I have just purchased a new lounge chair, some fleece trousers, sore cream and a hemorrhoids pillow. Why you may ask, “have you been struck ill?” “In a horrible accident?” No, none of that. I just like being prepared and as this year’s line up of exclusives for the Xbox One is so frigging good, it’s unlikely that I will be leaving my seat, let alone my house.
None of that “a new year, a new me” bullcrap. I’m going to do what I did last year. just more of it. I’m going to become a withered pale man, with a ‘Degrasse Tyson esque’ knowledge of the inner workings to combat systems for games so deep most people only scratch the surface.
In short. This year I’m going full Tron. I am the game. I am the game.
This has been on my radar since 2013 when it was shown off as a working project at E3. Since then Remedy entertainment and Microsoft have been hard at work on it and this year they opted to go for a big show at gamescom rather than E3, but it’s semantics really. What’s important is the fact this is a new title entirely and it looks brilliant. If you haven’t seen any footage of it then for all that is holy GO AND WATCH IT RIGHT NOW! Or not, maybe after you finish reading, or when your wasting time at work by flipping through YouTube on the toilet. Whenever. Just watch it. Get hyped for this game.
This is a third person shooter, with a twist. That twist is time. Because it gets twisted… get it? You haven’t watched the video yet have you. Well anyway, this game is about time getting all messed up, but you can control it. Sometimes. Sort of. It really looks impressive, the graphics are good (but we are really at the point now with games when AAA graphics should be good). Your protagonist is Jack Joyce, a person with time controlling abilities as a result of an ‘incident’ during a time travel experiment which also gives powers to another character, Paul Serene. You go through this time stuttering world fighting off an evil corporation. I mean, they might not be evil, I just presume evil because of the name ‘Monarch Solutions’ and them shooting at you. The gameplay trailers and demos have shown definite abilities that control the ebb and flow of time in the game, much like the bullet time in Max Payne but with more control and development to it.
The whole thing is hugely interesting and the trailers I have watched have left me feeling the same as an end of episode cliff hanger from Waking Dead or Game of Thrones. This is a good thing as Remedy games have also stated that this is part ‘hard-hitting video game, part live action show’ without anything else like this out on the market currently this really is exploring new territory in gaming. Could we be seeing the advent of new storytelling? Is it a gimmick that will prove to be fruitless? No idea, but I desperately want to find out – April can’t come quick enough for this one.
Quantum Break is penned for an April 5 release.
Another completely new game to tang a fang onto. I really like the look of it. ReCore is set on a world controlled by murderous robots out to kill you, you have to survive the mysterious world with your own robot companions at your side as you go on through the game.
The reveal trailer shows a female protagonist accompanied by a robotic dog. The dog has a glowing blue sphere at its centre. They are exploring a desert area with some ruins and broken robotics lying around. As they are exploring a group of enemy robots attack and the little dog jumps into the group and explodes leaving only ash and a glowing blue sphere. The female character takes the sphere an places it into the centre of a hulking robot lying in the ruins. The robot awakens and glows with energy. She says ‘I thought I lost you there’. “Ooooh!”, I internally squeal, “that’s why it’s called ReCore, because you move the… and then it… clever. I see what they did.”
I think it looks fun, I certainly had my curiosity peaked at the trailer and what I have now read. Lets see if it can grab some attention with what’s to come. With the makers of Metroid Prime behind it I’m sure it’ll be in the mix for this year’s GOTY but at the moment information is pretty scarce on this game, again the studio has stated that the game is ‘tried and true action adventure’ and they are combining it with ‘incredible visuals and a unique art style’ they have also made a point of saying it will be an emotionally engaging story. So maybe have a box of tissues on standby, I feel some strong feelings of loss coming for our future robot friends.
ReCore is penned for a Q2 2016 release.
A hugely interesting looking title, a classic style of game but set in a very retro theme. This one is the first game from the Canadian duo, brothers; Chad and Jared Moldenhauer. What a game they have come up with. Rich got his hands on it recently at EGX and simply said ‘Super hard, Super smooth and looks stunning’ sounds great to me.
Cuphead hasn’t been without its issues, and was originally slated for a 2015 release, but an announcement from the studio apologised saying it was being pushed back to 2016. They also said that thanks to working with Microsoft they have been able to make it a lot better, through refining mechanics and pushing the art further.
Cuphead; don’t deal with the devil is about Cuphead and his brother Mugman ‘rolling the dice with the devil and losing’. They then have to go about doing his bidding. Single player or co-op, it’s a classic run and action game with big bosses that come with the style and challenges, wrapped up beautifully in 1930’s style animation. On the studio website they talk about how they actually used classic techniques when creating much of the animation, hand drawn and cell shaded. Its dedicated, and you can tell. It’s very well polished and it’s not even out yet.
A wonderful looking game that is sure to be one of this year’s gems. It’s artwork and style is seriously impressive, if you haven’t looked at any gameplay yet, the E3 video is very tasty. Certainly another candidate for time-wasting YouTube viewing.
Cuphead is due to be released sometime in 2016.
Another third person shooter, another hotly awaited title. The first game in the series on the new generation of consoles and one that was first announced in 2014 at E3.
It looks insane, a huge game that the studio has said is their ‘vision of an ultimate sandbox’. It’s been built with cloud software development, far beyond my casual end-user brain but the gist of it is this; The use of cloud computing software in the game means a 20x increase in power. This is used to model and render the entire city into a fully destructible environment. Fully. Destructible. Roof top snipers aren’t really a problem when you can just bring down the whole building they stand on. The gameplay footage looks fantastic with immense fun to be had in the multiplayer world, although they have stated that this will only be in the online world and that for single player the destruction will be limited.
Crackdown has always had that ‘Judge Dredd’ feel to it, the ‘do what ever it takes to stop the bad guys, regardless of collateral damage’, which is great because nobody wants to play the game where you get the bad guy on a technicality and he goes to prison for tax fraud. Actually maybe if it was a mobile game in a noir detective style, I might play that. Crackdown was always popular with the co-op crowd and this one will please them. It’s rumoured to be up to eight players. So, if you’re sizing up your next kingpin to take down and feel like a little help, you can call in seven buddies to back you up.
There is a hierarchical criminal empire in place, with you having to work up through the ranks by increasing your ‘hate meter’ which will bring out the higher-ups as you get their attention. Once you have their attention a boss style showdown is the next turn of events, hopefully leading to some epic battles across the destructible city, as yet it’s unconfirmed whether Pacific City will be the game’s location.
All in all it looks like Reagent and Microsoft have been working hard and it’s lining up to be one of the most exciting exclusives of the year
Crackdown 3 is penned for a Q2/Q3 2016 release.
A large RPG game, third person, set in a fantasy world of dragons. But, not all is as you would think. Yes, there are dudes in shiny plate armour, yes you have a big bad ass sword and yes there are huge dragon style monsters which you fight with. This time however one of the Dragons is your buddy, let’s just get the title play out-of-the-way, you are Scalebound to him. You also rock a funky pair of headphones for your banging tunes yo!
Set in the realm of Draconis, you (Drew) and your bound dragon buddy (Thuban) have been thrown together by fate (ooh, that’s ominous) and must battle through the hostile world to defeat the enemies threatening the realm. Hideki kamiya (Direcor, Scalebound) has said he wants players to know they have a powerful ally by their side and that Thuban is there to help out when times get rough. The combat system is built to reflect this with your powers and technique developing over time as the game progresses. Thuban gets armour and customisation options that lean towards your style of play. Drew gets his own special ability to keep him useful in your massive monster fights, he gets ‘Dragon form’ which allows him a set of dragon scale armour and makes him incredibly powerful. He also has a dragon arm, which acts as a quick guide to your bond with Thurban (I’m presuming a pip boy style thing here) as well as all of this there is an array of weapons to choose from, bows, longswords etc. are all in play but despite having a futuristic set of headphones there is no sign of any machine guns to play with.
The gameplay trailers look slick with lush graphics and smooth looking movement during combat. The game isn’t a standard ‘build a hero save the empire RPG’, which is a good thing. The type of enemy, especially the bosses, makes it more God of War than Skyrim. Another big release for Xbox that differs from the large array of gunplay currently on Xbox one.
Scalebound is penned for a Q4 2016 release.
Gears of War 4
At E3 2015 the coalition announced through its Studio Head Rod Fergusson that it will be releasing Gears of War 4 later this year. This is a much awaited title for fans, a new story from a new studio. Epic wrapped up the Markus and crew storyline neatly with Gears 3; war over, personal issues concluded, peace returned and bad guys dead.
So, what do we know? The game is set as a direct sequel to the events of Gears of War 3. It has new characters, well at least two anyway. JD (male) and Kait (female) and it’s likely that there will be more to come. The Lambent and Locust have been chewed up and spat out by the Coalition so we have a new enemy, hinted at during the E3 demo, through showing a new monster not before encountered. It’s unclear if this is just a monster or part of a larger force, either way, it was clear that it will be a new fight.
The fifth game in the Gears series, fans are anxious to know what’s coming, The Coalition and Microsoft are keeping info tight on this one but a new story to work with and a new generation of consoles mean there is a lot of potential. We may see second screen play. Hopefully more than just a companion map there could be involved play as seen in battlefield (commander mode) and proposed by The Division (tablet control of an in-game drone). From a game that did very well on co-op play in the past, it’s not a stretch to see this as a possibility.
More guns! One of my favourite gaming weapons has come from the series (the Longbow) but after five games there is definitely room for a few extra little toys, after all who doesn’t want a new shooty stick? Throw the devs a quick 50 under the table and let’s have some new cannons.
Most of all though, I want this game to grab me in the same way the first Gears of War did, it was hard up action that kept the controller in my hand from beginning to end. I want Gears 4 to grab me by the face and scream “GEARS IS BACK” at ear rupturing volume as I jibber in awe at the immensity of the game laid before me… ok, but it better be the best damn Gears yet. So, no pressure Rod if your reading this. (he’s not reading this).
Gears of War 4 is penned for a Holiday Q4 2016 release.
Now that’s one heck of a line up, and a great year of gaming to come! There’s plenty of other fantastic looking titles coming up this year too, and I think it’s plain to see that under Phil Spencer, Microsoft have taken a good turn from the dismal launch and initial announcement of Xbox One. We now have some serious games coming and the changes to the UI of the console have been great.
So with the start of 2016 we see an improved Xbox One with a bright future in front of it. Or you know, some other warm fuzzy and inspiring stuff. Whatever. I’m going to play games.