Will VR fulfil its potential in 2017? What's this year's Firewatch, Overcooked… or Titanfall 2? What are the chances of Red Dead Redemption 2 sneaking out in the next 12 months? After a quiet few weeks, the big console releases are cranking up, with Resident Evil 7 due on 24th Jan and For Honor, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Mass Effect Andromeda launching in the next few months. Beyond that… what else is worth getting excited about? In a new weekly regular feature, The Big Question, we ask a panel of GamesRadar+ writers what games they're most looking forward to in 2017.
"If DICE can craft a single-player campaign to rival Battlefield 1 and expand on the near-miracle of the X-wing VR mission this could be something special."
My heart says Death Stranding (PS4, PC) – arguably the most ambitious AAA game in development, and a teasing glimpse of whether Hideo Kojima was constrained, or empowered, by working within the framework of the Metal Gear Solid series – but, sadly, I don't expect to see that until 2018… or beyond. In the near-term, I'll be signing up for Mass Effect Andromeda (PS4, Xbox One, PC), although I'm hoping the game's relatively conservative showing thus far, is a deliberate attempt not to spoil the sci-fi RPG's true scale and depth.
Beyond that, there isn't much – that's confirmed, at least – which leaves me jubilant bar one, stupidly huge, title that might dominate everything in late 2017: Star Wars Battlefront 2. I know some folk bleated about the original being a diluted Battlefield experience, a Fisher Price training rig for online FPS noobs, but that was the point. Dip in, dip out, get straight into the feeling of being in a Star Wars movie… I played more Star Wars Battlefront than any other game in the first six months of last year.
If DICE can craft a single-player campaign to rival the recent Battlefield 1 – imagine an orchestrated, yet emergent, Battle of Endor – and expand on the near-miracle of the X-wing VR mission (released in late 2016), this could be something special. Don't take my word for it: just strap on a PlayStation VR, and see what your body tells you when a Super Star Destroyer thunders into view, in what feels like inches above your head.
Wait! I forgot Super Mario Odyssey. A mixture of love and hat. Dan Dawkins
"Similar to PT and Allison Road, it’s an intelligent, patient horror game."
I cannot wait for Visage (PS4, Xbox One, PC). Similar to PT and Allison Road, it’s an intelligent, patient horror game which puts you in a disconcertingly normal house filled with entities who - for some reason - aren’t fond of you. You’ll be exploring the house and piecing together the story of what happened, who you are, and why you’re there. The gave me a shiver of dread, as every bit of evidence points towards the fact that people have recently been living there, and the swinging lamps could be the house settling, or something much worse. (Xbox One, PC) also looks enticing: you’re sent to find out what happened to the crew on an empty space station. Picking up AR recordings along the way, you can watch holograms which replay what its inhabitants were doing to help you figure out what happened. So yes, I’m going to be exploring a lot of empty buildings. Intrepid is my middle name, after all." Zoe Delahunty-Light
"What’s the point of thigh-slapping, salty adventure on the high seas if you can’t share it with a friend?"
For me, 2017 is the year of the ship. It doesn’t matter if it’s star or sailing - if it doesn’t have a deck, I’m out. It begins with Mass Effect: Andromeda, which already feels like a smart, engaging way to reboot the series, liberated from the emotional baggage of Mass Effect 3. Fresh places to explore, new relationships to ruin. Sea of Thieves (Xbox One) promises to be the co-op Age of Sail game I’ve basically wanted forever, because what’s the point of thigh-slapping, salty adventure on the high seas if you can’t share it with a friend? And, finally, Star Trek Bridge Crew (PS4, PC) is a dream come true in figure-hugging velour. I demand nothing less than the distilled Star Trek experience of pressing buttons, frowning into monitors and discovering planets with exactly one survivor. I’ve already started sitting down like Riker in anticipation. Matt Elliott
"I want that sort of Elder Scrolls feeling where the ‘becoming’ is more important than the journey."
Much of my interest in Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4) is what I hope it’s going to be - a huge open world RPG where my character grows and progresses from weedy sprout to world conquering hero. I want that sort of Elder Scrolls feeling where the ‘becoming’ is more important than the journey, as you develop your abilities and grow over tens of hours. It helps that it looks beautiful as well, and that recent trailers are hinting at a far more populated, faction filled world than hunter girl and robot dinosaurs. If it has the width and the depth to deliver on the role playing elements, and not simply be an action shooter with upgrades, then I’ll happily run off into the mountains and track mecha-saurs ‘till Christmas. Leon Hurley
"I am blind to anything but that immensely stylish gang of thieves and their magical cat pal."
I'm confused...is there a game coming out in 2017 besides Persona 5? I am blind to anything but that immensely stylish gang of thieves and their magical cat pal. Persona 4 Golden was beyond brilliant, but Persona 5 (PS4, PS3) looks to be a huge leap forward, not just visually (but oh my GOD, those visuals), but also in terms of detail and depth. The dungeons won't be randomly generated, instead becoming set puzzles that require deduction and patience - appropriate for burglars. The surrounding town is overstuffed with things to do and people to meet, adding just the right amount of complexity to Persona's defining Social Links. And then there's the core addiction of any Persona game, the demons to catch and fuse and bring with you into battle. It's a mechanic I never tire of tinkering with, and each Persona has given it a new twist to increase the intricacy and satisfaction of visiting the Velvet Room. I've been waiting years for this game, and it's so close now. So close. Susan Arendt
"It’s nothing personal, but I can’t wait to kill you."
While I could make this another bloodstained love letter to the Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth + - the only Switch launch game worth buying (don’t @ me) - I won’t. I’ll refrain and instead celebrate the fact that this year we’re getting our first genuinely good slasher movie title in years. Friday the 13th: The Game is walking at a menacing pace towards consoles and PC this year and recreates perfectly the dark art of the '80s nasty.
Asymmetrical multiplayer pits a group of camp counsellors against Jason Voorhees himself, and whether you’re playing as the hockey-masked killer or one of his victims, you’ll have to constantly think on your feet. Joyously adhering to the horror tropes of old, each counsellor has their own traits and there’s the brilliant addition of a Fear meter that’ll literally let Jason hunt you down once your terror reaches a certain point. Oh. And the deaths are brutal. It’s nothing personal, but I can’t wait to kill you. Louise Blain
"Zelda stripped down its most basic, NES-era premise and built back up with modern game concepts like intricate physics and interwoven systems."
Is that a serious question? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the game I'm most eager to play in 2017. Duh. The first time I saw Link sneak up a hill and roll a boulder back down to squash a bunch of bokoblins, I was in love with the concept: Zelda stripped down its most basic, NES-era premise of roaming discovery, and built back up with modern game concepts like intricate physics and interwoven systems for survival and traversal. Despite the tonal difference, I'm looking forward to Prey for much the same reason: it looks like an intelligent reworking of an established design (in this case, "immersive sims" like Dishonored) that gives players even more freedom to explore and achieve. And I'll round off the list with Agents of Mayhem, because Saints Row The Third was heartfelt, slapstick perfection and I want to see Volition do it again with a new cast. Connor Sheridan
"A sequel to one of the most beautiful experiments to hit the last round of consoles."
My most anticipated game of 2017 is also its most improbable: Nier Automata. Way back in 2010, the original Nier looked and felt like a congealed mass of last gasps. This pallid looking Xbox 360/PS3 action RPG, with its burly '70s Conan type lead for America and its wan J-pop heartthrob for Japan, had to be the last game in the admirably bizarre but weak Drakengard series from director Yoko Taro. It had to be the end of non-blockbuster, strange RPGs from Square-Enix Japan. It had to be the last time someone made a game where one of the main characters was a talking book who sounded like drunk C-3P0.
In practice, though, it was one of the most beautiful experiments to hit the last round of consoles, a genre bending thinker whose Halloween mask characters revealed beating hearts behind their leering designs. Seven years after its release, not only are we getting a sequel directed by Yoko Taro, not only is the brilliant Keiichi Okabe still doing the soundtrack, but none other than Platinum Games are directing (a storied studio that needs a hit after a run of duds and cancellations in the past year.) Nier Automata's demo has action that far surpasses what was found in the original. The full game in March just has to deliver on the story. Anthony Agnello
"Amplifying the idea of freeform, player-driven, systemic, action-RPG exploration, it could be one of this year’s stand-out leaps in game design"
It looks like 2017 is going to bookend the two extremes of my gaming tastes rather wonderfully. First up, we have Prey, which to all intents and purposes is the proper, evolved, current-gen sequel BioShock is almost definitely not going to get officially. Amplifiying the idea of freeform, player-driven, systemic, action-RPG exploration and survival to ludicrously fluid, do-what-you-like, Dishonored-style levels, it has every chance of being one of this year’s – in fact this generation's – stand-out leaps in game design.
And on the giddier, entirely joy-fuelled – but probably no less intelligently designed - end of things, we have Super Mario Odyssey. Because every new main-series Mario game is a drop-everything-else priority. Representing the world’s most creative development teams at their absolute, free-wheeling peak, the Super Mario series is a decades-long masterclass in the interplay between razor-sharp, finely honed mechanics and unbridled evolution of imaginative scope. With a bigger, more open-world vibe, some interesting dalliances with the real world, and that goddamn Frisbee platform-hat, this looks no different. They might come along infrequently, but Mario games change everything each and every time they do. Dave Houghton
"2017 has entered the ring, and I'm expecting a few knockouts."
I'm not so much looking forward to a game this year as I am a genre. Fighting games are on the rise in 2017, and I couldn't be more pleased. Injustice 2 from NetherRealm looks to address the issues, improve upon the gameplay, and continue the (surprisingly good) storyline from the first game. As the end of the Mishima Clan saga that started way back in 1994, Tekken 7 looks like a return to form and a perfect place for lapsed fans to jump back onboard. Then there's Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite for fans of the fast and flashy, and while we've only had a tease of what to expect, the series' pedigree has me brimming with the utmost confidence.
Ubisoft's For Honor mixes one-on-one combat with a more action-oriented perspective, while Devolver Digital's Absolver infuses the Dark Souls formula with some martial combat. Even a few weird games you maybe haven't heard of, like the Super Smash Bros-inspired Brawlout, or Them's Fightin' Herds, the fighting game that began as a My Little Pony fan project, are worth keeping an eye on. 2017 has entered the ring, and I'm expecting a few knockouts. Sam Prell
Agree with our choices? Have we missed something obvious? Or lesser known? Let us know what you think below and we'll share the best comments on site.
*Thanks to @Kosmikat for this amazing artwork from a recent issue of @OPM_UK magazine
The Big Question returns next Friday to debate the week's biggest talking point in games, film or TV from a variety of GamesRadar+ writers' perspectives.