Urbana 2016 Fall Video Game Preview

Christopher Shea and Erinn Sanders

xbox-controllerPhoto Courtesy of Microsoft
It’s that time of the year again: the leaves are changing color, plenty of holidays are around the corner, and the air has gained a fresh, crisp chill. Yes, autumn truly is the perfect time to go outside and enjoy some quality time with your friends. Or if you’re anything like us, the perfect time to lock yourself in the basement and play videogames all day! Who needs friends when you have a beanbag chair and a potato sack full of Halloween candy to binge-eat? November is the month that bombards mankind with more new games than they know what to do with, so let’s attempt to tackle the mountain of new releases piling up in our front lawn. Brace yourselves!

Battlefield 1

Release Date: October 21, 2016

CHRIS: Although I doubt anyone was expecting it, you do have to commend EA for going through with an idea like this that totally came out of the blue. A WWI-themed Battlefield game wasn’t on anybody’s radar, and it will be interesting to see if/how exactly they manage to make it work. I was able to play a little during the beta, and was mildly underwhelmed. The “biggest battlefield map ever” they were boasting about turned out to be 80% sandy nothingness. The other 20% was full of 12 year olds running me over with horses and screaming obscenities about my mother. WWI, by today’s standards, wasn’t very technologically advanced. When you’ve got other games that let you call in airstrikes with laser cannons and eat a hot pocket at the same time, Battlefield 1 ends up having to forego some of the authenticity to keep up, leaving the whole affair feeling surprisingly samey. If you like Battlefield, it stands to reason that you’ll like Battlefield 1.

ERINN: All FPS fans, raise your heads in joy, for the original shooter that we’ve all desired has finally arrived! No longer a space shooter, or a modern warfare clone, we have a game set in World War I! Sure, it’s still an FPS, and sure, someone decided to call it “Battlefield 1” instead of “Battlefield 11”, but this game shows promise. The trailer is full of explosive action and stunning graphics that fans of the series have been waiting months for. Hopefully it will deliver on the hype. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t end up like every other Battlefield game, a forgettable pile of nothing.

Dishonored 2

Release Date: November 11, 2016

CHRIS: I do love a good stealth game. Nothing beats the tension of sneaking past enemy guards and stealing every single food item in the place. However, I’ll be the first to admit that the genre can also have its dull moments. I mean, what can possibly surpass the fun of hiding in a dumpster for 20 minutes waiting for a guard patrol to pass? Quite a few things, come to think of it. And therein lies Dishonored’s greatest strength. Developer Arkane Studios have managed to cut out all the boring realism of stealth and replace it with magic powers! Need to steal that guy’s key? Stop time, run up to him and punch him in the face! Need to get into that mansion? Teleport onto a balcony, possess a fish in the nearby moat, swim it through a sewer grate, and pop out semi-clean on the other side! There are so many different ways to approach each level, it’s like if Thief and Deus Ex had the best baby ever. I’m looking forward to this one.

ERINN: I won’t lie, I know absolutely nothing about this game. I never played the original, nor do I understand the plot. What I do know, however, is that its developer, Arcane Studios, also worked on Bioshock 2, a perfectly average game. There are many great voice actors working with the game, like Rosario Dawson and Vincent D’Onofrio. Many of them have worked on great movies and videogames in the past. Despite not having played the original, I can say with at least some certainty that this game won’t disappoint its fanbase.

Watchdogs 2

Release Date: November 15, 2016

CHRIS: What? They’re making another one? One would think after the steaming pile of mediocrity that was Watchdogs 1 that Ubisoft would simply give up and kill the franchise before things could get any worse. But it would appear that they had other plans, and were working on a sequel before the first even came out. That would be like building a Titanic 2 to celebrate the first one’s successful construction. Who knows, maybe Ubisoft will finally pull their act together and put out a good game with lots of polish and an actual story this time… psyche! In all honesty, I hope Watchdogs 2 is good. The first game had a promising concept, despite its number of glaring flaws. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one, but maybe Ubisoft has finally changed their ways. Now that I think about it, Ubisoft is like the abusive boyfriend you keep coming back to. “DAD, HE’S CHANGED!”

ERINN: After the mediocre release of 2013’s biggest disappointment, Watch Dogs—­the oatmeal of video games, many fans were hesitant when they heard that a sequel was going to be released. This innovative game combines hacking with combat. The lively open world is a blend of solo and co-op, players being able to enter your world at will. The trailer introduced the new main character, and fans are getting excited for what they hope will be a good game.

WWE 2K17

Release Date: October 11, 2016

CHRIS: While actual wrestling appeals to me like a ball of sweaty men and spandex, somehow I can get behind professional wrestling. There’s something so majestic about besting your opponent by hopping out of the ring and pummeling them into submission with a folding chair. WWE 2K17 brings that experience to your living room, but without all the blood and broken furniture. At long last, you can fulfill your lifelong dream of becoming a pro wrestler and fight John Cena, the legendary pokémaster. If that ever gets boring, you can create your own realistic wrestler and enter him into the fray. Or just create an eldritch horror that looks like a hybrid between a Teletubby and Nosferatu. Either way, WWE 2K17 is the game of choice if you want some mindless, stupid(-ly awesome) fun.

ERINN: Everyone had one question on their mind: “Would his holiness be in WWE 2K17?” Do not worry my friends, for the man whom we seek will be delivered, and his name is JOHN CENAAA! With 175 diverse star wrestlers on the roster, enhanced gameplay, and the option to create your own superstar this is a game you will not want to miss. After searching for a few hours, I found something interesting. This game is a lot more popular than I thought. Sure, I figured that there’d be a few fans, but whole forums dedicated just to it? It was shocking. This game has legions of fans, and many of them are very excited for this game. Did you like WWE 2K16? If you did this game won’t disappoint.

Infinite Warfare

Release Date: November 4, 2016

CHRIS: Well, time to talk about the next-gen intergalactic war elephant in the room. The trailer for Infinite Warfare has one of the highest amounts of dislikes ever on YouTube, which bodes poorly for whatever it is they’re trying to sell us this time. The Call of Duty franchise has always felt like a messy custody battle between parent developers Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Treyarch is like the struggling single mother trying to raise poor little CoD Jr. to the best of her ability. Her ex, Infinity Ward, is a stumbling drunken mess of a development house. He’s not the man he used to be, but it’s his turn nonetheless. Treyarch has always managed to put out a pretty decent game, but the same cannot be said for Infinity Ward. The last game they put out, CoD: Ghosts, was met with criticism for being pretty much the same game they’ve been releasing since MW3. But this time, it’s in space, guys! If you’re a loyal fan of the series, you probably already pre-ordered it. If you’re on the fence, I’d stay there until reviews come in. Besides, the view’s pretty nice up on the fence.

ERINN: Halo, or Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare as it is apparently being called, has managed to become one of Activision’s most hated games, which is saying a lot for a company that made Destiny and its paid DLCs. Set in the future, its unoriginal setting has been described as a precursor to its unoriginal plot. A federation of the world’s countries forms to mine and populate the rest of space, but militant groups rise up and your job is to kill them. Wow, that plot is so great it is almost like it has not been heard thirty times before! The fans have hated it since day one, its trailer on YouTube receiving over 1.5 million dislikes. Activision appears to have known how much of a negative reaction it would get, as the game is also packaged with Modern Warfare Remastered, one of the best Call of Duty games. Will that save this game’s sales? Probably. Most young fanboys will buy anything with the Call of Duty name on it, despite the lackluster quality.