I was really pleased to see that Matthew and I did not have a single game on both of our most anticipated of 2014 lists. As the feature writers for this site, it’s important for us to have a collective wide range of interests when it comes to games, and having completely different lists means two very different perspectives regarding the upcoming year in video games. But enough banter, here are the titles I’m most looking forward to in 2014. My list features a lot of action adventure games and what would be considered AAA releases, and you should note the contrast between mine and Matthew’s Most Anticipated. But mine first. Always mine first.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
A third-person shooter on the Frostbite engine based on the inexplicably popular tower defense game from PopCap? Sure, why not! I mean horde mode or wave defense or whatever this type of gameplay is called is essentially a different format of tower defense. There’s four player co-op, class skills, and other gameplay modes such as “Gardens and Graveyards” which appears to be conquest mode from Battlefield or Battlefront. Aesthetically, the game looks exactly like what PvZ would look like on Frostbite, and combat is hectic, but at the same time, balanced. This cute and stylized shooter comes out mid/late February, and looks great for any fans of the series, and any Frostbite fans impatiently waiting for Battlefront.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
The South Park RPG from Obsidian Entertainment, the RPG masters behind Knights of the Old Republic II and Fallout: New Vegas, is finally set to come out the first week of March. What instantly separates this game from earlier South Park titles, is that Trey Parker and Matt Stone were the ones to come to Obsidian with the idea, and have been involved start-to-finish with development. The creators of the show provided the script and the voices for the game, which means side-splitting dialogue from start to finish. The turn-based combat is simple to use and features over-the-top abilities and an easy-to-navigate menu system for assigning weapons and skills. An homage to South Park’s Lord of the Rings and ninja warrior episodes, and a parody of D&D and other RPG’s, The Stick of Truth is the Roshambo that games need this year. As in a good kick in the bawls.
I haven’t yet played any of the past Thief games, but as someone who enjoyed the Assassins Creed series for the most part, and as someone who plays stealth characters whenever he gets the chance, I feel like I owe it to myself to play the upcoming installment of the original stealth series when it releases in late February. The protagonist, Garrett, returns to his home city called “The City“, which is run by a tyrant called “The Baron“, and is overrun by a plague that I am surprised isn’t just called “The Plague “or “The Disease” or “The Killer Sneeze“. I’m excited for city guards and other NPC’s who are aware of their surrounding, and will search known and obvious hiding spots, and won’t just wander away after seeing one of their companions get stabbed and then mysteriously disappear. And the emphasis on avoiding violence is quite welcome, as standing in a circle of 12 enemies waiting to slay them in string of counterattacks doesn’t really scream “stealth.” Why no, I’m not mentioning any game in particular, why do you ask?
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Yes, the last time Lord of the Rings came out with a gritty and bloody action RPG it left a bad taste in your mouth, and no, I’m not talking about that orc blood you just licked, Gimli. War in the North had a lot of problems: the enemies’ difficulty ranged from “can be killed blindfolded” to “keyboard smashingly impossible”, the process of becoming more powerful which is typical in RPG’s doesn’t seem to be there, and the fucking talking eagle that anyone can apparently understand and converse with. But that’s why I have high hopes for Shadow of Mordor: they know what went wrong last time. The story about a wraith-like ranger seeking revenge seems interesting, and it’s being developed by Monolith, the team behind F.E.A.R. and the unappreciated Condemned: Criminal Origins. It’ll be nice to see what the team envisions Mordor looking like before the whole Sauron business. This is my pick for dark horse of the year, but since Shadowfax was white I may have to rename that accolade.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
The latest game with the late, great author’s name on it has one of the longest genre names I’ve ever seen on its Wikipedia page. According to its page, The Division is “an upcoming online multiplayer third-person tactical shooter action role-playing video game.” That’s a description with a lot of words, but it’s also a game with a ton of potential. A disease has swept the nation during Black Friday, revealing how vulnerable the United States really is, or was in this instance. You are a member of the Strategic Homeland Division, or just the Division, tasked with combating the threat, and saving whoever’s left. The Division looks absolutely stunning on the next-gen Snowdrop engine, and it’s a game that emphasizes teamwork and cooperation since other groups are just as dangerous as the infected. If you haven’t seen the seven minute gameplay trailer from E3, I’d go watch it. I got so caught up in it just now I missed checking in for my flight. Position B34 is worth it though.
*A UbiSoft employee says the The Division is far from being ready, and that UbiSoft’s public announcement of a 2014 release date is “laughable.” But since 2014 is official according to UbiSoft, it gets a spot on the list.
GIVE ME MY GOD DAMN NEOTECH-CHICAGO SET ACTION ADVENTURE GAME RIGHT NOW. This beautiful game where everything and anything is hackable needs to come out as soon as possible. Ubisoft does a wonderful job creating a rendition of Chicago that is both true to the city’s lore and heavily integrated with new connective technologies at every street corner, building, and neighborhood. Missions are generated organically, so when your face tracking software picks up on a potential victim or criminal, you can tail them to intervene in a potential crime. How reckless and efficient you are determines your reputation around the city, and how the citizens of Chicago will react to you. Each mission gives a variety of methods by which to accomplish it, and it isn’t limited to just “guns blazing” or basic stealth. It also has one of the coolest features I’ve ever seen in any game, the ability for a player to enter into another player’s single player experience undetected, and attempt to download a significant portion of that player’s information through hacking, prompting an on-the-fly race against time for whoever is being targeted. Homerism is what got me excited about Watch_Dogs in the first place, being from Chicago, but now that I’ve seen what the game is actually all about, I can’t wait.
Obviously I’m not looking forward to solely six games. There are other titles such as Titanfall, Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny, Homefront 2, and The Order: 1866 that I’ll be keeping watch on. We can never be sure that all of these games will be released in 2014, such as The Division for example, but for now we can keep our fingers crossed.