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 GTAV 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.
It’s easy to forget with each new set of screenshots that Capcom’s deep down is, apparently, a free-to-play game. It’s a free to play game from a large developer, a console exclusive, and it’s the testing ground and showpiece for the new engine, PantaRhei, that Capcom is building for the new generation of consoles. While it seems like many Japanese developers are stagnating, Capcom is making a big gamble with deep down, and if it plays well, it could mean a whole new business model and style of games from the company.
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 bet 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.
Driveclub, like Watch_Dogs, was a sad victim of the realities of game development. Scheduled to launch with the PlayStation 4 console, it was delayed at almost the last minute. But that might’ve been the right thing for the game. Instead of coming out at the same time as the next-gen Forza 5 and the PlayStation 3 swansong Gran Turismo 6, it’ll hit just as we’re getting tired of those. The game was originally scheduled to have a free edition for PlayStation Plus subscribers, but there’s no word yet on whether that’ll be true when the game does finally come out this year
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.
Hohokum (PlayStation 4, PS Vita)
Hohokum is the latest in an impressive line of imaginative indie games heading to Vita and PlayStation 4. The images it presents immediately call to mind games like LocoRoco, Sound Shapes, and PixelJunk Eden.
The game is more about exploration than it is about skill. There are no scores, time limits, or tutorials, so it’s up to you find the fun that developer Honeyslug and artist Richard Hogg have woven into the experience.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (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 here.
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.
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.
inFamous: Second Son
Of the many superhero games that populated the last generation of games, Infamous is one of the few that stood out and continues to do so. It might not get mentioned in the same breath as Uncharted, but it’s definitely one of PlayStation’s best exclusive properties.
Infamous 2 ended with a bang, and fans wondered for a long time where the series would go from there. Sucker Punch did a great job of letting the series rest for a while before announcing inFamous: Second Son. ISS looks to do a good job of extending the fiction to the next logical step: asking, as the X-Men comics have been doing for some time, how would the world handle these terrible mutants?
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 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.
The Order: 1886
The Order: 1886 combines steampunk technology with something resembling Arthurian legend. Details are sparse, but the trailer was supposedly rendered in real-time and looked great. Along with inFamous, The Order is one of the PlayStation 4’s big exclusives right now, so Ready at Dawn has a big burden to carry, but we’re excited to see what they can do.
Watch_Dogs (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 champing at the bit for the chance to wander it and encounter the creatures that inhabit it, deadly or otherwise.