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The most exciting PC games of 2016

2016 is only a few weeks old, and we’ve already got a slew of games to look forward to. We’re recapping our most anticipated titles for each platform, and today we have the rundown for PC.

PCs have the most flexibility of any platform out there, so PC gamers will see more cross-platform play, more diverse genres, and the often times the best-looking games around. Every year’s a good year to be a PC gamer, and we’re looking very forward to thsi one.

We’ll be updating this article with links to the other platforms as they’re published. There will be overlap, and that means you’ll see the same game a few times if you read each story. You’ll also see console exclusives here. Here’s what we have so far.

Without further ado, away we go!

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Below – PC, XBO

This is Below‘s year! It has to be! Because if we wait any longer, people are going to forget about it. The team behind games like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP announced this game before the Xbox One was even out, at Microsoft’s 2013 E3 show. It’s been a long time coming for what looks from the outside like a simple game.

With Capybara’s unique art style and Jim Guthrie’s music, Below will be memorable when it finally does come out, and we’re hoping the procedural elements will live up to the promise the trailers so far have shown.

Cuphead – PC, XBO

Cuphead is the sidescroller made to look like cartoons from the 1930s. It features, so we’ve seen, unique boss fights and gameplay that might be compared to the likes of, say, Gunstar Heroes.

The art, the music, the unique inspiration… Studio MDHR, a very small team of designers, have a really charming looking game on their hands. Here’s hoping it lives up to the promise.

Dark Souls III – PC, PS4, XBO

Are we really doing this every year now? From Software! Come on! Give us a break, please! We’re a wisp of wind away from one of modern gaming’s most beloved franchises becoming the next Call of Assassin’s Battlefield annualized product.

What more is there to really see from Dark Souls? What does From Software have yet to show us that it hasn’t over the last decade already? I’m excited to play Dark Souls III, but it’s more out of routine this time than it is for the excitement of getting my teeth kicked in once again.

From Software has peeped that it wants this to be the last game in the series, and I agree it should be. If this pans out to be true, another way to look at this title is us getting the ultimate and final vision of this revolutionary formula. In that regard, can anything stop Dark Souls III this year?

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – PC, PS4, XBO

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a glorious return to form for Adam Jensen and his augmentations. The title was nearly perfect, were it not for the obnoxious and out of place boss fights.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided looks to improve upon the already great refresh, and Eidos Montreal is definitely a studio capable of absolutely knocking it out of the park. The new generation upgrades and fixed mechanics could make this game utterly glorious.

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Dishonored 2 – PC, PS4, XBO

Dishonored was a great surprise. A new character set in a unique world – a sort of Victorian world powered by whale oil – with gorgeous art and great first-person gameplay that gave players freedom to play how they wanted and see the consequences unfold.

The sequel, Dishonored 2 was a surprise at last year’s E3, but a welcome one. This time around we can play not only as Corvo, but as the girl he was protecting in the last game, Emily Caldwell, deposed empress. She has her own set of powers and agenda. If Bethesda and developer Arkane can differentiate her enough from her mentor, it could add yet another dimension to the many choices the game is sure to present us with.

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Far Cry Primal – PC, PS4, XBO

Far Cry has been a solid, fun series since its inception, with the first, second, and third games each different from each other while adhering to the same basic idea of being alone in the wilderness with a gun. While Far Cry 4 was a fine game, though, it felt tired. Does the series have much life left in it? The most interesting parts were the Shangri-La sections that had you working with spirit animals to go after ghostly enemies.

Far Cry Primal addresses exactly that. Instead of just making a game that takes place in Shangri-La, Ubisoft is taking things back to the Stone Age. You’ve lost your tribe and have to rebuild, crafting better weapons and taking control of more and more dangerous predators as allies. If the series does have any life left, this should be the kick in the pants it needs.

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Firewatch – PC, PS4 – February 9, 2016

Firewatch I want to play just for the visuals. Sure there’s the story – you’re a fire lookout named Henry working in a national park, digging up clues to something as you go through your routine patrol. But the visuals alone are absolutely arresting, as is the score itself.

If the writing and voice acting can keep up with the visuals and music, we’ll have a truly memorable game on our hands. Call it a walking simulator if you want, but I can’t wait.

Halo Wars 2 – PC, XBO – TBA 2016

We don’t know much about Halo Wars 2. The images we have come from the reveal trailer for the game, so they’re not much help. We know that it’s going to be a real-time strategy affair for both the PC and Xbox One.

Now, we’re pumped for it because of its predecessor. Halo Wars was a wonderful game, and it’s easily among the top echelon of console-based RTS titles. Ensemble did an amazing job. Ensemble Studios is no more, unfortunately, and that means this one is being helmed by Creative Assembly and 343. Creative Assemble does have history in the RTS genre, so we’re hoping Halo Wars 2 channels their talents and the quality of the original.

Hyper Light Drifter – PC, XBO, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U

Hyper Light Drifter has been our most highly anticipated Kickstarter game since the website’s break-out year. Every year, we list it here, and every year we’re disappointed by the delays. I guess that’s just the nature of the Kickstarter beast, but 2016 could very well put an end to our suffering and waiting.

Mafia III – PC, PS4, XBO

I love open-world games, but too often they pick the same time periods and locations. I’ve been to more versions of New York across various time periods, more medieval castles, more World War II bunkers than I’d ever want. Mixing those elements up can go a long way toward making things fresh again.

And here comes Mafia III, developed by Hangar 13. The game is set in 1968 and takes place in New Orleans, two settings we rarely – very rarely – see in games. The game stars a Vietnam War vet named Lincoln Clay, as he builds up a crime family for the sake of revenge against the Italian mafia. War, crime, and racial tension should make for an interesting mix we don’t often see in games.

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Mass Effect Andromeda – PC, PS4, XBO

After Mass Effect 3 wrapped itself up, I was “anti”-new entry in this series for a while, feeling like it should just be a nice, self-contained story. Only now that I have become somewhat disillusioned by the repetitive beast that huge Western games have become do I see the appeal of jumping back into BioWare’s sci-fi universe.

Something is amiss when a half-year old franchise can be looked back on as “the good old days,” but Mass Effect just has it where it counts.

Deep characters, excellent storytelling, brilliant settings and music. I have faith that Mass Effect Andromeda will deliver that sense of science fiction adventure all over again, and show us the way. EA backing BioWare with the Frostbite Engine 3 is also a match made in heaven for this series.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – PC, PS4, XBO

DICE is best known for big, wide open battles with tens of players duking it out on a large scale, vehicles, bullets and explosives all whizzing back and forth. The original Mirror’s Edge was a huge surprise. This intimate little game about acrobatic running and hand-to-hand combat was unique and interesting. It didn’t quite pull the audience Electronic Arts had hoped, and it did have its share of problems, but the idea stuck around and so did fans. Now we have Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

The game is a prequel instead of a sequel, but it builds on the ideas of the original, putting protagonist Faith into an open-world scenario. Instead of items being arbitrarily painted, her Runner Vision lights up acrobatic opportunities. It’s great to see this neat idea get a second chance, and we hope it gets the game it deserves and the attention, too.

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No Man’s Sky – PS4, PC – June 2016

Is there a single more hyped game coming this year? I’m not sure. Hello Games is a tiny studio with a track record that features the likes of Joe Danger, a 2.5D bike racing, physics series. With No Man’s Sky, Hello Games is creating an almost infinite, unique, continuous universe complete with space travel, combat, planetary exploration, discovery and a path to the center of the universe.

This game, if it’s done well, could tower over everything in 2016. It could also flounder. Time will tell.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 – PC, PS4, XBO – February 23, 2016

The original Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare was slowly teased with puns like “Grass Effect” before its E3 reveal a few years back. At first, I thought it was a joke. Then I played it. Folks, I adored that shooter. Yes, it’s cartoony as all get out, but it’s also very well made.

Garden Warfare 2 is coming in February, and it brings new characters, modes and maps along with it. It also features a hub world with a completely new take on conquering the neighborhood. The game looks wonderful, and I can’t wait to sink way to many hours into this potted nonsense.

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ReCore – PC, XBO

ReCore is still shrouded in a lot of mystery, but that reveal trailer sure did have us glued to our monitors. This stood out the most at E3 2015 by capturing the “magic” of video games with its character and robot designs, not the cynicism and calculated gloom of the dark shooters. If it wasn’t on its way to PCs, I would have gladly dropped money on the console for this alone.

Still, there are a few red flags here. Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune still needs to get Mighty No. 9 out the door, not to mention his outlandish RED ASH project as well. Armature Studio too has been primarily porting games up until this point, and the original game I remember it best for is the Mega Man X Maverick Hunter reboot which never got out the door.

The pieces are in place for ReCore to become a dream come true, but with two studios that have yet to truly establish themselves, it could just as easily go south. Best of luck to all those involved.

Street Fighter V – PC, PS4 – February 16, 2016

Street Fighter V is interesting, if nothing else, for all the changes it is bringing to the series. Characters are seeing heavy overhauls to their looks and fighting styles for the first time in many years. The game is console exclusive, but cross-platform. There’s no plan to release Super Ultra Mega Turbo editions of the game. It’s different in so many ways that you’d almost think it isn’t Street Fighter.

But then you get a look at those awesome characters and their super moves and you know it’s still the same old fighter in the best kind of way. We expect the same kind of tightly balanced, fast moving action we’re used to from the series, and all the beta testing Capcom has done suggests that that’s exactly what we’ll get.

Tom Clancy’s The Division – PC, PS4, XBO

The Division is another one of those games that’s been a long time coming. The game was announced at E3 2013 and has been delayed quite a few times since then. Now the release date is near and we’ve had the game in our hands. The combination of MMO-style game and shooter is appealing, and the game’s trademark Dark Zone should result in lots of cool stories.

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The Witness – PC, PS4 – January 26, 2016

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good puzzle game. Jonathan Blow’s BraidThe Witness. Now we’re finally coming up on its release date and the game promises colorful, beautiful environments and more puzzles than just about anyone will be able to complete.

XCOM 2 – PC – February 5, 2016

The XCOM series is almost as old as PC gaming itself. Like many other licenses, it was revived a few years back. Unlike many others, it actually made for a great game in XCOM: Enemy Unknown and the expansion XCOM: Enemy Within.

The game starts from an interesting take on the war – we lost, and the aliens took control of our civilization – and goes from there. The game is only scheduled for PC right now, but the original played excellently on tablets and worked fine on consoles as well, so we’re hoping the game will still make the jump to those systems later this year. For now, we have an excellent strategy game just weeks away.

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Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...

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