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Games to Get Excited About: November 2016

by Michael Wells

November is here with the usual flood of new releases. Here’s an in-depth look at one upcoming title we’re excited about and a rundown of notable releases in the coming month.

2016 is seeing the release of two games that have been in development for so long that you would be forgiven for assuming they would never actually come out. One is Final Fantasy XV, the much anticipated new entry in Square Enix’s cultural juggernaut of a series that was first announced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII all the way back in 2006. The other is…

The Last Guardian


The Last Guardian has been a fixture on vaporware lists for years. The game was originally announced as a PS3 exclusive at E3 in 2009. Even at the time of its announcement it had already been in development for 2 years. The Last Guardian generated a lot of buzz because it was the next, and possibly final, game from Fumito Ueda. Ueda is best known for his previous two games, the cult classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Both games are known for their minimalist presentation and stark, beautiful visuals.

The Last Guardian showed a young boy protagonist and a large fantastic creature that seemed like something between a bird, a cat, and a deer. The boy seems reminiscent of the protagonist of Ico and a focus on working with a companion to move through the game evokes that earlier title. The creature was incredibly detailed for the time and promised to push the graphical capabilities of the PS3. The original release window came and went and news of the game slowly dwindled to a trickle. Most of it was rumors and most of the rumors were bad.

Members of the team left to pursue other projects, Ueda himself stepped down to become a creative consultant, and the press began to speculate that Sony had quietly canned the project. Despite the rumors, Sony continued to insist that the game was being developed and that it would be worth the wait. Still, with each year that passed with no news, a release for the troubled title seemed less and less likely. Had it been too ambitious? Was the detailed model and complex behavior for the creature too much of a technical hurdle to overcome? Even if it was possible, could the aging PS3 hardware handle a game that lived up to the original vision?


In 2015, Sony brought The Last Guardian back to E3 and announced that it would be released in the 4th quarter of 2016. It joined other long awaited announcements such as Shenmue 3 and the Final Fantasy VII remake. As we approach the game’s release date, details remain scarce but there is no denying that the game looks striking and very much in the spirit of its forbears.

The game still seems to be an adventure game that keeps the austere and crumbling environments of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The protagonist must work together with the creature that the development team has tried to model realistic animal behavior for. This means that players should be able to entice it with food, sooth it when it is frightened, and care for it when it is hurt. The central goal of the game is to forge an emotional attachment to the creature.

Skepticism is warranted for any project with a history as long and troubled as The Last Guardian. The questions that plagued it throughout its development remain relevant even as the game nears release. With that said, I have been waiting for this game for eight years and I love Ueda’s previous work. I am glad that the wait is nearly over. The Last Guardian is currently scheduled to release December 6, 2016 in North America, exclusively for the PS4.

Notable November Releases:

Call of Duty Infinite Warfare


Infinite Warfare is certainly shaping up to be one of the most contentious entries in Activision’s Call of Duty series. The title doubles down on the sci-fi themes the series has been trending towards and introduces space ships, dog fighting, and battles in zer0-G. Some fans of the series are disappointed at the direction taken by these once fairly realistic games while others are excited by the change of pace. Activision has also stirred up controversy by packing in a remaster of the first Modern Warfare game that will only be available to gamers who purchase the new title. Love it or hate it, CoD is likely to be another huge sales success this holiday season.

Watch Dogs 2


The first Watch Dogs rode a wave of hype and excitement to a resounding “meh” on release. What had promised to be a freewheeling open world title with strange and interesting hacking abilities that affected your environment ended up being another also-ran Grand Theft Auto clone with a humorless plot and an unlikable main character. The developers have decided to take another crack at the concept, moving the action to the more colorful and interesting San Francisco and introducing a new main character that promises to at least have something like a personality. We’ll be waiting for reviews to see if the second time is the charm for this one.

Pokemon Sun and Moon


Pokemon is back! You probably didn’t need me to tell you that. The first and by far the largest monster fighting and collecting game returns for its seventh generation with Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon. This time the games are set in the tropical Alola region and Game Freak has cooked up another batch of weird and wonderful creatures to go catch. If you want a taste before the game releases, there is currently a demo available on the Nintendo e-Shop.

Final Fantasy XV


Here it is, the other game that seemed like it might just never come out. Final Fantasy XV has gone through a lot of changes in the decade since it was announced. Much like The Last Guardian rumors have followed its troubled development almost from the start. There have been two demos available for the game, and if those are any indication the game feels like a fusion of things that feel undeniably connected to the series’ roots with other elements that can seem almost jarringly out of place. Soon we’ll be able to see if Square Enix managed to pull it off. Here’s hoping it won’t be another decade until the next one.


Can Watchdogs 2 Deliver or Will it Need to Rely on Controversy to get Sales?


Earlier this month, Watchdogs 2 was confirmed for a release date of November 15th, and was featured during E3 coverage more recently.  The media who covered it at E3 gave it high praise, but is that enough to sell a game?  It was back in 2014 when the predecessor released to bugs, mixed reviews, and controversy, and gamers haven’t forgotten.

The biggest issue for some players seems to have been the graphics that got markedly worse between the preview videos at E3 2012 and the released product.  Come to find out there were hidden graphics files that were ‘turned off’ and once enabled through a mod they seemed to not only make the game look better, but run more stable for many users.  The standard PR response was given by Ubisoft, and even supported by some of the games media, but it still sits with players as an example of a company not being entirely honest about the product.  Adding the delay in release, and some very mixed reviews with critics and gamers, it’s easy to understand why people are skeptical of the sequel.

The game got its best reviews on Playstation 4, but even there it was very mixed, and not so great among gamers themselves.  On the PC, it was even worse.  Gamers simply did not like the game and panned it widely on the PC release.  The games media seems to be split across the board, with most larger review sites giving it high praise, while the smaller and lesser-known outlets were lukewarm on the game.  There may be a reason for that.  It seems that at the Paris event for Watchdogs attendees, game reviewers were given Nexus tablets as gifts.  Many gave them back, didn’t take them, or gave them to charity, but did they all?  Did any that kept the tablet disclose it?  We really don’t know because so few reported on it until after the fact.

Now we move on to Watchdogs 2 and gamers are understandably hesitant.  A lot of people like the original, but a lot didn’t, and many felt the developer dropped the ball.  Of course, for some unknown reason the media has taken to putting down any criticism with accusations of racism.  The links could fill a page, just google “Watchdogs 2 racism” and see how some of the major game sites and bloggers are covering it.  It’s a marketing tactic, in my opinion, that we have started to see recently and will probably keep seeing for the foreseeable future.  Criticism of the game gets labeled racism because the protagonist is black.

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t awful people who play games.  I’m sure there are racists out there that want nothing to do with a black protagonist in a game.  Does anyone really think there are enough though to effect the sales of a game?  Enough to warrant several articles in our community’s press?  I don’t think so, so it begs the question, why?  Why is the press so focused on this narrative that paints the gaming community in such a horrible light?  I talk to a lot of gamers online, read a lot of gaming forums and press, and I haven’t seen a single person that cares what the skin color of the guy on the cover of Watchdogs 2 is.  Hell, I’ve talked to gamers that didn’t even know until I asked.  The vast majority of gamers do not care about that, they care about whether the game will be fun.  They care if the game will be buggy, and if Ubisoft is going to engage in the same sort of shenanigans they did last time.  Gamers care whether the game will be worth their time and money.

Will Watchdogs 2 deliver?  It’s certainly pretty, but so were the initial videos out of E3 in 2012.  We don’t yet know if they will deliver on time, and it’s impossible to know if we’ll see a release that’s relatively bug-free.  The media isn’t making any of the gamers I talk to more comfortable, and many are wondering if this is a tactic to either shame gamers into buying the game anyway, or get people to buy the game in some righteous fight against racism.  Will it even matter now, or will it become more about the ignorant politics around the game rather than the game itself?

For my part, I hope it does come out to be a good game.  I think it sounds great, but I’m skeptical as well.  I didn’t play the first, and didn’t have much interest after seeing the reviews.  I like the idea of the game, the concept, and even what little we know of the story so far.  I just hope it doesn’t get overshadowed by more idiocy from the media.