Guide to the games of 2016

Action RPGs

Dark Souls 3

Developer: FromSoftware
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release date: April 12, 2016
Link: Official site

Dark Souls 3

Live in the UK and want to play Dark Souls 3 before release? Come along to the PC Gamer Weekender for hands-on sessions, the latest hardware and much more.

We don’t know too much about the third entry in Hidetaka Miyazaki’s disruptive series of unforgiving action RPG games. Most of the game is still shrouded in mystery, which is exactly how a Souls fan likes it. What we do know: combat is quicker (thanks, Bloodborne), more interconnected levels than DS2, and plenty of minute systemic changes to stats. Capped off with a slick visual upgrade and simultaneous PC release with the console versions, Dark Souls 3 is sounding like the perfect way to kill spring optimism.

Death's Gambit

Developer: White Rabbit
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Release date: TBA 2016
Link: Official site

Death s Gambit

Death’s Gambit has one hell of an immediate impression with its consequential combat and oppressive, intricate art direction. Besides exploring weathered timeworn landscapes and staving off intimidating foes, throughout the game, you’ll encounter giant monsters, climb them, and kill them (presumably). Whether or not the child of Castlevania, Shadow of the Colossus, and Dark Souls pulls it all off and establishes a unique identity remains to be seen, but we’re glad to be the guinea pigs.

Hyper Light Drifter

Developer: Heart Machine
Publisher: In-house
Release date: Spring 2016
Link: Official site

Hyper Light Drifter

A dreamy mix of Zelda, Studio Ghibli and gorgeous original art direction backing a fast-paced action RPG. Hyper Light Drifter seems to be the rare adventure that transcends its obvious influences rather than being pure homage, and finds that balance between delightful exploration and nuanced action. The designer of the lightning fast Samurai Gunn is on the team developing Hyper Light Drifter’s combat, which should give you a sense of its split-second brutality. Last time we got our hands on it, we described Hyper Light Drifter as “distilling design down to the good meth.” Very colorful, pretty meth.

Necropolis

Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publisher: In-house
Release date: TBD
Link: Official site

Necropolis

"Dark Souls" and “rougelike" are both thrown around when Necropolis crops up, but what really piques our interest are phrases like ‘learn to exploit a monster’s favorite food’. As a labyrinthine exploration game with a punishing third person combat system, wrapped up in a colorful low-poly aesthetic, Necropolis has us curious for answers. Let’s hope we can go digging this year.

Paradise Never

Developer: Kitty Lambda Games
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release date: TBD
Link: Official site

Paradise None

The official synopsis for Paradise Never is that it’s “an action RPG set on an island colony of France, during the Revolution of 2027.” There’s a lot to unpack there—but wait, there’s more. The revolution fails after three days. Each time you die, you return to the first day of the cycle, where you use the knowledge gained to make different choices to try and avert catastrophe. Throw in some super complex NPC interactions, punishment for fighting too often, and a procedurally generated world, and Paradise Never is looking like one of the most unique RPGs hitting in 2016 (hopefully).

Bombshell

Developer: Interceptor Entertainment
Publisher: 3D Realms
Release date: January 29, 2016
Link: Official site

Bombshell

Ah, what could have been. Originally designed as a Duke Nukem aRPG, Bombshell had to shift gears after the licensing battle went pear-shaped. Instead of a wisecracking, bigger-than-life Duke Nukem, the game features a wisecracking, bigger-than-life Shelly Harrison. At Quakecon, the action was fast and the controls were twitchy. We’re more than on-board with a sci-fi twist on the Diablo formula, no matter whose story we’re following.

Underworld Ascendant

Developer: OtherSide Entertainment
Publisher: OtherSide Entertainment
Release date: Nov. 2016
Link: Official site

Underworld Ascendent

Paul Neurath returns with his resurrection of Ultima Underworld, a first-person RPG set in the Stygian Abyss and backed by a set of intertwining systems. Changes you make to the environment will affect the world; the factions you ally yourself with will affect your story; physics-based puzzles in the environment can be solved in any number of ways. At least, that’s part of the pitch. Underworld Ascendant is a Kickstarter project still in its prototype phase, and like most Kickstarters, we may be waiting well past its projected delivery date.

Eitr

Developer: Eneme Entertainment
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site

Eitr

With a Dark Souls/Diablo feel and stellar pixel art and animation, we’re champing at the bit for the release of Eitr. The 2D isometric action game takes place in a dangerous Norse fantasy setting and has some interesting sounding features, like the ability to choose between leveling up from XP or trading it for powerful but impermanent perks.

The Technomancer

Developer: Spiders
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site

Technomancer

As a Technomancer, you’re a cross between wizard and a cybernetically enhanced warrior. This RPG from Spiders takes place on the planet Mars, which has descended into chaos after losing contact with Earth. Technomancer seems to have a little bit of everything: combat, stealth, loot, companions, and a crafting system for weapons and clothing. Oh, and there are massive alien insects.

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen 

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release date: Jan 15 2016
Link: Official site

Dragon s Dogma 1

This RPG was released on consoles a few years back to great critical acclaim, and now it’s coming to PC. It has all the hallmarks of a typical high fantasy RPG, but with a distinctly Japanese sense of humour and Dark Souls-esque combat. The coolest feature is being able to create companion characters called Pawns. Or, if you’d prefer, download other player’s pawns from the internet. See our hands-on preview for more information.

Update: It's out now! Here's our Dragon's Dogma review.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Developer: Warhorse
Publisher: Warhorse
Release date: Summer 2016
Link: Official site

Kingdom Come Deliverance

The worst thing about Kingdom Come: Deliverance is that we’ve been hearing about it since late 2013--practically forever when the game looks as nice as this. Deliverance is taking the idea of the open-world fantasy RPG and applying it to a real-world, historically based medieval setting. Without the dragons and elves swanning about the place, the world looks more potent and accessible. If the combat works, it might be the only game to really pull off first-person melee fights in an understandable and thoughtful way. Deliverance is one of the most ambitious games on this list, but if Warhorse pulls it off, we’ll be talking about it for years.

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr

Developer: Neocore Games
Publisher: Games Workshop
Release date: 2016
Link: Official site

Warhammer 40 000 Inquisitor Martyr

Yes, yes. It’s another Warhammer 40K game. For all the times we’ve stomped around as Space Marines, though, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr will be the first time we get to explore a single-player RPG in a world dripping (literally) with grimdark lore. As Jody argues, this makes Martyr a bit of a big deal. Martyr is an action RPG following an Inquisitor, which is sort of the Judge Dredd of the Warhammer universe: a wandering justice with the full power of judgement and execution. Martyr is going to be stacked high with righteous religious proclamations, pistols firing bullets the size of bricks, and wave after wave of corrupted baddies.

Lost Ark

Developer: Smilegate
Publisher: Tripod Studios
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site (in Korean)

Lost Ark

There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to Lost Ark, the Korean MMO/ARPG—we’re not even entirely certain it’ll have a release here in the West. But the footage we’ve seen of it certainly makes us hope so, filled with exciting Diablo-style combat and some absolutely mind-boggling attacks and moves that turn crowds of critters into pulp.

Hellblade

Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Ninja Theory
Release date: 2016
Link: Official Site

Hellblade 3

This is Ninja Theory's first indie outing after impressing with DmC. There are no quips or leather jackets here. Instead you play a Celtic warrior called Senua as she battles the demonic figments of her own psychosis. The Ninja Theory team is consulting with a Cambridge neuroscience expert to present a creative interpretation of mental illness. The voices Senua hears become spirits, and the monsters she encounters are foes augmented by imagined demonic qualities. You battle through Senua's personal hell with a great big sword in tense one-on-one battles.