Written by Tom Fair
Like every year, development studios across the world have promised us the moon on a stick for 2020. And, like every year, it’s someone’s job to sort through the piles of announcements and grand claims. Today, just for you, that someone is me.
Here are the biggest things to look out for this year!
Final Fantasy VII Remake – March 3rd
Not a new release as such, but one that we seem to have been waiting for forever. First announced at E3 2015, Square Enix’s most popular entry to the Final Fantasy series is getting the full treatment – modern graphics, voice acting, updates to the iconic score by Nobuo Uematsu, and an all-new action combat system with tactical pausing.
But we won’t get the whole thing. March 3rd is the release date for the first part of the game, focusing on protagonist Cloud’s adventures in Midgar, where the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE is taking on the evil megacorporation Shinra. No announcements have been made about future installations, but there is a great opportunity to flesh out the iconic, retro-futuristic city of Midgar in this reboot.
Animal Crossing New Horizons – March 20th
Animal Crossing fans have had a long wait too; their last main release was New Leaf in 2012. Tom Nook is back to set you up on a deserted island, as you transform it from a forgotten gem into a bustling community full of charm!
Like the mobile app Pocket Camp, gathering materials and crafting is the name of the game, and being able to set up and freely move your creations anywhere on the island is a big step forward for the series. Finally, actual multiplayer is coming too, with 4 people able to play on one system, or 8 people online. Animal Crossing is sure to keep its crown as the perfect chill-out game.
Just don’t think too hard about Mr Nook’s debt repayments.
Cyberpunk 2077 – April 16th
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a tough act to follow, but development studio CD Projekt Red might just do it by taking on the Cyberpunk franchise. 2077 is an open-world action RPG set in the supersized Night City, complete with all the cyberpunk (small “c”) genre tropes – greedy tech corporations, a dark criminal underbelly, and more ethical and safety violations than you can shake a stick at.
But who better to guide you through it all than Keanu Reeves, with his infamous “No, you’re breath-taking!” moment at E3 2019. It looks like a game you could easily get lost in, with everything plus the kitchen sink thrown at it. Game Of The Year 2020 anyone?
Dreams – February 14th
Aha, didn’t expect that one did you? If you don’t fancy any of the other games on this list, Dreams will quite literally let you make your own and share it online. It’s basically an entire development kit on your PS4, letting you make your own characters, environments, music, sounds, rules and game types.
It’s already in Early Access, and players have made everything from fantasy exploration games to a recreation of a section of Dead Space. Though my personal favourite has to be Bowling With Guns, which is exactly what it sounds like. A natural progression for Media Molecule, like/from the creators of LittleBigPlanet.
Xbox Series X vs. Playstation 5 – Q4 2020
Not a game, but definitely the talking point of the year ahead. The much-loved/hated/whatever console wars are getting yet another shot in the arm after last year’s announcements from Microsoft and Sony, and the two companies are going head-to-head for space on your TV stand in the last few months of the year.
The new Xbox is a large, rectangular box, which can supposedly do 8K visuals, up to 120fps, and has last year’s big PC innovation: ray-tracing (fancy lighting technology, basically). There are no specs for this boxy beast yet, so we’ll have to take Microsoft’s word for it.
We haven’t seen the PS5 yet, but its prototype developer’s kit is… something to behold, with a V-shaped air vent straight down the middle. Like the new Xbox, it’ll also have 8K resolution and ray-tracing, but Sony is tight-lipped on everything else.
With all that said, and like every generation before it, you’ll likely want the one that all your friends are getting, or with your favourite franchises on it. From what we’ve seen so far, there’s no killer difference between one and the other. Stay tuned for more info.
Or stick with the handy little Switch, it’s up to you.