Gaming's best days are still ahead. If you need further evidence, look no further than some of the medium's most hotly anticipated releases. Over the next year or so, gamers can look forward to entries in every genre that promise action, adventure, romance, imagination, excitement and awe. While there are dozens of promising games in the pipeline, the Tom's Guide staff has chosen fourteen that stand out above the rest. Whether or not these games live up to their own hype, they've done a great job holding our attention until they come out.
Battleborn (PS4 / Xbox One / PC)
What do sci-fi soldiers, Elven archers and futuristic swordsmen all have in common? You can play as all of them in Battleborn, an upcoming action/role-playing game from Gearbox Software, the company behind Borderlands. This cooperative, multiplayer first-person adventure, slated for release in late 2015, will feature 25 characters at launch, and no two characters are controlled the same way. Clockwork robot snipers work alongside musclebound berserkers, who see no issue cooperating with aristocratic lady fencers and mushroom men who can throw their own heads at enemies. With tight, varied gameplay and a surprisingly interesting sci-fi story, Battleborn should be a joy to play either solo or with up to five players.
Apparently, we're all gluttons for punishment. We've died and died again to Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II and Bloodborne, and yet we keep coming back for more. From Software is ready to give us what we want in early 2016: Dark Souls III, even if we have to work for our fun. This is the first Dark Souls game designed from the ground up for current-gen systems, and as such, it sports a huge, beautiful, interconnected world with sophisticated enemy behavior and plenty of combat options to exercise. This action/role-playing game will test your skill and try your patience, but it will also reward you with breathtaking sights and a genuine feeling of accomplishment.
XCOM 2 (PC)
In the follow-up to Firaxis' 2012 hit, which reinvigorated the strategy genre, the tables have turned — now aliens rule the world, and you're the one being hunted. And those aren't the only changes XCOM 2 will bring. Along with its refined turn-based combat, XCOM 2 has new soldier classes, new weapons, new mechanics and more visual-equipment customizations than Area- 51. Oh, and now the aliens have their own win condition too, which means you're always fighting on multiple fronts. It's going to be a tough battle, but someone's got to fight it, and that's exactly what we love about XCOM.
Mirror's Edge Catalyst (PC / PS4 / Xbox One)
The original Mirror’s Edge was one of the most ambitious games of 2007, but there’s no denying that it was rough around the edges. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst hopes to present the same intriguing protagonist, thrilling first-person parkour and shiny dystopian setting, but in a much more fluid and intuitive way. When Faith Connors finishes serving a prison sentence, it’s not long before she’s drawn back into a rebellious underground movement and finds herself facing down agents of an oppressive government. As a courier-turned-freedom-fighter, Faith will have to rely on her speed, agility and smarts to survive in a futuristic open world and bring down an ironfisted regime.
Dishonored 2 (PC / PS4 / Xbox One)
Depending on how you played the original Dishonored in 2012, royal bodyguard Corvo Attano was either a silent, stealthy rescuer or a brutal, merciless assassin. Either way, Corvo will return in Dishonored 2, and so will his oddly charming steampunk city, which channels a slightly more fantastical version of Victorian London. This time around, Emily Kaldwin, the damsel in distress from the first game, is a full playable character, and both she and Corvo have access to a whole toy box full of stealth enhancements, clockwork gadgets and just a little bit of otherworldly magic.
Street Fighter V (PS4 / PC)
Can you really expect something new from the Street Fighter series, which has already released 30 games in nearly as many years? SHORYUKEN! Street Fighter V will debut in 2016 and bring back classic fighters like Ryu, Chun-Li, Cammy and M. Bison into colorful, gorgeously animated arenas. In addition to the classic punches, kicks and special attacks, Street Fighter V will also feature the Variable System, which gives each character unique methods of parrying and counter attacking. With drastically different characters, beautiful graphics and balanced gameplay, Street Fighter V will likely be a mainstay of the fighting circuit for years to come.
Mighty No. 9 (Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC / Vita / 3DS)
Fans of the classic side-scroller Mega Man were devastated when the Blue Bomber's creator, Keiji Inafune, founded his own company without the rights to the beloved character. Mega Man may be gone, but Inafune has replaced him with Mighty No. 9: a spunky blue robot with a big smile and eight evil automaton bosses who stand in his way. (Any resemblance he bears to Mega Man is, of course, purely coincidental.) Mighty No. 9 ran one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in history, and the result looks like a gorgeous retro game with a lot of heart to spare.
No Man's Sky (PS4 / PC)
No Man's Sky is one of the most ambitious games in development right now, which is all the more impressive when you consider that it has a development team of about a dozen people. In this open-ended adventure, players simply explore the whole procedurally generated universe. Each player begins his or her quest on a totally unique planet, and can set out from there to see the flora and fauna on hundreds of worlds, or the unpredictable wonders of the cosmos. The game will also feature space combat, just to make sure that action junkies have a reason to dive in as well.
The Last Guardian (PS4)
The Last Guardian first showed up as a PS3 title way back at E3 2009, and you could be forgiven for thinking that it had disappeared forever in the intervening years. This action/adventure game from Team Ico is still on its way, slated to arrive in 2016. Like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus before it, The Last Guardian tells an ambiguous story set in a huge, lonely environment with very little music, but gobs of visual atmosphere. In this game, you play as a young boy who, with the help of a huge, doglike griffin, must navigate his way through a confusing and mysterious castle as he tries to escape it once and for all.
MORE: Best PS4 Games
The Legend of Zelda (Wii U)
The Legend of Zelda has been one of Nintendo's most consistent series in terms of quality, but the flip side is that it's been hesitant to change up the formula over the last two-and-a-half decades. The upcoming Legend of Zelda on Wii U promises to be one of the franchise's most ambitious entries yet by dropping recurring protagonist Link into a fully explorable open world. The game aims to be much larger and more nonlinear than its predecessors while still offering the famous swordplay, offbeat gadgets and epic story that define The Legend of Zelda. Other details are still scarce, but expect to see more information about this one as time goes on.
Gears of War 4 (Xbox One)
After a hiatus of several years, Microsoft's Gears of War franchise is returning in late 2016 to remind us just how much fun it is to split aliens open with a chainsaw-gun. The first Gears game to be built by new studio The Coalition, Gears of War 4 will feature a fresh generation of beefy-looking soldiers, monstrous new enemies, and, presumably, the same tight, cover-based third-person shooting that's made the series an Xbox staple. Gears 4's plot and characters are currently a mystery, but based on the gameplay we've seen, you can expect plenty of explosive set pieces and a bit of a spookier vibe than previous games.
Final Fantasy XV (PS4 / Xbox One)
Before you start drooling over a high-res Cloud in a reimagined Midgard, let's not forget that Square Enix has a petrol-fueled joyride scheduled to hit before Final Fantasy VII's long-awaited remake. Final Fantasy XV features a carfull of friends out for an adventure, and everything from the graphics to the real-time combat makes this game feel like it could be a return to form. There are also some feuding empires in the background threatening to shatter the peace, but that only adds to the grandiose stage and impossible odds that Final Fantasy games construct so well. This expansive RPG can't come soon enough.
Quantum Break (Xbox One)
Remedy, the company behind the Max Payne and Alan Wake series, seems categorically incapable of making a bad game. Hopefully, that trend will continue with Quantum Break. This Xbox One-exclusive title casts players as two protagonists with the ability to manipulate time. Stopping the flow of time to gain an edge in combat or solve puzzles sounds like fun, but the game's storytelling looks like its most interesting aspect. Remedy and CERN worked together to make sure the temporal physics make sense, and a tie-in TV show will affect how the game plays out over the course of one season.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
Like Indiana Jones, wisecracking, globetrotting treasure hunter Nathan Drake has starred in three blockbusters that delighted just about anyone with a hankering for adventure. Also like Indiana Jones, Nathan Drake is going for a fourth outing — hopefully with better results. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End will be the first game in the series on the PlayStation 4, which should afford it opportunities for refined gameplay, even more realistic graphics and a new chapter in the ongoing saga of Drake, his colorful friends and his charismatic enemies. Few series combine gunplay, exploration and platforming as deftly as Uncharted, and A Thief's End looks to continue that trend.
- Best Games of the Year
- Most Disappointing Games of the Year
- PS4 vs. Xbox One 2014: Which Console Is Right for You?