Nintendo – 3DS
As is usual, the first few months of the year were slow for the gaming community, with few releases between January and March making any news at all. The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series saw its first reformatting on to the 3DS, but quickly lost traction as news of the latest installment of the main Pokemon release of the year was announced; ‘Pokemon Sun’ & ‘Pokemon Moon’.
Sun & Moon (a name that should avoid abbreviation) has been the forefront of Nintendo’s marketing this year and is expected to outshine previous games like Pokemon X, Pokemon Y, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire by testing the true power of the 3DS platform that it is available on. Players should expect a game that developers are confident will ‘shake up the franchise’, with a whole new region called Alola being introduced, as well as many classic Pokemon from previous games making an appearance.
‘The tried-and-true formula of catching, battling and exploring remains intact, but has never been so detailed and fun.‘ – Trusted Reviews.
Nintendo have been tactful this year; releasing small tidbits of the game’s features only every month to keep fans in anticipation and on our toes. We knew Sun & Moon was going to be a step forward in the Pokemon gaming universe anyway, but we didn’t know by how much until videos were released of new mechanics such as Z-Moves, Mega-Evolutions, and Poke-Ride and more.
We are over a month away from its release and still don’t know what to truly expect when we play this game for the first time, and I personally think this was a good play on behalf of Nintendo; keeping fans in anticipation for as long as possible will ensure that it stays in our hands for longer until we’ve trodden on every digital patch of land and learned every secret of the new Alola region…
Sony – PS4
If Nintendo isn’t your playing field, then you’ve probably given your loyalties elsewhere to the likes of Sony. If so, you no doubt heard a lot of news about the fourth and final installment of the Uncharted series; A Thief’s End. Released back in May, the Naughty Dog game was hit with waves of praise for its vastly improved game play and design specifically in the single player arena, granting over 2.7 million copies being sold in the first week of release, the fastest selling entry in the series.
The PlayStation exclusive game series has held its own since the arrival in 2007 of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune on PS3. The games have followed the adventures of protagonist, Nathan Drake in treasure hunting, city searching, and all round chaos through landscapes like the Rub’al Khali Desert, and Siberian mountains, and has constantly delivered a range of breathtaking environments. And A Thief’s End is no different; with the story starting off on stormy seas, with pit stops in Scotland, the fictional land of Libertalia, and treacherous pirate bays.
Uncharted’s multiplayer arena has also improved with each new release. The second game, Among Thieves was the first to incorporate a multiplayer feature, with teams of three taking the roles of ‘Heroes’ or ‘Villains’ in game modes like Team Deathmatch, Plunder, and Elimination; and with help from next-generation technology of PS4, A Thief’s End was able to upscale the multiplayer experience with new and eccentric in-game features like ‘Mysticals’ that allow you to harness supernatural elements to aid you in your fight against your opposition.
Microsoft – Xbox One
Our final console has long been the top dog in terms of popularity, but since Sony gained exclusive rights for some of the biggest games of 2015/16 including Call of Duty: Black Ops III and the nostalgic reawakening of Ratchet & Clank, Microsoft’s Xbox One lost its limelight to the PlayStation 4 which became the best-selling console of 2014 & 2015. However, that hasn’t stopped the Xbox from supporting some of the titan games of the year, one of which being the gargantuan shooter that is Overwatch.
Allegedly anticipated to be the ‘Call of Duty killer’, Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch gained instantaneous and massive momentum post-release with its cartoonish, Team Fortress-esque style of team based FPS game play. People around the world fell in love with the almost friendly look of the battlefield that Overwatch put them in, and even more so with the wide range of ‘Heroes‘ made available on the disc. A large reason for Overwatch’s success was the unique abilities and specialisations that each of these Heroes brought to the front lines, which enabled and encouraged more team-coordinated fighting than any FPS game had done for years. This, coupled with the theatrical trailers that Blizzard remarkably marketed on popular video platforms like YouTube, made for a huge success in the gaming world, and an even bigger mark on the shooter genre.
Talk of the Town 2016 – No Man’s Sky (NMS)
2016 has been, and will continue to be, a great year for gamers; we’re yet to get our hands on the likes of EA’s Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, or the remaster of the classic Infinity Ward title, Modern Warfare, all of which will ensure that gamers around the world will have a fantastic Christmas, but if there’s one game that has tried to outshine others this year, it has to be the grossly anticipated open-world title known as No Man’s Sky.
Developed by Hello Games, a (once) small indie group based in Guildford, England, No Man’s Sky will go down in history as the most largely awaited game of the century. Promising a theoretically infinite universe of space and other-wordly exploration, NMS hooked the attention of millions with numbers so large, that most of us couldn’t even comprehend them. For example, Hello Games member and spokesperson, Sean Murray proudly boasted to the masses that the procedural generation of worlds and planets in the science-fiction universe ensured users would have over 18 quintillion planets to choose from and to discover. Before you try to wrap your head around that number, finding every single one of these planets is a physically impossible task and, according to maths would take 585 billion years to complete.
This endlessness was a concept new to the gaming world; with the current trend being developers releasing ‘incomplete’ games for £40+ and filling in the gaps with regular installments of paid DLC (downloadable content) throughout the year. Hello Games turned this on its head by actually giving players too much of a game, and even stated that most DLC would be free via software updates and patches. It was setting up to look like a revolutionary year for gaming, and its wide-smiling face was No Man’s Sky…
…Alas, this was not to be. It only took a few days after its release in August for players to see through some of the holes that Sean Murray had left unsewn. While we were given a seemingly perpetual space of digital…space, we quickly learned that this boundless universe ironically left little room for multiplayer interaction. In fairness, developers did go on record to say that due to the vastness of the No Man’s Sky universe, the chances of actually meeting another player was practically impossible, but players quickly realised that, unlike the worlds of Minecraft where players can expect to find one another within the hour, players traversing the vast reaches of the NMS universe could easily travel for days without ever bumping into something that didn’t resemble a dinosaur-sheep or a beaver-bird. It truly was no man’s sky.
On the topic of the flora and fauna found on the fresh terra firma of these planets, I’d like to conclude this round-up with a comparison video of the No Man’s Sky trailer with post-release gameplay, it’s hilariously down heartening and is the modern-age definition of disappointment.
Until next time.