What are the best upcoming PC games? 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.
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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 Q3 2016
It would be lazy to file Abzu under ‘Journey-like’ simply because it shares that PS3 classic’s art director, Matt Nava, and its celebrated composer, Austin Wintory. But there’s more than a little of Thatgamecompany’s quiet elegance to this pristine underwater celebration of the natural world and the joy of swimming.
Abzu release date: August 2, 2016
No Man’s Sky
Space is in right now, and Hello Games’ interplanetary exploration title is showing off something really stellar: procedural generation. You see, all of No Man’s Sky's universe is created on the fly by computer code. There’s not one planet, one alien creature, or one asteroid that’s been crafted purely by an artist or designer. Which means in almost everything you do, you’re the first to do it.
No Man's Sky release date: August 9, 2016
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
If gun-arm augmentations, late’ 90s sunglasses and an ongoing struggle with the perils of nicotine addiction don’t sell Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on PC to you, perhaps the game’s apartheid themes, illuminati references and the shiny visuals of Eidos’ new Dawn Engine will. If not then we can’t help you.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided release date: August 23, 2016
We Happy Few
Dystopian settings are a dime a dozen these days, but retrofuturistic, Orwellian 1960s British towns are something of an underserved niche. Borrowing heavily from Bioshock, We Happy Few is a survival roguelike set in a town whose inhabitants are constantly happy, thanks to a drug called Joy. One thing to mention is that they don’t take kindly to Downers (anyone not in a drug induced state of happiness that is). Blend in, fight or hide to make it past the town’s murderous citizens.
We Happy Few release date: Summer, 2016
Io Interactive's efforts to turn the adventures of globetrotting baldie Agent 47 into an episodic series are going better than anyone dared to expect. The developers are midway through building six city sandboxes, each seven times the size of Hitman: Absolution’s largest area. Marrakesh in particular is the densest, most ambitious the assassin sim has ever been.
Hitman Episode 4 release date: Summer, 2016
Batman: The Telltale Series
Pulling from The Wolf Among Us’ lessons in quicktime combat that doesn’t make you want to make a quick exit, Telltale are tackling Batman at his most pugilistic,. Press A to biff, or B to pow. Except there’ll be no ‘60s-style comedy here - the series will explore the Bat’s darkness, as well as the quandaries faced by a Bruce Wayne campaigning in support of Harvey Dent.
Batman: The Telltale Series release date: September, 2016
Jump scares and hiding in lockers is all set to return. Outlast 2’s brief trailer reveals almost nothing about the game’s narrative, but if it’s anywhere near as harrowing as the original then it’s one for horror fans to watch, preferably through the lens of a night vision camera.
Outlast 2 release date: Fall, 2016
Upcoming PC games Q4 2016
With its rich late-1960s New Orleans setting and anti-Mafia narrative, Mafia III is clearly trying to set itself apart from the huge heap of open-world games currently available. With the civil rights movement in full swing, Cold War tensions reaching their peak and a city that’s scarcely explored in gaming, we see a lot of potential (and also a harrowing amount of violence) – check out our Mafia III preview for more.
Mafia III release date: October 7, 2016
Civilization is back and in some ways history is destined to repeat itself: diplomacy will eventually fail, war will break out, and Mahatma Gandhi will reveal a surprising appetite for blood. But management is getting a huge overhaul, with cities becoming sprawling, multi-tile objects to siege over. If there’s one thing us PC gamers can never quite sate, it’s our megalomania.
Civilization VI release date: October 21, 2016
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
At one time the big sell of a new CoD was super-furry dogs (it was an off-year, to be fair - remember Ghosts?). This year it's space dogfights. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare sees the series give up pretending to be grounded and embrace the ludicrous, with an outer-atmospheric adventure that casts you as a space spec-op wearing mag boots that allow you to lock onto any surface in any orientation. The silliness of it all seems to have upset CoD fans on YouTube, but hey - they've always got the remastered Modern Warfare that comes with the more expensive editions.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare release date: November 4, 2016
Steampunk, stealth and stabbing - what more could you want? Set 15 years after the events of the original, Dishonored 2 will allow players to choose and swap between previous protagonist Corvo and a now-grown-up Emily Kaldwin. Each character boasts their own perspective on events as well as a host of unique powers, adding even more replayability.
Dishonored 2 release date: November 11, 2016
Dead Rising 4
The Christmas movie is an annual TV tradition, so it’s nice to be able to book in a Christmas game for the other significant screen in the house. Dead Rising 4 finds Frank West returning to the scene of the series’ original outbreak in Willamette, Colorado during the holiday season. It’s in the hands of Capcom Vancouver, the same Canadian studio thrown the keys to Dead Rising after Keiji Inafune wrote the blueprint for gleeful shopping mall zombie disassembly.
Dead Rising 4 release date: December 6, 2016
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: December, 2016
By rendering the decision-making aspect of turn-based gameplay simultaneous for both sides, developer Trion Worlds have made a game that looks like XCOM, but plays like Frozen Synapse. The setup allows for all manner of overcomplicated strategies and attacking ploys. Likewise, the ability to perform a dodge instead of an attack means that any move can be countered - provided the player is able to read their opponent. With a cast of stylish heroes who each bring their own strengths and weaknesses into the fold, Atlas Reactor has a host of options to draw on in any encounter, which leaves plenty of space for mastery.
Atlas Reactor release date: TBC, 2016
A sci-fi frigate combat simulator from Yager, creators of Spec Ops: The Line, Dreadnought might simply be one big excuse to crack jokes about 'yager bombs'. But it'll also teach players to think like admirals instead of pilots, embracing the weight of their ship and working with inertia if they're to lead their team to multiplayer victory.
Dreadnought release date: TBC, 2016
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, 2016
N was a freeware platformer that predated Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV in perfecting lean, mean microchallenges that killed you over and over until you achieved a kind of virtuosity in a small windowed .exe on your desktop. N++ is its second sequel, representing years of refinement upon refinement. As a silhouetted ninja, you’ll sprint, hop and bounce off walls in an effort to collect each level’s coins. Misjudge your momentum and you’ll be splattered.
N++ release date: TBC, 2016
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, 2016
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: TBC, 2016
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
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: Q1, 2017
Tacoma is the follow-up to Fullbright’s Gone Home, the small-scale exploratory game about rifling through a family house left suddenly empty. Where there the ex-Irrational indies applied the granular interactions they’d honed on the Bioshock series to more domestic (though just as gripping) fare, here they’re returning to the birthplace of abandoned spaces in videogames: space. Even so, expect again to be telling yourself a story by turning objects over in your hands, and coming to love characters you’ll never meet.
Tacoma release date: Spring, 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
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 some when the Kingdom Come mods get going.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance release date: TBC, 2017
In the ‘90s, Lorne Lanning managed to slip anti-corporate and environmental messages onto the PlayStation under cover of cartoon characters. But the Oddworld series is far more at home now on the PC, where Lanning and co. can finally give the rushed sequel to Abe’s Oddysee the remake it deserves.
Oddworld: Soulstorm release date: TBC, 2017
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.