Monday, January 18, 2016

The Upcoming Action Games in 2016

                I’ve wrote about the adventure games and RPGs coming in 2016. Now let’s see the genre that over the years has combined elements from both adventures and RPGs.
This is a list of the most attractive action games that have been announced to come in 2016:

Resident Evil 0 HD REMASTER
Release Date: January 19

                Last year we got to relive the Resident evil that started it all in a remastered format. This year we get the remastered version of the prequel, 2002 Resident Evil Zero.
                CAPCOM is taking us back to a time when Resident Evil games were more about survival and horror and less about being zombie shooters.
                Resident Evil 0 HD REMASTER will present, again, the events starting in July 23 1998 when a train owned by the Umbrella Corporation was attacked. Following up on that the Bravo team of STARS is sent to investigate a series of cannibalistic murders outside of Raccoon City. As the Bravo team helicopter crashes in a forest, the field medic Rebecca Chambers teams up with former marine Billy Coen in order to survive and unveil the horrifying mystery of the murders.
                This HD remaster not only takes us back to the series’ origins but it does it with enhanced visuals featuring high-resolution textures and full HD support. The sound has also been remastered and comes with 5.1 surround support.
                I’m up for classic games remastered versions if they are properly made and the Resident Evil HD REMASTER was a success so I’m pretty sure this game will follow on its footsteps and deliver a visually enhanced experience that will be appealing to older and younger gamers alike.

Rise of the Tomb Raider
Release Date: January 28

                The XBOX One timed exclusive is coming to the other platforms earlier than anyone was expecting it. Maybe due to the fact that it didn’t sell that well or maybe the developers remembered that the fans of the series are not tied to a gaming platform. Either way, Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming to the PC on January 28 and if you managed to stay away from media related content of this game you might be in for a treat. For me, on the other hand the story’s ending has already been spoiled, reminding me (not like I forgot) why business practices like this one are terrible for the gamers.
                Rise of the Tomb Raider is the sequel to the 2013 reboot of the series which features a less sexualized and more humanized Lara Croft, a big step in the series and for the video games industry. The game follows on the footsteps of its predecessor delivering an experience closer to a survival rather than a full action game.
Lara Croft will continue her journey of uncovering the supernatural mysteries of the world. This journey will take her to Siberia and its harsh winter in a race to find the Lost City of Kitzeh before the Trinity organization. Outnumbered and outgunned, Lara will have to resort to guerilla warfare.  In a battle for survival she will be forced to hunt animals, scavenge resources and craft her own weapons.
                A feature that is returning in its full splendor in this sequel are the tombs, which were highly undeveloped in the previous game. The tombs will be bigger, much more dangerous and filled with puzzles and secrets worthy of the world’s best tomb raider (in the making).
                Rise of the Tomb Raider is the opener for the AAA releases of this year and despite the ugly business model I’m waiting for Lara’s return.

Dying Light: The Following
Release Date: February 9

                Dying Light was a tremendous success for the Techland studio which abandoned Dead Island to work on this new and improved version of… Dead Island.
                The Following is a story based expansion which comes as part of the Season Pass package for Dying Light (would be nice if this catches with other developers). The expansion will take the players to a countryside area outside Harran afflicted by the contained zombie outbreak. The protagonist Kyle Crane will meet mysterious characters, fight zombies and explore the area taking advantage of his parkour skills and an upgradeable dirt buggy ready to run over some zombies. 
The expansion will be content rich with new weapons, quests, skills, enemies and much more to provide an improved experience of the same length as the original game.
                Dying Light was a big surprise for me in 2015. The game was improved over numerous content updates and The Following is going to top that with some welcomed new content.

Far Cry Primal
Release Date: February 23

                Far Cry 2 is one of my favorite FPSs because of its impeccable game mechanics that are so important to this genre. But over the years Far Cry went a little more on the story department and a lot less on those particular game mechanics. Either way, the series has been a great success for Ubisoft and a new Far Cry game was imminent.
The modern setting with crazy warlords has been overused and a change in landscape is coming with Far Cry Primal which is set in the Stone Age.
Takkar, a seasoned hunter and the last living member of his group, has to survive the harsh condition of the Stone Age (around 12,000 years before present). An unkind time when sabertooth tigers, massive elks and wooly mammoths roamed a world that has the man at the bottom of the food chain. But with his newfound taming skills, Takkar will rise in power and get to lead his own tribe.
                Due to the massive change in setting, the new Far Cry will not feature guns instead the players will have to rely mostly on melee weapons and bows to fight their way through. As an action adventure and a Far Cry game, Primal will offer a huge world to explore. The world of Oros will provide numerous and marvelous open world locations including glacial mountains, taigas, swamps and towering forests.
                This new change might be good for Far Cry. Survival games with a prehistoric setting like ARK have been extremely successful and Ubisoft seems to wants to appeal to those interested in such a setting with a well done singleplayer game.

Release Date: March 19

                The history of new Hitman comes as a reminder of what developers wouldn’t do to sell their products. Initially Hitman was supposed to be a game with a normal release this was followed by an option to purchase the game in parts. Ultimately Hitman is going to be released in an episodic format spanning from March to May and with exclusive content for PS4. Such practice is hard to go uncriticized, but this article is not about that so I’ll let the subject go (for now).
                The players will reprise their role as Agent 47, an elite assassin, and travel to various international locations to eliminate contracted targets. As before the game won’t be story driven and will focus mostly on the gameplay experience.
                The game will retain the level design concept of the previous titles in the series offering small sandbox-like maps so the players can go nuts with the multitude of available options for assassinations (this sounds so wrong).
The contracts mode from Hitman: Absolution will make a return with revamped mechanics and will include tons of targets and special events in which players can compete against one another.
                It feels like Hitman is coming back to the series’ roots. The gameplay trailers have shown complex game mechanics and felt less arcady which is a good thing. Aside of the suspicious business model Hitman could actually be a hit.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Release Date: March 24

                The only other title that DICE worked on until recently, Mirror’s Edge was a well received game with a cult following. Fans have been waiting for years for a sequel and after it was teased through Battlefield 4 maps, DICE had finally something to show at E3 2015.
                Catalyst is not a sequel but a reboot in which the players will get to experience a much more story focused campaign that has Faith Connors in the middle of it.
                The innovative parkour gameplay is going to return in an enhanced version to be used in an open world environment which allows for free roaming, arcade challenges and even puzzles.
The combat has been changed completely and Faith can’t pick up guns anymore. Now she has to rely on her agility and swift melee attacks to deal with the enemies that threaten her life.
                The game is developed using the latest version of Frosbite engine and it looks beautiful following the same primary color artistic design that made Mirror’s Edge so unique.
                This is going to be a jumpy year with games like Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Dying Light: The Following and I’m glad that we will be able to enjoy a bigger diversity in gameplay.

Release Date: Spring

                Originally said to be an Xbox One exclusive, ReCore, the action adventure from Comcept and Armature Studio is coming to PC as well.
                The players will take control of young woman who is one of the last remaining humans on a planet under the control of robots set on the destruction of the human race. The protagonist has to befriend a group of robots each with unique abilities to help her in a dangerous journey that could lead to the salvation of mankind.
                I wish there was more to say about this game, but at this moment there are little to no details about it except for the E3 2015 presentation video which hints at some of the game’s mechanics.

Dishonored 2
Release Date: Q2

                A sequel to Dishonored was imminent and at E3 2015 it was officially announced. The big twist of Dishonored 2 is that players can take either the role of the previous protagonist Corvo Attano or play as the empress Emily Kaldwin.
                15 years has passed since the events of the original game and the empress Emily Kaldwin has been dethroned by an otherworldly usurper and forced to become an outlaw. She takes on the path that Corvo followed years back and becomes an assassin in order to retake her throne.
                The gameplay was the best part of Dishonored and the sequel will feature the same level of complexity combining action elements with stealth and allowing the players to choose their own playstyle. Going through the game without killing anyone is entirely possible, but no doubt there will be enough gadgets and skills to help those in search for action.
                Dishonored’s biggest flaw was its weak story and while it compensated for that with a solid gameplay it wasn’t enough. If Dishonored 2 can deliver an enhanced gameplay with a better story (now seen from two perspectives) it will have the potential to reach greatness.

Release Date: TBA

                Below was one of my most anticipated games in 2015 but it went dark and I haven’t heard anything about it for a long time.
                The action adventure game with rogulike elements will take a tiny warrior to explore the depths of an island. Exploration, survival and a brutal but fair combat with permanent death awaits those brave enough to descent into this mysterious place.
                Below has been in works for years and the developers are working now on improving the game and fixing its bugs for a problems free release.

For Honor
Release Date: TBA

                First shown at E3 2015, For Honor is another game from Ubisoft that looks really great (at first). Initially presented to be an online only action game focusing on 4v4 combat on a battlefield filled with AI combatants it was recently announced that For Honor will also come with singleplayer campaign worthy of an AAA game.
                The graphics might look amazing (waiting for that downgrade), but the selling point of this game is the action combat system which pits samurais, knights and Vikings in a battle to death. The combat is visceral, fast paced yet tactical allowing the players to choose the direction and power of their weapon swings and control the blocking.
                The idea behind the game sounds amazing, with a competitive multiplayer and a campaign that should add value for money. For Honor’s only downside is in the small number of players facing each other in a match, but that might lead up to a lesser chaotic gameplay with teamwork and fights that will better highlight the combat system.

Ghost of a Tale
Release Date: TBA

                The action-adventure indie game from SeithCG was on the list of games to come in 2015, but it was postponed and is going to be released this year.
                The game takes place in a medieval world inhabited by anthropomorphized animals. Mice, rats, crabs, badgers, hawks, spiders and many other animals are part of this peculiar world lore which also contains various undead creatures.
                A few centuries after the mice have been banished as traitors in the War of the Green Flame, the minstrel mouse named Tilo is thrown in jail by the rats. Tilo has to escape from his imprisonment and from the surrounding lands and uncover mysteries long forgotten.
                Ghost of a Tale takes inspiration from video games like Dark Souls and Legend of Zelda and from movies like The Secret of NIMH, Robin Hood and The Dark Crystal. Its charming fantasy world, loveable protagonist and the action adventurous gameplay make it a game to follow.

Release Date: TBA
                Described as an indie AAA, Hellblade is an upcoming action game from Ninja Theory with a story based on Celtic myths and an investment in technology that looks to put AAA tiles to shame.
                Senua is on a personal journey through the underworld which was born from a psychotic manifestation of her mind. Senua is suffering from a mental illness that affects the world around her not through hallucination but in a physical way. To deal with problems created by her own mind, Senua is well trained in the art of combat and ready to take on any enemy through a well balanced combat system focusing on one-on-one fights.
                Ninja Theory has a pretty good experience with action games (DmC: Devil May Cry) and the development diary videos show a lot of effort put into this game to look and feel as best as possible. I would like to see some more gameplay footage, but I can’t say I’m not intrigued about Hellblade’s premise and the way it plays.

Mafia III
Release Date: TBA

                Mafia III is an upcoming third person action shooter developed by Hangar 13 under the 2K Games banner.
                As a debut title for the Hangar 13 studio and the third installment in the series, the most surprising thing about Mafia III is how different the game is from the previous titles.
Mafia III is still a game about mafia set in an open world environment. The footage shown so far presents an extremely action oriented game featuring a lot of combat including melee, finishing moves and a cover system.
                After his friends are murdered by the local mob, Lincoln Clay, a Vietnam War veteran, seeks to revenge them by starting a criminal organization. With the help of his allies, including Vito Scalleta (Mafia II protagonist), Lincoln will drive out the Italian mob and take New Orleans for himself!
                I enjoyed the Mafia games despite not being very fond of the subject, but I’m not sure what to say about Mafia III. This is a great chance for the Hangar 13 studio to make itself known and maybe some good will come out of this.

Release Date: TBA

                The creators of Trine take upon the challenge of making an action stealth game. Shadwen is a ruthless sneaking game where a slight failure will get the female protagonist captured by the ever vigilant guards.
                Shadwen is an assassin on a quest to kill the king which is forced to take with her an orphan girl by the name of Lily. In her journey Shadwen is has to decide between killing guards and finding another way to deal with them in order to protect Lily’s innocence.
                The game will focus on physics based action stealth gameplay in which the players will be able to use the environment at their own advantage in order to sneak around or take out the guards. Another neat mechanic will be the ability to control time allowing to stop Shadwen mid-jump and preventing her from being detected. Players will also be able to rewind time in order to execute things in a different manner taking advantage of the knowledge gained from previous failed attempts.
                After the troubled launch of Trine 3 I hope the indie studio Frozenbyte will manage to recapture the love of their fans with this interesting take on the action stealth sub-genre.

                The long list of action games designed to make this year entertaining is coming to an end.  I probably only scratched the surface here as there  are more action games worth checking out that will come this year and their numbers will continue to grow.
Either way, as things look now, 2016 is going to be a pretty action packed year.

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