We have officially reached ground zero for the start of the 2014 holiday shopping season. There may be multiple games coming out in the next seven days, but only one of them is on the minds of most gamers: Bungie’s Destiny.
There’s other stuff too, if blasting aliens on distant-yet-familiar planets isn’t your thing. EA Sports’ annual hockey sim makes its debut in NHL 15. A few games pop up on Steam as well, both brand new and previously released on other platforms. It’s slim pickings though, as if publishers realize that one of the most hyped games of the year is due to arrive on September 9, 2014….
PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One (September 9)
After spending more than a decade working on the Halo franchise that it created, Bungie Studios stepped away and went into low-profile mode for a few years, before revealing Destiny. The sci-fi first-person shooter may share some of its high-speed action with Master Chief’s adventures, but its couched heavily in massively multiplayer-styled systems that are designed for long-term co-op and competitive play.
The story follows a group of Guardians, protectors of a distant-future Earth’s last city. After establishing colonies all across the known solar system, humanity enjoyed a Golden Age of peace and prosperity. An event known as the Collapse brought all of that to an end, leaving extra-planetary settlements in ruins and humanity near extinction. Only the people of Earth remain, corralled into a single city and protected by a spherical alien entity known as the Traveler.
PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One (September 9)
The start of September always brings a new NHL game from EA Sports, and 2014 is no exception. NHL 15 is the first in the series built specifically for the latest generation of gaming console hardware. It uses the same engine that powers the most recent version of Madden NFL (on PlayStation 4/Xbox One), and it’s meant to represent an evolution for the series. We’ll see soon enough.
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions differ, and not just in terms of the older game engine that powers them. Last-gen versions of the game are said to be considerably more feature-packed than their current-gen counterparts, leaving longtime fans a question to consider: Do you want loads of features or considerably stepped-up playability? Wait for the reviews on this one so you can make an educated decision. Don’t worry; real hockey doesn’t start until October.
PC (September 12)
Lionhead Studios’ first-gen Xbox-shaking RPG returned in early 2014 as a top-to-bottom remaster: Fable Anniversary, for Xbox 360. The formerly console-exclusive re-release makes its way to PC (Windows) via Steam on September 12 as a full port, complete with the Lost Chapters content that was once the original Fable‘s PC-exclusive content, before it was added into Anniversary as a bonus.
Creative director Peter Molyneux’s ambitious Fable never quite lived up to the sky-high expectations that were set for it — and it firmly established Molyneux’s tendency for hyperbolic promise-making — but it remains an inventive RPG that eschews traditional trappings of the genre in favor of more social behavior-focused engagements with the world. There continues to be nothing quite like its Final Fantasy-meets-Sims dynamic, and Fable Anniversary amounts to a fresh peek at where the series got its start.
Mac/PC (September 8)
Not interested in sci-fi/fantasy violence or sports simulations? Developer Shawn Beck’s Velocibox could clean up this week among fans of indies. The minimalist game is a Steam Greenlight success story that puts players in control of a bouncing cube as it careens along through an obstacle-littered tunnel. You avoid catastrophe by moving left and right, with the entire space shifting as the cube renders walls and ceilings as the new floor.
With a Steam description that reads “So addictive the developer has been called a drug dealer (I am not a drug dealer),” Velocibox has all the earmarks of a simple, straightforward effort that takes one thing and does it really well. You’ll be able to find out very soon, when the games to Steam on September 8.