At this point, delays are pretty much synonymous with the games industry. Video games — especially on the big budget, AAA side of things — are highly complex creations that take large teams years to make and the truth is that no matter how confident you are that you’ll get your game out by a specific date, the reality is that unforeseen issues at every stage of the development chain can significantly impact the ability to get a game completed on time. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, as a delayed game often results in a higher quality game thanks to the added development time, but it’s admittedly no fun having to wait even longer for a game when they already take years to make.
While we’re hopeful that all of the following games will hit their 2016 release windows, the reality is that there are going to be games pushed back to 2017 and these are the titles most likely to get hit with a delay:
8. Dishonored 2
The original Dishonored was one of 2012’s biggest surprises: a brand new intellectual property that not only achieved critical acclaim, but also provided further proof that games not based on pre-existing franchises can be successful too, as it was one of the year’s top sellers. As such, Dishonored 2 is one of 2016’s most anticipated games, but there’s a good chance we won’t be seeing the final product until next year. For one, the game still has a vague 2016 release window, which indicates that the final release date is still not close to being nailed down. Secondly, Bethesda Softworks already has the Doom reboot scheduled to drop sometime in Q1 or Q2 of 2016, so if the publisher is going to delay a game, it will almost surely be the one with a less defined, later release window. That being said, it’s very tough to say at this point whether Dishonored 2 will be delayed or not, but if it is, I won’t be in the least bit surprised.
7. Mass Effect Andromeda
It’s been four years since Bioware capped off their first Mass Effect trilogy and while some players are still disgruntled over how the trilogy’s ending was handled (never underestimate how long gamers can hold a grudge), most people are just anxious to see what Bioware can bring to the table with their next game. Details surrounding Mass Effect: Andromeda — which is set in a new galaxy and will focus on an all new cast of characters — are still sparse at this point, which is part of the reason why it has a good chance of being delayed. Obviously, the preview cycle for every game is different (Fallout 4 was announced less than 6 months before its release last year) but the fact that we still haven’t seen much of Mass Effect: Andromeda, not to mention that its December 2016 release window is already teetering very close to 2017 anyway, indicate that it has a very good chance of not making it out this year.
6. The Legend of Zelda Wii U
Nintendo is in a state of flux right now, with many industry experts expecting that the company will reveal and release their next console, codenamed the NX, by the end of 2016. As such, the company will be focusing most of its resources on their new console and distancing themselves from the struggling Wii U. The Wii U still has a few exclusive titles left, however, including the highly-anticipated next entry in the Legend of Zelda series. Yes, the game has already been delayed significantly from its oroginal 2015 release window. Yes, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé has made assurances that Zelda Wii U will be out in 2016. Does that mean I have confidence in Nintendo getting the game out this year? Not really. We’ve seen no new footage of the game for a long time now and there’s also the very likely scenario that Zelda Wii U is also going to become Zelda NX, as past history has shown that Nintendo is perfectly willing to delay a Zelda title to get it on their new platform. There’s a reason Nintendo is releasing a HD remaster of Twilight Princess this year and it’s because they already know they won’t get the next entry out in 2016. Prove me wrong, Nintendo. Prove me wrong.
5. Crackdown 3
One of Microsoft’s flagship Xbox One exclusives for the year, Crackdown 3 is set to change up the franchise’s familiar open world parkour gameplay by introducing cloud-based destructibility to the game’s environment. While Microsoft has made assurances that Crackdown 3‘s multiplayer portion will be out sometime this summer (and there’s really no reason to doubt that they’ll deliver on that promise at this point), seeing the full game come out this year is a much more uncertain proposition. Developer Reagent Games is charting ambitious new territory with Crackdown 3‘s engine and it’s likely that we’ll see it released in beta form this year so that the game can be stress-tested before the final version is rolled out. At any rate, you can rest assured that you’ll be playing Crackdown 3 in some form in 2016, but it probably won’t be the full game.
4. Final Fantasy XV
Currently in its 10th year of development after suffering numerous delays and redesigns, Final Fantasy XV is scheduled to finally release worldwide this year. While I am mostly confident that Square Enix will get this game out in 2016 (we’ll know for sure by March, when an official release date is set to be revealed at a special event), it also will not come as a surprise in the least if Square ends up pushing the game back to next year. With a development cycle as tumultuous as this game has had, even having an official release date is never a guarantee. Take a look at Uncharted 4: Naughty Dog repeatedly said that they would make the game’s March 2016 release, but were still forced to push it back…and that’s from a studio that generally nails their release dates. Final Fantasy XV has been in development hell for awhile; it could very well keep that going for a bit longer.
Update: Looks like we were wrong about this one. Square Enix has confirmed that Final Fantasy XV will be out September 30, 2016 worldwide.
3. The Last Guardian
One of Sony’s biggest mic drop moments from its E3 press conference last year was the company’s reintroduction of The Last Guardian, a game that many had given up hope of ever actually seeing finished. It was a spectacular reveal to be sure and the promise of a 2016 release window finally made the game feel more real than it had in years, but given how long and troubled its produciton has been, it still feels unlikely that we’ll actually get our hands on The Last Guardian this year. Although Sony Computer Entertainment president Shuhei Yoshida has since made assurances that the game currently exists in a playable state, the fact that we’ve yet to see a playable build at any trade event is not a reassuring sign for a game that has been delayed so heavily in the past. Perhaps Sony is right when they say that they just don’t want to spoil the game’s story and that it will be out this year, but I’m not holding my breath for The Last Guardian finally seeing the light of day in 2016.
2. Horizon Zero Dawn
Aside from Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Guerilla Games’ impressive-looking action role-playing title Horizon Zero Dawn is perhaps the most anticipated title for PlayStation 4. An ambitious new property featuring an open world design, Horizon represents Guerilla’s most ambitious game yet and although it has been in development since 2011, there’s still the very real possibility that it could be pushed back to 2017. For one thing, the game still has no firm release, which suggests that Guerilla still isn’t far enough in development to confidently nail down a release date (though it’s still very early in the year and this could change at any time). While it would be great to see Sony get this PS4 exclusive out the door in 2016, if it needs to be pushed into 2017 to make sure it’s as good as possible, I’m more than okay with waiting a little longer for Horizon Zero Dawn.
ReCore, an action-adventure game being developed by ex-Mega Man producer Kejii Inafune’s studio Comcept in collaboration with Armature Studio, is definitely one of Microsoft’s most promising upcoming exclusives. Unfortunately, recent developments have cast significant doubt on the prospect of the game making its 2016 release window. Microsoft announced in early January that the game would getting a PC version in addition to Xbox One, but the news came along with a delay, as ReCore has now been moved to a general 2016 release. With the completion time up in the air and little detail to go other than the game’s announcement trailer from last year’s E3, it’s feeling increasingly likely that ReCore will get moved to 2017.