As a sort of housewarming, Bandai Namco recently invited EGM and other outlets into their new Bay Area offices located in Santa Clara. Being that it was the same day as the launch of Dark Souls III, I figured there was no way any other of their offerings could divert my attention. I was wrong—and the following list of five upcoming games are a brief look at how Bandai Namco plans to plow through 2016.
It’s been almost a decade since the release of Tekken 6, and these days, it seems the Tekken name has been kept alive on the back of Street Fighter crossovers and other offshoots. Thanks to Bandai Namco, I didn’t have to travel to Japanese arcades to get ready for the next battle, though. Easily the most popular game at the event, Tekken 7 was available as a sit down arcade cabinet where I played as Asuka Kazama and got my ass handed to me (I’ll have you know, I once made it to the semi-finals of a Tekken 6 tournament). I wasn’t able to nail the new Rage Art maneuver—a devastating special move that mimics Street Fighter IV’s Ultra combos—but maybe that was due to me marveling at one of my favorite fighting games rendered using the Unreal Engine for the first time. The announced support for VR was not at the event, nor was a PlayStation 4 version, which is what I wanted more than anything else, however.
Bandai Namco has a knack for importing some of the best licensed video games from Japan, introducing America to franchises that would otherwise remain obscure (two are on this list). This was the case for me and Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, as I did not play the recent Sword Art Online or previously watch the anime. From the brief time I had with it, the sequel was a better looking and sleeker version of Xenoblade Chronicles X, only lacking the same feeling of control over my teammates. I loved the mapping of abilities to the D-Pad, making sure multitasking didn’t feel clumsy, as well as the ease of going in and out of missions on the map full of enemies. My only hope is that the story is as fleshed out as the anime and manga Hollow Realization is inspired from.
The most painful experience from the event aside from getting destroyed at Tekken 7 was only getting to spend 20 minutes with Necropolis. I had never heard of this game—a cross between Dark Souls and spelunking, they told me—but after managing the familiar controls, most of the noise in the room muddled and I only wanted to meet and greet the next enemy with my charged attack. Necropolis is more than a minimalist take on the Souls series. The small team decided to include perma-death, but balance it out with various codexes, each with their own perks that carry over to the next playthrough. Picking up enemy weapons was a treat, and the simple yet grim aesthetic left me wanting to explore the next procedurally-generated dungeon with three of my friends.
If you’ve already forked over the $40 for early access to this title on Steam, you’ll require little convincing to try out the latest entry into the Warhammer 40K series. While I could never quite get into the table-top version (it’s an expensive hobby) or the RTS games from THQ, I always felt a large-scale, PvP title would be a perfect fit for casual fans like me. Bandai Namco’s Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade is massive and visceral, and avoids mindless action with a heavy reliance on your squadmates. As early as the copy I played was, it reminded me of a gorgeous, updated version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars from almost a decade ago. I know some people are squeamish on the early access model, so I won’t go out on a limb and demand you purchase the Alpha. However, my time with the game has me looking forward to a polished, final version whenever that day comes.
Last month, if you told me a story about developers trying to corner the market on free-to-play golf MMOs, I would have laughed, but Winning Putt converted me faster than you could say “Dianetics.” Maybe it’s gone under your radar, as sports games from anyone other than EA or 2K generally go unnoticed, but now is a great time to put in a few rounds with this hidden gem. The mechanics are as competent as any EA Sports PGA Tour title, and developer Webzen OnNet has now filled it with a fast paced Time Attack mode, raising the stakes with the first ever grand championship in the fall. It’s free, it’s CryEngine, and it’s a golf MMO. My time with the game saw me play a few rounds on an early version of the new Starglen map, an unusual course that’s okay with stepping away from the usual green—a reminder that Winning Putt doesn’t take itself too seriously, and welcomes all types of players.