The Electronic Entertainment Expo has passed and thus the gaming summer of 2017 is well and truly underway. Whilst my anticipation is not quite at the same level that it was last year, there do seem to be some potential gems on the horizon with the previews below being my own personal video games to play in 2017.
Will you be playing too? Let’s find out…
Into the Breach
Principal Platforms: PC | Developer: Subset Games | Publisher: Subset Games | Genre: Strategy
A loving mix of Advance Wars and King of the Monsters; Into the Breach is the long-awaited second video game from the developers who brought you FTL: Faster Than Light.
This brand new effort from Subset Games is billed as another single player adventure with randomly generated levels, and yet the early footage suggests it’s less like FTL and more akin to Pacific Rim of all things as players command bipedal mechs and other earthbound defences in an attempt to save the planet from gigantic monsters.
What excites me about this setup are the isometric battlefields that seem snug and dense with terrain features. Subset Games have promised a minimalistic approach to the game’s turn-based combat, but with a variety of controllable pilots and heavy weapons thrown in, the potential for some explosive encounters here seems on par with similar ‘tactics’ games that you might be familiar with.
The retro pixel art style is back of course, as is composer Ben Prunty who is reportedly hard at work on the game’s assuredly excellent soundtrack. Throw in further sound design by PowerUp Audio (Darkest Dungeon, StarCrawlers) and writing by Chris Avellone (Fallout 2, Plansescape Torment) and it seems we can be sure of another immersive universe to get lost in amidst all the shrieks and sparks of the campaign itself.
And if all of that isn’t enticing enough, consider Subset’s subtle hint of a time travel mechanic that allows defeated players to escape to previous timelines where the fight for Earth still rages. That could be really cool!
Whilst there is no official release date yet, it’s a reasonable guess that Into the Breach will see release at the end of this year. Subset Games are adamant that the game be polished to a high standard though, so there’s always a chance that early 2018 might be a more realistic time zone for this potential indie hit to warp into.
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon
Principal Platforms: Nintendo 3DS | Developer: Game Freak | Publisher: Nintendo | Genre: RPG
A pair of enhanced versions for Pokémon Sun & Pokémon Moon are confirmed with a worldwide release date of November 17, though aside from the reveal of two more legendary forms, we know very little about these new Pokémon games at this time.
However, it’s safe to say that they will be the final release in Pokémon’s seventh generation of core games and it’s also a given that players will be returning to the Alola Region to capture a remixed roster of Pokémon with plenty of new gimmicks and enhancements thrown in for good measure.
As was the case with the previous Version 2 games, it’s nice to see that the Nintendo 3DS is getting one last go at the series before Nintendo’s Switch console inevitably takes over duties for the foreseeable future.
I was somewhat on the fence during my assessment of Pokémon Sun last year, but with a better story and some effective tweaks in the right places, the potential is there for Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon to become the definitive Pokémon games for Nintendo 3DS as well as fitting console swansongs at that.
Fire Pro Wrestling World
Principal Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 | Developer: Spike Chunsoft | Publisher: Spike Chunsoft | Genre: Wrestling
It’s been many years since the last great Fire Pro Wrestling game, but now the lauded 2D series is returning July 10 via Steam’s Early Access program. YES!
Specifics are scarce at the moment, but the developers have confirmed both offline and online play as well as the franchise’s famous Edit Mode that will allow you to create any kind of wrestler that you could possibly imagine.
You can expect all sorts of match types at launch too including your regular Exhibition matches as well as Battle Royales, Barbed Wire and Steel Cage matches, and plenty more weird ones besides.
The advancements in technology during Fire Pro’s absence have been huge and so the potential behind this new entry is truly off the charts. How far the online multiplayer and potential modding tools will go in connecting wrestling fans all over the world remains to be seen of course, but hopefully the Early Access format will allow everyone to have their say on what could be video gaming’s next genuine wrestling classic.
Card City Nights 2
Principal Platforms: PC | Developer: Ludosity | Publisher: Ludosity | Genre: Card Game
A rather unexpected sequel to say the least!
Card City Nights 2 is set to deliver another bizarre indie adventure, only this time players are venturing into space aboard the enigmatic floating city called Starship Frivolity. Like its prequel you can expect to meet many weird and wacky inhabitants of the Ludosity universe who, like any good adventure card game, are all obsessed with card-based competition.
The “Card Game” itself is a 2-player battle where positioning, timing, and combos are everything. Whilst the previous game was an enjoyably slight affair, this sequel promises to expand the core gameplay with several refreshed mechanics and brand new cards. The prequel may have suffered from excessive ease, but accompanying a dedicated single player campaign this time is the addition of online multiplayer for those seeking greater player-versus-player challenges.
It’s a niche genre to be sure, but the first Card City Nights didn’t really get the shine it deserved. Here’s hoping that this welcome sequel changes things because between the solid mechanics, quirky dialogue, and lovingly-drawn artwork is a series that deserves a lot more attention than it’s currently getting.
Magic Digital Next
Principal Platforms: Various | Developer: Various | Publisher: Wizards of the Coast | Genre: Various
Magic Digital Next isn’t actually a singular new video game but rather the codename for an entire collection of new digital releases based on the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game.
The first of these new products is a video game designed by none other than Wizards of the Coast themselves, but it’s currently unknown whether this will be another digital card game in the same style as the Duels of the Planeswalkers series made by Stainless Games or something with a brand new format entirely.
If Stainless isn’t involved then it will be interesting to see what the future holds for further implementations of Magic and whether the engine they created for Duels (which has always been very good on a technical level) will be re-used or reimplemented for Wizards’ planned overhaul of its hottest gaming property.
Another title under the “MDN” umbrella is an MMORPG designed by Cryptic Studios (Champions Online, Neverwinter) and whilst that genre is not to my own tastes, it’s easy to commend the choice considering the tremendous role-playing potential behind Magic: The Gathering’s vast thematic landscape; perfect for a game of such immense scope.
The likelihood of these new games coming out in 2017 is admittedly quite slim, though the final expansion for Magic Duels titled Amonkhet (pictured) did see release earlier this year with the set adding new cards and another short series of single player story missions for players to get stuck into.
It’s just a bit dumb that Wizards would choose to cancel the game after just unveiling an incentive scheme offering free coins to registered users. Surely it’s a kick in the nuts for anyone who chose to diligently collect every set- to suddenly be told that it’s all done with and their free coins are now useless. I’ve no concern over Wizards abandoning Magic Duels considering my general apathy towards the direction they took with it, but such characteristic incompetence from Wizards here surely doesn’t bode well for MDN’s future.
And where does this announcement leave the fans who have grown dissatisfied with Duels’ declining quality over the past few years? Another free-to-play Hearthstone clone lacking substance and polish isn’t something that I anticipate at all, but as I said before, the sheer potential that Magic: The Gathering has a franchise is just too potent to count it out completely.
Anything under the Magic Digital Next banner comes with incredible risk considering Wizards’ recent track record then, but here’s hoping that this new strategy works out for them and brings Magic: The Gathering back up front where it belongs.