The Spring and Summer months are currently less dense with new releases than the first three months of the year, but that should change fairly soon, especially since publishers have staked a claim to every week from the beginning of April to the end of June with at least one big new release dropping every seven days.
Are you ready? Because here… we… go…
More Day-By-Day Guides: January – March | April – September
From a purely business standpoint, April has always been a great time to release a game. The Winter cold snap is finally clearing up for much of the country, and your average video game company is transitioning to a new financial quarter. So why not release a big new game to goose sales? And wouldn’t you know it, all three consolemakers, and a few smaller publishers, are putting that plan to work.
It all starts on April 5th with the release of Quantum Break, Remedy’s first project for the Xbox One. As the developers of cult favorite Alan Wake, Microsoft has a lot of faith in Remedy to deliver a trippy time-hopping action-adventure, but the developer also wants to try something new. So Quantum Break will include an episodic presentation similar to Alan Wake, but it’s been augmented with a live-action story starring Shawn Ashmore (X-Men‘s Iceman) and Dominic Monaghan (Lost‘s Charlie) as brothers Jack and William. Live-action and video games usually don’t mix, but Her Story was a surprise success last year, so maybe we’re finally ready for the future we were promised in 1992.
A week later, Bandai Namco and From Software will test the resolve of gamers everywhere with the release of the third Dark Souls game in as many years, Dark Souls III (PC, PS4, Xbox One). Well, technically, last year’s Darks Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin was a re-release, but I’m still going to count it here. Described as “a turning point” for the franchise by series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, Dark Souls III will surely punish players in the most entertaining ways possible.
Sony also plans to release Ratchet & Clank (PS4) on April 12th. Not quite a remake of the first game, the latest adventure for the titular duo was actually built as a tie-in for an upcoming film adaptation. However, original developer Insomniac Games is behind this “reimagining,” so at the very least, we’ll get an authentic new Ratchet & Clank game out of it.
With Microsoft and Sony carving up the early days of April, Nintendo slides in for the middle of the month with two new games. Bravely Second: End Layer (3DS), an RPG from Square Enix, was originally expected to launch earlier in the year. But it was officially given an April 15th release date recently, which is just a week ahead of Star Fox Zero (Wii U). Unlike what it says on the box, Star Fox Zero won’t be an origin story for the series (Miyamoto just likes the look of the kanji character for “Zero”), but it will offer a new “Cockpit View” using the Wii U GamePad. Star Fox Zero will be co-developed by Platinum Games, who might go down as the Rare of the Wii U era after also producing the excellent The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2.
PS4 players will likely start feeling a bit roguish during the end of April, as Naughty Dog plans to release Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4) on April 26th. After suffering multiple delays (it was originally scheduled to launch in Fall 2015), Nathan Drake’s final adventure is appearing much later than most gamers had hoped. But Naughty Dog is promising one last ride for the scruffy thief and… you know what, none of this “end” and “final” and “last” stuff sounds good for Drake’s future prospects. He can survive train derailments and burning buildings and plane crashes, but I don’t think he’s making it out of this one alive. Though now that we know Naughty Dog can do heartrending life-and-death drama, maybe it’s OK to say goodbye.
April 5, 2016
April 12, 2016
April 15, 2016
April 22, 2016
April 26, 2016
April 28, 2016
The merry month of May will shine a spotlight on three first person shooters, each with a very unique art style, but all touching on themes of revolution.
First out of the gate is Battleborn (PC, PS4, Xbox One), Gearbox’s MOBA-like FPS that isn’t technically a MOBA. Dubbed a “Hero Shooter” by Gearbox, players will choose from dozens of characters to take into battle against the evil Varelsi and the eviler Lothar Rendain. And while it isn’t Borderlands 3, Gearbox fans will be pleased to know that Battleborn has a sense of humor that wouldn’t feel out of place on Pandora (every Battleborn trailer includes the word “badass” at least twice). Oh, and yes, a four-player co-op mode will be included.
Id Software returns from their rather tumultuous exile this May with a sequel/reboot to the daddy of all first person shooters, Doom (PC, PS4, Xbox One). After losing co-founder John Carmack to Oculus, many people have wondered if id will be able to recapture the magic of Doom in 2016. But… it’s DOOM… that’s all we really need to worry about. The recent trailers look excellent and the game’s two Alpha Tests have been rousing successes. So even though Carmack left id in 2013, the developer seems to be doing everything right to evoke the classic feel of the franchise while still exploring some uncharted territory.
Homefront: The Revolution (PC, PS4, Xbox One), set to be released on May 17th, is a more traditional modern military shooter, and the story of how it came to be might be more interesting than the game itself. The Revolution was originally going to be published by THQ with development by Crytek. However, THQ went bankrupt shortly after development began, and Crytek swooped in to purchase the franchise rights in the ensuing auction, signing up Deep Silver as a co-publisher. But then Crytek ran into money trouble and sold the whole thing (including the development team) to Deep Silver just to stay afloat. And all this financial wrangling is in service to a game where a reunited Korea somehow invades the US and then somehow wins a brief war, forcing a group of good old-fashioned American patriots to 1776 these invaders back across the Pacific.
Much less traditional is Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst (PC, PS4, Xbox One), which is more of a first person actio game than a first person shooter. Developed by DICE and published by EA, Catalyst is a reboot of the similarly parkour-themed Mirror’s Edge. Players will once again take control of Faith as she practically floats through a city of glass to put an end to an oppressive government.
We can’t close out the month of May without talking about Nintendo. Nintendo loves releasing big games in May, including Mario Kart 8 in 2014 and Splatoon last year. The consolemaker currently has nothing on the schedule for 2016 but there’s a lot of possibilities including The Legend of Zelda Wii U, Pikmin 4, and a recently rumored new entry in the Paper Mario series. There’s no guarantee that either of these games will be available this Spring, but my fingers are crossed.
On the other hand, Capcom has guaranteed that Umbrella Corps (PC, PS4) won’t be released by March 31 as originally planned. Instead, the publisher has pushed the Resident Evil arena shooter to sometime in May.
May 3, 2016
May 13, 2016
May 17, 2016
May 24, 2016
May 27, 2016
May X, 2016
Moving into June, we’ll surely learn a lot more about a number of 2016 releases during the annual E3 Expo, which is scheduled to kick off on June 14. Most publishers eschew releasing new titles in June so as to not compete with the Expo, but a few games will set hearts aflutter in the middle of the year.
Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir (PS3, PS4, Vita) is one of the few games with a confirmed June release date (June 7th, to be exact), and it is definitely one to keep your eye on if you love Japanese RPGs. Odin Sphere was originally released for the PS2 in 2007, and the side-scrolling RPG has gained quite a reputation over the years for its hand-drawn characters and environments. This remake will finally put the game in the hands of more people, though the original is one of the few obscure Japanese RPGs that isn’t that hard to find.
However, Odin Sphere will likely be overshadowed by the release of Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (3DS, PC, PS3, PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One), the first game in the blockbuster franchise since 2011. TT Games will tackle an adaptation of the latest addition to the Star Wars while also adding new story bits that’ll bridge the Original Trilogy with the Sequel Trilogy.
But right now, players are probably most looking forward to June for the promise of a pair of indie games with ridiculously outsized ambitions.
No Man’s Sky (PC, PS4) is being produced by Sean Murray and his team at Hello Games, which currently numbers less than ten people. This ragtag team of developers has banded together to create a space exploration game where players can touch down on 18 quintillion (that’s an 18 followed by 18 zeros) planets in search of… something. The actual “why” of the game is still a big mystery, but the hook of a nigh-infinite procedurally-generated universe is a good one. It’s so good that Murray even got to visit The Late Show With Stephen Colbert back in October.
Also available this June (though currently available in Early Access/Game Preview on the PC and Xbox One) is Ark: Survival Evolved (PC, PS4, Xbox One) from Studio Wildcard. It’s a multiplayer survival game that throws prehistoric dinosaurs, futuristic technology, and the ability to tame and ride those dinosaurs using futuristic technology into a blender. Ark: Survival Evolved ticks a lot of the nerd fantasy boxes, and it’s also been getting pretty good notices from Early Access/Game Preview users, so it’s definitely one to keep an eye on this June.
June 7, 2016
June 21, 2016
June 28, 2016
June X, 2016
Other Games With Spring 2016 Release Dates
A few other titles are currently in line to launch this Spring, but Bethesda might upstage them all.
In addition to launching Doom in May, the publisher plans to release Dishonored 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) in the April-June season as well. Dishonored’s mystical steampunk vibe entranced a lot of players in 2012 (and again last year with the Definitive Edition), but Bethesda has been a bit tight-lipped about the sequel. Still, if the game really is just a few months away, it’ll definitely be one to keep an eye out for… though Corvo did have a penchant for turning invisible.
Also scheduled to be released this Spring is Blizzard’s Overwatch (PC, PS4, Xbox One), which is in a two-man race with Battleborn for the “Hero Shooter” crown. Blizzard’s entry in the suddenly-crowded subgenre is bright, colorful, and features a similarly strong sense of whimsy. It’s almost too bad that both games are launching so close to each other, as they appeal to the exact same type of player.
Thankfully, this Spring will offer more than first person shooters, as Heart Machine will finally launch Hyper Light Drifter (PC, PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox One) in the coming months. The overhead Zelda-like adventure features a fantastic hyper-pixelated art style and a suitably epic feel. If Nintendo doesn’t fill the Zelda-shaped hole in my heart this Spring, at least someone will.
However, if you’re a fantasy fan and you’re looking for something interesting this Spring, you might want to investigate Fable Legends (PC, Xbox One). Lionhead’s next installment in the franchise (and the first produced since founder Peter Molyneux left the company) will be offered to players as a free-to-play title using a unique 4v1 mechanic. Players will form a party of Heroes who band together to battle the Villain, but the twist is that the Heroes will be playing a traditional action RPG, while the Villain will control his minions like an RTS. Who knows if it’ll work, but it will be free.
Microsoft will also release Gears of War: Ultimate Edition for the PC this Spring.
Finally, Keiji Inafune continues to have trouble with Mighty No. 9 (PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One) and the developer has delayed the spiritual successor to his most famous creation once again. At the rate we’re going, it’s possible that Capcom could slip an actual Mega Man game into the gap before the launch of Mighty No. 9. Not that I think that would happen, but it would certainly be a poetic end to Inafune’s one-sided rivalry with his former employer.
Other Games With Summer 2016 Release Dates
While the first six months of the year are guaranteed to be packed with new releases, the Summer is currently looking a little dry. I think it’s only a matter of time until publishers begin to fill the calendar with currently undated titles (especially when you realize how full the rest of the year is), but for now, there’s not much to focus on.
The only game with a locked-in July, August, or September release date is Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PC, PS4, Xbox One), which will be released on August 23rd. Set two years after Human Revolution, Mankind Divided will mark the return of augmented secret agent Adam Jensen and his clandestine war with the Illuminati.
Aside from augmented humans, the Summer will also feature a new take on everyone’s favorite mutated turtles as Platinum Games will release Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One) for Activision. Like last year’s Transformers: Devastation, their TMNT game will be based on the classic designs that are currently being used by the IDW comic book series. Platinum has also recruited the comic’s writer to pen the story for their game.
Sports will dominate the rest of the Summer, as Madden NFL 17 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One) will surely huddle around its expected late August launch with FIFA 17 (TBA), NBA 2K17 (TBA), NBA Live 17 (TBA), and NHL 17 (TBA) all set for a September bow.
A trio of RPGs will also be released this Summer, with Square Enix’s Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (3DS) at the top of the list. Technically a remake of a PlayStation game, Fragments of the Forgotten Past will jettison the random encounters you’d typically find in an RPG from 2001, while also receiving a completely new localization and a redesigned graphical style. Nintendo is calling it “a brand new game,” and I think they’re right.
Dragon Quest VII will be joined on portable systems this Summer by the third entry in the Zero Escape series, Zero Escape Volume 3 (3DS, Vita). And PC players looking for something a little grander will be able to venture back to Azeroth for World of Warcraft: Legion (PC).
Finally, rumors abound that Nintendo will release their mysterious NX console this Summer, but I’m not convinced. Nintendo has nearly a dozen Wii U projects in the works (most with solid release dates), so I doubt the company could launch a new console in six months without a major overhaul to their development pipeline. And that’s just not something I see happening.
July 26, 2016
August 23, 2016
August X, 2016
September X, 2016
That’s it for our in-depth look at 2016’s Spring and Summer months. This year’s “Fall Gaming Rush” promises to include at least a few dozen eagerly anticipated titles, but most of the release dates are still up in the air. So be sure to check out our complete Video Game Release Calendar, which includes hundreds of titles that’ll launch in 2016, 2017, 2018, and beyond.