Guide to the games of 2017

Fighting and brawlers

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Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Release date: September 2017
Developer: Capcom
Link: Steam page

Capcom's got a new fighting game on the docket for 2017, and its character roster is clearly being tuned towards Marvel's slate of films. Infinite incorporates the Infinity Stones in some way, likely as a replacement for MvC3's "X Factor" power-up, and it'll likely star most of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy instead of the X-Men. The big question, though: Will any of those Hollywood hotshots show up to voice their characters? Our money's on Vin Diesel showing up to drop a quick "Groot!"

Tekken 7

Release date: June 1, 2017
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
Link: Official site

Heihachi and pals come together to crush each other with lightning fists and hefty combos in Tekken’s first outing on PC. If you’re unfamiliar with this long-running series, it’s a pleasingly rhythmic and relatively accessible 3D beat-’em-up with an odd cast of martial artists. There’s King—the wrestler with the head of a tiger (is it just a mask, or is it real?) and Panda the panda. It it matches up to previous games in the series it could be a good counterpoint to the strict, high-skill brawlers such as Street Fighter V.

Absolver

Release date: 2017
Developer: Sloclap
Link: Official Site

Even if you’re not a fan of fighting games, Absolver is sure you raise your eyebrows. The online third-person melee brawler from Sloclap and Devolver Digital features customizable movesets and both PvP and PvE combat. Our hands-on time with it left us impressed with its precise controls and challenging AI, and its art style is fantastic is as well. We haven’t heard a solid release date yet, and the trailer hints it might come to PS4 first so prepare for a delay before it launches on PC.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare

Release date: May 23, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Torn Banner Studios
Link: Official site

This spiritual successor to the Chivalry games is a colourful game of class-based melee combat with an Arabian Nights theme. Chivalry's melee combat model is expanded to include new movement abilities and magic, but rest assured that there's still a tremendous amount of screaming. All of the time.

Nidhogg 2

Release date: 2017
Developer: Messhof
Link: Steam page

The original Nidhogg is a phenomenal two-player multiplayer dueling game, a frantic hyperviolent scramble across a 2D plane that can make or break friendships depending on how happy you are to have fencing swords thrown at your head with regularity. This sequel retains that core concept but it expands it to include new weapons and a load of new arenas. The all-new art style—a tribute to 90s grossout cartoons and claymation—has been a little divisive, but it certainly captures the anarchic spirit of the original. Plus, lots of screaming naked dudes.

Tonight We Riot

Release date: 2017
Developer: Pixel Pushers Union 512
Link: Steam page

Take a classic arcade street brawler like Streets of Rage and wrap it in a working-class manifesto, you’ve got yourself Tonight We Riot. The brilliant thing about Pixel Pushers Union 512’s brawler is that you don’t control a single fighter, you control a mob of little workers. It’s like Nintendo’s Pikmin all rose up to demand better wages and threaten you with molotov cocktails.

Them's Fightin' Herds

Release date: 2017
Developer: Mane 6
Link: Official site

Aside from the delightful pun, Them’s Fightin’ Herds has a lot more color and hand-drawn personality than most fighting games. The roster is populated entirely by female ungulates—that’s animals in the family of horses, deer, cows, etc.—which makes sense since it began as a My Little Pony fan project called Fighting Is Magic. After the lawyers got involved, the focus changed somewhat.

Bayonetta

Release date: April 11, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Platinum Games
Link: Steam page

One of the best Japanese action games of all time and the worthy heir to Devil May Cry got a surprise PC port this year. Its combo-heavy combat hasn't aged much since 2009. We called it the "essential hack-'n-slash" in our review.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

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

It's Mahvel baby. Pringles! Okay, now that we've exhausted our knowledge of Marvel vs. Capcom memes, here's a bit of a surprise: not only is there a new MvC on the way, but the last one is getting an HD reshine and a PC release. Capcom's most ridiculous fighter is so combo heavy you stand a good chance of being air juggled into oblivion, but the character roster is so much fun it's hard to complain. The big names like Ryu and Wolverine and Captain America are here, of course, but why play them when you can hand out objections as Phoenix Wright or show off your heart boxers as Ghouls 'n Ghosts' Arthur?

For Honor

Release date: February 14, 2017 (Out now)
Developer: Ubisoft
Link: Official site

Ubisoft's swordfighting game aims for the simpler side of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, but simple doesn't mean bad. What we've played of For Honor so far has mostly been tense and exciting, though it may be better suited to its team battles than 1-on-1 duels. Combat is mostly about timing and attacking from left, right, and up stances, with blocking and countering contingent upon quickly anticipating and matching your opponent's stance. Multiplayer outside duels and the single-player campaign feature extra abilities to add another layer to combat. In our review, we called it a "tense, tactical medieval brawler that will reward anyone with the patience and will to master it."