With 2020 in full swing, and with the first big title just out, what better time to look at the big titles still slated for release.
Naturally, with the world in a state of flux right now, all the release dates are tentative, and cancellations are bound to happen. But for now, here are the 15 games you should mark in your calendars and cross your fingers for in 2020.
Hot off their incredible success with the critically acclaimed WITCHER 3, CD Projekt Red are trying their hand at Cyberpunk, inspired by the franchise created by Mike Pondsmith.
Set in the dystopian Night City in the Free State of California, CYBERPUNK 2077 imagines a world of violence, body modifications, and Neo-Militarism. In the style of JUDGE DREDD, the future is defined by the loss of bodily autonomy and privacy, with every aspect of life controlled by formless corporations. Little is known about the plot, but a story trailer from last year’s E3 revealed that Keanu Reeves has a part in it. The player controls a mercenary known as V, who is customizable right down their gender and background, on their quest for a body mod that is the key to immortality. But to find it, the player must first face a megalopolis obsessed with power at any cost.
As the player navigates the expansive megacity, they can undertake a variety of missions on both sides of law and morality. The world is divided into six regions, from the corporate city center to the Badland outskirts, each accessible by foot or vehicle. As seen in THE WITCHER, branching dialog makes a welcome return, allowing for the quests to have multiple outcomes based on player actions. Likewise, failing a mission does not result in a game over, but instead affects the world around you with unforeseen consequences.
Drawing inspiration from BLADE RUNNER, GHOST IN THE SHELL, and AKIRA, CYBERPUNK 2077 looks to be pure manna from heaven for both fans of the RPG genre as well as sci-fi enthusiasts. With a hearty pedigree to their name, CD Projekt Red is on track to deliver yet another modern classic later this year.
CYBERPUNK 2077 releases September 17 on the PC, Xbox, PS4, and Google Stadia.
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE
To say that expectations are high for the FINAL FANTASY remake would be an understatement. The original FF7, released 23 years ago, is a landmark JRPG that broke barriers for western audiences experiencing them for the first time. Filled with memorable characters, the now iconic instalment is generally held as the best one in the franchise.
The story kicks off with the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE bombing a Mako reactor, leading them on a collision course with the Shinra Electric Company ruling Midgar. The small conflict soon escalates, and AVALANCHE quickly finds themselves in the middle of a fight for the future of the entire planet.
The first part of the remake is set entirely in the city of Midgar, a giant post-industrial revolution dieselpunk world. While the rich live happily on an elevated above the ground, the poor spend their lives in squalor on ground level, most never seeing the sun in their lives. This section wasn’t a huge part of the original game, and it remains to be seen how many additions Square Enix has thrown in to expand the remake. We already know that we’ll see much more of the sectors that Midgar has been divided into, including a far more extensive look at the infamous slums ruled by the lecherous Don Corneo.
If the demo released earlier this month is any indication, most of the added material will be to pad out the shortcuts taken due to hardware restrictions of the original PS1. Characters are now fully voiced, and much of the limited areas are greatly expanded with secrets and new events to explore. One of the trailers also features a brand new character called Roche, whose presence is still a mystery. The original game kept the true antagonist well hidden until some dozen hours into the story, and it’s unlikely that Square Enix would spill the beans on anything new this haphazardly.
For those who can’t wait for the release date, Square Enix is publishing a series of INSIDE FINAL FANTASY 7 REMAKE, which chart the behind the scenes process making the game. The first two parts are out now.
Fans will get their hands on the remake very soon on April 10th as it releases exclusively on the PS4.
GHOST OF TSUSHIMA
Feudal Japan in the late 13th century. The Mongols approach from the west, leaving destruction in their wake. Tsushima Island is all that stands between life and death at the hands of foreign invaders. The player takes control of Jin Sakai, the last surviving samurai left from the first clash with the Mongol armies. It’s up to him to save his home, and the country of Japan before it’s too late.
Featuring a wide open world to explore at any point, GHOST OF TSUSHIMA comes from Sucker Punch Studios, the minds behind the INFAMOUS series. Like it’s siblings, GHOST is a third-person action-adventure stealth game, emphasizing combat and exploration. Confrontations are dealt with a variety of weapons, most notably katana’s. The game is said to be heavily grounded in reality, so don’t expect any giant crabs this time around.
Taking inspiration from Japanese samurai cinema such as Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI and SANJURO, GHOST looks to finally deliver an authentic historical epic. We haven’t seen one of those since the original PS1 and the great TENCHU series twenty years ago.
Releasing July 17 exclusively for the PS4.
After five years in development, HALO returns once again to herald the arrival of the next generation of gaming consoles. Though not exclusively designed for the new Series X — Microsoft has emphasized the game began as an Xbox One project — HALO once again is poised to be a console selling flagship title. Not least thanks to its highly addictive multiplayer which is promised to return big time in the new installment.
Taking place years after the events of HALO 5: GUARDIANS, Master Chief returns in what the company is calling a “spiritual reboot” of the franchise. Not much is known what awaits the legendary Spartan warrior, but an early teaser promises the existence of a new Halo ring. The titular artifacts are centuries old weapons, left behind in the galaxy to destroy the existence of The Flood, a parasitic alien plague threatening the known universe.
According to 343 Studios and Microsoft the series is also launching on PC simultaneously with the Xbox, a first for the franchise that has only just begun to make the move from console exclusivity. With the success of THE MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION on the PC, it’s fantastic to see Microsoft bring their full support to bringing the beloved franchise to wider audiences.
Releasing Holiday 2020 for the Xbox Series X and PC.
RESIDENT EVIL 3
Last year’s RESIDENT EVIL 2 REMAKE was by all accounts one of the most pleasant and unexpected surprises of this gaming generation. Brilliantly updating the series to the present day, it re-imagined the classic installment in a beautifully realized new vision, and set the standard again for how survival horror should be treated. Coming in just a year later, RESIDENT EVIL 3 has a high bar to clear, but if the early trailers and the (annoyingly brief) demo are to be believed, the series is going to be just fine.
Set concurrently with the events of RESIDENT EVIL 2, part 3 has the player controlling Jill Valentine as she attempts to escape Raccoon City during the zombie apocalypse. Hunted by the bio weapon known as Nemesis, Jill teams up with Carlos Oliveira, an Umbrella mercenary hired to evacuate citizens.
While RE2, both in its original and remake forms, was more pure survival horror, part 3 is a more action heavy and faster paced beast. Jill is constantly hounded by the near indestructible Nemesis, and her training as an elite STARS operative sees her better equipped to deal with the impending doom. Unfortunately Nemesis itself has also been upgraded, giving the nightmare inducing monstrosity new mutations and moves to make life a living hell.
The game also features an online mode, RESISTANCE, in which four players team up against a fifth “mastermind” who works against them as they try to survive in the decimated city.
Based on the early footage, be prepared to see it on multiple best of the year lists by December.
RESIDENT EVIL 3 launches very soon on April 1 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
From the people behind the genre defining FALLOUT, WASTELAND continues the tradition of isometric, story driven RPGs on PC. This time allowing for players to cooperatively complete the vast campaign, WASTELAND 3 follows a group of rangers working to ensure life goes on in the frozen wastes of post war Colorado.
Featuring a story-line filled with moral choices, harsh outcomes, and a fully voiced new dialog system, WASTELAND looks to continue the high standard developers InXile have set with their previous titles.
While not an official FALLOUT title, WASTELAND is considered by many fans as the “true” successor to the series, especially as FALLOUT 76 sees the series spiral even further into combat heavy shooting mechanics. The previous two WASTELAND games were modest successes, although critically acclaimed. Here’s hoping that this newest chapter, which sees a release on all major platforms, can help the series breakout into the mainstream.
Released May 19 for PC, MacOS, Linux, PS4, and Xbox One.
CIVILIZATION finally has a competitor! Amplitude, the studio behind titles such as ENDLESS SPACE, is setting their sights to compete with Sid Meyer’s iconic franchise with HUMANKIND, a new 4x title out later this year.
Unlike CIV, HUMANKIND places an emphasis on adaptation rather than outright binary victories. Spanning thousands of years of human history, HUMANKIND sees the players’ tribes change and evolve as cultures mingle, adapt, and decimate one another over time. There is no culture that remains homogeneous throughout time, and HUMANKIND will force players into re-examining their own perceived notions of society through gameplay. Building an empire is no longer a numbers game or a race to the best military power. Instead players must consider which mix of cultural DNA allows for the strongest foundation on which to build a working society.
Spanning six time periods and sixty cultures over the eras, HUMANKIND looks like a massive, hugely ambitious attempt at both delivering a rich strategy game, but also talking about our place in this connected world.
It’s one of my most anticipated games of the year, and I can’t wait to lose track of time with it.
No official date yet, but it’s slated for a 2020 release.
MOUNT & BLADE II – BANNERLORD
Mount & Blade is a hugely ambitious strategy/action RPG series from developer Taleworlds. Spanning a massive single player sandbox campaign which allows for a dynamic progression system, the series prides itself on no two playthroughs being the same.
Set in the massive world of Caldaria, the player starts as a lowly errant wanderer as they set about to make a name for themselves. Eventually finding themselves leading armies and conquering kingdoms in far off lands that once seemed impossible to reach.
The game also features a realistic economy system, allowing the player to either decimate regions through starvation or bring prosperity with newly founded caravan routes to kingdoms. Survival and protection from roaming bandits is guaranteed by a skill based combat system, emphasizing directional based input for both blocking and attacking.
The game also ships with their praised multiplayer mode, made famous by previous MOUNT & BLADE entries. Featuring clashes for hundreds of players on a single server, prior titles in the series have seen huge conquests of cities and great cavalry charges on open plains. If the early Beta footage is any indication, BANNERLORD has only upped the ante on this front.
In development for almost ten years, BANNERLORD is finally arriving on PC early access March 31.
THE LAST OF US PART II
The first LAST OF US is considered one of the masterpieces of the PS3 era and one of the greatest games of all time. So naturally there’s a fair bit of anxiety regarding its sequel, which has been in development for the better part of the decade. Developed by Naughty Dog, the company behind the masterful UNCHARTED series, LAST OF US PART II picks up years after the first one finished. Ellie is now a grown woman, still haunted by her journey with Joel; her surrogate father and potential villain. As tragedy strikes the small town she’s settled in, Ellie sets off on a quest for revenge deep into the dangerous wilds of the abandoned heartlands.
Based on the early trailers and gameplay footage, LAST OF US PART II looks to continue the Naughty Dog tradition of stellar writing and acting in video games. Returning actors Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker pick up their parts as Ellie and Joel and it will be a wild, heartbreaking ride to see where their story goes next.
Switching it up from the previous game, players now fully control Ellie instead of Joel, making it only the second time Naughty Dog has featured a female protagonist in their games. The previous one being the UNCHARTED spin-off LOST LEGACY. Once again players must use stealth to make their way through hostile landscapes, as the infected monsters plaguing the world can essentially kill you with a single hit.
The dystopian future is upon us June 19, exclusively on PS4.
Taking place five years after A-Day, a memorial of their defeat and the death of Captain America, Avengers sets a different kind of tone right off the bat. Our heroes have lost and superheroes are outlawed. As Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) discovers a hidden conspiracy that threatens the entire world, she sets out to assemble the Earth’s mightiest heroes once again.
Developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix, AVENGERS is shaping up to be another great blockbuster adaptation with an all-star cast of voice actors and a story heavily featuring fan favorite Ms. Marvel. Like 2018’s SPIDER-MAN, AVENGERS doesn’t follow any film or comic book storyline explicitly, but instead mines from all mythology available.
Very little gameplay footage has been released so far, but the marketing will pick up steam as the summer progresses. So far what we do know is that it’s playable both solo as well as with a friend online. I can’t wait to partner up with a friend and live out some superhero fantasies together.
Earth’s mightiest heroes assemble on September 1., for the PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia.
LEGO STAR WARS: THE SKYWALKER SAGA
The LEGO STAR WARS series is one of the better licensed video game franchises of the past decade. Who could have seen that coming? Yet here we are, ready for one final round with the classic saga from a galaxy far, far way.
Collecting all nine films of the main saga, LEGO STAR WARS promises to deliver a semi-open world for each episode, connected by singular hubs connecting a total of 45 levels. The title promises over 200 playable characters, which means fans are going to have a field finding their favorites hidden in the massive playable world.
Developed by Traveller’s Tales, the company behind previous LEGO titles, and published by Warner Bros. Interactive, the saga concludes sometime in 2020.
HORIZON ZERO DAWN (PC)
Set thousands of years into the future after the near total extinction of humanity, HORIZON ZERO DAWN begins with the birth of a young girl named Aloy. Mankind has returned tribalism, choosing a life without technology in the ruins of a world gone by. But when a warring nation attacks their home, Aloy is forced to venture out into the world to discover the source of a new threat, one that allows the control of roaming beast-like constructs known as Machines.
Developed by Guerilla Games, the minds behind the KILLZONE franchise, HORIZON ZERO DAWN took the PS4 by storm when released in 2017. Still one of the most beautiful titles on the consoles, ZERO DAWN is consistently ranked as one of the best games of the closing console generation thanks to its well written storyline and compelling gameplay.
The world itself is massive, and Aloy’s adventure through it is filled with interesting side-characters comparable to Hayao Miyazaki films. The combat against towering animal machines is one of the highlights, showcasing incredible animation and design at every turn.
Currently in the final stages of development, the PC port arrives this summer, with an exact date expected to be announced soon. The game is also out on the PS4, and it’s highly recommended no matter which platform you choose.
Developed by FROM SOFTWARE, the minds behind SEKIRO and DARK SOULS, and partially written by George R. R. Martin, ELDEN RING promises to be the next defining word on dark fantasy role-playing.
Outside of an early teaser trailer, very little is known about ELDEN RING. It takes place in a SOULS-like world, complete with high fantasy elements mixed into a Western European setting, but the story and characters are still a mystery. Martin’s involvement has been played up in the media, but Hidetaka Miyazaki, the father of the SOULS series, is listed as the official writer of the game, so it’s still uncertain just how much influence Martin will have overall. Nonetheless, we can at least expect a thoroughly captivating and well researched story.
The basics are reported to be much the same as with SEKIRO and SOULS. Players will once again control a customizable adventurer in a hopeless world, trying to survive against insurmountable odds and increasingly difficult monsters.
SEKIRO is one of my favorite games of 2019, so any new additions to MIyazaki’s growing roster of modern classics is more than welcome.
Rumors are swirling around the title promising a release date as early as June 2020, but no official confirmation is out.
Developed by Finnish company Frozenbyte, STARBASE is a new sci-fi MMO with a heavy emphasis on building and designing spaceships and stations. Players explore, gather resources, and fight against one another in a massive open world voxel built galaxy.
Featuring a fully destructible environment and promising ultimate freedom to explore, build, and take over areas as you see fit, STARBASE is one of the most exciting new MMOs in development right now. For tinkerers it promises increasingly complex ship design with everything from minor dents to pipe leaks being actual concerns. For explorers the wide expanse of an unexplored galaxy is incredibly alluring. And for action fans the early videos of the shooting mechanics look more than pleasing thanks to destructible environments and zero-G combat.
The game also promises online interactions with thousands of players, though no report yet on how this will actually take place. But based off the trailers we can expect the scope to be nothing less than gargantuan.
STARBASE is one of my most anticipated titles of the year, so keep an eye out for further coverage later in the year.
An early access was initially scheduled for late 2019, but was later moved to 2020. No official date is listed yet.
BALDUR’S GATE 3
One of the best and most acclaimed RPG series returns after nearly two decades of hibernation. Based on the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition rule set, BALDUR’S GATE 3 returns to the iconic city years after the previous stories to find the world at the brink of destruction.
The mind flayers are invading the shores of the Forgotten Realms, and all of humanity is threatened. The players form a party (including an online cooperative mode!), and set out on an epic quest to stop them once and for all. Developer Larian is promising a massive adventure spanning multiple known regions of the classic RPG saga, including travel between worlds yet unseen.
The game features five classes of which to choose from, each recognizable from their D’n’D counterparts. Players can pick from a fighter, wizard, rogue, ranger, cleric or warlock, each with their own skills and weaknesses.
An isometric game like the previous titles in the series, BALDUR’S GATE promises a lore and story rich adventure filled with player choices and branching paths. As in their previous title, ORIGINAL SIN 2, players can explore the world together by separating the party at any time, each going off to do their own thing. ORIGINAL SIN provided ample opportunities for both hi-jinks and unexpectedly epic narratives thanks to this, so it’s hugely exciting to see how Larian has expanded this aspect of gameplay.
No official date for release yet, but Larian is promising an early access for late 2020.