Competitive games have always been a staple of PC gaming, with titles such as Starcraft: Brood War and the original Quake paving the road for what will eventually become the professional eSports scene. Nowadays, competitive titles are more popular than ever and have become a very profitable proposition for would-be pro gamers, as well as tournament organizers. One prime example of this is The International, a yearly Dota 2 tournament that managed to offer a jaw-dropping $20 million in prize money last year.
Needless to say, the number of competitive games has increased dramatically over the last few years as a direct result of their massive worldwide popularity and that trend will most definitely not slow down in 2017. With that in mind, today we’re taking a look at some of the most promising competitive PC games launching this year across a variety of genres. It’s hard to say if any of these titles will end up taking the eSports scene by storm like Overwatch did last year, but you can bet that all of them will be a blast to play whether you’re an extremely competitive gamer or a casual player that just wants to have some fun with friends.
The highly successful reboot of DOOM last year prompted developer id Software to bring back another one of its legendary FPS franchises in the form of Quake. Known as Quake Champions, this is the first new title in the long-running series since 2005’s Quake 4.
For the most part, id Software is trying to appeal to veteran FPS players with this fast-paced arena shooter while also trying to attract new fans by implementing a class-based system along with a few other modern features. This decision is generally seen as risky and ill-advised by veterans, especially after the poor reception of DOOM’s multiplayer, however, the idea itself isn’t all that bad if balanced properly.
The game is still in development, though, so we’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out. It’s unclear if Quake Champions will officially release this year, but id Software did confirm that we can expect a Beta testing phase to arrive sometime later in 2017. The game will be available exclusively on PC.
Anyone who played video games in the 90s knows that there were only two competitive first-person shooters that truly mattered at that time – Quake and Unreal Tournament. Interestingly enough, it looks like the old rivals will probably go at it again in the near future as both series are getting revived.
While everyone knows about Quake Champions by now, the new Unreal Tournament has so far flown under the radar for the most part despite the fact that it was initially revealed back in 2014 by Epic Games. What’s interesting about this title is that Epic is using a crowdsourcing system that allows anyone with programming skills to contribute towards its development. Unfortunately, this also means that the development process is taking longer than usual as evidenced by the fact that Unreal Tournament is still in Alpha.
Having said all that, the game is playable even at this stage and definitely loads of fun if you can get past some of its current technical issues and lack of variety. With Quake Champions approaching fast and arena shooters becoming popular again, it’s a pretty good bet that development is bound to pick up speed and hopefully we should hear about a Beta testing phase by the end of 2017. The game will be available exclusively on PC.
Lawbreakers is the latest project of famed game designer Cliff Bleszinski, who incidentally, was the one who designed all the Unreal Tournament games with the exception of the current reboot. Since Bleszinski is not working at Epic Games anymore, he is no longer involved with the series but it looks like he still carries those ideas close to his heart because LawBreakers definitely has an Unreal Tournament vibe to it.
That said, this game does have a very interesting and unique gimmick that allows it to stand out from the crowd. In addition to the frantic gunplay we’ve come to expect from Bleszinski’s projects, LawBreakers is heavily focused on verticality and even features a mechanic that allows for zero-gravity combat, which is just as cool as it sounds. Much like the upcoming Quake Champions, LawBreakers also opted for a class-based system. Unlike Quake Champions, however, the backlash hasn’t been nearly as bad, most likely because this is an entirely new IP that doesn’t have anything to prove just yet.
LawBreakers is currently in its Alpha testing phase on Steam and is scheduled to launch sometime later in 2017 on PC and possibly on consoles later down the line.
Medieval-themed games have been around for a while and they almost always did a pretty good job when it comes to multiplayer. Some examples of this include Mount & Blade, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, and War of the Roses, to name just a few. For Honor, however, is a different beast altogether.
Ubisoft is developing this project as a straight-up AAA game with heavy emphasis on realistic combat, detailed graphics, and three factions, each with four distinct classes. Not only is For Honor expected to be one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games of 2017, but it is overall also one of the most highly anticipated titles of the year and with good reason. The game has a great concept behind it as it allows players to pick between knights, Vikings, and samurai and fight in massive battles across a variety of maps and game modes.
It also helps that For Honor is often compared to Dark Souls when it comes to its combat, which is extremely difficult and requires a lot of precision but is also very rewarding for those with the skill to pull it off. For Honor is expected to launch on February 14 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Halo Wars 2
Competitive gaming and real-time strategy are often uttered in the same breath thanks to the huge contributions of the Starcraft series in establishing modern eSports. For the longest time, RTS games have only been available on PC, which makes perfect sense since the genre is perfectly suited for the mouse & keyboard combo. However, there are, in fact, some console RTS games out there and some of them are actually pretty decent. The best example of this is arguably Halo Wars, a sci-fi real-time strategy game that’s getting a sequel next month.
Even better, Halo Wars 2 will also be available on PC thanks to Microsoft’s ‘Play Anywhere’ feature. At first glance, Halo Wars 2 is just more of the same but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since the original was a pretty good game all things considered. It goes without saying that RTS games are always better when played on the PC, which is why the developers took the time to optimize the upcoming game to work smoothly with a mouse and keyboard.
While RTS fans are probably far more excited for Dawn of War 3, all signs point to the fact that Halo Wars 2 might end up being a more compelling competitive experience as the game is heavily focused on multiplayer while the Dawn of War series has also been a more story-driven experience. Halo Wars 2 is scheduled to launch on February 21 for PC and Xbox One.
Last but certainly not least, we have Injustice 2, the sequel to 2013’s surprisingly popular fighting game. Much like the original, the game will have a pretty interesting narrative to offer, but it goes without saying that its primary hook will be the competitive multiplayer.
This time around, fans of the DC universe can expect a few new additions to the lineup of playable characters along with new gameplay mechanics. Most notably, Injustice 2 will feature an RPG-inspired loot system that awards players with various pieces of gear after every match. These items will allow players to customize their characters and eventually work their way towards collecting entirely new costumes for their favorite heroes and villains.
Interestingly enough, the gear will not be purely cosmetic as some items also enhance character attributes, such as strength, speed or health. This new system as raised some concerns regarding the game’s balance, but we’ll just have to wait until release to see if these concerns are justified or not. Injustice 2 launches on May 16 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Those are just a few of the competitive games we’re most excited about playing in 2017 but there will definitely be many more where those came from. The year is still young so who knows, we might even see a few games that haven’t even been announced yet.
Article by Guest Contributor, Xardas – Chief Editor/Co-founder @ Geek Snack
You can view more of his work on Geek Snack