Even before the consoles that we will soon, grudgingly have to start referring to as “current-gen” consoles were released in November 2013, last year was a very good year for games. Grand Theft Auto 5 earned so much money in just three days that if the game were somehow able to declare itself a country, it would have a higher Gross Domestic Product than nearly 25 countries. Call of Duty: Ghosts shipped over a $1 billion in product in 24 hours. Indie games from small developers continued to explode, free-to-play is still on its upward march (the top free-to-play game earned nearly $1 billion in 2013), and Steam hit record numbers. Life was good for gamers.
But 2013 is dead to us now, we looked back and it turned to salt. With that in mind, we cast our eyes to 2014 and some of the biggest games coming our way.
The games on this list are by no means the games we think will be the best of the year. It’s far too early to even guess at something like that – we actually ended up awarding our Best Game of the Year to smaller titles the last two years, and both of which started out under the radar (Walking Dead and Gone Home). Instead, this list is propagated by the titles people will be talking about the most through the year.
We will come back to this list frequently and update it as new games are announced, release dates change, and more. You might notice omissions like Halo on the Xbox One and the next Assassin’s Creed. That’s simply because neither is confirmed for 2014. If and when they are, we’ll update the post. And if there is a game we missed, let us know in the comments and we’ll check it out.
To the games!
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
February 11, 2014
Square Enix tri-Ace/ Square Enix
One of the first major releases of the year ignores the shiny new consoles altogether in favor of the current-gen systems. The third game in the Final Fantasy XIII series brings back the character of Lightning to end the FFXIII storyline once and for all. We hope.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
(PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
February 25, 2014
Mercury Steam/ Konami
If you haven’t played the first Lords of Shadow and intend to, you should get on that ASAP. The sequel picks up immediately after the twist at the end of the original. Stop reading at this point if you are among that rare group – you’ve been warned. In the sequel, you are Dracula and you fight Satan. What more do you need to know?
February 26, 2014
Eidos Monteral/Square Enix
One of the first next-gen releases of the year, and arguably the first major one of the year, Thief revitalizes the long-running franchise by being more thief-iery than ever. The game will be on current-gen systems as well, but the PC and next-gen versions are what have us drooling.
South Park: Stick of Truth
March 4, 2014
Even though this year will feature the release of several games that will help to define the next-gen systems, the current-gen systems aren’t going to be neglected just yet. For evidence, look no further than the RPG based on South Park, which is written by series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
March 4, 2014
Team Ninja, Spark Unlimited, Commcept/Tecom Koei
At some point in this list we will talk more about the next-gen titles on the way, we promise, but it’s tough to overlook a new Ninja Gaiden game. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z will play like the last few Ninja Gaiden games, but it’s a spin-off starring a ninja seeking vengeance against series star, Ryu Hayabusa. Twist!
Dark Souls II
March 11, 2014
From Software/ Namco Bandai (From Software in Japan)
For those looking for a blend of agony and ecstasy in their gaming, From Software has you covered with the sequel to one of the more unique – and frequently frustrating – games of 2011. The plot is that you are a guy that dies and dies and dies, then occasionally pulls off something utterly incredibly … before dying. Those with the patience and drive to dig deeper will be left with an incredible game and plenty of bragging rights.
March 11, 2014
Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts
This online-only multiplayer game from a huge chunk of the team that originally created Call of Duty has a spot on almost every “most anticipated” list around. And for good reasons. PS4 owners, prepare to hear a lot about this game.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
March 18, 2014
Although we don’t yet have a release date for Metal Gear Solid V, we won’t be completely Metal Gear-less in 2014 thanks to Ground Zeroes. Think of it as a prologue to MGSV. A very, very big prologue with an open-world feel. Whatever it is, more Solid Snake (or Big Boss as the case may be), is always a good thing.
Infamous: Second Son
March 21, 2014
Sucker Punch Productions/Sony
PS4 owners will be glad to know that Sony seems to be continuing to push for console exclusives, and the Infamous series will be among the first up following the launch. Like the last two games in the series, you play a superhero … or a supervillain depending on your approach. The last games were impressive in their scope, and the next-gen version should simply increase that.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls
March 25, 2014
One of the biggest PC games in the last few years is back with an entirely new act in the campaign, and a host of other additions via the Reaper of Souls DLC. If you own the PC version of Diablo 3, there isn’t really much more to say, except “shut up and take my money, Blizzard!”
The Elder Scrolls Online
April 4, 2014 (PC); June 2014 (PS4, Xbox One)
ZeniMax Online Studios/Bethesda Softworks
The Elder Scrolls series heads online with an MMORPG set in the same world as Skyrim and the previous Elder Scrolls games. Instead of losing countless hours wandering around an incredibly addictive game world alone, you can now lose countless hours wandering around an incredibly addictive game world with other people!
September 9, 2014
When people talk about upcoming next-gen titles, Destiny is almost always one of the most anticipated. Part of that is thanks to the timing – the game was announced before even the next-gen consoles were revealed – while part of that is because it looks freaking awesome. Plus it’s a new IP from the makers of Halo. If you’re not interested, you’re doing life as a gamer wrong.
The Creative Assembly/Sega
The last Aliens game Sega released was … well, it wasn’t good. At all. Aliens: Colonial Maries was a broken mess, but the property still resonates so strongly that the publisher is trying again with a different type of game. Rather than exterminating hordes of vicious xenomorphs, you are running from a single xenomorph that wants to just wants to play. With your skull.
The Wii U is on life support, but there is always a chance it will make a miraculous, Lazarus-like revival. If so, it will start with the console exclusives. Usually when someone says that, they are referring to a game with the plumber brothers or the elf in the green hat (and you’ll find both Mario and Link on this list), but in this instance, the Nintendo exclusive in question comes from Platinum Games, and features a very un-Nintendo protagonist.
Borderlands 2 Vita
Gearbox Software/ 2K Games & Sony
Borderlands 2 is coming to the PS Vita! ‘Nuff said!
Ivory Tower & Ubisoft Reflections/Ubisoft
The Crew takes the racing genre, adds crime-based missions, then blends it all up with an open-world environment. The game puts you behind the wheel as you cruise around an America populated by other gamers. You can team up for jobs or go it alone, jump in a random race or hang out with your crew as you try to beat ghost data. America is your asphalt oyster.
Rather than making a typical survival horror game where you make it through using the old adage that “the best defense is a good offense,” in Daylight your only tool is a cell phone, which doubles as your only light source. There are videos of people playing this game and they screamed. Actually screamed. Survival horror fans, be excited.
Access Games/Microsoft Studios
Designed using cel-shaded graphics, you control an amnesiac detective as he hops around in time in order to undo the traumatic death of his wife. The game is made specifically for the Xbox One, so there will probably be a healthy dash of screaming commands at your TV and waving your hands like a mad man.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
With Mass Effect having concluded its trilogy, BioWare now turns its attention to its Dragon Age franchise for current- and next-gen systems. The game will be a standalone entry in the Dragon Age universe, and it will likely push the next-gen systems to their limits. And if fans don’t like how it ends, they can just complain until BioWare changes it (zing!).
Originally scheduled as a PS4 launch title, Driveclub slipped a few months from November 15, 2013 to “dunno.” When we do get our hands on Driveclub, the game will offer two versions – one will be free to all PlayStation Plus Members and offer a pared-down version of the game, while the other will offer everything at a normal price. Whenever it is released.
Techland/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
In some ways Dying Light is actually two games. One has you scavenging supplies and fighting off moderately weak zombies under the comforting embrace of the sun. The other has you parkour-style free-running for your life as the night introduces several new enemies, all capable of ruining your fun by murdering you. In some ways, it’s a bit like Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Yeah, we went for the deep cut there.
EA Sports UFC
EA Canada/EA Sports
One of the many properties to find a new home following the great THQ fire sale of 2013 was UFC, which now makes its home at Electronic Arts. Will EA Sports be able to revitalize the franchise? Will punching people in the face look better than ever on the next-gen systems? Fingers crossed.
Sony Online Entertainment/Sony Online Entertainment
There was a day when EverQuest was the king of MMORPGs. It set the standard in many ways, and more than one child owes their very existence to parents who met in the game. One of those children may grow up to be President one day, and that President could stop a war! So when you think about it, EverQuest may have helped save the world. Just go with it. The series is back in 2014, fighting to regain its glory.
The Evil Within
Shinji Mikami, the man that helped to define the survival-horror genre with the Resident Evil franchise, is back with a new property, more powerful graphics, and a whole new generation of gamers to freak out.
Turtle Rock Studios/2K Games
Although we haven’t seen much about Evolve yet, the game has already had quite the history. Created by part of the team responsible for Left 4 Dead, the game was originally picked up by THQ in 2011. The then-untitled game was due out in 2013, but the THQ collapse ended that dream. 2K Games was the high bidder, purchasing the rights for over $10 million – one of the highest amounts paid for a THQ property. People in the industry are apparently excited about this game, and you should be too.
Fables: The Wolf Among Us (Parts 2-5)
Telltale Games/Telltale Games
There are three titles on this list from Telltale Games, and all with very good reason. If you enjoy good storytelling in your games, then you owe it to yourself to check out Telltale’s properties, including the comic adaptation of Bill Willingham’s excellent Fables series.
Epic Games/Epic Games
The makers of Bulletstorm are trying something a little different with a PC-only (for now) title, that uses a day/night cycle. Described as a co-op sandbox game, during the day you scavenge supplies, then at night you fight off monsters. In that, it’s a bit like Dying Light, but rather than trying to survive horrific monsters that want to rip you apart, you fight off creatures that are kind of cute. Who want to rip you apart.
Game of Thrones
Telltale Games/Telltale Games
Over the last few years, Telltale Games has become one of the most exciting studios in the gaming industry. It’s taken an old game style – point-and-click – and reinvented it with expert storytelling, episodic delivery that is both well-paced and affordable, and by selecting properties that are well-suited for the medium. Game of Thrones has been adapted to video games before, but this one has us excited.
Nintendo & Tecmo Koei/Nintendo
Take the Dynasty Warriors franchise, throw in The Legend of Zelda, and stir. That’s the idea behind the mash-up game that is Hyrule Warriors. Don’t expect a lot of philosophy to be explored during the game, but do expect a lot of button-mashing goodness.
The Mad Max film reboot, Mad Max: Fury Road, won’t hit theaters until 2015, but the property will make its triumphant (and bloody return) in 2014 thanks to Avalanche Studios. The game features an original story set in Max Rockatansky’s bleak, dystopian future. Thankfully, Mel Gibson will not appear. In any fashion. At all.
Mario Kart 8
Nintendo EAD Group No.1 / Nintendo
As bad as things have been for the Wii U, this game is as close to a guaranteed hit on the system as you can get. If you have played any of the previous titles in the series, then you probably have a good idea of what to expect. And that’s a good thing.
Murdered: Soul Suspect
Airtight Games/Square Enix
Murdered: Soul Suspect’s creative director, Yosuke Shiokawa, described the game as being similar to Die Hard – but Die Hard if John McClane died during the events and continued to fight on as a ghost … not a zombie. A zombie John McClane would be unfair to the rest of us.
The Order: 1886
Ready at Dawn/Sony
From the moment it was first unveiled, Sony’s exclusive title The Order: 1886 was held up as another advantage the PS4 had over the Xbox One. Having seen very little of the game, we’re a bit slower to make that claim, but color us intrigued.
Fans of the Persona series should greet the news of this game with a touch of fear. If it’s like the previous titles, you may want to prepare to start up the game and go to high school, make friends, and occasionally fight monsters after school – for at least 100 hours. Be sure to stock up on food before you turn it on.
Insomniac Games/Microsoft Studios
One of the first games unveiled for the Xbox One, Sunset Overdrive, will put players in a city where the bulk of the citizenry has turned into mutants – which are totally different from zombies. (Even though they sound a lot like zombies). There will be a sense of humor built into the action as evidenced from the art design, as well as plenty of “agile-combat,” whatever that means.
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U
Sora Ltd. & Namco Bandai/Nintendo
The aptly named Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U, which is for … well, the 3DS and Wii U, will give the Wii U a bit more ammunition in the fight for its survival. And a good piece of ammo at that. The game will feature more of the same Smash Bros. style from previous platforms, but now on Nintendo’s new systems, allowing you to punch Mario in the face in HD and even on the go!
Walking Dead: Season Two (Parts 2-5)
Telltale Games/Telltale Games
Season One of Telltale’s The Walking Dead sent ripples throughout the gaming industry. It was a downloadable title with limited gameplay options that went on to win several “Best of” awards (including ours). If the second season is half as good, consider us sold.
(PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
When Watch Dogs was announced as a next-gen launch title, it was assumed that the game would be one of the best selling next-gen titles without question. Pushing the game back was almost certainly the right move in terms of quality, but it let the air out of many people’s balloons. As the game nears release though, expect that excitement to ratchet right back up.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
CD Projekt RED/WBIE
The Witcher 3 was one of the first games announced for next-gen consoles, having debuted before either system with the tag that it was available for “all high-end platforms.” The series was born on the PC, but the more people that have access to this fantasy RPG series – which is also considered a national treasure of Poland – the better.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
After years collecting dust, following the purchase of id Software from ZeniMax, the neglected property of Wolfenstein was reborn. Protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz returns with his foul mouth and love of blowing stuff up, but this time he is fighting the entire world – an alternative world, where the Nazis won the war. For anyone else this would be bad news; for Blazkowicz, it means everyday is a good day.
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