It’s been a tough few years for Nintendo.
THE MYSTERIOUS NX IS REVEALED
Despite making some wonderful games, its Wii U has struggled to win over fans and the company has reported some of its worst financial results in decades. This year, it will fight back with a new console – the NX. Very little is known about the machine other than it is intended to bridge the worlds of portable gaming and the console that sits under the TV. Nintendo has confirmed that it will be unveiled this year and manufacturers say it could be on shelves by Christmas.
GAME’S BIGGEST STARS HEAD TO HOLLYWOOD
As anyone who saw this year’s Hitman: Agent 47 will tell you, video game movies are almost always terrible. In 2016, gamemakers are taking matters into their own hands by producing the movies themselves. Publisher Ubisoft has recruited Oscar-nominated Michael Fassbender to play the lead role in the Assassin’s Creed film (December), developer Rovio has picked the team to create the Angry Birds movie (May), while the Ratchet and Clank film (April) has been written by their creators, Insomniac. Blizzard is getting hands-on with the big-budget Warcraft movie (June), which is being directed by Duncan Jones, who made the acclaimed Moon
MARIO GOES MOBILE
Well, it might not be Mario, but Nintendo’s other major development for 2016 (alongside NX) is that it will be releasing games on smartphones and tablets for the first time.
The developer says that it has five games in the works for mobile and, although fans will desperately want Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Animal Crossing and Pokémon, Nintendo’s first title will be a “communication” app called MiiTomo.
Less of a game and more of a social network tool, players can create their own character, answer questions and meet like-minded people. It’s due out in March.
VIRTUAL REALITY FINALLY REACHES REALITY
As featured in all the previews this time last year but back in with a bullet as we’re still awaiting the three big virtual reality headsets. The good news is that they are all scheduled to arrive before June. PlayStation VR for PS4 already boasts a formidable lineup of games, including dinosaur adventure Robinson: The Journey.
Oculus Rift for PC –which has now been in development for almost five years – wants to transform not only gaming but education, industry and communication, with its VR technology. And finally there is HTC Vive, which differs from its rivals as it allows players to move around in real life, and that movement will be reflected in the game. However, the big question remains: will VR prove to be a tech revolution like smartphones, or the next 3D TV-style flop?
THE NOSTALGIA FACTOR HITS THE GAMES SECTOR
X-Files, Ghostbusters, Twin Peaks … Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The next few years are shaping up nicely for anyone over 30 and this trend for nostalgia-driven comebacks has reached video games too. One of the biggest announcements of 2015 was the remake of Final Fantasy VII, the 1997 PlayStation One RPG. That was revealed alongside Shenmue III, the sequel to a cult-favourite adventure game released in 2001 on the failed Dreamcast.
Doom is also set to return in the spring, while the team behind 1998 N64 classic Banjo Kazooie have reunited to create its spiritual successor,Yooka-Laylee, which generated more than £2m on Kickstarter. Now they just have to live up to our huge expectations.
E3 WILL BRING SURPRISES
Every year in June, the great and the good of the games industry flock to Los Angeles for the video game extravaganza that is E3. The biggest names in games –including Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo – use the event to reveal their biggest projects. Last year’s shock announcements included the return of Final Fantasy VII, an augmented reality version of Minecraft, plus the revelation that Xbox One will be compatible with Xbox 360. This year, we can expect Nintendo’s new machine and plenty of VR games but, beyond that, little is known. And that’s just how we like it.
QUANTUM BREAK MERGES TV WITH GAMES
There are a lot of major Xbox One games coming next year, including the fourth Gears of War and a new Crackdown title. But one of the most ambitious has to be Quantum Break (above) from Remedy, the Finnish studio behind Max Payne and Alan Wake. It is a third-person action shooter that allows gamers to manipulate time, but in between the game’s chapters, players will be invited to view a TV episode that shows the action from the perspective of the bad guys. Featuring an all-star cast, including Shawn Ashmore (X-Men), Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings), Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) and Lane Reddick (Fringe), Quantum Break is shaping up to be something special.
THE LONG-AWAITED ARRIVAL OF THE LAST GUARDIAN
It’s also a big year for PS4 fans, with that VR headset, the fourth Uncharted game (8 March), plus the wonderful looking No Man’s Sky (June). But the title that sent gamers into a frenzy at E3 in 2015 was The Last Guardian. From the creative masterminds behind the beautiful Ico and Shadow of the Colossus on PlayStation 2, The Last Guardian was unveiled back in 2009 but had been conspicuously absent before its surprise reappearance last June. The story follows a boy trying to escape a ruined castle with the assistance of a large feathered creature called Trico. It looks wonderful and Sony insists it will be out before the end of the year.
MICROSOFT WANTS TO CHANGE YOUR LIVING ROOM INTO A GAME
One of the more interesting projects to come from Microsoft in the last 12 months has been HoloLens. Unlike virtual reality, which brings people into the game world, this augmented reality headset brings the game world out to the people.
We’ve seen two notable HoloLens demos, a Minecraft experience that lets players interact with their in-game creations on their coffee tables, and a brief interactive Halo demo where gamers were briefed on a mission by a hologram. It is still early days and the poor field of vision means that these experiences were limited. Also HoloLens is likely to find more practical uses in other industries, such as education. But with the first development kits arriving early this year, there’s still time to get this right.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA GETS MUSICAL FOR ITS 30TH BIRTHDAY
Nintendo’s adventure series hits 30 this year and as part of the global celebrations a concert dedicated to Zelda music is touring the globe, including a date at London’s Wembley Arena on 23 April.
The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses has reached UK shores before, and was an immediate sellout, featuring performances from the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Alongside the concert, Nintendo is also preparing to launch three new games: an HD remake of GameCube and Wii classic The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for Wii U (4 March), Hyrule Warriors Legends on 3DS (due 25 March) and a new Zelda adventure for Wii U (release date to be announced).
A YEAR OF BIG GAMES
2016 will be a year of big hardware launches, but there’s a plethora of excellent looking games coming, too. These include an unusual number of original titles such as Firewatch (February), The Division (March), BattleBorne (May) and No Man’s Sky (June), plus Horizon Zero Dawn for PS4 and ReCore for Xbox One are set to arrive this year too. But most exciting for gamers are the big sequels, including Lego Marvel Avengers in January, Far Cry Primal and Street Fighter V in February, Uncharted 4, Hitman and Dark Souls III in March, Star Fox Zero in April, Mirror’s Edge 2 in May and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in August, while Doom, Gears 4, Crackdown, Ghost Recon Wildlands and Dishonored 2 are all scheduled for the next 12 months.
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