Looking forward to all these games!
And so, 2013 is nearly over.
Which means that we are now officially in a new generation of consoles and we don’t ever have to include Final Fantasy: All The Bravest, Aliens: Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution in our lists ever again (unless you’re doing a retrospective of the worst games of the last generation. Erk!). It also means we have more games to look forward to! Seems this year is going to bring some games we wanted during 2013 too, which is the way of things. Delays are inevitable. It wouldn’t be an industry without SOMEONE turning up fashionably late!
Speaking of which…
Perhaps the one game we all wanted, in the hopes that it would show off the new generation in a positive light. Instead, it got delayed. Whoops! But disregarding that technicality, WatchDogs is still one of the most hotly anticipated games yet to be released; primarily due to its ambition, but mostly because it looks gorgeous and has an interesting theme running right through it. In an added bit of art imitating life, 2013 also saw the rise of data collection and the invasion of privacy that it brings; it’s almost too glorious that WatchDogs managed in some sense, on its original reveal in 2012, to pre-empt that. But admittedly, with UbiSoft’s current financial woes and a few rather dodgy decisions of late, it’s also the one that could go the most horribly, catastrophically wrong. Here’s hoping that WatchDogs is a real contender for Game of 2014, because there’ll be a bit of a mess if it isn’t…
BAYONETTA 2 (Platinum/Nintendo)
The game which has irked so many people in the last year by Nintendo DARING to fund a sequel where no-one else would, and then having the AUDACITY to publish it and release it on the Wii U. But, for a lot of us, Bayonetta was one of the last generations highlights; a brawler so finely honed in its mechanics that everything was up to the player, with a nonsensical plot to rival even Devil May Cry. The simple fact that Nintendo is taking a punt on this title gives me more respect for Iwata than I probably should be giving him, but the main reason I’m looking forward to it is simply that I’m eager to wallow in the massive gripe-fest that will ensure upon its release. I mean, have you seen the arguments on sites giving Super Mario 3D World the title of “Game of the Year” – because it’s a NINTENDO game?! Sheesh. Let them gather in those threads. At least we’ll know which parts of the Internet to nuke from orbit…
DARK SOULS 2 (FROM Software/Namco Bandai)
We had hoped it would come in 2013; it is coming in March. And for me, few games are giving me the same giddy sense of expectation and joy that Dark Souls 2 is. The concept is; more of the same. Most people would complain about that, but in Dark Souls case, more of the same is frankly good enough when you’re not getting enough of it anyway! More darkness, more brutality, a more finely honed combat system (including actual dual-wield mechanics now!) and a sharper engine that hopefully won’t chug in spots like Blighttown, like the original one did. There are concerns; there’s some dodgy “DLC Exclusives” happening, and talk of it being “more accessible”. But news from the beta suggests that this is the same Dark Souls we love, with the edges polished off so they cut a little cleaner. You’ll still feel the pain; you just won’t be angry at the game about it. And that’s a pretty resounding thumbs up in my book!
THE ORDER: 1886 (Ready At Dawn/SCE Santa Monica)
The main reason this is on the list is that I’m at peace now that Nightmare Creatures is not coming back – no matter how many butterflies I sacrifice. But in that knowledge, knowing The Order: 1886 is treading the same path fills me with joy; a story-based romp through the dark and dingy streets of an Alternative Steampunk London, during which a class war breaks out and a bunch of bestial half-breed humanoids take advantage of the chaos. None of that sounds in any way bad news to me. Most of all though, it’s an interesting new Sony IP and it looks pretty damn sensational to boot. I do of course want to see Primal resurrected (though sadly, Andreas Katsulas who voiced Scree passed on in 2006), but in the meantime, it’s nice to see Sony returning to some familiar roots and picking up in a genre that largely only ever consisted of one actual entrant.
HYRULE WARRIORS (Tecmo Koei/Nintendo)
Perhaps the biggest surprise from the last Nintendo Direct of the year, Hyrule Warriors is not the next game in the Zelda series; it’s a spin-off, a bit of a jolly. Some may be a little horrified that this is in the same hands as the Dynasty Warriors franchise but, to give credit where it is due, they have been known to pull off a fair few corkers when it is another companies licence on the line. And that’s what we have here, so the signs are positive, even if the footage was very early-production (which is another pleasant surprise – Nintendo showing off and sharing early-build footage!). Whether this is based on the Manga series – I had only recently heard of it too and I want it and I want it now – or is a totally original spin-off is still not entirely known. But it’s nice to see Link get a little more work, and if the Warriors series is any indication, we may see a few other familiar faces. Like Shiek. I’m totally calling that right now.
QUANTUM BREAK (Remedy/Microsoft)
An XBox One game? How dare I! Except, you know. I am VERY interested in this; partly because, well, Defiance was a bit of a bust. So the whole concept of blending live-action with digital gaming entertainment is down to Remedy, and after admiring how much Alan Wake has matured over the years, I’m quietly confident that Remedy can pull this off. It’s certainly more ambitious than most; Defiance tried to keep the two sides away from each other, whereas here they will collide. And even if it isn’t that original in concept or form, it’s still a brave move. I’m sure that in time Quantum Break will end up with more respect a few years down the road than I suspect it will enjoy on release. But that’s fine. Microsoft claim they’re in this for the long haul; so here’s a long-haul game for them. Let’s just hope that we don’t all wish we could stop the release of this game this time next year…
SOUTH PARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH (Obsidian/UbiSoft)
Thankfully UbiSoft saved this from the death of THQ, but dang, we’ve had to wait for it. And wait. And wait some more. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have done the script and are doing their usual voices, so this isn’t some cheap cash-in; this is a serious RPG. And yes, South Park doing an RPG seems odd until you realise that heck, they’ve speared RPG’s a fair few times in the show. Makes sense if you’re going to lampoon anything in the market, you go the RPG route now. But most of all, in spite of all its immature humour, South Park is and has been for a while a pretty decent comedy show, with a lot of fans. It, to use the term loosely, ‘matured’. And we’re sorely, sorely lacking any serious movement into that side of things in the gaming world. Deadpool just didn’t have the design talent to back up its swagger; Obsidian do RPGs. Trey and Matt do the humour. This seems like a winning combination.
I’ve seen a lot of criticism that it’s kind of sad that given the creative freedom they now have, that Bungie remade Halo Multiplayer for this, their big return to the market. That said, they don’t have to be restrained by the series they created, and some talents never stray far from the things that made them successful, famous and mega-rich in the first place anyway. So what we have here is a co-operative adventure on a gorgeous landscape, defending the last city on Earth with guns, magic and big-ass machines. You can play it solo, or team up. In essence, I’d say a fairer comparison is Borderlands, just with a lot less mucking about; but considering this is the genre in which Bungie feel most at home in, it’s hard to deny them the reality that this really is a game many of us want to play. And, you know, big, team-based boss battles for everyone to get involved with. Hope I can shadowstep on top of these big monstrosities…
THE WITCHER 3: WITCH HUNT (CD PROJEKT RED)
But this is by far the game I want the most in 2014, and by some considerable measure. When CD Projekt Red talk, you sit up and listen. The visuals look stunning. The promise of a world that will genuinely change with every choice you make seems a lifetime away from the vapid, shallow moral choice systems of old. Day/Night cycles and weather systems will change what happens, and what monsters lurk in the distance. It’s all terribly ambitious but then, you think about it and you do believe that if anyone can do any of this and tether it to a fantastic game and chilling, thrilling narrative, it is CD Projekt. At a time when some are proclaiming the death of the RPG, Witch Hunt suggests – alongside X (which seems to be slipping to 2015, or I’d put it in the list), Final Fantasy 15 (If this comes out in 2014, I will eat my slippers!) The Stick of Truth, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Pillars of Eternity (formerly Project Eternity) and the new Zelda reveal set for E3 – that 2014 marks the rebirth of a genre. Except for Lightning Returns. Please make sure that’s the last visit for FF13, Square-Enix. We’re quite done there now.
Of course, there are tons of other games I’m looking forward to; and no doubt there’ll be some cracking surprises along the way. Because we all like a pleasant surprise. 2014 at least on the surface looks to be offering up a pretty wide selection of content, and it’s not all bro-shooters and FPS!
That alone gives me hope for the next few years…
(2014 image free use, courtesy of CGVector)