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If you want to sell a video game, you need a great trailer. Creating buzz for a new title is about getting your potential audience intrigued and excited — or simply just making them smile. That’s why so much time and effort goes into making these quick bursts of drama, action, and comedy.
Here we present 12 of the best game trailers to hit our screens during 2013. Representing a mix of independent titles and big-budget efforts, they’ve all made a distinct impact this year.
If you think we’ve missed any trailers of note, feel free to drop a comment below.
If there’s one thing Polish developer Techland knows, it’s how to make a damn fine trailer. Following the stunning efforts for both Dead Island and Dead Island: Riptide, this heart-pounding cinematic, promoting the parkour-infused survival-horror game Dying Light (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC), hits exactly the right tone from the beginning.
In case you’re wondering, the soundtrack is “Run Boy Run” by Woodkid.
And, just in the time to make the list, Techland released this disturbing Christmas-inspired musical trailer. Best lock those doors.
Star Wars: Battlefront
Thirty seconds. That’s all we got. But it was enough to set the Internet ablaze with talk of Star Wars: Battlefront (Xbox One, PS4, PC), a reboot of the much-loved shooter series.
Battlefield developer DICE is behind the game, slated to arrive in 2015.
I could watch this trailer over and over and it wouldn’t get old. With a hilarious voice over from “Jazz Boatman,” developer Paradox Interactive smoothly soft-sells its PC and mobile turn-based strategy game Leviathan: Warships.
“This ain’t no $60 title,” says Jazz Boatman. “It ain’t expensive. It’s cheaper than a real boat. Can’t argue with that.”
Ship just got real.
Sometimes, the voice of the gamer is a powerful thing. Sara Jansson, the senior producer of the Mirror’s Edge reboot, thanked fans of the original first-person action adventure game for making the next-generation version possible. “Every time you have asked us about the future of Faith, we have felt your support,” she said in an open letter. “Without you, the new Mirror’s Edge wouldn’t be happening.”
Judging by the incredible visuals in this surprise announcement trailer, the new Mirror’s Edge (due on Xbox One, PS4, and PC) will be a thing of beauty.
Who’d have thought the most emotional trailer of the year would be for an iOS game advertising burritos?
Fast-food restaurant chain Chipotle created “The Scarecrow” trailer to promote its app of the same name. Minimally branded, the video and app intend to “educate people about where their food comes from,” according to Mark Crumpacker, the chief marketing officer at Chipotle.
Tugging at heartstrings throughout its 3 minute running time, the trailer combines a haunting soundtrack with stunning animation to create one of 2013’s biggest viral advertising successes.
No Man’s Sky
The announcement trailer for No Man’s Sky came out of nowhere earlier this month, but it’s placed the procedurally generated space exploration title firmly on the gaming map.
The scope and ambition of No Man’s Sky seems impossibly epic, but this stunning trailer, dripping with old-school sci-fi sensibilities, hints that small English developer Hello Games, previously responsible for the Joe Danger driving/platforming titles, can pull it off.
“I’m speechless,” said one commenter on the Hello Games blog. “That trailer conveys a game that seems to get it right on some many levels. The music is awesome, the visuals breathtaking. The world building is spot on, every detail. You’ve captured what every great piece of art does, that sense of discovering a whole new reality and being able to step into it and inhabit it. I cannot wait.”
Super Smash Bros. (Wii Fit Trainer)
Nintendo is having great fun introducing characters for its Super Smash Bros. arcade brawler (Wii U, 3DS) one at a time. The Wii Fit trainer made the most entertaining entrance this year, demonstrating her infuriatingly perfect poise and posture in the battle arena.
Seeing Mario, Link, and Kirby struggling at Wii Fit yoga made me feel a heck of a lot better about my own wobbly efforts.
Titanfall looks stunning. And when the gameplay looks this good, you don’t need any live-action tricks or musical numbers to show off your product.
The first-person shooter is releasing March 11 on the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. PlayStation players will have to get their fix of Titanfall vicariously, as publisher Electronic Arts struck a lifetime exclusivity deal with Microsoft, unbeknownst to developer Respawn.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist — Spies vs. Mercs
GamesBeat editor-in-chief Dan “Shoe” Hsu picked out this trailer for Ubisoft’s stealth action-adventure title Splinter Cell: Blacklist (PS3, Xbox 360, PC) as his highlight of the year, saying: “This got me so pumped up when it came out.”
It blends cinematics and gameplay footage to offer a tantalizing taste of the unique Spies vs. Mercs multiplayer mode, pitting two very different teams against each other.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
Spoofing the oh-so-serious Battlefield 4 trailers in grand style, this first look at Electronic Arts’ humorous third-person shooter debuted at the E3 gaming conference back in June.
The multiplayer and co-op game set in the Plants vs. Zombies universe is set to appear on Feb. 18 for Xbox One and Xbox 360, followed by PC and other platforms.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
What if? That’s the question posed in this trailer for upcoming first-person shooter Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC), as it imagines an alternative universe in which the Nazis won World War II and took over the world.
Striking images of historical events seen through very different eyes set up the game’s premise beautifully, before developer Bethesda offers an explosive gameplay montage to back up the live-action introduction.