The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (Screenshot: Nintendo)

In 2016, a deep well of excellent, surprising releases made gaming a bright spot in an otherwise miserable year. With its breadth of ambitious originals, daring sequels, a new console from Nintendo, and the possible release of two of the most anticipated games of all time, 2017 has us even more jazzed. Here, we’ve assembled a list of games that have us hoping this’ll be 2007 all over again, an all-time great year that refines and redefines the gaming landscape. We’ve stuck to titles that have been officially associated with 2017, so those that could see release but haven’t been explicitly announced for this year—looking at you, God Of War—have been left behind. And as is always the case, there’s a good chance some of these titles might not actually make it out before the year is up. For more of what The A.V. Club is looking forward to in 2017, you can check out our lists of most anticipated films, music, TV, and books.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (January 24—PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Managing to swing a surprise reveal of the game at last year’s E3 wasn’t even the biggest surprise about the latest iteration of Resident Evil. For the first time in the series’ history (excluding Survivor, as you rightly should), the game is going first-person, a move that could significantly up the potential scare factor when playing. Along with the lack of quick time events and Capcom’s assurance it won’t be a “gun fest,” this has the potential to restore a sense of genuine eeriness and unease to the Resident Evil world. With a little luck, this could be one of the better treats of the year, a survival-horror adventure with the emphasis squarely on horror. [Alex McCown-Levy]

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Horizon: Zero Dawn (February 28—PlayStation 4)

The Netherlands’ Guerrilla Games has been cranking out nothing but the technically impressive yet workmanlike Killzone games since 2004. The studio’s second PlayStation 4 project, Horizon: Zero Dawn, is a massive departure, an original open-world game set in a future where humans have returned to tribal societies and dangerous robotic creatures roam the lands. The clashing of high and low technology, of science and mysticism is at the heart of this gorgeous journey—oh, and hunting robot dinosaurs. That part is pretty rad, too. [Matt Gerardi]

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Torment: Tides Of Numenera (February 28—PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

As a spiritual sequel to Black Isle’s Planescape: Torment, one of the most critically beloved computer games of all time, and one of gaming’s biggest Kickstarter success stories, Tides Of Numenera has a lot to live up to. Luckily, InXile Entertainment—creators of 2014’s cautiously well-received Wasteland 2—has stacked the deck with plenty of old Black Isle talent, including Chris Avellone, the man primarily credited with Planescape’s beautiful, novelistic approach to respecting player choice. Here’s hoping Tides, which casts players as an amnesiac “castoff” human who was once inhabited by a god, manages to embody those same quiet, thoughtful decisions that made its predecessor such a joy. [William Hughes]

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The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (March 3—Nintendo Switch, Wii U)

It’s a little unusual for a big open-world game to seem like a retro throwback, but that’s kind of what Nintendo’s The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is. Though it will certainly have a sweeping narrative like the recent Zelda games, most of what Nintendo has shown makes it look more like a modern spin on the original NES game. You’re dumped into a world and forced to fend for yourself while collecting fun toys, and you never know if that temple on the horizon—or on the next screen over—will have newer and more fun toys. Plus, as what will surely be the flagship title for the Nintendo Switch, Breath Of The Wild’s new-meets-old aesthetic is a perfect fit for that crazy console. [Sam Barsanti]

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NieR: Automata (March 7—PlayStation 4; TBA—PC)

After seven years, Nier—the cult game spin-off of the Drakengard series—is getting a sequel. In NieR: Automata, the remaining shreds of humanity have fled to the moon due to an interdimensional robot attack and, as one does in such circumstances, sustains a proxy war on Earth by sending down Gothic Lolita androids to oppose the invaders. Development for this chapter has switched over to PlatinumGames, the company behind such bonkers titles as MadWorld and Bayonetta, which goes a long way to explaining why the trailer features a pair of Zatoichi bondage wonder twins battling a two-story tall robot opera singer draped in android corpses. [Nick Wanserski]

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Mass Effect: Andromeda (March 21—PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Five years after finishing off the series’ initial trilogy, BioWare revisits its rich sci-fi universe for Andromeda, its biggest installment yet. While former star Commander Shepard is leading a last ditch effort to save the Milky Way from all-powerful space squids, humanity sends you, the Pathfinder, on a 600-year journey to the Andromeda galaxy in hopes that you’ll find us a new home. The game picks up as you and your crew thaw from cryo-sleep and start exploring this uncharted space with nothing but a ship and sweet rover to your name. [Matt Gerardi]

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Persona 5 (April 4—PlayStation 4)

The fifth game in Atlus’ beloved Persona series is set to liven up its tried-and-true blend of tactically taxing RPG combat and dating sim-style mundanity with a bit of criminal flair, casting its typically mute protagonist as a mental cat burglar capable of sneaking into people’s heads and rifling through their hopes and dreams. Given how many times Persona 5 has been delayed at this point, fans would probably be clamoring for the game even if it didn’t live up to the high standards of its PlayStation 2 predecessors. Luckily, buzz from last year’s Japanese release has been uniformly positive, stoking excitement for the rest of the world to take on the day-to-day lives—and monster-battling nights—of the Phantom Thieves. [William Hughes]

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Injustice 2 (May 16—PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us used some excellent comic book logic (specifically an alternate universe run by a fascist Superman) to justify why DC’s pantheon of heroes and villains were suddenly beating the snot out of each other, and it bolstered that justification with a surprisingly good story mode that introduced some clever twists on the traditional personalities and allegiances of various super-people. The sequel looks like it’s going to continue pushing that plot, but with one important gameplay wrinkle: unlockable loot. Basically, instead of just making Batman and Superman punch each other, you’ll be able to make them punch each other while wearing fabulous, customizable outfits. Who needs more than that? [Sam Barsanti]

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Prey (spring—PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

While the French half of Arkane Studios was working on Dishonored 2, this world-class developer’s second team was crafting Prey, a dense sci-fi horror game that has nothing to do with the last game called Prey. In Arkane’s take, players are trapped aboard a space station with inky aliens and use whatever they can find among the ship’s intricate insides, including an arsenal of superhuman powers stolen from the invaders, to survive. [Matt Gerardi]

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Sonic Mania (spring—Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Fans have spent years yearning for Sonic The Hedgehog’s return to glory, and aside from a few surprising bright spots that managed to rise above the series’ disastrously low bar, they’ve been met with disappointment again and again. But if ever there were going to be a great new Sonic game that realized and modernized the appeal of the speedster’s old-school adventures, it’s Sonic Mania, a dedicated throwback to his Genesis days that’s full of colorful, creative levels and developed by a team of passionate Sonic fans who’ve been responsible for both the series’ stellar re-releases and the ambitious, unofficial Sonic 2 remake. [Matt Gerardi]

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Tacoma (spring—PC, Xbox One)

Get this: You are on an abandoned space station, piecing together clues about what went wrong and where everyone went. Sound familiar? It is the plot of 45 percent of all video games, but Tacoma’s different, we swear. Fullbright’s previous game, 2013’s watershed Gone Home, was an uncommonly thoughtful game, turning a simple coming-of-age story into, alternately, a horror-tinged mystery, an exploration of video game architecture, and a showcase for some of the best writers in games. Let’s see what they can do with this space station. [Clayton Purdom]

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Red Dead Redemption 2 (fall—PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

It’s been almost seven years since Rockstar released Red Dead Redemption, and though that game’s phenomenal story absolutely doesn’t necessitate a direct sequel, its brutal and lonely Old West setting does merit another visit. We don’t know anything about Red Dead Redemption 2 other than the fact that it’s a Western, but hopefully Rockstar has spent these intervening years crafting another heartbreaking story about the futility of violence for us to enjoy while we get into brutal gunfights with outlaws. Really, that previous game was just so good that you don’t even need to know anything about Redemption 2 for it to be exciting. [Sam Barsanti]

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Absolver (TBA—PC, PlayStation 4)

Made by a team of ex-Ubisoft developers, Absolver walks a difficult line, at once evoking the art-driven austerity of typical “indie” games and boasting the laser-tight mechanics of a bigger studio. Its vaguely post-apocalyptic world is set to feature roving bands of human-controlled players, with whom players may fight, team up, or ignore entirely. The result aims to be a small revolution in multiplayer design, fusing the abstraction of Journey, the tension of Dark Souls, and the Wild West mentality of DayZ. [Clayton Purdom]

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Below (TBA—PC, Xbox One)

The polyglot game designers at Capybara have made captivating games in a number of genres—shooter, puzzler, point-and-click adventure, RPG, and so on—and so their self-proclaimed “most ambitious undertaking,” the roguelike Below, will be essential, whenever it gets around to being released. Initially announced in 2013, its muted palette, minimalist dungeons, and cavernous structures still look as good as ever, even as Capy’s gone quiet to polish the project off. If nothing else, the game will be worth playing for more music by Jim Guthrie, but experience suggests it’ll have a lot more going for it. [Clayton Purdom]

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Cuphead (TBA—PC, Xbox One)

At this point, setting your expectations for an actual release date of Cuphead has become a fool’s errand, as its deadline for hitting the open market has been repeatedly pushed back. However, 2017 might at long last be the year. It’s a credit to the trailers that people are still excited after all this time—Cuphead has a visual aesthetic that’s largely unseen in games. It’s a classic run-and-gun adventure, a throwback to NES-era offerings in terms of its action, but it’s the 1930s cartoon stylings that have folks gobsmacked. It’s all hand-drawn, with watercolor backgrounds and original jazz recordings completing the immersive nostalgia-tweaking worldview. [Alex McCown-Levy]

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Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (TBA—PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita)

Each entry in the Danganronpa series draws its power from the same heady cocktail of vibrant characters, fast-paced logic puzzles, and an overarching murder mystery that keeps players hunting down twist after twist. The third entry—released yesterday in Japan and expected in the U.S. later this year—promises the same thrills as its predecessors, introducing players to the world of a brutal “prison school,” and tasking them, as usual, with piecing together various killings so that none of their classmates can execute a perfect murder and escape. Expect the return of robotic murder bear Monokuma, and the series’ distinctive trial sequences, which take the spot-the-contradiction puzzles of Phoenix Wright and give them a kinetic, finger-twitching twist. [William Hughes]

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Detroit: Become Human (TBA—PlayStation 4)

Even if you’ve been burnt before—by potential-rich, execution-poor titles like Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls—it’s hard not to be suckered in by Quantic Dream’s David Cage and the ideas brewing underneath his new Blade Runner-tinged opus. Set in a future where sentient machines attempt to blend in with humanity, Detroit borrows from Quantic’s earlier Indigo Prophecy, casting players as both sides in a futuristic game of cat-and-mouse. Cage showed off footage at last year’s E3, highlighting the numerous ways its cybernetic encounters can play out and offering a new batch of reassurances that this would be the entry that turns his never-lacking ambitions into a solid, engaging game. [William Hughes]

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Manifold Garden (TBA—PC, PlayStation 4)

You just sort of have to see Manifold Garden, the Escher-inspired architectural mindfuck by Chicago artist William Chyr. Its immense, impossible spaces feature shifting gravitational forces, infinitely recursive hallways, and delicate pastel shading. Chyr has been tinkering at it for years, gradually turning its visual wow-factor into something playable, but it’s also the sort of singular vision that may be fun to just fall through forever. [Clayton Purdom]

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Memory Of A Broken Dimension (TBA—PC)

There are Let’s Plays of Memory Of A Broken Dimension dating back to 2012, and even in those early versions, the game’s stark aesthetic was in place—a pitch-black world of shifting blacks and grays, like the subconscious mind of an AI. Over the years, one-man design team XRA has only clarified that bleakly radiant vision, creating a glitched-out hellscape that seeks to undermine all of the player’s expectations about games. He’s finally slated the game for release in 2017, and whenever it comes out, it will probably swallow your soul. [Clayton Purdom]

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Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (TBA—PlayStation 4)

If there’s an argument for the game industry’s constant push for increased graphical fidelity, it’s in every frame of Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. Studio Ghibli isn’t involved this time around—aside from composer Joe Hisaishi and character designer Yoshiyuki Momose—but Level 5 appears to be doing an impressive job of keeping the famed animation house’s distinct style intact. Here, you play a young prince who has to build a new kingdom after being usurped by a literal and figurative weasel. The battling looks similar to the first entry in the series, requiring a tactical use of adorable monsters in order to defeat slightly less adorable monsters, but the gameplay may as well be tic-tac-toe, since the real draw is experiencing this beautiful, highly detailed world. Come for the impossibly lush Romanticist landscapes. Stay for the adorable mouse soldiers wielding battle axes. [Nick Wanserski]

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Pyre (TBA—PC, PlayStation 4)

Any new game from Supergiant Games is worth getting excited about, if for no other reason than getting a chance to see whatever gorgeous new hand-painted world Jen Zee, the studio’s art director, comes up with. So far, Pyre is proving to be no exception. Resembling a Don Bluth-style animated feature rendered in hyper-saturated tones, Pyre has your character joining a band of wanderers who must battle their way out of a purgatorial dimension. This is the first SuperGiant game to feature a team of characters instead of a lone protagonist, and combat, which takes the form of a sacred team sport, looks appropriately involved and fast-paced. [Nick Wanserski]

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Sea Of Thieves (TBA—PC, Xbox One)

“Online multiplayer pirate game” seems like a weird direction for Rare, a company still trying to reclaim some of the glory it achieved back in the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 eras. But E3 footage of Sea Of Thieves showed something remarkable when it surfaced online last year: a new take on cooperative gaming, with crews of pirates banding together on the fly, manning their individual stations, and working in sync to keep themselves afloat. That kind of asymmetrical play suggests an interesting new wrinkle for multiplayer gaming, even if you might have to wade through a bunch of grog-swilling yahoos to try it out. [William Hughes]

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Vampyr (TBA—PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

The A.V. Club has long sung the praises of Life Is Strange, a fascinating and elliptical game that made a strength out of its muted intensity. Developer Dontnod is returning this year for something much darker and genre-embracing, albeit possibly less original. Vampyr follows a doctor in 1918 London who has been turned into a bloodsucker, and deals with both the practical and moral issues that arise in the wake of his transformation. What makes the game enticing is how Dontnod has stressed its difference from either a stalk-and-kill strategy game or a straightforward murder-fest—the company has said it’s possible to finish the game without the main character taking a single life. Its hero may be pallid, but color us intrigued. [Alex McCown-Levy]

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First Martians: Adventures On The Red Planet (TBA)

Based on the core mechanics of Ignacy Trzewiczek’s popular 2012 game Robinson Crusoe: Adventures On The Cursed Island, First Martians puts the action on Mars and gives the whole experience a big tech upgrade. Additional options will include an app, an open-world mode, and the ability to build on previous games for a longer campaign à la Pandemic Legacy. It’s a promising experiment with what a board game can be, smartly wrapped around a board game lots of people already like. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

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T.I.M.E Stories: Lumen Fidei (TBA)

Photo: BoardGameGeek

You never have enough time to do everything you want to do in T.I.M.E Stories, and it’s that tense mechanic that gives the game its edge. Each expansion has been stronger than the last, with the game’s writers moving away from the clichéd settings of a zombie apocalypse or an insane asylum for fresher territory, like an arctic adventure. The sixth expansion, Lumen Fidei, puts players in medieval Spain and gives them a morality mechanic in addition to the usual temporal one, as they are charged with the immoral-sounding task of infiltrating a diplomatic mission. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

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