With 2017 rapidly approaching, we figured the best to to wrap up 2016 was to look as the prospects of the current batch of consoles moving forward. Will the Xbox One take the catbird seat from the PlayStation 4? Will handheld gaming survive the arrival of the Switch? Will VR prove it’s finally here to stay as the ascendant from of gaming? Will the Wii U stage a miraculous comeback and become the greatest success anyone has ever known? Well, that last one is a hard no, but everything else is up in the air.
Here are our predictions for the year to come:
|The PlayStation 4’s 2016 was a solid year, but it doesn?t hold a candle to what is in store for the system in 2017. Third-party support from Japanese and Western developers alike will continue to be the best in the business, and the PS4 Pro and PlayStation VR both put Sony on decent, if not spectacular, hardware footing. For games, the year is starts out strong with the VR-exclusive launch of Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, followed closely by Horizon Zero Dawn. The system’s secret weapon in 2017, however, is likely one of three huge titles that aren’t currently confirmed for release. The Last of Us Part II is probably the least likely candidate to be out by next December, but hype will continue to build either way. More likely to release is God of War, which has been in development for years and looks close to wrapping up. Finally, and more or less a shoo-in for a 2017 launch, is Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, the standalone single-player DLC for Uncharted 4. Things are looking good no matter what way you cut it, but with one or more of those first-party releases, this coming year could be blindingly bright.
|“Scattered clouds” is the perfect, comfortable weather?not too hot, not too cold. It doesn’t impede you from doing anything, like a rainstorm might, and it also makes outside not so hot as to be unbearable bright. Things could easily get worse, but they could easily get better, and that’s about right for the Xbox One’s 2017. Bright spots include strong third-party support, the continued expansion of the system’s backward compatibility program, and promising first-party games like Halo Wars 2. Plus, there’s the always sunny Phil Spencer running things, and it’s hard to be too pessimistic with him around. The chance for a darker?or brighter?turn rests mostly on the still mysterious Project Scorpio. Will the Xbox One close out 2017 with a dominant launch that allows it to dethrone Sony at the top and redefine console gaming as we know it? Only time will tell.
|Listen, we’re not entirely certain what would happen to weather forecasts if we learned that a meteor was hurtling towards the Earth, practically guaranteeing that all life as we know it would cease to exist. Would the weathermen and women of the world still trot valiantly in front of the green screen? Would they burn down the entire Action 7 News Team studio in a blaze of nihilistic glory? Would they stop showing up to work altogether as they sought to fill their final moments with something meaningful? Whatever the answer is, that’s our forecast for the Wii U. Right now, there are essentially no games with confirmed Wii U release dates in 2017. Nintendo will put out Breath of the Wild, but that’s also releasing for the Switch?essentially the meteor, in this metaphor. Few consoles successfully exist alongside their successors for too long, but the Wii U’s death certainly looks to be one of the most abrupt in recent memory.
|Though 2016 was great for the 3DS, there’s a massive storm on the horizon: the Nintendo Switch. So far, Nintendo’s insisted that the hybrid home and portable console is only meant to replace the Wii U and leave the 3DS line untouched. Its gaming lineup, however, says otherwise, with only a handful of games scheduled to release in 2017 and beyond. Unless more content is announced, the Switch could be the tempest that obliterates the current Nintendo generation, sweeping up both the Wii U and 3DS as it goes. On the other hand, all could go as Nintendo promises, with the 3DS sitting safely in the eye of Hurricane Switch. We’ll just have to wait and see if the 3DS can pull off a seventh successful year or if Pokémon Sun and Moon will prove to be the console’s Swanna song.
|For most people, perfect weather consists of blue skies, plenty of sunshine, and warm?but not too warm?temperatures. Some people, however, like something a little different. Like, oh, let’s say a heavy snowfall, where the skies are grey, the air sharp with a bitter chill, and the ground blanketed in white thanks to flurries that seem like they may never let up. Looking ahead to the Vita’s future, the best way we can describe it is just that: continuous, unending, relentless snow. For most of you out there, this really isn’t the place that you want to be stuck at this point in your gaming life. For those who love the snow, however, then it looks like you’re still going to be getting a lot of it in the coming months. There is always the chance that the snow could let up, of course. If that happens, what’ll remain is a cold, quiet, near lifeless landscape, where you can see what remains of the beauty that once was while it lasts, but where you’ll know that?inevitably?the thaw will one day come to make it all but a memory.
|VR hasn’t blown anyone away yet, but it hasn’t let us down either. Now that the three major headsets are out there and available, people will start to look to see what software is coming for them and the future may entirely hinge on games like Resident Evil 7. This is the first title that can be played exactly the same in VR as for a console. If it takes off, you could see other developers looking to try similar techniques, instead of just bonus “experiences” like Ace Combat 7, Star Wars Battlefront, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. If it flops, major developers may start to shy away from the technology and it could rot on the vine. There are other games coming that look good, like Starblood Arena and Farpoint, but they’re still not system sellers. So, right now, VR’s future is hazy. It could turn out okay, if it gets the proper games and hooks in a wide audience. If not, the storm clouds could be ready to roll in and strike this down with some nasty looking lightning. So, right now, it’s foggy at best and at worst.