Since the turn of the century, shooters have grown and grown to become a pillar of gaming the game’s industry, whether on PC or console. 2016 has been an exceptionally good year for fans of first person shooters in particular, with the traditional battleground at the end of October and start of November delivering three great examples.
But what of 2017? As we stretch the shooter category to include a broad spectrum of games, it looks like there’s plenty to enjoy here as well.
For quite a few years now, Rebellion has satisfied our longing for shooters set during the Second World War. Although not a straight up FPS, the series’ slight lean towards the action adventure genre and stealthier play, it’s still overshadowed by its emphasis on shooting foes from a distance.
Sniper Elite 4, like its predecessor, is taking us to one of the lesser featured campaign zones during WW2. Instead of the scorched deserts and canyons of North Africa, Karl Fairburne will stalk the Nazis as the allies look to loosen their grip on Italy. Expect to see everything from sun-bleached coastal towns to freezing mountains as he moves ahead of the main invasion force.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Sniper Elite game if you didn’t get to take a crack at Hitler himself…
Head here to catch our recent preview of the viaduct level. Sniper Elite 4 is out for PS4, Xbox One and PC on 14th February.
CI Games is looking to shrug off the B-tier status of its own sniper franchise, Sniper: Ghost Warrior. Previous games in the series have done little to wow critics, though both were commercial hits for the Polish studio, giving them the freedom to try and push on to greater things.
The biggest change here is the move to open world, breaking out from the linearity of the previous Ghost Warrior games. Here you can go about your mission as you please, employing an enhanced array of navigation options – scaling rough terrain is made easier with parkour while long stretches can be covered behind the wheel of several vehicle types – and making use of modern day technology to act as a lone sniper well behind enemy lines.
We recently previewed the game and how it aims to improve the series. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is out on 4th April for PS4, Xbox One and PC.
It’s been a while since we last took to the skies in Ace Combat. In fact, the last numbered instalment launched almost a decade ago. A lot has changed since then, and although the series may not carry the same prestige it did during its heyday, Namco seems confident this new entry will rekindle our love for the veteran dog fighting franchise.
We don’t know a lot about gameplay and how Ace Combat has been adapted to suit modern tastes. What we do know is that the game will run on Unreal Engine 4, that sense of immersion going up a notch for anyone lucky enough to own a PlayStation VR headset.
Ace Combat 7 is a PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR exclusive for release some time in 2017.
Compared to most of the entries on this list, Shadow Warrior 2 is definitely the most “out there”. Over the top gunplay meshes with martial arts and dark mythology to create something that feels 90s inspired while pushing the genre to unfamiliar places. It’s also “out there” in another sense, having been released on PC a couple months ago, but the console release is coming next year.
Within a barrage of blades and bullets, players will be able to dismember their foes in a brutal fashion as demons have spread their corruption across the partially randomised levels. Things get even more hectic when allied with up to three other players to play through the campaign.
Shadow Warrior 2 is out now on PC, with a Q1 release planned for PS4 and Xbox One.
Ubisoft isn’t given enough credit for its recent work on the Tom Clancy label. The Division may not have had the lasting impact the publisher was hoping for, but elsewhere Rainbow Six has managed to carve out its own niche, warranting a second year of post-launch support. From what we’ve seen of Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Ubisoft is taking similar steps in jazzing up another of its longest running series.
Instead of futuristic battlefields, this latest instalment pits players against a ruthless drug cartel terrorising Bolivia. There’s a new open world focus and freedom of choice as you go up against the Santa Blanca cartel, and Wildlands featuring a patchwork of extreme terrain for operatives to traverse as they scout and strategize around missions. Four player co-op is another key focus and it will be interesting to see what kind of tactical opportunities this presents.
Coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC, Ghost Recon Wildlands is out on 7th March.
Originally planned for 2016, Destiny’s hotly anticipated sequel is somewhat of mystery despite how well acquainted we are with Bungie’s landmark shooter. Having taken an extra year of development time for the full sequel, the studio has also brought in some extra manpower from studios within Activision.
Expectations are high though there’s much we still don’t know about the game. A report from Kotaku in September pointed to something more akin to a reboot than a follow on, with new characters, new planets and “play-in destinations” with a seamless transition from towns and outposts to the surrounding areas. Thankfully it sounds like you won’t have to head up into orbit just to come straight back down to the planet’s surface and go on patrol.
Episode VIII is less than a year away, and a Star Wars Battlefront sequel is due out next year to accompany it, taking pride of place in EA’s plans for 2017. DICE did a spectacular job bringing the popular franchise back to life, though it took a while for the game to hit its stride. What impressed us most is just how different it felt compared to most shooters, centering itself around objective-based modes and a more casual approach to its gunplay.
CFO Blake Jorgensen said way back in May that “Next year we will see Star Wars Battlefront back with bigger and better worlds because we now have the new movies to work off of, not just the historical movies that we used before.” What we really want to see is battles that allow for a seamless transition between land and space, and hopefully DICE will also drop or imporve some of its less popular features – Hutt Contracts and limited player customisation in particular – as it brings us content from the new trilogy.
Come back tomorrow when we get to grips with the RPGs of 2017.