We’ve played a lot of great games so far this year, but the second half of 2014 looks absolutely fantastic.
That’s why, just as soon as we finished picking our favorite titles from the first six months of the year, we decided to also name our most anticipated games for the rest of 2014.
Once again, our staff made a varied list, but you will come across one name more than once. Don’t let the suspense kill you. Also, ignore that giant Dragon Age: Inquisition screenshot at the top of the story.
Most anticipated game: Batman: Arkham Knight (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
For my own sanity, I need to stay away from open-world games. Grand Theft Auto, Infamous, Elder Scrolls, Red Dead Redemption, Watch Dogs, or even Dead Rising … I get sucked in deeply in my attempt to complete every side this or that, with only strategy guides and wikis to act as life preservers. But I won’t be able to say no to spending hours and hours with the Caped Crusader.
I loved the first two games in this series, with their dark, moody visuals and Batman’s zip-around-anywhere mobility. To get all of that in the largest Arkham City yet? That’s a lot of side missions, Riddler challenges, exploring — and getting sidetracked.
I’m in big trouble.
Most anticipated game: Evolve (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
When players hoot and holler after every multiplayer match, that game must be special. That’s the case with Evolve, where four people square off against a single human-controlled monster. The four act as hunters, tracking down the creature in a living environment. The monster can hide, but it may tip off the hunters if it scares some birds or other wildlife. The monster can become stronger by eating that wildlife, and the humans are in a race to find and defeat the creature before it can level up. The developers at Turtle Rock Studios have the right idea in pitting human minds against each other.
Most anticipated game: Pillars of Eternity (PC)
I still love isometric role-playing games more than these fancy-ass graphic-driven works people seem to prefer these days. Give me turn-based combat, tactical control of my party, leveling up, and juggling inventories and I’m happy. I’m especially giddy if you make a game that’s the supposed “spiritual successor” to one of my favorites, Planescape: Torment. But Pillars of Eternity (coming out “this winter”) has more than this going for it. It comes from Obsidian, the folks who know how to make story-driven RPGs (and I think they’re even better than BioWare at this). And one of the designers of the fascinating world of Numenera, a new tabletop RPG that has a funky sci-fi fantasy spin, is involved with Pillars, too.
Until Eternity arrives, I’ll just play Divinity: Original Sin.
Most anticipated game: The Witness (PlayStation 4, PC, iOS)
I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not really feeling triple-A games these days. Missions and cutscenes and tutorials are not what I want. This is why I’m excited for The Witness, which should hit PlayStation 4, PC, and iOS later this year. Jonathan Blow’s Thekla studio promises to give players a mysterious island to explore full of increasingly difficult line-drawing puzzles. No hand-holding. No cheesy Hollywood-wannabe narrative. Just gorgeous environments and instantaneously satisfying gameplay.
Most anticipated game: Super Smash Bros. (Wii U)
Few games can make me as happy as Super Smash Bros. can, so of course I’m excited for a new one. The Wii U version features gorgeous HD graphics that really look worlds better than 2006’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii. Also, the new roster looks great.
It also helps that Mega Man is among the new playable fighters. The Blue Bomber has always been one of my favorite video game characters. So, one of my most beloved heroes is now in one of my favorite series. This couldn’t come out fast enough.
I just hope that the online works this time.
Most anticipated game: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Shadow of Mordor intrigued me with its initial trailer, but the hands-off demo at E3 sold me. An Arkham-style combat system in a The Lord of the Rings-inspired universe is quaint, but the ability to manipulate a horde of orcs in a dozen malicious ways just sounds so thrillingly Machiavellian. Tagging an orc with my Wrath-possessed Ranger and sending him back into Sauron’s hordes as my unwilling sleeper agent could be the start of a newer, better kind of power fantasy in video games. Or I could just tell him to kill himself. Or I could force him to challenge a rival to a life-or-death duel he’ll never survive — and then swoop in and take out whoever lived while they’re still reeling.
Leave it to me to be excited for a game I’m likely to play mostly through menu commands.
Most anticipated game: Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- (PlayStation 4, PS3)
Graphics fans have longed for the day when a game could rival the quality of a Pixar movie, but we have already reached a greater milestone: The day when 3D technology has advanced far enough to handle Guilty Gear.
The fighting series set new standards with a 2D world that takes inspiration from heavy-metal albums, fast-paced combat that inspired an entire subgenere, and an insane cast of warriors stacked with innovative designs and concepts. Now the franchise is in 3D with the same crisp animation while adding extra details such as how the camera will zoom in on the opponent’s face as he begs for his life during Potemkin’s devastating grab-super.
The combat also retains the frantic pace of its predecessors while becoming slightly easier for newcomers to get into, but I’m sure everyone can find something to love about a game where an assassin who uses her hair as a weapon can battle a child who slumbers on a mechanized battle bed.
Most anticipated game: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (3DS)
Sure, it’s total fan service, but I get giddy whenever I think about Atlus’s upcoming crossover role-playing game Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. It takes the highly likable casts of Persona 3 and Persona 4 and blends them with an adorable Chibi art style and Etrian Odyssey-style dungeon-crawling. Although it’s not part of the main series, Atlus assures fans that Persona Q’s storyline is canon. Plus, it’s on the Nintendo 3DS, a great handheld with a fantastic library of games. I’ve spent over 150 hours getting to know the characters of Persona 3 and Persona 4, and I can’t wait to discover more of their story.
Most anticipated game: Dragon Age: Inquisition (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
I loved everything about Dragon Age: Origins. After clocking somewhere over a hundred hours into the dense storytelling, character building, and tactical combat, I just wanted more. I was excited when BioWare revealed and subsequently released Dragon Age 2. Then I played it.
And I never finished it.
The direction Dragon Age 2 traveled stripped the series of so much that I cherished in the original, and while it wasn’t a bad game by any means, to me, it was a step in the wrong direction. While we don’t know how Inquisition will strike a balance between the first and second entries in the franchise, those familiar feelings I experienced in Origins are starting to bubble up the more I see of BioWare’s next chapter in the saga. I’m optimistic that Dragon Age: Inquisition can win back my affection for the series, but, like many, I’ve been burned before. I’m cautiously waiting for October to find out for sure.
Most anticipated game: Alien: Isolation (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Someone is finally giving me the video game version of Alien with a little less James Cameron and a lot more Ridley Scott (not Prometheus Scott, dear lord no … more Blade Runner Scott).
Sega and The Creative Assembly are taking the IP away from the easy and safe route of slapping the iconic space monster onto a hundred polygonal puppets in a digital shooting gallery. Instead, they are nixing the audience’s empowerment of having enough firepower to face the Alien toe to toe by making player-encounters with the beast an instant death generator. There’s no fighting the Alien. It hunts you, and you scurry from it. This finally makes the video game version of the creature something to fear, a nightmare to hide under the covers from.
This is not an easy concept to pull off in a medium built off of heroic conquer fantasies, where players can take on any obstacle and conquer any odds, no matter how fearsome, head on — which makes me all the more interested in seeing how and if The Creative Assembly pulls this one off.
Most aniticpated game: Dragon Age: Inquisition (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
I’m not a big mages-and-dragons guy, but I’m a sucker for a game that has a rich, expansive world. And Dragon Age: Inquisition promises just that: a massive land with tons of stuff for me to explore. So, I’ll throw on a suit of armor and put up with some of the fantasy nonsense if it means I can venture forth with a compelling cast of characters and love interests.
BioWare has given me so many great memories before, and I’m more than excited to make some new ones while playing Inquisition.