As we drop into the new year, full of optimism and joy (and the rest of our leftover Christmas candy) it’s easy to look at 2017 and see all the new shiny game releases on the horizon and start drooling with excitement. As Dylan said in first podcast of the year “2017 looks like it’s going to be the year of video games!” And who knows, maybe it will be! Either way, right now these are the games that are living right at the top of our “must play” list for the rest of the year.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
One of the most anticipated games of the year, Mass Effect Andromeda is certainly gorgeous, as you can see in the 4K Tech Demo. But what has always been the strong point of the series is the story, so we won’t know until launch if that tradition will continue. Many fans were let down with the ending of Mass Effect 3, so hopefully, that has been a priority for Bioware. Set 600 years in the future from the previous series, players will control either Sara or Scott Ryder, the children of N7 special force soldier Alec Ryder. They are tasked with discovering new planets for the human species to colonize as part of the Pathfinder mission that left earth during the events of Mass Effect 2.
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Yooka-Laylee is shaping up to be a delightful 3D platformer, in the vein of Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country. A large part of the dev team is made up of folks from Rare and they are putting together something that looks really special. The game stars what I think is a lizard named Yooka and a bat named Laylee on a quest to stop evil villain Capital B from absorbing all of the world’s books and converting them into pure profit. Which I’m pretty sure is just the plot of Amazon.
Release Date: April 11, 2017
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
South Park: The Stick of Truth is a favorite with everyone at Byte Me and for a great reason. It takes some pretty solid role-playing mechanics and melds them with South Park in a way that makes you feel like you are just playing 20 hours of the show. This time around the kids from South Park have moved on from playing as humans, wizard and elves and are now superheroes. Cartman has formed Coon and Friends and they are fighting a civil war against the Freedom Pals. The game will feature 12 different superhero classes and will let you choose the gender of your “New Kid” this time around.
Release Date: Q1 2017
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild originally wasn’t planned to be a spring launch, but apparently late in 2016 Nintendo decided it needed to shore up the launch titles for the Switch, so Zelda was pulled forward to March. The 19th entry in the Zelda franchise starts with Link waking up from a 100-year nap to a voice that guiding him on a quest to defeat Ganon. The first of the Zelda games to be released in HD, this is also the first to feature an open world where the player is free to explore and pursue quests in any order. With a map twelve times larger than Twilight Princess, it’s good that the Switch is mobile because this looks like a game you are going to want to spend some time with.
Release Date: March 2017
Sea of Thieves
Rare and Microsoft have played things surprisingly close to the vest with Sea of Thieves. A launch trailer at E3 has really only be followed by a few gameplay videos featuring YouTube “influencers” and games journalist. What we do know is that it’s an open world game, leans heavily on multiplayer and that pirates are awesome. That’s good enough for now, but hopefully, we will see more as it gets closer to launch. If you want a shot at playing it pre-launch, make sure to sign up for the insider program.
Release Date: 2017
Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 was announced over three days on Twitter with a series of teaser tweets that garnered almost three-quarter of a million likes. The trailer itself has almost 10 million views on YouTube and has been analyzed frame by frame over and over again as people try and pull any secrets from it. Very little is known about the plot, we don’t even if it will be a sequel or prequel. At this point, all Rockstar is saying is that “…Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience.” If I had to put money on which game gets the most GOTY nods in 2017, this one would be a strong contender.
Release Date: Fall 2017
Kingdom Hearts 3
It’s hard to believe that when it’s released, Kingdom Hearts III will be the eleventh installment of Kingdom Hearts. In some form of development since 2006, once again Kingdom Hearts III will star Sora who will be joined by Donald Duck, Goofy, King Mickey and Riku in their search for the seven guardians of light and the “Key to Return Hearts” as they attempt to defeat Master Xehanort’s plan to bring about a second Keyblade War. Sora and company will visit some of the same Disney worlds that they have seen in previous games, but also new Disney properties like Big Hero 6 and Rapunzel. With Final Fantasy XV finally seeing the light of day after 10 years, hopefully, Kingdom Hearts III will also make it out in 2017, although Square Enix is still being cagey about release dates.
Release Date: 2017
There isn’t much to go on here yet (we and the rest of the internet are basing a lot of rumors on five seconds of video) but it certainly looks like there is going to be a new Super Mario game launching with the Nintendo Switch. It looks beautiful, definitely has an interesting (old west?) setting and Mario can triple jump, which is definitely fun. Hopefully, we will know more after the Switch announcement on January 12th, which you can watch here.
Release Date: March 2017
I had the pleasure of playing Flinthook at the ID @ Xbox event right before PAX Prime and it’s absolutely terrific. Billed as “Spiderman with a gun”, you play as Captain Flinthook and you make your way through procedurally generated levels looking for treasure using your grappling hook to traverse each level. What really stuck out to me during my playtime was just how tight the game felt. The controls are perfect and make doing very tricky “hook the ring to jump up to the platform to shoot the bad guy before he shoots you” moves feel easy and fluid. Definitely an indie game you are going to want to pick up.
Release Date: Early 2017
Tooth and Tail
I’m usually not a huge real time strategy fan, mostly because I’m terrible at them. And there is nothing worse than getting a half hour into a game of Starcraft just to lose. And I always lose. Which is why Tooth and Tail intrigues me. It’s a RTS that is designed to accessible. You play with a controller. Matches only last 5-7 minutes. You can play it split screen. And your characters are all adorable animals you might find living in a wheat field. Pocketwatch Games (the folks that also brought you Monaco) have officially announced a release date yet, but odds look pretty good for this year.
Release Date: 2017
Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick are legends in the adventure game genre, having worked on some of the most important LucasArts games of the 90’s, including Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle and the Monkey Island games. They have gotten back together to bring us a brand new but old school adventure game called Thimbleweed Park, which is also where the game is set. A body has been found in town and you’ll take on the role of two detectives trying to solve the murder. Along the way, you’ll meet – and play as – a cursed clown, a disinherited game designer, and the ghost of pillow salesmen while unraveling a dark and humorous neo-noir mystery.
Release Date: Q1 2017
The argument over whether experiences like Gone Home or other walking simulators are actually games or not is one that will have to be debated somewhere else. But what I do know is that Gone Home was a terrific way to spend a couple of hours on a rainy weekend. Fullbright’s next game is called Tacoma and is set 200,000 miles away from Earth on the Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma. The story presents itself in a similar manner to Gone Home, building as your character searches the space station for clues to reveal why you are there and what has happened. The game went through an extensive re-working over the last year and all indications point to it being very, very good after these changes.
Release Date: Spring 2017