Sunday, January 17, 2016

Happy 2016!

Hello again!  It's been a while.  Hard to believe this blog has been around for over five years.  In that span of time, I've apparently written well over 100 posts.  When I first started this blog, it was out of an interest in writing, and practicing how to express my thoughts on the entertainment I consume.  I often look back over the writing I've done here and am mildly embarrassed by it, but it was a good experience.  I don't expect that I'll be reaching the output I used to have anytime soon, but I haven't closed this blog because I like having it around.

This would be a good time to write a "Top Ten of 2015" list for games, but 2015 was an incredibly busy year for me and as a result I don't even think I could cobble together a top five list, let alone top ten.  Instead, I'd like to look ahead at the stuff in 2016 that I'm personally interested in.  I don't have a PS4 yet, but I'm officially in the market for one, so I'll also be including games for that platform.

15th - Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen (PC) - As of this writing, this has actually come out already, but I wanted to briefly talk about it anyway.  DD is a game that I had a lot of respect for when I first played it on PS3, but long load times, mediocre performance and a general sense of technical unreliability made it a chore to play.  I'm looking forward to revisiting it on PC.
28th - Rise of the Tomb Raider (PC) - Despite some quibbles, I really liked the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot.  Everything I've heard leads me to believe that Rise is an improvement on its predecessor in pretty much every way, which makes me excited to play it.
2nd - Gravity Rush Remastered - I've already played Gravity Rush on Vita, and there's a part of me that's sad to see that platform lose yet another of its marquee titles.  But the fact remains that Gravity Rush deserves a larger audience than the Vita can give it, so this was probably a good move.
5th - XCOM 2 - If not for Fire Emblem: Awakening in 2013, XCOM would have been my GOTY twice in a row, with Enemy Within.  I love that game, and I'm so ready for more.
9th - Naruto Shippuuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 - I may be done with Naruto, but CyberConnect2 isn't, bless their souls.  As ostensibly the last game in the series, this looks like it's going to be the biggest and most badass entry yet, and I'm really looking forward to it.  They've even got characters from The Last and Bolt's generation in it!
10th - Valkyria Chronicles Remastered - Ah, Valkyria Chronicles.  Another game that I adore.  No joke, VC would almost certainly make the top five of my favorite games of the PS3/360/Wii generation.  It's a game with endless charm, and I look forward to owning it again.  Even though every single screenshot and trailer I've seen looks exactly the same as the game did on PS3.  Maybe cell-shaded games are really hard to remaster.
16th - Project X Zone 2 - The first Project X Zone was super neat, if not a little tedious.  I'm sure this will be the same way.
19th - Fire Emblem Fates - Ohboyohboyohboyohboy, it's Fire Emblem!  I loved Fire Emblem Awakening more than words can probably express.  It was a bit of an ordeal pre-ordering Fates' special edition, but I managed it and can't wait to get into it.
8th - The Division - There's a lot of mystery and uncertainty surrounding this game, but I guess it's a 3rd person cover-based shooter, sooooo... I'll keep an eye on it?
12th - Ratchet and Clank - This is kind of an interesting thing.  I'm generally of the opinion that Ratchet and Clank is right up there with Kirby as being one of the most consistently quality franchises out there; there have been some missteps with All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault, but a mainline R&C game is always something to look forward to.  That said, the first R&C game, while not bad even by today's standards, has aged poorer than the others.  This looks like a much-needed facelift.
26th - Uncharted 4: A Thief's End - To be honest, I don't know if I'm interested in more Uncharted, and the footage thus far hasn't done much to sway me one way or the other.  What Uncharted does, it does fairly well, but that's also all it does; it's a pretty formulaic series.  This one does seem to have some small departures here and there, like the grappling hook and a more open-ended approach to level design, but it still looks like 100% Uncharted.
24th - Mirror's Edge Catalyst - The first Mirror's Edge was a neat game that jaw-dropping visuals, a very strong aesthetic and fresh gameplay.  It was the start of something with a lot of potential.  But that was a long time ago.  I'm curious to see how Catalyst will stand out this time.

Other games:
Attack on Titan - I think it's Omega Force making this (the guys behind Dynasty Warriors) so I'm only cautiously optimistic, but an AoT game that can actually capture even a fraction of that 3D Maneuver Gear action is something to keep an eye on.
Bravely Second: End Layer - I haven't finished it yet, but the first Bravely Default's a reasonably enjoyable game; the worst I can say about it is that it doesn't have the best pacing.  I don't know if I'm ready for a whole new game so soon after BD, but I expect Bravely Second to be just as pleasant.
Dishonored 2 - I'm not actually watching this game that closely, but it is true that I liked the first Dishonored a fair bit.
Dreadnought - It just looks neat.
Final Fantasy 15 - As quick as people have been to dismiss this game lately, I still think it looks super cool.  And if SE delivers on the premise they've been advertising, it'll probably be the most ambitious, expansive game in the franchise.
God Eater: Resurrection and God Eater 2- Man, I'm so glad this is actually happening.  God Eater has always been such an intriguing thing on the PSP and Vita, and I'm glad we'll finally be able to get up to speed outside of Japan.  That said, as far as games featuring stylish characters fighting monsters in a post-apocalyptic setting go, Freedom Wars has taken a lot of GE's thunder in my head.
Gravity Rush 2 - Like I said earlier, Gravity Rush was a super neat game that had some missed potential.  I hope the sequel really dives deep into the setting and world.
Horizon Zero Dawn - Say what you will about the Killzone games, but I feel like Guerilla puts a lot of work and talent into them.  So I'm optimistic about this studio channeling its resources into something fresh.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue - I have to say, I'm getting fatigued with Kingdom Hearts.  It's a series that will probably always have a special place in my heart, but I enjoy these games mainly because they're cool Action RPGs with fun settings and neat ideas.  It's certainly not because of the impenetrable story or increasingly outlandish names and characters.  That said, an Aqua-focused chapter does sound nice.
Overwatch - I mean, what can I say?  It looks fun.  Some of the characters are charming.  I'm not a big FPS guy and I think some of the culture surrounding the game is a bit offputting, but it's still something I want to play.
Persona 5 - I'm used to Persona games (and to some extent Atlus games in general) oozing style, but Persona 5 takes that to a whole different level.  This game is stylish as fuck.  After Persona 4 I have nothing but optimism for P5.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithfulness - I still don't understand why I'm as intrigued by this game as I am.  I didn't like Star Ocean 3 very much and The Last Hope was mediocre outside of its combat system.  But I am.  Maybe I'm just jonesing for more Star Ocean combat.
The Last Guardian - Like everyone, I want to play this just to see what it ultimately is.
Valkyria: Azure Revolution - This game's already gotten a lot of flak for ditching the SRPG gameplay.  I can understand that, but the teaser footage still looked cool, and frankly I'm going to keep a keen eye on this game simply because it is directly related to Valkyria Chronicles.  VC deserves that much from me.

Games I want to see:
These are games that either haven't been announced or haven't been confirmed for 2016 (to my knowledge, anyway).  But I want to see them.
Titanfall - I want to say that at some point Respawn expressed their full intention to make a sequel to Titanfall, but they've been dead silent since.  Titanfall wasn't without its flaws, and excitement for it cooled remarkably fast after release, but it was still cool as fuck.  I'd love to see Respawn expand on what ultimately was one of the most memorable shooters in recent memory for me.
Ace Combat 7 - Ace Combat is finally going back to Strangereal!  Neat!  That said, the teaser was pretty uneventful, and I can't give Namco the benefit of the doubt just yet.
Metroid - I'd like another mainline Metroid game.  It could be first-person, it could be 2D, I just want to see that series get another entry.
Sonic - I used to be way more into Sonic, but ever since Generations my interest in the franchise has cooled significantly.  But the character is still profitable for Sega, so I hope they think about making another mainline entry sometime soon.  And I don't mean another Sonic Boom game.
Tales of Berseria - I'm actually pretty sure this is going to come out in 2016, but we still know relatively little about it.  I hope it doesn't follow in Zestiria's footsteps.
Ace Attorney 6 - What can I say?  Capcom makes a new Ace Attorney, of course I want to play it.
SSX 3 as a PS2 Classic - I don't trust the EA of today to make a new SSX game that improves on SSX 3 (or even Tricky), especially after the reboot and considering how Battlefront turned out.  But SSX 3 still looks pretty good by today's standards, and Sony's been doing interesting stuff with PS2 classics on PS4.  Make it happen!

As far as I'm concerned, 2016's already shaping up to be a great year in gaming.

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