The five most exciting videogames set to be released in 2016

A look at some of the most highly anticipated and unusual titles slated for release this year.

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Whereas my best of year list for 2015 included a variety of titles, both big and small, looking ahead means carefully examining the high expectations promised by the major developers. Here, I choose five unique upcoming titles, which could help ensure the continued variety of new ideas we want to see as gamers.

No Man's Sky

Hello Games - PC, PS4

Red Faction was one of the first games that allowed players to change the environment in ways that wasn't possible in previous worlds. We've come a long way since, and No Man's Sky is evidence of this.

You play as an explorer in this sci-fi survival game, exploring a huge number of planets with each planet's surroundings, animal and plant life generated on the fly as you start each journey. The ambition of this title is huge, with Sony putting its weight behind it, featuring it during last year's E3 press conference, something unheard of for an indie title. Expectations from Hello Games have fully blossomed. It's only a matter of time to see if they've been realised into an excellent game.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst

DICE, EA - PC, PS4, XBONE

It's been more than seven years since DICE delivered one of the most unique games we've ever seen in the form Mirror's Edge. Faith Connors returns in this "true" first-person adventure game, set in a futuristic city where she has to escape enemies using her parkour and hand-to-hand combat skills. DICE looks set to have improved all areas of the game, giving even greater style and edge to the clean aesthetic of its dystopian vision. The linear structure of the original title has also been replaced with a free-roaming environment, reflecting the fast-moving, acrobatic qualities of Faith, all under the promise of no loading screens. Catalyst could be yet another dark horse for DICE.

The Last Guardian

Sony - PS4

This is where our inner fangirl/fanboy comes to life. Ico brought a whole new minimalist approach to storyline and gameplay when it was originally released in 2001. Shadow of the Colossus continued this spirit in 2005 and after many delays, we're promised the third title in this unlinked series will be released this year.

In The Last Guardian, you play once again as a young boy making his way through a difficult yet compelling environment with the help of Trico, a bird-like animal. Not much else is known due to the endless series of delays the game has faced during its development. However, if the game reaches anywhere near the heights of previous Team Ico titles, we could be looking at a newcomer to the small collection of games that have emotional impact.

Quantum Break

Remedy - XBONE

Remedy has had a fine track record with Max Payne and Alan Wake, going deep into the psychology of tormented heroes and giving a dark emotional aspect to the gaming world. Quantum Break changes this approach quite a bit, allowing the developer to create an all-out action game title while making sure it doesn't offend the intelligence of the audience.

The story follows Jack Joyce, who has the ability to stop time while manipulating the environment to, unsurprisingly, shoot the living daylights out of surrounding enemies. What's unique about the game is not that it's more action-oriented for Remedy, a challenge given the cinematic qualities of their previous titles, but because of the tie-in mini-series featuring the actors playing the same characters in the game. Will this blend of entertainment be as successful as it is ambitious? Only time will tell.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2

PopCap Games, EA - PC, PS4, XBONE

Yes, this is a smaller title in the grand scheme of things but given how insanely fun the first Garden Warfare title was, the sequel should do well building on its success. PopCap should also receive a tremendous amount of kudos for successfully translating its 2D tower defence game into a fully-realised, 3D title.

Garden Warfare 2 finds you fighting against the evils of the zombie onslaught once again, using plants that have been modified more than just genetic material. Each character has a unique ability, and the creativity injected into this series has given rise to over 100 playable characters, new maps and new game modes. The title will also bring local, split-screen modes in the console releases, something that is unfortunately becoming far too rare in the modern gaming era.

Emad Ahmed writes about science and gaming. He tweets @ThisIsEmad.