I doubt this post needs much introduction, as it’d be silly to post only #16 to #9 of a top 16 list and then not bother with the other eight. So rather than write a lengthy introduction I’m just going to get on with it.
8) Everquest Next (PC, PS4)
Before World of Warcraft took over the MMO gaming scene there was Everquest, the well loved grandfather of the fantasy MMO genre. This game looks to be the MMO for anyone like me, who is sick of World of Warcraft and grown tired with the stagnation of the MMO in general, who was disappointed with the “groundbreaking” Guild Wars 2, and who is sick of innovative games that really copy the most successful of MMOs and add a small handful of twists . There’s way too much about Everquest Next that excites me and should excite you to write about in this dinky paragraph, so I’m going to drop a link to this great PC Gamer article here. The game will have more realistic character movement, the world will be destructible on an unimaginable scale. But my absolute favourite idea from Everquest Next is the way its creatures will inhabit the world. The example in the article evokes wonder; if a camp of Orcs find themselves being hammered by players and guards then they’ll simply up sticks and move to a new area. Sweet Jesus why can’t I play this game right now?
7) Titanfall (PC, XBO, 360)
This is not CoD with mechs. That claim is among the dumbest I’ve ever heard about gaming ever. I am so sick of gamers who “support” corporation A squabbling with “supporters” of corporation B because their game stinks and they’re stinky heads. It’s fucking moronic, video games developers and console makers are massive businesses not fucking football teams. To anyone who can remain unbiased and look at it without the taint of console exclusivity Titanfall looks to be a damn fine FPS. It was my favourite game at Eurogamer and I enjoyed the hell out of the recent open beta on Xbox One. It’s polished, has extremely sharp controls, well designed maps and is extremely intuitive. But most importantly it’s just pure fun to play. I’m not too fussed that it doesn’t come with a single-player campaign, I’ve played plenty of other shooters without touching the (shitty) single player bolt-on. The only reason I want to play Titanfall is to play a great FPS with the ability to jump into a giant mech and start fucking shit up on a large scale.
6) The Walking Dead Season 2 (Everything)
Anyone worried that The Walking Dead was going to soften up a bit after switching protagonists to 8-year old Clementine will have been relieved to play episode one of the next season of The Walking Dead, it was fucking brutal. The first ten or so minutes alone will convince you that this is the same game, with the same tone, as the first season. The Walking Dead season 2 picks up about 400 days after the events of season one. And when I say it picks up, I mean it picks everything up. If the first episode is anything to go by The Walking Dead is going to continue to be a dark, oppressive, brutal, soul-destroying beauty of a video game. Episode one was pretty much all setup, as it should be in a five-episode season, and I’m confident that the best of this game is yet to come.
5) Halo (???)
There’s a new Halo game coming; whether it be the highly rumoured Halo 2 Anniversary or the direct sequel to Halo 4 is anyone’s guess. Regardless of which iteration of Halo we end up with in 2014 I’m anticipating both eagerly. If we get Halo 5 we get the next installment of a series that has only ever let me down once (ODST), which is a damn fine batting average. If we get Halo 2 Anniversary I get to play the game that pretty much caused me to miss an entire generation of video games with its insanely addictive multiplayer. Like, seriously, Galactic Civilizations III has nothing on Halo 2 for addictive gameplay. I’d be pumped to grab the old gang and throw myself back into the multiplayer of Halo 2. I’ve never quite come across another online game that had its hooks in me quite like Halo 2, and I include World of Warcraft in that statement. I really enjoyed the heck out of Halo Anniversary and this year does mark 10 years since the release of Halo 2. Not that I’d complain if Halo 5 came out this year however…
4) Quantum Break (XBO)
Anyone who follows me on Twitter is probably aware that Remedy Entertainment is one of my favourite games devs, occupying a space alongside developers such as CD Projekt Red, Supergiant Games and many others in an elite circle of developing legends. And while I was bitterly disappointed that the next game from Remedy isn’t Alan Wake 2, once I actually took the time to see what the company is trying to do with Quantum Break I couldn’t help but be impressed and extremely eager to get my hands on it. Quantum Break is a science-fiction game from one of the best and most innovative storytelling devs in the business, yet another game about time travel gone wrong and a group of protagonists who can manipulate it, wrapped in that third-person gameplay I love so much. As a game in and of itself Quantum Break is something to really look forward to, but it wouldn’t be a Remedy game without a twist of some kind, and here the twist is an entire TV show to go alongside the game. After you complete an episode of the game, you unlock the next episode of the TV show that comes with it, a TV show that is impacted by how you play the game, and vice versa. Seriously, give me this game RIGHT NOW.
3) Final Fantasy XV (PS4, XBO)
The Final Fantasy series has been on the ropes for a while now, and truth be told I haven’t been invested in the series at all since IX (although I’ve bought and given each non-MMO iteration of Final Fantasy more than a fair shake). Then I saw a gameplay trailer for Final Fantasy XV. Intrigued by what I saw I went digging around the Internet for as much information as I could get my hands on regarding the game and holy shit you have to check out the information that’s out there about this game! I’ll just leave this gameplay trailer from E3 here and talk about what interests me most about FFXV, the story. The game is setting itself up as a modern day style fantasy, where the protagonist is a member of a mafia-like organisation charged with protecting crystals. Tetsuya Nomura, director of FFXV (and one of the men responsible for the story of Final Fantasy VII) has said that he wants FFXV to ” go deeper in terms of offering some crude reality in terms of human emotion or human behavior” than the broad strokes the series has used in the past. The last Final Fantasy game that really had something to say with its story turned out to be one of my favourite games of all time, so I am totally on board with that and, if it manages to hit in 2014, Final Fantasy XV could be a tremendous return to form.
2) Transistor (PC, PS4)
The fact that Transistor is from Supergiant Games, creators of the amazing Bastion, is enough to secure it a high place on this list. In truth not a lot is actually known about Transistor, other than it is a move away from Bastion in terms of genre (it’s a sci-fi) but, from screenshots, looks to be a similar style of game to Supergiants first game. The story centers on Red, a young singer who comes into possession of the Transistor, which is an intelligent sword. Red is pursued by something or someone called The Process, who wants both the sword and Red. The gameplay is freeform action, much like Bastion, but includes a planning mode that Red can enter, where she can map out a series of movements and actions and then execute them extremely quickly. But really, all you need to know is that the guys that made Bastion are making another game and it’s coming out in 2014.
1) The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt (PC, PS4, XBO)
I’ve been badly burned by conclusions to epic RPG trilogies in the past, and I should know better than to overhype myself to enormous degrees about these types of games, but it’s just impossible not to be swept up in anticipation of the third Witcher game. Witcher 2 was an impressively incredible game that managed to fix all the issues and problems of its predecessor and still carve out a unique gameplay style and tell a riveting, gritty story of war, betrayal, politics and loss. If you want to know the kind of story you’re in for, check out the terrific Killing Monsters trailer. The Wild Hunt will be the concluding chapter in the story of Geralt of Rivia, and the series has been building to what will surely be an epic conclusion. For the first time in the series The Witcher will feature an open world that CD Projekt Red reckons is 20% bigger than the world of Skyrim. Bigger than Skyrim. The world is BIGGER THAN SKYRIM, boasting 100 hours of gameplay; 50 for the main story and 50 for sidequests. And the excellent and deep combat system that revolves around preparation and planning rather than button mashing is making a welcome return, with added tweaks and improvements. All in all Witcher 3 has “game of the year” written all over it, providing it can resist the urge to include throw unnecessarily confusing and nonsensical plot twists at the player in the last 10 minutes.