It’s almost Holiday season in 2016, isn’t that crazy? You might think of the Holiday season starting at the end of November (for Americans, we usually start around Thanksgiving), but for video games the holiday season is basically from mid-September through December. The Video Game Holiday Season is a wild rush when companies finally release the big hitters they spent so much time hyping at E3: the Call of Duties, The Last Guardians, the Titanfalls. It’s a rough time for an indie game – a sector of the market that usually makes its mark when the big-boy publishers are more sleeping giants than titans of the industry. I almost thought of about throwing up my favorite indies of 2016 so far this year and seeing how many actually ended up in my end of the year list – but it felt disingenuous and unnecessary, a lame way to fill the void in releases. So here I am, content-less and feeling bad that I don’t have as much to say about games right now as I usually do. Then I started digging through Wikipedia’s games list for 2016. It’s something I do regularly. I pull up the list (the most reliable release list on the internet as far as I’m concerned) and scroll through the dates, making mental notes about what comes out when and if I care. Then, once you’ve scrolled past December, you come to a wonderful addendum that is the list of games that are supposed to come out in 2016. There’s some pipe dreams on there (we’ll get to them later), but it piqued my interest in the state of these games and the chance we’ll actually see them in 2016. So here’s a list of games that I’m into and the likelihood we’ll see them before the new year. Batman: The Telltale Series Projected Release Date: September 20th for Episode 2 – the rest is unannounced 2016? Meter: We’ll probably get most of it. If you didn’t read my rave of Telltale’s Batman series, here is another chance to do so. At a time when my Batman-hype was at an all-time low, and my Telltale fatigue was at an all-time high, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the combining of the two. It’s quite clear that Telltale didn’t rebuild the character from the ground up, but you definitely have to tip your hat to their unique vision that explores the character of Bruce Wayne instead of the Dark Knight. Sure, Batman still spars with all the old favorites, but this time it happens in Telltale’s excellently crafted dialogue instead of just with fists – don’t worry, there’s stuff to punch as well. What is most impressive is that Telltale seems to have figured out how to tighten their release schedule – and we might be pretty deep into the series by the end of the year. Thumper Projected Release Date: October 13th 2016? Meter: I’d count on it. Jose San Mateo put this on my radar when he previewed the game last year . Thumper looks like the game people hoped Amplitude would be…on speed. The two-man team of Drool have the unsurprising history of working at Harmonix before setting out to do their own thing. I think it’s safe to say they succeeded since their page is one of the few places on the internet you can find the phrases “rhythm violence” and “space beetle” in the same space. The trailer is perhaps my favorite thing about the game – there’s no flash, no pizazz, they just show you the game in all its glory.. Divinity: Original Sin 2 Projected Release Date: December 2016 2016? Meter: I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s not that I don’t trust Larian Studios with their ambitious release date (the game was only crowdfunded about a year ago), it’s more that I think Larian is likely to have a more ambitious game on their hands – one that will require a delay. If they weren’t already on the cusp of 2016, I would give them the benefit of the doubt, but there’s so little room for error. There’s a couple things going the way of Original Sin 2 in terms of a 2016 release. The most important is that Larian was showing the game at PAX Prime a year ago, so it wasn’t like they were starting from scratch last August. But the thing that inspires me the most is how loyal Larian seems to be to their fans. Original Sin was a hardcore RPG that left even the diehard genre fans feeling a little left out (I know, I was one of them) with it’s painfully difficult combat and design. But those who dug Original Sin loved the absolute hell out of it. I think chances are good those who showed that love with some backing cash will get their hands on a beta by Christmas. Killing Floor 2 Projected Release Date: November 18th 2016? Meter: Does it matter? It’s basically out right now. I’m one of those people who hold off on early access. I don’t like putting early access games in the mix for end of year lists, I don’t like praising them too heavily, because who knows what the game will look like when they actually are released. It’s kind of a bummer because by the time these games usually finally do come to release, the hype has sputtered out because everyone hit their excitement peak when the game first launched. The biggest bummer of the early access nonsense is that somewhere between the “HOLY SHIT IT’S OUT” early access screaming and the “ok, now it is actually out” whimper, these games tend to actually find their stride and become the final product everyone wanted. That being said, my interest in this game has been quite the opposite. I went from, “meh, I don’t really get it” to “oh, NOW I get it”. So I’m actually looking forward to indulging in the blood-soaked mayhem this November, even if it is already basically finished right now. Below Projected Release Date: 2016 (Kind of…it seems a little up in the air) 2016 Meter: I fucking hope so. Below has been kicking around show floors and stage floors for about two and a half years, which is about as much as I can stand. Part of my fatigue regarding this game is definitely an over-exposure to the hype machine, making the beautiful trailers and exciting previews white noise in the din of excitement. But the bigger problem is that Below might be a little late to the roguelike/action-RPG party. I’ll be honest, my hands-on time with Below was so long ago, I struggle to remember much about it except I died quickly and I thought the music was beautiful. But I still think this little game can be great, Super Time Force proved that Capy like to take their time, but they can make it worth your while. Cuphead Projected Release Date: 2016 2016? Meter: My gut tells me it will. Cuphead kind of feels like Below. I don’t think it’s been as over-exposed, but I’ve played all the previews I needed, and am ready to get my hands on the actual game. Cuphead turned a lot of heads at E3 2014 with its unique art style – it’s ten second of an indie sizzle reel causing everyone to say “Wait! What was that?” The hard as nails platformer/bullet hell is a boss-fight machine that people are just desperate to get their hands on and it’s hard to imagine we won’t see it in 2016, even though the radio silence is a little disconcerting. The Dwarves Projected Release Date: Fall 2016 2016? Meter: Surprisingly, yeah. King Art Games is known for their wacky fantasy adventure The Book of Unwritten Tales, the revival of point-and-click genre that got overshadowed by Broken Age. While the company has slowly cultivated a cult-following, they also are branching out to the action-RPG genre with the adaptation of this high fantasy series from Germany. Having read the first book in the series last year, it feels like the perfect kind of thing to turn into a game. The book is light on substance but thick with lore and plenty of excuses to create large-scale battles where one fighter can take on an army. Usually, I don’t give crowdfunded release dates the benefit of the doubt, but seeing as backers are already getting their hands on the beta, and King Art was sticking by a fall release date as recently as last June, I’d say chances are good we might actually see this one. Star Citizen Projected Release Date: 2016 (insert Star Citizen joke here…) 2016? Meter: (…and here) I mean, you know the drill. I tagged Star Citizen here because don’t we really just want this dumb game out so we can all get the fuck over it? Let me recount the phases of the Star Citizen debacle, in case you missed them: This game is going to be greatest video game ever! This is a lot of money people are just handing over to an idea. Have you seen how much these fucking ships cost? How will this game ever come out? This game is never coming out Yeah, it’ll probably come out, probably be good and not great, and we’ll all have learned an important lesson. This is all I have to say on the matter. So, yeah, it’s not an extensive list. Even if you hop over to the blockbuster side of things, 2016’s winter is looking a little lackluster. And there’s always going to be a couple unexpected gems that drop out of nowhere. So it’s your move 2016…your move.