It’s the time of year where I pull out my video game crystal ball, which is actually a ColecoVision infused with black magic and plugged into a retro TV, and read the omens for the next year in gaming.
This year was pretty much a total loss – so much so that I do not yet know which game I will choose as my game of the year. It’s December. No more games are coming. Someone help me.
On paper, it looks like 2017 will be a return to 2015 form. But don’t trust that paper. A few of the marquee names on next year’s banner will be scratched off soon. Here’s a look at how a few of the minor dramas will play out.
‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ will not release in 2017
My first prediction breaks my heart. When Rockstar announced the sequel to the beloved 2010 hit “Red Dead Redemption,” I was as excited as anyone. It seemed like sort of an odd choice given that the previous game had a clearly finite ending filled with death and fitting revenge. I thought the series was done, but I trust Rockstar San Diego to weave some new narrative around Jack Marston. And I really just want to play poker and constantly beat coyotes off my horse again.
But it won’t happen next year.
I’m sure Rockstar has been working on “Red Dead Redemption 2” for a while, as its games typically take at least three years to finish. I’m sure things are going well. But three years spent living and working in the eighth console generation have proven one thing: Big-budget games whose announcement videos make my heart go pitter-patter get delayed 95 percent of the time. Rockstar said it will be ready in the second half of 2017, but something will come up. And Rockstar, being one of the greats, will make the proper choice to delay rather than risk releasing a bad game.
‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ will finally make a believer out of me
It comes as a shock to even my closest friends, but I’ve never gotten into BioWare’s epic space series. I played a little bit of the first one, but at the time, BioWare had recently released “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II.” That series was so thoroughly amazing that I didn’t need “Mass Effect,” and I never looked back.
I feel intense shame about this. I know I could pick up any of the first three games and remedy it right this second. I am not going to, but I could. My job now requires me to play major releases, so I will definitely check out “Andromeda.” I expect it to snare me.
A horrible secret will emerge about ‘Kingdom Hearts III’
A game involving Mickey Mouse has been in the pipeline for 10 years, but we know basically nothing about it. When is it coming out? What Disney universes are in it? And most importantly, will the sloths from “Zootopia” make the cut?
We first saw gameplay footage from the sequel almost three years ago. Something is wrong. I have asked spokespeople about it, and the response is typically something like, “We will let you know as we get closer to release.” Or there’s no response at all. I have this bad feeling that Square Enix will soon announce a developer change or, worse, cancel the project altogether.
Despite delays, ‘South Park’ will be good
“South Park: The Stick of Truth” inspired ultimate confidence in both series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and their partner-in-gaming, Ubisoft. Their second collaboration, “The Fractured But Whole,” looks great. It was supposed to be out by now, but “Stick” was delayed a few times and turned out great. This will probably be a game of the year contender.
‘Dead Island 2,’ however, will not be good
Delays have not shaken my faith in “South Park,” but that is not the case for Deep Silver title “Dead Island 2.”
Despite the name, this is actually the fourth game in the series. “Dead Island” and its expansion, “Riptide,” were OK. The weird multiplayer title “Escape Dead Island” was actually pretty cool but didn’t make much of an impression. I was excited when “Dead Island 2” was announced, but that was several years ago. Since then, it has changed development studios – a bad sign – and been delayed into oblivion.