There are so many games! We’ve reviewed over 25 since the year started, and we can hardly be comprehensive--hundreds more have already released. It’s a downpour, which isn’t a complaint, but while we talk about Firewatch and XCOM 2 and one of our new favorite metroidvanias, it’s easy to lose track of games that are further off. What’s been delayed? Who’s doing episodic games now? Which lead writer went where?
As we approach the big spring releases and summer announcements, we’ve revisited the news from the past year to give you status reports on the PC’s most popular series. We left out series we don’t expect regular releases from—no one’s clamoring for Team Fortress 3—to focus on confirmed, or at least expected, new games coming within the next few years. Here’s where they all stand as of now.
Action and stealth
Starting with Assassin’s Creed II in 2009, there’s been a new one every year—until now. Ubisoft is finally taking a year off (from the main series, at least) while it works on 2017’s Assassin’s Creed game, which we don’t know much about just yet.
We’ve heard rumors, though. A few years ago there were rumblings that Assassin’s Creed 3 would head to Egypt, and that claim has reemerged for AC 2017. Kotaku reports that internet rumors and its own sources have said we’re heading to Africa, which would be unsurprising—we’ve done Jerusalem, Florence, Rome, Boston, and Paris, and that isn’t even the full list. Why not Cairo? It wasn’t true last time, but we’d bet on it this time (though maybe only a dollar).
In the meantime, Ubisoft may be releasing Watch Dogs 2 this year, and we’ve heard rumors that it will be set in San Francisco. Get ready to hack some cable cars and disrupt the tourist transportation industry.
With Arkham Knight behind us (and surrounded by smouldering debris), the Arkham trilogy is over. But Batman games are not. Of course they’re not. It’s Batman. Speaking with the PlayStation Blog, Warner Bros’ Ames Kirshen said, “We don’t have anything to talk about at this time, but the possibilities are endless with a character as dynamic and beloved as Batman.” Batman games forever.
Far Cry is sticking with the yearly release schedule for now, and next up is Far Cry Primal, which came as a surprise: now we’re a cave dude speaking a made-up prehistoric language and throwing spears instead of shooting bullets. With some concerns about the combat, but a general sense of optimism, we’ve written and voiced a few takes on what we’ve played so far: first Sam gave it a go, then Tim and Shaun went clubbing. As for next year’s Far Cry, assuming another is coming, we haven’t heard anything just yet.
Grand Theft Auto
Rockstar is notoriously tight-lipped, but we have to imagine that Grand Theft Auto VI is being made. It was five years between GTAIV’s release in 2008 and GTAV’s console release in 2013, so we don’t expect to hear anything until around 2018, or even later. There are some rumors floating around, but they’re pretty thin, like that it’ll have a bigger map. What a scoop!
Hopefully this time we won’t have to wait two more years for the PC version. While we wait, though, we expect to hear about something else from Rockstar. We're certain they haven't simply forgotten that Red Dead Redemption was their biggest hit next to GTA—not that we’d mind playing Bully 2, either.
The hitman is going to be hitting men once again on March 11. Surprisingly, the new Hitman (just called Hitman) will be episodic, starting with a Paris location. Later, in April, we’ll jet to Italy, and then Morocco in May, followed by Japan closer to the end of the year. It’ll be $60 for the whole deal, or $15 for the prologue mission and Paris location and $10 each for subsequent additions.
The unusual release plan notwithstanding, we’re pretty into new Hitman so far. Ben Griffin said it was “a return to old Hitman values” in our last preview—basically, you’re thrown into a location and given the tools sneak or murder your way through it how you please, which is just what we hoped. We’re going to be trying out the beta soon, so we’ll have more impressions from that, followed by our review of the first location in March.
Rise of the Tomb Raider was made with help from an Xbox One exclusivity deal, and then released up against Fallout 4—two facts that don’t make it look like a priority series for Square Enix. We quite liked the PC version, though, and Crystal Dynamics has spent the past 10 years making Tomb Raider games, so it’d be surprising if Lara rose now only to fall off a ledge.
A few years ago we also heard that Crystal Dynamics was also working on something new, though. What ever happened to that? We might find out this year, and either way, count on another Tomb Raider game in our not-so-distant future.
With the impending release of Dark Souls 3 in April, it seems we’re about to run out of bonfires for good. Wes says it looks on track to be as dense and interconnected as the original, but the familiarity of the formula meant the magic was beginning to wane. There are still plenty of changes to look forward to in Dark Souls 3; combat feels quicker and more varied thanks to the addition of Battlearts, a step towards the aggressive Souls’ cousin, Bloodborne. Enemies change stances and behaviors on the fly. The visuals are a huge step up, and if it’s optimized well for the PC, it’ll look extra dark and soulsy.
But even FromSoftware President Hidetaka Miyazaki knows the Souls series is running out of steam. He told GameSpot "I don't think it'd be the right choice to continue indefinitely creating Souls and Bloodborne games. I'm considering Dark Souls 3 to be the big closure on the series.” It may be a hard truth to swallow for fans, but at least Dark Souls comics are on the way before Dark Souls 3 hits. Sit close to the fire, friends. This may be it.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is out August 23, and it’s got us in a cheerful mood. Tom Senior said it could be the best Deus Ex yet, and he isn’t one for hyperbole. We also had a nice chat with lead writer Mary DeMarle, who talked about her views on transhumanism and how the end of Human Revolution leads into the new story.
As for the future of the series, there’s little doubt we’ll see more. While also pitching in with whatever Crystal Dynamics is up to next—Eidos Montreal helped with Rise of the Tomb Raider—we expect it’ll be working on more Deus Ex for the foreseeable future. It’s a prestigious series for Square Enix, and Mankind Divided is also a showcase for the new Dawn Engine, which they’ll want to get lots of use out of.
Last year we noticed that Blizzard was hiring an art director for an unannounced project—except, directly under ‘unannounced project,’ the job listing said ‘DIABLO.’ So that’s a bit of a hint, but no guarantee that Blizzard is working on a new Diablo. We don’t see why they wouldn’t be, though—it’s been almost four years since Diablo 3 released, and while Blizzard plugs away at Hearthstone and Overwatch it could very well be dungeon designing as well. That’s unfortunately all we know for now, but it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see an announcement this year or next.
Last year, BioWare’s Mike Laidlaw said that they’re “not sure what's next” for the Dragon Age series, though they’ve probably got some idea by now, as we speculate that the next Dragon Age is scheduled to fill the gap between the next two Mass Effect games—so a 2017 or 2018 release. The last Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC contains some hints about where the story is going, but we won’t spoil any of that.
One development of note: The series’ lead writer, David Gaider, left BioWare last month. Gaider has been at BioWare for a long time, all the way back to Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn. It’s hard to say what to make of it: a fresh lead may turn out to be a boon for the series as much as we’re sure Gaider’s experience with the universe will be missed.
The Elder Scrolls
The announcement of the next Elder Scrolls could happen as soon as this year’s E3. We haven’t heard anything, but it’s a reasonable prediction.
Last year, Bethesda surprised us with Fallout 4 seven years after it developed Fallout 3. When we get to E3 this year, it’ll have been about six years since Skyrim released. It’s about time for a countdown clock and teaser with swelling choral music, isn’t it? Seems probable. If not this year, we expect a new single-player Elder Scrolls to be announced before the end of 2017. If Bethesda follows its Fallout strategy, it’ll be playable within a few months after being revealed, too.
With Fallout 4 DLC still on the way, it’s too early to speculate much about a sequel. We do know that, if given the chance, Obsidian would be up for taking another crack at the series. It makes plenty of sense for Bethesda to have Obsidian build another in-between game like New Vegas while it works on whatever Fallout 5 is going to look like, so fingers crossed for that.
Square Enix seems set on eventually porting the entire Final Fantasy back catalogue to every platform available, including the PC, which is fine by us (although we’d prefer if they didn’t make them so ugly. New games aren’t quite a sure thing, but we’ve seen a few signs that a PC release is likely for Final Fantasy XV. And the Final Fantasy VII remake is coming to PS4 first, but a multi-platform release seems inevitable, especially as Square Enix works more with western technology. Kingdom Hearts 3 is using Unreal Engine 4, after all.
The big question is when these games will come out. We look forward to playing Final Fantasy XV in 2030, and the Final Fantasy VII remake shortly after.
Mass Effect: Andromeda will supposedly release before the end of the year. We tend toward skepticism when it comes to release dates announced as far out as this one—lots of games announced for the ‘holiday’ release window get pushed into February of the next year—but EA often hits deadlines. There have been a few exceptions recently, though: Battlefield Hardline was originally meant to release in 2014, but ended up coming out last year, and Need for Speed was recently delayed on PC.
Whether or not it makes it out this year, it’s happening, and so far we know that it’s taking us to the Andromeda galaxy and may involve settlement building. During last year’s E3, we pored over the trailer and rumors to suss out any other details we could, and there’s quite a bit there. We expect to see a lot more at this year’s E3, followed by a marketing blitz if it’s really meant to be out around December.
In other Mass Effect news, a few days ago we got confirmation that Andromeda’s lead writer, Chris Schlerf, has left BioWare to work at Bungie. We imagine that much of the story is already in place, so we’re not sure it’s any cause for concern. We do wonder still what’s next after Andromeda, though it’d be shocking if it weren’t the start of another trilogy, given that save game transfers are such a core part of the original trilogy. The heck are they going to call the sequel, though? Mass Effect: Andromeda 2? Mass Effect: Aquarius Dwarf Galaxy? Andromeda 2: A Mass Effect Story?
Geralt’s trilogy is over with The Witcher 3, but that doesn’t mean CD Projekt isn’t going to return to the universe. “The franchise will continue,” according to CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kicinski. For the next year, CD Projekt has said it’s focusing on support and expansions for The Witcher 3, though we also heard that it has a bigger team working on Cyberpunk. Our guess is that we’ll be playing Cyberpunk 2077 in the winter of 2017, a nice round 60 years before it takes place, and then start hearing about The Witcher again in 2018.
On the next page, shooters and strategy games...