The Most Exciting Games in Summer 2016

If you’re like me, you finished Doom, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Dark Souls III (or gave up on it) a while ago and while you’ve been digging on Overwatch, it’s a little too quiet out there, especially once we get past next week’s release of LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The fact is that July is typically the worst month for gamers. Why? We’re too far from the holidays, kids are on family vacations or at camp, and E3 is used to promote games months away not right around the corner. So it’s a bit barren out there. Do we really have to wait until nearly October (Final Fantasy XV lands on 9/30 and ushers in a massive wave of Fall titles that includes Mafia III, Battlefield 1, The Last Guardian, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2, and Watch Dogs 2 over what is basically a 7-week spread of gaming insanity) to have something to be excited about? The answer is no. Starting at the end of July, there are still a few Summer 2016 titles that you may want to start saving your allowance money for. Let us guide the way. All dates very subject to change.

Batman: Return to Arkham
Batman: Return to Arkham.

RockSteady and WBIE’s Arkham games are the most critically acclaimed of the superhero genre for a reason. Much in the way that Jon Favreau’s Iron Man and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins redefined the modern superhero movie, 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum and 2011’s Batman: Arkham City changed what we expect from a superhero game. No mere re-release, this is a top-to-bottom remaster, improving graphics and gameplay notably given what the PS4 can do that the PS3 could not. The release also includes all downloadable content for both games and comes the same week that the highly-anticipated Batman: The Killing Joke will play in theaters. At least for a few weeks in Summer 2016, it’s the Dark Knight’s world again.

No Man's Sky
No Man's Sky. Sony

Please don’t delay. Please don’t delay. When Sony’s exclusive new title, one of the most anticipated in years, got a slight push from June to August, people nearly lost their minds (there were stories of death threats just to the people reporting on a game delay). Why are people so rabidly anticipating a new IP? Because Sony has been building this up for over a year as a truly open-universe experience. You’ve heard of open-world games? Imagine one in which you can explore an entire universe, one with billions of planets, all of which are distinct from one another. It’s a game that promises an entirely immersive experience, one that I suspect gamers will be exploring for years to come. We just have to cross the starting line.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Square-Enix

It’s been five years since Square Enix released Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the PS3, and that game came a whopping eight years after Deus Ex: Invisible War. In other words, this series is taking its time. We’ve become accustomed to games that come on top of one another, such as in the annual iterations of Call of Duty, and one wonders how successful a series that doesn’t follow that gimme-now model can be. One hopes that the lengthy time between games has allowed for true creativity because Human Revolution was a good game that hinted at potential greatness down the line. In Mankind Divided, you play Adam Jensen, an augmented human trying to find other augmented humans in 2029. Some of the advanced footage has looked like a standard first-person shooter, but some of it has looked like the smart, sci-fi/action experience this summer of gaming could really use.

XCOM2. 2K Games

XCOM was a breakthrough PC/strategy experience that was rebooted in 2012 with the brilliant, award-winning XCOM: Enemy Unknown and this is the long-awaited sequel to that title. Whereas that title saw you manage a team of soldiers fighting against an alien invasion, the follow-up takes place after the Earth has been overtaken, forcing you to try and rebuild XCOM and regain control of the planet. The strategy appears to be much the same—turn-based, strategy-driven combat—but with even more customization than before. Enemy Unknown is one of the best games of the ‘10s. I can’t wait to see how they follow it up.

Madden NFL 17
Madden NFL 17. EA Sports

Late summer and early fall belong to EA Sports. Madden NFL 17 drops on August 23rd; FIFA 17 lands on September 27th; and we can expect NHL 17 before the year is over (for the record, arguably the best sports franchise, NBA 2K releases its 17 edition on September 16th.) EA Sports has become so dominant in the market that we take how well they do what they do for granted. Almost without fail, every Madden, every FIFA, every NHL has been better than the one before with refined gameplay and improved graphics. What tricks and new moves do they have up their sleeves in 2016? We’ll know soon enough.