What are the best upcoming PC games and the new PC games to keep an eye on this year and next? Hope, anticipation, agony and elation - it’s the endless cycle of emotions we gamers go through during the annual PC release schedule. Year in, year out, games - via Steam and otherwise - are produced in such varying degrees of quality that no announcement is destined for certain success. Masterpieces are released alongside utter disasters, franchises are born while others dwindle and occasionally - so very occasionally - a game actually lives up to our expectations.
You'll find more of the best new PC games of the year in our round-up of 2016's top releases.
And there's plenty on the horizon to feel positive about. From franchise heavyweights to inventive indies, the sheer range of exciting titles due for release in the not too distant future is enough to spread a smile across the face of even the most cynical of gamers. Well, almost.
Upcoming PC games Q1/Q2 2017
Outcast: Second Contact
Long awaited remake of a cult-classic, Outcast: Second Contact is one of several games hitting next year (not all on our platform, sadly) that many never thought they would see. Despite failing a Kickstarter several years ago, funding was acquired and the game is being made - Matt even got to see it at Gamescom.
Outcast: Second Contact release date: March 2017
To hell with ultra realistic settings, brutal melee takedowns and all things trendy in gaming, give us vibrant colours, some endearing animal protagonists, and loads of floaty jumping any day of the week. Yooka-Laylee, a crowdfunded throwback to the 3D platformers of the '90s, is offering up something a little lighter for gamers to sink their teeth into - just as you'd expect given that it's being made by ex-Banjo-Kazooie devs.
Yooka-Laylee release date: April 11, 2017
Sequel to the surprisingly excellent 2014 horror game, Outlast 2 keeps the journalist but trades in the asylum hospital for a desert, a field and loads of tall grass. Mix in an unhealthy dose of religious overtones, burning crosses and the usual brand of maximum over-violence and you hopefully have as good a game as its predecessor. A 2016 demo (around Halloween, natch) wetted appetites well despite the delay.
Outlast 2 release date: April 25, 2017
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3
With a name that sounds like an amalgam of Sniper Elite and Ghost Recon, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is... well, somewhere between Sniper Elite and Ghost Recon. This is a tactical FPS, set in an open-world for the first time in the series, that finds a retired US marine hunting a target through Georgia (Eastern Europe, not the Deep South).
While previous Sniper: Ghost Warrior games suffered for smaller budgets, this one is said to be a proper triple-A production.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 release date: April 25, 2017
Dawn of War III
For seven years the forge worlds lay silent - or so we thought. Turns out Relic have fired them up again for Dawn of War III, producing huge numbers of units to match the original game’s bigger battles, as well as ginormous walkers designed to swallow a sizeable portion of your screen. Expect Eldar, Orks and Space Marines to converge on the mysterious world of Acheron, where they’ve found - what else? - a terrible weapon.
Dawn of War III release date: April 27, 2017
Looking awfully System Shock, Prey is nothing like its basic FPS predecessor and bares a lot more resemblance to Dishonored In Space than anything else. Makes sense coming from Arkane, and it's shaping up as one of the more exciting games of 2017. They haven't quite gone whole-hog on the promotion yet, so expect to know much more before release.
Prey release date: May 5, 2017
Strafe is like if Nu-Doom and Quake made a baby together and it grew up listening to The Pixies. It’s extremely 90s, fast-paced and has had the oddest marketing campaign of all time. Seriously. They’ve gone a bit dark and there have clearly been delays in getting the game out given it was announced way back in early 2015. Hopefully it lives up to it come release.
Strafe release date: May 9, 2017
The next attempt at the Dark-Souls-but game-making strategy, The Surge puts the rock-hard difficulty, exploration focused and combat-heavy gameplay into space. Set in the far, far future after robots have made most manual labour pointless, large exoskeletons are the only way anyone can get anything done - upsteps the hero ready to beat some bad guys brainless with his.
The Surge release date: May 16, 2017
Much-delayed and previously PS4-only exploration puzzler Rime is now actually coming to PC. That, of course, is if you agree it's a puzzle game, which we didn't in our preview, but did find it to be rather magical all the same. It certainly looks the part.
Rime release date: May 26, 2017
Fighting games come on PC these days (hooray), and Tekken 7 is no exception. Akuma joins the cast of Street Fighter’s largest competitor this go round, adding fireballs and spinning kicks to the laser beam eyes and … spinning kicks. It’s been out in Japanese arcades for quite a while now, meaning the PC and console home release is actually the Fated Retribution version - prettier, better and more balanced.
Tekken 7 release date: June 2, 2017
The latest in the series that grew from the venerable Colin McRae Rally badge, Dirt's focus on rally driving offers racing fans something a bit different. Developers Codemasters have been doing this a very long time now, and with a brand new track generator to add to all the off-roading fun, Dirt 4 looks set to be the most full-featured yet.
Dirt 4 release date: June 9, 2017
The technicolour hybrid of Hitman and Syndicate, Tokyo 42 immediately made an impressive impact on debut, looking just a bit different from absolutely everything else. Published by indie experts Mode 7 of Frozen Synapse and Endzone, it’s developed by just a two-person team at SMAC teams. Hopefully it can live up to its beauty, and you can read more about how it works in Jordan’s Tokyo 42 preview.
Tokyo 42 release date: Early 2017
The most intriguing art style in development, Cuphead bases its looks on early 1900s cartoon animation and its play on a co-op version of Mega Man. How that all combines is the question, and its taken its time getting here - hopefully it can live up to its own design.
Cuphead release date: Q2 2017
The next game from the Gone Home folks is silent, creepy and explorative, as is tradition, but also in space. Excellent. Fullbright haven’t exactly shouted out the plot details, as you might expect, but you’re aboard a space station and something’s not quite right. Originally slated for a 2016 launch, it got delayed to refactor various parts of the game to something better and should now be out soon.
Tacoma release date: Spring 2017
Upcoming PC Games Q3 2017
Middle-earth: Shadow of War
The sequel to the greatest 7/10 of all time looks like it's going to continue that theme, with an added dose of WWE-style run-ins and dragons. Dragons! Hooray. It's even further from anything approaching LOTR canon these days, but the Nemesis system is back with avengeance.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War release date: August 25
We Happy Few
Already in Early Access and making quite a stormer of it, We Happy Few aims to mix Bioshock and survival games into, presumably, some sort of world-devouring omni-game. Set in an alternate universe where drugs are all that keep the British population in check, it's horror, humour, survival and story all wrapped into one.
We Happy Few release date: Q3 2017
Upcoming PC Games Q4 2017
Well, it’s happening. A massively successful Kickstarter, some amount of Sony money and an almost bottomless pile of hype. It’s estimated for the end of 2017, but we’d be surprised if it doesn’t slip into the year after - or even further. Some, however, will wait however long they need to.
Shenmue 3 release date: December 2017
How do you make explosions even more explosions? You get the cloud to compute them. That’s the plan for Crackdown 3, the seven-years-late sequel to one of the Xbox’s most popular games. Destructible environments in a sandbox city are the set-up, but beyond that we haven’t seen much more since the reveal in 2015.
Crackdown 3 release date: Q4 2017
Upcoming PC games TBC 2017
Endless Space 2
Endless Space 2 has been in Early Access since October, and was only meant to be there six months at most. It's taking a little longer than normal for Amplitude's latest and greatest to get out to the wider world, but it's certainly something to be excited for. They rcecently announced the Riftborn faction.
Divinity: Original Sin II
2014’s Divinity: Original Sin was one of best classic RPGs made in recent years, with plenty of charm, depth and challenge to spare. Larian Studios’ follow up promises the same respect for player choices, new origin stories, a revamped crafting system and addictive competitive party elements. And we can attest to all of this following our Original Sin II hands-on.
Divinity: Original Sin II release date: TBC 2017
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Ever wondered what Skyrim without magic and cat people would look like? Wonder no more, because Warhorse Studios are in the process of making a medieval RPG set in 1403. The game promises to have historically accurate armour, weapons and combat techniques, and is intended to allow the player to become whoever they want - rogue, warrior or bard. Even more so when Kingdom Come mods get going.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance release date: TBC 2017
Frozen Synapse 2
After distilling the merits of their simultaneously turn-based tactical shooter in the purist sports strategy of Frozen Cortex, Mode 7 Games have returned to the Synapse series with a view to expand. They’ll retain the waypoint system that evokes early Rainbow Six, but move the action outside those familiar office complexes in favour of “open world tactics”. However that manifests itself, it’ll be a huge departure from the taut, two-player maps of the original Frozen Synapse.
Frozen Synapse 2 release date: TBC 2017
Without a doubt the most wildly ambitious game in a long time, Star Citizen aims to be the ultimate space exploration experience. Taking to the skies in one of numerous ridiculously detailed craft, you will be able to engage in military service, become a reputable trader of goods, live the life of a smuggler, or become a universe-famous race pilot. If it ever gets finished, of course. Squadron 42, the single-player component, is supposed to be out this year. But also last year.
Star Citizen release date: TBC 2017
After a well-received reveal at The Game Awards 2016, Dauntless will doubtless (ha!) enter a period of hibernation while the brains behind it put the F2P Monster Hunter-esque together. We're hoping to hear some more from them very soon, so stay tuned to PCGamesN - which we know you're doing anyway, you lovely lot.
Dauntless release date: TBC 2017
Ruiner is an ultraviolent isometric action shooter based on 1988's sci-fi anime Akira. Think Hotline Miami, if Miami was a ruby-tinted dystopia. I know, right? Check out Jordan's hands-on with Ruiner for more - he called it "a bold and bloody stampede through a cyberpunk city that’s driven entirely by kineticism", which sounds alright to us. It's due late this year.
Ruiner release date: TBC 2017
Steel Division: Normandy 44
Paradox's annual "here's something new" at GDC turned out to be a complex, historical strategy game - well out of their wheelhouse, I'm sure you'll agree. World War 2 is the setting, and you can find out much more about it above and in our guide to units, phases, multiplayer and more. Development is being handled by Wargame/RUSE folks Eugen Systems.
Steel Division: Normandy 44 release date: TBC 2017.
XCOM’s indie cousin takes a lot from the original games, not so much the smaller squad sizes of the modern day efforts. Xenonauts 2 was announced with a splash page and little else in 2016, and has had work done on it quietly ever since. There’s been a couple of alpha playtests for combat and graphics, but beyond that not a lot of proper announcements. Expect more, soon.
Xenonauts 2 release date: TBC 2017
The first game for feels-central developer Dontnod to release after Life is Strange is, obviously, about consuming the flesh of the living for sustenance. Vampyr casts you as a recently-vampirised doctor in 1918, just as Spanish Flu is really starting to mess Europe up. London is the setting, dark is the tone and surviving is the plan, while trying not to destroy all sense of civilization in Britain’s capital. Good luck.
Vampyr release date: TBC 2017
Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord
The long-awaited followup to the crowd favourite Mount & Blade, the sequel is promising to be bigger and better in pretty much every way. They’ve focused on two areas so far in reveals: humongous siege battles and making the game moddable. With the latter they’re going as far as possible, giving modders as much power as possible to make their game even better.
Mount & Blade 2 release date: TBC 2017
Dead Island 2
This, apparently, still exists and making “fantastic progress” at take-over developers Sumo according to a recent issue of industry magazine MCV. Exactly how much resemblance it will have with the weird californian sunpocalypse we saw on display during the original announcement, but it’s still tentatively scheduled for 2017.
Dead Island 2 release date: TBC 2017
Quake Champions takes some surprising steps away from its roots, while claiming to be as grounded as possible. It’s still going to feature the lightning gun, railgun and rocket launcher that made Quake 3 one of the world’s first global eSports. But it’s also adding character selection, special abilities and, possibly, a free to play monetization model. We’ve got a list of all the announced and rumoured Quake Champions characters if you’re after it, and we’ll hopefully know more during 2017.
Quake Champions release date: TBC 2017
Star Wars: Battlefront 2
Not to be confused with Star Wars: Battlefront II, Battlefront 2 will be the sequel to DICE’s attempt at space lasers and heroes. It’s definitely happening, will almost certainly accompany the release of Episode 8, but otherwise who knows. EA drew a lot of flak for the lack of single-player the first time round, which would be lovely. Expect to see more at E3.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 release date: TBC 2017
Metal Gear Survive
Konami are doing another full Metal Gear game, without Hideo Kojima. Fan reactions are as to be expected, but at least it’s suitably silly - rock zombies, time travel, alternate dimensions, portals through space, time and structure. It’s co-op in nature and likely won’t bear much resemblance to what’s come before.
Metal Gear Survive release date: TBC 2017
More than a little odd, Absolver is about punching - simple enough so far - but to a degree almost no game ever is. You can customise your fighting style, your combos, the way your character moves, all in the hope of creating a build an opponent can’t defeat in 1v1 online combat. It made a splash on first announcement during E3 and looks like it could be an early contender for indie smash hit of the year.
Absolver release date: TBC 2017
State of Decay 2
The definition of a cult indie hit, State of Decay was a lot of great ideas, well implemented and not locked in early access for a thousand years. It did well too, managing to garner quite the gaggle of fans that appreciated a group zombie survival where things actually worked. The sequel wants to do all that, better, and could be one of the semi-surprise hits of the year if it nails it.
State of Decay 2 release date: TBC 2017
Cliff Bleszinski’s hat thrown into the hero shooter ring, Lawbreakers bares a bit more similarity to classic shooters than Overwatch, Battleborn and the like. No cartoony art style, though still something of a sense of humour, and lots of rocket jumps along with the wall-running. It’s running a lot of beta tests currently, and will probably make it out fairly early in 2017.
Lawbreakers release date: TBC 2017
Battletech is back(letech), meaning we get to watch giant mechs beat each other up all over again. Created by notable Kickstarter success story Harebrained Schemes, of Shadowrun fame, it’s progressing at speed with regular updates and should be out in 2017.
Battletech release date: TBC 2017
Originally debuting a couple of years back, Eitr went into deep hiding after very positive responses to demo builds to finish up the pixelated, isometric Dark Souls. It still looks lovely, and publishers Devolver Digital have confirmed that it’s coming out in 2017.
Eitr release date: TBC 2017
Operating somewhat as a tech demo for new MMO tech, Worlds Adrift is about sky pirates and a massive, persistant world. It calls itself a “first in a new generation” of multiplayer games and it’s certainly pretty enough to sell the premise. If it works, it could be The Next Big Thing - we’ll get to play it in 2017.
Worlds Adrift release date: TBC 2017
What Remains of Edith Finch
First person puzzle-venturing, the titular Edith Finch tries to discover why everyone else is dead via exploring her house. It’s part spooky, part interesting and all very Gone Home, at least from initial impressions. Hopefully it fills those extra-large shoes well.
What Remains of Edith Finch release date: TBC 2017
The very definition of cult classic, Pathologic is one of the oddest games ever released, not least because of a dodgy translation from native Russian. After a very successful Kickstarter, a full remake is in development which hit early-alpha in late 2016 - we even played a bit of it. It will almost certainly be an event, bad or good.
Pathologic release date: TBC 2017
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
An independent effort by DmC developers Ninja Theory, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice follows Celtic warrior Senua on a journey into the savage viking heartlands in search of her lover. It looks and sounds gorgeous so far, and sees its protagonist wrestle with weighty themes such as trauma and psychosis. Unfortunately, development hasn't gone smoothly, and it's been delayed from 2016 into a vague 2017 release window.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice release date: TBC 2017
Mirage: Arcane Warfare
Mirage: Arcane Warfare is the follow-up to Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, which boasts some of the deepest melee combat you’ve ever seen. Using every mouse button and even its drag speed, several different attacks were possible, as were parries and feints. Each weapon had varying stats for reach, speed and damage, further complicating things.
To this intricate mix, Mirage promises to bring synergistic magical powers and a rather lovely pastel colour scheme, which you'll spoil by disembowelling your enemies all over the map. A likely rival to For Honor for deep multiplayer brawling, expect Mirage’s beta test and then a full launch later this year.
Mirage: Arcane Warfare release date: TBC 2017
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Obsidian opened a wildly successful series of RPGs with South Park: The Stick of Truth, but it continues on without them. Ubi are tackling this one internally, sensibly sticking to the map left behind by some of the most respected role-playing designers in the world. No bad news here - except for that which saw The Fractured But Whole delayed into 2017.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole release date: TBC 2017
With the full mod released after what felt like a century of development, many assumed that was the end of legendary project Black Mesa, bringing the original Half-Life up to code in the latest version of the source engine. Not so. Never having added Xen to their version of the game, the devs set up Black Mesa as a full Early Access project, selling at a budget and starting to build a whole new ending to their favourite game. Now it's nearly done.
Black Mesa release date: TBC 2017
Full Metal Furies
A brawler with attitude, pixel graphics and unholy-large weapons, Full Metal Furies is what's coming next from the folks behind Rogue Legacy. It looks beautiful, is very fast and seems to involve no small amount of killing large monsters with larger weapons. Good stuff.
Full Metal Furies release date: TBC 2017
Into the Breach
The FTL folks are back, and if that's not enough to get you excited... well, for one thing, there might be something wrong with you. That aside, it's an isometric turn-based strategy game where you must save the Earth from various kaiju-sized threats by commanding humongous robots. It looks extremely rad.
Into the Breach release date: TBC
Joining its erstwhile brother in fragging as a likely 2017 release, Unreal Tournament is taking a different tack - its been in open development since its earliest stages. As in, since they were still developing weapon models, deciding on movement mechanics, the very groundwork of the game. It’s going to be free and supported by cosmetic microtransactions. They’re still calling it pre-alpha so who knows when it will be out.
Unreal Tournament release date: TBC
Werewolf: The Apocalypse
Other than this definitely happening, we don't know a whole lot and won't under the Focus Home event at the start of February when it's due to be properly revealed. You'll play a Werewolf and you will probably tear stuff up at a high rate. It's to be the first WOD game since Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, so heavy weight is on it to be proper good.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse release date: TBC
Necromunda: Underhive Wars
Try not to cheer too loud: those folks behind Mordheim are making the 40k equivelent, Necromunda, and there really isn't any excuse for it not to be great. Again, not a lot to know before Focus Home's event in early February, which will doubtless bring trailer and gameplay details aplenty.
Necromunda: Underhive Wars release date: TBC
Equally dark sequel to the rather good Sunless Sea, Failbetter are back on Kickstarter and doing exceptionally well. Fully funded within four hours, Skies will almost certainly be a total pleasure to fans of the studio. Plenty of information over on the Kickstarter as they continue to gather cash.
Sunless Skies release date: May 2018
Pillars of Eternity 2
Pillars 2 is on the way, that’s about all we know. Obsidian have been working on it since at least early 2016 according to interviews, but they’ve kept quiet about exactly how it’s changing. We do know it will be in an entirely different section of the world, featuring all-new characters and a different plot. More to follow in early 2017, we’d guess.
Pillars of Eternity 2 release date: Q1 2018
Revived by SimBin after a messy cancellation in the bad old days, GTR 3 is in production by the new SimBin and should be in a playable state by mid-2017. They're aiming a little later for a full release, but it's an exciting time to be a fan of crossing tarmac quickly.
GTR 3 release date: 2018
Fully titled 'The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 - Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie - Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa', Barkley 2 is the sequel to one of the oddest fangames to ever exited, Charles Barkley's Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. It was Kickstarted in December 2012 and has been in some form of development ever since. If it will ever come out is up for debate, but it's worth keeping track of for "what?" points alone.
Barkley 2 release date: TBC
Capybara's latest has been delayed more times than the end of the world. Below was originally meant to come out as early as 2014, with an announcement at E3 2013. That was now four years ago, and after a delay in August 2016 it never revealed itself again. Capy did say they were deliberately going dark until it was done, but who knows when it may resurface. We hope it does.
Below release date: TBC
Like neon fever dream made flesh, Drift Stage has been hanging around the internet in constant development for a couple of years. They're running a non-Steam early access plan through their website, but $60,000 on Kickstarter back in 2015 hasn't lead to a release date any time soon.
Drift Stage release date: TBC
Galaxy in Turmoil
A good, or at least reasonable, end to one of the many fan-game turned cease-and-desist stories. Galaxy in Turmoil used to be a fan-made Star Wars Battlefront successor until EA and Disney gave it the "er, actually." Instead of taking their space-ball and going home, Frontwire Studios decided to keep it up and have got as far as space walks now.
Galaxy in Turmoil release date: TBC
Nobody knows what's going on with Death Stranding, probably not even Hideo Kojima. We're not even sure it's coming to PC as well as its Sony-funded home, but it is mad as a box of frogs and that just makes us want to tell you about it. The Mads Mikkelsen trailer reinforced this after the initial reveal, and honestly we can't wait for more. Doesn't even matter if it never comes out.
Death Stranding realease date: TBC
System Shock 3
The other side of the System Shock development split, System Shock 3 is likely a long, long way off. We know Warren Spector is involved and … that’s about it. Otherside Entertainment are doing the actual production, with Spector now there as studio director - we’re expecting to hear more from them through 2017.
System Shock 3 release date: TBC
The next game from those guys who made The Witcher - you might have heard of it. They announced it far, far too early with a teaser trailer and we’ve heard nothing official since. They’re even a little sick of answering questions about it, it seems, but did get funding for some special city tech recently. Supposedly, it’ll be out before 2019, but who knows.
Cyberpunk 2077 release date: 2077?
These are the upcoming PC games that have got us most excited. Any games on the horizon that have you seriously considering a pre-order? Let us know in the comments.