Upcoming PC game release dates: Winter 2015 - 2016

Xcom 2
The leaves are falling, the skies seem just a little paler, and the air is chilled—or if you live in the southern hemisphere, the opposite of all those things—and so it's time for another of our quarterly looks at the big games coming soon. For winter (which we're just going to call December, January, and February regardless of the solstices), we've got all those games that were going to come out in November and didn't, and some we've been waiting a while for, like The Witness. 



Release date: December 7
LinkSteam store page
The developers of Magicka return with a four player co-op shooter, where death comes quickly and sloppy friendly fire can easily wipe out your whole team. If that sounds familiar, well, you probably played Magicka. Ammo limits and a focus on coordinate teamwork (step one: don’t walk in front of the bullets) distinguish Helldivers from other twin-stick shooters. So does the “community-driven galactic campaign,” where everyone’s combined efforts in Starship Troopers-style alien bug extermination affect the balance of the galactic map. Interestingly, Helldivers is the first game on Steam to be published by PlayStation Mobile (it was released on PS4 earlier this year). A sign of things to come, perhaps?

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online

Release date: December
Link: Steam store page
A first-person shooter inspired by anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, along with its very lengthy title, is coming to Steam Early Access sometime in December. Some of the gameplay footage we’ve seen has Call of Duty tones, as augmented soldiers tap away at the triggers of automatic weapons, earning bonuses for double kills and such. The official description doesn’t reveal much else, though videos from the beta show off both deathmatch and objective-based modes.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault


The Witness

Release date: January 26
LinkOfficial Site
Did you like Braid? Well this isn’t Braid. Forget Braid. Why did you bring up Braid? But now that you mention it, The Witness is made by the same people who made Braid. A first person puzzle game from designer Jonathan Blow and developer Thekla Inc., you awake on a deserted island and have to solve a series of puzzles to progress. While the first person camera is more reminiscent of Myst, the puzzles themselves aren’t nearly as freeform, primarily showing up on puzzle panels for you to solve. The island itself is bright and vibrant, and we quite liked the deceptively tricky puzzles when we previewed The Witness back in April.
Record Player

Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen

Release date: January 2016
Link: Official Site
In addition to being one of the great cult RPGs of the last console generation, Dragon’s Dogma also shines because you can pick up NPCs and throw them off cliffs. In fact, the way you face off with Gransys’s many and varied foes is what gives the combat so much impact. Climbing atop a panicked cyclops never gets old (it sounds like it would, but it doesn’t!), but it’s the game’s unique companions, dubbed ‘Pawns’, that stand out most. Each Pawn is customised by the player from the ground up, and when you’re not adventuring with them, other players can access them with a sharing system. It was a little bit ropey when it released on consoles, and it’s not the prettiest game ever made, but its nuanced combat and sense of adventure makes it stand the test of time. 
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Release date: January
Link: Steam Store page
“Peril, dice and cannibalism” headlined our first look at Tharsis, which mixes board game-style mechanics and roguelike permadeath. The combination of dice and cannibalism should be tempting enough, but here’s another word to grab your interest: FTL. Tharsis sets you on the task of shepherding a ship to Mars, and disaster can and will strike along the way. Instead of ordering your crew around a la FTL, imagine having to roll dice to to repair things and take other actions. As Jody wrote for us, “Tharsis is like playing four games of Yahtzee simultaneously, only sometimes you’re on fire.”



Release date: February 5
Link: Official Site
XCOM 2, which was meant to be out last month but was delayed into February, picks up after the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown—except you lost. The aliens haven’t just arrived: this is is their planet now, and the Enemy Within expansion never happened. So we’ll once again struggle against the extraterrestrials in turn-based combat encounters, but this time as an even greater underdog. Some of the most notable changes are the introduction of procedurally generated maps, a stealthy concealment phase to start fights, and voiced squad members with more customization options. And the most important surprise: it’ll be PC-only and Firaxis will be releasing modding tools. Hallelujah. For more, Sam wrote in depth about all of these changes back in September.
Xcom 2


Release date: February 9
Link: Official Site
Firewatch is the first game from Campo Santo, a developer staffed with folks like Sean Vanaman (The Walking Dead, Tales of Monkey Island), Jane Ng (The Cave, Brutal Legend), Olly Moss, a graphic designer who’s worked with Lucasfilm and Studio Ghibli, and a bunch of other people who’ve done things we like. And it looks cool. The trailers cast us as a man named Henry who wanders the wilderness—watching for fires, naturally—while chatting with his supervisor, Delilah, on a handheld radio. As they trade sarcastic quips in the bright, flat-shaded forest, thriller tones creep in: a pair of young women were reported missing, the communication cables are cut, and someone else is creeping around in Henry’s isolated canyon.
Firewatch dialog

Mighty No. 9

Release date: February 9
Link: Official Site
The first game from Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune since he left Capcom, Mighty No. 9 is a spiritual successor to the classic Mega Man games. It’s a 2D sidescrolling shooter where you play as a blue robot named Beck, who can dash into enemy robots to steal their abilities. Sound familiar? Inafune and developer Comcept Inc. crowdfunded Mighty No. 9 on Kickstarter where it raised nearly four million dollars. Though its Kickstarter had it slated for April of this year, it got a release date for November which, as you might have noticed, was eventually pushed back to February.
Mighty No 9

Far Cry Primal

Release date: March 1
Link: Official Site
As it comes out on PC a week after the console versions, this one actually slips into March—but that’s technically still winter, so we’ll include it anyway. It’s a Far Cry game set in prehistoric times, without guns, jeeps or gyrocopters. Instead of these, you’ll be using whatever hand-to-hand weapons you can craft from the elements. Given the Mesolithic setting, the odds will be emphatically against you (ever tried to punch a sabre-tooth cat in the face? Didn’t think so). For a series that has lately morphed into an open world power fantasy it’s a refreshing change of pace, and the focus on hunting and tribe management suggests Ubisoft Montreal is taking its cues from survival games like Rust and DayZ. It ain’t a shooter—more of a bludgeoner, really—but any game willing to stray this far from its series’ template is worth at least a look.
FC Primal


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Blood and Wine

Release date: TBD 2016
Link: Official Site
Hearts of Stone was a satisfying expansion, but Blood & Wine looks set to be better. In addition to a bunch of tweaks based on player feedback, the expansion promises a 20 hour jaunt through Toussaint, a previously unvisited region of the Northern Realms. The prospect of a new world to explore is exciting, but the little that we know about Toussaint is even more enticing: it’s a region “untainted by war” and reputedly idyllic, in stark contrast to the devastation of Velen and the dangerous cliffs of Skellige. Sounds like a welcome change of scenery, but there’s little doubt Geralt will be killing lots of monsters in it. He doesn’t do peace very well.
We don't have a screenshot of the expansion, so here's a griffin.
We don't have a screenshot of the expansion, so here's a griffin.

The Ship: Remasted

Release date: Early 2016
Link: Official Site
When The Ship 2’s crowdfunding campaign failed to reach its goal, Blazing Griffin went back to the drawing board and returned with The Ship: Remasted, a remake of the 2006 original. The Ship is a multiplayer murderin’ game in which players must hunt down a single target and take them out—out of sight, or they’ll be arrested—while avoiding their own hunter. Players also must fulfill personal needs like socializing and eating, which can force them to inadvertently reveal their identity to their hunter. The original also included a single-player story, in which all this is justified as a game invented by the mad Mr. X. The new version looks much snazzier, though it won’t add new content.
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Rollercoaster Tycoon World

Release date: “Early 2016”
Link: Official Site
It’s been 10 long years since the last installment of the RollerCoaster Tycoon series, but after bouncing between several different developers and following an upgrade to Unity 5, it’s finally inching our way. Promising Steam Workshop support and a (post-launch) multiplayer mode, the theme park simulator was originally planned for release on December 10. However, its first beta weekend convinced Atari they needed more time to fine-tune, as not all testers wanted to build their coasters completely from scratch, preferring instead to snap together pre-made track sections, while others felt the game was poorly optimized. There’s been no official word on the revised release date other than that it’s planned for early 2016.
Rollercoaster Tycoon World
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