2014 is the first real year of what can now safely be referred to as “current-gen” video games. The era of the Xbox 360 and PS3 is drawing to a close and a new epoch is beginning. Even the Wii U promises to come into its own in the coming year.
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But it’s still a good year for what we can now start calling “last-gen” consoles, with many games releasing as cross-gen and some—like Dark Souls II—still only announced for the 360 and PS3 (and PC.)
Here are the biggest, most-anticipated, and best-looking video games of 2014:
We’ll start with dated releases:
Bravely Default (3DS – Feb 7th)
People tell me this is very good. The handheld RPG does look like a rare treat. The Final Fantasy spin-off (of sorts) may even take the already-successful 3DS to new heights, and I’m looking forward to its North American release.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (Xbox One, 360 – Feb. 18th)
This timed Xbox One exclusive looks as charming as its mobile predecessors. And quite fun. A nice departure from the modern military shooter, in any case, and free of in-app purchases to boot!
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U – Feb. 21st)
I love the Donkey Kong Country games and I can’t wait to play one in full HD. Then again, I remember when the first one came out way back in the day and just how amazing the graphics looked then.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (PC, 360, PS3 – Feb. 25th)
I’m of a mixed mind on the Lords of Shadow reboot of Castlevania. Much to love, but also not up to the same caliber as many of the earlier games.
Thief (PC, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 – Feb. 25th)
Speaking of reboots, Thief, once Thief 4, actually looks pretty excellent. But can it capture the excellence of the earlier Thief games? Can it pull off the stealth and the challenge? We shall see….
South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC, 360, PS3 – Mar. 4th)
Assuming this doesn’t get pushed back once again, South Park: The Stick of Truth is one of my top 2014 titles. I’ve been a long time South Park fan, and to see the television show get this sort of full-blown RPG treatment makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
Dark Souls II (PC, 360, PS3 – Mar. 11th)
No game in 2014 excites me more than Dark Souls II. Not one single title captures my imagination quite so fiercely, or promises to suck my time dry quite so thoroughly. I am fully prepared to die. But I would like to see the game hit next-gen systems.
TitanFall (PC, 360, Xbox One – Mar. 11th)
This is the big shooter and the big question mark of 2014. Can TitanFall finally woo gamers away from Call of Duty? Will it be as good as it looks and as everyone previewing the game says it is? Or will it find itself lost, adrift in a sea of first-person shooters?
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 – Mar. 18th)
I’ve no doubt that Metal Gear Solid V will have things I love, things I hate, and things that are just plain weird. As a fan, but not a super-fan, of the series, I’m pretty stoked for this one, especially on next-gen systems where the FOX engine will have its first chance to truly shine.
inFamous Second Son (PS4 – Mar. 21st)
One of the bigger PS4 exclusives, the little I’ve played of inFamous: Second Son has me hopeful that this could be a pretty great next-gen action title. I’m not sure yet, but I’m excited to find out.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (PC, Mac – Mar. 25th)
Beyond its icky $40 price-tag, this expansion to Blizzard’s controversial Diablo III promises a new Act, a new Class, and lots of changes to the game that should make it much better. I always enjoy an excuse to hack and slash for a while.
The Elder Scrolls Online (PC, Mac – Apr. 4th)
I have no idea if an Elder Scrolls MMO is a good idea. My gut tells me no, but the gameplay I’ve seen so far does look pretty fun—for an MMO. Either way, this is a landmark entry in the series and in the genre. Will its subscription model pay off?
Destiny (360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 – Sept. 9th)
Shared-world shooter. That’s what people are calling this new IP from Halo creators, Bungie. It’s sort of an evolution of the MMO concept, with fewer players and more intimate connections. It looks terrific, but much hinges on the quality of gameplay and the reward system.
Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)
Nintendo and Platinum team up for the sequel to the cult classic Bayonetta. This may be the Wii U’s best-looking adult game, and if it’s as good as the first it’s going to be a huge temptation for myriad action gamers.
Child of Light (PC, Wii U, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
The oddest, most surprising game from Ubisoft since Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, this is a painterly-style roleplaying game with JRPG elements and it looks just lovely and captivating. One of the titles I’m most excited to explore next year.
Dragon Age: Inquisition (PC, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
Dragon Age II was a huge disappointment to many BioWare fans. Inquisition looks like just as huge a step in the right direction. Multiple races, huge and varied environments, and beautiful graphics, the only thing that has me worried is EA’s track record.
Dying Light (PC, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
Parkour meets zombies. What could go wrong?
EverQuest Next (PC, PS4)
This may be the defining MMORPG of the generation. Or it could be just as much hype. Until we see how the next evolution of the EverQuest franchise turns out, we won’t know. But this is one of the only MMOs I’ve been excited about in a long time.
Halo (Xbox One)
Possibly this is Halo 5. As a fan of Halo 4 (but, again, not a super-fan of the entire franchise) I have high hopes for the next-gen entry. The original Halo remains one of my favorite shooters of all time.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PC, Mac, Lin, PS4, PS Vita)
Hotline Miami was the weirdest, most ultra-violent game of 2012. It was also thought-provoking, puzzling, and entirely original. Hopefully the sequel can live up to the original.
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
I haven’t been a fan of every Mario Kart but the first couple remain among my favorite games of all time. And the first HD entry has me pretty pumped.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
A third-person action game set in Middle Earth, Shadow of Mordor looks promising. On the other hand, this sort of game comes with risks—not a lot of movie adaptations (let alone book to movie to game adaptations) have been done particularly well. But I remain optimistic, even in the face of history.
Persona 5 (PS3)
If you haven’t played the Persona games yet, please go do so. Persona 4 Golden remains one of my favorite games of the last couple years and quite honestly makes a PS Vita purchase worthwhile all on its own. But the PS3 Persona 5, while it has almost no information or screenshots to accompany it, could just be one of the most addictive games of 2014.
Star Citizen (PC)
Crowdfunding darling and space sim extroirdinaire, Star Citizen may not roll out entirely in 2014, but big chunks of the game should be playable by the end of the year. With $30m in crowd-funded dollars to its name, Chris Roberts’ space game already looks mindblowing and promises to be one of the most impressive titles of the coming year (or so.)
Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One)
Acrobatic, parkour-style run-and-shoot combat in an open world. Basically just the thing for the Xbox One and next-gen in general. This is an intriguing title that we still don’t know a ton about. But Insomniac Games has a lot of good games under its belt, including tons of PlayStation exclusives, so I’m more than curious what it has to offer for Microsoft.
Super Smash Bros. (3DS, Wii U)
A huge hit on the Wii, Super Smash Bros. should do well on the 3DS and hopefully gives Wii U owners a reason to celebrate. The fighting game brings myriad classic video game characters (mostly Nintendo exclusives) into the arena with one another to do bloody battle.
The Crew (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
An open-world racing game developed by Ubisoft, it’s basically the first real attempt at a racing MMO (though not in the traditional sense.) The ability to race across the entire (condensed) USA sounds really fun.
The Evil Within (PC, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
Survival horror used to be a thing. Now, not so much. Bethesda wants to revitalize a dwindling genre with The Evil Within. It looks plenty scary, though sometimes I wonder if the real problem is that we’re all too numb to frights these days. Can survival horror really, truly ever make a comeback?
The Order: 1886 (PS4)
This is probably my most anticipated PS4 exclusive. The game takes the Arthurian legend and plops it down in a clockwork, black-powder era. It looks gorgeous. If the gameplay and story are anywhere near as high quality as the graphics we’re all in for a treat. Or at least us PS4 owners.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
My second most-anticipated game of 2014 after Dark Souls II, The Witcher 3 brings Geralt de Rivia into a huge open world. More monsters, more storylines, more quests, the whole thing could take as long as 100 hours to finish, and that’s not counting the multiple endings you can encounter based on your choices. This is the RPG to beat next year.
Tom Clancy’s The Division (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
Another interesting multiplayer video game, The Division blends the line between solo, co-op, and player-vs-player in a post-disaster future. While not exactly a futuristic shooter, the third-person game does offer what looks to be pretty fascinating tactical options.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PC, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
A World War I drama of sorts, this is another surprise entry from Ubisoft. This war-torn love story tracks five different characters through the trenches of the first Great War in a comic-book-esque and lovingly crafted aesthetic.
Watch Dogs (PC, Wii U, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
What was supposed to be a next-gen launch title ended up being pushed back into 2014. Watch Dogs is an open-world hacker game that looks a bit like a cross between Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed, and The Matrix. I’m still not sure what to think of the game, but I’m excited to play it.
Wolfenstein: The New Order (PC, 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
Some of my fondest video game memories are of DOOM. But almost as fond are my memories of Wolfenstein 3D, one of the most important shooters of all time. I doubt this new New Order entry can match the cultural and industry importance of that game, but it looks like fun nonetheless. Mecha-nazis never disappoint.
X (Wii U)
The follow-up to XenoBlade, “X” looks pretty awesome from what few glimpses we’ve seen. The first full-blown RPG for the Wii U might even turn into a system seller if it’s anywhere as good as Monolith Soft’s last game.
Zelda U (Wii U)
All we know is that a new Zelda—and not the Hyrule Warriors / Dynasty Warriors spin-off—is on the way to Wii U, likely landing in 2014, though possibly in 2015. This won’t be the first HD Zelda, but it will be the first Zelda developed for HD from the ground up, and there’s little doubt in my mind that it’s going to be amazing.
Along with all these, we’ll likely see plenty of other announcements, probably lots of new lesser-known indies and Kickstarter games, and new episodes of some of franchises from TellTale Games (Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us.) Too much to list, honestly.
What’s your most-anticipated title of 2014? What did we miss here that you think is worth a mention (because, surely, something has been missed)?
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