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2016 was a decent if unspectacular year for PC gaming. Several popular game franchises received high quality additions - Battlefield 1, Dishonored 2, Civilization VI, and Watch Dogs 2 just to name a few - but we also saw great new IPs from studios big (Ubisoft's The Division) and small (Jonathan Blow's The Witness).
On the other hand, a collection of games we were excited to play ended up being major disappointments. Mafia III and No Man's Sky are prime examples, though even titles like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided received mixed reception among fans of the series. Hopefully the games we're most excited to play in 2017 will meet the hype surrounding their release.
- Release Date: March 21, 2017
- Genre: Sci-fi role-playing
- Buy if you like: Mass Effect, BioWare RPGs, space exploration
Perhaps the most hotly anticipated game of 2017 on PC, as well as consoles, is Mass Effect Andromeda. While not a direct sequel to 2012's Mass Effect 3, Andromeda will bring gamers back into the universe of the highly regarded original trilogy, complete with an all-new open world environment. The game is Electronic Arts' big first half release, and developer BioWare will undoubtedly create a stunning role-playing experience using DICE's fantastic Frostbite 3 engine.
Andromeda is set 600 years after the events of Mass Effect 3 in, you guessed it, the Andromeda Galaxy. The game will feature many classic Mass Effect elements, such as exploration of planets using a space ship under your character's command, the ability to play as many races and genders, and choices that impact the narrative. After delays pushed Andromeda back to an early 2017 launch, we can't wait for this one to hit PC.
- Release Date: February 14, 2017
- Genre: Action hack-and-slash
- Buy if you like: Medieval fantasy, swinging swords, non-RPG adventures
The hack-and-slash genre has been neglected for a few years now. Most games of this type are either transformed into expansive role-playing adventures, or released in a painfully mediocre state (anyone remember Ryse: Son of Rome?). For Honor is Ubisoft's take on the genre, their first in 30 years of game development and publishing, and it's set to occupy the company's traditional early-year release slot that last year gave us Far Cry Primal and The Division.
For Honor allows you to take control of a character from one of three major medieval war factions: The Legion (knights), The Chosen (samurai), and The Warborn (Vikings). Throughout a story-driven singleplayer campaign you'll duel enemies using a combat system known as "Art of Battle", which gives more intricate control over weapons than a standard 'mash the button' hack-and-slash game. There's also a variety of multiplayer, which the game's creative director described as a "shooter with swords", whatever that means.
- Release Date: 2017
- Genre: Medieval role-playing
- Buy if you like: Fantasy games without magic, medieval history, knights
Most fantasy role-playing games include magical elements, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance is different. This is a role-playing game based on medieval history; there's no magic, no dragons, and no potions to be found here. Kickstarted in 2014 and developed by a new company called Warhorse Studios, Kingdom Come is set to offer something truly different than the vast majority of fantasy RPGs.
Elements you'd expect from a modern RPG are still here, though. The game is open world, set in the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1403. There's a skill tree for your character, and a weapons system that supports everything from swords to bows. With such a strong focus on realism, you can also expect an NPC system that reacts to crime, an intricate armor system that includes degradation, and lots of travelling around on horses. If it all comes together as planned, this could be the sleeper hit of 2017.
- Release Date: Cancelled
- Genre: Fantasy role-playing
- Buy if you like: Dragons, Game of Thrones, awesome graphics
Update: Microsoft has cancelled Scalebound, which is disappointing considering we were hoping it would be a good release in 2017. Missed deadlines and issues with the game's engine were cited as reasons for the cancellation.
Scalebound is the third role-playing game on this list so far, and it could be the most exciting. Developed by PlatinumGames as an exclusive for Microsoft platforms, Scalebound sees the player control not just a human character, but also a large dragon sidekick. Most fantasy RPGs make dragons your enemies, but in Scalebound your dragon will greatly assist you in the heart of battle. Think of it like Daenerys Targaryen's dragons in Game of Thrones.
Aside from copious dragon-related powers - including the main character's ability to shapeshift into a half-dragon hybrid - Scalebound will feature more role-playing elements than any of PlatinumGames' previous titles. The studios expertise in hack and slash games such as Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance will certainly come in handy for the combat in Scalebound. You can also expect a seriously beautiful game here: the developers are specifically aiming to make Scalebound a graphics masterpiece through the use of Unreal Engine 4.
- Release Date: Early 2017
- Genre: Sci-fi real-time strategy
The Dawn of War series has been immensely popular with real-time strategy fans since the first was released more than 12 years ago. Dawn of War III has been a long time coming, especially since the last installment, Dawn of War II - Retribution, is over five years old now, but it's something to look forward to in 2017.
Relic Entertainment have been keeping most of the information regarding Dawn of War III close to their chest, but it is known that three races will be playable from day one: the Space Marines, the Eldar, and the Orks. The game will also include basebuilding and large-scale walkers, elements that weren't seen in Dawn of War II. Some websites have hinted that the game will be released on April 30th, although this hasn't been officially confirmed by the game's creators.
- Release Date: 2017
- Genre: Gothic role-playing
- Buy if you like: Vampires, tough moral choices, World War I London
After finishing work on the critically acclaimed Life is Strange, Dontnod Entertainment moved on to Vampyr, an upcoming role-playing game set during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic in London. It shouldn't come as a surprise that you'll be playing as a vampire called Jonathan Reid, who struggles to uphold the Hippocratic Oath as a doctor while craving the taste of human blood. You'll often be faced with the choice between protecting your identity, and gaining new abilities by preying on those around you.
Much of the game is based on vampire lore. You won't be able to enter the houses of Londoners unless you are invited, although you will be able to 'mesmerize' human targets into following you to an alley for an easy feed. Combat consists of mostly improvised and crafted weapons, which you will need to defeat vampire slayers and other vampires. And while Vampyr is not strictly open-world, the game will feature open neighborhood hubs for exploration and questing. Expect period-accurate visuals recreated in Unreal Engine 4 and a compelling story as well.
- Release Date: H1 2017
- Genre: Sci-fi first-person shooter
- Buy if you like: shooting aliens, space stations, Dead Space, the original Prey
Prey is one of the most exciting games to expect in 2017. This game has been anticipated in a variety of forms since the original release of Prey in 2006, firstly as a sequel by Human Head Studios (cancelled in 2014 after eight years of troubled development), and now as a "re-imagining" of the original by Dishonored developer Arkane Studios. Built from the ground up for modern platforms using CryEngine, the new Prey will finally hit PC and consoles in the first half of the year.
The game is set on a futuristic space station with alien enemies, and much of the story revolves around using the station's resources to defeat said aliens. Arkane are integrating role-playing elements into Prey, including decisions that affect the story and a continuous environment, alongside elements that made their Dishonored games a huge success. Players will get to explore both the interior and exterior of the station, the latter involving zero-gravity movement. The character you play, Morgan Yu, can gain abilities from aliens as well.
- Release Date: 2017
- Genre: Action-adventure
- Buy if you like: Saints Row games, Grand Theft Auto, over-the-top fun
This is a game that has been flying under the radar, but should be a ton of fun when released. A spin-off from the Saints Row series, Agents of Mayhem will take place after the ending of Saints Row: Gat out of Hell in a futuristic Seoul. You can expect developer Volition will include a lot of crazy antics and hilarious missions in this open-world title, as gamers have come to expect from everything Saints Row. Even the names of the organizations in the game - M.A.Y.H.E.M. for the good guys, L.E.G.I.O.N. for the bad guys - are unsurprisingly ridiculous.
The specifics of Agents of Mayhem have mostly been kept a secret, but we do know that you'll control three agents at any one time with the ability to switch between them, giving you a variety of abilities depending on who you choose. There will be twelve agents in total to select, and given what we've come to love from Saints Row games, you can expect all of them to be over-the-top caricatures of real world figures. This game won't take itself seriously and you can bet it'll be filled with humor and parodies like previous games from Volition.
- Release Date: March 7, 2017
- Genre: Tactical third-person shooter
- Buy if you like: military shooters, tactical shooters, Ghost Recon games, open-world environments
Ubisoft is calling Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands one of their biggest ever open world games, and early impressions have indicated it's not just a typical Ubisoft open-world experience. That's enough for us to get excited about this shooter, which is set in the beautiful expanses of present-day Bolivia, rather than the futuristic settings of previous Ghost Recon games. Players will be tasked with commanding a four-person special operations squad sent to Bolivia to infiltrate and destroy a powerful drug cartel in the area.
Ghost Recon Wildlands will feature popular elements from previous Ghost Recon games, including its third-person perspective and four-player co-operative modes (although single-player with AI teammates will also be an option). Missions will be partially open ended, and the game will give players numerous ways to traverse the landscape, recon the area, and take out any required targets. Ubisoft will also build in interactions with NPCs, allowing players to form relationships that may affect missions and the story, which could add some interesting non-linear elements into the game.
- Release Date: 2017
- Genre: Martial arts action role-playing
- Buy if you like: fighting games, fluid and interesting combat, indie games, interconnected worlds
Absolver is one of the most exciting indie games set for release in 2017. Developed by Sloclap, a studio formed by ex-Ubisoft Paris employees, Absolver is an action role-playing game that integrates fluid martial arts fighting. The world within the game is connected such that the game includes single-player elements alongside cooperative and competitive play; there will even be some MMO aspects such as player versus player fighting matches.
Some interesting concepts are included in Absolver, such as the 'combat deck', a series of cards that governs what fighting moves are available during gameplay. Progressing through the game will see more cards added to this deck, expanding the amount of dynamic moves available. Role-playing elements like collecting weapons and equipment will also be a feature of Absolver, as is a beautiful art style that focuses more on stylized landscapes than realism. It's one of several engrossing titles set for release in 2017 that uses Unreal Engine 4