The 20 most anticipated games of 2016

UPDATED (13/10/16): Still huge games ahead this year

Titanfall 2

We've already had a great year for gaming, but the run up to Christmas is when things get totally insane.

Some of those games have already shipped in the last few weeks, including Forza Horizon 3Deus Ex: Mankind DividedGears of War 4, and all of the big PlayStation VR launch games. But there's plenty more coming between now and 25 December, along with the PlayStation 4 Pro console to boot.

Ready to whip your wish list into shape? Here's a look at what we think is still worth anxiously awaiting for the rest of the year, spanning consoles, PCs, VR headsets, and even Nintendo 3DS and mobile.

Given how late we are in the year, we've cut down the current list to 20 picks - but we'll be back up to a full stack of 30 when we roll over to 2017's most anticipated games before the calendar page falls.

1) The Last Guardian

Platform: PlayStation 4

It's finally happening. Announced seven years ago and brought back into public view last year, Team Ico's The Last Guardian will release this December. At least, that's what they're telling us, following another delay from October.

Like Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, you can expect another ravishing and heartfelt adventure, this time built around the companionship of a young boy and his winged beast creature. Our E3 hands-on stirred some familiar emotions, yet also prodded us with unresponsive controls and a rough camera. Hopefully the last months of polish help ensure that it lives up to the massive expectations.

Due: 9 December

Pre-order The Last Guardian here from Amazon

2) Titanfall 2

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Titanfall made an awesome initial impact when it debuted in early 2014, although the mechs-and-infantry shooter had some first-game shortcomings: the lack of a proper campaign limited the appeal to some extent, and the community didn't stick around the multiplayer as long as we'd hoped.

But the second attempt could solidify its must-have status, as Titanfall 2 will have expanded multiplayer action including new Titans and a grappling hook, as well as a narrative-driven single-player campaign that looks to be something special. And this time around, it's coming to PS4 as well.

Due: 28 October

Pre-order Titanfall 2 here from Amazon

3) Pokémon Sun and Moon

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

If there's one particularly essential reason to keep a Nintendo 3DS around, it's Pokémon – especially since Nintendo doesn't release the core entries on non-handheld systems. And there's a new one on the horizon, or two rather: Pokémon Sun and Moon.

It looks a lot like 2013's Pokémon X and Y, which certainly isn't a bad thing, and we've got new monsters to choose from including Rowlet, Popplio, and Litten. More details are sure to follow, but for now watch the trailer above and pick a favourite new starter.

Due: 23 November

Pre-order Pokémon Sun and Moon here from Game

4) Battlefield 1

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

We expected Battlefield 5, but instead we got… Battlefield 1? Try not to think about the name for too long. What really matters is that Battlefield 1 is a welcome move away from the modern gung-ho action of the recent entries, instead embracing the lesser-explored era of World War I.

Otherwise, it's classic Battlefield: expect stunning multiplayer shootouts for up to 64 players, now with a different type of toolset. Expect flamethrowers, clubs, horses, and biplanes as you battle in the Italian Alps, Arabian deserts, and fields of France. And EA promises a much-enhanced solo campaign this time around, too.

Due: 21 October

Pre-order Battlefield 1 here from Game 

5) Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Not into Battlefield's flashback? How about an extreme flash-forward? Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare takes the series' recent future tilt to its logical conclusion, embracing a full sci-fi universe with starships and outer space shootouts. It's Call of Duty meets Halo, minus the silly-looking aliens.

There's a silver lining here if you love Call of Duty but don't dig the premise: Activision will also release Modern Warfare Remastered, an HD-updated version of the 2007 classic that brings a serious graphical overhaul and includes the campaign and 10 of the original maps.

Due: 4 November

Pre-order Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare here from Amazon

6) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

It seems like no major last-gen game will rest until it has been remastered, but we can't be cynical about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's revival. This is one of the most beloved and utterly expansive role-playing epics of all time, and we can't wait to experience it all over again on new hardware.

As the last chunk of this video shows, the 2011 game has been dramatically upgraded with enhanced textures and artwork, lighting effects, and even the ability to use fan-made mods on consoles. If you loved The Witcher III or Dragon Age: Inquisition and somehow missed Skyrim, here's your next massive fantasy time sink.

Due: 28 October

Pre-order The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim here from Game

7) The Walking Dead: Season 3

The Walking Dead: Season 3

Platforms: TBD

Telltale Games has expanded its episodic storytelling approach to everything from Game of Thrones to Minecraft, but its biggest success to date – The Walking Dead – remains its best and most accomplished work. And it will continue its tale before the year's up.

We're not going to get into spoilers, but the first two seasons were gut-wrenching and glorious takes on the zombie apocalypse. Season three introduces new character Javier alongside Clementine, and promises old faces and other fresh ones alike. Get caught up now if you haven't played the past seasons!

Due: November 2016

8) Dishonored 2

Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One

One of the last generation's finest stealth-action experiences is back next year in Arkane's sequel, which delivers a second playable lead – Emily Kaldwin in addition to Corvo Attano – and it's still possible to complete the game without taking a life.

Add in new abilities, such as mind-blowing psychic grappling hooks of sorts, as well as a fresh city to roam and Dishonored 2 is shaping up to be one amazing sequel. And if you missed the first Dishonored, it was remastered for PS4 and Xbox One last year.

Due: 11 November

Pre-order Dishonored 2 here from Amazon 

9) Super Mario Run

Platforms: iOS, Android

Side-scrolling runners have thrived on mobile for years, but while Super Mario Run might not break much new ground, we're still excited to play a Mario platformer on iOS (and eventually Android).

It looks a bit like the great Rayman Fiesta Run, as you tap to jump and interact with the levels as Mario auto-sprints, and the great look of the console games remains intact. Best of all, it'll have one price tag within the free download to unlock all of the content.

Due: December

10) Dead Rising 4

Platforms: Xbox One, PC

Thank you, Capcom. After Dead Rising 3 traded away some of its trademark humour and visual panache, this winter's Dead Rising 4 is a return to the series' roots in more ways than one.

Not only does this open-world zombie-slayer look absolutely silly and more over-the-top than ever, but it also brings back original hero Frank West, returns to Willamette, Colorado, and takes place during the Christmas shopping season. Sounds like a concoction for hilarious nonsense, which we can't wait to savour.

Due: 6 December

Pre-order Dead Rising 4 here from Amazon

11) Star Trek: Bridge Crew

Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR

VR headsets are opening up new kinds of play experiences, and here's a perfect example: Star Trek: Bridge Crew puts you in a first-person view as a Federation officer, dealing with threats that emerge.

It's so unlike the usual licensed action games we usually see, yet it's a totally perfect fit for the immersive nature of VR. Working as part of a four-player team with other headset wearers is such a spot-on premise – we can't wait to suit up.

Due: 29 November

12) Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker (Wii U)

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

One of the absolute best Wii U games is coming to 3DS in time for the holidays, which means you'll have another engrossing handheld game to keep you busy alongside Pokémon Sun and Moon.

As on the console (shown), Super Mario Maker lets you create your own courses using the familiar blocks and power-ups of past games, plus you can share and download stages. And there are 100 pre-made stages already on the cartridge for you to dig into, as well.

Due: 2 December

13) Batman: Return to Arkham

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4

You've got copious Batman options this autumn: Telltale's continuing episodic series, Batman: Arkham VR for PlayStation VR, and now also Batman: Return to Arkham on PS4 and Xbox One. Originally set to release this summer, this last-gen dynamic duo will debut in a matter of days.

Return to Arkham bundles together two of the all-time greatest superhero games, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, complete with major graphics upgrades and all bundled DLC. If you're not into VR and you've already exhausted Arkham Knight, this might be the way to go.

Due: 21 October

Pre-order Batman: Return to Arkham here from Amazon

14) Steep

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Ubisoft's next open-world game breaks from the publisher's typical action focus and… well, surprisingly, it's a winter sports game. At least it's not just confined to snowboarding: Steep also lets you swap to skis, a wingsuit, or a paraglider at any time, so you can explore the massive mountains however you see fit.

Steep is not only a surprising AAA franchise attempt in 2016, but it's also hugely promising: Ubisoft has the ambition and tech to nail this vision of an open-world winter wonderland, so hopefully all the pieces come together. At the very least, we'll be swooping in to experience the wonderfully insane first-person "GoPro view" with the wingsuit.

Due: December

Buy Steep here from Game

15) Final Fantasy XV

Platform: PS4, Xbox One

After the underwhelming Final Fantasy XIII and the rough start the online-only Final Fantasy XIV had, it's high time for the once-legendary RPG series to have a big win.

Final Fantasy XV looks like it's up to the task. It's big and beautifully rendered, of course, with an intriguing story about warring nations and powerful beings, plus it has gargantuan boss battles and cool dudes who go on a road trip together. So long as the lengthy quest isn't a grinding slog, it could be something special. And it has PlayStation VR support, to boot.

Due: 29 November

Pre-order Final Fantasy XV here from Amazon

16) Owlboy

Platform: PC

In development for nearly a decade, Owlboy is an incredibly charming-looking throwback to 16-bit platformers. The titular birdman can fly and carry items and allies of any weight, which how you'll use varying abilities along the way.

The amplified 16-bit aesthetic is a delight, as is the soaring soundtrack, and this is one indie game that looks like it'll be well worth the wait. We suspect a console release will follow further down the line.

Due: 1 November

17) Watch_Dogs 2

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC

The original Watch_Dogs had its moments, but was a bit too dour and limited – but the sequel could really deliver on that hack-anything promise. Especially since now you really can hack just about any device in the world, not just those wielded by pre-determined targets.

That should give this open-world action game more of a distinctive tone compared to the competition, plus Watch_Dogs 2 has a much more intriguing destination in San Francisco, not to mention a nerdy lead and a proper sense of humour. Like Ubisoft's own Assassin's Creed II back when, will this be the game that cements Watch_Dogs as an essential action franchise?

Due: 15 November

Pre-order Watch_Dogs 2 here from Amazon 

18) Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Platform: PC

Civilization is one of the all-time classic PC strategy time sinks, and Firaxis is back at it again: Sid Meier's Civilization VI is coming this autumn to keep you up late on weeknights. It's another 4X historical affair, but some new tweaks could make for an even better experience.

There's a more colorful and almost cartoonish aesthetic featured this time around, along with promised multiplayer enhancements and multi-tile city layouts that let you better tweak your home base around the local terrain.

Due: 21 October

Pre-order Sid Meier's Civilization VI here from Game

19) LawBreakers

Platform: PC

Of all the hero-based shooters out this year, LawBreakers looks like the best bet for fast-paced, aggressive thrills: it's a team-based affair, albeit one built like a classic arena shooter. Except that gravity is broken, which totally twists up the demolished environments.

The in-your-face attitude is laid on a little thick, but Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski's big PC shooter return looks like it might scratch that itch for a classic Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament-esque multiplayer experience. And it won't be free-to-play, as first planned, so that's a plus.

Due: TBD 2016

20) Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One

Ubisoft wisely decided to give Assassin's Creed the year off after a relentless annual release schedule filled with hits and misses, but while we don't get a new game this autumn, we will get remastered versions of some last-gen faves.

Assassin's Creed II and Brotherhood are two of the absolute best entries in the open-world historical action series, and while Revelations isn't quite up to snuff, it does cap off Ezio Auditore's trilogy – and all three see graphical upgrades here.

Due: 18 November

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