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!
Roguelike games have seen a massive resurgence in the last couple years, but honestly, we’re not complaining.
Capybara, the developer behind iOS and PC game Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery, has its own take on the genre in the form or Below. At the very least, the game should be visually striking, but the team has promised “brutal but fair combat,” randomly generated maps, permanent death, and multiplayer options.
Microsoft’s indie stance has become more friendly since its initial Xbox One salvo, but Below was in there from the beginning and looks like it could be the first solid independent title for the system.
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 game looks gorgeous and it’s cool to see Ubisoft working on smaller, riskier titles in addition to the sure-thing open-world games they’re so good at.
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.
Destiny (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Regardless of whether the game premise interests you or not, Destiny is unquestionably one of the most significant releases this year. After a decade deep in the Halo universe and under Microsoft’s gaze, Bungie was ready to move on. The result of this is Destiny.
Before Halo, Bungie was a respected developer for Mac games like Marathon, Myth, and Oni. All were critically well received at release, but never blockbusters, due simply to the amount of Mac gamers at the time. Halo brought Bungie sales numbers and recognition like they’d never seen.
The question now is, can Bungie achieve the same success with a new franchise? Will Destiny leave a mark on the industry (and maybe Peter Moore’s arm) the way Halo did? We’re hoping we’ll find out this year.
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 they 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.
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.
Final Fantasy XV (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
Every time a Final Fantasy game comes out, since the second one, the joke always makes the rounds: “I thought the last one was the final one?” The game was originally named after creator Hironobu Sakaguchi’s feelings that if the game wasn’t successful, it might be his last.
After the last few games, though, people are starting to refer to it with a more wary voice, wondering if this won’t be the final one. Square’s been having a tough time lately, and if Final Fantasy XV can’t perform on par with the budget backing it up, it could well be the last.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
We never know quite what to expect from Hideo Kojima, but there’s no denying that Metal Gear Solid V looks spectacular. The change to an open world could be the refresh the series has been searching for since its heyday in the late 90s and early 2000s.
I’ve loved Metal Gear Solid since the beginning, but the shift from the modern and futuristic Solid Snake to the historical Naked Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3 was one of my favorite changes, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the older military tech looks in Ground Zeroes; I’m hoping for some awesome Rambo moments that the upcoming Rambo game definitely won’t be capable of.
Recent news of an ultra-short campaign has tempered our excitement for this prequel, but with the game being billed as open world, a short campaign may not mean much if it comes with a variety of compelling side quests and activities.
Aside from the initial tidbit of story that debuted alongside the Xbox One unveiling, both Microsoft and Remedy have been pretty quiet about Quantum Break. We know there’s a time-stopping mechanic, we know there’s a sort of TV show involved, and we know it’s an Xbox One exclusive. We don’t know how the game controls, how it looks in action, or exactly how the live action content plays into it.
It’s simple: If Sam Lake is involved, I’m in. Max Payne, Max Payne 2 and Alan Wake are all among my favorite character action games. Remedy has always brought solid game design together with well-written stories to make games that are both memorable and good, even if they’re not on time. I hope Quantum Break doesn’t go through the rough development process Alan Wake went through, though, and comes out while we still remember it exists.
Sunset Overdrive will be Insomniac’s second effort away from the PlayStation brand. They tried to launch a multiplatform working base with Overstrike rebranded as Fuse (and made more dull, to boot), but they sort of missed the mark.
Sunset Overdrive is an Xbox One exclusive that’s still not making too much noise. Folks simply don’t know what it’s about, but it is supposedly on course for a late 2014 release.
Expect multiplayer madness in a dystopian shooter. That’s where are money is for this one.
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.
Watch_Dogs (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U)
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 champing at the bit for the chance to wander it and encounter the creatures that inhabit it, deadly or otherwise.