Japan Is PlayStation 4’s Final Weapon To Secure #1 Spot
The gaming community has been discussing the decline of Japanese games in the last few years. At some point it even seemed unstoppable in its downward trend, which would have been a significant detriment to the variety of videogames as an entertainment medium.
Thankfully, the year that just ended proved that Japanese games have a brighter future than most imagined. There's still a lot of creative spark in several game developers based in the land of the Rising Sun, and the existence of amazing development tools such as Unreal Engine 4 helps them bridge the technological gap with Western developers.
However, once you delve into the list of upcoming games made in Japan it becomes clear that most of these titles are headed towards a specific platform: PlayStation 4.
Three generations after its console debut, Xbox still fails to grip the interest of both Japanese users and developers, with only one big exclusive incoming (Scalebound, which just got delayed into 2017). Nintendo's WiiU is largely being ignored by third party developers, and in the meantime Sony's PlayStation 4 is about to receive an onslaught of heavy hitter console exclusives. If sales charts had a dominant console until now, just wait until the following titles are released in the next couple years.
Ace Combat 7
Eight years after the release of Ace Combat 6, Bandai Namco announced the next main entry in their flight simulator franchise. The game is being developed with Epic's Unreal Engine 4, just like many others on this list; the sky itself will be rendered with trueSKY, the technology also used in Arma III, Driveclub, ARK: Survival Evolved and War Thunder among others.
Moreover, Ace Combat 7 will offer support for Sony's PlayStation VR, with the game's Producer going as far as saying that it will be the best way to play the game.
Dragon Quest XI (also on 3DS)
Armor Project is once again working with Square Enix for the eleventh entry in the Dragon Quest franchise. The game, scheduled to be released within the series' 30th anniversary in 2016, has been announced for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS (though there are rumors that it will be launched on the Nintendo NX as well).
The PS4 version will use Unreal Engine 4 to deliver stunning graphics fidelity, while the 3DS version will instead feature super deformed 3D graphics on the top screen and 2D sprites on the bottom screen. The story will be the same in both and the battle system should still be the turn based affair that is the trademark of Dragon Quest.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
The Internet went literally crazy when Square Enix announced that FFVII Remake was actually happening. We have since learned that the game is being developed with the Unreal Engine 4 (yes, this one too) and that it will be episodic, since there is just too much content in FFVII to be re-rendered in high quality 3D graphics.
Still, the idea of reliving Cloud's adventures remade with today's best technology is thrilling to say at least. After all, Final Fantasy VII is one of the most popular games ever released.
Gran Turismo Sport
Most had assumed that the reveal of the next Gran Turismo would be reserved for E3 2016, so It was quite surprising to see Kazunori Yamauchi on the stage at Paris Games Week 2015. Gran Turismo Sport will not be a main entry in the series, but it has been confirmed to feature more content than previously released Prologue titles.
Sony also announced an exciting partnership with FIA, with two online championships being held through the year, a Nations Cup and a Manufacturers Cup. The winners of the championships will receive their prizes in the same ceremony held annually to reward F1 winners. Moreover, Gran Turismo Sport will be fully compatible with PS VR and Yamauchi himself said that it feels very natural.
A beta is expected to hit in the first half of 2016, with the full release slated for the second half.
Gravity Rush 2
Unshackled by the weak hardware and mediocre sales of the PS Vita, Gravity Rush 2 may be able to soar as a unique title in the skies of the PlayStation 4 lineup.
The beautiful art style will be married to more detailed graphics and a much (2.5 times, according to the developers) bigger playable area. Kat will discover new powers, new friends (such as Raven) and, of course, new enemies. Gravity Rush 2 should be available in 2016, though there's no telling yet if it will be a simultaneous worldwide release or not. We have included the game in our list of most anticipated action/adventure titles due in 2016, by the way.
Kojima's New Game
Sony moved swiftly and surely to ensure that the first independent game made by Hideo Kojima would be a PlayStation 4 exclusive.
While the game will also release on PC, this will only happen after an unspecified amount of time. PlayStation 4 gamers will be the first ones to play the first game developed by Hideo Kojima after his departure for Konami.
From the little information that can be gleaned from the job openings, it seems like the project is going to be Sci-Fi themed with vehicles and RPG elements. Regardless, it will be one to watch closely though it won't release for some time yet.
Many fans were surprised to find out during E3 2015 that a new Nier game was in development, since the first one didn't exactly set new sales records. Still, it gained a cult following and Square Enix eventually decided to give the green light for a sequel, now in production at Platinum Games.
The overall goal is to keep the spirit of the original Nier while providing much more satisfying action gameplay. The story revolves on a fight between with the remnants of humanity and an army of machine invaders from another world; interestingly, humankind sends an elite force of androids to fight them, and players will control one of these androids during gameplay. Nier: Automata was listed as a special mention in our list of most anticipated role playing games scheduled for 2016.
Koei Tecmo revived this project several years after its original announcement. Since its reveal at TGS 2015, Ni-Oh became quite popular for its fast paced gameplay coupled with the medieval Japan setting.
Team Ninja seems to be creating a blend of Ninja Gaiden with Dark Souls elements. It doesn't hurt that the main character (according to the story, the son of a Japanese lord and Western woman) looks a lot like everyone's favorite Witcher. Ni-Oh was listed among the most anticipated action/adventure games of 2016 by Wccftech.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Beloved studio Level-5 announced just a few weeks ago that it's working on a sequel to Ni no Kuni. The trailer once again showcased the amazing artwork that Level-5 is capable of, while providing a few tidbits on the story.
Young King Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum has somehow been usurped from his throne, and sets out to reclaim it with the help of Roland, a visitor from another kingdom. Don't expect to play it next year, though: chance is that it's way too soon.
The first Persona game to appear on PlayStation 4, this is technically the sixth installment in the series.
Persona 5, much like previous games in the franchise, features a teenage protagonist who can summon facets of his psyche (the titular Personas). These Personas are used alongside a melee weapon and a gun to fight; the battles will still be handled through a turn based system, though Atlus promised that it's been improved.
Randomly generated environments should help keep things fresh. Persona 5 should be available within 2016 in both Japan and North America; it was chosen among our most anticipated RPGs of 2016.
Every year, the hardcore gaming community used to gather before E3 in the seemingly vain hope to witness the announcement of Shenmue III. 2015 finally made that happen, with Sony giving their Press Conference stage to Yu Suzuki in order to launch the crowdfunding campaign.
While the game (powered by Unreal Engine 4) had been originally confirmed for PC as well, its current status is unclear as it's not offered in the Slacker Backer campaign. The developer said that they are negotiating again with all the parties involved, but this was back in September. For now, the only confirmed version is the PS4 one.
Star Ocean: Integrity & Faithlessness
The fifth game in the main Star Ocean series, Integrity & Faithlessness chronologically takes place between Star Ocean: The Second Story and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.
Developer tri-Ace has openly said that they intend to challenge the way gamers think of a Japanese RPG. The game will feature seamless and interactive cutscenes, while the combat will allow you to fight in real time and switch between characters in the party, much like in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Star Ocean: Integrity & Faithlessness has been included as a special mention in our 2016 list of upcoming RPGs.
Street Fighter V
Capcom's premiere fighting series is due for a huge comeback on February 16, 2016. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, the game will be a console exclusive to PlayStation 4 while allowing cross-play online fighting with PC gamers.
16 characters will be available at launch, while more will be added later. The additional characters may be unlocked either via real world currency or via gameplay.
Tales of Berseria
Bandai Namco's sixteenth main entry in the Tales franchise is due for release in Japan within the year, though we'll likely have to wait 2017.
As with all previous entries, it will be a PlayStation 4 console exclusive with a PC version due at the same time. Tales of Berseria will be set in the same world of Tales of Zestiria and it will feature several improvements to its battle system, as we recently learned.
Of course, Bandai Namco isn't resting on its laurels in the meantime. Tekken 7 is already out on Arcade machines and it will release on PlayStation 4 (probably in 2017) along with support for PlayStation VR.
The game has been made with Unreal Engine 4, just like SFV, and it will receive a graphical upgrade before it's launched on home consoles.
The Last Guardian
Ueda's work is safe and sound. Sony made that clear by reintroducing The Last Guardian's PS4 incarnation at E3 2015; the gameplay fundamentals haven't changed, it seems, with the boy and the creature still working together to solve various puzzles.
The developer is targeting a 2016 release, but don't expect to see a lot more footage: Shuhei Yoshida said that they are afraid of showing too much, since the game is very story-heavy.
Valkyria: Azure Revolution
Valkyria Chronicles quickly became very popular, thanks to its unique combination of beautiful cel-shaded graphics and deep strategy gameplay. Valkyria: Azure Revolution is quite a bit different, though.
SEGA opted to create a real time RPG with some strategy elements. Even the world itself has taken a more drastic fantasy backdrop, since the titular Valkyria characters have supernatural abilities compared to humans and the Ragnite mineral is not only an energy resource, but it also has magical properties. Permanent death of characters will still be a key feature, though.
This prequel to the Yakuza series has been announced for a North American release during PlayStation Experience 2015, though it may not actually launch before 2017.
Still, the game is considered to be the best so far in the franchise and a nice introduction due to its taking place long before the events in previous games.
This will be the first installment developed only for PlayStation 4, since SEGA decided to drop the PlayStation 3 version at long last. Because of this, major improvements are expected across the board.
Yakuza 6 is expected to be available in Japan between Q3 and Q4 2016. A Western release is not official yet and will likely depend on the sales of Yakuza 0.