Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Upcoming Action Games in 2017

                Action games tend to mix the most gameplay elements from other genres and it’s only natural that they represent the strongest roster of the year. New beginnings and returning franchises mark an action packed 2017, let’s have a look:

Resident Evil 7
Release Date: 24 January

                The Resident Evil series is not rebooted, but it is taken into a different direction. While the two Revelations games and the remakes have brought the series to a more balanced gameplay, the main titles have gone off the rail with a more action oriented approach. Resident Evil 7 returns to the roots of the series using Outlast and the famous PT demo as inspiration for its new first person horror. Set after the events of Resident Evil 6, we will take the role of a new protagonist trapped in a farmhouse haunted by the weird Baker family and other horrific creatures. While the first-person gameplay is going to be a hit or miss with the diehard fans of the series, the focus on survival horror and puzzles instead of combat should ease up the transition. Capcom has confirmed the game ties up with the whole Resident Evil universe and even familiar characters might be met and I’m quite curious to see how this turns out.
Resident Evil 7 is a strong year opening and for those wondering how the new changes work, there is a demo available on Steam.

Release Date: February 2

                Diluvion is a Jules Verne inspired action game in which players take the captain’s mantle of submarine to explore the depths of the sea fighting anomalies and forgotten creatures.
                Players will be in charge of an upgradeable submarine and its crew managing resources and recruiting new members to face the horrors of the depths and uncover long lost secrets. The game will have 9 submarines to choose from and a variety of characters, each with their own specialization, skills and personalities. A home base will house all the off-duty personnel and the old submarines while providing various opportunities from visiting NPCs.
                Diluvion promises 10 hours of action combat, thrilling adventures and a unique exploration in a lovely combination of 2D and 3D graphics.

For Honor
Release Date: February 14

                For Honor is a medieval action game focused on melee combat and presenting a three-way war between cultures that haven’t been in a historical conflict. The game has three campaigns featuring samurais, Vikings and knights and a progression based online PvP in which players get to choose between multiple classes for each faction. The gameplay is combat oriented using a control system called the Art of Battle which has a locking on target system which allows attacking and defending from the target using stances.
                                My experience in the Alpha tests of Ubisoft’s For Honor wasn’t great. No dedicated servers, poor mouse support, clunky multi-target combat and a hideous UI have taken a good deal of enjoyment out of the game. But there is still time to turn around some of these issues. On the bright side of things, For Honor seems to have a lot of content in store for the players and more coming freely after launch in a similar way with Rainbow Six Siege. The problems met during the test phases remind me of The Division, but medieval action games are a rarity nowadays and for that reason For Honor better turn out good.

Sniper Elite 4
Release Date: February 14

                World War II doesn’t seem to end for Karl Fairburne as he is sent to fight in yet another mission now helping the Italian resistance to overthrow the Fascist leadership.
                Sniper Elite 4 will have the players engage in a singleplayer or 2man co-op campaign to help the Allies from the shadows by eliminating targets from afar while enjoying the x-ray kill camera and sneaking through intricate levels which allow various approaches adding to the replay value. The game will also feature an adversarial multiplayer for those that feel the need for competition.
                Sniper Elite 3 was a big improvement for the series and the 4th installment is building up on that with bigger levels, a more refined gameplay and better graphics to deliver a sniping experience which can be either arcady or a more simulator oriented based on the player’s preferences. 

Berserk and the Band of the Hawk
Release Date: February 21

                Following on the footsteps of Attack on Titan and Steins;Gate, the popular manga Berserk which was adapted in a short but awesome anime is receiving its own game.
                Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, which has already been released for PS3 in Japan, is a Hack & Slash action game following the manga’s story starting with the Golden Age Arc. Players will be able to choose between characters, each with their own special abilities, and fight in large arenas against hordes of demons and various other enemies including epic bosses.
                Berserk and the Band of the Hawk will follow Guts’ story as well as feature an endless survival mode with Infinite Eclipse in which players can test their skill against endless waves of enemies.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Release Date: March 7

                A game featuring Tom Clancy’s name doesn’t mean what it used to since Rainbow Six Vegas was released and based on the gameplay videos of Wildlands, neither does Ghost Recon. But such is the fate of many franchises which are being used for their popularity to advertise newer and sometimes different games.
                Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is an open world action game set in Bolivia where a team of ghosts is fighting a 4-man battle against the drug cartels. Following the current trend, Wildlands will feature a campaign that can be played either solo with the help of an AI controlled team or in co-op with up to 3 other players. As there is a brutal battle ahead, the ghosts will use any means necessary to take down the cartel in a gameplay that allows for total freedom. Stealth, tactical approaches or guns blazing are options which can be employed by the players and their team. From the tactical approaches to the drivable vehicles or the leveling system, the players are in control to do as they see fit and free Bolivia from the drugs yoke.
                Wildlands might be a streamlined version of what Ghost Recon used to be and its marketing campaign has had some ups and downs, but its gameplay and unique environment can still turn it into  a good game, if not, the co-op will surely make this worth it for some players.

Styx: Shards of Darkness
Release Date: March 14

                The goblin assassin/thief is back and this time around he is not alone. Styx has brought reinforcements in case he gets lonely as the Shards of Darkness story can be experienced in solo mode or 2 player co-op.
                Styx’s new mission will have him traversing the lands of the dwarfs and climbing over the city of the elves in multilayered open world levels created with the power of Unreal Engine 4. The goblin has obtained new weapons and powers to deal with the dangerous task at hand allowing for more creative approaches in any situation.
                The story and the world seem to be deeply explored in Shards of Darkness and the new graphics make it easy on the eye, but the most impactful improvement comes from the new movement animations which don’t seem share the clunkiness of the predecessor. Master of Shadows was a first step in the right direction and the continuation of Styx’s saga is shaping up to be more and more as the action-stealth game that those growing up with the Thief series are expecting.

Tokyo 42
Release Date: Early 2017

                A little bit of Grand Theft Auto, a little bit of Syndicate and a clean artistic direction is the recipe behind Tokyo 42 by SMAC Games
                The game is about an assassin attempting to uncover a global conspiracy using stealth or straight up fighting to navigate through colorful and intricately designed levels populated with NPCs behaving realistically. Controlled jumps, bullet physics and crowd simulation are mechanics upholding the gameplay that can turn from a stealth simulation to a frenetic bullet dodging in a moment.
                Tokyo 42 is taking advantage of its clean yet detailed graphics to provide multilayered levels to deliver a game that is following on the footsteps of its inspiration.

Release Date: July

                Sundered is a Metroidvania action game with 2D hand drawn graphics and a story delving deep in eldritch secrets from the creators of Jotun.
                In Sundered we will play as Eshe and explore a vertical ruined world filled with eldritch horror while battling powerful creatures and bosses using 7 major abilities. Resist or embrace is the thematic of the game as we can choose to try and withstand the corruption or embrace it to gain power at the price of our humanity.
                Sundered already had a release on sight, but the developers have launched a Kickstarter campaign this month giving backers access to multiple phases of testing to narrow down any problems and further enrich the game with content.

Release Date: Q2, currently in Early Access

                In the midst of spatial games hysteria, ROCKFISH Games takes a sidestep creating something unexpected. EVERSPACE is an action space game launched in Early Access featuring a roguelite game mode with a persistent progression system. Currently, the players can choose between 2 ships and use 6DOF controls to explore a visually stunning galaxy while fighting against various enemy factions and scavenging for resources in order to upgrade their ships.
                I’ve played EVERSPACE and while the game severely lacked variety in gameplay, I thought it was a promising title that could get really good if the developers played their cards right. The game is set for a release this year and the final version should include a non-linear story, VR support, one additional ship and a Hardcore mode.

Assassin’s Creed Empire
Release Date: TBA

                After a break of almost two years the Assassin’s Creed is ready to come back as part of Ubisoft’s main games and rumors say it will take us to ancient Egypt.
                The developers have taken this time to rethink and redefine some of the gameplay elements of the series which have went deep into action territory with little room left for stealth. I’m curious to see what this entails for the new game and how the new setting will turn out, Egypt being a rare sight for most genres other than strategies.

Release Date: TBA

                Below has been on every upcoming games list I’ve made so far and was supposed to come out last summer before it was postponed indefinitely. Is this the year it will finally be released?
                The game is a neat mix between action, adventure, survival and roguelike which has the players exploring the procedurally generated depths of an island through an extremely zoomed out top-down camera that’s inducing a feeling of loneliness and fear. A small warrior lost in a labyrinthine place has to scavenge and fight for his survival in a place lurking with mysterious creatures.
                It was love at first sight seeing Below’s concept and artistic direction in the first trailer years ago and I’m really hoping this project isn’t lost in development hell and makes its way to us this year.

Release Date: TBA

                Exploding Tuba Studios is working on Divide, an isometric action adventure with a gameplay that doesn’t hold by the hand. Set in a futuristic world where the truth is hidden beneath deep layers of lies and misinformation, Divide will have the players drawing their own conclusions from each text and dialogue. With the odds stacked against the players, sneaking and hacking seem like a good way to get past enemies and the large combat areas, but if things get out of control, advanced side-arms might help in solving the problem.
                Playing like a sci-fi dungeon crawler, Divide combines action and adventure with an interesting take on narrative to deliver the kind of gameplay we don’t see often.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Release Date: TBA

                Ninja Theory, the creators of DmC: Devil May Cry, have been working for a while on an action game which has been described as an indie AAA. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice follows the Celtic warrior Senua in a journey through the Vikings lands as she has to deal with psychosis which causes manifestation of hellish creatures in a blurred line between reality and nightmare. Hellblade will focus on delivering a deep and meaningful story presenting Senua’s struggle as well as a challenging combat that should remind players of games like Dark Souls.
                The developers have put a lot of time, resources and effort into making Senua a believable character with motion capture being a big part of the development process. The gameplay hasn’t been detailed in any video since 2015 which does raise some questions, but with the release approaching we might find more about the game soon.

Hitman – Season 2
Release Date: TBA

                Hitman, my last year’s GOTY, is not done yet. While regularly releasing free content Io-Interactive is going to capitalize on the new successful formula by expanding the game with a new season. Hitman is already a content rich game that has a ton of replay value, but the story hasn’t been concluded. There is an unfinished business in Paris and many other targets left in the world that will take Agent 47 to new locations with new challenges and rewards.
Hitman Season 2 will continue the story in the same episodic format and it is safe to assume that it will contain at least 6 episodes and more elusive targets to deal with.

Release Date: TBA

                Reikon Games is debuting with an extremely promising title. Ruiner is a violent isometric action game set in a cyberpunk city controlled by a corrupt system forcing a sociopath to take a stand. The highlight is a lightning fast combat system combining reflexes with a tactical slow motion that can provide the edge during the toughest fights. Players will have to balance a wide variety of sci-fi gadgets with melee and ranged weapons to strike down ruthless enemies in the path to uncover the truth.
                Ruiner is a good looking game with an intriguing premise and a combat system that looks amazing and frustratingly hard at the same time. So, naturally, I can’t wait to see what this game has to offer!

State of Decay 2
Release Date: TBA

                Arcady, buggy and abandoned by the developers, State of Decay is still one of the best singleplayer zombie apocalypse survival games I’ve played. The idea of a sequel makes me happy while the possibility of being Windows 10 exclusive worries me.
                State of Decay 2 is a survival game where players have to take care of a community and fight for survival in a world ravaged by a zombie outbreak, but not by themselves. The game comes with the highly anticipated co-op mode with a support for up to 4 players to deal with the zombie apocalypse in a more organized and fun way.
                Building and fortifying the base, scavenging for resources, character’s progression, upgrades and a community management system, State of Decay 2 has them all plus much more and it will hopefully include a Steam launch.

                I’ve been working on this list for days writing about games I’m expecting, digging for new ones and remembering some that have been forgotten and the end result is more than satisfying. Not every genre is as highly represented as this one, but it’s hard not to find something appealing on this list that can inspire great hopes for this gaming year.

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