We're back from the break overweight, over-excited and over that PR guy who keeps bitching about coverage.
Welcome to 2017, video game fans. I would like to tell you about the games I am excited about this year.
I couldn't bare to write another dead-eyed carousel list and figured you wouldn't want to read one, either. Forgive me if I've been too presumptuous but I'm kind of excited for the two-zero-one-seven. Here's everything I'm excited to play the shit out of this year.
Resident Evil 7 kicks off an interesting year for horror games. For me it's a series that has been too corny for too long, and it'll do well to throw out all the cliches that have dragged around its neck for so long. Well, I say throw them out, but really it looks like it's latching onto a bunch of new cliches, mainly from Rob Zombie movies and borrowing a bunch of good ideas from Outlast.
Which is fine by me. Even better, Outlast 2 is one of the sequels I've been looking forward to since I completed the original and its DLC. If it can repeat the cat and mouse threat of the original and fucked up story I'll willingly enter its mouth of madness. If that's not enough scares, I'm ready for the multiplayer freakout and brutal butchery of Friday The 13th: The Game. And being a massive fan of the Chaosium pen and paper RPG, my mind is buzzing harder than Obed Marsh at a sacrificial altar for Call of Cthulhu. I'm even a little bit interested in The Walking Dead game from Overkill, even though the TV show has gone to shit with Negan's hammy Nic Cage impressions and that dude with his pet tiger.
Ubisoft continues to be one of the most interesting publishers and I find myself sticking around with its games more than others. Having spent plenty of time with The Division in 2016, I'm ready for Ghost Recon: Wildlands, which looks like a similar game but out in the fresh air, complete with four-player co-op and vehicles. Give me a helicopter and a sniper rifle and I can make my own fun for days. I've briefly played For Honor and really dug its brutal combat, so that's on my list as a curiosity if I can find the right people to play with.
Everyone I've spoken to about Dawn of War 3 has blurted out their enthusiasm as soon as the conversation began, so there's reason enough to keep an eye on this RTS. Relic, Games Workshop and Sega on a strategy title? That's the triple threat, right there. I suspect I won't personally play it, but will be happy watching others losing multiple hours of their lives to it.
It's encouraging to see the excitement build for Horizon: Zero Dawn and I suspect it's going to be a big seller for Sony in the first half of 2017. I was always intrigued by Guerrilla's flawed Killzone games, and I want to see what that studio can do in third-person and with so many years' experience on PlayStation formats. Speaking of PS4 exclusives, Sony is clearly running out of stuff it can remaster but I'll no doubt spare an hour or two for the return of Chop Chop Master Onion in Parappa The Rapper. God of War? Hmm, I need to see more of that before I get excited (although Pat saw it last year at E3 and was properly hot for it).
Which I guess brings us to The Last of Us 2. "The Last of Us doesn't need a sequel," say the fans who went out and bought the Remastered version of this PS3 classic so they could play it again. The original was a fantastic game, Naughty Dog is a fantastic developer and Ellie, Joel and Riley are fantastic characters. Of course we want another game.
Let's talk Xbox One for a second. I'm not sure what to think about Crackdown 3. It feels like we should know more about it already if it really is coming out this year. The first game was one of my top 5 on the Xbox 360, but the sequel was completely forgettable. Instead I reckon I'm more interested by Agents of Mayhem, the superhero/spy spin-off set in the Saints Row universe from Volition.
Of all the Xbox One exclusives on offer in 2017 Rare's Sea of Thieves looks to be the most original and fun. Pirating has been underserved in games (much like the Western, but we'll get to that in a minute) and Rare's take on sailing in a persistent online world sounds like it could be a really strong take on buddy co-op and effing about for the hell of it.
There's a couple of games out this year that hark back to classic platformers and so get my attention because I'm an old fart. Yooka-Laylee looks like it's straddling the line between N64 nostalgia, Ratchet & Clank slickness and that UK humour that made classic Rare games stand out from the crowd. And Cuphead's art style and animation is just beautiful. Sometimes that's all we need.
Which brings us to three biggies for 2017. And to be completely honest I'm only confident one of them will make it out this year.
I don't believe Mass Effect: Andromeda will be out in March but it will be EA's big hit of 2017 if it lands later in the autumn. The first game was kind of cool but the second was an absolute blast from start to finish. Mass Effect 3? I didn't finish it. But I'm pumped for the fresh start of Andromeda. BioWare's slick storytelling, funky romancing options and laser shootouts always deliver the space opera I'm looking for.
If Death Stranding doesn't end up over date, over budget, and over-rated I'll drink that black goop that leaks all over the trailers. Kojima may never be satisfied with the games he releases but I applaud his ambition, and I want to jump into Death Stranding's take on environmental disaster and population control. I suspect whoever controls the budget on this project is having heart-palpitations already, while a light bulb is constantly exploding over Kojima's head as he thinks of something else he wants to add at the last minute. Whenever it does release, expect a flawed but beautiful experience like no other.
Which brings me to Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar has delayed all of its big games so I suspect I'll be putting this in a "most anticipated games of 2018" list this time next year. But while it's officially still a 2017 release I'll humour it.
It's likely to build on a lot of GTA 5's features and ideas, from multiple protagonists to a first-person view and luxury editing suite, and I'm hoping for a twisting tale of life in the brutal old west to keep the campaign flowing. I honestly don't know what to expect from the multiplayer - whether it goes for traditional modes or a giant open world - but judging by the success of the GTA Online it's certainly going to be a significant part of the game, including an ambiguously worded PS4 exclusivity thing. But it's a Rockstar game and it will have Take-Two's massive bank roll behind it in the hopes of pushing it beyond the regular games audience and into the mainstream consciousness. Expect a carpet bombing media campaign that you just won't be able to escape whether you're interested in the return of John Marston or not.
So that's me pumped. What about you - what games are you most looking forward to in 2017 and why?