2016 Preview Day 4 (Hyper Light Drifter – Overwatch)

The 2016 preview continues with day 4 of 7.  Click here to see all of the other days.  Today’s list covers two sequels to cult classics, two space games, and two kickstarted games.  Of the games on today’s list, Mirror’s Edge, Nier, and Hyper Light Drifter are the three that stick out to me, but I see a decent amount of potential in all of them (except maybe Mighty No. 9).  But let’s be hopeful that they’re all great games that manage to meet or exceed expectations.

1

Hyper Light Drifter
Developer: 
Heart Machine
Publisher: Heart Machine
Platforms: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, Ouya
Release Date: Q1 2016

Hyper Light Drifter would have been on this list the past two years as well, but it seems like it will finally see its release in 2016.  Visually, Hyper Light Drifter is a very striking game.  The pixel art is incredibly well done, and the game takes place in an awe-inspiring world.  This, combined with a soundtrack from FEZ composer Disasterpiece means that Hyper Light Drifter is going to be a very aesthetically pleasing game.  The game is an action RPG in a similar vain to A Link to the Past.  The action shown so far looks fast and impactful.  The story involves the main character search for a cure to his illness.  This is meant to parallel developer Alex Preston’s own battle with heart disease.  It has been a long time since Hyper Light Drifter largely surpassed its kickstarter goal, but the game has expanded in scope over time.  I’m excited to play Hyper Light Drifter and hope it doesn’t end up on this list again next year.

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Inside
Developer: 
Playdead
Publisher: Playdead
Platforms: Xbox One
Release Date: TBA 2016

LIMBO took the world by storm when it came out in 2010.  The black and white puzzle platformer was lauded for its atmosphere and minimalist storytelling.  Now it’s six years later and developer Playdead is back with a game that looks very similar to LIMBO.  And honestly, I don’t think that’s enough.  Plenty of games have come out in the past half decade that have drawn comparisons to LIMBO.  LIMBO was unique and novel when it came out, and Inside will not have nearly the same impact.  Jonathan Blow will also be releasing a long anticipated follow up this year.  However, The Witness looks nothing like Braid aside from the fact that they are both puzzle games.  Inside looks like LIMBO in a different setting.  The one thing it has going for it is that the setting looks really cool.  Inside gives off a 1984 vibe from what has been seen so far, and I imagine the story involves the main character trying to escape wherever he is.  The environments look varied, and the animation looks great.  I by no means think that Inside is going to be a bad game, but I also don’t think it can make much of an impact in 2016.

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Mafia III
Developer: 
Hangar 13
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: TBA 2016

Mafia II was a weird game in the sense that it was an open world game that had no reason to be open world.  You could drive or walk around New York if you wanted to, but there was nothing to do outside of story missions.  Mafia 3 is trying to rectify this and integrate the open world into the main storyline.  That storyline stars a Vietnam vet who is trying to take down the Italian mob with help from the black mob.  Since so many mafia stories are focused on the Italian mob, it is nice to see the conflict tackled from a different perspective.  Also what is different is the setting of New Orleans, a city not utilized nearly enough in video games.  This setting adds a visual flair to the game that the impressive tech and level of polish amplify.  The gameplay looks like a fairly generic third person shooter with some brutal melee finishers.  I also worry that the over the top action will not gel well with the more serious story.  Regardless, the game looks like it plays well enough that the story and world can make up for any mechanical shortcomings.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda
Developer: 
Bioware
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: Q4 2016

There are two reasons that I don’t have a ton to say about Mass Effect: Andromeda.  The first is that we still don’t know a whole lot.  What we do know is that the game is separated story wise from the previous trilogy and has you exploring the next closest galaxy, Andromeda.  This frontier style could be a lot of fun if done right.  I like games with a good sense of exploration, and nothing says exploration more than discovering a brand new galaxy.  The other reason I don’t have a ton to say is that Mass Effect is one of the bigger holes in my recent gaming history.  I plan on picking the trilogy up some time this year and playing through the first three games before Andromeda comes out.  However, until I do I can’t really comment on what I want from Andromeda.  Either way, this is the next entry in a highly lauded series from a highly lauded developer, so it definitely earns a place on this list

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Mighty No. 9
Developers: 
Comcept, Inti Creates
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: February 9, 2016

Oh, this thing.  Back when Mighty No. 9 was first kickstarted, public perception of Keiji Inafune was very different.  The ex-Capcom employee who made his name with Mega Man was seen as a creator whose vision was being held down by his company.  Mighty No. 9 was supposed to be the Mega Man spiritual successor that Capcom wouldn’t let him make.  Now, people kind of hate Keiji Inafune, and a few things have led to this.  First, Mighty No. 9’s final art style not only doesn’t look like the concept art but is actually pretty ugly.  Second, the gameplay changes that make it not just a straight Mega Man rip-off have been greeted with mixed reception.  Third, the game has been delayed multiple times, including delays for reasons such as a multiplayer mode that nobody cares about.  Fourth, it was announced years after the original crowdfunding campaign that Deep Silver was publishing the game, something that might have no effect on the quality of the game but makes Inafune look like more of a shady figure.  Fifth, Inafune is working with Armature Studios on ReCore, leading people to question his commitment to this game.  And the sixth and most significant thing that has turned the public against Keiji Inafune and MIghty No. 9 is Red Ash.  Red Ash was a game that Inafune put up on kickstarter last year as a spiritual successor to Mega Man Legends.  People were wary to kickstart this game because of the troubled development of Mighty No. 9.  Also, the game had an insane list of stretch goal tiers that made it look like what would be kickstarted would only be a small portion of a larger game.  Then, before the project was about to fail, Inafune announced that a Chinese investor was coming in to publish the game regardless.  All of this has resulted in the hype levels for Mighty No. 9 reaching an all-time low.  The game might be good, as preview coverage has been mostly positive, but it has to be outstanding in order to make people happy at this point, and Inafune does not have the chops to pull that off.

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Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
Developer: 
DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: May 24, 2016

I love the first Mirror’s Edge, but I didn’t always feel that way.  The first time I played the game, it failed to click with me.  I loved the world, the music, the art design, and the idea of the game, but I could never get a handle on the core mechanics.  Last year, I decided to give the game another chance, and I’m glad that I did.  All the stuff that I thought was great back then still held up, and now the free-running clicked with me too.  I was running through levels, trying to figure out the best path, and even beat the game without firing a single gun.  After beating the game, I jumped into the time trials mode to keep playing.  Mirror’s Edge went from a game I wished I liked more to one of my last generation favorites.  That being said, the game still had some problems.  The campaign was short with a story that failed to live up to its premise and levels that were clearly designed around you using guns.  The sequel looks to rectify these issues while also making other improvements.  Catalyst is an origin story that tells how Faith became a runner and delves deeper into her past.  I don’t need Mirror’s Edge to have a great story if it plays well, but it has been nice to see DICE focusing on it a bit more.  But the even bigger area of focus is totally redone combat.  You can no longer use guns in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.  Instead, DICE has improved the hand to hand combat system so that if keeps all of the momentum that the rest of the game has.  If there will be one marked improvement over the previous game, it will be that.  Catalyst is also an open world game, although we really don’t know what that means yet.  Mirror’s Edge makes sense in an open world since the majority of what a runner does is deliver packages, but I wonder how that world will be designed.  Will you be able to roam the streets, or will the open world be relegated to the rooftops.  Regardless, I’m just happy that the long awaited sequel to Mirror’s Edge is finally coming out.

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Nier: Automata
Developer: 
Platinum Games
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Release Date: TBA 2016

Mirror’s Edge isn’t the only cult classic getting a sequel this year.  2010’s Nier is also getting a PS4 exclusive sequel this year.  Nier is an even less expected sequel than Mirror’s Edge because while Mirror’s Edge sold poorly, it at least got a good critical reception, whereas Nier flopped on both fronts despite finding a hardcore following.  It’s failures actually caused the developer, Cavia, to shut down shortly after the game was released.  But despite all of this Square Enix is not only making a sequel, but they’re making a sequel that looks really good.  I never played the original Nier, but everything I’ve heard about it suggests that it had an incredible story marred by poor visuals and mediocre gameplay.   Nier: Automata doesn’t appear to have either of those issues.  The game looks beautiful, with a stellar art style, and the gameplay is this time being handled by Platinum Games.  I have some hangups about the amount of projects Platinum is currently handling, but they still remain the kings of character action games.  On the story side of things, Yoko Taro, the creator of the first game, is back for this one.  The combination of Taro and Platinum might be able to fully realize the potential that the first game had and make a true masterpiece as opposed to a flawed masterpiece.

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Ni-Oh
Developer: 
Team Ninja
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Release Date: TBA 2016

Ni-Oh came out of nowhere at Tokyo Game Show this year.  The game was actually announced in 2004 and was supposed to come to the PlayStation 3 in 2006.  There are a few games on this list that went through development hell, but Final Fantasy Versus XIII and The Last Guardian never left people’s consciousness.  Ni-Oh on the other hand was either presumed dead or people just didn’t care.  But it’s back, coming to PlayStation 4, and actually looks pretty awesome.  It’s a samurai Dark Souls starring Geralt from The Witcher.  That’s a great pitch, and the game is nailing the atmosphere.  However, I do have some worries about the action.  What we’ve seen looks like it could be good, but Team Ninja’s recent outings in the genre haven’t been great.  Either way, it’s an intriguing new IP that has shown well so far.  I definitely see potential for it to be great, and I look forward to seeing more extended gameplay.

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No Man’s Sky
Developer: 
Hello Games
Publisher: Hello Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date: June 2016

No Man’s Sky seems like a game that is destined to fail.  When it was revealed, people’s imaginations went crazy wondering what you would be able to do in this game.  Personally, I never had those incredibly high expectations.  That doesn’t mean I don’t think this game looks cool though.  Actually, I’ve gotten more interested in it as time has gone on.  The vastness of the world in No Man’s Sky is technically impressive, and everything they have shown off in trailer is awe-inspiring.  However, that’s where my skepticism comes in.  The success of No Man’s Sky hangs on how diverse the locations and creatures are and how interesting the majority of them are to see.  No Man’s Sky is all about exploring the endless amount of environments in the world.  There might be other objectives and things to do, but its main hook is as a sight-seeing experience.  I’m completely okay with that.  I would absolutely enjoy the experience of sitting down and exploring these foreign planets, especially if I can do that in VR.  However, those planets need to be interesting to explore.  The moment I see something that I’ve seen before, this game looses all of its magic.  I worry that they won’t be able to deliver on even my expectations, let alone those set by a lot of other people.

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Overwatch
Developer: 
Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: Spring 2016

When Overwatch was announced, I wasn’t very excited.  It seemed like the only reason people were excited was because it was a Blizzard game and that it was years late to the Team Fortress 2 market.  Once more started to come out about it last year, I started to actually get excited.  First, I was one of the few crazy people that was excited it wasn’t a free to play game.  I like buying a game and knowing that I get everything in the game, so it’s nice to know that I won’t have to pay extra for maps, characters, etc.  And then, the impressions from the beta and what I saw of it made me come away really high on this game.  The core shooting in Overwatch looks solid and satisfying.  That’s the most important thing in a shooter, and it looks like they nailed it.  Then they have the character abilities.  From what I’ve seen, these abilities look significant enough to provide an extra layer of strategy and depth while not complicating things.  It looks simple enough to pick up and have a good time but deep enough to keep you coming back for more.  That’s the key to making a game like this work, and it seems like Blizzard is nailing it.

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