THE WASHINGTON POST – 2019 was a strong year for games. Remedy’s Control let us explore a cerebral, David Lynch-inspired world, Respawn wowed us with the surprise release of battle royale title Apex Legends, and Hideo Kojima’s mind-bending, package-delivering thriller Death Stranding received love from fans and critics alike.
Now that 2019 has come to an end, what can we look forward to in 2020?
The new year leaves us on the precipice of a new console generation. Titles like Hellblade: Senua’s Saga, Halo: Infinite and Godfall are announced for next gen platforms, while others haven’t revealed PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X versions (ie Cyberpunk 2077) and will release for the current generation. Despite this transitional period, we still have plenty to be excited about.
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Google Stadia
Release date: September 17
Cyberpunk, a science fiction sub-genre about dystopian futures and humans with robotic limbs, has a storied history in video games, with games like Deus Ex and Shadowrun.
The cyberpunk trend has slowed somewhat in recent years, but Cyberpunk 2077 hopes to bring it back to the forefront.
Cyberpunk 2077, the next RPG from the makers of The Witcher series, was first announced back in 2012. Now, eight years later, it’s finally ready for release.
Set in the futuristic metropolis of Night City, the world is geographically smaller than The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but it’s expected to be denser with more verticality. It’s one of the first massive open worlds to exclude loading screens completely, leaving you with uninterrupted immersion. Keanu Reeves is making an appearance in the game, too, and it’s more than just a brief cameo. Reeves will play Johnny Silverhand, an iconic character from the original Cyberpunk 2020 tabletop game on which the video game is based. We expect his role to be nothing short of breathtaking.
GHOST OF TSUSHIMA
Release date: TBA 2020
This samurai action adventure is a big tonal shift for Sucker Punch, a studio best known for the superhero series Infamous. Taking place in an open-world set in a feudal Japan, Ghost of Tsushima puts a katana in your hands, but it won’t be all about mowing down foes. Stealth will play a part, too, and you will wield a grappling hook to scale walls like Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4. The Game Awards gave us a first proper peek at the game, and it looks gorgeous, but much of the details remain a mystery. The PlayStation exclusive arrives this summer for PS4, with no word yet on whether it will come to next-gen as well.
THE LAST OF US 2
Release date: May 29
Some, including myself, were hesitant about a sequel to The Last of Us. The first entry from 2013 had a fitting end; possibly one of the best endings in a video game to date. But after witnessing several The Last of Us 2 trailers that have trickled into event showcases over the past couple years, developer Naughty Dog is convincing me otherwise. Maybe there’s more for us within the game’s painful yet beautiful world.
The Last of Us 2 is a tale of revenge. Instead of playing as Joel, the protagonist from the original, you now play as a teenage Ellie who has been through hell and back. She’s no longer pulling out her joke book to tell some pun-filled one liners, or awed by the remnants of beauty that remain in a ravaged United States. She’s mad. In fact, she’s furious. She’s lost too many loved ones to a traumatic zombie apocalypse and she’s seen too many horrors. She isn’t letting it go.
Exactly where The Last of Us 2 takes us and who is along for the journey (Joel shows up briefly in a trailer from E3 2018, but it’s unclear if he’s a mainstay companion), remains to be seen. But we expect it will be one heck of a ride when it releases this May.
Platform: Xbox Series X, PC
Release date: TBA 2020
Halo has long been the face of Xbox, so it wasn’t a surprise to find out it’s newest entry is one of the launch titles for Xbox Series X. Halo: Infinite is the sixth main entry in the iconic first-person shooter franchise, and once again puts you inside the helmet of Master Chief. 343 Industries has built a new engine for Halo: Infinite, which will likely show off Series X’s potential. Despite the popularisation of battle royale over the last couple years, with other long-running shooter franchises creating their own iterations like Call of Duty Black Ops 4’s Blackout, 343 Industries has stated that it will not be creating such a mode for the new Halo.
WATCH DOGS: LEGION
Platform: PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: TBA
What if you could play as any character you see in a bustling virtual world? That’s what Ubisoft is promising with Watch Dogs: Legion. Taking place in a post-Brexit London, you once again play as a hacker activist. But now, you can play as any NPC (even a grandma vigilante) when you recruit them to your cause.
The Watch Dogs series dates back to 2014, and it’s had some bumps in the road. The first Watch Dogs was met with mixed reception due to its bleak world and weak protagonist. Watch Dogs 2 improved somewhat, by introducing a vibrant and beautiful San Francisco, expanding on hacker tools and non-lethal options, and featuring a tongue-and-cheek narrative that was both playful and juvenile. We hope Watch Dogs: Legion improves further on those points, and considering its setting, we’re crossing our fingers that Ubisoft will finally take a political plunge with the story.
Watch Dogs: Legion was delayed a couple times. Most recently, it was expected to come out in March, but this date has since shifted to “increase development time”. Ubisoft hasn’t publicly stated a new launch day, but we expect it will still be out in 2020. It’s also coming to next-gen consoles. We’re excited to see how it all comes together, and most of all, we can’t wait to incapacitate some baddies under the guise of an average city dweller.
Platform: PS5, PC
Release date: TBA 2020
Godfall is the first title to be revealed for the PlayStation 5, as announced at The Game Awards. It’s published by Gearbox, the makers of Borderlands, and developed by Counterplay Games. Godfall is best described as a “looter slasher” – it combines Diablo-like looter gameplay, RPG mechanics and melee combat. Set in a fantasy world split into realms of Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Spirit, it looks action packed to the fullest.
Based on the trailer shown at The Game Awards, it looks like if someone swapped out guns for swords in Destiny.
Counterplay CEO and Godfall Creative Director Keith Lee wrote in a press release that the team is “innovating with Godfall to provide a fresh take on action RPGs by rewarding skill-based offensive gameplay and making every hit matter.”
Godfall will also release on PC. It does not yet have a release date, but it’s confirmed to launch alongside the PS5 this year.
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE
Release date: April 10
It’s been a long time coming. The Final Fantasy VII Remake began to feel more like a dream than reality when it was a no-show at events like E3 for several years. However, it’s now come back from the dead. With a release date in tow and gameplay trailers showing it in action, like the recent sneak peek from The Game Awards, we have a better idea of what to expect from this highly anticipated, re-imagined classic.
Final Fantasy VII Remake ditches the iconic turn-based format of the 1997 original for a flashier, action-driven alternative similar to Final Fantasy XV.
If you’re hard-pressed to play turn-based combat, though, you can hop into the settings and switch to classic mode. With slick visuals and a modern twist, Final Fantasy VII never looked better.
SENUA’S SAGA: HELLBLADE 2
Platform: Xbox Series X, PC
Release date: TBA
The first Hellblade, which came out in 2017, was a harrowing tale about a woman named Senua suffering from psychosis and venturing into the depths of hell to save her lover. But Senua’s story isn’t over: Ninja Theory announced during the 2019 Game Awards that a sequel is in the works. Little was shown outside of a short trailer, where a camera panned over rural landscapes and showed Senua covered in ritualistic markings as she screamed. The first Hellblade was a deeply and painfully emotional game; one that sticks with you for a long time. We hope that Ninja Theory continues its effective portrayal of mental health in this new chapter.
Hellblade 2 is one of the few titles confirmed for the Xbox Series X. Hellblade 2′s release date is unknown, but as a next-gen console it will arrive on or after Xbox Series X’s holiday launch.
ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: March 20
Animal Crossing fans have been clamouring for another mainline installment since New Leaf, which released in 2012 on the Nintendo 3DS. Animal Crossing: New Horizons brings the popular simulator franchise to Nintendo Switch and it comes with a bevy of changes. New Horizons moves out from the usual urban setting of Animal Crossing to a deserted island. With crafting, more customisation options and changing seasons that can be matched to reflect your real-life region, it already looks like it’s going to be a great experience. Expect new and returning villagers, too. Familiar characters, like Tom Nook and Isabelle, will help this tropical island feel like home.