The Biggest Video Game News Of 2016

My annual post detailing the biggest news in video games from the past year.

The Last Of Us Part II

2013's The Last Of Us is considered by many, including myself, to be one of the greatest games of all time. It's a perfect fusion of setting, characters, story and gameplay that is almost unparalleled: the whole experience being a masterclass in creation of a property in any creative medium, not just games. If, for some reason, you've yet to play, the game tells the story of Joel and Ellie - two people thrust together in a post apocalyptic, dystopian, hopeless, loveless future-America. They battle the country, groups of rebels, and the hideous offspring of the apocalypse - people transformed by the horrific cordycep fungus - in the hope of finding a group called the Fireflies and a potential solution to the World's problem.

So, for Sony to round out their PlayStation Experience conference with a teaser trailer for Part II is a move that took the entire industry by storm. It's a fantastic mood board for what the game will, hopefully, present the player with as Joel and Ellie's story continues. Although it seems to be a way off - I think early-to-mid 2018 is probably a safe enough bet - the mere idea that a sequel is coming is the perfect way to round out the year, and an inspired move from Sony to round out their conference.

Back in September last year, I wrote about what I might want from a sequel

The Nintendo Switch

I think we can all agree that the Wii U was pretty much dead before it was ever alive. The console was a pitiful attempt to jump on the astronomical success of its predecessor, the Wii, which - as of early this year - sold just over 100 million units Worldwide. But, in their desperate struggle for sales, Nintendo sent out a failure. From the moment people first saw it, up until the present day, they were confused as to whether it was simply an accessory for the Wii - which it might as well have been - or something new.

But, fingers crossed, that's about to change. Back in October, we were finally shown the Nintendo Switch after years of speculation. Granted, we still know very little - but at least we're slightly less in the dark than we were this time last year. In my mind, I fully intend to buy a Switch. Not least for the new Zelda, potential new Mario and slew of titles hopefully coming via way of Nintendo First Party, but also for the opportunity to play great third party games on the go. Portable Skyrim is, perhaps, the single greatest reason for me to even consider purchasing the console. The idea of portable virtual console, and the ability to catch up on all those years of games I missed is a strong second.

For my full thoughts on the Switch, here's what I wrote immediately after the trailer first dropped.

Red Dead Redemption II

October was a big month for big announcements. Similarly, after years of speculation, Rockstar finally announced the sequel to 2010's Red Dead Redemption by way of a week's worth of teaser images, changing their Twitter colours and, at long last, a trailer.

Similarly to the above trailer for The Last Of Us Part II, this very much seems to serve as a mood board for the game. We see very little of what's going to happen, the story we're going to be told, the character's we're going to meet. I've never played a Red Dead game, but Rockstar's addition to the franchise is something I've heard only good things about, and seems like it would be a perfect game for me - a Western (in both senses of the word) open-World to mess around in fills me with glee. Maybe I'll be experimenting with PS Now in 2017. 

PS VR, PS Pro & PS4 Slim

2016 has been a turning point for PlayStation, arguably in the wrong direction. Just before E3 PS-Boss Andrew House finally confirmed that the PS4 Pro was, in fact, real, only for Sony to completely ignore it during their showing at the conference. Instead, that was relegated to an awkward, incredibly poor event where the PS4 Pro was shown off properly, along with the Slim model of the system - which has replaced the OG version as the general unit.

Along with that, October saw the release of the PS VR headset - the third "mainline" VR-unit-proper to be released for consumers to take home and use to their heart's content. Although sales expectations were downgraded massively after launch (source: Gamespot) the system has in fact lit the VR world on fire, selling around 745,000 units since its launch (source: PowerUpGaming), over double that of the Oculus Rift and significantly more than HTC's Vive.

On the surface, I don't get VR (bearing in mind that I've never had the opportunity to try it). I don't see why having a screen that close to your face is attractive at all, and to me, the industry should be making investments in maxing out existing hardware before trying to conquer something new. Numbers above suggest perhaps this is indicative of the majority of people's opinion, or simply that, like me, they haven't had the opportunity to try it and be converted.

Equally, I don't understand the need for a PS4 Pro or Slim model when the console was doing so well already. Why split the install base between two classes, when it can just as easily be confined to one. I think Sony has over-complicated the PS4 brand here and, ultimately, created two really ugly pieces of hardware from something that was so beautiful. 

Death Stranding 

This time last year "Hideo Kojima and the Battle With Konami" was part of my biggest news of the year. In a surprise to pretty much everyone, he went and announced his new, independent, but Sony exclusive game in its first year of development with two trailers. It'll be starring Norman Reedus, Mads Mikklesen, and Guillermo del Toro and is...well, whatever the hell you can make of these...

I'm sure Kojima's expert leadership will turn those (again) mood pieces into something fantastic, but also something a long way off. The danger with showing so much of a game so early is that expectations quickly rise out of control. Who knows, maybe this will be coming in 2017, but I wouldn't hope for it before 2019, let alone before the launch of the PS5...

My 2016-wrap-up coverage continues tomorrow with my Top Five Games Of The Year....


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