Paradox has a fair number of grand strategy IPs under their care. In fact, given the constant patches and expansions they're all getting it's a wonder they've had time to forge a new one. But that's exactly what they've done with Stellaris, their first entry outside of history and one that takes us beyond the confines of Earth.
The game itself offers the same sort of deep and engaging strategy experience you'd expect from a Paradox game, but without the restraints of a historical setting, and so there is more freedom in terms of mechanics, something that has been fully taken advantage of here. Perhaps even more so here than what we've seen before, Paradox has delivered some great writing, which really enhances the experience.
As is tradition the game has also been expanded and improved upon since launch and it seems likely that this is the beginning of a long-term effort to cement Stellaris as the studio's fifth major franchise. We slapped a big fat 8 out of 10 on the game when it launched earlier this year, because while we enjoyed it, we see that there's plenty of room for it to grow. If Paradox can deliver meaningful updates in the coming months, we fully expect Stellaris to thrive for years and years to come.
As part of the Tom Clancy stable of games, some would perhaps not consider this a new IP, but we do, particularly as The Division is a dramatically different proposition than other games bearing Tom Clancy's name. In fact, the differences between how The Division works when compared to other Clancy titles was one of the more common early complaints, namely that it's foundation is that of an RPG and so enemies act like bullet sponges rather than the more realistic scenarios offered in say Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, or Rainbow Six. But this also gives The Division an identity of its own. That along with the urban setting and the role New York plays makes for a very unique premise.
After a massively successful launch (at least from a commercial perspective) the game struggled for most of 2016. Simply put, the end-game didn't measure up and bugs and glitches ruined the enjoyment for many players as exploits were used to gain advantages. In recent months Massive has worked very hard to rectify these issues and add meaningful new content like the recent Survival DLC. It's always going to be an uphill struggle once you've lost players' trust, but regardless of this there is no doubting the potential that the concept holds.
It's easy to imagine similar scenarios in other cities as the basis for a sequel. Perhaps somewhere where water, drought or hurricanes provide a more immediate and variable threat than snow. The engine that powers The Division is clearly capable of even greater things, but in order to make the game run smoothly on all platforms and hit the launch date some compromises were made. We're interested to see how much more the technology can be pushed and optimised with a possible sequel in the future. One that is most likely many years down the line (a game like The Division needs at least three years in development, most likely more).
There is a bright future for the franchise if Ubisoft chooses to continue to invest in it. Clearly players crave this sort of experience. And the best news is that having made a number of mistakes the first time around, there is room for improvement.
Much of the foundation of what we now know as Overwatch, in terms of the fiction and universe, was laid down during the development of the cancelled MMORPG, Titan, a game that Blizzard quietly killed off a few years back. Some of that work was salvaged, though, and the rest is, as they say, history.
In fact, it still very much feels like this is history in the making. We don't expect an Overwatch 2 any time soon, but there's little doubt in our collective mind that Blizzard will continue to support this first foray into the world of first-person shooters for many years to come, similarly to the commitment Valve has shown to Team Fortress 2. The studio has such a dedicated community that we can envisage along and successful future for the game, with what's already in place acting as a platform for future iteration.
And why wouldn't they?! Overwatch is bloody brilliant, with fantastic character design, brilliant visuals, and carefully balanced action that keeps players coming back for more. Like everything else that they've done (well, almost everything), Blizzard has applied their trademark spit and polish, and over extended public testing and post-launch iteration the studio has near-perfected their shooter.
The future, then, is bright, and there's so much to look forward if you're an existing player, and every reason to jump aboard if you've not yet been bitten by the Overwatch bug. Blizzard has crafted an unbelievably good shooter, and thanks to rock solid foundations there's no reason why this train won't keep on rolling for years to come.