Every month, I ask our team: what are you most excited about right now, and why?
Perhaps more than ever in PC Gamer’s 23-year history, it’s our job to help you keep tabs on what’s worth your time on money. 2,600 games have released so far this year on Steam alone, and more than 3,000 in 2015. An average of 11 games per day is a lot to keep up with, not including stuff releasing on Itch.io, GOG, or the other storefronts we have access to on PC.
Release date: November 17
The theme park management aspects of Planet Coaster—which I assume involve accruing churro cart capital—don’t excite me much, but sculpting and designing a park and building weird and dumb and impossible roller coasters is well up my alley. The videos coming out of the alpha (not including the man screaming in the corner) look to cover all the things I want: a clean interface with efficient building tools and the ability to make unreasonably tall and dangerous roller coasters. I’m skeptical of any game with a ‘price matrix’—the early alpha ultimate backer’s edition stuff is a bit out of hand across all games—but I’m pleased that Planet Coaster’s standard edition is a reasonable $30. —Tyler
Release date: Early 2017
Developer: Platinum Games
Nier is one of the strangest games I’ve played: an action RPG with mediocre combat and a brutally downbeat story that nevertheless compelled me to finish it three times. Each subsequent playthrough (which goes by much more quickly than the first) unlocks another perspective on the story. I didn’t find it quite as touching as I was led to expect by Nier’s cult fans, but I can definitely say I’ve never played a game quite like Nier. So I’m really pleased to see that its semi-sequel is coming to PC courtesy of Platinum Games, who should hopefully polish up the first’s mediocre combat and leave series creator Taro Yoko to do his weird thing. There likely won’t be a stranger game released in 2017. —Wes
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Release date: Late 2016/Early 2017
Developer: Larian Studios
Larian came by our office to show off Divinity: Original Sin 2 and sit in on The PC Gamer Show, and just talking about their work on the game reminded me that it’s the most exciting cRPG on the horizon. Larian has made huge upgrades to its engine since Original Sin and massively increased its emphasis on writing, with a team of eight writers (including Chris Avellone!) churning out an ungodly quantity of dialogue. Original Sin 2’s dialogue is meant to play out completely differently based on your characters’ race and traits, and if you have a couple very distinct characters in your party, the possible permutations are staggering. The overhauls to the combat system, too, seem like they’ll offer more choice and more interactivity. I’m honestly worried about how much time I’ll spend playing this game if both the story and the combat are even better this time around. —Wes
The Fall Part 2: Unbound
Release date: Q1 2017
Developer: Over The Moon Games
The Fall Part 1 ends with a twist that reframes the entire three-hour runtime in a way that left me queasy. Not because it’s gross, but because I suddenly had to redefine my character, their motives, and what I’d done in such a way that made me feel baseline ok. I still don’t. Which is why I’m looking forward to The Fall Part 2: Unbound, due early next year. To catch you up, The Fall is a side-scrolling sci-fi adventure game in which you play as ARID, the artificial intelligence built into a high-tech combat suit. Upon crashing on a mysterious planet, the suit’s pilot is knocked unconscious, and ARID’s prime directive kicks in. You can’t let them die. Problem is, in order to progress, you have solve puzzles that subvert ARID’s protocols. It’s a slow burn story about consciousness with some genuinely clever puzzles.
Part 2 continues the story, but promises even more “weird shit” to discover. And because of Part 1’s ending (trying to avoid spoilers), the mechanics have potential to change wildly too. Otherwise, the controls are reportedly much better, combat has been given an overhaul, and the “metroidvania” aspects have been brought to the foreground. Part 2 sounds like a hefty middle chapter in a trilogy already off to an excellent start. I’m excited (and nervous) to see where it goes next. —James
Release date: Q4 2017-Q2 2018
Developer: Bouncyrock Entertainment
As someone with a self-diagnosed dice problem, this gif shook my very core.
Doing GIF as well. Why not. #TaleSpire #gamedev #RPG #Tabletop pic.twitter.com/nUgmwxNOE3April 14, 2016
I’d never seen such beautiful lighting and physics on virtual tabletop pieces, and I had to know more. TaleSpire, as it turns out, is the a part-time project by a three-person team called Bouncyrock Entertainment. A forum post from earlier this year describes TaleSpire as less a standalone game, and more of a “digital role-playing system” that players will be able to create their own campaigns in. “We're automating some of the rules and processes,” the post reads, “aiming to keep downtime to a minimum while still allowing the DM and players to make decisions along the way to create whatever narrative they aspire to.”
While there’s plenty of tabletop game software available, none that I’ve seen have the kind of atmosphere and physicality that TaleSpire, which is built on Unity, seems to. Jonny Ree, project lead, told me that although TaleSpire will have its own rules system, the team is looking into the possibility of including D&D 5th Edition rules through an open game license. Ree also says that the team would like TaleSpire to be a foundation for single-player adventures, if possible. “Creating worlds and stories is why we're making this,” he says.
Although TaleSpire is a ways off from completion, Ree says that he expects to be bringing players into an early version of the game to help them steer the direction of the project. —Evan
A few weeks ago we saw some encouraging super-early gameplay footage for BattleTech. Something that excited me about that video was the terrain: Harebrained Schemes doesn’t seem to be handing us a gridded game board with some decoration on it, but a higher-fidelity map with lots of fine details in elevation and foliage, stuff that will hopefully have tactical impact. Harebrained’s plan to “make light mechs really useful” seems to be working out, too: the design of the game’s initiative systems allows you to ‘reserve’ turns for all but the heaviest mechs on the battlefield, allowing you to create situations where lighter mechs can outmaneuver larger enemies by acting twice in a row.
It's built on Unity, and with BattleTech (and MechWarrior) creator Jordan Wiesman at the helm, along with the creative director of Shadowrun Returns and a producer from the wonderful MechCommander series, BattleTech seems to be in good hands. —Evan
Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord
Release date: 2017
Developer: TaleWorlds Entertainment
The original Mount & Blade is charming, clunky medieval sandbox game that hasn’t aged particularly well, but it also epitomizes some of PC gaming’s most important values: openness, self-authored storytelling, systems-driven gameplay, and scale. Its sequel, Bannerlord, is finally giving the series a substantial technical upgrade, adding physics, fire propagation, weapon customization, and a number of other systems that will raise its visual fidelity and add some tactical depth. For example, when you put an arrow into a castle defender who’s about to hurl a jar of flaming oil at you, not only will he tumble elegantly from the battlement, crumpling into a pile of ragdolling bones, but physics might dictate that his jug of fire slips in just the right way to catch one of your pikemen right in the face.
Bannerlord will be playable in some form this year, but the final game is expected in 2017, says Turkish developer TaleWorlds. Here's the most recent video, showing the defensive side of a siege. —Evan
Release date: September 13
Developer: Armature Studio
I’ve been a PC gamer for as long as I can remember, but every now and then I see console games I’d like to play. I’ve completely missed playing the Metroid and Mega Man series, for example, but come next month I may be able to have a similar experience on my PC.
Headed up by Keiji Inafune (of Mega Man fame) and many of those involved with Metroid Prime, ReCore is being published by Microsoft Studios. The big news is that it will be an exclusive Xbox One and Windows 10 launch, which is something Microsoft is apparently planning for all their future Xbox release. (I’ll believe that when I see it.) I’m not keen on the Windows Store business for a variety of reasons, but if it means simultaneous launches on Xbox and PC, that’s at least a step in the right direction.
As for the game, it’s got a platformer vibe with shades of Borderlands, which isn’t too surprising considering developers Armature worked on some Borderlands content in the past. The latest video from Gamescom looks promising, with the ability to shift a power ‘core’ between various robot types to enable different abilities. My main concern is whether the gameplay will be tuned for keyboard and mouse users, and not just gamepads. The good news is I won’t have to wait very long to find out. —Jarred
Release date: 2016
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
A promising follow-up to Pillars of Eternity, one of our higher-rated games of the last couple years. Mostly I think Obsidian is the perfect fit for a ‘be the bad guy’ storyline, and I absolutely trust them to explore that premise to its full potential. Although the game will inherit the engine and some of the design of Pillars, Tom appreciated the changes Obsidian’s making to its combat system when get played Tyranny at E3. This recent trailer lays out other exciting details, like how one decision might send a massive fissure through a town. —Evan
Release date: Fall 2016
Developer: Art in Heart
Take something vaguely Spelunky-ish and filter it through the lens of a surreal 90s cartoon—Rocko’s Modern Life and Ren & Stimpy come to mind—and you’ll get the vibe of GoNNER, a hard as hell 2D roguelike platformer. I played a few minutes of GoNNER at E3 this year and loved the kooky aesthetic and GoNNER’s thing for decapitation—taking a hit knocks off your head and sends you scurrying for it, and a second hit makes you dead. It’s a game that demands acrobatic skill but invites panic at any moment. Surviving a room feels like just the right mix of badass accomplishment and miraculous luck. More GoNNER soon, please. —Wes