Friday, January 13, 2017

The Upcoming Shooters in 2017

                A new year means new games and a series of articles is in order to talk about what 2017 has in store for the PC gamers. I’m going to start with shooters as it is the least represented genre but well concentrated in a group of interesting games.
As usual, these articles include the most expected games and those I find promising, but not all the games confirmed for 2017.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
Release Date: Early 2017

                Now that Killing Floor 2 is out of Early Access, Tripwire Interactive can focus more on their partnership with Antimatter Games for Rising Storm 2: Vietnam.
                Antimatter Games is a studio formed from the team who developed the original Rising Storm so there is no reason to worry. The developers aim for an authentic recreation of the Vietnam war featuring an asymmetric conflict between the conventional US army equipped with advanced military technology and the Vietnamese guerilla forces. Helicopters will reign over the skies as Vietnamese forces hide in the lush jungles using the defender’s advantage to set traps and lure the enemies in. The maps and game modes will range from smaller squad against squad conflicts to a full out war with up to 64 players. Communication and coordination will be crucial and there will be no unlocks to distract the players from the tactical gameplay.
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam is another game returning to the roots of military online shooters before they got riddled with arcade elements and tons of unlocks. It won’t appeal to everyone, but those who appreciate gameplay above anything else, might be in for a treat.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3
Release Date: April 4

The third installment in the Ghost Warrior series by CI Games is switching from the classic formula with levels to an open world environment featuring a proxy conflict and a civil war in Georgia. The new change goes hand in hand with a gameplay that allows multiple approaches. Players can use drones and vantage points to scout providing tactical information that can be vital in completing objectives either by sniping, sneaking around or running and gunning through outposts swarming with enemies.
The gameplay and world design look intriguing and the CryEngine powered graphics are not too shabby despite showing some lack of animations polishing, but I can’t shake off a feeling of Far Cry despite the more tactical approach. On April 4th we’ll find out if Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is an evolution of the series or a streamlined game appealing to a wider audience.

Release Date: Q1

                Pixel Titans are turning back time to the early 90s when shooters like DOOM and Quake were some of the most popular games. Strafe is using pixelated graphics and an action packed gameplay to bring an homage to the birth era of shooters.
                At its core Strafe is an old school style FPS preying on the nostalgia of older gamers, but with a bunch of newer features and mechanics designed to create possibly endless entertainment options. As the players board the spaceship Icarus, they will be entering procedurally generated levels filled with more than 20 different types of enemies ready to be blown into pieces with a wide upgradeable arsenal while players are kept on their toes by roguelike mechanics.
                Strafe looks like an action packed shooter meant to trigger nostalgia while entertaining players with its fast-paced gameplay or Oculus Rift support and following after DOOM’s great comeback, it might just succeed at that.

Release Date: Spring

                Prey wasn’t the revolutionary shooter everyone expected it to be, but we remember it fondly for its troubled development and cool portal mechanics or puzzles. Bethesda Softworks has scratched the sequel made by Human Head Studios handing the IP to Arkane Studios to revive it in a System Shock fashion that looks right up my alley.
Players will take the role of Morgan Yu, a human part of an experiment meant to change humanity forever, waking up aboard the Talos I space station which is now overrun by powerful alien entities. With an altered DNA that gives him tremendous powers, Morgan has to fight the horrific creatures that threaten life as we know it.
The game is melting together FPS with a RPG progression to create a gameplay with multiple options setting a solid platform for creative fun in the style of Arkane Studios, but this time using the great elements defined by System Shock.
                The combination of CryEngine powered graphics, Arkane’s talented gameplay designers, Shock-esque elements and a story that has Chris Avellone as writer, makes Prey one of the most promising games of this year. Hopefully the performance problems of Dishonored 2 won’t follow Arkane as it will be a great shame to ruin another game.

Get Even
Release Date: Spring

                More than three years have passed since The Farm 51 announced their new First Person Shooter, Get Even. The only game on this list with horror elements, Get Even features the story of Cole Black, a man who awakes in an asylum with few recollections about his past. Using a technology fused with his head that allows him to read and replay memories he travels into his own mind to find the truth about himself.
                The gameplay trailer isn’t very informative but it does showcase some gorgeous almost photorealistic environments. We also go to see some thrilling moments as Cole Black tries to uncover what went wrong and why he is haunted by the memory of a teenage girl with a bomb strapped to her. The long wait is almost over and this spring we will be able to see with whom and why we have to get even.

Battalion 1944
Release Date: TBA

                Historical settings are making a return for First Person Shooters and after two games set in WWI it was only natural to pay a visit to WWII theaters. Battalion 1944 is an infantry based multiplayer shooter in the likes of Medal of Honor and the first two Call of Duty games.
                Battalion 1944 promises a competitive oriented experience rooted in the player’s skill without weapon unlocks or overpowering perks. Players can partake in seasonal competitions on a global scale to earn cosmetic rewards and prove their worth in battle fighting in classic modes like Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch or Domination.
The developers at Bulkhead Interactive want a lasting game and they don’t plan on overlooking the graphics. Being powered by Unreal Engine 4, Battalion 1944 will provide realistic and beautiful environments that stay true to the era.
                Over 10,000 backers helped this project become a reality raising three times the initial goal and proving there is a living interest in the almost abandoned WWII. Battalion 1944 is a great looking and promising title with a potential eSports future. We’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.

Star Wars Battlefront II
Release Date: TBA

                A while back the CFO of EA, Blake Jorgensen, confirmed that the 10 years deal struck with Disney will bring many Star Wars games including a few iterations of Battlefront. EA DICE’s remake of Star Wars Battlefront was a financial success, but the players didn’t stick with it for long. The lack of gameplay depth and the design choices meant to differentiate the game from Battlefield took away from the appeal and replay value, but things are about to change or so we hope.
                The main addition to Star Wars Battlefront II is a singleplayer campaign, something I stated many times I find unnecessary in a well done multiplayer game, but the fans asked and EA DICE is delivering. Following on the requests of the fanbase, the sequel will have a skirmish mode which will allow players to fight in offline battles against AI enemies like in the older games. The last confirmed information states that Battlefront II will have bigger and better worlds, including battles from the latest movies.
Not much is known at the current time, but changes are made based on players’ feedback which could be good news. My only hope is that Battlefront II moves away from the arcade elements of the predecessor towards the Battlefield approach of the older games made by Pandemic Studios and LucasArts, but not without trying to innovate.

Insurgency: Sandstorm
Release Date: TBA

                Sandstorm is the Unreal Engine 4 remake of New World Interactive’s Insurgency that is not ignoring the PC market despite targeting the current gen consoles. The remake will stay true in gameplay to the original game while bringing new features including an eSports framework and a new story mode. It’s no surprise that New World Interactive tries to make Insurgency an eSport, the game has all the right elements and therefore a huge potential for competitive play. The surprise is the new story mode which will have a squad of characters going through some rough battles during the 2003 Iraq invasion.
                Not much else is known at the current time aside of the fact that Sandstorm is going to be published by Focus Home Interactive. I enjoyed Insurgency tremendously and I’ve always felt it was held back by the technology behind it. Unreal Engine 4 is going to positively affect the experience and the few screenshots stand as proof.

Release Date: TBA

Cliff Bleszinski is returning with LawBreakers, a fast paced First Person Shooter mixing Unreal Tournament with the increasingly popular hero shooters.
The game is set in a dystopian future where players will fight to protect the law or take side with those who break it. The players will choose between one of the four symmetrical roles for each faction to battle on gravity defying maps that favor fast movement and skill.
                LawBreakers is catering to the needs of old school fans of arena shooters with an unforgiving gameplay leaning towards eSports that reminds me of Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament.

Release Date: TBA

                Squad is the next big modern warfare simulator that’s going to contest ARMA 3’s supremacy. Made by the people behind the Battlefield 2 and ARMA 2 Project Reality mods, Squad is targeting the same playerbase of hardcore warfare fans which don’t shy away from role playing a soldier.
                Developed using Unreal Engine 4, Squad has some pretty neat visuals for a game born out of crowdfunding, providing some of the most realistic combat effects I’ve seen in a game of this type. Explosions and particle effects in general induce the feeling of a real war and the illumination casts its colorful play of light and shadows over the vast maps with a gameplay changing result. The gameplay itself is pretty hardcore with few HUD elements, slower movement or animations and a difficult shooting that requires more knowledge from the players. The combined arms warfare requires strategic planning and tactical execution as every resource is valuable and wasting them will put the team on the losing end of the battle.
                Squad is still in Alpha stage and awaits the introduction of air support and specialized ground vehicles as well as many other gameplay mechanics and features that were promised in the Kickstarter campaign. But the game is on the right track with a solid base gameplay and features that continue to evolve through the commitment of the developers and the feedback provided by the players.

2016 was a surprisingly good year for this genre but 2017 doesn’t want to be outdone. While this list is dominated by multiplayer games, there are shooters fitting everyone’s taste including some interesting singleplayer adventures. This article is showcasing a pretty solid gaming year for shooters, but just wait to see the other genres!

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