2011 is shaping up to be a great year for video games. Here at Shacknews we've pored over the treasure trove of titles coming this year and each picked out a select few games to highlight. It's up to Garnett to close it out with his most anticipated of 2011.
BOOM widget 137142Guild Wars 2: Guild Wars earned a loyal following for being the online multiplayer RPG that wasn't trying to be World of Warcraft (WoW). Buy the game, create your character, and play with friends without forking over a monthly fee. Adventures all took place in instances, unique versions of the world created for your group, as opposed to the massive world of WoW. And the game did a nice job of creating both a rich set of PvE quests and PvP arenas.
Along with expected jump in presentation quality from building the game on a new, modern engine, the upcoming sequel packs a number of intriguing innovations. Among them, their plan for dynamic events in the game world stands as one of those things that could be a real game changer if they can pull it off. These involve situations in the adventure, the outcome of which is not fixed. So what happens when they occur leads to a number of potential outcomes. In the demo I saw at PAX last year the ramifications were massive. The team also plans cool support tools, like the iPhone and Android app I also saw there that lets players see what's happening and talk to their buddies in-game anytime, anywhere.
BOOM widget 138783The Lord of the Rings: War in the North: Developer Snowblind Studios created two of my favorite loot-hunt action rpgs: Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath. I've hoped they'd make something similar since the beginning of this generation. It's taken a while but Lord of the Rings: War in the North looks like that game. While the perspective has changed some, bringing the camera in closer to the character making it more like a third-person action game, and the action looks like classic dungeon crawl fare.
With the growing separation of time since the movies, Snowblind has also been given some leeway with the license. The game creates its own new fiction around the events Tolkien mentions in the books about the eponymous war in the north, and it will likely be the first game for the franchise to sport an M rating. With a beautiful looking game world, characters built to support one another adventuring co-op, and whole new realm of Middle Earth to plunder, I expect to lose a lot of time to this one.
BOOM widget 340106Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception: As a longtime Tomb Raider fan, I initially held plenty of skepticism for Uncharted. The first game, though, won me over with its Spielbergian flair for the action and the second perfected the formula, resulting in one of my favorite games of all time.
Lawrence of Arabia and the Crusades provide fertile ground for the historic mysteries developer Naughty Dog plays off of to fuel Drake's adventures in his third outing.
The team plans major upgrades to the hand-to-hand fighting system, which would be a welcome addition to the game. Fun as the gunplay has been in the first two games, Drake needs to add that brawler element to his repertoire if he is to completely capture the Indiana Jones mystique. To go with the fighting skills, Drake also gets a major upgrade in his climbing and acrobatic skills, backed up with new attention to animation so that he looks more natural than ever clamoring around the environment.
BOOM widget 124853Torchlight 2: I thought long and hard about putting Diablo III in this spot. Honestly, I think even taking into account the time I spent in WoW that I've spent more hours of my life playing Diablo 2 than any other game. I love it. But realistically, I don't think Diablo III comes out this year and you know what, it doesn't matter. (Also, StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm was skipped for this feature because it's not expected in 2011, sadly.)
Torchlight already made me forget about it once and from the plans I've seen for the sequel, my memory may get wiped for even longer this time around.
Torchlight 2 brings the one thing missing from the first game: online multiplayer co-op. It's the perfect fit for spending hours in the game's randomly generated levels. There's literally no end to the potential. The development team at Runic Games has also benefited from the work they've done creating a console version of Torchlight for XBLA. The results should pay off in an even smoother interface for Torchlight 2.
BOOM widget 128566Mass Effect 3: I couldn't put the first Mass Effect down. Its intergalactic struggle pitting all of civilization against an ancient threat known as the Reapers provided the stuff of legend. The second game, though, wandered some for me. With this supposed final chapter of the saga I'm hopeful BioWare finds the magic balance with story, characters, and action.
From early looks, the Reavers appear to be right in the thick of things this time around, which bodes well. The biggest draw, though, comes from the prospect of all consequences to my character's decisions in the prior two games coming home to roost. I've played her (yes, her. My Shepard is a bad ass) in a no-nonsense, get the job done, mostly does the right thing--at least when it benefits her--sort of way. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing if the game lives up to its promise and how it holds her accountable.
That does it for our most anticipated titles of 2011. In case you don't see something you're looking forward to, make sure to look back at the rest of the staff's selections.