At the end of each year, we line up our favorite games from the last 365 days. Then, a few days or weeks later, we look forward to what’s coming in the next 365 (or 366, hi leap years). If you peek back at one of those lists from a past year, you’ll see a bunch of your favorites there, a few fallen soldiers that never came out at all (I’m still mourning Silent Hills, don’t judge me), and a whole list of games that, for whatever reason, simply didn’t make it in time and slipped into the following year.
Delays aren’t a bad thing—I’d rather have a good game later than a bad game now. They’re often necessary, and usually for the best. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be a bit disappointed that we have to wait. Games like Quantum Break, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and Scalebound were all titles that we’d hoped to see last year. Two of those are now imminent, while the third has already been pushed out into 2017.
As I look ahead to the next year of games, there are a few on my list of most-anticipated games that I don’t have much confidence in seeing this year. Here are five games that I don’t think will make it.
5. CRACKDOWN 3’
There’s a lot of pressure on Crackdown 3 to deliver. The original game was a breakout hit that turned into a fan favorite thanks to its supercop take on the open-world formula. The sequel, Crackdown 2, sucked. It was terrible. Crackdown 3, then, has to not only redeem its most recent predecessor, but live up to the nostalgic memories gamers have of the nearly decade-old game. And then it has to go do something new.
That last part is what could push the game out of this year. The central pillar of Crackdown 3 is its cloud-based destruction. Tech demos have shown infinitely destructible buildings made possible by Microsoft’s much-hyped (by Microsoft at least) Azure technology. The game, then, depends on stable servers and rock-steady tech. One of the big draws of Crackdown was the seamless jump-in-jump-out multiplayer, and it seems like multiplayer and single player might be separate modes. In either case, it’s an ambitious undertaking, and a last chance to redeem the series. They have to get it right on the first try, on release day. That could mean things take a while.
4. ‘HORIZON ZERO DAWN’
Horizon Zero Dawn was, without question, the coolest new IP at E3 2015. Developer Guerrilla Games has been stuck on the grimdark shootyman series Killzone for far too long, and I was happy to see them doing something new.
That new thing, though, is huge. Horizon Zero Dawn is a huge, open world game with all kinds of new mechanics from a development studio best known for high-fidelity first-person shooters. We’ve seen a demo, and it looked quite polished, but it was also a pretty narrow vertical slice, and it’s all we’ve seen so far. It’s difficult to tell how far along the game is, and Guerrilla Games has had some pretty big delays in the past.
The Xbox One and PC title known as ReCore has a lot going for it. Keiji Inafune, the man behind the legendary Mega Man series, is helming the game, and development is being handled by Armature Studio, made up by members of the Metroid Prime team.
Inafune, though, might hold the game back as much as he pushes it forward. He undoubtedly has a good sense for gameplay, but since leaving Capcom he’s had a tough time getting any of his own creations off the ground. His studio Comcept has co-developed a few games, but the crowd-funded Mega Man spiritual successor Mighty No. 9 has been delayed repeatedly, due in part to Inafune starting another crowd-funded Mega Man successor called Red Ash. In short, he seems easily distracted and has a tough time pushing games to completion.
While it seems unlikely Mighty No. 9 will be delayed again, I’m worried he could keep ReCore out of gamers’ hands longer than necessary. I’m all for waiting on great games, but there comes a point where you have to wonder if they really should be taking so long, and that’s exactly where Inafune is.
2. 'GEARS OF WAR 4’
Microsoft and new Gears development studio The Coalition unveiled Gears of War 4 at E3 2015 with an extended gameplay sequence. Just a month ago, they even moved the release window up from Holiday 2016 to Fall 2016. That should inspire confidence, right?
From here, though, it looks like a show. The sequence we saw at E3 was clearly polished, but that’s about it. Like last year’s The Order: 1886, it seemed like a competent cover shooter, but not much more. It didn’t show anything new to the series and felt less like the actual game and more like proof of concept that they have the engine running on Xbox One and are working on the game. While The Coalition could certainly release a boring, nice-looking Gears game, that goes against the fan-focused direction we’ve seen from Microsoft in the last few years, and could be destructive for the series. Unless they have some clever ideas up their sleeves, it seems like this one might need a bit more time.
1. 'MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA’
While Electronic Arts isn’t quite as bad about it as Ubisoft, the company often reveals games too early. It’s one thing for the game’s director to mention that a game is in development—all that really says is that the team is writing on whiteboards in a meeting room in Quebec or something. When a publisher officially reveals the game at an event like E3, that puts ideas about imminent release into our heads.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is currently set for release sometime near the end of 2016. While that’s not impossible, a Mass Effect game is a huge undertaking and a flagship title for the company. Dragon Age: Inquisition just released in 2014, and since then the company has seen major team members like Mass Effect director Casey Hudson and Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider leave to work on other projects. Right now we don’t know who is in charge of Mass Effect: Andromeda or how far along development is, and that could be what holds the game back.
Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, and it’s been downhill ever since. He takes a multifaceted approach to gaming news and reviews, mixing business analysis, cultural studies, tech and design. In his free time, he perfects his napping technique and pursues the elusive perfect cheeseburger.
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