Night In The Woods
In , you play as Mae, an anthropomorphic cat and college dropout who returns to her small hometown of Possum Springs, a mining town with its best days long gone. Mae isn’t quite sure what to do with herself, so she aimlessly wanders Possum Springs, visiting old friends and exploring old spaces, only to realize how much they’ve changed. Night falls, as you’d expect, and strange things start happening. Exactly what, I’m not sure.
Night in the Woods looks like a melancholy exploration of Rust Belt ennui—the slow industrial dissolve of Mae’s home how it scatters and changes people, but told with cute animals brought to life by . (It’s essentially for snake people.) Narrative comes first in Night in the Woods, so exploration and chatting up characters take precedence, but Mae’s bouncy movement looks like a fun way to poke around Possum Springs (). —James
The art direction for the next installment in the Civilization series has caused some debate among us, but there hasn’t been a ‘bad’ Civilization game so far, and there’s little reason to expect that to change. But that doesn’t mean change isn’t coming. As discussed in , Civ 6 will be overhauling some key elements, including the creation of districts within the cities, active research, leaders with agendas, and faster multiplayer.
I’ve played every Civilization game, dating back to the original Civilization, and the series has definitely started to feel a bit stale, with new graphics and sounds but nothing too crazy. Beyond Earth took us to a new galaxy and still ended up being too familiar in many ways. Civ 6 looks promising, and while didn’t give us much beyond an inspirational message, has me champing at the bit. I’m hoping Civ 6 recaptures some of the lost luster. —Jarred
Shadow Warrior 2
Flying Wild Hog’s Hard Reset was a touch underrated, I thought, and from what I played of Shadow Warrior 2 at PAX East, the developer’s latest is a lot of fun. Its sense of humor leaves something to be desired (being a ‘throwback’ doesn’t make Lo Wang’s one-liners funny), but the unlimited air dashing between rooftops is a freeing reprise from the cover shooters I’ve been played recently. You never have to stop moving, you can slice demons into quarters, and the guns are lavishly animated and silly. is the best way to see what I’m talking about. —Tyler
Heart Forth, Alicia
One of many Metroidvanias that hit Kickstarter in 2014, and honestly I feel in love with it just based on the name. Everything I’ve seen of Heart Forth, Alicia since then has had me excited to see it come together: it’s a beautiful game that looks fun and responsive in motion. It’s been delayed, but not in a way that implies development problems. The team just seems to be taking its time to get things right. —Wes
Release date: October 21
While Call of Duty goes far into the future, Battlefield has jumped 100 years into the past, and it feels like the most refreshing move for the series in ages. Battles are a bit more close quarters and weapons take just a bit longer to put down your enemies. Throw in some amazing biplane combat and a giant zeppelin and the World War I setting really feels novel. And damn, it’s nice to have a bolt action rifle again. —Wes
Release date: October 28
I suppose this is instantly going to mark me out as a sausage-fingered casual, but I’m really looking forward to the single-player campaign in Respawn’s sophomore mech-bothering shooter. (Try saying that with a mouthful of ball bearings.) Recently, one of the game’s designers how refreshing it has been to make create levels influenced by the pacing in the likes of Half-Life and BioShock, rather than having to constantly consider Call of Duty’s squad dynamics.
Less loftily, he also namechecked the Doom and Wolfenstein reboots as examples of traditional (ie not loot-based) shooters that have been well-received. Which works fine for me. I’ve also watched some of my console colleagues testing the multiplayer beta, and the engine is looking lovely. Strangely for such a big budget game, I think Titanfall 2 is flying under the radar slightly. —Tim
Release date: November 11
Developer: Arkane Studios
Arkane did such a good job of Dunwall that I was sad to hear that the sequel will mostly be set in the sunnier climes of Karnaca. I was wrong to worry. Karnaca sounds amazing—a seaside city afflicted by terrible dust storms and a grotesque infestation of flying vermin. I can’t wait to apply Emily’s powers to the new sandbox, and to see what Arkane has managed to accomplish with advanced technology. If they get it right, Dishonored 2 will be a clear game of the year contender. —Tom Senior
I have previously described Thumper as “what would happen if you force fed Audiosurf a diet of Fuck Buttons until it got angry.” I stand by that. It's a rhythm game, but, thanks to its dark, electronic soundtrack, feels less like it's challenging you than actively working against you. It's ominous and foreboding. It hurtles along with all the pulsating, clashing force of an anxiety attack. Clearly it's not for everyone, but I find myself drawn to just how uncompromising it feels. —Phil
Resident Evil VII
Resident Evil’s reinvention from an action horror game back into a survival horror is fascinating. It shows how much impact the likes of Amnesia and Outlast have had on what counts as an interesting horror experiences these days—and given how influential Capcom were in shaping what this genre once was, I can’t wait to see what their interpretation of first-person horror looks like. The demo offers some glimpses of what that is, with a move towards more psychological horror and changing outcomes, in an incredibly detailed environment. Plus, there’s the VR side of Resident Evil VII to look forward to. —Sam