The first quarter of 2017 was a veritable gift from the video game gods. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild soared beyond expectations while redefining what the long-standing series can be, Horizon: Zero Dawn masterfully showcased a memorable heroine and unique post-apocalyptic vision, and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard finally reacquainted the franchise with its survival horror roots; just to highlight a few. These last several months have truly been a shining beacon in the near-endless sea of gaming releases. So many games, so many good games.
Sadly, as we approach the end of spring, that torrent of AAA releases has already begun to slow. And thus, we begrudgingly enter the infamous summer slump. But don’t worry; in-between your outdoor adventures, beach trips, and family barbecues, there will still be plenty of video games to keep you busy until the holiday season. Survive the midyear gaming lull with these upcoming video games arranged by release date.
1. Outlast 2
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Platform: PS4, XB1, PC
Thrill seekers, horror lovers, and fear fanatics rejoice! Outlast 2 has officially arrived and it promises to scare your pants off. As the sequel to Red Barrels’ survival horror game Outlast, we know generally what to expect from Outlast 2. Jump scares? Check. Creepy isolated village? Double check. Supernatural entities? You know where we’re going with this. The second installment occupies the same gameplay mechanics as its predecessor – suspenseful exploration in the first person perspective, navigating through pitch-darkness, and fearfully running for your life – all with new characters and a new setting, which takes place in a remote desert community filled with cryptic cultists.
If you’re new to the Outlast series, know this, when you play this game you will flinch in your seat, you will scream at your TV, and you will most likely embarrass yourself if playing in close proximity to others. If that’s your idea of a good time, (I know it is for me) then face your fears and buckle up for Outlast 2.
2. Dragon Quest Heroes II
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Platform: PS4, PC
Another anticipated sequel, Dragon Quest Heroes II brings even more hack-and-slash goodness to the JRPG franchise, along with the iconic characters, enemies, and lore that fans of Dragon Quest have come to love. This time around, players are thrust into a once-peaceful land now ravaged by war. Heroes from seven kingdoms must join together to restore peace and save their world. Don’t start singing Kumbaya just yet however, developer Omega Force’s style is alive and well in Dragon Quest Heroes II which means you’ll play through massive battles, fight hordes of enemies, and face off against loads of menacing bosses.
Several new gameplay elements make their debut in the sequel such as random battle encounters, the ability to switch classes, open-world exploration, weather effects, and co-operative multiplayer. For button-mashing, beat-em-up play with distinctive JRPG flair, look no further than Dragon Quest Heroes II.
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Platform: PS4, XB1, PC
Combine first person shooter combat with sci-fi aesthetics, add a hearty serving of open world exploration, and a spoonful of Arkane Studios’ signature homage to player choice, and you’ve successfully baked a summary soufflé of Prey. Cooking metaphors aside, Prey puts players in the shoes of Morgan Yu, a guy or gal who wakes up on the space station Talos I just as all hell breaks loose. Aliens have overrun the facility, and not the nice kind. Yu must escape the doomed space station, and figure out how everything went so horribly wrong. Oh and save humanity, you can’t forget that.
Yu will be forced to explore Talos I, scavenge for supplies, harness MacGyver-like crafting skills, and defend himself from the many threats lurking about; alien and otherwise. Luckily, you’ll have quite an assortment of tools at your disposal such as futuristic weaponry, upgraded abilities, and even alien powers. Channel your inner Ellen Ripley and prepare for survival at all costs.
4. Injustice 2
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Platform: PS4, XB1
In 2017, comic culture is adored and appreciated by the mainstream like never before. As much as I love many of the cinema and television adaptations, they can only immerse you so far into the larger-than-life genius of the source material. With video games however, it’s possible to bridge the gap between storytelling, over-the-top action sequences, and interactivity. Watching Batman duel Superman is always enjoyable, but actually doing it with your two hands, is in a special class of its own.
NetherRealm Studios’ Injustice 2 is the ultimate DC Universe battle royale, not to mention, the perfect medium to act out your most debated “Who Would Win” scenarios. The second installment boasts a larger roster, more devastating super-powered combat, and a new Gear System which allows players to customize characters’ appearances, stats, and abilities. With both a single player campaign and multiplayer modes to sink your thumbs into, Injustice 2 has the potential to keep you occupied for a long, long time.
5. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Release Date: May 19, 2017
Ready for a blast from the past? Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia takes the series back over two decades to its second-ever title, the 1992 Famicom hit Fire Emblem Gaiden. Never before released in the West, Fire Emblem Echoes is a full remake of Gaiden and thus, it has all the upgrades you’d expect from a recent installment such as fully voiced cinematic sequences, 3D dungeons, and a mix of modern and legacy gameplay elements.
Experience the ultimate fusion of old meets new and all the nail-biting, tactical play that you can handle this May with Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.
6. Tekken 7
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Platform: PS4, XB1, PC
Few fighting franchises command the same respect and diehard fervor as the long-standing Tekken series. The seventh core notch in Bandai Namco’s plentiful belt, Tekken 7 is the first ever game in the lineup to utilize Unreal Engine 4, a system known for its graphical fidelity. Still faithful to its 3D arcade roots, Tekken 7 adds new mechanics to its tried and true gameplay formula such as new critical attacks called Rage Arts, and the Power Crush, an absorption technique similar to Focus Attacks from Street Fighter IV.
Speaking of Street Fighter, celebrated nemesis Akuma is set to make his crossover debut in the Tekken universe. Not only is Akuma a playable character in Tekken 7, he also plays a vital role in the game’s story. The new train doesn’t stop there; the latest installment features a roster of over 30 characters and will present the narrative conclusion of the epic in-game plotline, the Mishima Blood Saga.
7. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Do you hear that? Your childhood is calling. Crash Bandicoot is back and he’s bringing all the platforming nostalgia you’ve been missing. The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy packs three classic Crash games into one souped up, delightfully sentimental package – Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped.
The trilogy features high-definition 4K graphics, fully remastered audio, and a slew of new features including unified checkpoints, pause menus, manual and automatic saving, and time trials. It’s been over two decades since the shorts-wearing, anthropomorphic marsupial first spin-jumped into our hearts, and we’re well overdue for another rendezvous.
8. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Few series ignite the warm and fuzzy feelings of remembrance quite like the thirty-year-strong Final Fantasy franchise. While most of us (myself included) are patiently waiting to bask in the almighty glow of the Final Fantasy VII remake, Square Enix is hoping to appease our hunger for JRPG glory with another appreciated addition, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age.
The Zodiac Age is not your average remastered edition. While the graphics and audio have been upgraded to high-def standards, the real allure comes from all the gameplay improvements and additional features. The Zodiac Job system improves character leveling and adds new playable classes/jobs, Trial mode puts players to the test against 100 consecutive battles, and modern enhancements like trophy support and PS4 share functionality are welcome additions. Easily spanning over 100 hours of gameplay, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age could be all the gaming fun you need to survive the summer.
9. Splatoon 2
Release Date: July 21, 2017
One of the first Nintendo Switch exclusives, Splatoon 2 is kicking up the colorful chaos on Nintendo’s newest console this July. The inked-out sequel is loaded with multiplayer action via both online matches and local split screen. Fans of the squid-tastic original will love the array of new features like brand new weaponry, a dodge roll maneuver, new characters, and additional game modes.
Just as with the original, the devs have promised that Splatoon 2 will receive regular updates filled with extra content post launch, which is always cause for celebration. Even cooler, LAN support is alive and well in Splatoon 2, meaning up to 10 people can connect locally for a private tournament and get down with some serious competitive play. Whether you’re into casual bouts against friends or being crowned the king-cephalopod at a tourney event, Splatoon 2 has you covered…hopefully not in multi-cover ink though.
10. Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Release Date: Aug 22, 2017
Platform: PS4, XB1, PC
It’s been three years since we set foot into J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium as Talion the ranger, three years since we disrupted Sauron’s armies and rained destruction down on Mordor, and finally, the wait for more is almost over. The sequel to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is slated for a late August release and Developer Monolith Productions has already painted an optimistic picture; promising a “richer, more personal, and expansive world”.
Its predecessor’s claim to fame was the revolutionary Nemesis System in which enemies would evolve based on their encounters with the player. Shadow of War builds upon this core feature by expanding its reach. Not only will enemies grow and change based on their experiences, the player’s actions and decisions will influence the environments and characters that you come across. Will you forge relationships and build strong alliances, or crush all who cross your path? The choice is yours.
From sequels and remakes to remastered editions and spiritual successors, summer 2017 is shaping up to be quite the nostalgia-fest. After spending an hour with the Prey demo, I’m particularly excited to see what the sci-fi thriller has to offer. Which games do you plan on spending the most time with this summer?
Other Major Upcoming Releases (Confirmed)
Birthdays the Beginning – May 9th, 2017
RiME – May 26th, 2017
Hey, Pikmin! – July 28th, 2017
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – Aug 22nd, 2017
Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite – Sept 19th, 2017
Call of Duty: WWII – Nov 3rd, 2017
Star Wars Battlefront II – Nov 17th, 2017