The 8th generation of video game consoles is well underway, and with the new year approaching gamers worldwide are clamoring in anticipation of what developers will dish out next. Game developers traditionally gain serious traction three years into a console's generation as they become comfortable with the technology, begin finding new ways to explore storytelling and perfect immersive game-play models. 2016 also benefits from the culmination of several highly anticipated projects, labors of love from master game developers that have been years in the making.
The Last Guardian (PS4)
Fumito Ueda, the creative genius behind the heavily lauded cinematic puzzle games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, has not been in hiding for the past eight years. He's been laboring away on the thematic sequel to his Playstation epics. The Last Guardian drops on the PS4 in 2016 and promises to keep you visually and mentally engaged, as you think your way through deliciously modeled environments with the aid of a fantastical beast that only its master could love. This game was too big for the PS3, so in 2012 development shifted to producing it on the PS4.
Doom (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
What better way to test to graphics and frame rate prowess of a new generation of consoles than with the development of a new Doom game? The fourth installment of id Software's flagship series gets the reboot treatment and is allowed to rock the unnumbered moniker. Trailer and screenshot footage so far highlights gorgeously lit and designed levels, outrageous monsters, big guns and lots of gore.
Mass Effect: Andromeda (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Bioware's Mass Effect trilogy is the video game equivalent to the original Star Wars trilogy, minus the excessive merchandising. A choose your own path, deep space opera told in the vein of the world's best sci-fi literature and designed with stunning vision. In 2016, Bioware will introduce you to a new galaxy amidst the tribulations of a new, multi-species cast of characters brought to you in 8th generation realism.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
Naughty Dog's Uncharted series was the darling of the PS3 because of its undeniable fun factor. Intuitive game-play met lavishly constructed environments to set the backdrop for the story of Nathan Drake, an Indiana Jones style archaeological treasure hunter with a penchant for getting into sticky, and invariably entertaining situations. This latest entry into the series will conclude the story of Nathan Drake and wrap up what is already considered to be a classic series.
Gears of War 4 (Xbox One)
The Gears of War games are essential Xbox must-plays, but the last two entries in the series came with scalding criticism. As if by necessity, the fourth Gears of War game comes to us from a new developer. The Coalition takes the reigns to this fan favorite from Epic Games and are putting all of their effort into living up to the hype surrounding the project. This will be be the first 8th generation Gears of War title.
The Legend of Zelda Wii U (Wii U)
The level of mythology that comprises the Legend of Zelda series is perfect for open world game-play, a feature we are only just getting to experience in the franchise with next year's volume. The land of Hyrule and its legendary bestiary will inhabit a seamless environment where areas and dungeons are accessible in a number of ways. A rigidly structured path of progress has been a game-play criticism of the Zelda series for some time, but Nintendo will answer that concern in 2016.
Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4)
Guerilla Games, the masterminds behind Killzone, are cooking up some mighty interesting lore and tempting game-play by putting you in control of Aloy, a monster hunting heroine tasked with destroying a race of evil robotic creatures. Action/RPG game-play meets a lush open world and dazzling adventure sequences in Guerilla Games' first venture into the genre.
Battleborn (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Developer Gearbox hit a home-run with the Borderlands series by emphasizing style and depth of game-play. Gearbox boldly and deftly threw realism out the window and gained a legion of followers for it. In 2016 look for Gearbox to repeat that success when they unleash Battleborn on the gamerverse. The extremely fluid and colorful multiplayer battle scenarios the developer has teased in preview videos look like the epitome of beauty in chaos, and the visually eccentric cast of characters look equally as entertaining.
Yooka-Laylee (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, Mac)
Kickstarter funded, and developed by Playtonic Games, the rag-tag geniuses responsible for Rare's golden age of Nintendo 64 hits, Yooka-Laylee promises to be a knock your socks off platformer in the vein of classics like Banjo-Tooie and Donkey Kong 64. The mascot-happy, cartoon action that these developers perfected several generations ago returns in 2016 to show that fun-factor is what gaming is about.
Final Fantasy XV (PS4, Xbox One)
Last but not least, and certainly not final, the latest addition in the RPG staple that is the Final Fantasy series will be the largest and most visually breathtaking epic that veteran RPG machine Square Enix has put out to date. Recent entries into the franchise have been met with harsh criticism and Square Enix is looking to drop the stigma that Final Fantasy X was the last great story they had left. The new title looks to bring a more realistic sense of scale and vastness to the all-new fantasy world while keeping the game steeped in Final Fantasy mythology.
It takes several years into a video game generation for developers to make the most out of a console's graphics and processing capabilities. Next year we are lucky that this plateau in game development coincides with some of the most ambitious stories the industry has ever known. 2016 will be there year of the video game masterpiece. The craft of game development has never been so revered and the desire for personally fulfilling stories is ever-present. If you have any thoughts, please comment in the section below and keep reading Game With Your Brain for more information as we get closer to these releases.