Musings From The Crystal Ball – Nerd Bacon’s 2016 Predictions
By: The Watchman
Happy New Year Baconeer’s! 2016 has arrived in full force, and with it a whole new slate of hopes and dreams for our favorite hobby.
Last year saw incredible, unbelievable announcements and games. Just think, in 2015 we got: Fallout 4 announced and released, Final Fantasy VII: Remake announced, Shenmue III announced, The Last Guardian reintroduced, and the insanity that was Hideo Kojima’s painful departure from Konami, followed up by his subsequent formation of his own studio which has partnered with Sony. Speaking of Kojima, 2015 was also the year we saw the long awaited release of Metal Gear Solid V. Last year saw two brilliant interpretations of the Metroidvania formula, in Ori and the Blind Forest and Axiom Verge.
RPG fans received an immense and intricate,contribution to the genre with the Witcher 3.
Master Chief and Lara Croft returned for more adventures in Halo 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, while Nintendo painted the proverbial town a full rainbow of colors with Splatoon.
Those titles only scratched the surface of everything 2015 had to offer and it’s going to be hard to follow up such a breathtaking year; however I think there are a few things in the pipeline for 2016 that will give that old hat that was 2015 a run for its money.
Please keep in mind that I don’t have any sort of inside track on any of these predictions. I don’t have sources leaking info to me, nor do I have the ability to remotely view the inner sanctuaries of various game companies through astral-projection techniques.
All I have are news sources, historical reference, and my own special feelings deep within my guts that somehow travel up to my brains, and eventually make their way out through my mouth, or in this case, my fingers onto a keyboard.
So sit back, relax, and buckle yourself in for the wild as I look inside my patented theWatchman Crystal Ball for the predictions of 2016.
In my wrap-up story grading the performance of the big-three console manufacturers at E3 2015, I became the first journalist to go on record with my belief that Nintendo’s next console, currently code-named “NX” would be launching in 2016. I wrote:
” Hopefully this means that whatever form this new console (or operating system, as some rumors have it) takes will be well supported at launch, because NX is coming, and given the state of Wii U at E3 2015, I’d say it is coming sometime in 2016.”
Six months later, I am doubling down. Although Nintendo did finally offer competitive discounts coupled with awesome bundles for the Wii U during the holiday season, it won’t be enough to keep Nintendo relevant in the marketplace. Mind-share equates to shelf-space and what Nintendo needs is something to re-capture the public’s imagination.
Reports since E3 have leaked out regarding the manufacturing of chip-sets for Nintendo’s next machine, suggesting that they are further along in development than we believe.
“Japan-based Nintendo is planning to launch its next-generation games console in 2016 and has recently asked its supply chain partners to start pilot production in October, at the latest. The console will be manufactured by Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry), but Pegatron Technology is aggressively trying to snatch some of the orders, according to sources familiar to the plan.”
Nintendo’s impending NX announcement, paired with their expansion into the mobile markets and a final push of quality games for Wii U in the form of Legend of Zelda (assuming that doesn’t get partially or entirely moved to NX) and Star Fox Zero, will make them the most exciting company to watch in 2016.
Expect a Nintendo Direct presentation in the first quarter to give a partial reveal of the NX, and then the full revelation at E3.
Uncharted 4 is primed to be one of the biggest launches that the PlayStation 4 will see this year, or throughout the life of the system. The game looks amazing and I for one can’t wait to play it. However, this is a forward-looking industry and as such, we must ask ourselves the question: what comes next for its developer, Naughty Dog?
The Last of Us 2.
There are two nuggets of info that inadvertently were dropped over the past year that leads me to this conclusion.
The biggest one was a report by the gay rights advocacy group, GLAAD, which did a profile in late 2014 on gay and lesbian characters in video games, which I reported on here. This profile highlighted The Last of Us’ female lead, Ellie who develops what could be construed as romantic affections towards a companion during the course of the Left Behind expansion to the game. The report from GLAAD stated:
” With a big-budget film adaptation in the works and a highly anticipated-sequel planned for 2016, Ellie is primed to become the most famous LGBT character in gaming. “
Naughty Dog never commented on it and the issue seemed to be swept into the proverbial memory hole, however it stood to me as a clear indication that work was and is being done on a sequel.
Next was a slip by voice actor Nolan North at the Florida anime convention MetroCon, which garnered far more attention than the Glaad profile.
He said: “I know they’re doing Last of Us 2” , which sent the gaming press into a fury of speculation.
While neither Naughty Dog nor Sony have commented on the accuracy of these little slips, it would be hard to chalk both of those divulges as mere mistakes.
With Uncharted 4 currently scheduled for an April 27th release date, this will leave Naughty Dog and Sony clear to make a Last of Us 2 announcement at E3 2016.
This leads us to my next prediction for 2016; the game that brought Naughty Dog to the dance –
At the 2015 PlayStation Experience conference held this past December, Sony’s CEO Shawn Laden tantalized the internet, not with the words he was saying, but with the apparel he had dawned for the occasion. Laden walked onto the stage in ultimate troll mode; wearing a cheeky vintage Crash Bandicoot t-shirt. This had to mean an announcement was coming, right? Well, no. Unfortunately that announcement never came.
So is all hope lost regarding a Crash revival, or was it just a delicious tease pointing towards a future announcement?
In my opinion it was the latter.
The CEO of a huge international company doesn’t just happen to throw on a t-shirt for one of the most beloved PlayStation franchises for no reason. If anything, Laden’s Crash shirt was a sort of inside joke tribute to Square Enix’s epic PlayStation Experience 2014 Final Fantasy VII announcement. For those unfamiliar, Square Enix game developer Shinji Hashimoto took the time to fly all the way from Japan to Las Vegas for a special announcement.
The lights dimmed.
The audience held its breath.
Surely this was it! This had to be the moment we had all been awaiting, dreaming of for ten arduous years.
Surely he was about to announce the remake of Final Fantasy VII for PlayStation 4.
And as the trailer played on, it became apparent that no, this was not our moment. He had actually flown all the way to Vegas to announce that they were porting the PC version, which has been out for several years, to the PS4.
Luckily, Square Enix redeemed themselves six months later at E3 2015, with the surprise announcement of an actual Final Fantasy VII Remake.
So this begs the question: do we have a similar situation here?
I believe so.
Adding fuel to my speculative fire is an interesting conversation took place via Twitter between a fan of this year’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 (perhaps the game’s only fan) and developer Robomondo.
In that conversation, the developer was asked about guest characters appearing in the game, and since Activision, who held the publishing rights to Crash and also acted as the Publisher of Tony Hawk 5, why not include the iconic marsupial as a secret character in the Tony Hawk revival?
That doesn’t reveal much on its own, however if you draw a line between the developer not being able to include Crash in Tony Hawk because of licensing rights, and Shawn Laden sporting a fancy Crash shirt, then 2 + 2 is starting to add up to 4.
So is Crash coming? My prediction is a resounding YES. A Crash Bandicoot revival will either open or close out Sony’s E3 2016 press event (The other bookend will be the Last of Us 2)
I’ll even go one further in a bonus prediction!
My Crash bonus prediction is that the studio bringing Crash will not be the original developer Naughty Dog. (Due to that company putting its resources into Last of Us 2)
So who would have the know-how to do Crash justice? May I submit for your wild speculation, Sony’s SCE Japan Studio.
If you recall the launch of PlayStation 4+ back in 2013, it was Sony Studios Japan that was responsible for the promising platform action game, Knack.
Knack was not fantastic, but it wasn’t terrible either. (You can read my review and NerdBacon founder, the Cubist’s review here and here) There were a lot of good ideas exhibited in Knack; ideas that could translate very well into a revival of Crash. Since Knack’s release in 2013, SCE Japan has not released a project of their own design. They’ve been busy helping out other studios on recent games like Gravity Rush: Remastered, Bloodborne, and Freedom Wars, but where is their own original work?
Let’s also remember that aside from Knack, SCE Japan has a solid platform pedigree with their work on the Ape Escape series.
But let’s remember that this is all just conjecture meant to be in good fun. There is no actual evidence to suggest that Sony Studio Japan is involved at all with a new Crash other than the conspicuous absence of a Knack 2 announcement and my own gut feeling.
Oh yeah – I said it. This will finally be the year that Valve announces Half-Life 3. Why you ask?
Valve is partnered with HTC in bringing their own VR head set to market with the Vive. As anyone can tell you, any piece of technology needs a killer app. What better way to convince you to drop a ton of dough on Virtual Reality then a game that people have been wishing for since the 2007 release of Half-Life 2: Episode Two?
Luckily, I’m not alone in my opinion.
Chris Reed offered the same need for a Vive killer app, and the solution that Half-Life 3 would offer in that regard, in an article he penned for Entertainment Cheat Sheet.
There was also an extraordinary flub in the beginning of 2015 by HTC’s Chairwoman, Cher Wang, when she was quoted in an interview with the BBC as saying:
“We are co-operating with Half-Life, and I think… I hope, you know, it will be on it.
That statement is hardly a concrete confirmation, and Wang was forced to walk-back her comments a few days later:
“Regarding my BBC interview with Dave Lee yesterday, I would like to apologize for any confusion caused when I referred to individual games titles,” she said.
“In response to a question on specific games, I misspoke when I referred to our working together with Valve on a particular game, when instead I meant our collaboration with Valve on developing next-generation virtual reality experiences for gaming.”
While that makes the Half-Life 3 hope seem bleak, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can count the title out completely.
In a Kotaku interview from March, Valve Programmer Jeep Barnet said that Valve was experimenting with Half-Life in VR as a tool “for exploring the different kind of game designs we want to do.” Barnet went further in the article when he was asked about the possibility of seeing Half Life in VR in the future:
“We’re not saying no.”
Does all this provide a definite answer that Half-Life 3 is indeed coming, and that we will see the announcement in 2016? No, of course not; however not saying no is a lot better than saying no.
So let’s take that non-no and keep the flame of hope alive! Valve is experimenting with Half-Life in VR. HTC’s Chairwoman got egg on her face when it seemingly spilled the beans on a Half-Life sequel, and Vive needs a killer app lest it get read underfoot by the likes of Oculus Rift and Sony’s Morpheus.
Other Predictions –
Capcom recently renewed a trademark for a long dead series, Onimusha. There wouldn’t be a need to renew that trademark unless there was something new on the horizon that would utilize it, right?
I say we are going to see either a brand new title in the series or at the very least, an HD remaster of the original trilogy.
Namco Bandai surprised us with the crossover guest appearance of Street Fighter alum, Akuma in the upcoming Tekken 7. I contend that Akuma’s arrival portends a reveal of the long ago announced Tekken X Street Fighter.
Devotes of the fighting game genre may recall that back in 2010, Capcom and Namco announced a partnership of sorts for two crossover fighting games: Street Fighter X Tekken, which would be developed by Street Fighter series producer Yoshinori Ono and play in the style of the classic 2D beat ‘em up, and Tekken X Street Fighter, which would be developed by Namco Bandai’s Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada and play more like Tekken.
Street Fighter X Tekken came out in 2012 and was a very fun dream project for fighting fans; however we have never heard much more than a peep regarding Tekken X Street Fighter.
With Akuma appearing in Tekken 7, we now have the test case of how Street Fighter characters can behave within the Tekken universe, and thus, I believe that the time is finally right to see Tekken X Street Fighter burst onto the scene. My guess is that this will be a very special joint announcement between Harada and Ono and the largest fighting game tournament in the world; Evo 2016, which will take place this July.
Square Enix has a good year ahead of them! Dragon Quest’s VII and Dragon Quest VIII are coming to the Nintendo 3DS, Dragon Quest XI will probably get pushed to 2017, however I’d be willing to bet that we will see a sequel to Dragon Quest Heroes this year.
Final Fantasy XV will be out by the end of the year: I’d say late September, Early October. Reviews will be positive and it will be regarded as a return to form for the Final Fantasy Series.
The first “episode” of the Final Fantasy VII: Remake project will not be out until the first part of 2017, partially as a way to let Final Fantasy XV have its moment in the sun, and partially so they can have a big to-do about releasing it during the twentieth anniversary of Final Fantasy VII’s original release.
Legend of Zelda, which is currently being worked on for the Wii U will also debut on the NX at launch, ala what Nintendo did with the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for Gamecube and Wii.
Rockstar will announce their next title which will release in 2017. It will be a sequel to Red Dead Redemption. (I will be very happy)
Unravel, due out in February from EA, will be the overlooked game of the year.
Nintendo will announce the next Mario game during their reveal of the NX this year. The new title will be more along the lines of a Super Mario 64 than Super Mario 3D World.
Everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed squirrel, Conker, will make a grand return! Pro-wrestler Ken Anderson recently posted on Instagram that he had done some voice work for a “top super secret squirrel video game project.” and also thanked his friend Steve Jaros for arranging the opportunity. Steve Jaros was a former writer at Volition, responsible for penning the rowdy works of the Saints Row series. Rare, the creators of the raunchy Conker franchise, is currently busy working on their open-world pirating game, Sea of Thieves for the Xbox One. Volition’s work on the Saints Row series would make them a natural fit for bringing the naughty nature of Conker back to life.
So there you have it. My random predictions for 2016. Some of these predictions might end up being correct; others (most) will end up being way off the mark, however the important thing to remember, is that 2016 has arrived, and we have an incredible year of gaming ahead of us!
Do you have any predictions for 2016? Any game or announcement that you hope to see? Prognosticate for the world in the comments section below.
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