Confirmed or highly likely releases
Below, we list some of the most noteworthy games expected to arrive in 2014. Release dates are provided when known. Games exclusive to a single platform are marked below.
Age of Wonders III Watch trailer(s)
Triumph Studios | tbd early 2014 for PC
The last installment in the Age of Wonders fantasy turn-based strategy series came way back in 2002, but, after a delay from its original fall 2013 target date, the next version looks ready to reach PCs early this year, thanks to a cash infusion from Minecraft creator Markus Persson. Much of the original development team is still involved, and longtime fans will find many changes, including full 3D graphics, additional RPG-like elements, and much more in what the studio has described as "the largest game in the series."
Alien: Isolation Watch trailer(s)
Sega | tbd late 2014 for PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1 / PC
The last time we featured a game based on the Alien film series in one of our previews, this was the unfortunate result. We have higher hopes for Isolation, which comes from a different developer (The Creative Assembly, best known for the Total War series), uses the original 1979 film for inspiration, and (appropriately enough) moves into the survival horror/stealth genres, rather than serving as yet another shooter. Set 15 years after the events in Alien, the single-player game focuses on the character of Ellen Ripley's daughter Amanda, who is alone and trying to remain alive while hunted by a single xenomorph. Early reports suggest a tense, claustrophobic, and unnerving experience. Note that despite its presence on the other next-gen consoles, Isolation will not be released for the Wii U.
Bayonetta 2 Watch trailer(s)
Nintendo | tbd for Wii U
While the first hack-and-slash Bayonetta game was released for the 360 and PS3, the sequel is headed to Nintendo's Wii U as an exclusive (which didn't exactly make fans of the previous game very happy). Platinum Games remains as developer (Nintendo is only consulting), and the new game will retain the first's emphasis on combat, combat, and more combat, while adding a new two-player mode.
Microsoft | tbd for XB1
While Sony has been touting the PS4 as the console of choice for indie developers, the Xbox One isn't exactly bereft of indie titles. Perhaps the most anticipated such XB1 game in the coming year is Below, an extremely stylish roguelike from Capybara Games, the studio behind the hit mobile/PC game Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. Details about the new game are scarce—the studio wants the story to be a secret—but the atmospheric, top-down adventure is said to be extremely difficult (permanent death doesn't help matters), and it will feature an original score by Jim Guthrie. Below is expected to be ported to additional platforms at a later date.
Broken Age Watch trailer(s)
Double Fine Productions | January 14 (Part 1) / tbd May (Part 2) for PC
An old-school point-and-click adventure game funded through Kickstarter (collecting a then-record $3.3 million despite asking for a mere $400,000), Broken Age comes from Tim Schafer, a legendary game designer behind some of the classics in the adventure genre (including the Monkey Island series and Grim Fandango). The story centers on two child characters (you'll switch between both): a girl who is expected to be sacrificed to a monster by her town, and a boy who is bored with life on an AI-controlled spaceship. The extra money has been used to make the game far more detailed and ambitious than originally planned, and the likes of Elijah Wood, Pendleton Ward, Wil Wheaton, Jennifer Hale, and Jack Black have been enlisted to provide voices. The game is expected to be released in two parts, with the first arriving this week (via Steam Early Access) and the second following in May. Regardless of how it turns out, Broken Age will be remembered as the project that kickstarted the Kickstarter craze for game development, and you'll see several other crowd-funded projects that followed its lead listed below.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Watch trailer(s)
Konami | February 25 for PS3 / XB360 / PC
This sequel to the 2010 action-adventure game Castlevania: Lords of Shadow comes from the same studio (MercurySteam) and centers on Dracula as he faces a new nemesis. In a switch for the franchise, much of the game will take place in an open world, modern-day city, though you'll still get to spend some time in Dracula's castle. Note that the PC version is reported to be "almost like a next-gen version"—in other words, you may want to skip the console versions and grab the PC release. MercurySteam is expected to move on from the Castlevania franchise after this game, with reports surfacing of a secretive new project for next-gen consoles.
Child of Light Watch trailer(s)
Ubisoft | tbd for PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1 / PC / Wii U
Featuring visuals "inspired by the art style of Studio Ghibli" (though not associated with the Japanese animation masters in any way), Child of Light comes from some of the development team behind Far Cry 3 and blends RPG elements with 2D, side-scrolling platforming. You control a 19th century Austrian girl named Aurora, who wakes up in a mythical world where the sun, moon, and stars have been stolen by an evil queen; a co-op multiplayer mode adds control of that glowing blue orb (technically, a firefly), above.
The Crew Watch trailer(s)
Ubisoft | tbd for PS4 / XB1 / PC
Ready to put your next-gen console through its paces to see what it can do? Why not take The Crew out for a spin. Designed from the ground up for the new hardware, this new open-world racing game is set in the United States—by that, we mean the entire country. (It'll take you 90 minutes to drive coast to coast.) A single-player campaign mode features missions that involve infiltrating criminal organizations, but The Crew also offers online multiplayer for racing against friends and strangers.
D4 (Dark Dreams Don't Die)
Microsoft | tbd for XB1
No relation to the video game D2, the Xbox One-only D4 is an episodic, noir-ish mystery from one of the creators of Deadly Premonition. The third-person adventure game finds you cast as a man investigating his wife's murder, an event so traumatic that you can't remember it—though you do suddenly have the ability to travel through time. D4 features cel-shaded visuals reminiscent of a graphic novel, and all controls are done via Kinect—think "point and speak" instead of "point and click"—so there's no need to pick up a controller.
Dark Souls II Watch trailer(s)
Namco Bandai | March 11 for PS3 / XB360 | tbd spring for PC
A sequel to the notoriously challenging 2011 action-RPG game Dark Souls, Dark Souls II retains the previous game's controls and extreme difficulty level, but puts you in a world that's twice as large. (It's a completely different setting than the prior game.) Sure, the early going is reported to be "more accessible" to newcomers, but rest assured that the game was designed to be hard. Note that while the PC release has been delayed slightly, the PC version should be much stronger out of the gate than the previous game (which required modding to improve the graphics).
Destiny Watch trailer(s)
Activision | September 9 for PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1
Easily one of the year's most-anticipated games, Destiny is the first post-Halo project for newly independent studio Bungie—which means it's also the first Bungie game in ages not exclusive to Microsoft consoles. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has spread out throughout the solar system but is now on the brink of collapse. Yes, Destiny is another sci-fi, first-person shooter—so far, nothing new—but its scope seems far more ambitious, with a massive, constantly growing, online persistent world (and a timeframe spanning a full decade) for you to shoot your way through, either alone or with friends online. Bungie calls that a "shared-world shooter"; we call it a Halo MMORPG. (And, no, there's no monthly fee.) Even the music will be big, with Paul McCartney collaborating on the score. Look for a beta this summer prior to the early fall release.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Nintendo | February 21 for Wii U
Delayed from its original late 2013 release date, Tropical Freeze is the first Donkey Kong release for the Wii U platform and the first in HD. Developed by the team behind 2010's solid Donkey Kong Country Returns, the new game is a side-scrolling platformer featuring all of your favorite Kongs (assuming that your favorites fall in the group of Donkey, Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky), who must fight their way across multiple islands—and, for the first time in years, underwater—to return to their home island, which has been frozen over by evil animal Vikings.
Dragon Age: Inquisition Watch trailer(s)
EA | tbd Q3 for PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1 / PC
The third major release in BioWare's fantasy action-RPG series (following 2009's Dragon Age: Origins and 2011's lesser Dragon Age II), Inquisition should land on both previous- and next-generation consoles (plus PC) this fall. The developer aims to blend gameplay elements of both prior releases in a world that is much larger than either predecessor (though still not as open as competitor Skyrim). Combat and romance have been overhauled, and there will be more customization compared to DA2.
Dying Light Watch trailer(s)
Warner Bros. Interactive | tbd for PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1 / PC
A new open-world survival horror title, Dying Light is set during a zombie apocalypse, allowing you to show off your running and Mirror's Edge-style parkour skills as you attempt to evade the undead. The gimmick here (aside from slick graphics on the next-gen consoles) is the game's day-night cycle. Daytime isn't so bad, with your day spent scavenging and completing various tasks. But when the sun goes down, the zombies turn fast, athletic, and aggressive, and you'll need to utilize a combination of stealth and quick-thinking to survive.
The Elder Scrolls Online Watch trailer(s)
Bethesda Softworks | April 4 for PC | tbd June for PS4 / XB1
The hugely popular Elder Scrolls franchise—which last gave us the mega-hit Skyrim—returns with its first-ever online installment. Seven years in the making, the new MMORPG predates Skyrim by a thousand years, and is by far the largest Elder Scrolls game to date, set across the entire continent of Tamriel. Note that both PC and console versions (which are delayed a few months) will carry a monthly fee of $14.99, but if the quality is close to Skyrim, it might be worth it. Can't wait until April? Beta testing is currently ongoing.
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture Watch trailer(s)
Sony | tbd for PS4
One of the more intriguing PS4 exclusives arriving this year, Rapture comes from indie studio The Chinese Room, makers of Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. The game is set in an English village after an apocalypse (make that the apocalypse), where six inhabitants remain after much of humanity has vanished. Unlike the entirely story-driven Esther, Rapture will have more interactivity (i.e., it'll be more of an actual game), with the ability to pick up and manipulate objects.
The Evil Within Watch trailer(s)
Bethesda Softworks | tbd for PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1 / PC
The latest survival horror game from the master of the genre, Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami, The Evil Within is the debut release from Mikami's new studio Tango Gameworks. The single-player game centers on a police detective suddenly transported into a world full of monsters and cruelty after the mass murder of his fellow officers. The third-person, psychological horror game is said to be gruesome, disorienting, and unnerving, and aims to balance action with storytelling.
Game of Thrones
Telltale Games | tbd for PS3 / XB360 / PC / others?
An episodic game from red-hot studio Telltale set in the world of Westeros? There might be some interest in that. Although you may have to wait until just before winter (appropriately enough) to get the first episode, this Game of Thrones will eventually span many episodes over multiple years, all the better to depict George R.R. Martin's sprawling fantasy tale. (The game will also use the HBO series as source material.) Telltale is certainly keeping busy in 2014; in addition to GoT and its acclaimed, ongoing The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us projects (which will each release multiple new episodes this year), the developer is also planning Tales from the Borderlands, a similar episodic game series based on Gearbox's Borderlands games.
Godus Watch trailer(s)
22 Cans | tbd for PC / iOS
All that banging away inside Peter Molyneux's non-game Curiosity was a mere set-up for this, the first real release from Molyneux's new studio 22 Cans and his spiritual successor to 1989's Populous. As the title suggests, the Kickstarter-funded Godus is another god game (the genre that Molyneux basically invented), in which you serve as all-powerful deity to a growing civilization of followers. The game is expected to have extensive terrain manipulation tools for use in a single-player campaign as well as competitive multiplayer modes, with an 18-year-old UK resident (the ultimate winner of Curiosity) serving as the game's overall god for a year.
Hohokum Watch trailer(s)
Sony | tbd for PS3 / PS4 / Vita
A game for exploring and relaxing rather than competing, the playful, minimalist Hohokum features a distinctive visual style courtesy of artist Richard Hogg (paired with an original soundtrack from indie label Ghostly International). Players maneuver a snake-like object known as a "Long Mover" through imaginative, surreal, and surprising worlds; early reports describe the result as "laid back," "quirky," and "charming," and a welcome change from the usual slate of releases.
Nintendo | tbd for Wii U
Want to take your favorite Legend of Zelda characters and have them hack and slash their way through Dynasty Warriors? This unexpected collaboration between Nintendo and Tecmo Koei allows you to do just that. Link will have his usual assortment of weapons to choose from, but they'll be put to good use: unlike most Zelda titles, this game is all combat, all the time. Japan will get the game (known there as Zelda Musou) this summer, but it should be out everywhere else by the end of the year.
Infamous: Second Son Watch trailer(s)
Sony | March 21 for PS4
The biggest name in Sony's PS4-exclusive lineup for 2014, Second Son is the latest open-world action game from Sucker Punch, and the third main installment in the Infamous series (following 2011's Infamous 2). Set in a totalitarian version of Seattle, the new game takes place seven years later, and centers on a new character, the young graffiti artist Delsin Rowe, who begins to discover his Conduit abilities and uses them to rebel against the repressive government regime. The new PlayStation hardware should highlight the game's motion-capture-driven visuals.
Kinect Sports Rivals Watch trailer(s)
Microsoft | tbd Q2 for XB1
It might not be Titanfall, but this is the type of game you boot up when friends and family come over and you need to show off your new Xbox One without a lot of explanation. And it looks to be an upgrade over the previous-gen version of Kinect Sports, highlighting the improved Kinect sensor's new capabilities. Events here include bowling, rock climbing, shooting, soccer, tennis, and wake racing.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Watch trailer(s)
Square Enix | February 11 for PS3 / XB360
If you're not a die-hard Final Fantasy fan, you'll be forgiven for failing to keep the franchise's various iterations straight, especially when some of the numbered versions come back around for a second (or third) helping. A direct sequel to the unhelpfully titled Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning Returns is another action-RPG, this time with a heavily retooled gameplay system and a story that picks up a mere 500 years later, concluding the FFXIII saga. Final Fantasy XIV, which is not a sequel to Final Fantasy XIII but is instead an MMORPG, also recently received a makeover (as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn); that game should be ported to the new PS4 console this spring.
Mario Kart 8 Watch trailer(s)
Nintendo | tbd Q2 for Wii U
Every Nintendo system needs a Mario Kart game, and it is finally the Wii U's turn to get one. The first HD installment in the 22-year-old racing series, Mario Kart 8 unsurprisingly features the best visuals the franchise has offered to date (not just in hi-def but at a framerate of 60 fps), while adding a few new twists—most notably, the ability to defy gravity and drive upside-down and vertically. (Technically, it is magnetism that's keeping you up there, but who needs technicalities in a game like this.) An online multiplayer mode allows up to 12 players at once.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Konami | March 18 for PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1
Another franchise that doesn't really get the whole concept of numbering, Metal Gear Solid returns with its tenth installment—and fourth in the ongoing story's chronology—so of course it has been titled Metal Gear Solid V. MGS5 will actually be divided into two separate games; this, the first (described as a "prologue" but still hopefully a full, proper game), is out in March, while concluding chapter The Phantom Pain will be released at a later (still unspecified) date. Ground Zeroes picks up a few months after the action in Peace Walker, and though it remains a blend of stealth action and adventure, gameplay is no longer linear; for the first time, MGS offers an open-world experience, with missions that can be completed in any order and by a variety of methods.
Murdered: Soul Suspect Watch trailer(s)
Square Enix | tbd for PS3 / XB360 / PC
From Airtight Games (Quantum Conundrum) comes this new action-adventure title that finds you playing as Detective Ronan O'Connor in the middle of a murder investigation. The catch? The murder you are investigating is your own. Being dead gives you a few ghostly tricks up your sleeve (think possession and mind-reading), but also forces you to deal with a variety of demonic creatures hampering (and helping) your investigation. The game has been delayed from its original early 2014 release window, but will arrive sometime after March.
The Order: 1886 Watch trailer(s)
Sony | tbd Q3 for PS4
This supernatural, steampunk-themed shooter—a PS4 exclusive—comes from Ready at Dawn, a development studio that has yet to release a game scoring lower than 84. The setting is Victorian London, albeit one where zeppelins, monorails, and wireless communication are commonplace. You play as one of a group of long-lived knights—descendants of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table—who lead humanity in an ongoing war against a group of half-men, half-beasts who have been wreaking havoc for centuries. Complicating matters are growing tensions between the lower classes and the wealthy. Fortunately, your job is made easier by new high-tech weaponry created during the Industrial Revolution.
Quadrilateral Cowboy Watch trailer(s)
Blendo Games | tbd for PC
It's not a Kickstarter project, and it doesn't come from a well-known game development superstar (though that may change), but this indie title has still managed to attract a lot of interest heading into the new year. The new puzzle game from Brendon Chung (the sole developer behind Blendo Games) is a sequel of sorts to his previous indie hits Thirty Flights of Loving and Gravity Bone, and casts you as a computer hacker in the 1980s, charged with supporting a group of agents on missions to infiltrate buildings and steal documents. Yes, you do need to learn a bit of programming to progress through the game, but it's worth it; early reports suggest Quadrilateral Cowboy is clever, and full of surprises and humor, and the game won the Grand Jury Award at last year's Indiecade festival.
The Sims 4 Watch trailer(s)
EA | tbd fall for PC
It's time to brush up on your Simlish. EA's massively successful and surprisingly compelling furniture-buying/TV-watching/house-cleaning/sleeping simulation The Sims returns for its fourth go-around this fall, and it already seems to have learned at least one lesson from the publisher's disastrous SimCity reboot: it will be a completely offline, single-player game. (Of course, your Sims 3 saves won't carry over to the new game, but that's a different story.) Sims 4 will have a greater focus on emotions—whatever those are—and will undoubtedly be followed by a half dozen expensive expansions in the coming years.
South Park: The Stick of Truth Watch trailer(s)
Ubisoft | March 4 for PS3 / XB360 / PC
You may remember this title from our 2013 game preview, but months of repeated delays (partially due to the bankruptcy of original publisher THQ) for this spin-off from the long-running Comedy Central TV series appear to be over. While there have been previous South Park-related games, The Stick of Truth is the first major release that aims to capture the outrageous R-rated fun of the TV show. The game is an RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment (Dungeon Siege III, Fallout: New Vegas) with heavy involvement from series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone (including the script and voice acting). Players control the newest kid in South Park, who will have to befriend Butters, Cartman, and the gang and fight villains such as the school's goth kids.
Sunset Overdrive Watch trailer(s)
Microsoft | tbd for XB1
This Xbox One-exclusive, open-world shooter comes from Insomniac Games, best known for their Ratchet & Clank and Resistance series. The heavily stylized and irreverent game gives you parkour-like hyper-athleticism as well as "an arsenal of kick-ass, overpowered weapons," which you'll need to battle your fellow citizens, most of whom have turned into mutants.
Super Smash Bros. U Watch trailer(s)
Nintendo | tbd for Wii U / 3DS
The first Wii U installment in the adorable-Nintendo-characters-beat-each-other-up series, the newest Super Smash Bros. game will be released concurrently for the 3DS, with both games sharing the same roster of characters (but no shared stages, and no cross-platform play—seemingly, a missed opportunity). At present, 21 characters have been confirmed, including old standbys such as Mario, Link, Kirby, Pikmin, Sonic, Pikachu, and Donkey Kong, and newcomers like Mega Man, Rosalina, and perhaps the fittest of the bunch (or perhaps the character you'd most like to punch), Wii Fit Trainer. The game will arrive sometime after the spring.
Thief Watch trailer(s)
Square Enix | February 25 for PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1 / PC
As that simple title suggests, this Thief is a reboot of the stealth action series that began back in 1998 and last gave us Deadly Shadows a full decade ago. You play once again as the master thief Garrett, who uses his wits and stealth moves to steal from the rich in a steampunk-inspired fantasy world (that also happens to be suffering from a bit of the plague). Garrett will be played by a different actor this time, whose movements were incorporated into the game via motion capture.
Titanfall Watch trailer(s)
EA | March 11 for XB360 / XB1 / PC
The single most-anticipated game of 2014 according to a variety of formal and informal polls after dominating last year's Best of E3 awards, this Microsoft-exclusive first-person shooter is the debut release from Respawn Entertainment, the new game dev studio founded by Call of Duty vets Jason West and Vince Zampella after their much publicized fall-out with Activision. More like Halo (or the forthcoming Destiny) than CoD, the fast-paced, action-filled Titanfall is set in the (dystopian) future, and features all of the advanced warfighting technology you could ask for, including jetpacks and enormous mechanized walkers—the "Titans" that give the game its name. Respawn knows that you don't care about a single-player campaign, so Titanfall is multiplayer-only, with up to 12 human players (6 against 6) sharing a battlefield (that can contain up to 48 total combatants, including AI characters). Consider this the first major shot fired in the next-gen console wars.
Tom Clancy's The Division Watch trailer(s)
Ubisoft | tbd for PS4 / XB1 / PC
If you believe a recent, unconfirmed, anonymous report—suggesting that there is so much development work left to be done that a 2014 street date is "laughable"—this game belongs in our "speculative" section, rather than in our list of likely releases. But this highly-anticipated (and highly ambitious) third-person tactical shooter/MMORPG hybrid is still on Ubisoft's 2014 schedule, for the moment. Set in a realistic-looking near-future New York City, The Division takes place after a disease outbreak has wiped out much of the country's population in less than a week. You are one of a group of government sleeper agents ("The Division") charged with restoring order after the surviving population turns lawless. (You'll get a chance to work with and against other players.) Early looks reveal some stunning visuals, and a finished product could be a nice holiday present for gamers—either this year, or next.
Supergiant Games | tbd for PS4 / PC
Supergiant Games, who previously gave us the highly acclaimed action-RPG Bastion, return with another intriguing game that—at least at first—will be available on computers and the PlayStation 4 only. Transistor combines turn-based strategy, action, and RPG elements with a sci-fi storyline that centers on a female singer who comes into possession of an intelligent sword named Transistor in a world where numerous people have gone missing. Expect great visuals and music (composer Darren Korb returns from Bastion), even if we can't tell you much else about the game yet.
Tropico 5 Watch trailer(s)
Kalypso Media | tbd April for XB360 / PC
¡El Presidente returns! For the fifth version of banana republic simulator Tropico (which blends city planning and management with politics), developer Haemimont Games has introduced several new features, in addition to giving the visuals a needed overhaul. For the first time, you'll get a chance to try out your dictatorial skills throughout different historical eras ranging from the 19th century to the 21st. Multiplayer has been added as well, with up to four players sharing an island, working either with or against each other. Other refinements include more advanced trading, research, and exploration.
Untitled Halo game
Microsoft | tbd for XB1
One of the reasons to choose an Xbox over competing consoles (for some people) can be summed up by one four-letter word. So it should come as no surprise that a new Halo game will be headed to Microsoft's new hardware within the next year. Promised for 2014 but still lacking a name or any real details to speak of (expect both to surface at E3), the new Halo project will once again come from Halo 4 developer 343 Industries, who have promised "something much more transformative" for the franchise's leap to the next-generation console, enabled by a new game engine. A Steven Spielberg-produced, live-action Halo television series is also in development for the near future.
InXile Entertainment/Deep Silver | tbd for PC
Well, we'll just come out and say it: if you're reading this, there's a good chance that the original Wasteland came out before you were born. Considered the inspiration for later series like Fallout, the original post-apocalyptic RPG continues to have its fans, however, and the result is this Kickstarter-funded sequel (to the tune of $2.9 million), arriving a mere 26 years later. Much of the original development team has been reunited for the new game, a squad-based, turn-based tactical RPG which retains the original's dark humor, if not its low-res graphics. Fortunately, you won't need a Commodore 64 or Apple II to play Wasteland 2, though you will need a bit of patience; a 2013 release date has been pushed back to sometime in 2014, though Steam Early Access members can currently sample a beta.
Watch Dogs Watch trailer(s)
Ubisoft | tbd Q2 for PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1 / PC / Wii U
A repeat from last year's preview article, Ubisoft's brand-new open-world stealth action-adventure game should finally arrive this spring. Watch Dogs centers on the character of Aiden Pearce, a gifted hacker/spy who resides in a supercomputer-dominated version of Chicago. E3 audiences were fans of an early build, thanks to its unique gameplay that combines traditional shooter mechanics with computer hacking—and with it, the ability to manipulate the city's various transportation, lighting, and communication systems to your advantage. (In an interesting multiplayer twist, you can secretly spy on and hack your fellow players too, even though Watch Dogs is mostly a single-player game.) The extra development time should translate to a better experience, and means that next-gen consoles (even the Wii U) will get the game, in addition to the 360 and PS3.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Watch trailer(s)
Warner Bros. Interactive | tbd Q2 for PS4 / XB1 / PC
The third installment in the dark fantasy action-RPG series (following 2012's highly rated The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings), Witcher 3 may or may not be the final game in the franchise, though it will bring the trilogy to an end, wrapping up the story of Geralt of Rivia in one of 36 different ways (depending on the choices you make). The new, explorable open-world setting—inspired, perhaps, by Skyrim—is reported to be 30 times larger than previous Witcher games, with some remote locations requiring transport by sailboat (unless you prefer a 40-minute horseback ride). This is a big game; expect over 50 hours of gameplay for the main story.
Number None | tbd for PS4 / PC / iOS
Indie developer Jonathan Blow's long-awaited follow-up to Braid should finally arrive early this year. The Witness, is an ambitious, maze-oriented, 3D puzzle game (self-funded by Blow, and influenced by Myst) that has players exploring an uninhabited island, solving challenges along the way to unlock additional regions and uncover more information about the island's (and the game's) mysteries. Audio logs scattered across the island will provide some clues about the overarching story, but you'll need to piece everything together yourself. Note that the game may be ported to other consoles after a limited period of exclusivity on the PS4.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
Blizzard | tbd for PC
Despite ever-declining subscription numbers—and new competition in the form of Elder Scrolls Online (above)—the king of fantasy MMORPG's keeps chugging along. Warlords of Draenor will be the fifth expansion to World of Warcraft, once again increasing the level cap (to 100) while adding the world of Draenor, original homeland of the Orcs. Character models will get a facelift, and you'll be able to build your own upgradable garrison.
Speculative: 2014 possible, 2015 more likely
The following announced but undated titles could conceivably surface before the end of 2014, but could just as easily get pushed back to 2015.
Microsoft | for XB1
Set four centuries before events in the first game, the latest Fable installment is a change in format, with four players working in a squad to take out a villain. Though meant to be played online with others, AI characters can fill out the other four roles if you play by yourself. Though there's no confirmed release date, at the very least, a beta should be playable this year.
Galactic Civilizations III
Stardock | for PC
Stardock's 4X space-based strategy franchise has gone eight years without a major refresh, but a sequel was officially announced last fall and could arrive as soon as this year. GC3 will be exclusive to 64-bit PCs, leveraging the advanced technology to offer "vastly improved visuals." The new game is being designed to support modding, and will include a far more advanced ship builder, new resource system, and other changes.
Kingdom Hearts III
Square Enix | for PS4 / XB1
The eighth Kingdom Hearts-related game and first for the new consoles, Kingdom Hearts III is officially in development, but when a finished product will surface is anybody's guess. (Our guess: 2015, since Square Enix has indicated that getting Final Fantasy XV out the door is a higher priority.) The Disney-themed RPG will again feature Sora as a protagonist—picking up his story immediately after the events in Dream Drop Distance—with Donald Duck, Goofy, and King Mickey among the other familiar faces.
The Last Guardian
Sony | for PS3?
Here's one of our most-anticipated games ... of 2011. In development since 2007 but increasingly looking like vaporware, this next-gen (now last-gen) successor to Ico and Shadow of the Colossus is "on hiatus" according to a Sony report late last year. It is unclear when (and for what platform(s)) a finished game might emerge.
The Long Dark
Hinterland | for PC
This Kickstarter-funded survival adventure game is set in the snow-covered Northern wilderness, after a mysterious atmospheric event has rendered all electronic devices useless. Gameplay emphasizes exploration and thinking over mindless shooting, and early footage reveals an appealing visual style. The developer is targeting October 2014 for a release date.
Metanet Software | for PS4
The first installment for PlayStation in the N series of extra-challenging platformers (preceded by N and N+), N++ will again feature a ninja character and physics-based platforming, with the addition of new levels and new multiplayer modes.
No Man's Sky
Hello Games | for PS4 / XB1 / PC
Made by the four-person British game design shop Hello Games (previously working exclusively in the Joe Danger series), this sci-fi exploration/FPS game wowed the gaming press when a trailer debuted at VGX 2013 late last year. Full details have yet to be revealed, but the next-gen game will feature a procedurally-generated universe (so no two planets will be alike, and you'll get to explore virgin territory each time) and will also incorporate both space-based and planet-based combat, with danger increasing the further you progress toward the center of the universe. A 2014 release might be wishful thinking, however.
Microsoft | for XB1
A third-person shooter (with some adventure/mystery elements) from Max Payne and Alan Wake creators Remedy, Quantum Break centers on three protagonists who gain the ability to manipulate time after a time travel experiment goes wrong. (When do those ever go well?) The game will be accompanied by a live-action TV show that is optional to view but will provide players with an edge in the game, allowing them to unlock additional content.
Mojang | for PC, possibly iOS
What does Mojang do to follow up its unexpected runaway hit Minecraft? The answer is: something completely different. Scrolls (not associated in any way with The Elder Scrolls) will be a Magic-style fantasy collectible card game that also borrows some elements from modern strategy board games. Though a final release date hasn't been indicated, the game has been in open beta since last summer.
Cloud Imperium Games | for PC
While Broken Age may have been the first Kickstarter game to make a big splash, space sim Star Citizen is the one that's breaking all the records. Sure, the official Kickstarter take was a mere $2.1 million, but developer Cloud Imperium Games has continued to raise money on its own site, bringing the total funding to date to an astounding $36 million (and climbing), making it easily the most successful crowdfunded project (of any kind) in history. Why all the fuss? Space is a massive place, and Star Citizen aims to capture quite a lot of it, in striking detail, taking advantage of the modern PC's technical capabilities. The simulation—incorporating trading and combat, set in a persistent, online universe in the 30th century—comes from Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts. The extra funding means (among other things) that there will be a new "Squadron 42" component with single-player and co-op multiplayer campaigns, and developers aim to continue adding content to the game on a weekly basis. The game is very tentatively scheduled for a December release, but that will likely be a beta, with a final official release arriving in early 2015.
Trials Fusion / Trials Frontier
Ubisoft | platforms tbd
Fusion will be the futuristic sequel to acclaimed motocross racing game Trials Evolution, and is expected to be released on next-gen consoles (plus PC). A companion free-to-play smartphone game, Trials Frontier, should surface at the same time.
Untitled Legend of Zelda game
Nintendo | for Wii U
Can a new Legend of Zelda game save the struggling Wii U console? We may get a chance to find out this year, though 2015 seems more likely for the first HD Zelda installment. Either way, Nintendo is expected to unveil the new game during this summer's E3 conference.
Nintendo | for Wii U
Monolith's follow-up to its acclaimed Wii title Xenoblade Chronicles is another open-world JRPG that's expected to arrive in Japan by the end of 2014, though if past releases are a guide, North American gamers won't get to see it until the following year. (That title may change as well.)
A few iOS titles to watch for
Agents of Storm is a rare iOS title for Alan Wake/Max Payne developer Remedy, offering sea-based "reverse tower defense" gameplay. ... Boom Beach is Supercell's follow-up to freemium mega-hit Clash of Clans, though the earlier game's Vikings have been replaced by conventional soldiers. ... Through the Ages will bring one of the top modern-era board games (and its map-less 4X-style gameplay) to iOS for the first time. ... Already a hit on Steam, the Magic-style card battler Hearthstone (from the creators of World of Warcraft) will make the jump to iPad this spring. ... Warhammer 40K: Armageddon brings hex-based war strategy to Apple devices later this year. ... In addition, an enhanced "Advanced Edition" version of starship simulator FTL is headed to iPads early this year. ... Arriving this summer, Exiles is a detailed sci-fi RPG from the team behind Ravensword. ... Mew-Genics is an Animal Crossing-inspired crazy cat lady simulator from the team behind Super Meat Boy ... The free-to-play Supernauts is the latest rival to Minecraft's open-world construction domination. ... An iOS port of Final Fantasy VI is also expected to hit the App Store this winter.
What will you be playing this year?
What are your most anticipated games of the coming year? Let us know in the comments section below.