January has come and gone, and we’re nearing the end of February…it’s about time I put out my “Most Anticipated” list for the year.
As I’m not a big fan of the current political air, I plan on spending a great deal of time absorbed in media. Between book revisions and writing, the beginning of my agent search (can you hear my screaming?), and refreshingly robust lineup of games scheduled for release, 2017 is already gearing up to be a pretty busy year.
There’s an immediate trend in my most anticipated list. Late 2016, I started rebuilding my former adolescent love of Japanese popular culture. We’re talking manga, anime, lit, television, art, design, and film. In high school, I had the opportunity to partake in an intensive independent study for Japanese, which went hand-in-hand with cultural courses and lessons. While my knowledge of the language has depleted significantly since then, as I pursued other languages in college (but do intend to pick it back up), my love and interest in Japanese culture and popular culture has seldom dwindled. When I’m not sleeping under a pile of reference books, or glued to my laptop working on revisions for BoI, I’ve spent a fair amount of my free time catching up on various anime series that I’d missed out on over the past few years — which I wrote about for GeekGirlCon late last month.
Thus, a lot of my most anticipated games of 2017 are coming out of Japan. Some are more classical styled JRPGs, others were simply birthed from Japan-based studios. I love how intricate the visuals styles can be, and how dramatically unique the stories and narratives are. This year I’m less interested in shooters, and more interested in “colorful” exploration…they also mostly feature leading ladies.
So without further delay, here are the games that I’m looking forward to most in 2017!
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild
After they dropped the latest trailer, how could you not? Also, how could I not? You may recall my writeup on the Zelda series from last summer, where I explain why exactly LoZ is so important to me not only as a gamer, but as a writer (and a red blooded, emotional mortal). The series has always played a major role in my creative life, and when Nintendo dropped the latest theatrical trailer during their Switch presentation, I broke down into ugly, fangirl tears.
Fire Emblem Echoes
Like my love of Zelda, my admiration for the Fire Emblem franchise runs thick and true. Since Fire Emblem: Gaiden never made it to North America, I’m thrilled we’re getting a remake of a classic from the series — one that I haven’t played myself, eek! I’m a big fan of the modern formula that Awakening and Fates utilized (I mean, Cute Anime Husband Simulator), and Awakening and Fates are responsible for revitalizing the series, but it’ll be refreshing to jump back into the grit of the games. I hope they focus more solely on the story and actual strategy, versus over (or any) emphasis on customization and matchmaking.
I’m a big Square Enix fan, and while I haven’t played the original title of the franchise, the demo for Automata was something else. I’m obsessed with the side-scroller to third person camera swaps, and I’m really excited to see how those mid-mission swaps will be utilized later in the game with increased complexity. Additionally, from a writer’s perspective, I’m drawn to the stark differences between the physical world filled with these enormous, rusting mecha compared our clean, youthful protagonists (metaphor, much?)
Horizon Zero Dawn
I will remain skeptical with a ten-foot pole until launch. I want to be really excited for this game, and I’ve expressed that excitement since last E3, but until I get a little more information on the story I’ll be holding my ground (I was victim to the pre-No Man’s Sky hype, after all). The gameplay looks unbelievably stunning, but we haven’t seen much visual diversity in the environment. We’ve also seen very little of the story, which is something that I’m generally fine with before a game’s launch, but what we have seen seems a little cliche. Nonetheless, it’s still on the list. How could I turn down a kick-ass female protagonist with a beautifully animated head of hair?
Gravity Rush 2
My SO and I picked up the first installment when it was remastered for the PS4, and my goodness, Gravity Rush is totally under appreciated! The whimsical music and environments coupled with the girlish cast of characters makes for a very Ghibli-esque atmosphere — not to mention the play on verbal language (a gibberish mixture of what sounds like Japanese and French). I’m glad it’s received mainstream attention since being released late January, although I haven’t been able to sit down and play it myself.
I mean, come on. This has to be the most unique one out there. The character trailers have been feeding us such a complex image of the game, it’s hard not to be excited. I’m a big fan of the 2D animated cutscenes and art direction — the anime-noir stylization just looks cool. Persona 5 seems much more focused than prior games in the series, and I’m all in favor.
Atelier Firis: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Journey
I’m excited for this one for a much more personal reason: my mother. I am admittedly not a fan of the series (simply based on the fact that I’ve only played one of the games), but have recently become invested in Atelier: Sophie — which I’ll explain more thoroughly in a future post. Sophie was a refreshingly casual experience, and I’m excited to play something a little more lighthearted (with the added “open world” of Firis).
Red Dead Redemption 2
I know, Red Dead is probably #1 on most lists, but I’m actually *not* all that hyped. I played the first game and truly enjoyed it, but gritty and masculine are two words that just don’t entice me right now. That being said, yes, I will probably play the game…and yes, I will probably like it (because as much as Rockstar likes to tango with my moral compass, they do make good games). I’m mostly interested in seeing how they divide themselves from the success of GTA V, which has taken most of Rockstar’s attention for the past few years.
If I’m going to make any early predictions for the 2017 gaming awards season it will be this: Nioh entered the field as an underdog and took us all by surprise. A few editorials started posting content about the game a couple weeks before launch (which was a few days ago), otherwise, it was modestly marketed. Since then, raving reviews have been flooding in — and with my interest in Japanese folklore, how could I refuse? I need to prepare myself for a punishing experience, as this is gearing up to be the most active game on my list, but I’m excited to play something different. Team Ninja’s really distinguished themselves with Nioh, and is bound to hit a few “Best Of” lists.
These are but a few of the games launching this year that I’m eager to try out (others include Detroit: Become Human, the FF: XII remaster, and fingers crossed, maybe just maybe Cyberpunk 2077). 2017 is going to be one heck of a year for the gaming world, which is much needed after a couple of mediocre ones.
One big goal of mine is to keep a steady flow of content returning to the blog this year. In the coming days, expect a more “formal” post outlining an official schedule, and some fun new content (included an update about BoI). I’ve been on HIATUS far too long!