Ones To Watch In 2017 – PlayStation 4 Third Party Exclusives

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.

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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.

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

26 Comments

  1. There’s a lot to be excited about on this list but if I was to choose just one it would be Persona 5 without doubt.

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