Some of us will agree to disagree...
4,899It’s become somewhat of a tradition for the AVForums team to have a re-cap of the year’s best games in our Game of the Year podcast, and the full list of our personal choices can be found here. But given that 2014 was somewhat of a mixed bag, with more disappointments than surprises, it’s fitting that we give ourselves something to look forward to.
The first year of any console cycle is generally quite sparse of big releases, so 2015 needs to be a bumper year to give gamers hope for the future of their new machines. So with that in mind we each picked the three games we’re most looking forward to this year, a further one we are likely to avoid, and cast our eyes over each other's picks. Let the fun begin!
No Man's Sky
Keeping the finer details of the game under wraps for this long without there being a dip in people's anticipation just proves how perfect the core design looks. It ticks all the right boxes for sci-fi fans, and even though the developers seem keen to avoid it falling into the ambient game category, I'm sure many would just love to jump in purely for the atmosphere. If they can add the depth, maybe through trading and upgrade paths, then it could be something very special.
Tom Clancy's The Division
I feel I may be setting myself up for a fall with this one. Will it look the same as the early demos? Will it have connectivity issues? Will the world be large enough? Will it even come out this year? Either way, it has the potential to scratch some of the shared world itches that Destiny didn't for me. I want a vast area to explore, some guns to collect, some accessible RPG elements and enough random occurrences for me not to get bored quickly.
The Legend of Zelda (Wii U)
Does this really need explaining? It's more Zelda, and I'm hoping that after some of the slightly workmanlike dungeons of Skyward Sword this one brings a little inspiration back. Though, even when it's not at its best, the series is still usually head and shoulders above most others. I can't wait to see the size of the world and hear that much-loved jingle when opening a chest again. It never gets old.
Second Opinion (Niall Gill)
I've become less PS4 curious and more Wii U curious in the past few months. This is one of the games that's made me that little bit more interested. I've never owned a Nintendo console outside of the Gameboy, but the Wii U looks to have a strong enough roster of games to get me involved. This is another one on that list, it looks like great fun. 'Makes a change from you complaining,' I hear on the wind...
One to Avoid - Mad Max
The source material has potential and with Avalanche developing you'd think I'd be excited, especially as they've had the courage not to bolt on a spurious multiplayer mode. But the environments of a post-apocalyptic sand-strewn wasteland shown thus far look a bit dull, and I'm worried this'll be Just Cause, but without the lush world and everything it could house. I don't want too much sand in my sandbox. I hope I'm wrong though.
Although Master Chief Collection was a let-down, the Halo 5 beta has been glorious and 343 seem to have struck the balance between maintaining that old school Halo vibe whilst bringing it in line with modern expectations. It's a lot of fun to play and I’m not sure how I’m going to cope when the beta ends.
Remedy are one of my favourite developers and I’ve loved pretty much everything they have done so far (bar some dodgy iOS stuff). Quantum Break looks like it's going to keep the streak going; futuristic sci-fi, guns and time manipulation? I'm in!
Mortal Kombat has been my favourite fighting franchise since the Mega Drive and Netherrealm brought it back in style in 2011, Mortal Kombat builds on that but visually looks fantastic and it is just as gory as ever! As it should be!
One to Avoid - Hatoful Boyfriend
I’d rather have my eyeballs scratched out by sapient pigeons than play Hatoful Boyfriend.
“Hatoful Boyfriend is an interactive text-based visual novel that follows a branching plot line, with the player's decisions determining which of the game's multiple endings they receive. The game is set in a version of Earth populated by sapient birds, and its main story follows the player character and protagonist—the only human attending St. PigeoNation's Institute, an elite school for birds—as she finds love among her avian acquaintances." What!??!
Second Opinion (Mark Botwright)
Really, you're not interested in this? Next you'll be telling me you didn't enjoy the relationship-building side stories in the visual novel Danganronpa! I was tempted to pick this up last year on the PC / Mac, but when pigeon dating hits the Vita in 2015 I'm all in; you could say I'll be *racing* to the shops. Don't judge me.
The Witcher 3
It's probably been said a lot already by everyone else, but it's a huge game to demonstrate what the PC is capable of. PC is the lead platform and it'll be a very nice change to see a AAA that is developed for PC first and consoles later. That and the story and lore of the Witcher is one that I've got plenty of time for. I’m very excited for this one.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Saying this'll come out this year is a bit of a gamble as it hasn't been confirmed yet, but I think it's safe to say we'll see it in 2015. Kojima did an unbelievable job porting Ground Zeroes to PC and it only made me more excited to play this. Not only do we get to see more of my favourite MGS characters, but we get to do it on PC.
I know it's not a game, but you can't expect me to make a 'most anticipated of 2015' list without mentioning this. Another one without a release date, but rumours are leaning towards a Summer release. I think if implemented correctly the Oculus could not only revolutionise some facets of video gaming, but how we consume a whole host of other media. I understand some people's scepticism, but it won't stop me picking up the consumer version the instant it hits the shelves.
One to Avoid - Ubisoft
After an absolutely torrid year, Ubisoft are entering 2015 with even more big-budget games on the horizon. The Division, Rainbow Six: Siege and Assassin's Creed: Victory will all be arriving in 2015 and all I can do is advise caution. If ever we needed evidence of the toxic pre-order culture in video gaming, it's Ubisoft's antics in 2014. Be very wary of Ubisoft this year, and as always, never pre-order a video game.
Second Opinion (James Thomas)
Where will the formidable Ubisoft game template take us next? Will you be forced to climb towers to unlock the square Tetris brick? Must you trail Rayman through seemingly endless back streets before being given information on the next Rabbids game? It's a good job the Ubi Art engine balances their portfolio out. That said another redeeming feature is the next Assassin's Creed is set in London. Tally bally ho, what not, toodle pip!
No Man's Sky
The ambition of Hello Games' Elite-a-like is staggering. Their mission to create a fully-explorable galaxy of procedurally-generated planets and then wrap a game around all that content sounds like the stuff of fantasy, and while No Man's Sky may ultimately pay the price for that scope; the premise alone is enough to make it my most anticipated of 2015.
While Halo 4 wasn't quite the smash hit that Bungie fans were used to, it was nevertheless still a solid single-player adventure nestled up against probably the best Halo multiplayer since 2. A brief dabble with the Halo 5 MP beta would suggest that 343 Industries is on the right track with this new instalment, finally introducing some much-needed player mobility but somehow still keeping that ponderous, weighty combat feel. Let's just ignore Master Chief Collection and hope for the best.
I know, I know, sports game, yada yada yada, but Konami's venerable franchise took a *massive* leap forward in 2014, and as long as they stay on target with this new version, FIFA finally has genuine competition at the top of the game. That can only ever be a good thing for footie fans worldwide.
Second Opinion (Ste Carter)
For me I don’t see how anyone can get excited by football games year-on-year, be that FIFA or PES. The only sports game I partake in is Madden which gives me an avenue to play something that I couldn’t necessarily go out and do in real life. What is there to get excited about each year? Better grass mechanics? New ball physics? Football games are just cash cows if you ask me…
One to Avoid - The Order 1886
Hopes were high when the setting for this steampunk shooter was revealed, but quickly dashed when actual gameplay footage emerged from that beautifully-rendered London fog. Despite the glorious presentation, The Order looks to boil down to another bunch of corridors, waist-height cover mechanics, quick-time events and swathes of monsters to shoot that vaguely remind you of Resident Evil 4. Just play that instead, it's likely still a better game.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
The best game you’ve probably never heard of. Part of the ID@Xbox program, this won over my wife and I in minutes with its frantic approach to co-op. You both play characters inside a 2D, circular spaceship, inside of which various stations controlling guns, shields, special weapons, and thrusters. The two of you then frantically jump and move around the ship, manning appropriate stations to navigate the dangerous void of space, fighting off alien robots, freeing incarcerated bunnies, and (from one screenshot) destroy immense space bears the size of planets.
This could be wonderful. Nintendo’s take on multiplayer shooters may look rather childlike with all its bright colours and squid motifs but underneath is something very clever. They’ve distilled competitive shooters and twisted them so you’re fighting each other for the environment and not headshots. They’ve done everything in their power to incentivise that, too; you swim swiftly through your own paint, your ammo recharges when submerged, and the more of the world you cover with paint the quicker your super charges. It’s as if the developers themselves are screaming “play your class!”
The Witcher 3
Last generation Witcher 2 got me. I sank a lot of time with Geralt as the combination of engrossing combat and a fascinating world grabbed me good and proper. And now, having been lucky enough to sit in on a developer session, I couldn’t be more excited by the sequel which only seems to have carried on where it left off but in a far grander style. I want to explore the swamps and trek over the mountainsides. I want to take down fantastic creatures before riding through town with them slunk over my steed. I want to be put in a world where choice means I may see something different to you.
One to Avoid - The Witness
Now I know Jonathan Blow’s follow-up to Braid is getting some attention but I’ve just not been snagged by it. I’ve no doubt the puzzles in there will be involving and at some point there will be a hugely clever twist linking them to the wider world but I can’t help but think games such as Portal or The Talos Principle are already scratching that itch. I don’t think it helps that it’s been lurking around since 2009, either, as extended development already tends to breed suspicion with me.
Second Opinion (Manny Brown)
For me, the extended gestation of an indie game gives off the exact opposite signal when it's coming from somebody like Jonathan Blow, and I suspect this will be a title refined to a polish and laced with secrets to discover. Despite the extended gestation, I'm still hopeful The Witness will carve out its own place in the modern puzzle game pantheon, though it depends on exactly how deep those Myst-like roots have taken hold.
No Man's Sky
Coming from small-scale developer, Hello Games, No Man’s Sky has the potential to be huge this year thanks to its procedurally generated planets. It’s nice to see such passion from studio founder Sean Murray which has given myself, and others, the belief that there’s more to this game than initially meets the eye. I understand why some people may have their doubts, as this could be a very solitary experience if there aren't multiple elements to the exploration and combat, but there has to be a hook in there somewhere that they haven't announced yet.
Batman Arkham Knight
As a fan of the first two games, it goes without saying that I’m hotly anticipating this one. They’ve promised bigger environments, linked together with few load screens, and access to the Batmobile. That can’t suck right? It was bad enough it’s had one delay, let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint and Rocksteady have made good use of the time. The main decision to make is whether or not to buy this on the PC or PS4...
The Order 1886
Now I may get shot down for this choice, but I’m holding out a sliver of hope for this one. Despite it looking to be reliant on quick-time events and cover mechanics of old (along with the ‘cinematic 30fps letterbox feel’) I’m hoping the story and setting are strong enough to overcome those shortcomings. The setting is what intrigues me the most and how they can blend a classic backdrop with futuristic elements, and weave a story compelling enough to make it a justifiable purchase.
One to Avoid - Halo 5
Halo is a massive franchise, and means so much to so many people, which is why I can’t help but approach this with an air of caution. With 343 taking over from Bungie, they’re clearly full of new ideas for the universe. However, did Bungie leave as Halo was running out of steam? For all the loyal fans of the series I hope not, and I’m happy to be proved wrong, I just can’t help but feel that Halo 5 will get a big build up to fall short of the mark one way or another. I mean, can Master Chief live forever?
Second Opinion (Leon Matthews)
Just so we are clear Spartans don't die; ONI only ever classifies them as MIA at the worst, so technically, yes, Master Chief will live forever! With the recent beta I think 343 have proved they are on the right track with the fundamentals of the series and seem to be applying a deft hand to the established gameplay, making sure it feels right while bringing it forwards at the same time. Single player is yet to be revealed; can they successfully continue the Chief's story without dropping the ball? I hope so.
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