Ones To Watch In 2017 – PlayStation 4 Third Party Exclusives

Thanks, Japan.

If console exclusives are your thing, then PlayStation 4 is the console to own in 2017. We’ll be taking a look at some of the fantastic games coming from Sony’s talented troupe of studios tomorrow, though it’s fair to say these are outnumbered by the myriad titles being developed by third party publishers. Instead of listing them all, we’ve cherry picked some of the ones we’re looking forward to most, and there definitely seems to be a trend…

If you thought Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian had a rough ride, you probably haven’t heard about Nioh. Development on the game began way, way back in 2004 before Koei’s merger with Tecmo. Two versions of Nioh were scrapped before it was eventually passed on to Team Ninja, the talented folk who brought us the Ninja Gaiden series.

While some of that DNA is clearly present, there’s a definite Souls feel to Nioh. Button mashing simply isn’t an option, forcing players to read their opponents before delivering a perfectly timed ballet of strikes and dodges.

With an open alpha and beta on PlayStation 4, plenty have had a chance to experience the game for themselves. Feedback was mostly positive and it’ll be interesting to see how the final version shapes up on February 8th.

Another Japanese import, Nier: Automata stands out as the wildcard on our list. Only fervent fans of the genre will remember Cavia’s 2010 original, a decent yet unremarkable JRPG set within the Drakengard universe. Despite low sales, the game managed to garner a vocal fanbase, calling on Square Enix to develop a sequel.

With PlatinumGames (Bayonetta, Scalebound) at the helm, Nier: Automata is far more action orientated than its predecessor. There are definitely some light role playing elements tucked away though these are outshone by the sequel’s snappier approach to combat.

Expect Nier: Automata to touch down on March 10th here in the UK with a demo currently available on PlayStation Network.

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Shin Megami Tensei is a name that carries considerable weight, especially when it comes to the Persona series. Eager to immerse themselves within the Atlus sequel, there have been plenty of fans importing the game from Japan, pocket dictionaries on standby.

None of that trademark Persona weirdness has been lost over the years. From supernatural mobile apps to interdimensional crossing, there are familiar anchors for those who have played previous entries. That same focus on turn-based battles and fortifying friendships is also present in Persona 5.

Sadly, it will miss its planned Valentine’s launch date, but you won’t have to wait too long. Persona 5 arrives on PlayStation 4 this April.

Expect of a grin-inducing glut of regional accents and jaw-dropping visuals as Ni No Kuni returns for a second outing. We’re not exactly sure how it ties in with the original, though developer Level-5 are seemingly taking a new direction with the series.

Summoning familiars and watching them do battle doesn’t seem to be the focus here, with characters taking a more pivotal role in combat. From what little footage we’ve seen, there are still recruitable creatures of some sort, though it looks as though they’ll be tagged in to unleash specific abilities.

As long as Drippy’s there, you won’t hear any complaints from us!

After years of longing, fans will finally be reunited with PlayStation’s original mascot – the lovably unhinged Crash Bandicoot. Vicarious Visions is the team tasked with remastering not one, but three of the very best 3D platformers to grace a home console. It’s an unenviable task though, with more than two decades of experience, there are few developers better suited for the challenge.

That leap, from the 90s originals into glorious HD (4K if you own a PlayStation 4 Pro), brings with it a number of bonus features. Although the core gameplay and level designs remain mostly unmolested, the N. Sane Trilogy will have time trials and better save options, hopefully making it slightly more approachable.

There’s no confirmed launch date, though Activision have it scheduled for 2017.

For a time, it seemed as though the Yakuza series would remain exclusive to Japan though talks between SEGA and Sony have changed that. Launching on January 24th, Yakuza 0 is the first of three games from the series planned for localisation on PS4, with Yakuza Kiwami – a remake of the original – releasing in the summer and Yakuza 6 planned for a 2018 release outside of Japan.

As implied by the irregular title, Yakuza 0 acts as a prequel to the original game, set in the 1980s, with players in control of a younger Kiryu. Despite the time warp, modern features from recent Yakuza games have made the jump, from swappable fighting styles, to enhanced customisation, and a wealth of side activities to indulge in.

Omega Force is certainly keeping itself busy. With Toukiden 2 said to be coming West this year, the studio is also juggling Dynasty Warriors 9 among other projects, including Dragon Quest Heroes II.

Once again, two established forces in the video game world collide. On one side we have the Dragon Quest setting and characters, imbued with the spirit and vigour afforded by Omega’s distinct approach to combat. Fans of the original will be glad to see class swapping as a new feature alongside two-player co op, making it even easier to bulldoze through entire battlefields with deadly, screen-wiping combos.

Dragon Quest Heroes II releases here just weeks before its first anniversary, on April 28.

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The devilish Danganronpa is back for yet another grim instalment in what has become one of gaming’s best-loved visual novel series. Still in the capable hands of developer Spike Chunsoft, Killing Harmony will make its debut on home consoles, instead of handhelds.

This transition won’t have much of an impact on the game – for the most part you’ll still be sifting through character conversations and admiring the artwork. Other changes include a new setting and cast, though Monokuma will return to initiate his fiendish bloodsport, setting fifteen students on one another in a murderous free-for-fall.

The Japanese version is set to launch in early January, NIS hoping to bring a localised version overseas later next year.

Slated for December 2017, we still know very little about Shenmue III. Following on from the original cult classics there’s bound to be some overlap, though we’ve yet to see the extent to which Shenmue has been modernised for both fans and new audiences. Still, since the game’s E3 2015 reveal and its immediate crowdfunding success, it easily qualifies as one to watch.


Come back tomorrow for our final Ones to Watch feature, focussing on first party PlayStation 4 games. In the meantime, catch all the previous entries in this series here.

Written by
Senior Editor bursting with lukewarm takes and useless gaming trivia. May as well surgically attach my DualShock at this point.

26 Comments

  1. The PS4 really does have a lot of exclusives, doesn’t it? 9 listed, and that’s just 3rd party ones. And the list of XBox exclusives was just 7, in total? 1st and 3rd party?

    I’d be happy with just Ni No Kuni 2. Even if Drippy isn’t in it, I’m sure it’ll be as fun as the first one. I may have to say “Knickers!” if he’s not in it though. (I was going to google some other fun things he says, but I accidentally disturbed myself by googling “mr drippy knickers”. DO NOT DO THAT! Seriously, don’t)

    I wouldn’t describe NieR as “unremarkable” though. It went in so many weird places that more than made up for it being just a fairly decent RPG. I’m worried the sequel will just try and improve on the “fairly decent RPG” aspect and lose everything that made the original a strange pile of weirdness and the whole thing will end up being not as good.

    • Making that comparison is definitely valid, and we know of a lot more PS4 exclusives than we do Xbox exclusives – sorry, “Microsoft exclusives” – but that’s showing a difference between the companies and their audiences.

      All but one of the games on this list are from Japanese developers, and I think it’s fair to say that the difficulties Xbox always face in Japan will have played into the decision to stay exclusive to PlayStation with a number of these. Remove those and you’ve got very few third party exclusives on either side of the fence.

    • Really not that surprising, PS4 now has over 3x the install base, and Sony have 4x the number of studios.

      Xbox One is pretty much an “also ran” this gen. Games are designed with PS4 mind, and made to work on Xbox one as an afterthought, the quality gap between PS4 and Xbox one titles is widening and accelerating.

      • It doesn’t matter as much this gen as to which console is the ‘lead’ platform as the two are almost identical. Improvements for one benefit the other (and AMD PC users to some extent).

      • There are significant differences in specs and architecture between the two, specifically memory and bus architecture, the PS4 is significantly more capable. This means games are designed with the PS4 capabilities and then the game “wound down” (usually in resolution and shader quality) to suit the Xbox one.

  2. What about that capcom game, the one that was exclusive to playstation, it had that dark soul vibe from the demo & was in a dungeon.

    Has it gone in limbo or something

    • Also isn’t kingdom hearts exclusive as well, 3rd party

      • “Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue” is indeed a PS4 exclusive out next year.

      • You’re thinking of Deep Down, which hasn’t been seen or heard of for the last year and a half.

        And Kingdom Hearts is exclusive, but this list isn’t exhaustive and I prefer to steer clear of remasters on the whole. Crash gets to be the exception to that rule of sorts.

  3. i really enjoyed the Nier demo, and Ni No Kuni 2 and Dragon Quest Heroes 2 are also on my, want to play, list.

    which reminds me, i still have the originals of those 3 titles to finish yet.

  4. Wow what a thoroughly Japanese list! Is there nothing more western? What about that new, awesome looking God of War? When’s that due?

    • Come on Tony, pay attention! The title reads “PlayStation 4 Third Party Exclusives”. God of War is obviously a first party title, so would be in a separate list, but beyond that it’s not been given a release window.

      • To be fair, it is the period after christmas. Half of TSA may still be drunk. ;)

      • half? o_O

      • Ah bugger, I think Steven explained the problem above.

  5. At the risk of being rather selfish and petty, I kinda hope they all turn out to be crap just so the already large wishlist doesn’t get more games added to it. What? Blame the publishers who deliver such excellent games! STOP MAKING ME WANT THEM!

    Crash Remastered should be interesting though he looks like he is coming back out of retirement, having just shed all the excess weight and desperate to prove he still has it. Also, looks a bit creepy.

  6. Down for Crash, but the rest don’t interest me at all.

  7. That is one tragically Japanese list. No interest of the slightest, roll on first party games please, hopefully a more western orientated genre selection, with games that will actually release this year!

  8. Nice list but very limited appeal outside of Japan. Can’t see many of them troubling the top 10 of the weekly sales charts.

    • Good games don’t always make the charts, Google games don’t need multi million dollar budgets. Open your eyes there is a world of great games to be discovered, stop using sales figures to decide what you play

      • That’s brilliant coming from you Blighty. All you ever talk about is sales. To further expand my post, I’m saying those games aren’t system sellers. Xboxone has a nice library of quality games that didn’t sell hugely, but I doubt you’d say the same if I brought up those games like Sunset Od, Quantum Break etc.

  9. Nothing for me but I have to admit it looks like a strong list. As Stefan pointed out, if Microsoft didn’t look this bad in Japan they probably wouldn’t have been exclusive to PS4.

    ps: isn’t Nier and Shenmue also coming to pc?

    • They are, but we fudge the lines around “console exclusive” and whether a game’s going to be in the indie list or a genre list or a platform exclusive list all the time.

  10. Nothing which really interests me on that list. But, wow, so many exclusive titles..! Of course, they’re all a very good reason to own and play a PS4 exclusively..! ;o)

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