With February just getting underway, you’re likely nearing the finish line in games you got over the holidays. The quest for new and exciting gaming experiences never ends!
Let’s take a look at the trends and ideas shaping gaming in 2015 and beyond.
The Vastness Of Space
Elite: Dangerous is already out, but don’t be surprised if it isn’t on your PC gaming radar yet. This beautiful space sim launched in the second half of December without any presence on Steam to boost its profile, but fans of its hardcore complexity are having a blast exploring, trading, and dogfighting around an online Milky Way of 400 billion star systems.
Events and star systems in Elite: Dangerous are procedurally generated. That means there’s little in the way of developer intervention guaranteeing you’ll find excitement, but that’s actually a part of the appeal. There’s an authentic sense of discovery and wonder in charting your way across the lonely void, and when that rare system of great opportunities or dangerous space pirates shows up, you’ll know it’s because you dared to explore.
Drifter offers a similar pitch to Elite: Dangerous, albeit with a single player focus and a much more imaginative color palette. The developers expect to offer all of the space trading, fighting, and exploring you expect once the game is feature complete. It’s currently in Early Access on Steam, so if you’re willing to take a risk on an unfinished game, you can play it right now.
With its latest appearance at December’s PlayStation Experience, No Man’s Sky has continued to capture imaginations with its vibrant colors and catchy synthesizer soundtrack. The emphasis skews heavily toward exploration in this one, and developer Hello Games has promised not only a procedurally generated galaxy, but similarly assembled planetary surfaces, flora, fauna, ruins, and other features as you sweep down and disembark from your ship for adventure.
No Man’s Sky has only been announced for the PS4. It does not yet have a release date.
Backers have contributed nearly 70 million dollars in crowdfunding for what’s almost certainly the most ambitious space simulation ever made. The feature set expected for Star Citizen makes every other title on this list look like a game jam project. A single player campaign, explorable ship interiors, first person shooting, planetside exploration, and a reactive persistent economy are all promised features alongside the standard procedurally generated space sim fare.
The hype for Star Citizen is so far off the charts that it’s nearly impossible to imagine it meeting every player’s expectations. We’ll find out what Roberts Space Industries achieves with all of that backer support on PC in 2016.
Two Great Tastes Together
Developers are mixing and matching the most successful ideas from the past in the hunt for exciting new experiences. Could genre fusion be the recipe for the next great game?
Overwatch (Name to be changed)
It has Blizzard Entertainment’s proven expertise, and the character and charm you’d expect from a Pixar movie. Overwatch looks like the house of Warcraft’s next stab at the eSports market. It blends a broad roster of unique characters you might find in a MOBA or fighting game with fast paced first-person shooting reminiscent of the ever-popular Team Fortress 2.
A release date for Overwatch has not yet been announced.
Minecraft: Story Mode
When Microsoft purchased Minecraft last year, many wondered what they’d do with it to recoup their substantial financial investment. The answer, it seems, is to get the developers behind The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead games to bring a narrative to the brick stacking world. Minecraft: Story Mode will turn the building sandbox anyone can enjoy into an adventure game.
Minecraft: Story Mode is still awaiting a release date.
It’s time for a new twist on asymmetrical multiplayer.
Are you a lone wolf, or a pack wolf? Either way, you’ll get a chance to shine in Evolve. Each round, one player plays as a rampaging beast that grows stronger with every creature it consumes. It’s up to four other players controlling specialized monster hunters to chase down and slay this one beast army before it grows into an unstoppable menace.
Evolve releases for PC on February 10th.
The Games You Made Possible
Thanks to crowdfunding, you have more power to decide which games deserve to make it to market. Sometimes, the best ideas are the ones you backed.
Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune is back in the saddle making a brand new 2D action game to scratch your nostalgic itch. Mighty No. 9 will claim the weapons of every boss he beats just like his spiritual predecessor. Expect this action packed, player backed adventure on PC and the latest consoles sometime this year.
Whimsical adventure game developer Double Fine is treading less familiar ground with this turn based strategy title, but Massive Chalice passed its funding goal with plenty of room to spare. The game promises to let you control an empire that spans centuries. Strengthen your heroes so they can pass beneficial traits down to their heirs, but you’ll have to cope with any less admirable features they hand down too.
Massive Chalice is available in Steam Early Access now.
The Kickstarter for Shadowrun Returns was successful enough to fund the game, and its first expansion, Dragonfall. Now the team at Harebrained Schemes is hard at work building another enthralling RPG set in the magical cyberpunk Hong Kong of the future. The funding drive is already deep into stretch goal territory at time of writing, so consider supporting this proven development team and unlocking more spectacular features.
The Best Is Yet To Come
Whether you’re looking for resurrected genres that once fell out of favor, or something fresh and new to try, the coming year will have something to pique your interest.
Which gaming trends and ideas are you looking forward to most? Share your most anticipated games with our community in the comments below!
Image Credit: The Thinker photographed by Ed Menendez