Lists… everybody loves lists. Since E3 is still so far away, and likely to feature mainly next generation console specifics, I figured the start of the new year would be a perfect opportunity to let you guys know what games are worth looking into. While not all these games are releasing in 2013, they are still certainly worth following through development. Also, I tried to avoid the obvious choices like BioShock Infinite and God of War: Ascension because you’re gamers, you know what Triple-A franchises to look out for. The games that made it onto this list are either attempting to create innovative gameplay mechanics, reinvigorating a dying franchise, or are new IPs that simply command your attention. There might (definitely) also be a sequel or two thrown in just in case you understandably forgot about their existence. Without further ado, let’s list away! (Disclaimer: Most of the trailers are for “M” rated games and will require YouTube age verification before watching.)
1) Watch Dogs: Developed by Ubisoft Montreal (Target Release Date- TBD) Published by Ubisoft
Revealed at last year’s E3, and quite frankly a complete show stealer for me, was Ubisoft’s upcoming new IP Watch Dogs. Taking place in the fictional “Windy City”, players are put inside the head of protagonist and hacker extraordinaire, Aiden Pearce. Pearce is what’s known as a “Technomancer”, capable of hacking into the interconnected information networks that encompass everything inside this near-future world’s single data network. (I’m not sure which city official thought it was a great idea to create a system where all the sensitive information and personal data for an entire city is kept under one centralized network, but just go with it.)
From what’s been shown so far, Pearce appears to be a vigilante, hunting down his targets and using lethal means if necessary to take them down. These “lethal means” can include anything from hacking traffic lights to cause car accidents, to simply jamming electronic devices. While Pearce’s abilities will be limited at the start of the game, Ubisoft intends to offer players an incredible amount of control over the entire city as the story progresses.
Why you should be interested: Watch Dogs takes the open-world experience to the next level. What really caught my eye, other than the gorgeous visuals and interesting premise, were the words of Ubisoft Creative Director Jonathan Morin, who said, “In Watch Dogs, anything connected to the city’s Central Operating System becomes a weapon. By pushing the boundaries, we can provide players with action and access to information on a scale that’s never been seen in a video game before.” Aside from the ambitiousness of the project, I’m always welcoming of new IPs in a world infected by sequel-itis.
2) Remember Me: Developed by DONTNOD Entertainment (Target Release Date- May 2013) Published by Capcom
The year is 2084. The place is Neo-Paris. People live in a world where memories can be digitized, and thus become a commodity; perhaps even a currency. And as with all commodities, there are those who wish to own and control them. Enter Nilin, an ex-memory hunter who possesses the ability to hack into people’s minds and extract, delete, or even alter an individual’s memories. Under mysterious circumstances, Nilin wakes up in a cell with her own memory erased and upon escaping, finds herself being hunted by the very corporation she was working for.
A third-person action adventure title that looks like a hybrid of Uncharted and the Arkham series, Remember Me is both an exaggerated cautionary tale of the dangers of social networks, as well as the mystery of a young woman on a mission to recover her identity. It’s also another fresh idea, this time from the minds at DONTNOD.
Why you should be interested: Remember Me’s combat is certainly more than a little reminiscent of Rocksteady’s Batman games, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Add in the thrilling set piece escape sequences of Uncharted and you have a non-stop adrenaline pumping action game that has to be fun to play. Personally though, the aspect I’m hoping takes center stage are the “Memory Remix” sequences, which really has unlimited potential from a narrative perspective. These sections put Nilin inside the minds of her targets, letting her see and manipulate their memories, therefore changing their current-day state of mind. I think seeing the after-effects of hacking someone’s memories is an immensely interesting concept.
3) Tomb Raider: Developed by Crystal Dynamics/Eidos Studios- Montreal (Target Release Date- March 5) Published by Square Enix
While it’s by no means a new IP, developer Crystal Dynamics certainly intends to freshen up Lara Croft’s backstory in this gritty origin tale that will “craft this Croft” into the woman we all know (and dream about. Be honest.) I’m sure most of you have seen enough about this game already to have an idea of what it’s all about, so I’ll just recap: Teenager Lara Croft is on a group expedition that gets shipwrecked, after which she is separated from her group and left to fend for herself on an island teeming with dangers. If she wants to get out alive, she’s going to have to learn how to survive, by any means necessary.
Why you should be interested: A couple reasons actually. One, the story is being written by Rhianna Pratchet, daughter of fantasy novelist Terry Pratchet. Her credentials extend well past her lineage, however, as she has worked on titles such as Mirror’s Edge and Prince of Persia. What’s more, from all her interviews she appears to be incredibly invested in this character, and I think the dialogue and narrative will reflect that. Secondly, Tomb Raider promises to make survival a key aspect of the entire experience, something sorely lacking in many “survival” games. If all the pieces fall into place, it could be an experience to remember.
4) Beyond: Two Souls: Developed by Quantic Dream (Target Release Date- TBD) Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
Heavy Rain was, if nothing else, a strongly narrative-focused endeavor. In fact, Quantic Dream’s emphasis on story and secondary approach to gameplay may have been their greatest flaw. So what happens when you take that commitment to storytelling and add immersive gameplay mechanics? Well, you get Beyond: Two Souls, otherwise known as “that game with Ellen Page.”
Beyond stars protagonist Jodie Holmes (Page), a woman who is granted supernatural abilities via her psychic connection to an invisible spirit named Eiden. (Pronounced as “eye-den” and not like Watch Dogs’ Aiden) The game will play out across many years as players experience the most impactful moments of Holmes’ life and make decisions that will alter her future and ultimately decide her, and Eiden’s, fate.
Why you should be interested: Ellen Page is a wonderful actress and does bring a sort of instant credibility to the project. Combine that with Quantic Dream’s passion for storytelling and it seems like a match made in heaven. For anyone who loves to get sucked in and emotionally attached to the characters they play as, this one is most certainly for you. Also, bonus points for any game starring a female protagonist that is backed by solid writing and avoids stereotypical clichés.
5) Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2: Developed by Konami (Target Release Date- TBD 2013) Published by Konami
It’s hard to delve too much into the story, or even a synopsis for that matter, of the next entry in the Lords of Shadow series without dropping some major spoilers for the first game. So for now I’ll just say this: The first game was the best attempt at a 3-D Castlevania title ever and is worth playing for fans of the series. For those unafraid of spoiler territory, I’ll still include a teaser trailer for the game.
Why you should be interested: The combat in Lords of Shadow is fun and engaging, and the story is even more compelling than that. Given the added “vampiric” elements the teaser seems to show off, as well as the modern day setting, I have absolutely no idea what I’m in for when this game starts. And that’s just the way I like it.
6) Pikmin 3: Developed by Nintendo (Target Release Date- May 1) Published by Nintendo
Alright, I know these past two games have been sequels, but that last one was a great reboot to one franchise and this one is a reinvigoration of another. I feel like it’s been an eternity since Pikmin 2 came out. I mean, it was a Gamecube game, right? Does anyone even remember what those looked like? Hopefully, cube-ish. Well, much like twins, Pikmin skipped a generation (That rerelease of the original doesn’t count because I said so) but now it’s back and looking better than ever.
Technically a real-time strategy game, for those who don’t know, Pikmin centers around these tiny plant-like creatures called Pikmin. These Pikmin come in various color, each color signifying a unique set of attributes. The purpose of the game is usually either to collect treasure, or to collect the pieces of a broken space shuttle so that Captain Olimar, the guiding hand controlling the Pikmin via a whistle, can get back home. While simplistic in idea, the game becomes fun when coordinating actions using various groups of Pikmin.
Why you should be interested: I’m not quite sure Pikmin is too concerned with story continuity; but so long as Olimar, Louie, and friends are on a planet filled with treasure, hungry Bulbmin, and adorable Pikmin, that’s really all that matters. The game looks great running on the Wii U’s graphics engine, and this is one of those games that you have to assume the GamePad was specifically created for. This should be one of the reasons you bought a Wii U in the first place, but even if not, it’s at least one major reason to keep it.
7) Injustice: Gods Among Us: Developed by NeatherRealm Studios (Target Release Date- April 16) Published by Warner Bros. Interactive
With the well-justified recent success of the Mortal Kombat reboot, it should come as no surprise that Warner Bros. Interactive would be interested in taking another crack at a fighting game starring the legendary staples of the DC Universe. This time, however, NeatherRealm Studios plans on delivering an experience that will get fans riled up in a good way.
Without delving into spoiler territory, the story begins after Superman suffers a heavy loss that impacts him emotionally. Eventually, the line between hero and villain blurs and characters split up into opposing factions. From then on, it becomes a battle for survival as these super powered “gods” become the threat mankind has always feared.
Why you should be interested: Besides the fact the NeatherRealm did an incredible job with the last MK game, this game features an impressive roster and some pretty awesome design. With characters like Solomon Grundy and Nightwing, to Cyborg and Harley Quinn, and of course Wonder Woman and Superman, Injustice seems to be pulling out all the stops to ensure fans get all the fanservice they’re craving. The interactive, multi-layered stages are also a nice touch to ensure the game feels fresh every time two new characters enter the arena.
8) The Last of Us: Developed by Naughty Dog Studios (Target Release Date- May 7) Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
After a modern plague wreaks havoc on mankind, few survivors are left to make sense of the tragic apocalypse. In the aftermath, protagonist Joel is a black market dealer selling weapons and drugs who, through unknown circumstances, promises a lifelong friend he will protect a teenage girl named Ellie. But it’s not easy protecting someone when every day is a fight for your own survival, with such luxuries as food, water, and shelter being so hard to secure. As the two journey throughout the US, they will encounter those infected by the plague while simultaneously trying to escape military capture.
Why you should be interested: Naughty Dog’s first new IP after finishing their Uncharted trilogy on consoles, this action title is shaping up to be as exciting as any of Nathan Drake’s adventures. While story details are being kept tightly under wraps, the gameplay and character interactions are more than enough to prove this game is worth checking out. Plus, Ashley Johnson, one of my favorite female voice actresses, is playing the part of Ellie, and is sure to provide the character with an emotional core that will keep you invested from start to finish.
9) Project X Zone: Developed by Monolith Software (Target Release Date- Summer 2013) Published by Namco Bandai
We recently mentioned how Project X Zone was finally getting the localization treatment in various regions, and there’s good reason for that. Blending grid-based strategy with rhythmic button taps to pull of various combos and special moves, PXZ is a slice of mashup heaven just waiting to be played.
PXZ includes characters from Namco Bandai, Sega, and Capcom, coming together. How you ask? The usual way; a rift in time and space suddenly appears, opening a doorway across the various universes. From there on out it’s the player’s job to find out what caused the rift as well as stopping any antagonist team-ups from destroying everything.
Why you should be interested: Project X Zone is the first time so many companies have been able to create a major crossover without any licensing issues and fowl play from any side. Aside from politics, you should play the game because it’s one of those 3DS titles that show why the DS is such a great concept to begin with. Plus, you know you’ve always wanted to see Ulala and Ryu kick the crap out of Astaroth.
10) Deadpool: Developed by High Moon Studios (Target Release Date- TBD 2013) Published by Activison
The guys and gals at High Moon Studios deserve serious praise for the work they’ve done reinvigorating the Transformers series with their Cybertron games. But now that they’ve turned their attention to Deadpool, I can only assume things are about to get a lot more outrageous. Details on the game’s story are pretty light, but I can promise you it will definitely include chimichangas. And probably some X-Men cameos. But mostly chimichangas.
Why you should be interested: Deadpool is being voiced by voice acting royalty Nolan North (of Uncharted fame in the minds of gamers. Special shout out for being awesome as the voice of Smokescreen in Transformers Prime too!) which means you can expect that the Deadpool you know and love from the comics will be properly, and authentically, brought to life on screen. Fun Fact: Nolan North has previously voiced Deadpool in both the Hulk Vs.Wolverine animated film as well as Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Additionally, the game is rated “M” so you can expect Deadpool levels of violence and humor. Also, you should care simply because High Moon Studios really deserves your respect. They’ve proven themselves very capable of taking licensed properties and turning them into quality games.
So, that’s it. While there’s a chance not all of these games will release this year, they are all worth keeping a lookout for as their development progresses. As with any list, there are sure to be some things not on here that you’re looking forward to. Luckily, that’s what the comments section is for! Be sure to share your thoughts about these, and any other upcoming games not mentioned, that you’re looking forward to.