The annual Gamescom video game event in Cologne always provides some tantalising glimpses into the latest PC games. This year’s gathering, which wrapped in August, served up good-looking titles ranging from emotive, thought-provoking indie adventures to system-stressing cinematic swagger.
Here’s our pick of of the ten most interesting Gamescom 2017 releases…
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
The tenth major episode in the Assassin’s Creed series looks set to take the franchise to the next level. Set in the vast expanse of Ptolemaic Egypt — the series’ largest open world to date — it follows the exploits of a Nubian warrior called Bayek in a story that sets up the origin of the battle between the assassins and the forerunners of the Templars.
With the promise of less free running/tower-climbing and more stealth/assassination, it features a companion eagle that helps you reconnoiter the world, and redesigned mechanics for more considered hand-to-hand combat. With an extensive RPG-style weapon and skills system, underwater exploration, naval combat and dozens of quests and missions, there’s plenty here to get excited about when it drops on October 27.
This new IP from THQ Nordic has only just surfaced, but it already has us intrigued. The self-billed ‘kung fu fable’ is being developed by indie team Experiment 101, which is headed up by ex-Avalanche Studios developer Stefan Ljungqvist, one of the key members of the team behind Mad Max and the Just Cause series.
His new game is set in a post-apocalyptic open world filled with fantastical creatures, and which focuses on fluid Wushu-style combat, mixing melee action and gunplay. The main protagonist is a small raccoon-type creature, whose genetic structure can be recoded, changing the way he looks and moves, and whose exposure to bio-contamination can cause him to gain physical mutations and psionic powers. Sounds awesome.
After a slightly confused start, Bungie’s MMO/RPG-style shooter Destiny grew into a massive hit, and so a sequel (from the company that made five Halo games) was never in much debate. The PC edition supports 4K and an uncapped frame rate, so gamers with a powerful machine can expect a smooth, fluid experience.
You can play alone – with a deeper more engaging campaign this time around – or in co-op or competitive multiplayer, which Bungie has refined to a more compact 4v4 rather than 6v6 experience. While fans of the original will be familiar with the core mechanics, everything else has been ramped up with better visuals, tighter controls, larger game maps and an improved weapons system.
This colourful, quirky adventure game (pictured top) is part of EA’s Originals programme, in which indie developers get the backing of a major publisher. Developed by Swedish team Zoink!, the title puts you in the role of a cub called Fe, exploring a dark Nordic forest in order to combat the ‘Silent Ones’, who threaten the forest’s harmony.
Based on the interconnectedness of nature, you’ll forge musical bonds with the flora and fauna, in turn unlocking new skills and regions. The premise sounds fascinating and the atmospheric visuals make this another title to watch out for in 2018.
Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition
A decade in the making, Final Fantasy XV was released on consoles back in late 2016, leaving PC gamers waiting more than year for their chance to embark on the epic open world adventure. However, the additional development time means that PC gamers will receive all the bonus content and DLC for free. As this glimpse at Gamescom 2017 showed, it has also given Square Enix the chance to enhance the game technically.
FFXV: Windows Edition features 4K HDR lighting support; upgraded high-res texture maps; realistic hair, fur and grass; Dolby Atmos audio; improved fire and smoke simulations; and superior shadows and ambient occlusion. When they say the Windows Edition is ‘Ultimate Quality’, they’re not kidding.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Despite the success of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, news of its sequel was still a pleasant surprise — more so when the sheer ambition of the title was revealed. Building on the original’s ‘Nemesis’ system, which gives enemy orcs a distinct personality and persistent memory of events, Shadow of War sees ranger Talion raise entire orc armies and lay siege to citadels in order to wrest control of Mordor from Sauron. Check out the Monsters trailer released at Gamescom 2017 below.
Everything about the title has been upgraded, from weapon looting to the scale of the world and the creatures in it — while the enhanced Nemesis system adds extra layers of depth to the grisly proceedings. If developer Monolith Productions has pulled off its grand vision, Shadow of War is easily a contender for Game of the Year. It’s out in October.
With a lineage you can trace back through Alien Breed to Smash TV and Robotron, Ruiner is another entry in a long line of top-down twin-stick shooters. But this cyberpunk-styled actioner from Polish crew Reikon Games ups the ante with a richly-detailed explorable world, mission quests and character dialogue. Not to mention a host of increasingly destructive weapons. So if you’ve been yearning for a new Shadowgrounds, this might be right up your street.
Star Wars: Battlefront II
With the Disney/LucasFilm franchise as strong as ever — and the eighth chapter hitting cinemas in December — it’s no surprise that EA’s popular online multiplayer shooter is getting a sequel.
Stockholm-based developer DICE is again at the helm, but this time with help from Criterion, which is handling the vehicular space battles. For once, (Han) solo players are catered for with a full-blown single-player story campaign, and if the trailer videos are anything to go by, this promises to be a thrilling cinematic spectacle like no other, especially on a high-end PC.
The Swords of Ditto
Described as a ‘micro RPG’, this cartoon-style action adventure from indie dev OneBitBeyond, features the classic overhead viewpoint. It’s a style that was pioneered by the likes of Nintendo and Square back in the 8-bit days. Here, it has been revamped and partnered with attractive, high res graphics.
It has all the familiar sword-swinging, monster-killing, dungeon-crawling exploits, but with a twist: when you die, your quest is taken up by a new, randomly generated character and the quest itself changes. Each adventure is unique but the deeds of previous characters build into an heroic legacy, with implications in each successive adventure. With multiple weapon combos and simultaneous local co-op play, The Swords of Ditto sounds like a solid slice of retro-themed fun.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine
Promoted as ‘a bleak American folk tale about travelling, sharing stories, and surviving manifest destiny’, you might be wondering how this melancholic indie title makes the list, but bear with us.
For starters it’s from the makers of the highly acclaimed Gone Home, with stories written by Cara Ellison (Dishonored 2), Austin Walker (Waypoint), Leigh Alexander (The Guardian) and Anne Toole (The Witcher). A walking skeleton travels across America – beautifully depicted with a unique art style by illustrator Kellan Jett – collecting stories from its inhabitants, which are then shared and in turn take on a life of their own. Sounds utterly intriguing.
Prep yourself for these Gamescom 2017 games, and many more to come, with an 8th Generation Intel Core processor.