Summer has been pretty good to gamers in the past few years but after a great start to the year I’ve been in a new release lull. That’s perfectly fine by me as I’ve used the opportunity to work on Final Fantasy IX, Mass Effect 1, and hopefully Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Of course there’s no chance in hell I finish all of those in time for the next crop of shiny new releases, but they’ll be there when I need them again.

So let’s look ahead at what I’m most excited to play. Maybe it’ll match up with yours and we can each buy half the games and share?

6. Persona 5

I’m a recent convert to the awesome Vita and Persona 4: Golden is a must-play for the terrific and tiny console. While I do tire of the dungeons and grinding, the story still has its hooks in me and I can’t wait to find out who the hell is murdering all of these people and why! I’m assuming since I’ve had this much fun with a PS2 game, the PS4 version should be 2x better. It’s simple math.

5.  No Man’s Sky

Console gaming has a serious lack of flying games, and sci-fi for that matter. I often yearn for a meditative flight through a game world so much that I resort to whipping around as a flower in Flower. No Man’s Sky shall be my upgrade as I trade the windy pretentious of Flower for the gargantuan algorithm of NMS. 

I’m not expecting it to live up to the hype, but if I can meditatively soar through a universe of wonder I’ll be happy enough. Toss in a quality story/purpose/gameplay hook and I’ll be over the moon/star/quasar etc.

4. Final Fantasy XV

I’m a sucker for the hype and the great memories with a series that hasn’t been great (for me) in a long time.  New leadership and a surprisingly public admittal of previous mistakes has me hoping for the comeback of the century. It’s a bit funny to think of a AAA game with ten years of expensive development as an underdog, but here we are.

The real-time combat in the demos hasn’t sold me yet. I haven’t felt like I’ve influenced the battle other than showing up and holding attack and an intermittent dodge. Warping away to hide and recover health is not exciting. But those were demos and I’ll give the game the benefit of that. My hope is a deep enough combat system underneath what I’ve seen so far that rewards tinkering, speccing, and general RPG-nerding out.

If this game flops, you can bet it’s the final Final Fantasy we see of this scope. 

3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

I’ll be interested to go back to Human Revolution before this one hits the market. I remember loving it but will the mechanics and story hold up after years of refined action/rpg evolving around it?

The more important question is whether Mankind Divided has done enough to justify its place in a hallowed series that is becoming increasingly diluted. The revolutionary original is now very far away and just 25% of the Deus Ex story.

So far the core of the game appears quite similar to HR. I’d love to see the developers take advantage of the current hardware to create more immersive environments. More NPCs and larger cities would go a long way. I was fairly happy with the combat and stealth before so a general refinement and a new trick here and there should be sufficient.

The lack of innovation in AAA gaming has me extremely cautious of this one, but my love for the series pushes through.

2. The Last Guardian

Talk about cautious excitement. The creators of the astonishing Shadow of the Colossus and critically acclaimed Ico have the gaming world waiting soooo patiently for The Last Guardian. But dear lord it’s been a long time. Some games benefit from necessary delays, and a game of this pedigree deserves all the time it needs. But there can also be very negative reasons why a game takes this long and those projects can often turn out terrible, released only to recoup development cost.

Whatever the hell happens I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us, and I’m putting money on the dog bird dying.

1. South Park: The Fractured But Whole

The safe pick sits atop risky mountain.

I loved The Stick of Truth, its charm and humour shone brightly despite a few flaws. I enjoyed the Mario RPG combat but look forward to the strategic FF Tactics wrinkle coming to the sequel.

South Park creators Trey Park and Matt Stone admitted video game development was a difficult and frustrating process and I’m confident that they’ll take the lessons learned and raise the bar even higher. I was initially skeptical of Obsidian leaving the project, but from the E3 footage it appears everything is right on track and the two most important people are fully involved, and that’s all that really matters.

Sleeper hit for GOTY.