Big Red Barrel’s Gaming Picks for 2017

With cancellations and delays seemingly becoming more common, anticipating video games ahead of time is becoming a fool’s game – but one we are glad to play! With new consoles set to launch this year also, 2017 could be another magnificent year for gaming. The staff at Big Red Barrel have chosen some upcoming titles and platforms that will (hopefully) knock your socks off when they release this year.


 

Mass Effect Andromeda (Josh)

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I know that this was on the 2016 list, however, it’s back again! Ever since the game was announced at E3 2015, Mass Effect Andromeda has been on my most anticipated list. The first 3 games in the franchise had some of the most memorable story lines and characters that I’ve ever encountered. I felt genuine happiness and sadness as I followed the ups and downs with Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy. I’m eagerly awaiting stepping into Ryder’s shoes. In a few short months, that eagerness will finally become a reality (I hope).

With a new story, new characters and a new setting, the game looks to be stepping into the unknown again, similar to the original Mass Effect. As the trailers have mentioned, Andromeda is about exploration; to forge into the darkness as commander of the Tempest. A whole new galaxy awaits, patiently waiting to be explored and for its mysterious secrets to be discovered. I’d also really like to see how effective the Nomad (MAKO 2.0) and the class loadout swapping really are.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to meeting the new characters, making friends, enemies and everything in between. This is something that Bioware does exceedingly well and seeing how bonds form with my new crew members will be an exciting new experience (That said, they’ll have to be pretty special to compare to a certain Mr. Vakarian).

Mass Effect Andromeda looks to be going back to the core exploration of the earlier games and I am counting down the days until I can make my first small step onto a strange new world, meeting its inhabitants… and punching them in the face.

  • Expected Release: 23rd March 2017

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Rik)

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My most anticipated game of 2017 is without a doubt The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. When the game was first revealed in 2014, my jaw hit the floor; it looked absolutely beautiful. But despite the stunning visuals, what really got my attention was producer Eiji Aonuma’s talk of “rethinking the conventions” of the Zelda titles, specifically changing the way the series handles puzzles and dungeons.

Breath of the Wild promises a fully open world experience, with the ability to tackle any dungeon in any order, which hasn’t really been seen in the series since 1986’s The Legend of Zelda, the game that started it all. The addition of objective-based gameplay, RPG elements and voice over makes Breath of the Wild seem more Skyrim than Skyward Sword, and that is perfectly fine with me. These changes to convention are exactly what the series needs and it’s great to see Nintendo take notice and inspiration from more western adventure games.

If I wasn’t already excited enough. the trailer shown at the end of the recent Nintendo Switch presentation has me feeling like a kid at Christmas time. My copy has been pre-ordered and I am eagerly counting down the days to its launch on 3rd March.

  • Expected Release: 3rd March 2017

 

Absolver (Diarmuid)

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As someone who begrudgingly tolerated Bloodborne and Dark Souls III, it seems odd that a game that could be described as Soulsborne-esque would interest me. However, ever since I was a spotty young gamer, I’ve wanted a realistic hand-to-hand fighter (that actually controls responsively). While people may point at games like UFC or Chivalry, it ss Absolver that has caught my eye as a game that may fulfil that gaming fantasy for me.

In case you are not aware, Absolver is a martial arts-focused, action role-playing/fighting game, developed by Sloclap, a Parisian indie game developer composed of former Ubisoft Paris employees. The game sees you become a Prospect, a potential Absolver. You wish to join their ranks as they make up an elite corps of combatants fighting to maintain stability in the world.

The game plays as a large PvP world where you fight other people to prove your prowess. The combat looks fluid and fast, with precision and skill required to succeed, over button-bashing (remember I mentioned Soulsborne-esque). Anyway, I can’t wait to get my hands on it later this year.

  • Expected Release: Q2 2017

 

Sea of Thieves (Smashsoul)

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Sea of Thieves represents a massive turning point for Rare. After a few years of slaving away on subpar Kinect titles during the dark reign of Don Mattrick titles they’ve finally been given the opportunity to do what they want again under Phil Spencer.

Sea of Thieves will be their first new IP since Viva Piñata and it’s looking to be their most ambitious project yet. You can take to the high seas as a pirate with other players and plunder and explore to your hearts content whilst also getting into naval combat with other players. Overall, it seems like the perfect game for someone like myself who likes playing cooperatively with friends whilst also getting into PvP skirmishes from time to time.

The art style, the gameplay and the premise all look and feel distinctly Rare. Whilst there’s still a whole lot I want to know about Sea of Thieves my early impressions are overwhelmingly positive and I can’t wait to find out more at E3.

  • Expected Release: Q2 2017

 

Horizon: Zero Dawn (Reuben)

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In a just world, I wouldn’t be writing about Horizon: Zero Dawn on this list. But since the Murphiest of Laws conspired to delay the game from 2016 into the early months of 2017, here we are. I try not to get too invested in video games before they’re released, but I seem to have broken my own rule with Horizon. The reason for that is simple: ROBOT DINOSAURS!

That may not seem like much but seeing these two words together represents every childhood fantasy I’ve had come to life; the raw power of dinosaurs combined with the endless excitement of robots! I’m sure there is a story to Horizon, and I’m sure it’ll be absolutely fine – but truthfully I couldn’t care less about the protagonist Aloy or her troubles. The real appeal of the game for me is in hunting down mechanical crocodiles and cybernetic T-Rexs. If Horizon can manage to make the previous sentence feel even 1/100th as cool as my 8 year old self wanted it to be, it’ll be my game of the year without a doubt.

  • Expected Release: 1st March 2017

 

Nintendo Switch (Michael Barclay)

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Ah Nintendo. If I had written this piece a week ago I’d be writing about how I was more excited by the Nintendo Switch than I had been about a piece of hardware for years. The union of home and portable gaming seems gimmicky yes but a gimmick I could see the utility of. Nintendo’s presentation last week has soured that excitement somewhat though. The machine itself still looks good in theory but the impeding launch this March looks less promising.

At £279 the console is at significantly higher price point that most retailers and customers were expecting and this is without any games included. Only five titles are releasing at launch and realistically only the new Zelda game is a must have tittle with an RRP £20 greater than the Wii U version. Compare this to the PS4 and Xbox One which have been on the market long enough now for attractive and significantly cheaper bundles available. Combine this with Nintendo introducing paid online services for the first time and the fact that the console really isn’t that much more powerful than its predecessor and there are a fair few things to be worried about.

Honestly this was really meant to be a piece about anticipation and excitement. It might have been wiser for Nintendo have waited until the end of the year when the new Mario and remastered Skyrim would be available rather than seemingly rushing the console to market.

  • Expected Release: Q1 2017

 

NieR: Automata (PacManPolarBear)

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I have to admit NieR: Automata was not really on my radar until very recently. The original game, developed by Cavia and released on the PS3/360, was a flawed game that never managed to realise its broad ambitions. Poor visuals mixed with uneven game-play held it back from being a hit, even if it did develop a cult following. Thanks in no small part to it being a spin-off from the Drakengard series; another cool but flawed assortment of games.

NieR ended up being the last game Cavia ever made but a few staff members, including director Yoko Taro, did go on to make Drakengard 3. That game did OK but much like every other game in the Drakengard / NieR family so far it was flawed and never became the hit it could have been. I’d dabbled with the series(s) over the years and enjoyed them as bargain bin fodder but never really considered myself a fan. Then Yoko Taro moved over to Platinum Games to work on a NieR sequel called Automata.

Now Platinum Games has a pretty hit or miss (shed a tear for Scalebound) resume themselves but they did make three of my favorite games; Bayonetta, Vanquish and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. When Platinum Games gets it right they make some of the most responsive, dynamic, high speed third-person action games in the biz. But what really sold me was the demo for Automata released just before Christmas 2016. It is PHENOMENAL. It’s one of the best game demos I have ever played. That is how you make a demo folks. It’s hard to judge the environmental visuals as you are playing in a rusted, ramshackle factory which understandably looks kinda bland, but the pair of characters (2B and 9S) showcased look fantastic and the enemies look sharp and unique. The music is top notch and the English voice acting is far above average for a Japanese game. The real seller though is the gameplay. It is flawless.

Where the original NieR stumbled in execution Automata strides with confidence. The third-person sword/gun combat transitions into a side scrolling platformer into a top down bullet-hell shooter and back again effortlessly. The genres dance and blend in a way I have never seen in any other game. Sure other games have attempted to blend these genres before but I’ve never seen any of them be this smooth and satisfying. The robotic enemies are engaging and their attacks accentuate the strengths of all three genres. And the boss battles? Wow. If there was ever a game that seems to understand what makes boss battles great it is Automata. In an age when boss battles are either terrible, or more likely absent entirely, fighting that huge boss at the end of the demo was like a love letter addressed to me personally. If even half the finished game is as good as the demo was NieR: Automata may join Bayonetta, Vanquish and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance as one of the best games Platinum Games has ever made. I can’t freaking wait!

  • Expected Release: 10 March 2017

 

Yooka Laylee (Smashsoul)

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As a proud backer of Yooka-Laylee on Kickstarter it would probably be an understatement to say that I’m excited enough for the game that I went out of my way to fund it.

Banjo-Kazooie is one of my favourite platformers from the Nintendo 64 days and to see it reimagined for the current generation in the form of Yooka-Laylee was always going to make me throw money at my computer screen.

The gameplay, the humour, the characters and the music send shivers of nostalgia down my spine even though it’s technically a brand new IP. This is the Banjo-Kazooie game I wanted when I saw the teaser trailer for a new Banjo game just after the launch of the Xbox 360 (except it features a gecko/bat instead of a bear/bird).

I could sit here and gush for hours about how much I want this game in my hands right now, but I won’t, because there are people waiting to talk about other games too.

  • Expected Release: 11th April 2017

 


Let us know what you think of the list above. What games are you looking forward to this year?

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