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Most Anticipated 2016: Steve's Picks

Shacknews is starting the new year taking stock of the next 365 days. These are the games set to come in 2016 that we're most looking forward to playing.

Bravely Second / Final Fantasy Explorers

I had to pair these two because they appear to scratch a similar itch. I like the modern Final Fantasy games well enough, but the old-school charm of Bravely Default was really something special for me as a fan of the Super NES era. Bravely Second appears to maintain everything I liked from the first game, like the deep job class system and streamlining of traditional RPG mechanics, while also attempting to correct its predecessor's biggest mistake. If I can get another round of classic RPG action without the repetition of Bravely Default, I'll be one happy onion knight.

Meanwhile, Final Fantasy Explorers may prove to be something of a gateway drug. I've tried to play Monster Hunter games, but the systems have just felt too impenetrable for me as a newcomer. FFE is said to be similar mechanically, but the familiar trappings of Final Fantasy may be just the training wheels I need to fully embrace it. At the very least it shows Square is trying different ideas with the license, and I want to encourage more of that.

XCOM 2

XCOM was an absolute revelation, and even if XCOM 2 was simply more of that I'd be pretty happy. Firaxis seems to be quite a bit more ambitious than that, though, with a whole host of new features aimed at keeping us fighting aliens for some time to come. Procedurally generated stages promise tons of replay, the aliens have their own win conditions for a constant tug-of-war, and we've already seen lots of new alien designs with their own unique battle roles to make an even rougher mix. Pair this with an intriguing premise that assumes you actually lost in the first XCOM, and it looks to be quite the ride.

Fire Emblem Fates

2016 is looking to be a very strategic year. Just a few months after XCOM, we're getting Fire Emblem Fates. The dual release (along with a smorgasboard of Smash Bros inclusions) shows that this long-running strategy series from Nintendo has finally achieved the support and attention it deserves. I absolutely loved the rich story, character relationships system, and fulfilling but tough perma-death combat system of Fire Emblem Awakening. Fates looks to have all that in spades, alongside a new base-building mechanic to add another layer of military management. Time to lose another few dozen hours to formulating and executing perfect tactics, or at least keeping everyone alive.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst

The original Mirror's Edge was an incredible concept hobbled by what we can only assume was trepidation that the audience wouldn't respond to a first-person game if you couldn't shooty-shoot. After years of lamenting this decision it seems EA agrees, and is rebooting the name after a single game. We're going back in time with Faith, and we've been promised that this time it's all about the free-running and smooth acrobatic combat. That's all we wanted!

Star Fox Zero

This inclusion is what you might call aspirational. I want Star Fox Zero to be good so badly. I walked away from my E3 demo unimpressed and more than a little disappointed, particulary grousing about the frankly poor visuals and incredibly awkward GamePad controls. It desperately needed a more distinct visual style, and a traditional control scheme option. Nintendo pulled the game from this year's line-up to make minor improvements, but my hope is that these small changes will have a big impact on how I feel about it as a whole.

The Legend of Zelda

Appearing on my Most Anticipated list for the second year in a row, the next console Legend of Zelda looks massive and gorgeous. Or at least, it did last time we saw it. Not only did 2015 not bring about the release of this game, we've barely even seen or heard any new information this year. Speculation has been rampant that it's been pushed to the upcoming NX, or at least that it will be a dual release a la Twilight Princess. Whatever the platform, though, I can't wait to wield the Master Sword once again.

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