Most Anticipated 2014: Steve's Picks

By Steve Watts, Jan 10, 2014 11:20am PST

There's a lot to be excited for in the new year, like y'know--VIDEO GAMES. The Shacknews staff pick their most anticipated games of 2014. Next up is east coast editor Steve Watts.


Infamous: Second Son

Sucker Punch Productions | PS4

Cole MacGrath is dead; long live Delsin Rowe! It's not often a protagonist feels long in the tooth so quickly, but after only two Infamous games, I was glad Cole met his end. His dull-as-dishwater moody guy schtick felt more at home in a shopping mall food court, and was the one annoying distraction from the sheer fun of toying with superpowers in a city sandbox. By ditching him altogether and embracing a new hero, I'll be able to settle in enjoy the tightly responsive action the series has gained a reputation for providing. Deslin even smiles sometimes!

He also comes with new powers that vary during the course of the game, which should stave off any feelings of repetitive action. The premise of a police state cracking down on superpowered individuals satisfies the comic nerd in me, and Deslin's power-borrowing mechanic is straight out of X-Men. Plus it helps, of course, that Second Son is one of the more gorgeous showpieces for the PlayStation 4, and I'm curious to see what Sucker Punch does with its newfound hardware muscle and a sense of scale.


The Elder Scrolls Online

Zenimax | Xbox One, PS4, PC

I've never gotten immersed in an MMORPG. Sure, I've dabbled here and there--experimented at parties when people were passing around the WoW or DCUO. But the addictive, one-more-raid feeling has never caught on, so the genre never stuck with me beyond a bit of early-level grinding. I want to know what it's like to feel utterly hooked, and Elder Scrolls might just fit the bill.

I'm as skeptical as many about the full-price model, and Bethesda has certainly had some shaky technical hiccups with its games. But what can I say? Hope springs eternal. My brief hands-on at a preview event felt comparable to playing Skyrim, one of my favorite RPGs in years. If TESO can capture that magic, but set it in a massive world that lets me play alongside my friends, I'm certainly on-board.


Destiny

Bungie | Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4

Halo: Reach was Bungie's swan song for the series that made it famous, and in hindsight, it informed what would come next from the studio. The player customization wasn't as deep as its upcoming game Destiny, but the pieces were in place. Reach even let you use your created character across single- and multiplayer, a precursor to the more seamless experience offered by the new generation of consoles.

In short, this looks to be the culmination of Bungie's ambition with Halo: a massive, sci-fi world, player characters, and the removal of barriers between play modes. On top of that, it seems to take a few notes from Borderlands, in how it handles friendly co-op and its class system. I'm a little uneasy with the world, since Bungie's lore tends to be dense to the point of impenetrable, but as long as I'm allowed to gun down enemies and score loot, I'll be satisfied.


Dragon Age: Inquisition

BioWare | Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, PC

After a disastrous (or okay-ish, depending on who you ask) second installment, BioWare took a step back from Dragon Age. The resulting long development cycle for Inquisition is giving the series the time it needs to breathe. And though we've only seen glimpses so far, the extra prep time in the oven will be worth it. BioWare appears to be listening to its biggest fans and harshest critics--often the same people--and crafting an experience that combines the best qualities of both of its previous Dragon Age games. Multiple races! Playable Qunari! Deeper customization! Tactical view!

At the same time, it isn't resting on its laurels. With critically acclaimed RPGs like Skyrim and The Witcher gaining notoriety, Inquisition seems to be stepping up its game to compete on those fronts as well. Elements like a larger and more expansive open world, and the ability to make choices that have a notable impact on that world, are welcome changes. It also promises a form of story importing to reward us for having played through the previous installments. Even romances seem to be getting a bit more mature and realistic, showing a sign that the medium is growing up. The wait has been long enough, and now I'm eager to jump back in.


Transistor

Supergiant Games | PS4, Linux, Mac, PC

If there's one thing Supergiant Games debut Bastion proved, it's that the studio knows how to make games with style. Transistor is largely a continuation of that, showcasing the studio's aesthetic without feeling too redundant. Between the beautiful visuals, self-aware narrator, and melancholy music that is tied to the narrative, Transistor is very much a continuation of Bastion's best qualities. I also just enjoy when developers fall into the auteur role, creating a distinct mark that can only come from them.

All that said, it would be easy for Supergiant to simply pump out another Bastion. Instead, Transistor takes those stylistic touches and applies them to an entirely new combat system. The pause-and-plan pacing has more in common with Dragon Age or Vagrant Story than the action-heavy Bastion, and with its flair for weaponry that wrinkle alone could give the combat much more substance. Bastion was an amazing freshman effort, and Transistor looks like it will show that Supergiant has more than one great idea.

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