It is the start of another new year of gaming, so I thought I would write down some thoughts of some of my most anticipated games for 2015. Now not all of these have actual release dates, but as far as the PR people would have you believe, each one is set to release sometime in the Calendar year. I’m sure after E3, there will be even more to be excited for, but at this time, these are the 25 games that I am most looking forward to in 2015 (in alphabetical order):
Adrift – Stylized first person survival game Adrift looks to be taking a cue from the incredibly successful film Gravity as it sets you out to survive the perils of drifting through space. Having survived the destruction of a space station, what gameplay we have seen looks to be an immersive, if desperate search for oxygen supplies. While coming to consoles and PC, this game looks like it is ultimately built for VR systems like the Oculus Rift. Free of that, however, the game still looks to be an incredible first person experience.
Batman: Arkham Knight – Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham series has been getting larger and larger with each release, for better or for worse. Now I preferred the more intimate Arkham Asylum over City and Origins sue to its greater sense of place. The Asylum was more intimate and it made every encounter in its environment so much more memorable. Now with the Batmobile involved, I fear there will be even more of a coasting effect when going from location to location. That being said, the tight mechanics that Rocksteady employs in its Batman games keeps me coming back. Oh, that and it is freakin’ Batman which is the best fictional character ever created. Suck it Shakespeare! So yes, despite the fact that each game has gotten progressively worse, it is still one of my favourite franchises out there and I can’t wait to play this year’s installment.
Below – There are few independent developers that I like more than Capybara Games. The Toronto-based company has brought us Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery and Super Time Force, the second of which was one of the greatest Xbox One games of 2014. Below is another Xbox One game and this time Capy looks to be going after the rogue-like audience with its procedurally generated dungeons. It is a gameplay that could feel been-there-done-that if it wasn’t for the exceptional pixel-art art style Capy has perfected over the years.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture – This game was announced some time ago, a unique partnership between Sony Santa Monica and The Chinese Room, developers of Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Little is actually known about how the game will play, though it’s first person experience looks reminiscent of Dear Esther’s more experiential style of gameplay (ie. less focus on action and interaction, and more of a focus on exploration). The footage we have seen has a beautiful autumnal aesthetic. It is without a doubt one of the more gorgeous games listed here.
Evolve – We have already talked at length about what we like and what we don’t like about Evolve. At worst, it is overpriced for the content it offers, no matter how mechanically well-done it is. At its best, it is an innovative asymmetric multiplayer game that builds off of Turtle Rock Studios amazing Left 4 Dead series. I hope it is the latter because what I have played is incredibly solid, if somewhat lacking.
Halo 5: Guardians – Halo 4 was a somewhat divisive, yet serviceable transition piece of a Halo game, serving as the bookend that started the 343 Industries takeover of the franchise. While it build the best narrative of any Halo game, grounding Master Chief and Cortana into a universe that made them feel like characters rather than archetypes, its multiplayer, a strange hybrid of traditional Halo with Call of Duty style loadouts dried up faster than any Halo game had previously. Granted, at the time Call of Duty had released Black Ops 2, their biggest selling franchise entry to date, and with that series going down in numbers, it is possible that Halo could start to retake some of the multiplayer base they lost. And with the recently released Beta, 343i looks to be doing some really cool and innovative tweaks to Halo’s traditional multiplayer suite.
Hellblade – Like many of the games on this list, we have not seen much regarding the gameplay of Ninja Theory’s latest, therefore what we have to go on is the pedigree of the developer alone. Therefore Hellblade is on this list primarily because Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is one of my favourite games of all time. While the content and themes of Hellblade could be drastically different, the teaser trailer has me incredibly excited because I see a lot of Trip in the facial expressions of the revealed character. Please Hellblade, please be the Enslaved spiritual sequel I have been hoping for for years now.
Inside – Danish independent design house Playdead Games, designers of the much beloved Limbo, premiered their latest at Microsoft’s 2014 E3 conference and what we saw was evocative of Limbo while presenting new mysteries and a sci-fi dystopian aesthetic. Limbo was one of my favourite games of the previous generation, a darling of the indie games scene that proved the capacity of indie games to create atmospheric experiences, unique from the AAA gaming space. If Inside is even half as good, it will still be one of the best games of the year.
Just Cause 3 – Just Cause 2 came out at a bad time for me. Released in early 2010, that year I had pretty much went from Mass Effect 2 to Bioshock 2 to Splinter Cell: Conviction and so when I finally got into Just Cause 2, the enthusiasm for the game had already passed and I was already anticipating what games were to come. That said, what I did play was incredibly fun and beautifully open-ended. The capacity to create your own experiences is something that is core to the Just Cause mantra. Bringing in the new technology the developers have at their hands with the new generation of consoles, I am very excited to see what JC3’s destructive set of tools is capable of unleashing.
King’s Quest – Okay, this one is on the list for purely nostalgic reasons. I have such fond memories of King’s Quest 5 that I have high hopes for this year’s release. By no means a huge game, it is surprising that mega-publisher Activision is backing this game. Perhaps they have finally put their finger on the pulse of the gaming faithful and have heard them crying out for more adventure filled narrative experiences. Here’s hoping that King’s Quest delivers on that nostalgia.
Life is Strange – Life is strange looks like a cool hybrid between Gone Home and a Telltale Game. Developer Dontnod has a track record for creating content based around strong female protagonists, and they look to be continuing that trend with Life is Strange. The game is episodic which seems to be a growing trend in smaller narrative driven games, which I am actually okay with as a delivery method. The one caveat being that the game has to be compelling. Let’s hope that Life is Strange has a hook that keeps me coming back episode after episode.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain – I have never been a huge Metal Gear fan. I’m sorry but it’s true. The game play has never spoken to me, nor has the overall narrative line that Kojima has crafted throughout been compelling to me at all. That being said, I am blown away by how beautiful the newest entry looks. I will also admit that I have been won over by this games crazy-assed marketing campaign. It has captured my curiosity and I am left dumfounded by where this franchise is going to go. That and I will laugh every time you attach a goat to a balloon.
No Man’s Sky – I am more anxious than excited when it comes to No Man’s Sky. Procedurally generated games are cool and all very good until they grow tedious and repetitive. I hope that the depth of content meets the expectations (already dwarfing unrealistic) for this game. I really really hope.
Ori and the Blind Forest – There has not yet been a piece of content released for Ori and the Blind Forest that has left me with dry eyes. This game looks hauntingly beautiful with a classic hand-drawn art style, a colour pallet straight out of a dreamscape, and one of the most innocent and empathetic protagonists in game design I have seen in some time. I cannot wait to get my hands on this Metroid-vania style game and sink hours into its many interesting secrets.
Overwatch – While I am a long-time fan of Blizzard, I never got into World of Warcraft. I much preferred their work in their RTS franchises (Warcraft and Starcraft) or Diablo. That said, I have admired how they have begun to branch out into new territory rather than playing it safe with their most bankable product. Hearthstone was a risk that has paid off in spades, and now with Overwatch, we are getting a very unique class-based shooter that looks to energize the medium. With over-the-top characters, Overwatch is exceedingly colourful and emits pure joy in the content that they have released thus-far. This could be THE PC Game to play this year. We are still waiting to hear if this game will be ported to any consoles.
Quantum Break – Remedy has slowly become one of my favourite developers. I say slowly because the rate at which they make content is anything but fast. While the first two Max Payne games were certainly entertaining and unique, it was Alan Wake that truly won me over. I was blown away by the attention to detail they showed in the crafting of every single character. They used actual narrative devices, in their story telling, such as foreshadowing, having you meet almost every cast member early on in the game, only to have them play out in unique scenarios as you ventured forth into the games dark narrative. While I am not overly interested in how Remedy’s newest game will function with the included television series they plan on including in the package, I am excited to see what cool core mechanics they bring to 3rd person action gaming, as well as what fun and unique characters they will include in their world.
Rainbow 6: Siege – Rainbow 6 has fought for its relevance for some time now. With the last true iterations happening not long into last generation with Vegas and its sequel, Rainbow 6 had made an appearance a few years ago with Rainbow 6: Patriots. That game, however, was not to be as it entered development purgatory. Thankfully, last year’s E3 gave us the thrilling preview of Rainbow 6: Siege, a 5v5 multiplayer-only game where strategy is key to success.
Rime – Rime just hits me in all the feels. Creator Tequila Works looks to have put together a true successor to the throne Ico established so many years ago. The environment looks lush and beautiful. The muted textures and focus on colour gives the game a Wind Waker vibe. In other words, this game simply looks gorgeous. It is probably the PS4 game I am most interested in playing.
Rise of the Tomb Raider – The announcement of Microsoft’s Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity remains one of the biggest bombshells of 2014, and for good reason. Crystal Dynamic’s Tomb Raider reboot gave the franchise the shot in the arm it so dearly needed. With the sequel, the developer has promised to bring back more tombs to actually raid, though I also hope they keep the evolving open-world narrative structure of the first.
Splatoon – Nintendo is not exactly known for creating new IPs. That is why the announcement of Splatoon is so important. This is a first party Nintendo game that is not based on some pre-established franchise, and it is a multiplayer shooter (albeit with colourful paint, not bullets). This is new, uncharted territory for Nintendo so colour me excited.
Star Wars: Battlefront – The first game to be announced from EA’s partnership with Disney and the Star Wars gaming license, Star Wars: Battlefront from Dice looks to be a partnership made in heaven. Taking on the formula originally created by Pandemic studios, and marrying it with the first person large scale combat Dice is known for with its Battlefield series, Battlefront looks as if it can do no wrong. Too bad we haven’t seen a lick of gameplay yet on which that last claim can be based, and if Battlefield 4 taught us anything, we should measure our expectations regarding the games online reliability.
The Division – This is one of those wait and see games. Publisher Ubisoft has not had a great track record this generation, what with the broken multiplayer of The Crew and the glitch-plagued Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Being an online-centric game, questions about surver reliabily and Ubisoft’s UPlay integration keep me from being overly excited, despite the beautiful demo footage Ubi has shown us for the past two E3s. That being said, I have the greatest of hopes that this door closing simulator will be fantastic.
The Legend of Zelda Wii U (Working Title) – There are few franchises as charming as Nintendo’s Zelda series. The beauty of Zelda is that it re-invents itself almost with every iteration. Very few games within the series actually work within a continuity (though Nintendo has actually tried to build some sort of continuity though their giant Hyrule Historia book). So it is always fun to see what fresh new ideas get implemented in each iteration. With the Wii U version, we are getting our first true open world version of the game. This is a living, breathing Hyrule with random encounters and explorable environments. Like Skyrim, if there is a mountain in the distance, you can climb that mountain. That is an exciting proposition for a world as beautiful as Zelda’s hyrule.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – The Witcher series has been tough for me to get into. It doesn’t have the ease of combat that other traditional fantasy rpgs have. No, with Witcher, everything had to be planned out much more methodically. Yet, having not played the first, and having barely played the second, I am still incredibly excited to sink my teeth into Wild Hunt. The gorgeous visuals married with the series’ mature story telling is just too much for me to say no to. I look forward to being wrapped up in the games many branching narratives and sharing those experiences with friends, for if there is anything that you can say about the series, no two people’s games are ever alike.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Ultimately, what needs to be said about Uncharted, the stellar franchise from Naughty Dog. For a series that started off as a pretty clone of Tomb Raider, Naughty Dog’s ever growing and obsessive attention to detail has only made the series stronger and stronger. It is a studio of natural story tellers, and their work is of a class few can come close to meeting. I can’t wait for this game!
So those are my picks. What are yours. Feel free to sound off in the comments!
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