What to expect when you're expecting
A year ago, we were looking forward to some games. And how did they turn out? Well... But I'm sure that this year is going to be totally different! Everything is going to work out. Nothing will be delayed, or disappointing. No one's going to die. Nuclear war? As if! We're not going to die at all. All the games will be good. It's going to be awesome.
These are the games Destructoid can't wait to definitely play in 2017, the year that we are all going to live through, totally successfully, without so much as a speed bump on our way to Good-times-ville.
Jonathan Holmes: Like a lot of my colleagues, I see 2017 as a year that's so filled with unknowns that it's hard to be truly confident in anything. Splatoon on Switch might be amazing... unless it's just Splatoon again with a couple of new stages. Shenmue III could be the conclusion to the series I've been waiting for since 2001... unless it's completely terrible and makes me wish they had just left well enough alone. In this post-Mighty Number 9 world, it's hard not to be cautious.
That said, there are at least two games coming this year that I know I'll love playing. The first is 2064: Read Only Memories. So many of my favorite people are voice actors in the game that it's guaranteed to make me smile. I also play a part or two in the thing, but I'm more nervous than excited about all that. I really hope I didn't stink up the place with my fart mouth.
All personal involvement aside, the only other game set for release in 2017 that I'm 100% confident in is... Shovel Knight? Yes indeed, despite being almost three years old, Yacht Club's premiere release is still looking more promising to me than anything else currently on the docket. I loved the Plague of Shadows campaign from 2015, and Specter of Torment looks even more original and exciting, making it my only sure bet in gaming right now.
The fact that the best game of 2017 may very well end up being a free update to a game from 2014 shows me that I don't understand anything about the video game industry anymore, but I'm not complaining. Hype and expectation tend to lead to disappointment. Better to guess that 2017 will be the worst year in gaming history and be pleasantly surprised if we do better than that.
Pixie The Fairy: Well, this one will be rather straightforward. While the coming months have lots of games I've been looking forward to, such as Persona 5 or Horizon: Zero Dawn, I gotta go with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It's the first fantasy open world I've seen in a while where the act of traversing the world itself actually looks like half the fun.
The idea this Zelda will be potentially sharing a platform with a certain Bethesda franchise is also rather amusing to me, given The Elder Scrolls still hasn't quite figured out ladders or horses yet. BotW is going let me hang glide into snowboarding on my shield so... yeah, you got some work to do there, Bethesda.
Darren Nakamura: I sat down to write about Yooka-Laylee and felt a bit of déjà vu. Looking back on it, I wrote about it last year in this same feature! Good grief times two.
But the fact that it's still in my mind is noteworthy. I have this quirk (read: problem) with Kickstarter games where I'll get really passionate about them and back them with real American dollars, then by the time they release I'm completely apathetic about them. Not so with Yooka-Laylee! I still care!
Especially considering the dark timeline in which we currently live, nothing is more welcome than a bright, colorful collect-a-thon that will let me turn my brain off and laugh at stupid puns delivered by mumbling animals and googly-eyed skeletons. It'll be a nice escape to turn it on and pretend I'm a careless teen again, whose biggest problem is figuring out how to get to the next golden McGuffin to unlock a new area full of more golden McGuffins. What are they now, "Pagies"? I don't care. Let me at 'em.
Peter Glagowski: If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I love old-school shooters. Say what you will about how convenient regenerating health is or how great it is to not be searching for keys, I love where the genre started. One of the very first shooters I ever played was Doom, so naturally, I expect that when playing newer games.
Obviously I've enjoyed titles that have deviated from Doom's template, but I do miss how thought out the level design was in those games. Replaying Turok after grabbing it in the Winter Sale was a real treat, so I'm definitely going to list Strafe as my most anticipated 2017 release.
I played the demo that Devolver Digital had present at PAX East 2016 and it was a blast. While I still hold true to the fact that reloading didn't exist in shooters in 1996, everything else about Strafe screams Quake. I'm not sure if the level design is procedurally generated (I noticed some variations between the two people in line ahead of me), but the emphasis put on labyrinthine designs is exactly my cup of tea.
The aesthetic behind it is also really engaging. I love the chunky, blocky, highly pixelated style that defined most of the PS1/N64 era and I'm more than happy to relive that in full HD. Couple that with some highly energetic gunplay and I'm on board. Hopefully the game can live up to the lofty heights that its forefathers set.
Ray Porreca: YIIK: A Postmodern RPG has been on my radar for a while. Equal parts old-school JRPG and unabashed exploration of ‘90s cultural aesthetics, YIIK is a bundle of weirdness that I can’t help but want to play right now.
Everything about YIIK sounds dope. It takes inspiration from EarthBound and Haruki Murakami, the protagonist bears a shocking similarity to Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, and it plays with long-established genre conventions.
When I played a preview build at PAX East last year, YIIK grabbed me in a way that games – especially ones that are still in development – rarely do. It was polished and quirky, whimsical at times and melancholy at others. YIIK captures the feeling of an entire decade and a funky, absurdist tone that is distilled into an offbeat little game with plenty of heart.
Patrick Hancock: God damnit, I'm excited for Sonic Mania and even whatever "Project Sonic" ends up being. Sonic Mania, specifically, looks like it's really headed in the right direction. I've tried avoiding most of the early playthrough footage that's been out there and stuck to the trailers and screenshots, and I am enthusiastically anticipating what might be the best Sonic game in a very, very long time. I know the talent behind the game is solid, I'm just waiting to see how the execution plays out, and if there are enough fresh ideas to elevate this game to where it needs to be.
As for Project Sonic -- hey, I liked Generations, so more of that could be pretty cool? I'll be the first to admit that I spend way too much time playing Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 (mostly 2), even if you subtract the dozens of hours spent in the Chao Garden, so more 3D levels alongside "new 2D" levels is fine by me. I think we've finally reached the point where I can confidently say that Sonic Team sort of knows what it is doing.
Also, please add Big the Cat as a playable character in some way, shape, or form. Maybe a relaxing "Big's Fishing Hut" side-game that plays soothing music and utilizes a not-terrible fishing mechanic?
Zack Furniss: Look at these silly boys, with their big wishes. I'm a big Calvin and Hobbes fan. And I often think of this comic here. While you're all hoping for pie-in-the-sky games that are coming out later in the year (Shenmue III? Yooka-Laylee?), I'm anticipating the hell out of Resident Evil 7, and I'll be playing that in about two weeks. Whether it'll be good or not is still up in the air, but I have a good feeling about it for a few reasons.
First, it feels like the first big actual game for PlayStation VR, where I'll be able to actually move around instead of teleporting everywhere. And then there's the fact that Capcom has kept so much close to their chest, which is, man, that's just what I've been asking for. Also, it's a Resident Evil game set in a small, intimate setting, at least at the start. Thank fuck for that. No more complete global saturation. I don't know, maybe I'll be looking like a big dumbass by the end of the month and it'll be terrible, but I'm excited about what I've seen so far.
Robo Panda Z: I'm a total hypocrite, because I normally prattle on about how I don't get hyped up for games, but that's a lie - there are a couple of titles coming this year that I just can't wait for. Pyre is the first; Supergiant Games can do no wrong in my mind, and that doesn't look to change here. A sports-RPG-visual novel? Bring it on. I look forward to their next game, which will inevitably be a racing/cooking sim/2D fighter... Which I was joking about, but now legitimately want.
Next would be NieR: Automata. Cosplay implications aside, thanks to a combination of an impending Steam release and Dtoid user Nathan D's unending campaign of NieR-related quickposts (with help from NekroDennis), I can't help but want it. You win this round, Nathan.
My big ticket item for the year is Harebrained Scheme's Battletech. I've loved the franchise since booting up Mechwarrior 2 in 1995 led me down an infinite rabbit hole of games and novels about our stompy-mech-laden future. Due to various reasons (namely a bank-breaking relationship with Games Workshop that lasted too long) I never got into the tabletop, and have always dreamed of a time when it would be successfully adapted to the PC. Thanks to the wonderful work HBS has done on the Shadowrun franchise, I trust them with this adaptation - even their pre-alpha footage looked great.
Chris Carter: I fully expect a lot of people to be enamored by the Switch, but there are just so many unknowns right now, especially since the second reveal event (ha) is just around the corner. There are so many dream releases in 2017, including Shenmue III and Yooka-Laylee just to name a few, but so far Nioh has stolen my heart.
The first demo managed to wow the hell out of me, and knocked me flat on my ass for the first time in what feels like years. It's a brand new untamed world with so many unknown variables, and based on the extensive beta testing so far, I have faith that Team Ninja will be able to pull a rabbit out of its dank, dusty hat by the time it drops in early February.
Nick Valdez: While the world hangs in the balance, I'm glad I at least have some cool titles to look forward to. I'm pretty hyped for Injustice 2, Nier: Automata, Hellblade, and whatever the hell that new Sonic Generations project is going to be, but the game that's going to get most of my attention this year is Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. If Infinite is anything like the other releases, we'll get drip fed character bits and news over the next few months until a leak reveals the rest of the characters (Capcom just has bad luck that way). After taking up all of my time, I expect to play a ton of it at release. The idea of a new Vs. title directed by veterans of the older ones is just too good to pass up. Couple that with an apparent story mode, a tighter gameplay system, and the possibility of playing as Groot and we've got a gem here.
I'm just ready to wreck fools with Captain Marvel.
Josh Tolentino: After two years running with No Man's Sky and Persona 5 topping my list, I've finally gotten some time in with both of those, and they were pretty dope. That said, I'm about ready to write down some games less likely to be known quantities this year. With 2017 being a uniquely risky year for a whole lot of people, it seems apropos, yes?
That in mind, I want to believe in Ace Combat 7. I was one of the few that liked what Assault Horizon was trying to do with the semi-auto dogfighting mode (even Infinity Ward decided to crib it for the Jackal combat in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare), but I'm ready to go back to Strangereal and the dramatic storytelling of Ace Combat 04 and 5. Plus, they're doing some VR stuff, which might be cool, too.
Meanwhile, Nier: Automata, Danganronpa V3, and Valkryia Revolution make for some hot-ass J-games to look forward to, while For Honor and whatever they're planning for the new, single-player Battletech/Mechwarrior installment lead me to cautious optimism.
CJ Andriessen: So my last “most anticipated game” didn’t really work out with it not being released and all, but I’m pretty sure I can’t fail with this one. When I first saw the Switch video, I was satisfied with what I saw in the product, the potential and a few of the games that were shown. Sure, I’m ecstatic to finally have a chance to play Breath of the Wild, and I’m sure it’ll be great, but the less than 15 seconds of video for a new Super Mario game has filling up the old drool bucket. Super Mario 3D World is the third best game I’ve ever played so of course I’m anticipating its follow-up.
There’s so little video, yet so much for me to pour into. The rings, the southwestern setting, the fact I can take the game over to my neighbor’s rooftop and continue to be anti-social in a party setting, yeah this is the game I’m the most excited about in 2017.
Cory Arnold: Man, I've still got a ton of games from 2016 to catch up on, which is why I didn't do a personal top ten like everyone else: there's too many great looking games that I'd feel guilty about leaving off. I'll have to catch up quick, as 2017 looks to be another onslaught of unmissable games like Persona 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, Hitman Season 2, Scalebound, Horizon:Zero Dawn, Sea of Thieves, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, Ni No Kuni 2, Tales of Berseria, Akiba's Beat, Gravity Rush 2, Nioh, Yooka-Laylee, Cuphead, and well I guess I should cut myself off. You get the picture; I want it ALL!
Still, the game I'm looking forward to the most will not be the wisest purchase, but even if its only a few hours I just have to play Kingdom Hearts II.8 Final Chapter Prologue, or more specifically 0.2 where you play as Aqua. Kingdom Hearts is one of my all-time favorite series and I have played every entry to 100% completion at least once (some uncountable times). Yes, yes, I know the story is batshit insane but I love embracing the crazy. It helps that I love Disney and Final Fantasy, but even without those and even with a crazy story I am attached to these characters. I want to adventure with Sora, Riku, Kairi, Aqua, Terra, Ventus, and Roxas forever. The cheese is a guilty pleasure.
I've already beaten Dream Drop Distance to 100% completion and someone will inevitably upload χ Back Cover to YouTube, but both on its own merits and as a teaser for Kingdom Hearts III, I'm not missing 0.2. This one won't be going on any backlog; I'm going to beat it day one.
Jordan Devore: As a few others have already said, Yooka-Laylee. It's gotta be.
There are plenty of other games due out these next few months that I know I'll adore, but barring some absurd surprise, none are going to bring me happiness to the extent that Yooka-Laylee will. I'm not expecting perfection or anything even approaching it, but I am anticipating a specific feeling that can only really come about from a game like this executed at this scope and with this expertise.
Even the Toybox demo gave me the warm fuzzies!
Dennis Carden: I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this, but many of the games that I’m most excited for this year were originally meant to come out last year (or even earlier than that). Games like Persona 5, Gravity Rush 2, NieR: Automata, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild all look like they’re shaping up to be pretty fun. In fact, I’m more excited for Gravity Rush 2 and NieR now more than ever, thanks in part to the rather entertaining demos that the developers and publishers have released ahead of the full games’ launch dates.
Then there’s also Nioh, which should hopefully satiate my rampant lust for anything reminiscent of Dark Souls. Again, much like Gravity Rush 2 and NieR: Automata, the publishers have been awesome enough allow players to try this game out well before its launch.
Oh, I should also mention that Paradigm -- something that I managed to check out last year at PAX, before later installing the demo for on my own laptop -- looks like it's shaping up to be an enjoyable and amusing adventure game. I'm not usually big on that genre, but I found myself quite fond of the game's sense of humour and art style when I got a chance to play some of it.
If you couldn't tell already, one of the best ways to get me excited for a game is to let me actually play some of it.
Nic Rowen: All I want to do this year is watch a super-intelligent ape snap Superman's neck with mind powers. Injustice 2 seems to be the ticket to make that happen, but I'm open to any other sources of simian spinal destruction if you know any.
I'm also very excited for Pyre. Supergiant Games is responsible for two of my favorite games, the universally beloved Bastion, and criminally underrated Transistor. I'll be honest, Pyre looks strange. One-part RPG, one-part tactical battler, and with a dash of NBA Jam tossed into the mix, I have no idea what Pyre will turn out like. But, I trust Supergiant Games, and in a market dominated by massive sequels and genre games, it's exciting to know there is something weird and different waiting for us in 2017.
Steven Hansen: Spiritually I'm looking forward to this year's Downwell or Devil Daggers, but even Devil Daggers as last year's Downwell didn't quite hold up to Downwell, so maybe this will be a series of diminishing returns. For the concrete: Gravity Rush 2, which I was looking forward to two years ago, and Persona 5, which I was looking forward to in last year's post. For the new and novel, well, I suppose more Hitman doesn't even count if the first season was my 2016 game of the year, huh? Death Stranding isn't coming. Hmm. Might just spend all year playing Rocket League.
Runners-up: Nier: Automata. Suburbicon. Pyre. Prey. Cuphead. John Wick 2. Read Dead Redemption 2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Okja.
What do you got?