Despite a few negatives, 2014 was all in all, a quite brilliant year for the gaming industry. We saw the release of some truly fantastic games (read our favourite games of 2014 here), the continuous rise of the Xbox One and Playstation 4, and the Wii U quietly went about reaffirming that it still has a part to play in this generation’s console war. The PC, like its console counterparts also shared a successful year, remaining a refuge for unique and cutting-edge gameplay experiences. Even just a quick glance at the 2015 release schedule shows that the next 12 months promises to be an even better one. So with that in mind, which games are the 16bitkings team most looking forward to? Find out below!
Imran – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Coming May 19 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One
Despite my hardcore fanboyism, The Witcher series is not my favourite RPG series. I don’t think it is the most fun to play, the best looking or the most original. However, what makes it such a fantastic series to experience is the sheer brutality of its world, the savagery of its combat and the deeply engrossing political story. Where other series’ deal with morality sometimes in overly convoluted and contrived ways, The Witcher series has always felt unique with it’s ‘Game of Thrones’ approach in dealing with morality – a world that feels more mature, more ambiguous and more real.
The first two games, despite being critically acclaimed, however, always felt hampered by technological constraints; CD Projekt RED’s ambitions seemingly barred by the consoles they had to cater for. With next-gen consoles, as well as their vocal support of the PC community, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looks to be the game that they’ve dreamed of making for so long. With technology having caught up to their ambitions, the game is set to be a vast and expansive world that is rumoured to be 3.5 times bigger than the world of Skyrim. Who knows what stunning vistas, colossal creatures and difficult decisions will be waiting for us in the final chapter of Geralt’s journey?
Bernie – Total War: Attila
Coming 17 February on PC
Playing as the Western Roman Empire in Rome: Total War Barbarian Invasion is the perfect crisis management simulator. The player’s forces are spread thin, the empire is in the middle of a financial crisis, and his/her leadership is filled with corrupt individuals. Sound familiar? For the year or two that I played it, I got more organised, my grades skyrocketed, and I was pushing myself to the limit at sports.
I became more efficient at life because I was forced to be more efficient in the game if I had any hope of Rome making it past 476 AD. The dread of defending Lugdunum from a massive Frankish army was relatable to the dread of last-minute cramming before a final. While building Rome in the vanilla game was an easy-going, enjoyable experience, preventing Rome from collapsing in the expansion was stressful and marked with constant worry that another great city will fall to a barbarian horde or secede from the empire.
Of course, the main focus was on the barbarians in the expansion, with the Roman campaigns simply a side challenge for the masochists. Its spiritual successor, Total War: Attila plans to focus on that sense of dread, not only for the Romans, but for the barbarian tribes as well. The addition of the titular character as an endboss bogeyman is also welcome, as most Total War games stop being exciting during the late game as the player’s faction steamrolls their way through the world map. Now, it is Attila’s turn to do the steamrolling. Oh, and family trees are back.
Dan – The Legend Of Zelda
Coming 2015 on Wii U
I think this choice is a fairly obvious one. The latest installment of TLoZ series has been eagerly anticipated by Nintendo fans everywhere and from the shots shown at E3 2014, Aonuma and co. only exacerbated that. The thing that is causing so much anticipation is the lack of information we have about the game. Every fan in the world is sitting at home, wondering what the title will be, when it will be set and what the dungeons will be like. So far, Nintendo have played their cards close to their chest, which is having a great effect in building the hype for the game.
Aonuma has stated in interviews that he wants to reinvent the dungeon systems as well as the puzzle solving; as this is one of Zelda’s key gameplay features, it will be interesting to see how they tinker with it for the better. Either way, from the little we have seen of the new Legend of Zelda, it looks absolutely fantastic and I’m sure that all of you are clamouring for this game as much as I am.
Here’s hoping that we get some news on the game soon – maybe a release date might be nice?! TBD 2015…
Neil – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Coming 2015 on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
With every Metal Gear Solid game released beginning with Sons of Liberty, Hideo Kojima has almost religiously stated that each game from then on would be his last. Now, almost 14 years and two console generations later, Kojima is gearing up to release the
eighth fifth instalment of the iconic series: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. As a die-hard Metal Gear fanboy, I was no doubt ecstatic to learn that Kojima was developing his first legitimate console Metal Gear game since Guns of the Patriots, but I truly believed that I couldn’t gear myself up to be as excited for MGSV as I was for the former; for those of you that remember at the time, the amount of hype for MGS4 was nothing short of colossal. But when Ground Zeroes was released as a ‘primer’ of sorts (and priced quite generously at that) with the legendary Big Boss back at the helm, I was drawn straight back into Kojima’s world of stealth, mindfucks and nanomachines.
Adopting a more naked approach to the game, Ground Zeroes showcased what The Phantom Pain – AKA, the finished product – would be like upon its release. With a totally independent and unpredictable AI and a whole new take on tactical espionage that was built upon from Peace Walker, MGSV looks to be the definitive stealth simulator. After numerous teasers under different guises, gameplay demos and chicken caps, The Phantom Pain has managed to demonstrate a living, breathing world: with a fully-functioning ecosystem, wild animals will adjust their actions based on their surroundings, time and the weather, while the ‘operations’ part of the game’s slogan is demonstrated as you are required to gather intel, provide recon and assess your situation for the given mission. However, as the gameplay continues to amaze and excite everyone, there’s one element of the game that has been kept in the dark, somewhat: the story, which we know next to nothing about. As a result, fans everywhere have the same burning questions: who exactly is Skull Face? What is XOF? Who is Ishmael? How does Big Boss eventually become a villain? How will he go about forming Outer Heaven? And is David Hayter really in the game, who is simply just trolling us on twitter?
To say I am excited for this game is a vast understatement; Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will no doubt illustrate an unforgettable and tragic experience for the players, while also allowing them to be immersed in Kojima’s life-like world full of drama, jokes, and a plethora of cardboard boxes.
Sean – Quantum Break
When I look at the list of upcoming releases, one thing is abundantly clear: inspiring and original IPs are increasingly hard to come by. Don’t get me wrong, I cannot wait to play Batman: Arkham Knight, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Uncharted 4. Those three were on my shortlist for most anticipated. But it’s Quantum Break that keeps me awake at night.
Quantum Break has the potential to lift the Xbox One as a console – and all other games to follow – to a premium standard. Much like Gears of War on the Xbox 360 or Halo on the console before, we look to Remedy Entertainment to show us what next-gen will mean for the next half-decade or so.
Admittedly, we said the same for Titanfall upon its reveal at E3 2013, but part of that reeked of desperation and baseless hope that our $500 consoles would be worth the price of early admission. Quantum Break is being released at a point in the console’s life-cycle where we can reasonably expect a truly game-changing experience. The key for this game will be to take familiar gameplay mechanics (cover, bullet time) and tweak them into something we’ve never seen before. Couple that with a compelling story and characters we’d actually like to meet in real life, and Quantum Break could catch many of us off-guard with a once-in-a-console-lifetime experience. Granted, we have much to learn about this title. But originality is a less dense material and settles Quantum Break atop my most anticipated games list.
Aman – Cuphead
2015’s going to be a year that sees me playing a lot more indie games. And why the hell not? They’re easy to fit into an increasingly busy lifestyle, they’re cheaper than the average game, and they’re also beautiful throwbacks to a gaming age becoming increasingly forgotten by the AAA-obsessed gaming industry. Two weeks into 2015, and I’ve caught up with indie titles The Swapper and Fez (both are fantastic, play them now pls), but a title that I’m really looking forward to adding to that list is Studio MDHR’s Cuphead.
An Xbox One/Windows run-and-gun title, Cuphead looks like something straight from a 1930s cartoon, invoking deep feelings of nostalgia (is it nostalgia if you weren’t alive at the time?), and looking ridiculously fun. Think Steamboat Willie crossed with Contra – fantastic. The best part, however, if you’re into this kind of thing, is that the game is likely to be trippy as hell. The plot of the game sees our hero, Cuphead, lose a bet with the devil and spend the rest of the game paying that debt back. Now, Mickey Mouse wouldn’t go doing shizz like that. But an even bigger indication of its probable weirdness are the game’s origins, with Cuphead’s design being based on Japanese propaganda featuring a man with a teapot for a head, while Studio MDHR have openly stated that they were inspired by “transportive, transformative, and massively fucked up” cartoons from the 30s. Sounds horrifying. Can’t wait.
Ror – Multiple titles
There’s so much to look forward to this coming year that I could pick any number of games for this list, so I’ll take a few moments to give some shoutouts. First up, we should be seeing Remedy’s first game for the Xbox One this year, and while I was initially a bit disappointed not to see a continuation of Alan Wake, I’m very intrigued by the upcoming Quantum Break. I’m interested to see how the Finnish developer manages to interlink a narrative-driven action-adventure game with a branching storyline told in a sort-of TV show. More details are needed, but so far the game part of the equation looks very impressive.
We’ll also be seeing the first proper new-gen installments in two huge franchises this year, one each from Microsoft and Sony’s own premier developers in 343 industries’ Halo 5 and Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4. Both teams will be looking to maximise the potential of their new host hardware, while also looking to incorporate what they’ve learned from their previous releases; Halo 4’s campaign was a great first try for a new studio but 343 have some work to do to win fans back on the multiplayer side, while Naughty Dog appear to be crafting a more open, stealthy approach for Nathan Drake, informed by the successes of The Last of Us.
And even with these heavy hitters on the horizon, I was utterly convinced for a good long while that CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt would be my most-anticipated game of 2015. I love The Witcher games, and The Wild Hunt looks incredibly impressive – I sat and watched a 35-minute gameplay demo at last year’s Eurogamer Expo and while I couldn’t see myself, I’m fairly sure I had rainbows shooting out of my eyes for the duration.
Yet, for all that, the game that I’m most looking forward to came as something of a surprise, as Eiji Aonuma took centre stage on Nintendo’s June Direct broadcast, and did this. It’s almost a shame it didn’t debut in front of a crowd at E3, as the reaction might even have eclipsed that of Twilight Princess. We know very little about the game at this stage, save that it’s set in an open-world environment, and Aonuma’s team are looking back to the series’ more free-roaming, explorative roots for inspiration. A new home console Zelda is an event unto itself, however, and while it may not turn around the Wii U’s fortunes, a wide-open exploration-heavy Zelda game is going to be like sweet manna from heaven for series fans after the narrow repetition of Skyward Sword.
So there you have it. Let us know your most anticipated games of 2015 in the comments section below!