The 5 Most Anticipated Games of 2016

That games we can’t wait to play next year…

Every December, video game journalists write about how this has been the best year ever for games. It seems trite, but 2015 may have seriously been the best year ever for video games. Releases like Fallout 4, Metal Gear Solid V, and Super Mario Maker aren’t just candidates for game of the year, they’re contenders for the title of greatest game of all time.

So next year’s gaming releases have a lot to live up to. We likely won’t know about some of the biggest games of 2016 until after E3, but already there are some titles on the horizon that look just as impressive as what we saw this year. As 2015 comes to a close, these are our most anticipated games of 2016.

#5 – Mighty No. 9

most anticipated games of 2016

Legally, this is as close as you can get to making a Mega Man game without being sued for copyright infringement.

Mighty No. 9 was supposed to be one of the big releases of the fall, but was pushed back to 2016 for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear. But if the game delivers on its promise of being a next-gen Mega Man experience, the wait will be worth it. Of course, without Capcom’s involvement the game can’t be called Mega Man for legal reasons. But Keiji Inafune, who produced pretty much all of the good Mega Man games since the original, is also producing this game. And it stars a plucky boy robot who must defeat eight robot masters to gain their powers, before tackling a final boss stage. So yeah, it’s basically the new Mega Man game that Capcom refuses to make for whatever reason, and it looks amazing.

#4 – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

After a disappointing second entry put the Deus Ex franchise in hibernation for almost a decade, 2011’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution put the series back on the map. Human Revolution gave gamers a modern take on complex role-playing in a cyber-punk setting. Human Revolution’s nonlinear gameplay and story were almost perfect. The one common criticism was the mandatory boss fights that felt out of place in a game where nonlethal force was always an option. And even that issue was addressed in DLC and a Director’s Cut. As long as Eidos Montreal addresses that issue in Mankind Divided, and delivers everything else that people loved about Human Revolution, it’s going to have a strong contender for game of the year.

#3 – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

most anticipated games of 2016

Now with more open shirt collars than ever.

Naughty Dog’s last release was The Last of Us, quite possibly the greatest game of the previous generation of consoles, so expectations are understandably high for the follow-up. The thing is, Uncharted 4 might actually surpass The Last of Us. The demo Naughty Dog presented at this year’s E3 showed Nathan Drake in a realistic tropical market setting that looked better than almost everything else on the PS4 or Xbox One right now. That was followed by an intense firefight and an exciting Jeep ride through the countryside. Then there were the mud effects. It seems weird to get excited for mud in a game, but no one has made wet dirt look this good before. And if a game is going to put that much work into literal dirt, it’s got to be good.

#2 – Crackdown 3

most anticipated games of 2016

“I came here to collect agility orbs and chew bubble gum…”

Since the Xbox One was unveiled in early 2013, Microsoft has been promising that its games would harness the power of the cloud to deliver unique new gaming experiences. It’s almost 2016, and it’s still not clear if even Microsoft knows what the cloud can do for console gaming, or if it was just empty marketing speak. That could change with Crackdown 3 though. Offline or online, the game promises a large, open-world that you can explore with a super-powered up super cop just like the previous two games in the series. But when you’re connected to the internet, the cloud will make all of those beautiful Xbox One environments fully destructible as you battle bad guys and collect agility orbs. There hasn’t been an open-world game that promised that since EA’s Mercenaries series, which was abandoned after an underwhelming second game. If Microsoft can avoid the problems of Mercenaries 2 (and the largely forgettable Crackdown 2), it could revolutionize sandbox games for years to come.

#1 – The Legend of Zelda Wii U

most anticipated games of 2016

I don’t even care what the rest of the game is like. Nintendo has my $60 based on this screenshot alone.

It’s been almost two years since The Legend of Zelda for Wii U was revealed, and we still know almost nothing about it. It’s definitely coming out in 2016, according to Nintendo, but the game might not even come out for the Wii U anymore. It could be a launch title for the next Nintendo console, codenamed NX. We don’t know the official title, the story line or how exactly it plays. But it’s still the most anticipated game of 2016 for two reasons. First, the 2014 debut trailer is still stunning, and hints at all sorts of cool gameplay features. Second, Nintendo has stated that it’s going to be an “open-world” Zelda game in which you can complete dungeons in almost any order. It’s basically Zelda meets The Elder Scrolls, and if that concept can’t sell Wii U (or NX) consoles, then nothing can.