2017 is barreling towards us and I personally can't leave 2016 behind fast enough. Yet, 2016 brought us games aplenty that are keeping us playing into next year. On top of the games, there are a few 2016 gaming announcements and trends that I'm excited to see flourish in 2017.

Personally, I wonder whether the Nintendo Switch can hold a long enough charge for on the go gaming.

2017 brings us a lot of gaming questions. Physical games or digital? Do the consoles have enough memory? What will the Nintendo Switch be successful at? Will Destiny 2 bring the franchise onto the PC? Will Mass Effect Andromeda make the Mako's driving controls tolerable? What I'm wondering is...

What is Microsoft's Project Scorpio?

We don't know what Project Scorpio is. Last June's E3 announcement for Project Scorpio had no actual information besides that it's an Xbox with a release date in fall 2017. The message was further muddled with the announcement of the Xbox One S. The Xbox One S was the expected Xbox One upgrade that shrunk the console, added memory, and (most importantly) tucked the power brick into the console.

I know nothing except that I want it!

Microsoft's original 2013 plans for the Xbox One to dominate the living room have changed drastically because the always-connected cable box wasn't successful. However, Microsoft is persistent. The Windows 10 platform aims to integrate all Microsoft products for cross use. For gamers, the Play Anywhere initiative is an attractive offer to buy a game once to play on both the Xbox One and PC with saved progress across the platforms. Overall, I strongly support a multiuse Xbox. Yet, I'm not entirely sure what the means nowadays given that nearly every digital device has multiple functions and so my Xbox One plays video games and Blu-ray disks.  

My one hope for Project Scorpio is that it's a Virtual Reality ready machine, perhaps for the Oculus Rift due to the Oculus Rift launching with Xbox One controllers. Or perhaps the integration of the HoloLens, an Augmented Reality technology. I'm all for whatever technology allows me to equip an Omni-tool on my actual arm while I play Mass Effect Andromeda. Regardless of the details, I expect something more from Project Scorpio and I'm excited to see what that is.

Mass Effect Andromeda

My gaming backlog is oversized, to put it mildly, and I've resolved to buy a lot less games at release. An absolute day one purchase is Mass Effect Andromeda. All I want is to return to the Mass Effect franchise which was my absolute favorite series in the Xbox 360 generation.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the rebooted Mako. 

Admittedly, I'm worried about the gameplay change that accessing the weapon wheel will no longer pause the game. Personally, Mass Effect's weapon wheel was my favorite iteration of the mechanic which let me pause and scan the battlefield in order to make my combat decisions.    

Still, I'm excited to return to a vast universe with detailed storytelling and my very own spaceship that's outfitted with a space monkey.

Free Content Updates

Recently, Halo 5: Guardians released its tenth free update that includes new modes, maps, and gear. I love the free content drops that maintains a unified player base. Similarly, I bought Titanfall 2 and Gears of War 4 in part because of the free new multiplayer maps. Maintaining a steady player base is harder than ever given the breadth of our gaming options. Free new modes and maps in multiplayer keeps us all playing rather than dividing into the haves and have nots.

CD Projekt Red's thank you note in The Witcher 3 was such a sweet and thoughtful gesture. 

Additionally, I just started The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and upon cracking open the box I greatly appreciated CD Projekt Red's thank you letter to players for buying the game. I remembered how the game was supported at launch with free weekly content updates as well as a commitment by the developer that paid DLC should only be purchased at the discretion of the player because the base game provided a full experience.

Every player decides whether DLC is worth paying more. I appreciate developers supporting, rather than dividing, the player base with free base content updates and add-ons. In 2017, I'll do my best to spend my dollars on gaming developers with business models that I support.

20% Off New Games

Amazon Prime and Best Buy Gamer's Club offer 20% discounts off of newly released and/or other new games. I absolutely love it! The biggest win is stacking sales with Best Buy's 20% off. Now $48 is my base price for newly released games. In fact, I'm much more willing to buy more expensive editions due to the 20% savings.

I can no longer pay $60 for a brand new game but I'm now willing to pay $80 for a Collector's Edition priced at $100.  

While, GameStop still has that in-store experience of poking around the used games and searching through the gaming merchandise. GameStop's prices just don't compete with the automatic 20% discount. In the course of a year, I'll frequent GameStop for a few used games and pre-order one game both for a GameStop exclusive bonus and to support the GameStop experience of a store all about video games.  

The majority of my gaming monies go to Amazon and Best Buy because in order to buy more games, I need to save more money.

End Game Content

I've never played heavily on PCs. And so, I haven't fully understood "end game" content until the release of Destiny. I now get the hook that reaching the level cap is just the beginning. Players who enjoy Destiny's gameplay can continue the loop into better and better weapons and gear. Yes, the Random Number Generator can be infuriating and the gameplay loop can be repetitive. Yet, during the past 2 years I've been engrossed in Destiny for weeks at a time anticipating Xur's arrival on Fridays and the Iron Banner competition at the month's end. The latest expansion, the Rise of Iron, hasn't kept my attention lately. Instead, I'm playing Overwatch for hours in order to unlock competitive play at level 25. Or checking out the new modes in The Division.

Playing after the game was over was a entirely novel concept to me when Destiny launched. 

I'll likely be excited and maybe even preorder Destiny 2 in fall 2017. We'll see. There's a lot of games to play and I expect even more games to bring "end game" content to the consoles.

In 2017, rather than anticipating a long list of games, I'm excited for gaming news. I expect the games that I already own to have a long life and for changes to continue in how we experience games from DLC to VR to AR to episodic games. In short, there's a lot to look forward too.

Happy Holidays!

Thank you for reading during this busy holiday season!

What are you most excited about in gaming for 2017?

What do you think will be the biggest change to gaming in 2017?

What is your most anticipated game in 2017?