Game Preview 2016
(L-R) Aloy in Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mass Effect Andromeda's protagonist, and Link in the new Legend of ZeldaSony / EA / Nintendo

Our week-long rundown of 50 of 2016's biggest games comes to a close with a top ten list of our most anticipated games. The next twelve months boasts an incredible array of games (we've already written about Street Fighter 5, Dishonored 2, XCOM 2 and many more) but these are the ones to get truly excited about.

Presented in order from our most anticipated downward, here's our top ten.

Read the rest of our 2016 previews here

1. Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4)

Horizon Zero Dawn
Aloy firing on an enormous mech beast.Sony

It was no secret that Killzone creators Guerrilla Games were to announce a new game, and a new IP, at E3 in June 2015, but when they did it looked so much better than we could have hoped. The gargantuan announcements of Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Shenmue 3 may have taken much of the spotlight from Horizon, but champions of original games were bowled over.

Yes that Zero Dawn subtitle is clunky and unnecessary, but to date that's the only criticism we can level at the game. Debuting with stunning gameplay footage, we learned that Horizon will be open world, boast survival and crafting elements and see protagonist Aloy take on the huge robotic animals wandering Earth as humanity rebuilds 1000 years after civilisation fell.

Release date: TBA

2. Mass Effect Andromeda (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Mass Effect Andromeda
The parting shot from Mass Effect Andromeda's announcement trailer.EA

Mass Effect was the best new IP of last generation. The first trilogy concluded in an unsatisfactory way (for many that will be an understatement), but that shouldn't take away from the many unforgettable moments it provided across each instalment and the relationships players built for lead character Shepherd.

Andromeda will focus on a new protagonist, believed to be called Ryder, created and shaped by the player. Fans believe the game will focus on the exploration of the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Wild West theme of the trailers certainly supports this theory. A more exploration based Mass Effect sounds perfect for us. We can't wait to return to Bioware's universe again.

Release date: TBA

3. No Man's Sky (PS4, PC)

No Man's Sky
Stunning artwork for No Man's Sky.Hello Games

When Hello Games' Sean Murray debuted No Man's Sky at the Spike Video Game Awards in 2013, he couldn't have known how excited gamers would get, nor how out of control the hype machine would become. Hugely ambitious, No Man's Sky roots itself in a complex system that will procedurally generate a near-infinite universe and all the flora and fauna within it.

Players will share this universe, but will rarely cross paths with one another – such is its size. Instead they'll gradually discover new planets, new moons, new plants and animals that will be added to a database. So if another player stumbles upon the same planet as you, everything they see will bear the mark of your discovery. Otherwise, the game is about mining materials to sell, then upgrading your ship as you head closer and closer to the centre of the universe.

Release date: June

4. Firewatch (PS4, PC)

Firewatch
Firewatch will be one of the most gorgeous games of the year.Campo Santo

A less ambitious game now, but one no less intriguing. Firewatch is a first person adventure game set in the woodland wilderness of Wyoming in 1989. It stars a fire lookout called Henry who discovers evidence of mysterious occurrences in the forest. Players will control Henry as he wanders the forest, piecing together that mystery while also shaping his relationship with supervisor Delilah, who he's in constant radio contact with.

As strong a basis for an adventure game as that is, the real reason to be excited by Firewatch is the team working on it at Campo Santo. Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman – two of the writers behind Telltale Games' first season of The Walking Dead – are involved as director and writer respectively. Then there's well-loved artist Olly Moss, responsible for the lovely art direction.

Release date: 9 February

5. The Legend of Zelda (Wii U)

The Legend of Zelda 2016
Link atop Epona looking over The Legend of Zelda 2016's huge open world.Nintendo

We've barely seen a thing from the new Legend of Zelda despite it first being revealed 18 months ago. A reveal trailer, a little bit of gameplay and a few seconds of Link atop his faithful steed Epona – that's it. What we know is that Nintendo is putting together a truly massive open world, one bigger than in any previous Zelda title – and that it will offer players a certain level of freedom.

In 2014's 3DS title A Link Between Worlds, Nintendo shook up the Zelda formula by allowing players to tackle dungeons in an order of their choosing, and that's a feature we'd certainly like to see implemented here. This is a series in need of an overhaul, and Nintendo looks set to give us that.

Release date: TBA

6. Crackdown 3 (Xbox One)

Crackdown 3
The Agency's finest looks over Crackdown 3's sprawling setting.Microsoft

Crackdown deserved better than its tepid sequel, and next year it may finally get the follow-up fans have craved for nearly nine long years. Crackdown 3 will boast the open world and chaotic super-human gameplay you expect, but also new features making use of cloud computing in both the single player and separate co-op mode. We were very impressed at Gamescom.

Release date: TBA

7. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)

Uncharted 4 A Thief's End
Nathan Drake during a chase sequence shown off at E3.Sony

Nathan Drake's adventuring days come to a close with his first non-remaster outing on PS4. Naughty Dog are looking to squeeze the most they can out of Sony's console and provide their best action shooter to date, with a more open approach to gameplay and The Last of Us leads Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley at the helm.

Release date: 18 March

8. Mafia 3 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Mafia 3
A car chase through Mafia 3's New Orleans setting.2K Games

There's a reason the Grand Theft Auto series is so enormously popular, so there's no shame in trying to take that formula and put your own twist on it, so long as that's what you actually do. Mafia 3 owes a lot to that series, but the extent to which it is leaning into its 60s setting makes it far more interesting than other games labelled GTA clones. If Hangar 13 handle issues of race, drug culture and the Vietnam War – then this could be special.

Release date: TBA

9. The Last Guardian (PS4)

The Last Guardian
Please please please come out this year.Sony

There are a few games on this final top ten that may slip into 2017, and no game reminds of that sad possibility more than The Last Guardian – which returned in the summer after years in the ether of development hell. We're optimists here though, so we're getting excited to play Team Ico's follow-up to Shadow of the Colossus, as planned, in 2016. Let's just hope we don't have to wait too long before we get some concrete evidence that the game is on its way.

Release date: TBA

10. Adrift (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Adrift
One decimated part of the space ship you once called home in Adrift.505 Games

Adrift (stylised Adr1ft) cast players as the lone survivor of a catastrophic accident aboard a space station orbiting Earth. Commander Alex Oshima's goal is to survive and find a way to get home as she explores the devastated remnants of the station, slowly piecing together what exactly happened.

Release date: Q1

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