What are the best upcoming PC games and the new PC games to keep an eye on this year and next? Hope, anticipation, agony and elation - it’s the endless cycle of emotions we gamers go through during the annual PC release schedule. Year in, year out, games - via Steam and otherwise - are produced in such varying degrees of quality that no announcement is destined for certain success. Masterpieces are released alongside utter disasters, franchises are born while others dwindle and occasionally - so very occasionally - a game actually lives up to our expectations.
You'll find more of the best new PC games of the year in our round-up of 2016's top releases.
And there's plenty on the horizon to feel positive about. From franchise heavyweights to inventive indies, the sheer range of exciting titles due for release in the not too distant future is enough to spread a smile across the face of even the most cynical of gamers. Well, almost.
Upcoming PC games Q1 2017
Resident Evil VII
Absolutely nobody outside of Capcom expected the familiar Resident Evil / Biohazard logo to pop up at the end of this sequel's E3 reveal. The series that defined third-person shooting until Gears came along has turned its back on that perspective altogether, leaping instead into the eyes of a non-combatant creeping through a derelict plantation mansion in rural America. Obvious P.T. comparisons aside, this is a brave reinvention worth keeping a close (wide, bloodshot) eye on.
Resident Evil 7 release date: January 24, 2017
Close your eyes and think back: what was the last straight-up Ubi single-player campaign you played? One that wasn’t buried in an open-world or stirred into some kind of multiplayer offering?
For Honor presents just that - a set of tightly-designed levels from the Montreal studio that, lest we forget, once made Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Expect a narrator, big hairy vikings, and an absorbing sword fighting system inspired by real medieval styles.
For Honor release date: February 14, 2017
Sniper Elite 4
Rebellion’s dependable snipe ‘n’ sneak series returns for the new year. Though the x-ray bollock-splitting cam has long since lost any novelty it might have held, the studio have pledged to improve AI with more inquisitive enemies, and to continue their trend towards larger and more freeform levels.
What’s truly new is an intriguing morale mechanic that sees soldiers retreat if you manage to pick off an officer early in a mission. Sniper Elite 4 is certainly ambitious enough to merit a delay into 2017.
Sniper Elite 4 release date: February 14, 2017
Halo Wars 2
First twist: there’s going to be a second Halo Wars, following the respectable console RTS from 2009. Second twist: it’s in development not at Microsoft but at Creative Assembly, with the help of 343 Industries. Third twist: it’s not the Total War team who are making it, but the Alien: Isolation lot.
This unlikely sequel returns to the human crew aboard the UNSC warship Spirit of Fire, while introducing a new alien faction known as the Banished. Both are playable(!).
Halo Wars 2 release date: February 21, 2017
We’re living in a new age, where JRPGs are just as at home on PC as they are every other gaming box. Get used to it and start reaping the benefits. Automata is a follow-up to the well-remembered, Square-published Nier, and stars androids with names like 2B and 9S in a world ravaged by a proxy war between machines.
This one is coming courtesy of PlatinumGames, so you know Automata's combat will be particularly special.
Nier: Automata release date: February 23, 2017
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Ghost Recon has sometimes struggled to find its place along Ubisoft’s spectrum of stealth-action games - jostling for space with Rainbow Six and Assassin’s Creed - but it’s now decided to be Far Cry crossed with GTA, and that turns out to be a really attractive idea. Shoot narcos every which way you like.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands release date: March 7, 2017
Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Star Trek: Bridge Crew was perhaps the most pleasant surprise at E3 2016 - a VR recreation of a USS vessel you can occupy with a bunch of goggle-wearing mates. Together, you’ll endeavour to keep the thing in one piece, playing your given role as captain or engineer to ready the ship for warp or raise shields for battle.
Behind it all are Ubisoft’s Red Storm, the multiplayer specialists who birthed Rainbow Six.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew release date: March 14, 2017
To hell with ultra realistic settings, brutal melee takedowns and all things trendy in gaming, give us vibrant colours, some endearing animal protagonists, and loads of floaty jumping any day of the week. Yooka-Laylee, a crowdfunded throwback to the 3D platformers of the '90s, is offering up something a little lighter for gamers to sink their teeth into - just as you'd expect given that it's being made by ex-Banjo-Kazooie devs.
Yooka-Laylee release date: March, 2017
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Another old-school RPG looking to get you all warm and fuzzy with nostalgia. A spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment, this classic isometric roleplayer will carry on the heavy themes of its inspiration, but transfer the action to the setting of Numenera (an already established pen-and-paper RPG world). Expect a heavily story-led, dialogue-rich campaign exploring the darkest corners of existence and mortality, a solid helping of wit, and tactical combat rife with opportunity.
Torment: Tides of Numenera release date: Q1 2017
Upcoming PC games Q2 2017
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3
With a name that sounds like an amalgam of Sniper Elite and Ghost Recon, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is... well, somewhere between Sniper Elite and Ghost Recon. This is a tactical FPS, set in an open-world for the first time in the series, that finds a retired US marine hunting a target through Georgia (Eastern Europe, not the Deep South).
While previous Sniper: Ghost Warrior games suffered for smaller budgets, this one is said to be a proper triple-A production.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 release date: April 4, 2017
Upcoming PC games TBC 2017
Dawn of War III
For seven years the forge worlds lay silent - or so we thought. Turns out Relic have fired them up again for Dawn of War III, producing huge numbers of units to match the original game’s bigger battles, as well as ginormous walkers designed to swallow a sizeable portion of your screen. Expect Eldar, Orks and Space Marines to converge on the mysterious world of Acheron, where they’ve found - what else? - a terrible weapon.
Dawn of War III release date: TBC, 2017
Divinity: Original Sin II
2014’s Divinity: Original Sin was one of best classic RPGs made in recent years, with plenty of charm, depth and challenge to spare. Larian Studios’ follow up promises the same respect for player choices, new origin stories, a revamped crafting system and addictive competitive party elements. And we can attest to all of this following our Original Sin II hands-on.
Divinity: Original Sin II release date: TBC, 2017
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Obsidian opened a wildly successful series of RPGs with South Park: The Stick of Truth, but it continues on without them. Ubi are tackling this one internally, sensibly sticking to the map left behind by some of the most respected role-playing designers in the world. No bad news here - except for that which saw The Fractured But Whole delayed into 2017.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole release date: TBC, 2017
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Ever wondered what Skyrim without magic and cat people would look like? Wonder no more, because Warhorse Studios are in the process of making a medieval RPG set in 1403. The game promises to have historically accurate armour, weapons and combat techniques, and is intended to allow the player to become whoever they want - rogue, warrior or bard. Even more so when Kingdom Come mods get going.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance release date: TBC, 2017
Frozen Synapse 2
After distilling the merits of their simultaneously turn-based tactical shooter in the purist sports strategy of Frozen Cortex, Mode 7 Games have returned to the Synapse series with a view to expand. They’ll retain the waypoint system that evokes early Rainbow Six, but move the action outside those familiar office complexes in favour of “open world tactics”. However that manifests itself, it’ll be a huge departure from the taut, two-player maps of the original Frozen Synapse.
Frozen Synapse 2 release date: TBC, 2017
Without a doubt the most wildly ambitious game in a long time, Star Citizen aims to be the ultimate space exploration experience. Taking to the skies in one of numerous ridiculously detailed craft, you will be able to engage in military service, become a reputable trader of goods, live the life of a smuggler, or become a universe-famous race pilot. If it ever gets finished, that is…
Star Citizen release date: TBC, 2017
After a well-received reveal at The Game Awards 2016, Dauntless will doubtless (ha!) enter a period of hibernation while the brains behind it put the F2P Monster Hunter-esque together. We're hoping to hear some more from them very soon, so stay tuned to PCGamesN - which we know you're doing anyway, you lovely lot.
Dauntless release date: TBC, 2017.
Nobody knows what's going on with Death Stranding, probably not even Hideo Kojima. We're not even sure it's coming to PC as well as its Sony-funded home, but it is mad as a box of frogs and that just makes us want to tell you about it. The Mads Mikkelsen trailer reinforced this after the initial reveal, and honestly we can't wait for more. Doesn't even matter if it never comes out.
Death Stranding realease date: TBA.
These are the upcoming PC games that have got us most excited. Any games on the horizon that have you seriously considering a pre-order? Let us know in the comments.