Looking ahead in 2016 – 15 simulated worlds

Simulations have always been part of the gaming landscape for as far back as there were video games. Anything that could get simulated nearly got one from cars to air traffic controllers and nuclear reactors. Today, they’ve gotten a lot more sophisticated in terms of presentation and even mechanics but the basic aim is still there — to challenge, entertain, and maybe even teach players something new while doing their best to drive cargo or harvest plants in any one of many virtual worlds.

Like the previous lists, this isn’t the ultimate in comprehensive collections – it’s just a big slice of information cross referenced between a number of sources from Gamestop to Wikipedia, and some games aren’t here at all due to a lack of information (or even a website to reference back to) or I just had no idea that X title was out there. Any dates that are for certain regions only will be tagged (like JP, for Japan). Like always, if you feel that this list is missing a favorite or two, be sure to let everyone know in the comments.


Abzu – Giant Squid (PS4, Windows)
http://www.abzugame.com/
TBA 2016

What is it?
A diving simulator with some RPG elements (such as being able to upgrade your equipment) and a stylized look by Matt Nava, the art director behind Journey and Flower. The game doesn’t appear to be a hardcore diving sim, rather an exploration sim presenting a unique underwater world filled with secrets and life for the player to freely discover on their own. Not much else is known but it’s expected sometime in 2016.


American Truck Simulator – SCS Software (Windows)
http://www.americantrucksimulator.com/
February 3, 2016

What is it?
Finally on Steam to get ready for its debut this year, the game will focus on American trucks. You’ll work your way up from a local hire to building your own truck company empire. SCS, the outfit behind the game, are also known as truck-sim masters responsible for titles ranging from 18 Wheels of Steel to the Euro Truck Simulator series. This time, they’re coming back to America to provide plenty of fodder for more noscope trailer hookup videos.


Assetto Corsa – Kunos Simulazioni (PS4, XBO)
http://www.assettocorsa.net/en/
TBA 2016

What is it?
A driving sim focused on real-world cars and supercars from BMWs to the Pagani Zonda. It includes a number of official tracks such as the Nurburging and the Silverstone, incredible visuals, a solid driving mechanic, and multiplayer. It came out on Steam for PCs first in Early Access and then an official, feature complete release later and has received a number of accolades from both critics and players. Now it hopes to makes its debut on consoles sometime in 2016.


Dreadnought – Yager Development (Windows)
https://www.greybox.com/dreadnought/en/
TBA 2016

What is it?
This free-to-play game puts players in charge of piloting a giant warship, challenging them to wield it in fights against others online or in the single-player campaign. The feeling of being in command of a giant harbinger of destruction is emphasized by the sheer amount of firepower (and the ability to soak a ton of damage in turn) each one wields and the diversity of vessels to choose from with more to be added later.


Factorio – Wube Software (Linux, OS X, Windows)
https://www.factorio.com/
TBA 2016

What is it?
Think Sim City, old school Sim City with a top-down view, only this time, you’re building a super factory to survive on an alien world. Research inventions, mine resources to feed them, build sprawling supply lines and conveyors to link it all together, and keep building to discover even more wonders along the way to surviving the endless onslaught of critters in order to colonize the planet.


FlatOut 4: Total Insanity – Tiny Rebel Games (PS4, Windows, XBO)
http://www.strategyfirst.com/FlatOut/
TBA 2016

What is it?
The newest iteration in the FlatOut racing sim series featuring everything that FlatOut is known for under a new developer. For those that have no idea what this game is, FlatOut’s a racing/demolition derby sim where deadly obstacles, crashes, and really huge explosions can pepper the tracks in addition to allowing players to upgrade their car to help survive the metal carnahearge expected of them.


The Guild 3 – GolemLabs (Windows)
http://www.theguildgame.com/
TBA 2016

What is it?
The newest iteration of The Guild strategy sim series takes place in the 15th century at the dawn of a new age. Lead your family through trade, intrigue, and even a few battles to become a powerful, medieval organization in a world beset by secret societies and new ideas. How you do it is up to you and the descendants you manage to empower on the way to the top.


Lego Worlds – Traveller’s Tales (Windows)
http://videogames.lego.com/en-us/lego-worlds/about/screenshots
TBA 2016

What is it?
Currently in Early Access on Steam, Lego Worlds is a sandbox building game featuring plenty of Lego blocks and your imagination. It uses procedural generation to create new worlds filled with mysteries, Lego-flavored inhabitants, and enough freedom to let almost whatever you want to build run wild.


Need for Speed – Ghost Games (Windows)
http://www.needforspeed.com/
TBA 2016

What is it?
The PC port of EA’s newest console racer. One of the notable post-release aspects for the game is that is lacks any microtransaction hooks or paid DLC.


Offworld Trading Company – Mohawk Games (Windows)
http://offworldgame.com/
TBA 2016

What is it?
Currently in Early Access on Steam, this is a game by the lead designer, Soren Johnson, of Civilization IV and his new team at Mohawk Games pitting players against the problem of trying to both survive and exploit Mars to save humanity…and hopefully get rich in the process. Build a base on Mars, expand it, exploit resources, patent technology, spy on the competition, and win wars not with armies but the power of economics to drive your rivals into the vacuum when you own everything they have.


Planet Coaster – Frontier Development (Windows)
https://www.planetcoaster.com/
TBA 2016

What is it?
The “evolution” of the Roller Coaster Tycoon series, the game offers players the chance to build even bigger coasters, shape the landscape, and even participate in the park as visitors, vendors selling hot dogs, or just enjoy the ambiance of their creativity from up close. Online features seem to also promise the ability to join others’ games as a guest or even as a worker. The game even offers a high priced pre- purchase package for players to make their name a permanent addition to the entry stones to every online park along with a few more perks.


RollerCoaster Tycoon World – Nvizzio Creations (Windows)
http://www.rollercoastertycoon.com/rollercoaster-tycoon-world/
TBA 2016

What is it?
The next iteration of the popular RollerCoaster Tycoon series will add multiplayer options for the first time allowing players to visit other players’ parks and even share blueprints. It’s also undergone a few changes since last year’s listing along with the delay into 2016 for, presumably, more polish. It will boast enhanced physics, scenarios and a campaign mode, freeform design (with snap-to-grid options for newcomers) and strong Steam integration with both the Workshop (it will be open to modding allowing players to create 3D objects and import them into the game) and social hooks.


Star Citizen – Cloud Imperium Games (Linux, Windows)
https://robertsspaceindustries.com/
Q4 2016

What is it?
Having been in development for a few years now since its successful Kickstarter in October, 2012, and having garnered over $100 million USD since then from its own site, the single-player element, Squadron 42, is slated for a tentative release in 2016. The game has morphed into a huge MMO undertaking and garnered its fair share of controversy, but it appears that the light may be at the end of the tunnel for at least part of the huge space sim by Chris Roberts. I pulled it off the list last year because of how ambiguous release information became but Cloud Imperium is moving forward after having announced a 2016 release window for the single-player campaign.


Tropico 5 – Haemimont Games (XBO)
http://www.tropico5.com/us/index.php
TBA 2016

What is it?
Imagine Tropico 5 on the Xbox One, and that’s what this is.


Wreckfest – Bugbear Entertainment (Windows)
http://nextcargame.com/
Early Access, TBA 2016

What is it?
Currently available on Steam as an Early Access title, the makers of Flatout had a tough time getting to that point. A Kickstarter for the game had failed, but rather than quit, they put out a tech demo featuring 24 vehicles and the test level they used for the damage engine as part of a pre-order campaign to fund the project. Thanks to the positive response, pre-orders soared and eventually entered Early Access on Steam. The game will feature both traditional racing and demolition derby modes, both making use of the highly detailed damage modeling used to make every crumpled panel, bumper, and wobbly wheel look fantastic while still being a challenging and fun.

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