This is a great time to be a gamer.
We have brand new consoles from Sony and Microsoft on the cusp of showing us some great stuff, while Nintendo’s system has matured and is starting to show us what it can do. Nintendo and Sony both have great handhelds, and I haven’t even mentioned PC gaming yet. In our Most Anticipated series, we’ll be looking at each of the platforms one by one, highlighting some of the games we’re looking most forward to.
Of course, some of this year’s most anticipated games are coming to more than one platform, so we’ve included those in each applicable platform. Finally, we can’t fit every game into, so once you’ve read our list, tell us what we missed and what you’re looking forward to!
Child of Light (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
UbiSoft’s UbiArt Framework has so far only yielded Rayman Origins & Legends, but the upcoming Child of Light looks like it might be the best-looking game to come out of the engine yet. Child of Light takes cues from Miyazaki animes and Yoshitaka Amano’s art and is being created by core members of the team behind Far Cry 3 – how’s that for a shift in subject matter?
Take on the role of a young girl named Aurora, who must take back the stars, moon and sun from the Queen of the Night to get back to her home. This sidescroller uses RPG elements and even a skill tree like the one seen in Far Cry 3.
The Crew (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
There’s no doubt, Ubisoft loves their open world games. The Crew, though, is a departure from games like Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry. You step into the shoes or, more directly, bucket seats of a criminal organization focused on automotive crime. The open world encompasses not just a city or region, but the entire United States, with the drive time from one end to the other estimated at 90 minutes compared to a highway drive in GTA V taking about 10 minutes to get from north to south. The idea during their presentation was, ‘if you can see it, you can drive to it,” making it possibly the biggest open world yet.
The Division (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
We don’t know much about The Division. We know it’s a third person shooter. We know the basic plot: a virus was transferred using cash passed around on Black Friday as the primary vector. We know it’s running on Ubisoft’s new Snowdrop engine. We know it looks absolutely gorgeous.
We don’t know, though, how far into development it is or whether all the features that were touted are actually going to work. There’s very little actual information about The Division out there, despite it still having a 2014 release date. You can get it’ll be a headliner at E3 this year, though.
Dragon Age: Inquisition (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Even after being burned by Dragon Age 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition remains one of the releases I’m looking most forward to.
BioWare settled most of my fears by delaying the game a full year from fall 2013 to fall 2014. Dragon Age 2‘s biggest problems weren’t with the character interactions or even the combat- though not everyone agrees with me there- but rather the miniscule scale of the events, environments, and story.
BioWare has assuaged many of these concerns in interviews over the last six months, and I’m all the way back on the bandwagon, looking forward to getting back into the mean, muddy world of Dragon Age.
The Elder Scrolls Online (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
There seem to be two minds when it comes to the Elder Scrolls games: “If only Morrowind/Skyrim/Oblivion was online!” and “Oh no, they’re taking it online? Elder Scrolls is over.”
Luckily for both parties, everybody wins. The team working on ESO is fully separate from the people working on the single-player Elder Scrolls and Fallout games. With that worry taken care of, even those who prefer the single player should be excited for a chance to explore the whole Tamriel continent, covering not only Skyrim and Cyrodil, but places we haven’t seen in a long time like Morrowind and others we’ve never been like Elsweyr.
The advantage The Elder Scrolls Online has over other MMO also-runners is an active, pre-existing fanbase used to playing massive, sprawling RPGs. Skyrim sold over 20 million copies in the two years since it came out, and if ESO could pull a quarter of that, Bethesda will probably be pretty thrilled. In the world of MMOs, the graveyard is bigger than the town, but ESO has a better chance than almost everyone of making a permanent home there.
The Evil Within (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Through years of increasingly worse Silent Hill and Resident Evil games, survival horror fans have been waiting for something new to fill the void left behind by the deterioration of those old favorites.
Certainly, games like Amnesia, Slender and Outlast have brought memorable and substantial contributions to the horror game library, but there’s something about Japan’s third-person horror games that those can’t quite reproduce.
The Father of Horror is back, though, and ready to show us he’s still got it. Shinji Mikami is in charge of The Evil Within and it looks as gory, tense, and claustrophobic as we could hope for.
Hotline Miami 2 (PC, PlayStation 4, PS Vita)
There are countless independently created PC games coming this year, more than ever before. It’s impossible to list them all here. Hotline Miami 2, though, earns a spot on our list.
The original was like a breath of fresh air. Fresh air mixed with a mist of blood, I guess, but still fresh. The fast-paced, punishing gameplay and spartan story were enhanced an order of magnitude by the art and music, which worked together to convey not only the sense of time and place, but tone as well. The hazy, neon darkness of 1980s Miami was captured perfectly.
I can’t wait to see what developer Dennaton Games does with the concept this time around.
Hyper Light Drifter (PC, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Wii U)
A tense and visually stunning story of a Drifter with a terminal disease that goes on a journey. Hyper Light Drifter looks and sounds incredibly good right now, and it has the ambition of a small, small group of developers behind it. We’re talking a handful of folks.
We had a chance to interview Alex Preston, the lead behind the game, last year. We walked away incredibly hyped for this game. The combat, the looting, the exploration, it all sounds perfect to us.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
When images for Garden Warfare started leaking online prior to last year’s E3 conference, we thought they were a joke. The Plants vs. Zombies brand taking on the class-based shooter world? No way.
We were wrong, and we love that we were wrong. Garden Warfare is a real thing, and it’s really coming this year and we really can’t wait to give it a shot. Who knows? We might love it so hard we actually soil our plants.
Man, gardening humor, am I right?
South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
We’re really hopeful for this one. South Park: The Stick of Truth was saved from THQ’s bankruptcy a year or so ago by Ubisoft. It was then delayed. And delayed. And delayed.
It’s looking like the title will hit this spring, and it’s being done up by Obsidian with help from the halls of Ubisoft. Hopefully that translates to a complete product.
Now, what I’ve seen of The Stick of Truth during demos and at conferences has been overwhelmingly true to the show. If they can maintain that image while producing an RPG that’s actually fun to play, this one could be a slam dunk.
Titanfall (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
For a lot of fans, Titanfall is the make-or-break game for Xbox One. This is the first system seller. Titanfall hooked me immediately with its exciting debut trailer, depicting everything we ever hoped mech combat could be. Watching the mech pick up the player to put him into the cockpit and the player descend onto the top of the unsuspecting mech to destroy it were both pure video game magic.
The upcoming title came under fire recently when fans found out the game was 6v6, but I think this is more a matter of expectations than actual problems. Everyone who has played Titanfall has walked away talking about how awesome it is, not how 6v6 it is. The smaller player group, combined with the mechs’ ability to act as independent turrets and the presence of AI characters makes it almost feel like a MOBA-influenced shooter. Titanfall remains my most awaited Xbox One title, and I can’t wait for March.
Transistor (PC, PlayStation 4)
From the same team that brought the world Bastion comes Transistor, a beautiful and strategic take on combat and exploration.
This game exudes a hyper-cool and futuristic vibe, something that made us pumped to play it at least year’s PAX East. The music, the sound effects, the visual vibe and the play all came together to create a really satisfying experience.
And I only played it for, like, 20 minutes. Transistor is looking great.
Watch_Dogs (PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
What I’d give to be a fly on the wall in the room when Ubisoft had to make the decision to delay Watch_Dogs. Despite it being on two generations of Xbox and PlayStation, Watch_Dogs is undeniably the poster child for this new generation of consoles. It was the first game we’d seen in a long time that didn’t have the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 logos at the end of the trailer, and it fired everyone up. It was the first sign that, yes, new consoles really are coming.
And then, just a few weeks before release, Ubisoft delayed the game. Our hearts all sunk and I can’t even imagine what it did to their bottom line. It’s coming sometime this year, though, and hopefully for the better.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
It took me about four tries to get into the first Witcher game, but I’ve been a shameless fanboy ever since. Witcher 2 raised the bar with a new engine that changed both combat and visuals for the better. The team at CD Projekt Red is at it again, this time transforming its flagship low fantasy series into a sprawling open-world RPG. And it looks awesome.
For me, it looks build-a-new-computer awesome. It might be coming to consoles, but Witcher has always been a PC game first. I’ll probably buy it twice again, all the same. The world of the Witcher is one of the most engaging, entrancing places I’ve found in games, and I’m chomping at the bit for the chance to wander around it and encounter the creatures that inhabit it, deadly or otherwise.
The Witness (PC, PlayStation 4)
The Witness, so far, looks like a modern take on MYST from the mind of Jonathan Blow. Blow is the same one behind Braid.
A beautiful world filled with mystery and puzzles? Yep, this one’s right up our alley. We’re hoping the whole thing isn’t too lofty for its own good, but, beyond that, we’re pumped for The Witness.