Nintendo
By Matt Peckham
January 10, 2017

Every gaming year’s most anticipated list feels like a mashup of aspiration and prudence, a medley of punchy independent efforts squaring off with titanic franchises designed to reel in loyal fans by the gazillions.

Not that sequels have to be stale. I can’t wait to try Mass Effect: Andromeda, for example, after the triumphs of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Halo Wars 2 revisits the original Xbox 360 game’s laudable, subversive approach to a genre generally inseparable from keyboard and mouse. The Persona games practically make reinvention their watchword. And does anyone really want to gripe about a Red Dead prequel?

What you won’t find in this list are remasters of older games (like Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age and Full Throttle), if only to give new games the attention they deserve. I’m also not listing games thought to be coming but as yet unconfirmed (like “Destiny 2” or EA’s Star Wars Battlefront followup). And I’ve left virtual reality stuff out because that’ll be a separate list. You’ll also find scant mobile games here, sadly, because they’re so difficult to pin down (when they’re pre-listed at all). If the games press has a platform blind spot, it’s definitely mobile.

I’ve listed two Nintendo Switch games, but presume bucketloads are incoming. (We’ll know more about Switch’s launch lineup shortly.) We’ll also see Microsoft’s 4K version of its Xbox One, codenamed “Project Scorpio,” somewhere in 2017’s back half, though like Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, games for Scorpio are supposed to work on the basic Xbox One, so there’s no top secret barrage of launch goodies waiting in the wings.

Otherwise 2017 should tell us plenty about 2018 and beyond. It’s the year Nintendo’s post-Wii U plans go under the microscope, the year we’ll start to see whether 4K gaming and virtual reality can deliver on 2016’s lofty promises, and a year to begin gauging whether the industry can sustain this many rival platforms across a spectrum of interactive models, all vying for our hearts and wallets.

Where applicable, we have also included links to upcoming games’ prequels, so you can get a handle on them before this year’s versions are out.

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Write to Matt Peckham at matt.peckham@time.com.

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