Most Anticipated 2016: Ozzie's Picks

Shacknews Senior Editor Ozzie Mejia takes a look forward at the games he's most eager to get his hands on in 2016.

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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.

Street Fighter V

What a fantastic year 2015 was for fighting games. Beyond Mortal Kombat X and the ongoing maturation of Killer Instinct and the Super Smash Bros. games, it was one of the best years for Street Fighter ever. Nothing gives the itch to play a Street Fighter game like watching a good competitive match and in terms of competitive gaming, Ultra Street Fighter IV was the best of the non-MOBA games out there. Last year was a great sendoff for that generation of the series.

And now it's time to jump into a whole new generation, one that's meant to be much more accessible. Having played through the betas and having learned as much about the game as I have since Evo 2015, I'm aching to get my hands on the launch version of the game. It really does feel the closest to the classic SF2 days, with many of the cheaper elements of the SF4 generation of games thrown out the window.

Overwatch

When Blizzard gets into a genre, it doesn't mess around. And it certainly knows what people like out of team-based shooters, harkening back to the classic elements of Team Fortress 2. Don't get me wrong. I love TF2 like I love my own (non-existent) child, but the game is virtually unrecognizable from its launch version. Overwatch, on the other hand, seems to be embracing the simpler elements of this type of game, while offering an intense amount of variety.

It's also got some of those nicer MOBA elements that feel familiar from fellow Blizzard staple Heroes of the Storm, offering up a variety of special moves and an Ultimate move that can devastate opposing teams. Overwatch is definitely a team game, with certain characters able to fill a role and work in tandem with others. The fun is in making these tandem tactics work out in the field, reducing so much of the "lone wolf" mentality that was so prevalent in TF2 during even its best days.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

There isn't a lot to look forward to from Nintendo next year, but if I see the name "Mario & Luigi," I am absolutely in! It's impossible to recreate the magic of the original Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (which, incidentally, celebrates its 20th birthday in 2016), but the Mario & Luigi series has such a fun "Abbott & Costello" buddy comedy mood to it and is always good for laughs, on top of its solid RPG mechanics. By contrast, I wasn't a big fan of the last Paper Mario outing. Sticker Star felt like a weak outing for that series, with the emphasis more on just collecting stickers and less on actually learning combat.

But now it's looking like we'll get two great tastes that should hopefully taste great together. It's already looking like the comedic elements of the paper characters will fold into the story, while some of the cooler boss battle elements of past Mario & Luigi games will make their way into this new installment. Happy to know it won't be long before I can try this one out, since it has a January 22 release date attached.

Batman - A Telltale Games Series

Some feel that Telltale's games have become formulaic. I disagree, having seen the differences in The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, and Minecraft: Story Mode. And in the case of Tales, many of those narrative elements have actually evolved. With the improvements in its storytelling style, it's no wonder that I got irrationally excited to see the names "Telltale" and "Batman" side-by-side during the Game Awards.

Now, of course, this will obviously not be Telltale's first foray into detective fiction, following its work on the aforementioned Wolf Among Us and having built its name on the Sam & Max games. The interest will be in seeing what era of the Dark Knight the story will take place in, as well as how Telltale plans to handle Batman's brand of detective work. I'm excited to see a game that emphasizes Batman's intellect, while also curious to see how Telltale will sprinkle in the Batman-style action to go along with it. Plus, given that The Wolf Among Us, with its noir-ish narrative, was in my personal Game of the Year list back in 2014, I'm expecting a high-quality story here.

Also, Telltale taking on some of the more cerebral Bat-villains (including a potentially different take on the Riddler, should it opt to go in that direction) should be a treat.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

I was a little late to the Human Revolution party, but once the Director's Cut was issued, it was easy to see what all the fuss was about. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a fantastic game, combining intuitive shooting mechanics, multiple open-ended approaches to combat situations, and nerve-wracking dialogue decisions to create a mind-blowing story of future tech run amok. Mankind Divided looks to deal with all of the fallout from the Human Revolution story and it looks to be one amazing ride.

The fun isn't just going to be in watching Adam Jensen deal with two sides of extremists, but how he goes about doing so. If the open-ended approaches of Human Revolution return, it's going to be a treat to embrace the challenge of non-violence. And more than that, it'll be interesting to see how the game's new augments are going to help, given that Eidos has indicated that non-violent augments will also be available.

Pokemon GO

Hey, how did this mobile game get on this list? (I kid, I kid.)

In all seriousness, though, having seen the potential of Ingress, it boggles my mind to think of the possibilities of what Pokemon GO is capable of. This could be an all-consuming obsession, allowing me to catch Pokemon literally anywhere in the world.

And it looks like a lot of elements of the standard Pokemon games are going to be present. It'll even have PvP Gyms scattered throughout the world. More than that, I'm eager to see how the live events that have made Ingress a social experience will translate to this new Pokemon mobile game. Imagine the convention scenes and imagine the Pokemon World Championships next year. The potential is staggering.

This new year of 2016 marks 20 years of Pokemon and while I'm awaiting the inevitable next generation of the series and the fighting game, Pokken Tournament, Pokemon GO is the first time in years that I've truly had the itch to catch 'em all, just like the old days.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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