The lights are on
Coming off a banner year that included a smorgasbord of standout shooters like Battlefield 1, The Division, Titanfall 2, and our 2016 game of the year, Overwatch, it would be natural to expect a lot lighter field of competition in 2017 considering how many great studios are switching gears to create post-launch content or heading back to the drawing board to kickstart their next big project. But as we mined the release calendar to find the next batch of shooters, a formidable and diverse field emerged. Take a look at the 10 gun-centric games we are most looking forward to playing in the coming months.
10. LawBreakersPlatform: PCRelease: TBD
With his “retirement” behind him, Gears of War and Unreal Tournament veteran Cliff Bleszinksi is back on the frontlines with a new studio and arena shooter. Lawbreakers follows the squad-based hero shooter craze popularized by games like Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege, but features some interesting wrinkles that could give the game its own identity. Gravity anomalies positioned in certain parts of the map or activated by character abilities can change the rules of engagement instantaneously. Each character reacts differently to the new circumstances, with some faring better than others thanks to unique tools like grappling hooks or powerful rocket launchers that can propel them more quickly. We have no guarantee LawBreakers will release before the end of the year, but expect to see it enter a wider beta at the very least.
9. Rising Storm 2: VietnamPlatform: PCRelease: Early 2017
A holdover from last year’s list that missed its original deployment window, Rising Storm still doesn’t have a hard release date, but it’s inching closer to release nonetheless. Since its debut with the popular Unreal Tournament 4 mod Red Orchestra, Tripwire Interactive has steadily expanded its repertoire from the gritty realism of those World War II battles to mutant outbreaks in Killing Floor. The studio's next project jumps back into the time machine to bring gamers to Vietnam. Rising Storm 2 deploys 64-player, asynchronous firefights to the jungles and rice paddies of Southeast Asia, with its iron sights trained on authenticity. Featuring a streamlined squad system, vehicular combat, and gunplay that injects a heavy dose of realism into the second-to-second action, Tripwire and co-developer Antimatter Games hope they can build off their award-winning last entry.
8. StrafePlatform: PS4, PCRelease: Early 2017
First-person shooters exploded onto the video game scene in the mid-90s, and many look back fondly on those formative pixelated 3D pioneers. Rather than compete in the triple-A arms race with the Battlefields and Call of Duties of the world, developer Pixel Titans and Devolver Digital are going low budget with Strafe. The graphics may look ripped straight from a shareware game you downloaded off a BBS three decades ago (even the website is hilariously old school), but the kinetic gunplay, persistent gore generator that leaves your enemy’s blood splattered across the environments, and clever nods to the era make this a shooter worth watching in 2017.
7. Insurgency: SandstormPlatform: PS4, Xbox One, PCRelease: 2017
Last February developer New World Interactive announced plans to bring its tactical shooter from PC to consoles for the first time. This isn’t just a straight port, either. Sandstorm adds a story mode alongside the multiplayer action and promises much improved visuals thanks to an Unreal Engine 4 conversion (both of which are also coming to PC). To continue servicing its hardcore competitive constituency, the new version also features an eSports framework. We don’t have many details beyond that first news drop, but we’re still excited to see how Insurgency holds up when it makes the leap to console. Before Sandstorm releases, New World plans to host a beta to kick the tires on its new eSports approach.
6. Quake ChampionsPlatform: PCRelease: TBA
With Wolfenstein and Doom both successfully resurrected, Bethesda tackles yet another remodeling project from the prized id Software catalog. As with Doom, id Software wants to preserve the high-speed combat traits that originally put this arena shooter on the map, while modernizing its approach with a hero-focused distribution of skills. Weapons are still scattered throughout the environment for players to seek, but each hero has a distinct visual style and special ability suite. We’re still in a waiting pattern for learning more about the various characters while id prepares for a closed beta period that “will be as long as it needs to be” but we hope to get our hands on it before the year comes to a close. The development team is currently focused on building the best competitive multiplayer game it can, but studio director Tim Willits has not ruled out a console version in the future.
Coming up next: Some high-profile sequels and our most anticipated action game of 2017...
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