Well folks, we made it. Yet another year goes by and the hellworld continues to grow more hellish. Be it the disastrous ongoing bushfires in Australia (click here to find out where to donate and help our Aussie friends out), the abrupt spiral into another money-gouging war, or the fact that Big Mouth has been renewed for a fourth season on Netflix, it’s safe o say things aren’t looking too peachy for humanity right now. While the world literally and figuratively burns to ash around us, the least we can do to bide time is enjoy some of the absolutely top-tier video games heading our way this year. 2020 is looking stacked full of glorious content for us to chew on, and while there will certainly be disappointments, as well as some downright travesties, here’s some of the stuff I’m personally intrigued by. Of course, I’m aware that hype for unreleased games is really just down to how good the trailers are and those don’t represent the final product, I still don’t see any harm in getting a little excited. And hey, maybe this blog post will provide a sufficient distraction from the endless existential dread that is every waking minute of our modern lives.
…so anyway, video games yippee!
Journey to the Savage Planet
I’m a simple man. You show me a game set on a faraway planet with a goofy artstyle and a comedic slant that takes jabs at the soullessness of corporate ambition, and I’ll eat it up like candy. This game comes out in less than a week so I’ll keep this one short. The developers have mentioned that the gun in the game was added out of necessity since they wanted to avoid that at all costs, and while that may seem like the team caving to the impatience of The Gamers™, that simply says to me that this game’s ambition of being an adventure focused on player discovery is one that was at the core of development. It sounds very The Outer Worlds-y which is never a bad thing, and I’m always keen to support middle-market games. Can’t wait to murder all the innocent wildlife.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Have you ever had that trailer that was so profound and impactful that you remember exactly where you were sitting when you saw it. For me, that was the E3 reveal of Ori and the Blind Forest. You know, the one that broke the internet’s heart? I won’t spoil anything if you haven’t played the first game, but this trailer was one of the first times I was truly hyped for a video game in my life. When I finally got to play it, the experience was very different to what was shown in that trailer, and it caught me slightly off guard with its metroidvania design and brutal difficulty (at the time, bear in mind I was a 15-year-old and a known game cuck). However, determined to see this game through to the bitter end, so I powered through and enjoyed one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had with a game. It kicked the shit out of it to no end, but for every fa I was rewarded with an exciting set-piece, a satisfying ‘oh!’ moment when new powers would unlock hidden areas, and a climax that left me ready to curl up and cry. My time with Ori was immensely important to my appreciation of games today, so it should make sense that I’m überhyped about a sequel…right? I think I fall more in the cautious optimism camp for now. The game hasn’t done anything to make me nervous, really – on the contrary, it looks visually breathtaking and the gameplay has noticeably improved – I’m more so concerned that it won’t live up to that magical first run through Blind Forest. Perhaps it won’t. Perhaps the Ori formula hasn’t aged well with time. At the very least, I hope Will of the Wisps tries for something exciting and new, and avoids leaning into what worked before. Just like the game that came before, I want to experience something that changes the way I perceive video games or, failing that impossibly high bar, just enjoy something fresh. Good luck, Moon Studios, I have faith you’ll pull it off.
I hope you’re ready for this admission because I’ve been building up the courage to say this for years. Okay, here goes: I still haven’t finished Doom 2016. Alright, if we all put the pitchforks and rotten fruit down, I’ll explain myself. I really like Doom. It’s a gloriously adrenaline-pumping, rip-roaring time. It certainly filled my quota for horrifically graphic demon-slaying in a video game. However, the unfortunate mistake I made was the decision to hold off before buying it. I jumped on the bandwagon with impossibly high expectations, which meant I was inevitably burned when I finally sat down to try it out. I got about a third of the way into the campaign before tiring of the repetitive combat cycle of kill demons, explore ominous area, kill more demons, destroy thing, blow up guy, punch man, etc, etc. Since then, I haven’t really given the game a good shake. However, I have made it a mission to beat Doom before it’s sequel arrives in March because by golly guvnor, Doom Eternal looks magnificent. Incredibly cash money grappling hook gun aside, Eternal looks to be a more ambitious crack at the Doom formula, with a main base of operations in space, suitably titled the Fortress of Doom, and a slightly stronger focus on narrative than the last game. More than anything, however, this looks to be a sequel that is different in ways that will make it incredibly distinct from its predecessor, and I can’t wait to be on the front lines when this thing drops. For me, this is my second chance to truly understand Doom in a way I wasn’t able to the first time around. It does actually have to be good first though, so fingers crossed.
Resident Evil 3
I’m not old enough to have experienced the original Resident Evil games, but I’ve heard wonderful things. Survival horror games with rock solid atmospheres and unbelievably corny storylines alongside? Sounds directly up my alley! Unfortunately, I have one crippling problem that has prevented me from enjoying so many games like this my entire life: I am a total beta-male coward when it comes to horror games. I don’t know why but horror games get inside my head like nothing else and it made beating the Resident Evil 2 remake a challenging task. However, fairly recently, I plucked up my courage and finally, FINALLY, completed at least one of the campaigns, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Resi 2 is, in many ways, a perfectly crafted horror game. It has such a confident grip on choosing the exact right time to deploy a good scare. I found myself desperately trying to predict these moments ahead of time but somehow the developers were always one step ahead of me. Every enemy encounter, be it as impassable as Mr X or as seemingly simple as a single zombie, had me wracked with tension, since I was always just a little too low on ammo and every shot had to count. It’s a masterful crafted experience, so it’s only sensible to be eagerly awaiting the follow-up. I know virtually nothing about the original Resident Evil 3, aside from the infamous main antagonist of the game, Nemesis, so diving into a fresh Resi experience is an enticing prospect. I suppose my one major fear is that, since it’s coming out so soon after its predecessor, I’m worried it’ll lose a lot of what made Resi 2 so special upon its release. However, considering just how astonishingly good that game turned out, I have faith Capcom are entirely capable of pulling this one out of the bag. Bring on the spooky shenanigans!
The Last Of Us: Part II
Oh look, it’s the game nobody could have seen coming on a most anticipated games list made by me, the world’s most aggressive fan of The Last Of Us, what a shocking twist. In all seriousness, I make it no secret that I am a huge fan of Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic depression simulator, and a sequel set a decade into the future is ripe for all kinds of storytelling possibilities. The game retains the exceptional acting talents of Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker, while teasing some interesting new people well soon get to know. The animation work and environmental detection they’ve shown off so far looks to be truly game-changing for both making characters feel more real than ever before, as well as enhancing gameplay. Melee has seen a huge overhaul which should accompany Ellie’s more nimble movement speeds compared to Joel’s from the first game. Stealth appears to be more refined than ever, environments look even larger and more dangerous, and I’m hoping the lacklustre AI has been addressed for the sequel. I think Neil Druckmann achieved something truly masterful with The Last Of Us that very few people on this planet would be capable of, and I’m sure he, and the entire creative team at Naughty Dog, will bring some really interesting ideas to the table with this new release. Regardless of how The Last Of Us: Part II turns out, you can always rely on Naughty Dog to deliver a unique experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with.
And now we move on to Reddit’s favourite developer, CD Projekt Red! Perhaps it goes without saying, but The Witcher 3 was a phenomenal game that set the bar for open-world action RPGs, with its layered storylines and beautifully crafted and unique fantasy world. It’s a game that manages to tell some of the rawest, most mature stories I’ve ever seen in a video game, while maintaining a wonderful sense of humour. It truly is a game like no other, so the hype for their next project, Cyberpunk 2077, is entirely understandable. The story of this game’s development tracks back all the way to the start of 2013, when CD Projekt first released a cinematic trailer for the game. Seven years later, and the game is finally set to be released in September. Of course, I’m looking forward to playing it, although the seven year wait and the talk of developer crunch within the company has muted that anticipation somewhat. However, that cannot take away from this game’s admirable ambitions. Based on what we’ve been shown so far, this may very well be the best role-playing game ever made. The team certainly have the talent to do it; we’ll see if they live up to hype.
Now for some smaller releases…
I wanted to dedicate a section to the games that don’t have nearly the same amount of hype surrounding them, but will no doubt dazzle regardless.
Tell Me Why
From the developers of Life Is Strange and (big shocker) Life Is Strange 2 comes their latest dive into gameplay-light narrative adventure games. This new story revolves around twins Alyson and Tyler, who return to their childhood home, hoping to come to terms with their troubled upbringing. The reason I wanted to shout this game out particularly is because Tyler is a trans man. It’s crucial that we give attention to media that promotes diversity and provides representation to minority groups who don’t often receive a spotlight. Dontnod have reportedly worked closely with trans groups in order to get the character right and, if they pull it off, this could be a really big moment in games. To finalise this point, trans rights are human rights.
Little Nightmares 2
Virtually nothing is known of the sequel to Tarsier’s 2017 child murder spook-em-up, but I enjoyed Little Nightmares a fair bit so I’m excited to see what kinds of weird and wonderful things they’ll bring to this fascinating world they’ve created.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
This just looks like ridiculous goofy fun and we’ve been in need of a Total Wipeout game for years so I’m looking forward to seeing my little pudgy guy get comically bonked to death in various hysterical ways.
After playing the demo on Steam, I’ve fallen in love with this game’s ambitions. The pixel art looks gorgeous, the atmosphere is impeccably grimy and uninviting, and if you need any more convincing, you play as a RACCOON DETECTIVE. It’s furry trash and I’m all for it, gimme that 50s noir homage goodness please.
Hollow Knight: Silksong
This is another we know very little about, other than it being the sequel to one of the best games of the last decade. Hollow Knight is extraordinary so I have no doubt Silksong will follow suit. Let’s hope it releases this year.
My Work Is Not Yet Done
I didn’t even know about this game until I saw its trailer, which you can (and should) watch here. Like I said earlier, I have trouble getting through horror games, but the only way to overcome that is to expose myself to the genre more often and My Work Is Not Yet Done looks utterly fascinating to me. It has a Kickstarter up at the moment if the trailer strikes your fancy.
And finally… all the games that are yet to be announced!
Part of the fun that comes with keeping up with the most popular games is that you get surprises popping into the cultural consciousness out of nowhere every year. Undertale would never have made anyone’s Most Anticipated list in 2015, least of all mine, and yet it might be my favourite game of all time. I cannot wait to see what indie games or even triple AAA shockers that lay hiding in the tall grass, waiting to pounce and transform games forever. 2020 might be looking somewhat bleak for the world, but I have faith that, if nothing else, video games will pull through with some memorable experiences to change our lives for the better. Here’s to the new year ❤