development for about six months—has a bigger budget and more ambition. It’s moving to Unreal Engine 4, and the dev says Shards of Darkness represents a “nimble, more refined” Styx. There’s no release date, but it’s been announced for 2016.

Sea of Thieves

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Microsoft
Release date: 2016
Link: Official site

Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves was announced back at E3 2015—with the quiet note that it would be coming to PC as well as Xbox One—and yet we still don’t know a great deal about it. It’s a multiplayer pirate game, and judging from the trailer, it’ll see gangs of players team up to hunt treasure, fight skeletons, and crew ships. It looks like you can even make your friends walk the plank, leaving them to die by shark and sent to Davy Jones’ locker—a pretty grizzly way to go in one of Rare’s beaming, cartoon-colored worlds. However it all works, the concept is certainly agreeable.

Chasm

Developer: Discord Games
Publisher: Discord Games
Release date: 2016
Link: Official site

Chasm

One of the first wave of Metroidvanias to hit Kickstarter a few years ago, Chasm has been a long time coming. While it’s closing in on two years past its projected release date, the developers have been chugging away and keeping their fans updated. Chasm’s exciting trick, if it successfully pulls it off, is merging procedural generation with the satisfying handcrafted feel of great platformers like Super Metroid, which remain fun to backtrack through even after a dozen hours. Some of the game’s Kickstarter updates have touched on how challenging that’s been to develop. The devs are now saying it’s done when it’s done, but we hope to get our hands on it in 2016.

Dead Rising 4

Developer: Capcom Vancouver
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release date: December 6, 2016
Link: Trailer

A merry Christmas spin on Dead Rising 1, expanded and improved, and with the questionable addition of a selfie stick. Hopefully you can electrify it. The trailer might shout about Xbox, but this one's confirmed for PC.