Sci-fi and video gaming have combined to produce some exceptional opportunities for escapism over the last few decades. That is, after all, what both mediums are about, and we can thank our lucky stars that franchises like Fallout, Deus Ex and Mass Effect have graced our PCs and consoles more than once, carrying us away to fictional, fabricated, fanciful worlds on a whim.
There's loads to look forward to in the distant future - Cyberpunk 2077 for one has a firm place on our most wanted list - but there's plenty coming this year as well. XCOM 2 has already arrived on PC and staked a serious claim as a game of the year candidate, and the likes of Microsoft, Sony and EA are bringing sci-fi to the fore too, ranging from established sci-fi franchises to brand new IPs. All sounds very exciting, doesn’t it? We've pulled together the 10 sci-fi titles you should be looking out for this year – just check the list below.
For two-and-a-half years, Microsoft have slowly drip fed us bits of info on their latest sci-fi IP, but finally, we've seen enough to feel like this could be one of the year's best games. As Jack Joyce, you play a man with the power to freeze and manipulate time, in a world where time is breaking down. Other than that, your best guess is ours when it comes to the story details, but naturally, there's a sinister organisation chasing you about, so you'll have to use your powers, as well as conventional weaponry, to stay ahead of them.
Microsoft handed the reigns over the developers Remedy Entertainment – the people behind the first two Max Payne games and Alan Wake – so if you're wondering how Quantum Break will play, well, there's your answer. Mark down April 5 in your diaries, people.
Battlefleet Gothic: Armada
After countless Warhammer and Warhammer 40K games that take on the regular tabletop codexes, we're finally getting a Battlefleet Gothic game and boy does it look fantastic. This real-time strategy is coming from Focus Home Interactive – the same developers that teamed up with Games Workshop for Blood Bowl – and promises deep, tactical ship-to-ship combat, with multiple unique weapons and characteristics for each faction. Everything we love about Battlefleet Gothic has been faithfully preserved, so this should be a welcome sight when it arrives in March.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
A direct sequel to the outstanding Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mankind Divided takes place in Prague, two years after the event of Human Revolution, and sees the return of Adam Jensen to our screens as he continues his battle to free augmented people from persecution and track down the shadowy cabal behind the atrocities.
The trailer above isn't giving much away, but we know for sure that the first-person and third-person action mix is coming back, and having Eidos and Square Enix on the case again has us confident that Mankind Divided could be just as good as – or perhaps, even better – than its predecessor. Barring any delays, you can expect Mankind Divided to arrive August 23.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst
DICE's original first-person action platformer was a huge breath of fresh air, so well before Catalyst was revealed at E3 2013, there was an awful lot of clamouring for Faith Connors to return to our homes. Thankfully, she'll be freerunning her way onto Xbox One, PS4 and PC this year, though not in the form of a sequel as many expected. In fact, DICE have been purposefully abstract about exactly how Catalyst relates to the original Mirror's Edge, but the game certainly looks to delve into Faith's character a little more, and the fact she can no longer use guns suggests that Catalyst may be a prequel of sorts.
Still, the open-world nature of the new game definitely fits the bill for us, and it's looking fantastic so far, so fingers crossed the final product delivers when it hits shelves on May 26.
No Man’s Sky
Arguably the year's most anticipated game on any platform, No Man's Sky is set to break boundaries so on many levels, inside and outside of gaming. Hello Games' epic space exploration adventure promises a procedurally-generated, deterministic open universe, with over 18 quintillion (that's 18,000,000,000,000,000,000) planets, and gives you nothing but a space suit, a jetpack, a ship and a multitool for survival.
As for what to do? That's up to you. You can explore and discover new worlds, mine resources and craft rare items, become a merchant or a mercenary for hire. No Man's Sky is one of the most exciting prospects in gaming – a potential landmark for the industry – and we can't wait to get our hands on it come June.
When legendary Mega Man producer Keiji Inafune left Capcom in 2010, he went and founded Comcept – the dev studio now at the head of one of Microsoft's most intriguing new IPs. In the ReCore universe, humankind is on the brink of extinction after a robot uprising, and you are one of the very last humans alive on a desolate planet.
Where you're going and what you’re doing we can't say on the basis of the trailer, but clearly, there'll be some shooting and grappling hook mechanics, as well as some team play with a few robots still loyal to your cause. The game has been delayed to the second half of this year, but with Inafune at the head, we're confident it'll end up as a success, regardless of when it arrives.
Horizon Zero Dawn
For the first time in over 10 years, Guerrilla Games are working on a project that isn't Killzone! Yes, that's a good thing, because Horizon Zero Dawn looks like a great mix of RPG and exploration, in a setting that is as intriguing as it is beautiful.
Like ReCore, Zero Dawn takes on a dystopian future where machines feature heavily, but this time, human life has reverted to its tribal basics. Instead of your regular bog-standard, down-the-savannah sort of animals, you're taking on giant mechanised creatures in order to do RPG things like completing quests, harvesting resources for crafting and that sort of thing. Check out the battle with the 'Thunderjaw' in the video for a look at some of the tactical combat too.
Resogun devs Housemarque are behind this recently announced sci-fi title for PS4, and from what we can glean from the trailer, it looks as though it'll be a fast-paced arcade shooter of sorts. It looks like avoiding the blasts of red 'Smart Matter' is going to be just as core to the gameplay as using your own Metroid-esque arm cannon to take down enemies, and the early shot of a futuristic metropolis has us excited for what could be a fascinating game world, although admittedly, that shot is not from the game engine. Still, consider our appetite whetted – fingers crossed Matterfall arrives this year as expected.
Gears of War 4
Many wondered what the future held for the Gears franchise after Gears of War 3 and Gears of War: Judgment wrapped up Sergeant Fenix and Alpha Squad's story so effectively. Microsoft was never going to just drop one of its star players though, and so with the license purchased from Epic Games, and the reins handed over to developers The Coalition, we have Gears of War 4 – a brand new Gears with brand new characters and story (though still tied into the same universe, naturally).
Everyone is keeping quiet on the plot details, but the mechanics and atmosphere that made the original trilogy great seems to be intact, and The Coalition have promised Gears 4 will be a "graphical showcase" for Xbox One. If that trailer is anything to go by, this will be something spectacular when it hits shelves at the end of the year.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Unlike the new guard brought in for Gears of War 4, BioWare and EA are still in charge when it comes to another of sci-fi's leading lights. Both are keen to express that this is not Mass Effect 4 – the game takes place long after the events of the first trilogy, in a brand new galaxy and is by all accounts, a brand new story.
That said, we'd be very surprised if they changed the third-person shooter and RPG mechanics that made the original games so beloved, and the promise of a multiplayer component is certainly interesting. Andromeda has already slipped back into early 2017, but we're sure if we all ask very nicely, BioWare might get it to us for Christmas via some black hole space magic.