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The 50 most exciting games of 2017

50 games! Good ones, too!

Video games, 'ey? They're alright, and we're willing to wager that there will be quite a few of them in 2017. Some of them might even be quite good! The next 12 months will be dominated by new hardware such as Microsoft's Scorpio and Nintendo's Switch, but as ever it's the games that really matter, and here's a list of the 50 we're most excited about.

Birthdays: The Beginning

This one sounds delightfully odd; a life simulator from the creator of Harvest Moon, it's looking a lot like a cutesy take on Eric Chahi's formidable From Dust. Which is enough, when written down, to make us want to go and have an ice shower to cool ourselves a little, and it looks like there's plenty more to Birthdays: The Beginning besides. An eccentric curiosity, then, that looks to be one of 2017's more interesting games.

Absolver

  • Platform: PS4, PC, Xbox One
  • Release date: 2017

There's hitting things, and then there's hitting things with style. French developer Sloclap - featuring several former Ubisoft Paris employees - lays on the class with this martial arts inspired brawler, and it is looking absolutely sublime. Devolver's on publishing duties, too, so expect a little added edge to all those fisticuffs as well.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

  • Platform: PS4, PC, Xbox One
  • Release date: 2017

So, The Witcher wasn't gritty enough for you? This might be what you're after. A medieval RPG stripped of magic, Czech developer Warhorse Studios is building an intriguingly down and dirty open world where you'll feel the thud of metal on leather and where you're free to embark on your own adventures. Yes please, basically.

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Remember CRPGs? This is a CRPG - an old school Computer RPG that seems to hail from the days of Baldur's Gate. It's based on the Numenera universe, which combines magic and ancient technology - a bit like IKEA then - and it's from some of the people who brought us Planescape Torment. It was huge hit on Kickstarter, and it looks wonderfully imaginative and even a bit philosophical. Cor. A bit like IKEA then?

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 3

The stylised look for Relic's new game still has to win some people over, but anyone who's got their hands on this long-awaited sequel has few complaints. This is a punchy and ludicrously satisfying strategy game, which has benefitted from some streamlining as well as a few borrowings from more modern MOBAs while retaining the brutal beating heart of the series.

Destiny 2

  • Platform: TBC
  • Release date: 2017

Did you really think we were going to miss this one off? After an evidently tortured development schedule, Bungie's Destiny sequel should finally break cover this year, and just seeing what shape it takes will be fascinating. How much of the original will it throw away, where will it build upon the first game's mistakes - and what, most importantly, will it be keeping. And, of course, it's an excuse for us to write plenty more about Destiny. We know how much you all love that.

Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite

  • Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Release date: 2017

Will 2017 be the year the world finally tires of watching superheroes hit each other? Capcom's hoping not, and the revival of its crossover series should benefit from the high profile that Marvel now enjoys. On the Capcom side, expect the same hyperactive action of the three previous MvC games and a return to two-on-two fighting, and hopefully a few lessons learned from the fumbled launch of Street Fighter 5.

Dragon Quest 11

  • Platform: PS4, Switch, 3DS
  • Release date: 2017

Dragon Quest has hardly been quiet as a series in recent times - last year's excellent Builders kept the flag flying, while the musou Heroes spin-offs have also been well received - but this is the big one. Given that 9 was a DS exclusive and 10 was an MMO that never made it out of Japan, this feels like a long overdue return for Dragon Quest to home consoles (not forgetting the accompanying 3DS version, of course), and the first full-fat offering since 2004's Dragon Quest 8. If it's half as good as that endearingly breezy adventure, Dragon Quest 11 could be something special.

Sunless Skies

  • Platform: PC
  • Release date: 2017

Testing the boundaries of Coleridge, Failbetter leaves Sunless Seas behind and jets off for space, with another terrifying game of exploration and expiration that takes interesting cues from the likes of C.S. Lewis and his naked astronauts. (The astronauts in the game may not be naked, mind.) Space in the Fallen London universe is a real wasteland, too, rugged, violent and probably filled with terrifying nameless things. This looks like a corker.

For Honor

Even if it's not your bag, For Honor is the kind of thing it's nice to see Ubisoft doing - a big, lavish, bonkers game that seems to cater to a fairly niche audience. For Honor's single-player may look fairly throwaway, but its multiplayer MOBA-ish brawling, enlivened by the rock-paper-scissors of blocking and swinging, is strangely compelling. Fancy some of this?

Super Mario Switch

  • Platform: Switch
  • Release date: March

Mario's arrival on a new Nintendo platform is always cause for delight, even if Switch's design suggests it's more about where you play than the new kinds of fun that can be squeezed out of the hardware. There are rumours that Super Mario Switch is a step away from the level-by-level fun of recent 3D Marios and back towards the hubs of Mario 64 and Sunshine - regardless of how it turns out, though, this feels like a safe bet, as ever.

State of Decay 2

The sequel to a much-loved, occasionally janky zombie-based survival game, it's hard not to get excited about State of Decay 2 - most likely because it used the zombie-based survival game template to encourage a real sense of attachment to your doomed avatars. More of the same, please.

Below

What is Below at this point? Long-touted, long-delayed, with no release date in sight? It's still a wonderful prospect: an exploration roguelike set amongst sparkling grottoes and stark mountains, in which you are implausibly small and vulnerable. Will it make 2017? Hope so.

Frozen Synapse 2

  • Platform: PC
  • Release date: 2017

Should that be Frozen Synapse 3? The team behind the original Frozen Synapse already revisited its double-blind tactical design in the wonderful Frozen Cortex, which swapped out the battlefield for the gridiron of a violent futuristic sport. Frozen Synapse 2 still seems like a step forward, however, replacing the bespoke maps of the original for sprawling open-worlds. You make your plan, your enemy makes your plan, and then they both play out at the same time. Wonderful stuff.

Oxygen Not Included

  • Platform: PC
  • Release date: 2017

What's the most intriguing game of the last thirty years? It's almost certainly Dwarf Fortress, with its ASCII graphics that take years to understand, with its simulation that flows dizzyingly deep. A game about keeping a community going in the most hostile of circumstances, Dwarf Fortress is one of those perennial new year's resolutions games: this year I will give it the 100+ hours it needs to get a basic understanding of it. Or this year, I could just play Oxygen Not Included, which is Dwarf Fortress reworked by Klei, the best design team in games at the moment. Oh yes, and it's set in space.

Star Trek Bridge Crew

What a premise: a VR game in which you and your friends gather together to play-act being the leadership team of a Star Trek spaceship. This looks unwieldy, unlikely - in terms of getting everyone together for a game - and, yes, absolutely intoxicating.

Star Citizen

  • Platform: PC
  • Release date: 2017

The space game to end all space games has, at times, also felt like some kind of grand financial con. But the development has continued, the money has pooled and pooled, and 2017 is the year that it hopefully all comes together. Given the amount of money some people have been allowed to drop on imaginary spaceships it's going to be hard for a lot of us to approach this without feeling a little grim about things, but maybe it's a decent game all the same?

Gorogoa

  • Platform: PC
  • Release date: 2017

If you played the early build that did the rounds a few years back, Gorogoa has likely already given you some of your most memorably clever moments in gaming. This is an almost indescribable work of puzzle-design intricacy, in which you move between artfully crafted 2D scenes, slowly changing the details and working out how an increasingly complex space interlocks. If you haven't played it yet, prepare to be captivated.

Tokyo 42

  • Platform: PS4, PC
  • Release date: 2017

In the crowd, swarming and massing across colourful futuristic landscapes, someone is trying to get away with murder. This is Tokyo 42, a glorious hypercolour antfarm in which you work your way through the throngs to achieve your violent aims. The whole thing looks like a piece of bright corporate sculpture, and it promises to rekindle all those fond memories of the likes of Syndicate. Cannot wait.

Sea of Thieves

One of the team leads on Sea of Thieves spent a few moments before his E3 meetings piratising his business cards, snipping away at the straight edges until they resembled the tattered glories of classic treasure maps. This bodes well for Rare's fascinating swashbuckler sim, in which you band together, master a ship and set a path for fame and fortune. Eve Online on the high seas? Go on then.

Animal Crossing Mobile

  • Platform: Mobile
  • Release date: 2017

Animal Crossing's genius has always lurked in its persistence, the fact that its world moves to the tick of your clock, shifting through the minutes, hours, days and seasons in step with its players. Or, to put it another way, this is going to work beautifully on mobile unless Nintendo does something unprecedented. A village on your phone? Sounds great. Throw Spike in there and we're sold.

Gravity Rush 2

Final code for this is downloading on the office PS4 as we put this list together, but it still seems so wonderfully unlikely: a sequel to a real Vita oddity, in which you control a trainee superhero who can walk up walls and fall across a complex cityscape. This installment looks suitably vibrant and playful, and best of all, we'll know very soon if the developers have retained the clumsy magic of the original.

Crackdown 3

We still have a great deal of hope for this - a city-spanning treasure hunt with some lovely crime-fighting violence slammed into the middle of it. Crackdown is one of those games that is as good as its playground, and with newish hardware to run on and some ambitious plans in terms of destructible environments, this could be a very good playground indeed.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

In the future, humans are cave-people again, and technology has literally birthed dinosaurs. Prior to the various political shifts of 2016, Horizon: Zero Dawn would have been science fiction. Now it feels like a full-on prediction. No matter, it's a prediction that comes with dino-hunting and rope-arrows, and it's all delivered by Guerilla, a great developer that has yet to make a great game. Maybe this is the one?

Prey

Prey's one of those games that has never really had its moment. Maybe this is it, with the name being Photoshopped onto this intriguing futuristic roguelike in which your senses cannot be trusted and even the coffee cups might have it in for you. All delivered by Arkane, a studio which is nothing if not relentlessly post-graduate in all its undertakings.

Mass Effect Andromeda

A new galaxy and a new protagonist, but there seems to be a lot here for fans of Bioware's sci-fi RPG to cling to. Perhaps too much, as this space-faring series has never been particularly good at capturing a sense of alien wonder, and the intoxicating promise of new real-estate doesn't yet seem to have sparked the art design to life. No matter, the soap opera is what matters with Mass Effect, and there's no reason to suspect that Andromeda won't deliver on that.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

It feels like every third game being released at the moment is an open world romp, and yet having The Legend of Zelda follow suit with Breath of the Wild still feels like a daring, exciting step. From what we've seen of Breath of the Wild, which is to say quite a lot, messing about in the game world looks like a lot of fun - and, for the first time in over thirty years, it'll be something more than idle noodling on the way to the next dungeon.

Yooka Laylee

If there's one thing xylophone enthusiasts - or Banjo Kazooie fans, we guess - can be excited for in 2017, it's Yooka Laylee. From the soundtrack and character design to the platforming and witty script, Yooka Laylee feels both innovative and very, very familiar.

Shadowhand

  • Platform: PC
  • Release date: 2017

Shadowhand tells the story of Lady Cornelia Darkmoor - 18th Century aristocrat by day, notorious highwaywoman Shadowhand by night. Your task is to amass new weapons, gear and abilities as you strive to become the most fearsome road agent in all the land. Did we mention you'll be doing this by playing Solitaire? You'll be doing this by playing Solitaire.

Scalebound (cancelled)

(Microsoft announced Scalebound's cancellation 9th January 2017.)

Scalebound is one half of Platinum Games' offering this year and looks set to be the best video game about being a gobby millennial on the back of a dragon in 2017. Perfect, in other words, for anyone who felt The Last Guardian was too lacking in one liners and / or swordplay. With lush environments and a cheery colour palette, it looks refreshingly vibrant for an action game, especially when compared to the rather beige (but still quite exciting) looking Nier: Automata.

Strafe

  • Platform: PS4, PC
  • Release date: 2017

After all the controversy surrounding No Man's Sky last year, it's fair to say people are a little wary of procedural generation at the moment. Pixel Titans is presumably looking to turn that around in 2017 with its first person shooter cum roguelike Strafe, a fast paced, gory little number that changes with each playthrough. Will it prove to be the hero procedural generation needs? Hopefully, although it's not likely to stop people yelling at Sean Murray on Twitter.

Dreams

While 2016 was a great year for VR hardware, it's hard to escape the feeling the software hasn't quite caught up yet - a lot of virtual reality games more closely resemble tech demos than fully fledged games (no pun intended, Eagle Flight). Media Molecule's Dreams, while a little abstruse, is certainly one of the most ambitious offerings coming to VR this year, allowing players to quite literally sculpt levels for themselves using either a dualshock controller or Playstation Move. Putting big emphasis on sharing user-made creations, Dreams should be a fairly substantial offering.

Red Dead Redemption 2

At the time of writing, very little is known for sure about Red Dead Redemption 2. It's widely speculated to be a prequel and there are certainly people with guns and horses in it but, aside from that, Rockstar hasn't let much slip. Nonetheless, with the sheer popularity of the Red Dead franchise - and the fact Red Dead Redemption was excellent - RDR2 is easily one of the most anticipated games of 2017. All the same, please Rockstar - no more Jack Marston, please?

Gran Turismo Sport

We're making a bit of an assumption, of course, that Gran Turimso Sport will even come out this year - it's already been delayed once, but this is Polyphony we're talking about so who knows when it'll eventually be done with its PlayStation 4 debut. Still, let's show a little optimism for what's being touted as the biggest step forward for the series since it first started way back in 1997. Given it's got the slimmest track and car list since then, its online focus is going to need to be pretty special to get everyone back onboard with Sony's premier driving simulator.

Nex Machina

  • Platform: PS4, PC
  • Release date: 2017

Screw everything else, we've got the game of 2017 right here already. Housemarque has long been an admirer of the work of Eugene Jarvis - whether it's Resogun doing a more than passable impersonation of Defender or Super Stardust riffing off the twin-stick original Robotron 2084 - so what could be better than a partnership between the two? Having sampled some of Nex Machina, a delirious, chaotic and sumptuous shooter, the answer happily appears to be not very much.

Resident Evil 7

Ever since Shinji Mikami reinvented Resident Evil as a taut action masterpiece with the fourth mainline instalment Capcom has been chasing that same formula with limited success, yet thankfully it's now wised up and returned to the series' horror roots. The shift in perspective to first-person might prove divisive, but it only emphasises the fact this looks like being the scariest, smartest and perhaps boldest Resident Evil in some time. As pivotal a moment as Resident Evil 4 was back in its day? Maybe so.

Ni-Oh

You might not be able to remember so far back, but once was the time when Team Ninja was prided on its muscular action games with the initial Ninja Gaiden reboot. For the first time in an age, that personality can be glimpsed in Ni-Oh, which already looks like much, much more than a Dark Souls imitator. There's much to cherish here, from the quirky Kurosawa origins to the rich lore that encases its world, though really there's nothing so exciting as the potential for seeing this once great developer back on the top of its game.

Nier: Automata

A sequel as unlikely as it is welcome, Platinum Games' handling of Taro Yoko's bizarre universe is set to be an off-kilter treat. If you've ever played the original, you'll know part of the fun is not knowing quite what to expect of where Yoko's twisted mind will take you next, though with Platinum Games now part of the equation it's fair to say there'll be a certain amount of polish afforded to the action this time out, and with any luck the Bayonetta and Wonderful 101 developer will bring some of its own crazy too.

Night in the Woods

  • Platform: PS4, PC
  • Release date: February

A 2D Gone Home with anthropomorphic animals! Well, that's the elevator pitch anyway, but in truth Night in the Woods is the kind of game that defies easy description, and deserves to be judged on its own merits rather than compared to anything that's come before. Strange, melancholy and touching, it's one of 2017's most intriguing releases, especially if you're looking for something with a lot of heart.

Tacoma

  • Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • Release date: 2017

Gone Home in spaaaaaaaaaace! Fullbright's follow-up to 2013's seminal spooky teen simulator moves the blend of exploration and isolation up into the heavens, and after an overhaul last year runs surprisingly deep. There's an unabashed sense of theatre to the way the story unfolds, while the time travel powers you're afforded gives it an interactive edge that some felt was missing with Gone Home. If this delivers on its potential, it could be stellar in both senses of the word.

Persona 5

It's been nine whole years since Persona 4's initial release, but in that time Atlus' series has grown from cult curio to a small phenomenon in the west, thanks in no small part to the Vita release of Persona 4: Golden in 2013. Persona 5 finds itself playing to a much bigger audience, and it doesn't look like it's going to let them down; stylish, slick and with a winningly dark undercurrent, this one already looks like a winner. And those menus are dazzling enough to justify the cost of entry alone.

Yakuza 0

We're now down to a mere two year wait for Yakuza games to make their way over from Japan, which is some progress. Yakuza 0 looks set to be the best instalment in Sega's series yet, winding back the clock to 1988 and showing us the origins stories of Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima while fitting out the backdrop of Kamurocho in period trappings. It looks set to be the best, that is, until we get Yakuza 6 - which is currently slated for release early in 2018.

Star Wars Battlefront 2

Here's a small secret! DICE's initial reboot of Star Wars Battlefront was okay. Provided, that is, you didn't hold it up in comparison to the originals. Judged on its own terms, however, it was a fine mass-market multiplayer shooter, full of spectacle and treating those hallowed Star Wars assets with the right amount of respect and reverence. For the sequel, DICE has already made clear it's listened to fan feedback, so expect it to fall more in line with expectations around the original. Expect, too, a single-player mode that's been emboldened by DICE's recent - relative - success with Battlefield 1's campaign.

Metal Gear Survive

This one's going to be interesting. The release of Metal Gear Survive is irresistible mostly for the sheer amount of drama that surrounds it - as Konami's first post-Kojima Metal Gear game, the knives are already being sharpened - but there's every chance beyond all the noise there may well be a decent game. Auteur theory doesn't really fit games produced on this scale too well, and if you take Kojima out of the equation there's every chance that Metal Gear Solid's amazing fundamentals will shine as brightly as ever before. Some of that Kojima madness might be missing - but after some of his more recent excesses, is that really such a bad thing?

Tekken 7

Street Fighter 5's launch was famously compromised last year, so Bandai Namco will be looking to show Capcom how it's done when Tekken 7 hits consoles later this year. A full story mode is set to be included from the off, while 36 characters include Street Fighter's own edgelord Akuma. The essentials should be good enough to make this worthwhile, anyway - at least if Tekken 7's popularity in Japanese arcades since its release in 2015 is anything to go by.

Little Nightmares

  • Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • Release date: Spring 2017

You might not have heard of Tarsier, which is something of a small shame. The Swedish developer has worked diligently on some of the better LittleBigPlanet games, and now Bandai Namco is giving the studio the chance to truly shine with its own IP, a twisted puzzle-platformer that borrows freely from the stylebook used for Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 90s films, which can't be a bad thing at all.

Snake Pass

  • Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • Release date: 2017

Sumo Digital has been the unsung hero of British games development for far too long, and hopefully the Sheffield developer will get a little more of the limelight with Snake Pass, its first self-published solo effort. It's looking mighty fine, too, a characterful platformer that boasts a novel mechanic all of its own as you slither across levels. Yooka Laylee might be getting all the headlines, but if you're after a colourful British game infused with the old spirit of innovation this might be the safer bet.

Sniper Elite 4

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Sniper Elite has gone rapidly from guilty pleasure to a genuine treat, and with the fourth instalment in what feels like dizzyingly quick succession Rebellion looks to have lavished its sandbox with impeccable production values. There's more than a little bit of Metal Gear Solid 5 in its organic mix of stealth and straight-up action, too, which can only be a good thing.

Shenmue 3

  • Platform: PS4, PC
  • Release date: December 2017

Shenmue 3 is coming out this year?!?!?! Well, that's when it's supposed to be coming out, though we'll take its projected release date with a pinch of salt for now. Still, even a proper glimpse at Yu Suzuki's grand return will make 2017 special, and all signs suggest he's sticking to a singular path that may well frustrate as many as it pleases. If you're after an open world that's more than meaningless bloat, though, it promises to be an absolute delight.

Sonic Mania

Are we really getting excited about a new Sonic game? Yes, and because this one's a bit different than what's gone before. It helps that Sonic Team isn't really working on Sonic Mania - no offense, chaps, and we do look forward to what you've got planned seeing as it's in the vein of the excellent Generations - and it's Christian Whitehead who's behind this return to the series' 2D roots. The Australian developer has been responsible for some fine ports of those early games, and knows what makes Sonic tick more than even Sega itself, it seems.

Written by Christian Donlan, Johnny Chiodini and Martin Robinson

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