2016 is officially over, so it’s time to turn our sights to 2017 and see what kind of gaming surprises may or may not be in store for us. This year is packed with some pretty big games, with titles such as Mass Effect: Andromeda, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Red Dead Redemption 2 already assumed to be game of the year candidates, despite not knowing all that much about any of them — and in Red Dead’s case, not even knowing whether or not it will even be released this year!
We’ll also be getting new consoles from Nintendo and Microsoft, which are sure to hold their own share of surprises (and my wallet’s already hurting because I’ll probably end up buying both). While we do know about quite a few of the new games and hardware being released in 2017, there is also a lot we don’t know about, so I thought I’d come up with a few predictions for what might happen this year in gaming. Admittedly, some of these predictions are pretty unlikely and I’ll probably end up looking over this last year in embarrassment for how much I missed the mark, but hey, that’s all part of the fun!
Here are 12 things that will definitely (maybe) happen in 2017.
12. The Nintendo Switch Will Have A Great Launch … And That’s About It
Optimism surrounding the Nintendo Switch is surprisingly high, which is good considering Nintendo absolutely needs their new console to be a success if they want to stay in the console market. With a novel concept and expected low price, there is no doubt in my mind that the Switch is going to sell like gangbusters at launch and will be incredibly difficult to find in stores for months after launch. That being said, unless Nintendo is able to keep pumping out stock to meet demand and maintain healthy software support throughout the year, I think the love affair will be relatively short-lived. One need only look at the company’s recent mishandling of both the amiibo and NES Classic launch to see that they aren’t very good at product launches.
Although Nintendo is touting that they will have strong third party publisher support out of the gate, I have a hard time thinking this will continue for very long, both based on Nintendo’s previous track record and because the Switch is reportedly much less powerful than the PS4 or Xbox One, let alone a good gaming PC. Unless the install base gets super high, publishers are not going to want to continue to develop for the Switch when they’ll have to put so much work into making their games run on less capable hardware. The Nintendo Switch is going to dominate the news cycle for the first half of the year, but I doubt it will be able to carry that momentum all the way to the Fall when the big releases start coming out.
11. We’ll See A Big Game Announced And Released Within The Year
Bethesda shocked the industry when they announced Fallout 4 at E3 2015 and then confirmed that it would be out before the end of the year. Most games get announced years before their actual release, so it was practically unheard of to see a big-budget game announced and shipped within the same calendar year. That being said, I think we could see more publishers adopt this practice going forward, as the years-long wait for most games can sometimes do a disservice to both developers and fans, as expectations go through the roof and frustrations build as delay after delay occurs.
In 2017, I think we’ll see another big publisher pull a Bethesda at E3 and announce a long-awaited sequel that will be out before the end of the year. What will that game be? I have no idea! Maybe the next Assassin’s Creed? We’ll probably be seeing a new one of those this Fall anyway, so Ubisoft might as well just wait until May or June to announce it so we don’t have to endure an entire year of trailers and gameplay footage.
10. New Elder Scrolls Game Announced For 2018
At last year’s E3, Bethesda’s Todd Howard claimed that Elder Scrolls VI was still “a very long way off,” but I feel like there’s a good chance the company will at least release a reveal trailer at some point this year. The last two entries in the series, 2006’s Oblivion and 2011’s Skyrim, were released close to six years apart, so we’re certainly due for a new Elder Scrolls in 2017. That being said, Fallout 4’s release is still too recent for Bethesda’s next game to realistically make it out in 2017, but I think 2018 would be a possibility for an Elder Scrolls VI. While I would love it if Bethesda did something to what they did with Fallout 4 two years ago — announcing the game at E3 and then releasing it five months later — I think we’ll probably have to wait until sometime in the Fall to hear anything about Elder Scrolls VI, with a possible Fall 2018 release.
9. Ubisoft Will Announce A New Prince Of Persia Game
Even though there hasn’t been a new Prince of Persia game since 2010’s The Forgotten Sands, it’s only a matter of time until Ubisoft puts out another one. Back in 2013, Ubisoft’s Alain Corre told Eurogamer that the company would bring the franchise back when the right idea was brought forward and in my opinion, 2017 feels like the right time to bring it back. Ubisoft has been learning from their mistakes and making the right moves as of late, recognizing that people were getting sick of franchises such as Assassin’s Creed and making the bold decision to put the series on hiatus to stave off consumer fatigue.
There are plenty of directions the company could take with a new Prince of Persia and while the most likely scenario is that they craft an open-world version, since it’s a genre Ubisoft clearly adores, I think the right move would be to do a spiritual successor to The Sands of Time that borrows from popular action-adventure series like Uncharted and Tomb Raider. More than thirteen years after it was first released, The Sands of Time remains the high point of the Prince of Persia series and Ubisoft has tried (and failed) to recapture that magic with each installment since. It’s about time they actually pulled it off.
8. Pokemon Go Will Be a Big Summer Hit Again
Pokemon Go took the world by storm in 2016, with seemingly everyone and their mothers (and fathers, sisters, brothers etc.) glued to their phones and enjoying Niantic’s mobile app for a good few weeks in July and August. Of course, the game’s popularity is now a fraction of what it was at its peak (it certainly doesn’t help that much of North America is now huddled indoors for the winter months) and it’s unlikely that Pokemon Go will ever again enjoy the widespread, mainstream appeal it enjoyed upon release.
That being said, I firmly believe we’ll see it return to prominence this summer, although certainly not to the same extent. Niantic’s recent holiday update offered a small taste of what to expect from future updates, but its impact was significantly stunted by the fact that most people don’t want to go hunting for Pokemon in subzero temperatures. If Niantic rolls out all of the Gen 2 Pokemon and/or announces plans for events revolving around the legendary birds, Mew, and Mewtwo this summer, Pokemon Go could very well become the game of the summer once again.
7. Call Of Duty Will Return To Modern Warfare
Although most critics seemed to enjoy Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare a lot more than other recent entries in the series, the huge fan backlash against Infinity Ward’s latest effort tells a different story. While I do think many of these complaints came from people that never even bothered to play the game, Infinite Warfare’s space setting helped contribute to a pretty sizable drop in sales for the normally unstoppable franchise and I envision Activision trying to shake things up with 2017’s iteration. And what better way to do that than for Sledgehammer Games, the studio tasked with making this year’s Call of Duty game, to go back to the Modern Warfare brand, which next to Black Ops has proven to be the franchise’s most popular variant.
Of course, Sledgehammer may also be working on a sequel to 2014’s Advanced Warfare, but I think a return to the boots-on-the-ground action of the Modern Warfare series, without all of the boost jumping and other flashy mechanics that many players seem to despise, will help lure back in the CoD faithful who have not been happy with the franchise’s direction as of late.
And hey, if that doesn’t work, they could always try World War II again!
6. Shadow Of Mordor Sequel Announced
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a pleasant surprise early on in the current console generation, proving that good video games could still be made using the Lord of the Rings license. While it was an enjoyable open world action game in its own right, Shadow of Mordor’s true claim to fame was its innovative Nemesis system, which allowed A.I. enemies to remember some of the player’s actions and react to them during interactions. In practice, it helped give more personality to the game’s otherwise indistinguishable enemies and many predicted that the industry would soon be flooded with games featuring their own version of the Nemesis system.
Shockingly, almost two and a half years later, that influx hasn’t happened and neither has a Shadow of Mordor sequel, which is why I think we’ll hear and possibly even see the release of a followup in 2017. After all, the game’s developer Monolith Studios haven’t announced what they’re currently working on, and a Shadow of Mordor sequel would be the obvious choice.
5. Destiny 2 Gets Delayed To Spring 2018
The final Destiny expansion was released this past September, with developer Bungie planning to release smaller updates in the interim while they finish work on a sequel, which is set to launch sometime this Fall. As a pretty avid Destiny player myself, I would love nothing more than for Bungie to deliver a full-fledged sequel this calendar year, as I think it’s about time the game received a substantial change that goes well beyond what an expansion can bring to the table, but I also do not believe for a second that they’ll be able to put Destiny 2 out this year.
Think about it: if Destiny 2 were to release in say, September, this would be only three years after the launch of the first Destiny and I don’t think that’s enough time for Bungie to have completed work on a sequel that is expected to offer a clean slate for new and returning players alike. As much as I don’t want to see an entire year of Destiny on life support while Bungie finishes work on the next iteration, I also don’t want them to rush Destiny 2, as we saw how much the original game suffered from being released too early. Unless they can pull off something spectacular and deliver a sequel with substantial story content this time around by the Fall, I think it’s in Bungie and Activision’s best interest to save this one for an early 2018 release.
4. Toys-To-Life Officially Dies
Just a few years ago, it felt like everyone was trying to get in on the Toys-to-Life craze started by Activision’s first Skylanders title back in 2011. Within just a few short years, we had not only yearly Skylanders releases, but also Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions (heck, even Nintendo sort of got in on the fad with its amiibo figures). The idea of getting people to buy multiple physical toys in order to unlock different abilities and features within a video game was admittedly pretty ingenious, even if it was so clearly a cash-grab. Much like the plastic instruments fad before it though, signs of trouble started to show in 2016, with Disney Infinity calling it quits; a huge shock considering they arguably had the most easily marketable products (Marvel, Star Wars etc.).
This year, I think we’ll see the bottom truly fall out in the toys-to-life genre, with only LEGO possibly soldiering on based on the fact that you can actually play with the figures they sell. While nothing has been confirmed, there are already rumors that Activision has cancelled their Skylanders game for 2017 and it doesn’t look like Nintendo really cares all that much about amiibo anymore, so it would appear that the ship has sailed when it comes to Toys-to-Life. RIP
3. Rocksteady Announces A Superman Game
Rocksteady are one of the hottest developers of the last decade, cranking out three of the best superhero games ever with the Batman: Arkham series (four if you count their recent spinoff Arkham VR). The developer has yet to announce what they’re working on next, but rumors have been circulating for awhile now that their next project would not be a Batman game, but would still tackle a property from the DC universe.
I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Rocksteady will announce their next game in 2017 and that it’s going to be a Superman game. Superman is one of the most popular superheroes of all time, but his video game legacy is atrocious. It’s insane to think that no one has been able to make a good Superman game yet, but if Rocksteady is given the reigns, I have no doubt they’ll be able to pull it off. Plus, they would easily be able to keep Batman involved, having him show up as either an NPC or even a playable character, and thus expand their game universe at the same time. Speaking of which, can someone get on making a Wonder Woman game too?
2. Oculus and Microsoft Announce Xbox Scorpio Partnership
With Sony having released their own virtual reality headset in the form of PlayStation VR and a much more powerful version of the Xbox One, codnamed Scorpio, set to arrive at the end of 2017, it feels like the perfect time for Microsoft to get in on the VR scene. Although the company already has HoloLens, an ambitious augmented reality headset, in the pipeline, its $3000 development unit price tag suggests that it’s a long way off from being consumer ready. Microsoft needs to get in on VR now and with it being too late in the game for them to build their own headset, a partnership with Oculus would make a lot of sense.
Theoretically, the Scorpio will be able to run the Rift at optimal settings and landing the Rift on Xbox would be a major win for Microsoft against Sony, as it’s a superior headset to PlayStation VR. The only real issue (besides Oculus agreeing to such a deal in the first place) is that this would complicate Microsoft’s commitment to the original Xbox One, as there’s no way the Rift is going to be able run on that hardware, but it’s probably still a move that makes sense if Microsoft can pull it off. Plus, we’ve already seen that the two companies can play nice together, as Oculus added Xbox One game streaming capabilities back in November.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2 Will NOT Be Delayed
Delays are so becoming so frequent, especially when it comes to big budget, AAA games, that it’s just sort of assumed that no game will hit its first release date target anymore. Many are hoping that Rockstar’s initial promise of Red Dead Redemption 2 shipping in Fall 2017 pans out, but already it’s being being assumed that the game will get delayed to Spring 2018 at the very least. While I have no concrete reason for believing this, I think that Rockstar will be able to get RDR 2 out this year. Although we haven’t seen much of it, it’s clear that they’ve been working on it for quite some time, as Grand Theft Auto V was their last game and it’s over three years old at this point. Plus, Rockstar typically doesn’t delay their games, although GTA V did get delayed by a few months back in 2013.
Still, I don’t think Rockstar would have even bothered announcing Red Dead Redemption 2 last Fall if they didn’t think they’d be able to hit that Fall 2017 release window, as they took so long to announce the game in the first place, what would they have to gain by revealing it before they were good and ready? Sure, it probably doesn’t help that I’m dying to get my hands on the game and just want it to ship this year for that very reason, but I still think there’s no reason to believe at this point and time that Rockstar won’t get Red Dead Redemption 2 out in 2017.
Half-Life 3 Will Be Confi-
No, it won’t.