Welcome ghouls, goblins, spectres, Cthulhu-worshippers and Zombie-fans to a brand new year - the year 2017 in fact and, can you believe it, the fourth year of The Dead Times. Some spooky things happened in the previous year such as George Romero struggling to find funds for another Zombie masterpiece (the horror) and the unnerving reveal of how professionals in America are actually working to create real-life undead (no, I'm not making this up). Events went on the up too as E3 2016 saw no fewer than 5 awesome Zombie games be announced, the original Resident Evil celebrated it's twentieth anniversary and The Walking Dead TV series introduced a legendary villain, with enormous narrative-changing consequences.
Still, 2016; pah, old news now - long distant memories to reflect on or neglect as you see fit. 2017 is here, and what better way to metaphorically kick its guts out than with a preview of the lurking horrors, waiting around the corner.
Release: January 24th
This is the big one for me. I'm a huge Resident Evil fan and after the release of a very disappointing Resident Evil 6, along with rumours of a return to the survival horror roots for the next instalment, anticipation for the 7th outing has become nearly unbearable. However, the reveal at E3 2016 left me, and probably a good many others, confused - I liked what I saw but was it really Resident Evil? Capcom have repeatedly stated that, yes, this is a direct follow-on from the story in Resident Evil 6. Some of the 30 second teasers released by Capcom have indeed shown RE staples such as boxed inventory and green herbs, even one creepy Zombie-like ghoul. Still, questions remain: What of shady organization Umbrella? Where are the Zombies? Come January 24th, we'll find out.
Release: Itís now or never
This is one game that needs no introduction; after the super-detailed Zombie survival mod was released for Arma 2, it quickly spiralled its way to huge acclaim. It didn't take long for Bohemia Interactive - developers of Arma 2 - to commission a stand-alone version and, quicker than a sprinting super-infected, it wound up on Steam Early Access; the home for all playable, yet unfinished, games. That was way back in 2013. Fast forward four years and it is still there - updates have been applied and new features added but the game is still not officially finished. With fans getting annoyed and excitement dying, 2017 will surely be the year the game is finally freed from its early development bonds.
Interesting fact: The DayZ mod was never actually "released" - some curious souls found the code on a server, started playing and from there, it went global.
Release: February 3rd
Another huge offering for Zombie-fans is the release of the long-awaited sixth instalment of the Resident Evil film franchise. The trailer looks amazing, and while I am slightly disappointed not to see more returning characters, viewers can expect more light-hearted Zombie-slaughter from Alice as she battles to save the world from total undead infection, returning to The Hive; birthplace of the dreaded T-virus.
Release: Q1 2017
Weíve had the first two episodes of season 3 of this amazing game series in the tail end of 2016, 2017 will bring the rest. At the time of writing, before the initial episodes were released, not much has been given away about Telltaleís third chapter of its jaw-droppingly good The Walking Dead games. From the reveal at E3 last year, we know it involves a slightly older teenage Clementine, again returning as the main protagonist of the instalment. In addition to Clem, we saw new character, Javier, not before seen in the comic series or the TV shows - one which, Telltale have since confirmed, will be a playable alternative to Clem. Other than that, the game remains shrouded in mystery, though, if the two earlier seasons and spin-off series about Michonne indicate the quality of things to come, expect emotions to be toyed with and some seriously difficult choices for players to make.
Release: This year, don't know when
Following the astronomic success of State of Decay, the development studio, Undead Labs has been hard at work on a much bigger, better and more bad-ass sequel. It's an odd game to describe as you do not take control of a single character. Instead, you manage, recruit and defend an entire community of survivors living through a Zombie apocalypse. Now, I didn't like the original that much; community members seemed just too stale - simple carbon copies of each other with rejigged skills and attributes. Still, the game's potential was clear and I admired the breath-taking scope. Here's hoping State of Decay 2 can write the wrongs of the first and bring true community-management to the Zombie world.
Release: TBC 2017
This Playstation-exclusive, open-world survival horror Zombie game looks and sounds absolutely fantastic - just check out the gameplay demo from E3 2016 in the Videos section for proof. The game opts for a mesmerising swarm nature for the Zombies making them topple over obstacles, as well as each other, moving like unstoppable tides of water in a nod to the unrelenting CG (Computer Generated) Zombies of big-budget film, World War Z. This is one game, Iím definitely going to be keeping my eye on.
Release: Not sure itíll make it to full release this year but I dare to dream
A particular favourite of mine, Iíve featured this jaw-dropping indie Zombie game in at least two articles over the years (one of them an exclusive interview that you can get nowhere else on the web). In 7 Days to Die, you are plonked in a region (either the handmade Navezgane County or a randomly generated one) and tasked with staying alive as long as possible. The options for survival are pretty much endless as you can build unique structures, craft dangerous weapons, grow crops and hunt local wildlife. The extremely talented development team continue to push out update videos and new builds to Steamís Early Access program, and the game does, as well as looking unbelievably excellent, seem to be nearing completion: a recent update showing motion-capture being incorporated for the much anticipated single-player component.
Release: Delayed to 2017
After the announcement trailer in 2014, followed by some brief footage of in-engine game environments, we havenít been treated to much from Overkill's The Walking Dead. From the makers of Payday and Payday 2, expect a gun-toting Left 4 Dead style game but with the walkers we all know and love as the adversaries. Oh, and there is very likely going to be a VR (Virtual Reality) option, though what platforms this will use is still up for debate. Also, since the game is definitely going to be a more action-oriented FPS (First Person Shooter), Overkill have a lot to prove following the hideously garbage The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct - the previous action-oriented FPS set in The Walking Dead universe.
Release: Not likely to be this year but we will at least get some more news
For upcoming games we know nothing about, this one takes the crown. All that is known is that Resident Evil 2 is being given a full ultra-modern remake - in the same way that the GameCube (and later, PC) saw the remake of the original Resident Evil. Often considered the best in the series, fans have been begging for a proper Resident Evil 2 remake for decades - eventually, their prayers were answered. This one has me super excited - as soon as more info comes out, I'll be climbing aboard the hype train!
Dead Island 2 has had a rollercoaster of a development cycle, to say the least. Originally, when the sequel to the award-winning ďZombie outbreak on a paradise islandĒ from Techland was commissioned by Deep Silver, the development reigns were handed over to Yager. This was back in 2014. After more than a year of development, the game was almost ready to release, but Deep Silver, in all their wisdom, decided to pull the plug, almost crippling Yager in the process, siting that "Yager and Deep Silver's respective visions of the project fell out of alignment" as the reason. The doomed game remained in limbo - no release date in sight. Techland, developers of the original Dead Island, offered to pick it up and finish it off, now they had shipped the excellent Zombie-basher Dying Light. However, Deep Silver were having none of it and in March 2016, they gave development rights to the UK-based Sumo Digital. Here the game lies, Sumo Digitalís plans remain vague; rumours abound of them stripping everything from the game and starting from scratch, opting for a more realistic vibe than Yagerís comical Californian outbreak. All that is known for sure is that the game is in development.
Thatís right folks, us Zombie-fans are so hard to please that one remake of George Romeroís classic Day of the Dead was not enough - in 2017, we get another one. Sinicism aside, this remake does, from production shots, seem to be miles above the first remake in terms of quality - as long as they avoid any vegetarian Zombies, they canít go wrong. The early plot details are peculiar and a little off-putting, the film summarised as a ďpost-apocalyptic tale [that] follows a former medical student tormented by a dark figure from her past, who happens to be a half-human, half-zombie hell-bent on destroying her.Ē.
Release: 2017 (probably towards the end of the year)
Just under two years ago, an Indiegogo campaign was launched stating that the legendary Tom Savini, mastermind of the gorgeous Night of the Living Dead remake, was attempting to remake the 1980ís cult classic movie, Nightmare City. Funds were raised at an alarming rate and stretch goals were smashed meaning that the project went into full swing - the movie that Quentin Tarantino had openly expressed his love of was going to be remade. However, thanks to the exponentially hard work of the development team, this is not going to be some low-budget knock-off - sadly the norm for crowdfunded films. Instead, the film was delayed to ensure deals could be struck, additional funding could be gathered and talented actors could be brought on-board. This is one huge mega-crunching Zombie movie that you do not want to miss.
Release: Extremely unlikely but miracles do happen
Following the 2013 box-office smash that was World War Z, Plan B Entertainment was lightning quick to get stuck in on a sequel. However, much like the original film, World War Z 2 has been subjected to development hell. Its initial director left the project in 2013 - leaving the sequel to stagnate, no one left to direct the planned Zombie madness. Then, it was announced, that a script had been finished - by someone other than the person who was reportedly writing the script for the film. Finally, David Fincher - of Fight Club fame - was reported to have been in talks with Brad Pitt - who is producing this sequel, as well as acting in it - for the role of director.
To summarise this chaotic mess, while a 2017 release was originally scheduled and this would be absolutely amazing, I fear that this won't happen.
Release: Almost certainly not but, you never know
In 2009 (has it really been that long), an insanely funny Zombie-comedy came out that totally took the world by storm, making well over $100 million worldwide. For years, speculation about a possible sequel circulated and, in 2014, news came that Sony Pictures was getting more serious about the idea. Then came the last rumour; various film casting websites listed Zombieland 2 as being filmed in August of 2016 - no word on the stars or anyone involved.
Release: Something being released would be fantastic
If youíve been following Zombiphile news lately, youíll know that George Romero wants to make another Zombie film - Yay! - but canít get the funding - Boo! The reason, he claims, is largely because of the success of The Walking Dead and World War Z - as soon as you mention ďZombieĒ to any film producer, these two high-end, big-budget Zombie flicks come to mind. I can understand the problem; Zombies have become bigger than ever and it is very difficult for all but the most creative among us to realise that beating the latest movie blockbuster is not simply a case of adding bigger and more expensive set-pieces. Still, the question on all our lips is, will Romero ever get the funding for his next film, perhaps through crowdfunding? Also, what of his other projects: What of the Empire of the Dead TV series or the promised Zombie Autopsies movie that I was really looking forward to?
2016 has been an epic year at The Dead Times and that is set to continue into 2017. However, in addition to all the usual wonderful Zombie-related titbits, Iím hoping to have not one, but two incredibly special pieces for you guys - ones that will excite you guys as much as they will me. If they happen the way I expect them to, they will change The Dead Times ďbusinessĒ dramatically - stay tuned!
With a new year arrived, we can expect a slew more Zombie stuff. Read on for a list of the biggest attractions coming to put a smile on your face (or fear in your heart) in 2017. Hold on to your seats, with the state of some entries, itís about to get bumpy!