Welcome to GamesBeat’s list of notable releases for 2013. With both Microsoft and Sony (at least) set to unveil the next generation of gaming hardware in time for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), who knows what we’ll be playing by the end of the year. For now, the GamesBeat editors and writers pooled together their thoughts on known and notable releases of 2013 as well as our predictions on whether they’ll be worth a damn.
Not all games are notable simply because they’re expected to be good, however, and we’re not pulling any punches with our opinions just because a game’s not out yet. The way we see it, you can speak up early, or you can complain after spending $60.
Check back soon for a separate feature for all the big massively multiplayer online titles coming out this year.
Watch DogsWhy you should care: Ubisoft’s latest original intellectual property is a mysterious cyberpunk action game. What we think: First, we applaud Watch Dogs for even existing in this sequel-happy industry. But the highly scripted demo shown at last year’s E3 suggests a technology thriller/shooter truly worth being excited about. Not enough has been shown yet to say one way or the other, but at least the potential is there. --Sebastian Haley
Aliens Colonial MarinesWhy you should care: The canonical sequel to James Cameron’s Aliens film, developed by Gearbox Software. What we think: Gearbox has hit it big with Borderlands, but how will it fare when trying its hand at a more tonally serious action game? The Brothers in Arms series was met with a mixed reception, but the studio has undoubtedly learned a few new tricks since then. Deemed as the only canonical extension of the 1986 Aliens film, will the weight of continuing one of sci-fi’s most beloved entries be a blessing or a burden? --Sebastian Haley
Source: Gearbox Software
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2Why you should care: Gabriel Belmont’s epic tale continues in the follow-up to one of the most visually artistic games ever created. What we think: Did I mention how magnificent Lords of Shadow’s graphics were? They were -- wait for it -- legendary. Coupled with an intelligent story, masterful voice work, and competent (albeit familiar) God of War-esque combat, Mercury Steam not only made Castlevania relevant again, it sent it to the A-list. Now we want more, and more we shall have as Lords of Shadow 2 will not be bogged down with laying the groundwork for the rebooted universe. For a cynic like me, this is easily one of my most anticipated games. You could probably just erase everything I said and replace it with, “Eeeeeeeee!!!!” --Sebastian Haley
Bayonetta 2Why you should care: Bayonetta continues Devil May Cry’s excellent combat mechanics, and the sequel will undoubtedly be bigger and more ridiculous than the first, with an even more incoherent storyline. What we think: It’s exclusively on the Wii U, and taking a franchise away from the platforms where all of its fans are is a massive mistake, not to mention rather insulting (a lesson Electronic Arts learned with the surprisingly decent Dead Space spinoff for the Wii). So who cares if it’s any good? Most original Bayonetta fans won’t end up playing it, leading to a diluted following that may or may not be there for Bayonetta 3. --Sebastian Haley
Source: Platinum Games
Crysis 3Why you should care: Crytek has said that other new releases are years behind Crysis 3 in terms of visuals. What we think: We believe them. Crysis 3 is how most modern games should look but don’t. It’s insanely beautiful, even on the decrepit current generation of consoles, and Crytek has proven itself before with strong gameplay, so there’s little reason to doubt them here. Will anyone care about the story, though? Do you even remember what Crysis is actually about? --Sebastian Haley
Company of Heroes 2Why you should care: Real-time strategy games were once a huge business on the PC. With the exception of StarCraft II, we haven't seen a first-class game in this genre in a while. Relic Entertainment, which was auctioned off to Sega, could change that. What we think: Company of Heroes 2 takes us to the Russian front of World War II, where the weather was a deadlier enemy than the Russians or the Germans. If you survive the occasional blizzards that can freeze your men, you can engage in some serious close-range tank battles and infantry brawls. The multiplayer matches are like chess matches, only the pawns may run off the screen screaming when they've been hit by flamethrowers. --Dean Takahashi
Source: Relic Entertainment
Dead Island RiptideWhy you should care: Deep Silver’s Left 4 Dead-meets-Borderlands mashup returns in this glorified expansion pack. What we think: I’m still disappointed that Dead Island is nothing like its two hauntingly emotional CG trailers, but it did manage to provide a somewhat entertaining combination of loot, zombies, and co-op. Riptide is not a proper sequel to Dead Island, though it does pick up directly after the events of the first game and continues the story of the original playable characters. Expect almost exactly the same game as before (the characters haven’t even changed clothes). --Sebastian Haley
Source: Deep Silver
Pikmin 3Why you should care: Shigeru Miyamoto’s Pikmin series returns for its first proper release in nine years. What we think: I’m actually excited for a Wii U game! Having already played a decent amount of Pikmin 3, I can say that it’s the same classic gameplay with a few additions -- including rock- and flying-type Pikmin -- and improved visuals. The use of the Wii U GamePad will help you manage resources and time more efficiently, lest your Pikmin be eaten by the creatures that go bump in the night (all of whom apparently rush to your location at sunset). You know what I’m talking about. --Sebastian Haley
Monster Hunter 3 UltimateWhy you should care: Capcom’s overseas sensation, Monster Hunter, finally hits an HD console in the West. What we think: Why make an original Monster Hunter title for consoles when you can rerelease a 4-year-old Wii game instead? That’s Capcom’s thinking with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, a slightly revamped version of Monster Hunter Tri (itself originally planned for the PlayStation 3 but shifted to the Wii due to “high development costs”). On the one hand, I’m happy to see the series hitting something other than the PlayStation Portable, but I’m equally insulted at this lazy serving of sloppy seconds. --Sebastian Haley
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the TitanWhy you should care: If you love old-fashioned dungeon crawls, then it's tough to top what the Etrian Odyssey series offers. The fourth installment is making it even easier to get into the series by offering more onscreen effects and animation and an adjustable difficulty. And yes, you still get to draw your own maps of the dungeon's levels.What we think: Let's face it -- if you haven't bought into the series at this point, chances are you're never going to. But that's OK! It's great to see Atlus continue to support dungeon crawling and feed the need that an überniche group of gamers -- especially in this day of blockbuster-or-bust development for consoles and fragmented mobile platforms. --Jason Wilson
Metal Gear RevengeanceWhy you should care: Bayonetta developer Platinum Games lends its hack-'n'-slash expertise to the Metal Gear universe. What we think: The once-maligned Raiden had such a badass comeback in Metal Gear Solid 4 that he got his own spinoff (or a second spinoff, if you understandably don’t count Sons of Liberty as a true MGS sequel). With the ability to slice and dice everything from watermelons to helicopters in absurdly over-the-top fashion, you can expect Revengeance to be at least flashy fun for a few hours. Plus it will be nice for Platinum Games to work on a project with some hint of a budget. --Sebastian Haley
Gears of War JudgmentWhy you should care: Because guns with chain saws on them never get old? What we think: The original Gears of War team has since moved on after the end of the trilogy. Serving as a prequel to the first game, Judgment looks to be yet another intense cooperative campaign with the expected solid multiplayer offering. While I’m sure the action will be great, I’m concerned about the story. Gears of War isn’t exactly known for its amazing writing, and developer People Can Fly’s last game was Bulletstorm, which is arguably one of the most vapid games of all time. 2+2 = ? --Sebastian Haley
Source: Epic Games
Metro: Last LightWhy you should care: Metro: Last Light is set to prove this franchise has triple-A potential. What we think: This sequel to the moody-but-flawed Metro 2033 is one of the major titles to get a new publisher in the recent THQ bankruptcy auction. Dead Island publisher Deep Silver is now handling those duties. Ukrainian developer 4A Games is developing the game, and it has all of the Eastern European sensibilities we like in our odd shooters. It won't unseat Call of Duty from the sales charts, but it has the potential to expand beyond the cult following of the original.--Jeff Grub
Source: Deep Silver
God of War AscensionWhy you should care: Multiplayer comes to the God of War franchise. What we think: Sometimes, as the developer of a massively successful property, you have to know when to quit while you’re ahead. That’s not a common ability in the game industry, as executives run beloved franchise’s into the ground on an annual basis, and Sony is no different. It seems intent to drag Kratos’ story out with Ascension, yet another God of War prequel/spinoff. How many times can Kratos lose and learn the same abilities? Why not just make it a downloadable multiplayer-only game on PSN? --Sebastian Haley
Pokemon X and YWhy you should care: 15 years and 20 main games later, the annual Pokémon machine is finally upgrading to 3D. What we think: Nintendo has made so many cookie-cutter copies of the original handheld Pokémon games that it’s seemingly exhausted the dictionary of words that are opposites. Pokémon X / Y brings a much-needed 3D overhaul to the franchise’s graphics as well as, of course, plenty of new Pokémon. But it doesn’t really matter that Nintendo has been selling similar games to wannabe Pokémon trainers for well over a decade; you’re going to keep buying them anyway, aren’t you? --Sebastian Haley
StarCraft II: Heart of the SwarmWhy you should care: Kerrigan. What we think: When Blizzard announced that StarCraft II would be split into three separate releases, the reaction was mixed. But the true blow to those such as myself was that Kerrigan’s story, the Zerg campaign, was still years away. And now those years have passed. I have no idea what Blizzard has planned for the third game, but Heart of the Swarm’s campaign has the potential to be the most compelling yet as Kerrigan struggles to retake her throne atop the Zerg empire. Multiplayer is a mixed, however, since the StarCraft team seems too afraid to make any substantial changes to the original game’s formula. --Dean Takahasi
Source: Blizzard Entertainment
Dark Souls 2Why you should care: The third entry in From Software’s revered “Souls” series. What we think: Who else watching the trailer thought this was going to be called Dragon Souls? While trying to capitalize on the previous game’s popular with a misleading title is annoying (Dark Souls II is confirmed to have no direct connection to the original), we pretty much know what to expect at this point: An insanely challenging and imaginative gameplay experience unlike (almost) any other out there. I’ve already padded all my controllers for when they inevitably go flying amid a flurry of expletives. --Sebastian Haley
Source: From Software
Grand Theft Auto VWhy you should care: It’s Grand Theft Auto. You already care.What we think: Although it’s taken most of the industry years to admit that GTA IV was a bit of a letdown, it's difficult to deny it was a step back for the franchise in terms of content. San Andreas had jets, hoverboats, forests, casinos, and jetpacks; GTA IV had bowling. With your needy, overweight cousin. But GTA V’s trailers have already shown a more diverse gameplay offering, and Rockstar is promising it’s the biggest open-world game it has ever created. The three main character system is an odd feature that will either work or be a spectacular failure, and the graphics, while an improvement over its predecessor, are looking a little tapped out on current generation hardware. But even a crappy Grand Theft Auto game is usually better than today’s average release, so this will definitely be the open-world game to contend with in 2013. --Sebastian Haley
Source: Rockstar Games
Homefront 2Why you should care: THQ bet the farm on the original Homefront, which received a mixed reception. Crytek (Crysis) has taken the reins away from Kaos Studios for the sequel. What we think: Now that Crytek owns the Homefront IP outright, it's free to really make Homefront its own, with no interference from THQ. While this means the game will look astonishingly and play well enough, Crytek has never really provided a compelling narrative, and that’s what the original Homefront promised but failed to deliver. Still, the developer must see something special that no one else seems to, so it’ll be interesting to watch where it takes it. --Sebastian Haley
The Last of UsWhy you should care: The house that Crash Bandicoot built is releasing a very M-rated third-person shooter that’s not Uncharted. What we think: Nathan Drake mows downs hundreds of nameless, faceless enemies in a matter of hours and makes jokes about it, but Naughty Dog is taking a far more intimate and meaningful approach with The Last of Us, which feels more and more like the Jak & Daxter studio’s version of Manhunt (there’s lots of stealth shanking and beating people to death with bricks). At the same time, it’s hard not to look at The Last of Us and think what a great way it would have been to kick off the next generation of hardware. This mature virtual experience deserves to look better than all the released gameplay videos suggest it does. --Sebastian Haley
Source: Naughty Dog
Injustice: Gods Among MenWhy You Should Care: The creators behind the Mortal Kombat reboot are brave and bold enough to develop a good fighting game based on the Justice League. What We Think: NetherRealm Studios has shown that it can create a deep tournament-level brawler while still providing the story and extra content that casual fans adore. The new interactive stages, different control scheme, and dynamic character animations also show that the developer wants to make it more than an MK clone as well. The prospect of racing around the globe to sucker-punch foes as The Flash or tossing Lex Luthor into the Phantom Zone alone will drive sales, but hazardous arenas have been around since SNK's Neo Geo arcade machine, and no one has been able to make them work in a traditional fighter. --Chris Hoadley
Source: Warner Bros.
Lightning Returns: Final-Fantasy XIIIWhy you should care: Lightning Returns is the only known major release planned for the troubled Final Fantasy series, and it's the end to the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. What we think: You can read our developer interview and impressions here. http://venturebeat.com/2013/01/29/final-fantasy-xiii-lightning-returns-interview/ --Sebastian Haley
Source: Square Enix
Lost Planet 3Why you should care: Capcom’s mech-filled franchise gets another sequel and will be developed Spark Unlimited (responsible for the poorly received first-person shooters Legendary and Turning Point: Fall of Liberty). What we think: Lost Planet 2 launched with a number of obvious issues (that were eventually patched after the majority of the industry had already moved on), but if you stuck with it, you might be surprised at how truly ambitious and rewarding the it is. Whether its new Western developer will capture that deeply layered experience or simply provide giant brainless robots fighting giant brainless bugs remains to be seen. --Sebastian Haley
Metal Gear Solid: Ground ZeroesWhy you should care: The famous Metal Gear series goes open world.
What we think: We haven't had a proper Metal Gear game on consoles since 2008's Guns of the Patriots, and while Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance looks like a fun spin-off, we're anxious for another stealthy adventure. And did you see that trailer? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5IVOs5Pxh8) They don't look much better than that.
Project X ZoneWhy you should care: More than 50 characters from the Resident Evil, Darkstalkers, Sakura Wars, Tales of Vesperia, and Tekken franchises come together in this strategic role-playing game.What we think: Like Namco X Capcom before it, the immense potential of this crossover RPG is wasted on a handheld device. Project X Zone’s visuals are an inspired throwback to grainy pixelated sprites. I’d prefer a game where all the characters retained their original designs (so the Tales of Vesperia cast would be cel-shaded while standing next to the more realistic Tekken crew). If developers are going to be cheap and lazy, at least they can be artistic about it. --Sebastian Haley
Source: Namco Bandai
Remember MeWhy you should care: This.http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_68269&feature=iv&src_vid=0r-nzz3yhK4&v=o8SD8saf_aM What we think: A new property from an unknown developer at the end of a console cycle sounds like a three-star ticket to obscurity, but Remember Me's futuristic neo-Paris setting and Philip K. Dick memory-tampering sensibilities got our attention. Batman: Arkham City-style melee combat kept it. Sure, some of the dialogue's painful -- hello, Capcom game -- and the pieces might not add up to a whole. That said, we love it when an unknown shows up from out of nowhere and amazes us, and all the footage we've seen so far shows great promise. That's why we're definitely keeping Remember Me in mind. --Rus McLaughlin
SimCityWhy you should care: City building returns for the first time in a decade with great 3D graphics and a simulation engine that can create an intricately interconnected world with tens of thousands of objects in it, including curvy roads and arsonists. What we think: This looks beautiful, and the simulation hammers home the message that building sustainable cities is the key to survival. I can't wait to play the full spectrum of Sim City. I may create an urban-green paradise, or an industrial city that gets the award for strip-mining the environment for as much coal as possible.The multiplayer play will let cities trade with each other and battle for resources. This is as close as you can get to a city simulation where you can control every single sim, or virtual person. --Dean Takahashi
South Park: The Stick of TruthWhy you should care: The foul-mouthed fourth graders from South Park, Colorado return to consoles and PCs in a fantasy role-playing adventure that impressively mimics the 2D aesthetic of the TV show.
What we think: The Stick of Truth looks like it's a natural extension of the 15-year-old series: Cartman berates Kyle for being Jewish, Mr. Slave can swallow up enemies whole with his butt cheeks, and Kenny is just being … well, Kenny. Outside of a few trailers, we don't know much else, especially now that Ubisoft picked up the publishing rights after the collapse of THQ, saying only that it's set for a vague “calendar 2013” release.
Splinter Cell: BlacklistWhy you should care: Superspy Sam Fisher has a new voice and a new developer. That should probably anger some fans of the long-running stealth-action franchise.What we think: Ubisoft's stable of titles have begun to homogenize. Nearly all of the publisher's studios work on all of its games. Ubisoft Toronto is a new developer, but we don't expect a ton of new ideas. Instead, we expect the French publisher to apply what it learned from Assassin's Creed to Sam Fisher's adventure. In the end, Blacklist really just needs to get its multiplayer right to make us happy. --Jeff Grub
Star TrekWhy you should care: This cooperative shooter bridges the gap between J.J. Abram's 2009 Star Trek film and its upcoming sequel. What we think: Despite many attempts, we've seen few memorable Star Trek games. But this shooter has potential. Yes, it's a shooter, which may seem like a weird choice for a franchise that's supposed to take place in a peaceful future. It's the cooperative aspect is what really intrigues me. Kirk and Spock are one of the most famous duos in media history. If developer Digital Extremes can nail that relationship, then it'll have a winner. --Mike Minotti
Source: Namco Bandai
BioShock InfiniteWhy you should care: After skipping out on the first sequel, Ken Levine and the team at Irrational return to the spiritual successor to the spiritual successor of System Shock 2. Oh, and minor point ... they haven't made a bad game yet. What we think: You never have time at E3 to do things twice. I -- and a lot of other people -- went back and watched BioShock Infinite's E3 2011 demo twice because it was just that good. Irrational's had another 18 months to work on it since then. Zipping around a steampunky flying city on a personal roller-coaster track while shooting robotic George Washingtons might be why we game in the first place, and I've already fallen for Elizabeth, the lady you're assigned to rescue from the monstrous Songbird. Add to that themes of patriotism gone wrong and religious fanaticism and Infinite might actually be the successor that can truly succeed its inspiration. --Rus McLaughlin
Source: 2K Games
Star Wars 1313Source: Disney
Tekken X Street FighterWhy you should care: Now that Capcom has released Street Fighter X Tekken, Namco takes it turn at the Tekken/Street Fighter crossover. What we think: SFXT isn’t a bad game, but Capcom’s DLC decisions marred it. Meanwhile, Namco’s Tekken team has remained mostly quiet about their take on the crossover, but I'm looking forward to seeing the Street Fighter characters get a Tekken makeover and (finally) a much deeper movelist than they’ve ever had before. At the very least, it won’t be published by Capcom. --Sebastian Haley
Source: Namco Bandai
The Walking Dead: Survival InstinctWhy you should care: Developer Terminal Reality is crafting a first-person shooter based on the popular zombie-survival show on AMC. Almost everything that touches The Walking Dead property (even iOS games) turns to gold. What we think: Though it looked a little rough the last time we saw it, Survival Instinct eschews the typical run-and-gun style of most shooters in favor of a more cerebral design. The focus on managing resources and recruiting survivors to your group are interesting twists to what could have been just a straightforward adaptation of the show. --Giancarlo Valdes
Tomb RaiderWhy you should care: It's a page-one reboot starting the First Lady of gaming, and even though it rewinds back to her earliest days as an adventurer, the gameplay and the story have definitely grown up. What we think: Hey, we remember when news of a new Tomb Raider game could barely earn a shrug. Lara Croft's newest raid commands attention with a healthy edge of "torture porn" controversy -- albeit one often accelerated by people with zero time with the game -- that immediately makes it one of the more intriguing titles of 2013. Having played one early level, I can authoritatively say it's unflinching, fascinatingly brutal, throws out jump-scares worthy of a Dead Space, and serves up a deft mix of puzzles, platforming, stealth, and gunplay. Will that offset the more disturbing aspects? We'll find out in March if Tomb Raider's many prerelease detractors actually have a point. --Rus McLaughlin
Source: Crystal Dynamics
Yakuza 5Why you should care: Sega's sometimes-goofy crime-drama series is at times completely absurd, but it maintains one of the most consistent storylines across two console generations. What we think: The Yakuza series is the closest thing gamers get to an action-packed soap opera. Yakuza 5 takes that concept one step further by introducing five explorable locations scattered around Japan (rather than the usual one or two) and more emotionally riveting ne'er-do-wells just trying to satisfy their complex codes of honor. Plus, Yakuza 5 introduces an all-new engine that should make the copious restaurant billboards scattered around Tokyo look even more delicious than ever. Oh, okinomiyaki, how you tempt us. --Jasmine Rea
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Watch DogsWhy you should care: Ubisoft’s latest original intellectual property is a mysterious cyberpunk action game. What we think: First, we applaud Watch Dogs for even existing in this sequel-happy industry. But the highly scripted demo shown at last year’s E3 suggests a technology thriller/shooter truly worth being excited about. Not enough has been shown yet to say one way or the other, but at least the potential is there. –Sebastian Haley Source: Ubisoft
What games of 2013 are you looking forward to (or worried about)?
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