2016 Preview Day Two (Danganronpa-Far Cry)

Welcome to Day 2 of my 2016 preview.  Like I said here, this is just a collection of games coming out this year in alphabetical order and my thoughts about what we might be able to expect from them.  Today we have two stealth games, two Bethesda games, two games with the work “Dark” in the title, and one game that I’m using just to talk about new hardware.  These are the 10 games ranging from Danganronpa V3 to Far Cry Primal.

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Danganronpa V3
Developer: 
Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Platforms: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4
Release Date: TBA 2016

In the past few years, I’ve opened my mind towards Japanese games a lot more.  This year, I want to extend that to visual novels.  As a recent owner of a PlayStation Vita, I plan on playing through the other two Danganronpa games sometime this year (as well as another visual novel series that we will get to later).  The series seems awesome in a kind of ridiculous way.  I have heard nothing but praise from those who have played the games.  And despite not playing them myself, I already love Monokuma as a character from the little I know about him.  This game probably won’t come West in 2016, giving me more time to play the first two.  Once I do so I’ll be able to talk more in depth about my expectations for V3.

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Dark Souls III
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: April 12, 2016

I have a history with the Souls series that I’m sure is a common one.  I tried to get into Dark Souls multiple times and couldn’t do it.  There was just always something about the way the game played and relayed information that never clicked with me.  Then when Bloodborne came out last year, I gave From Software another shot.  I liked Bloodborne.  The reduced complexity and faster movement made me enjoy Bloodborne much more than Dark Souls.  I also think that playing and discovering the game alongside everybody else helped improve my experience.  I should be clear, I never finished Bloodborne.  I reached a point where I hit a wall, stopped playing for about a week, and after that I could never get back into it.  I’m ready for another experience like that though, and Dark Souls III seems to combine what people like about Dark Souls with what people like about Bloodborne.  It appears to have the depth and complexity of character builds from Dark Souls and the improved combat from Bloodborne.  I worry about franchise fatigue slowing down sales of this game, but I am also pleased to hear that this is supposedly the last game in the series, allowing From and Miyazaki to move on to something new.  After what they’ve done with this franchise, I can’t wait to see what they do next.

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Darkest Dungeon
Developer: Red Hook Studios
Publisher: Red Hook Studios
Platforms: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: January 19, 2016 (PC)

This will be one of the first games releasing this year (although I’m personally waiting for the Vita version).  Darkest Dungeon has spent the past year in early access, so there are plenty of impressions of the game already out there.  I haven’t touched the game yet, as I typically don’t want to burn out on a game when it’s in early access.  From all accounts, Darkest Dungeon is a hardcore dungeon crawling RPG.  The combat seems to be a basic turn-based system with a few variations to it.  For instance, I believe that the positioning of your guys matters when it comes to who gets hit.  But the systems that set Darkest Dungeon apart are those dealing with the mental status of your party members.  For instance, they can go crazy or get depressed which will effect how they perform in battle.  This doesn’t just happen randomly too.  It is all dependent on how you play the game.  You can also do things to lessen the chance of these effects taking place or reverse them if they already have.  This adds an extra layer to the meta-game that makes Darkest Dungeon feel unique compared to other games in its genre.  It also has an incredible art style that immediately had my attention when I first saw it.  I could see myself spending months banging my head against Darkest Dungeon.  I just hope it comes to the Vita sometime this year.

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Death’s Gambit
Developer: White Rabbit Interactive
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: TBA 2016

Death’s Gambit is, for me, the most intriguing title coming out of Adult Swim’s new video game publishing endeavor.  The game has a beautiful pixel-art style with incredible animation and creature design.  I will note that one knock against the game’s visuals is that the protagonist looks like a one-for-one copy of the main character in Hyper Light Drifter (a game we will get to later).  Regardless, the game looks like a ton of fun.  When I first saw it, I thought it would be another 2D Dark Souls (see Salt and Sanctuary).  When doing more research I discovered that it is actually more comparable to a 2D Shadow of the Colossus.  You are on an alien world full of monsters that you have to kill.  The game involves you riding your horse around the world to get to the next boss fight.  These fights involve monsters that are physically intimidating and require specific tactics to take down.  Some of them even require you to climb them in order to kill them, ala Shadow.  I love Shadow of the Colossus, but none of the indie games that have tried to take on the game have really lived up to it.  I liked Titan Souls alright, but it definitely wore thin on me pretty soon.  This game has the scale and atmosphere to live up to Team ICO’s masterpiece, and I hope it can do the concept justice.

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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Developer: Eidos-Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: August 23, 2016

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a cool game.  I named-dropped it on Day One when talking about Cyberpunk, and I think it is a pretty safe statement to say that it is the best realization of a cyberpunk world in a modern video game.  It had a good contrast of gritty and sterile that made the cities you visited feel alive and real.  It was also an incredible modernization of a beloved franchise.  It did the almost impossible by satisfying fans of the original while also attracting a new audience.  It kept the spirit of being able to play the game however you want while having modern production values and not being absurdly complex.  It is one of my favorite games of the last generation, but that isn’t to say it is without its faults.  The controls could be frustrating to deal with at times, and the boss fights were terrible.  I was always excited about how they could improve with a sequel.  Eidos-Montreal has said that they are focusing on action when developing the new game, and the trailers and demos they’ve shown display that.  I take this as a good sign.  They have said that most people played the original in a stealthy way, and that both options are viable throughout the entire game (including boss fights).  Therefore, I take the focus on action as an attempt to make action a more viable option than it was in Human Revolution.  Like I said before, the controls could be very clunky and didn’t work very well when you had to act on your feet.  As somebody who likes to explore both options, I like the idea that they are focusing on improving the weaker side of the first game, even if that isn’t what most people would want.  Overall, I just want another Deus Ex game.  I want to augment Adam Jensen, explore a cyberpunk world, take meaningful, complex side missions, and read some email.

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Dishonored 2
Developer: Arkane Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: TBA 2016

Following Deus Ex on this list is a game that is very similar to Deus Ex.  Dishonored is one of the best examples of letting players play a game however they want.  Both passive and aggressive strategies were rewarded in the first game.  The movement capabilities given to the player made both of these viable and awesome to pull off.  The world of Dunwall was also a very intriguing one, despite the story of the first game being a little flat.  We don’t know much about Dishonored 2 at this point.  We know that it will give you to option to play as either Emily Kaldwin or Corvo Attano.  Both of them have unique abilities, making multiple playthroughs even more worthwhile than they were in the first game.  This also gives Arkane the ability to do interesting things with the storytelling.  Corvo and Emily play through the same missions, but they each bring a unique perspective to them.  I hope that they develop these characters more than they did in the first game.  We also know that the game takes place in a different city.  This one looks much more Mediterranean than Dunwall, which had an industrial England vibe to it.  I think both of these settings are fine, but I do like that they are changing up the aesthetics for the sequel.  I liked the way the first game looked, but I’m always down for something new.  The big mechanical difference we know of is in-depth skill tress for each power.  This allows for far more customization than the first game had.  I can’t get too excited considering all we have seen is a trailer, but I do look forward to seeing more from this promising property.

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Doom
Developer: 
id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: Spring 2016

Doom is one of two first person shooters on this list and the only one to feature a singleplayer campaign.  I fully expect a new Call of Duty and Battlefield 5 to release this fall, but the apparent drought of shooters makes me more excited for the new Doom.  Bethesda created Machine Games to revive Wolfenstein two years ago, proving that the singleplayer shooter is still viable in today’s market.  Now it is id Software’s turn to prove that the storied developer is still capable of making great games by reviving this other classic id IP.  The footage shown at E3 last year looked promising.  My one big complaint with it was that the enemy designs looked bad, but the recent Game Informer feature shows that changes have been made to them.  The gunplay looked solid, but that is really something that I won’t know for sure until I play it.  The impressions from the multiplayer alpha have been mixed, but I’m not really coming to this game for the multiplayer.  I’ll play it if it’s good, but I would rather destroy demons than other player characters.  Regardless, I do worry about how Doom can remain relevant in 2016.  If it is just a good Doom game that is fun to play, that will probably be enough for me.  However, what made Wolfenstein a surprise hit was how Machine Games managed to tell an engaging story in a franchise not known for that.  I worry that the same expectation will be placed on Doom when I don’t really think id is going for that.  In the end, I expect a solid shooter that fails to do anything special, which will probably be a problem for a franchise as revolutionary as Doom.

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Dragon Quest XI
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo NX
Release Date: TBA 2016

This is my entry to talk about how excited I am for the NX.  That’s because Dragon Quest XI is the only game announced for that system.  There has been a lot of talk about the NX being a combination of Nintendo’s handheld and console businesses.  I’m really curious to see how they do this.  That’s of course all speculative, but Dragon Quest XI adds weight to this prediction.  The other two platforms the game is announced for are the PlayStation 4 and the 3DS.  The PS4 version of the game is a modern, 3D Dragon Quest game while the 3DS version is an old school, top-down version.  I can imagine the NX version being both of these games, with the PS4 version on the console and the 3DS version on the handheld.  This is such a unique use case that will only work for specific games, but so is every piece of hardware Nintendo makes.  Just imagine a 3D Zelda or Metroid that comes packaged with a 2D version of the game.  With how most of Nintendo’s franchises have evolved over the years, this idea has a ton of potential.  Also, Dragon Quest XI looks good.  The two versions thing is cool, and I’m glad that it’s not an MMO.  It also probably won’t come out in the West in 2016.

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Enter the Gungeon
Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: TBA 2016

Devolver Digital has slowly but surely become one of my favorite publishers over the past few years.  Their lineup is diverse, and in a downloadable games market where you don’t always know what you’re getting into, the Devolver logo is always a mark of quality that I can trust.  In addition to this, I’ve been playing a lot of Nuclear Throne lately and really enjoying it.  These two things make me excited for Enter the Gungeon, which seems very derivative of Vlambeer’s roguelike.  What I love about Nuclear Throne is that it is a roguelike predicated more on challenging and engaging gameplay and less on trying to get a good build.  At first glance, Enter the Gungeon looked like a total copycat, but once I watched some more extended gameplay I started to notice what makes it unique.  Nuclear Throne is very much a bullet-hell game.  You have to keep moving and shooting, and there aren’t many mechanics other than those two.  Gungeon has that too, but it also has more of a Zelda feel to it.  What I mean by this is that the dungeons require platforming and light puzzle-solving in addition to just shooting.  If these segments offer good variety and Dodge Roll nails the shooting, then Enter the Gungeon could surpass one of my favorite recent roguelikes.

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Far Cry Primal
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: February 23, 2016

Far Cry Primal is a weird game.  It was announced within six months of its launch, something very rare in the AAA space.  This lead to a lot of assumptions that it would be similar to Far Cry: Blood Dragon, a standalone expansion to Far Cry 3.  However, Primal is a full, $60 game.  That worries me.  Far Cry 3 was a great game and a coming out party for this franchise.  Far Cry 4 was also great, but ultimately a very similar game to its predecessor.  That game’s biggest praise and biggest criticism is that it was more Far Cry 3.  On one hand, Far Cry 3 is a great game that I wanted more of.  On the other hand, it is a lot less impressive a second time around.  This, combined with Ubisoft’s track record not only of Assassin’s Creed being more of the same every year but also of all their open world games using the same basic formula, meant that while I was excited for the announcement of a new Far Cry, I was also incredibly nervous.  Primal definitely changes things up.  Taking the guns out of a first person shooter is a pretty big deal.  However, when looking at the footage, I’m not sure that this is a change that I want.  I’m sure the game with still have the same structure of the previous games with outposts, towers, etc.  I don’t know if the mechanical changes will be enough to make up for the structural similarity.  I also don’t even know if the mechanical changes will be positive ones.  When I said Far Cry 4 was too similar to Far Cry 3, it wasn’t because the shooting was the same.  It was, but that didn’t bother me.   Primal comes off as a stop-gap game while another team is working on Far Cry 5.  This worked for Blood Dragon, but that game was short and inexpensive.  A full-priced, experimental Far Cry game is not the most appealing thing in the world.  The Far Cry formula still works, but it is starting to wear thin.  Primal has the ability to change things drastically, I just doubt it will.

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