2014 was not a brilliant year to be a gamer. Serving as the first year for the newly introduced eighth-generation consoles, there were some high expectations among gamers for a number of releases. Unfortunately the year passed by with a real mix of events, ranging from unexpected successes to absolute disappointments. Massively hyped titles such as Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs and Bungie’s supposedly genre-redefining Destiny were released to only mildly positive acclaim. Despite the slight-disappointment induced by such releases, fortunately titles such as Monolith’s Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and The Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation provided us with two surprisingly great games.
So what can we expect from 2015? The good news is that a lot of titles that have been hotly anticipated for some time are now nearing completion. The bad news? A lot of these titles haven’t been given an official release date yet, and have only been vaguely slated for 2015 release. While it is hard to say exactly what lies in stock for gamers in 2015, the outlook is pretty positive. Here’s why:
“The sword of Destiny has two edges. You are one of them.”
From humble beginnings with the 2007 PC-exclusive fantasy RPG title The Witcher, Polish based developer CD Projekt RED have come a long way. Unfortunately due to being limited to PC only, The Witcher didn’t really gain a huge amount of attention from outside of the PC community, despite its critical acclaim. This was fully remedied with CD Projekt RED’s 2011 sequel, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings which received wide acclaim and was released to Xbox 360 in 2012. As a series, The Witcher stands out for its rich lore, adapted from the works of bestselling Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The series is also known for its mature themes, decision-driven narrative with branching plotlines, and wonderfully realised environments.
Why will it be awesome?
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be the concluding adventure in the saga of Geralt of Rivia, the grizzled monster-slaying protagonist of the The Witcher series. For the first time the series will feature a fully open world, announced to be “20% bigger than Skyrim” by developer CD Projekt RED. The Witcher 3’s predecessors were known for their elaborate story-telling and meaningful decisions, and I’m sure Wild Hunt will not disappoint in this field. Throughout the first two games our hero Geralt of Rivia, has striven to maintain his neutrality amid increasingly turbulent politics that he is unwillingly drawn further and further into. The Witcher 3 will no doubt include some of the most morally dubious decisions in the series, along with boasting massive consequences based on player decisions. The combat has apparently been fully reworked to go hand-in-hand with the massive open world the game will have to offer, improving on the flaws in The Witcher 2’s combat. The screenshots released so far have been breath-taking, and if the world is truly as large and rich as CD Projekt RED claims, lovers of fantasy and role-playing games should be in for a real treat with The Witcher 3.
Batman: Arkham Knight – Rocksteady Studios – 2nd June – PC, PS4, Xbox One
“And when the dawn comes, When Gotham lies in ruins and I turn my gaze to the world beyond, the legend of the Batman will be worth nothing, at all”
Probably owing in part to the success of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Rocksteady Studio’s Batman: Arkham Asylum beat its way to the tops of charts around the world back in 2009. The game drew acclaim for its well adapted characters directly drawn from the comics, entertaining and dynamic combat, and was packed full of content to explore and unlock. 2011 saw the Caped Crusader return to consoles and PC in the form of Arkham City, building on the success of Asylum by giving the player a slightly limited, yet undoubtedly detailed open world to explore.
Why will it be awesome?
Rocksteady have been hard at work on Arkham Knight since 2011, having started development immediately following the release of Arkham City. From what we saw at last year’s E3 conference, Arkham Knight looks absolutely stunning, and will significantly build on the open world feature introduced in City. Players can expect to be confronted with a plethora of missions and side-quests, while also being rewarded with re-vamped and improved combat. Arkham Knight will also be the first game in the series to feature the Caped Crusader’s iconic Batmobile. Rocksteady have also announced Arkham Knight to be their final game featuring the DC Comics superhero, and will also be the first in the series to be based exclusively on next-generation consoles. As a result, we can stay optimistic that Arkham Knight will be their most ambitious and bold game yet, and will conclude the series with a powerful ending. Arkham Knight was recently granted an ‘M for Mature’ rating from the ESRB. This will make Arkham Knight the first of Rocksteady’s games to only be rated for players 17 and older. To explain the change in rating, Rocksteady have stated that they want Arkham Knight “to deliver a true end with no compromises, and it takes us to some dark places”. Players will be able to step into the boots of the Batman and battle against the forces of returning villain Scarecrow, as well as a new villain: The eponymous, yet currently anonymous ‘Arkham Knight’, this summer on PC, PS4 or Xbox One.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Kojima Productions – 1st September – PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
“Why are we still here? Just to suffer? Every night, I can feel my leg… and my arm… even my fingers. The body I’ve lost… the comrades I’ve lost… won’t stop hurting… it’s like they’re all still there. You feel it too, don’t you? I’m gonna make them give back our past.”
To call the Metal Gear series one of the most important sagas in gaming history would probably be an understatement. Industry veteran Hideo Kojima has been tied to the series ever since the original Metal Gear in 1987. The franchise truly took off with the release of Metal Gear Solid in 1998 for the original Playstation. Players were able to experience excellent stealth gameplay while also being presented with a thoroughly cinematic story packed full of interesting characters and shocking plot twists. Since 1998, the series has received many new entries that have all received equally high acclaim.
Why will it be awesome?
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain truly looks amazing. The Phantom Pain features extreme detail in its characters and animations, most of which have been painstakingly motion captured and rendered in the highest quality. The previous two major cinematic trailers released at E3 in 2013 and 2014 arguably portray some of the most realistic looking characters in gaming history. The Phantom Pain will also feature an open world for the first time in the series’ long history. Voice actor Troy Baker compared the size of the game to Skyrim, suggesting that Metal Gear Solid V will make Skyrim look “like an afternoon playpen”. Combining this vast-open world with the intense tactical stealth action the series has become known for is a recipe for something really special. While previous entries in the series have been confined to linear environments, The Phantom Pain allows players for the first time to freely roam and infiltrate as they see fit. This is to say nothing of the intricate plot that continues from 2010’s Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and 2012’s Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Based on the trailers released thus far, and on the words of game director Hideo Kojima himself, the latest entry in the Metal Gear franchise will deal with highly controversial themes as we see protagonist ‘Big Boss’ descend into villainy.
The Legend of Zelda – Nintendo – TBA 2015 – Wii U
“What we’ve decided is really fun is being able to freely walk around in this world and choose what you want to do and how you want to explore. I can’t talk much about it, but one of the things we’re working on right now is that, as you play, the world will change and be affected by what you choose to do.”- Shigeru Miyamoto, General Manager of Nintendo EAD
Again, this series needs little introduction and will be familiar to a huge number of gamers. The Legend of Zelda has spawned so many popular and successful games that it’s fairly hard to count. Nintendo’s blade, bomb and boomerang wielding hero Link will return for his first original franchise entry on the Wii U console.
Why will it be awesome?
Only formally unveiled during E3 2014, very little has so far been revealed about the new upcoming Zelda title. However as with other entries in the franchise, what we can expect is a great deal of adventuring, a vast amount of puzzles, and the return of Link’s horse Epona. It has also been stated that development of the new game has proceeded with the intention of making many elements of the gameplay “Unique” compared to other instalments in the series. We can be fairly sure as a result of this that the new Zelda title will not only return fans of the series to familiar gameplay, but offer something altogether new and different from previous games in the franchise. While a definitive release date has not yet been announced, the last news regarding this subject emphasized a 2015 release, most likely in the last quarter.
Final Fantasy XV – Square Enix – TBA – PS4, Xbox One
“Personally, I’m working on 15 to make it the most emotional Final Fantasy title that I’ve worked on”, “My goal is to have people play Final Fantasy 15, and for them to think this is the best Final Fantasy they’ve ever played.” – Hajime Tabata, Final Fantasy XV director
The Final Fantasy series is another one of those iconic Video Game franchises that as a gamer you’ve very likely heard of, seen, or played for yourself. Can a series with fifteen main entries (not including expansions and spin-offs) still appear relevant, and more importantly still appeal? Given that the previous major single player instalment Final Fantasy XIII managed to spawn an entire trilogy (despite mixed reactions), the Final Fantasy franchise still appears to be going strong. The upcoming Final Fantasy XV was originally planned as a spin-off for XIII and began development as early as 2006 under the title Final Fantasy Versus XIII.
Why will it be awesome?
It would be perhaps unwise to launch into a lot of detail about the gameplay you might expect to experience from XV. Having been in development for so many years now, many aspects of the gameplay and setting have changed significantly over time. What can be said is that the game currently looks superb graphically. The collection of trailers released since the formal announcement of XV have shown some fairly wacky, yet dynamic combat as well as the stunningly visceral city of Lucis, a major setting in the game. What we do know about XV is that in many ways it will return to the roots of the Final Fantasy franchise. There will be a massive open world to explore, with the player driving a car in certain sections as well as the possibility for the return of a staple form of transport in the series, airships. Final Fantasy XIII received notable criticism for its linear, corridor traversing setting. XV clearly sets out to remedy this by containing such a large world to explore. It is unclear at present when exactly Final Fantasy XV will be released, though a playable demo known as Episode Duscae was bundled with Final Fantasy Type-0 HD and released on March 20th. At the moment we can optimistically hope for a release in the final quarter of 2015, though this is by no means a guarantee.
While these five titles are among the most promising and anticipated upcoming games, there remains a huge list of great looking games yet to come out in 2015.
Other titles you should look out for:
- Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number – Dennaton Games – 11th March – PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, PS4, PS Vita
- Battlefield Hardline – Visceral Games – 19th March – PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Pillars of Eternity – Obsidian Entertainment – 26th March – PC, Mac, Linux
- Bloodborne – From Software – 27th March – PS4
- Mortal Kombat X – NetherRealm Studios – 14th April – PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- The Elder Scrolls Online – ZeniMax Online Studios – 19th June – PS4, Xbox One
- Assassin’s Creed Victory – Ubisoft Quebec – TBA Q3/Q4 2015 – PC, PS4, Xbox One
- Halo 5: Guardians – 343 Industries – TBA Q3/Q4 2015 – Xbox One
- Just Cause 3 – Avalanche Studios – TBA Q4 2015 – PC, PS4, Xbox One
- Killing Floor 2 – Tripwire Interactive – TBA 2015 – PC, Linux, PS4
- No Man’s Sky – Hello Games – TBA 2015 – PC, PS4
- Persona 5 – Atlus – TBA 2015 – PS3, PS4
- Quantum Break – Remedy Entertainment – TBA 2015 – Xbox One
- Rise of the Tomb Raider – Crystal Dynamics – TBA Q4 2015 – Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Star Wars: Battlefront – DICE – TBA Q4 2015 – PC, PS4, Xbox One
- Tom Clancy’s The Division – Ubisoft – TBA 2015 – PC, PS4, Xbox One
- Torment: Tides of Numenera – inXile Entertainment – TBA Q4 2015 – PC, Mac, Linux
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Naughty Dog – TBA 2015 – PS4
- Xenoblade Chronicles X – Monolith Soft – TBA 2015 – Wii U