Big Game Season 2017: How will this year’s AAA releases perform?

Here we are again, staring down the barrel of another fully loaded fall season of AAA games. Which will dominate the charts, and which will fall by the wayside? Well, just like last year, we’ve set out our predictions for the biggest upcoming releases. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.

 

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Destiny 2

October 27 (PC)

The review scores are now starting to come in for the console release of Bungie’s co-op shooter, and it looks like Destiny 2 has kicked the season off with a serious bang. The sequel sensibly offers a much more comprehensive package than OG Destiny did at launch, the environments, especially, giving a much greater sense of variety. With tweaks to the classes and the loadout system, as well as an overhauled Crucible, there’s a little to get used to, but those super-refined Destiny mechanics are as tight than ever, to the delight of fans everywhere.                                          

Now the PC version is incoming, and it's bringing with it some insane 4K enabled graphics options (if you’ve got a capable enough rig of course). This migration onto home computers will no doubt bring an even greater audience to what has become the co-op shooter series to beat.

Prediction:

Reviews for console versions of the game have been universally positive, and I can’t see the PC version deviating too much from that. Destiny went from shaky to sensational over the course of its life, and I think the influx of new players, coupled with the better range of content from the outset could make Destiny 2 the shooter of the year.

Predicted average review score:

9.0

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Assassin’s Creed: Origins

October 27

Billed as a new start for the series, Origins is the result of an enforced hiatus to reinvigorate and refocus the Assassin’s Creed games. If anyone was expecting a back-to-basics approach to arise from this break though, well, that definitely hasn’t happened. The opposite, in fact. Origin’s Ancient Egyptian jaunt looks more feature-stuffed than the series has ever been before, seemingly borrowing a little from basically every recent Ubisoft open world game to create a complex-looking beast.

Prediction:

Apparently the term ‘feature bloat’ doesn’t exist in Ubisoft’s vocabulary. The ‘more is more’ approach taken with Origins is great if you’re fan of deep character progression, intricate combat, and tons of collectables, but I don’t think these extras are what make a great Assassin’s Creed game, and as a result, I don’t think this will reach the heights of the best in the series. A tepid critical response won’t hurt sales too much, though: fans of the series who have been starved of a mainline game since 2015’s Syndicate will buy it in their droves.

Predicted average review score:

8.0

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Call of Duty: WWII

November 3

In a move that in hindsight seemed inevitable, Activision and Sledgehammer are this year, following in Battlefield 1’s footsteps and bringing back grounded, low-tech combat to the Call Of Duty franchise. A move back to the 20th century has been a while in the offing, despite many labeling it as a reaction to the borderline hostile reception Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare received from some corners last year. COD is on a three-year development cycle, guys. Please try to understand.

However it came about, we’re going to be jumping back into the Second World War and giving an updated graphical sheen to some of that conflict’s memorable moments. Expect an emotional, Band Of Brothers-type vibe for the single player, and a more conventional approach to multiplayer—not a jump pack or cybernetically enhanced muscle in sight.

Prediction:

Sledgehammer have shown they’ve got the chops to make COD games that rank among the best, and I think they’ll increase that reputation further with WWII. The story will nail the familiar cinematic tone these campaigns usually aim for, and may catch a few people by surprise with its quality. The multiplayer will fit those who loved Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Remastered like a glove.

Predicted average review score:

9.0

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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

October 27

Machine Games’ first foray into the venerable Wolfenstein franchise took many by surprise when it was originally released back in 2014. It blended an old-school sensibility with modern graphics and storytelling, creating a ballsy, bombastic game with tremendously satisfying gunplay.

The new game looks to be doubling down on everything that made the first great with an even wilder, more off-kilter style and the same focus on catching the player off-guard with unexpected and varied environments and scenarios.

Prediction:

Machine Games has found their groove now, and it’s difficult to see them messing this up. And, despite releasing on the same day as both Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Super Mario Odyssey, I think The New Colossus will find its audience. Because shooting Nazis never goes out of fashion.

Predicted average review score:

8.5

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Super Mario Odyssey

October 27

Mario games are such a rare occurrence that when one comes along, it still feels really rather special. Whether you’re a Nintendo mega-fan or a dispassionate observer, the fact that Mario games tend to be very well received by both critics and gamers alike makes them tough to ignore.

There’s an undeniable confidence to the way Nintendo has taken elements from multiple previous 3D Mario games and blended them with some of the series’ 2D sensibilities, then given the whole thing a more open feel than ever before. And hats. It’s got magic hats.

Prediction:

You’d have to be a fool to think this will be anything other than a critical triumph and a spectacular success. It’ll be a huge seller, what with all those game-starved Switch owners aching for a new game to play on their hot new system — and that’s not to mention those who’ll be receiving the console as a gift this holiday. There’ll be the talk of a new golden age for Nintendo before the year is out.

Predicted average review score:

9.5

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Forza Motorsport 7

October 3

The sensible older brother of the Forza family has an unmatched pedigree, especially on consoles. This new game brings its usual brand of hyper-realistic car sim and somehow manages to push the always-impeccable visuals even further, adding a painfully realistic 4K option for those with the tech to run it.

Prediction:

Weirdly, Forza Motorsport’s biggest enemy has become its own upstart sibling, Horizon—some believe this side-series has now even surpassed Motorsport, and even a year on from last years Horizon 3, the wealth of add-ons means it’ll still be enjoying a place on many people’s hard-drives. Still, the hardcore driving audience will buy Motorsport 7, along with those who just want to put their new powerhouse PC through its paces. Not to mention new Xbox One X owners who need to justify their purchase with some eye-searingly crisp visuals.

Predicted average review score:

9.0

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Star Wars Battlefront II

November 17

The Battlefront reboot was a fun Star Wars knock around but was severely limited in its initial content, so much so that many decried its full price AAA status. The intervening couple of years have been kind, and the game now has more maps and features, but it stills feels like a prototype of sorts.

Cue Battlefront II, which bulks out the original’s map count, adds an entirely new and original single player campaign and makes some important changes to the mechanics, too. One of the most frustrating things about the original was the scramble to grab one of the limited offerings of special characters. Now, these are earned through positive gameplay, so in theory, everyone has equal chance to play as the most iconic characters in the Star Wars universe. And of course, there are those gorgeous and frantic-looking space dog fights now, too.

Prediction:

Battlefront II looks to be finally making good on the promise of the original. And with Star Wars’ huge fan base, and a brand new film due at the end of the year, there’s zero chance this won’t be a success.

Predicted average review score:

8.5

And the rest…

 

South Park: The Fractured But Whole

October 17

This new South Park RPG looks just as hilarious, if not more so than the Stick of Truth. The improved combat system will still be the game’s weak link, though, and will just edge it out from being a true classic.

Predicted average review score:

8.0

 

Need For Speed Payback

November 10

The NFS series needs a big win of the Underground variety to stay relevant. Sadly this Fast and Furious-flavored entry won’t do enough to bring back the glory days. Mechanically reliable enough, but driving fans simply have too many better options these days.

Predicted average review score:

8.0

 

Total War: Warhammer 2

September 28

It’s hard to imagine the talented team at Creative Assembly dropping the ball on the sequel to their most successful Total War title to date. Expect myriad tweaks and improvements, with the fantastic core gameplay remaining the real draw.

Predicted average review score:

9.0

 

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

October 10

Solid mechanics and an expanded Nemesis system aside, SoW will fall down with a less compelling campaign than the first game, and will be guilty of an empty, featureless open world. Still tremendous fun, though.

Predicted average review score:

8.0

 

What game are you looking forward to most this holiday season? Did we get our predictions wrong? Let us know in the comments!

Andy is a freelance writer for Game With Your Brain. You can follow him on Twitter.