Developer: Ubisoft Massive
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Launch date: TBA in 2014
Ubisoft Massive has been working on this new Tom Clancy title for at least five years. The Division is based on a plausible near future where the U.S. is hit by an apocalyptic epidemic. Massive, the studio that made World in Conflict, delved deep into Operation Dark Winter, a military exercise that the U.S. military conducted in 2001. It revealed the inadequacies of the nation’s defenses against a biological terrorist attack. It presumes that order will break down in a matter of days. To prepare for this event, the government has created an agency (based on a President George W. Bush’s executive order dubbed Directive 51) that has dispatched sleeper cells across the country to take up arms and restore order. The agents will battle gangs, looters, and anyone else who threatens the republic. Those agents will be operating on their own without much help from a weakened government, but they will have access to technology and weapons caches that could give them the edge in any kind of extended warfare. This is a huge bet on a new intellectual property, and it is the kind of thing that Ubisoft is specializing in these days. It is next-generation only, using the new Snowdrop game engine. That means that the team will be able to shoot as high as it can on graphics and technology.
Developer: Ready at Dawn
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Launch date: TBA in 2014
Sony showed off a little bit of this game at E3, but this action-adventure looks very ambitious and engaging. It is about Galahad and his journey to find out who he will be. It has horror, action, and adventure. It is about a war between humanity and half breeds that has been fought for a very long time. It is set in the year 1886 in London, in the midst of the industrial revolution. The setting and style worked well with Bethesda’s Dishonored, and it looks like it will work wonderfully in this game as well. While it is set in the 1800s, Galahad and his order of Arthurian-style knights will make a lot of use of technology in taking on their ancient foe. Everything about this game suggests it has great production values.
Developer: Remedy Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox One and TV
Launch date: TBA.
Remedy Entertainment gave us great story-based games like Alan Wake and Max Payne. Now they are working on an episodic game that will be jointly released with a live-action television show. It’s just the sort of game that Remedy was born to do. The trailer shows that the graphics are pretty and the drama is pretty intense. The story is about a time travel experiment that goes horribly wrong. It breaks time, which freezes and jerks forward without warning. It’s an action game with cinematic gunplay and cover mechanics. You can use a number of powers by controlling time that will help you in combat. And you’ll need all of these powers to defeat the evil villain and his corporation, Monarch. The TV show should be interesting because it will progress at a steady pace as new episodes in the video game unfold at the same time.
9. Halo 5
Developer: 343 Industries
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360.
Launch date: TBA.
The Halo series has become a colossal success with more than 50 million games sold at a value of almost $3.4 billion in retail revenues. It has done so because it has just the right blend of everything: a cool sci-fi setting, great graphics, furious first-person shooter combat, and a romantic twist in the relationship between Master Chief and his artificial intelligence assistant Cortana.
We’re taking this one pretty much sight unseen. But 343 Industries has proven that it can make a solid Halo game, and who doesn’t want to play a few more levels as Master Chief. Microsoft is wisely allowing this series to breathe with developers producing a new game every couple of years, not every year like Call of Duty. I don’t think they’re going to let us down.
10. Mario Kart 8
Platforms: Wii U
Launch date: TBA in spring 2014
Nintendo has been milking its classic characters too much, but Mario Kart 8 looks like it’s going to be a lot of hilarious fun. You can become your favorite character, grab a kart, and then race around kooky tracks. It follows the typical Mario Kart formula in that respect. But this new version will have different vehicles and the ability to take short cuts through vertical driving.
This is the only Wii U game on our list, and we’re glad that Nintendo is still working hard on making quality games for the system, regardless of how well it is selling. We don’t know if it will make a big difference in the wider console war, but it should be a lot of fun. It will offer some family-friendly relief in what has become an action-oriented blockbuster release schedule.