Guide to the games of 2017

Action and FPS (out now)

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Tokyo 42

Release date: May 31, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: SMAC Games
Link: Official site

As the self-described “lovechild of Syndicate and GTA 1,” Tokyo 42 is a stylish sci-fi take on isometric open world mayhem. The camera takes a much higher perch than typical, turning your character into a tiny blip on the screen, but retains the arsenal and abilities you’d expect from a big budget open world romp.

In our review we gave Tokyo 42 a score of 69, calling it "an intricate, beautiful playground for some enjoyably open-ended assassinations."

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Release date: October 10, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Monolith Productions
Link: Steam page

A sequel to the surprisingly good 2014 orc slayer Shadow of Mordor that so far looks to be seriously expanding on the Nemesis system with a huge variety of stories and personalities for enemies and allies, with a new strategy layer on top of the open world combat and adventuring. We liked it, and still love the Nemesis system, but found the open world bloated and the story bland.

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

Release date: September 15, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Arkane Studios
Link: Official site  

This is not an expansion: it’s a standalone, budget-priced Dishonored game starring ex-Whalers lieutenant Billie Lurk. The best thing about playing as a new protagonist will be, of course, the new powers, and Billie appears to have some cool ones: for instance the ‘displace’ ability which allows movement through walls. We don’t know how substantial this outing will be compared to the main Dishonored games, but more time spent in this universe is welcome. It's not quite as great as Dishonored 2, but still a great addendum to this world.

Lawbreakers

Release date: August 7, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Boss Key
Link: Official site 

Boss Key's frenetic multiplayer FPS scored high marks in our review from shooter expert Evan Lahti. Evan wrote "LawBreakers succeeds as an FPS because it embraces and gives a middle finger to the last five years of FPS design... Nimble, graceful, and original, LawBreakers' movement sets it apart from other FPSes despite a few aesthetic weaknesses."

Lawbreakers has struggled to maintain an active playerbase, but it's a fun, challenging, high-skill shooter nonetheless.

Vanquish

Release date: May 25, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Platinum Games
Link: Steam page

The dream Sega port from last generation. Shinji Mikami's take on Gears of War finally gets its chance to shine on PC with unlocked framerate and resolution support. Combo a slide into a slow-mo shotgun blast to the face. Dodge a hundred missiles and punch a giant robot in the face. Defeat evil Space Russians. This is one hell of a third person shooter.

Friday the 13th: The Game 

Release date: May 26, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Gun Media
Link: Official site

Delayed a few months so the devs could include a single-player mode with bots, this asymmetrical multiplayer game pits one player—as the unstoppable movie slasher Jason Voorhees—against the rest, who play as campers at Crystal Lake, the one place everyone should know by now is not a great place to camp. Jason will enjoy all manner of brutal means to dispatch his prey, be it smashing their faces into a tree, impaling them on spikes, or just going hog-wild with a machete. Campers won’t be entirely helpless, however, and we’re promised that by working together it is in fact possible not to simply elude and survive, but to actually take Jason down.

We scored Friday the 13th a 75 in our review, saying "it needs more maps, but right now Friday the 13th is a gory game of hide-and-go-seek that’s fun with funny people."

The Signal From Tolva

Release date: April 10, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Big Robot Ltd
Link: Steam page

A first person shooter that's more about mystery and nuance than blasting away, as you take control of a robot on an alien planet and explore a smartly compact open world. As we said in our review, Tolva is "a lean, intelligent sci-fi shooter with a watchmaker’s eye for detail that knows its strengths and plays to them beautifully."

Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Release date: March 7, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Ubisoft Paris
Link: Official site 

Take a big open world, stuff it with 100 Far Cry-type outpost missions, and jump in with some co-op partners. Ghost Recon: Wildlands takes place in a Bolivian landmass where four players comprise a military taskforce sent to disrupt a drug cartel and the government it’s aligned with. While players may have a specific missions—whether it’s to steal some intel or kidnap an informant—how they choose to tackle it is up to them. Guns blazing? Stealth? Or, as often happens, failed stealth that leads to guns blazing?

The open world—the first in Ghost Recon’s ten-game history—promises diverse environments like mountains, forests, and deserts, explorable by ground vehicles, helicopters, and parachutes. The setting is close to modern day, so weapons and gear aren’t as futuristic as they have been in earlier Recon games. 

We had some fun with Wildlands, but as we wrote in our review, it's "not worth it as a solo adventure. In co-op, Wildlands is an enjoyable stealth romp that too often gets in its own way."

Prey

Release date: May 5, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Arkane
Link: Official site

New Prey has nothing to do with the old Prey, or Prey 2, which was cancelled back in 2014. Now in the hands of Arkane’s Austin studio, Prey is only familiar in name. Set in an alternate history where President Kennedy was never assassinated, the Soviets and the States continued their rivalry, until one took control of the Kletka Program, a space installation meant to control an alien threat. The project is eventually abandoned, and a corporation takes over (uh-oh), turning the station into “a cutting edge innovation center” called Talos 1. Big surprise, things don’t go well.

In our review, we found that "it's let down by lacklustre combat and some annoying enemy design, but Prey is still a compelling, beautiful immersive sim."

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Release date: August 7, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Ninja Theory
Link: Steam page

A new action game from the team behind Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and DMC. It's incredible looking, for starters, and takes place in...Viking hell? You're a Viking on a spirit quest, and that means swinging a sword at some very scary axe-wielding bad guys.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam

Release date: May 30, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Tripwire
Link: Official site

We loved the asymmetry of Rising Storm, the authenticity-focused WWII shooter we named our Multiplayer Game of the Year in 2013, and it's even more dramatic in the Vietnam-set sequel. The Americans are loud and fast, skimming the treetops with helicopters, while the Viet Cong spawn in squad tunnels, appearing behind capture points and ambushing LZs. More than being a good shot, strictly managed teamwork remains the key to success. Tyler tried his hand at both piloting helicopters and manning their guns, and found it nigh on impossible to hit anything without spotters and direction over comms.

The addition of modern, automatic weapons might be an even bigger shift for the series than helicopters, though, as part of the Red Orchestra and Rising Storm identity has been their demand for precision aiming with bolt-action and semi-auto weapons. But the quest for authenticity hasn’t changed here. Rising Storm 2: Vietnam’s guns aren’t easy to handle by any means, and scoring kills still sometimes means picking out specks on the horizon and taking cautious, well-planned shots. We scored Vietnam an 85 in our review.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Release date: March 23, 2017 (Out now in Early Access)
Developer: Bluehole, Inc.
Link: Steam page

The hit of the year, a refined version of the now-booming battle royale genre that started with Arma and continued in H1Z1. 100 players parachute into an expansive map and scramble for weapons as a killzone slowly constricts around them, narrowing the playfield until only one remains. As we wrote around release, "Battlegrounds isn't a simulation, but it retains plenty of Arma's spirit. Using your eyes to spot and track enemies is an essential skill, for example. When you see someone running across a field, there's this 'I know something you don't know' sensation—I can totally shoot this guy, he doesn't see me, you'll think. But like Arma and DayZ, it's usually not a matter of putting them under your crosshairs and jabbing the left mouse button. You want to wait until they're out in the open, when they're checking their inventory, when they're preoccupied and aloof. In these moments, I love the way Battlegrounds asks me to think critically and examine an enemy's body language, check which towns are nearby, or guess based on the state of the ever-changing safe zone what that enemy might do next."

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Release date: January 24, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Capcom
Link: Steam page

The spooks came early in 2017, with a first-person Resident Evil that we loved. "It’s a return to the atmospheric, slow-burning horror of the original, with a few nods to contemporary games like Alien: Isolation and Amnesia," wrote Andy in our review. Later, he elaborated on how the game saved a troubled series. 

Needless to say, Andy's a fan, as is the rest of PC Gamer. James also tried RE7 on PSVR and lamented the exclusivity deal that's currently preventing us from such a good (horrifying) VR experience on PC. It's a damn shame, as he said, but otherwise the PC version is in good shape—outside of its 90 fps cap and lack of ultrawide support.

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition

Release date: April 7, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: People Can Fly
Link: Steam page

A remaster of a wildly over-the-top, inventive FPS that asks you to electro-whip enemies into spike traps and explosions and your big-ass boot as often as you shoot them. It's still a blast if you missed it the first time around. The old version's cheap on Steam, while the new Full Clip edition includes remastered graphics and audio, a campaign mode that gives you every weapon from the start, and more levels for the score attack Echo mode. Oh, and you can play the whole campaign as Duke Nukem, with new dialogue that probably includes a lot of cuss words. We love Bulletstorm, but found this to be a pricey remaster.

Sniper Elite 4

Release date: February 14, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Link: Official Site

If you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day, no worries: you can spend your the romantic holiday shooting Nazis in the nuts. We got a look at Sniper Elite 4 during 2016’s GDC, and the World War II third-person sandbox shooter featured stealth, melee kills, and a whole lot of disturbingly graphic slow-motion x-ray sniper shots the series is famous for. Turns out it's "a hearty improvement on Sniper Elite 3 that embraces freeform play, gets better in co-op, and most importantly lets us shoot things from very far away," according to our review.

Strafe

Release date: May 9, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Pixel Titans
Link: Official site

Strafe is a deliberately antiquated FPS, borrowing from the bread and butter simplicity of Quake’s breakneck template. It’s not just a nostalgia trip, though: Strafe is also pulls from Rogue. In our review, we found that Strafe "skillfully recaptures the look and experience of a full-tilt twitch 1990s shooter while faltering at building upon its potential."

Desync

Release date: February 28, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: The Foregone Syndicate
Link: Steam page

Coated in the neon colour schemes of 1980s cyberpunk, Desync is among the most visually striking shooters you’re likely to see in 2017. Developed by Melbourne studio The Foregone Syndicate, Desync is a precision-oriented twitch shooter with a focus on performative gameplay: basically, it rewards you for pulling off kills in the most spectacular ways possible. The studio is also working on a bafflingly granular leaderboard system, incentivising stylish play. If you can imagine a strange meeting of Hotline Miami, Lovely Planet, and Quake, you’re close to how Desync plays out. Sadly, we thought it was a shooter with no heart.

Styx: Shards of Darkness

Release date: March 14 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Cyanide
Link: Official site

In the realm of fantasy-stealth-goblin games, Styx: Master of Shadows was one of the best. While sneaking, stealing, and assassinating to your little goblin heart’s content, expect to use a lot of potions to create controllable clones of yourself, set acid traps, and turn invisible. Plus, the fantasy setting and stark, fire-cast lighting looks excellent. We called it a satisfying stealth experience in our review.

Overkill’s The Walking Dead

Release date: Second half of 2018 (delayed)
Developer: Overkill (Obviously)
Link: Official site

We were really hoping to sink our decaying teeth into this new Walking Dead shooter made by Overkill, the folks behind Payday and Payday 2, in 2016. Some business things happened in an official business capacity (or something—we don’t really understand how business works), and Overkill’s Walking Dead got pushed to late 2017 to make time for a global release in Asian and Western markets.

Hopefully the delay and infusion of cash will help the game shine, because the last Walking Dead FPS we got was a total load of bum.

John Wick Chronicles

Release date: February 10, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Starbreeze Studios
Link: Steam page

It’s fitting that one of the first really interesting VR games for the HTC Vive is John Wick, a movie famous for looking like an FPS video game. John Wick Chronicles was timed to come out with the second John Wick movie. Sadly, it's not going to make you feel like Keanu.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3

Release date: January 27 2017 (Out now)
Developer: CI Games
Link: Official site

A modern military shooter sequel that blends the long-range marksmanship that you'd expect from the title with stealth and action approaches supported by lots of Clancy-style gadgets. Maps are large with lots of defensive positions to bypass, camps to raid, and security systems to manipulate.