Confirmed or highly likely releases
Below, we list the most noteworthy games expected to arrive in 2013. Release dates are provided when known.
Aliens: Colonial Marines Watch trailer(s)
Sega | February 12 for 360 / PS3 / PC (tbd for Wii U)
Developed by Gearbox Software (Borderlands, Duke Nukem Forever), the first Aliens-themed console game since 2010 has been in development for five years—and was included in our 2012 game preview article a year ago—but finally has a firm release date set for next month. The first-person shooter takes place between the second and third films, with locations including the second movie's planet LV-426. The story comes from Battlestar Galactica scribes Bradley Thompson and David Weddle.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Watch trailer(s)
Frictional Games | tbd early 2013 exclusively for PC
The "Amnesia" in the title (rather than the porcine portion) reveals that Machine for Pigs is a sequel to the well-received 2011 PC survival horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent 85, though the new game comes from a different development team (thechineseroom, makers of Dear Esther 75) and features completely new characters, a different setting (Victorian England, 60 years after the first game), and revised gameplay. The changes are intended to add some unpredictability for returning players without eliminating what made the first title so successful.
Nintendo | tbd 2013 exclusively for Wii U
The 2009 action title Bayonetta was released for the 360 90 and PS3 87, but, in a bit of a coup for Nintendo, this long-delayed sequel will now be a Wii U exclusive. Don't expect the violent hack-and-slash action to be toned down just because the game will be appearing on a Nintendo console. And if returning developer Platinum Games actually manages to find a clever use for the Wii U's unique GamePad controller, it could go a long way toward silencing recent criticism about the console move.
Beyond: Two Souls Watch trailer(s)
Sony | tbd 2013 exclusively for PS3
Three years ago, the PS3 title Heavy Rain 87 brought something new to gaming, with a cinematic experience heavy on narrative and visuals rather than running, shooting, and jumping. Though the game earned plenty of critical acclaim, some gamers found the lack of user-controlled action disappointing. Developer Quantic Dream's follow-up, Beyond: Two Souls, looks like it could address some of those concerns while serving as one of the PS3's most technically sophisticated games to date. Featuring a motion-capture performance by Ellen Page (Juno), the new title is a supernatural/psychological thriller and emotional character drama centering on over a decade in the life of a young woman with a ghost-like companion. Few other titles this year have the gaming press so excited.
BioShock Infinite Watch trailer(s)
2K Games | March 26 for 360 / PS3 / PC
Easily the most anticipated game of the first quarter of 2013, the third title in the BioShock series follows after two of the most acclaimed and imaginative games on current-generation platforms: BioShock (96 on the 360) and BioShock 2 (88). Whereas the last game took place in an underwater city, Infinite (also a FPS) aims higher, with its action unfolding in an impressive mid-air metropolis (complete with a rollercoaster-like rail system) suspended by hot air balloons and blimps. While the game is principally set in 1912, a rift in the space-time continuum means that you should expect plenty of anachronisms (as well as some scenes set in the more recent past). Developers Irrational Games have also promised an ending unlike anything you've seen in previous games.
Company of Heroes 2 Watch trailer(s)
THQ | tbd early 2013 exclusively for PC
The WWII-set Company of Heroes earned an impressive 93 upon its release in 2006, which makes this sequel eagerly awaited by real-time strategy fans. While the Second World War is again the setting, the action moves to the Eastern front—with players controlling the actions of the Soviet Red Army—while technology improvements include True Sight (with soldiers now realistically able to see only what is in front of them and not obscured) and graphics that are better than ever.
Crysis 3 Watch trailer(s)
Electronic Arts | February 19 for 360 / PS3 / PC
Crytek's sandbox-style FPS series returns with a third chapter that advances the action forward in time by over two decades, to the year 2047, when New York City has been covered by a dome and turned partially into a rainforest. Note that despite early rumors of a Wii U version, the game will definitely not be ported to Nintendo's new console.
Dead Space 3 Watch trailer(s)
Electronic Arts | February 5 for 360 / PS3 / PC
While the first two Dead Space horror-themed shooters received an 89 and 90 (for their 360 versions), the early reaction to previews of this third installment were mixed, with some fans unhappy with the emphasis on the game's new cooperative multiplayer mode, which will include story elements unavailable in single-player. Whether you are playing singly or with a friend online, protagonist Isaac Clarke returns (joined by newcomer John Carver in the co-op mode) to battle the zombie-like Necromorphs, this time on the ice planet Tau Volantis. Kinect owners will be able to use voice controls, a first for the series.
Dota 2 Watch trailer(s)
Valve | tbd 2013 exclusively for PC
Anyone who would consider Dota 2 one of the year's most anticipated games has probably already been playing the game for months, but its first official release won't occur until later in 2013. A sequel/remake to fan-made Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients, the multiplayer online battle arena title Dota 2 is an action-RPG/real-time strategy hybrid—with two teams competing to take out each other's stronghold—that is exclusive to Valve's Steam platform. Eventually, you'll have over 100 "heroes" to choose from (or strategize against), which means a steep but ultimately rewarding learning curve for newcomers.
Double Fine Adventure
Double Fine Productions | tbd 2013 for PC / iOS
Once the biggest crowd-funded video game project in history (before being surpassed in recent months by the likes of Project Eternity and Star Citizen), Double Fine Adventure received nearly $3.5 million from donors on Kickstarter, starting a trend that ultimately resulted in $83 million in Kickstarter funding for gaming projects in 2012. What exactly will that money buy? An old-school point-and-click adventure game, a genre that has fallen out of favor in recent years with the rise of shooters. Given Double Fine head Tim Schafer's extensive experience in the genre (as the designer of acclaimed titles like Grim Fandango 94 and the Monkey Island series), there is plenty of reason for optimism.
The Elder Scrolls Online Watch trailer(s)
Bethesda Softworks | tbd 2013 exclusively for PC
Will The Elder Scrolls Online be too similar to World of Warcraft to break the latter's stranglehold on the MMORPG market? Will it be free to play, or will it go against recent trends and charge a monthly subscription fee? Will it even go online in 2013, or will it get pushed back to 2014? While these are important questions, thanks to the massive success of Skyrim, we're willing to give Bethesda some leeway in bringing the first MMO set in the Elder Scrolls universe (1,000 years before the events in Skyrim) to market.
Gears of War: Judgment Watch trailer(s)
Microsoft | March 19 exclusively for 360
Scores for the first three Gears of War games: 94, 93, and 91. Can this latest installment in Microsoft's third-person shooter series (a prequel to the original trilogy) make it a perfect four-for-four in 90+ games? There are several reasons to think such a feat is achievable. The addition of Bulletstorm co-developers People Can Fly gives hope that the gameplay won't just be a retread of past installments, while a writing credit for noted author/critic Tom Bissell (Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter) suggests better writing than the GoW series is typically known for.
God of War: Ascension Watch trailer(s)
Sony | March 12 exclusively for PS3
Sony's own "of War" series gets its own prequel installment this spring with Ascension, the seventh God of War game overall and the first new title in the Greek mythology action-adventure series to debut on the PS3 since 2010's God of War III 92. In the single-player mode, you'll help Kratos begin his rebellion against Ares. The big news, however, is the addition of online multiplayer for the first time in the series.
Grand Theft Auto V Watch trailer(s)
Rockstar Games | tbd Q2 for 360 / PS3
So many big names on our list so far, and we're only now arriving at what could be the biggest of them all: Rockstar's long-awaited follow-up to 2008's Grand Theft Auto IV, a game that has sold more than 25 million units to date while receiving the highest Metascore of all time (98) on both the 360 and PS3. GTA 5 will be based in Los Angeles (called Los Santos in the game) and the surrounding area—encompassing the franchise's largest playable world to date—and feature three different playable characters. But even if it's just more of the same, it'll likely wind up as one of 2013's best games. Note that, while rumored, a Wii U release has not been confirmed.
Infinity Blade: Dungeons Watch trailer(s)
Epic Games | tbd early 2013 exclusively for iOS
One of the most financially successful iOS game series to date, Epic's Infinity Blade franchise has brought console-type action-RPG gaming to Apple's mobile devices, most recently with Infinity Blade II 89 in 2011. This delayed third installment—a Diablo-style dungeon-crawler which serves as a loose prequel to the first two games—still doesn't have a release date, but is expected to arrive early this year.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Watch trailer(s)
Warner Bros. Interactive | April 16 for 360 / PS3 / Wii U
Expected in April, this new fighting game features some very familiar-looking combatants: your favorite heroes (and villains) from the DC Comics universe. The roster of characters is expected to include Batman, Bane, Catwoman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Green Lantern, Deathstroke, and Flash, while locations range from the Batcave to the Fortress of Solitude. The game was developed by NetherRealm Studios, who also handled 2011's Mortal Kombat reboot.
The Last of Us Watch trailer(s)
Sony | May 7 exclusively for PS3
A new franchise from one of the PlayStation's top developers? No wonder buzz has been building over the past year for The Last of Us from Naughty Dog, creators of Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, and, best of all, the Uncharted series. The new game is a horror-themed action-adventure that follows Joel and the younger Ellie across a post-apocalyptic America teeming with zombie-like infected humans and small groups of healthy survivors. One challenge ahead for Naughty Dog could be the need to differentiate its product from Telltale's recent (and very similar on paper) Walking Dead game, released to great acclaim last year; early previews, however, suggest that the visuals alone are enough to set The Last of Us apart.
Lego City Undercover Watch trailer(s)
Nintendo | tbd Q1 2013 for Wii U / 3DS
Grand Theft Auto V may or may not come to the Wii U, but Undercover basically amounts to a Lego-ized take on the GTA formula, albeit with the protagonist being a law enforcement officer rather than a criminal. (It's also less violent than Rockstar's series.) The open-world game prompted a positive response when an early version was unveiled to the press last fall, with praise going to the world's vast size and the game's plentiful personality and humor.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Watch trailer(s)
Nintendo | tbd Q2 2013 for 3DS
Probably the most-anticipated announced title coming for Nintendo's handheld device this year, Dark Moon is a direct sequel to the 2001 GameCube adventure Luigi's Mansion 78. Expect that game's vacuum cleaner-driven gameplay to return as poor Luigi is sent to explore several new haunted houses. Originally announced for a late-2012 release, the game should now land in stores this spring.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Watch trailer(s)
Konami | February 19 for 360 / PS3
Another holdover from our 2012 games preview, Revengeance may not win points for its goofy title, but it does bring a new emphasis on action to the decades-old stealth franchise, thanks to the arrival of co-developer PlatinumGames (Bayonetta). Taking place after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the fast-paced game centers on the cyborg ninja Raiden and his battle against private militias run by criminal organizations. Expect to do a lot more killing—using your high frequency katana blade—and a lot less sneaking around than you typically would in a Metal Gear game.
Metro: Last Light Watch trailer(s)
THQ | tbd March for 360 / PS3 / PC
A sequel to the 2010 FPS Metro 2033, Last Light retains that game's post-apocalyptic Moscow setting and story-driven survival horror gameplay, but moves to an even more minimalist user interface with no on-screen UI elements, allowing players to fully immerse themselves in the bleak, mostly underground world of protagonist Artyom. Author Dmitry Glukhovsky, whose book Metro 2033 inspired the first game, remains a consultant, though Last Light is not based on his sequel novel. The new game will indeed be available on the PS3 (in addition to 360 and PC versions) even though its predecessor wasn't, but a once-rumored Wii U version is off the table for now.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Watch trailer(s)
Namco | January 22 exclusively for PS3
Finally arriving in North America next week after a lengthy delay (the Japanese version was released back in 2011), this JRPG is a collaboration between animator Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli and game developer Level 5 (creators of the Professor Layton series, among numerous other titles). Expect stunning visuals reminiscent of Ghibli's acclaimed films (like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke) and a storyline centering on an orphaned young boy who enters a magical parallel universe where his mother may still be alive. Reviews (good ones) are starting to come in this week.
Pikmin 3 Watch trailer(s)
Nintendo | tbd Q1 2013 exclusively for Wii U
The first Pikmin game since 2004's GameCube title Pikmin 2 90 returns to the miniature garden world of the cute plant-like Pikmin creatures. The real-time strategy title allows you to directly control four Pikmin leaders and up to 100 creatures under their command, with several new types including Pink Pikmin (who fly) and Rock Pikmin (who like to smash things). The new game will make use of the GamePad controller's screen as a map (though you may use the Wii remote and nunchuk if you prefer), though gameplay remains a single-player affair.
Rayman Legends Watch trailer(s)
Ubisoft | February 26 exclusively for Wii U
Another key Wii U exclusive, this cartoony, fast-paced platformer is the sequel to 2011's Rayman Origins 92, one of the original Wii's best-reviewed titles. Up to four players can participate at once in local co-op mode (choose from returning characters Rayman, Globox, and the Teensies, plus newcomer Barbara), while some levels involve rhythm gameplay using the GamePad's touchscreen.
Remember Me Watch trailer(s)
Capcom | tbd May 2013 for 360 / PS3 / PC
Like Naughty Dog's The Last of Us (above) and Ubisoft's Watch Dogs (below), Remember Me is one of the few major original titles set to debut in 2013. Formerly called Adrift, the game is a futuristic thriller centering on a "memory hunter" in a rather bleak 2084 Paris who has the ability to manipulate (or "remix," in the game's terminology) other people's memories, though her own memories have been erased, and she must find out why. Gameplay blends stealth action, platforming, puzzle-solving, exploration, and melee-style combat, and Capcom hopes to turn the game into a major franchise.
SimCity Watch trailer(s)
Electronic Arts | March 5 exclusively for PC
It has been a decade since the last real release in the massively successful city simulation series (yes, we are intentionally ignoring SimCity Societies, which regular SC developer Maxis had no part of), which makes this reboot welcome indeed for anyone who fantasizes about zoning and mass transit. A sophisticated new simulation engine called GlassBox is at the heart of the new SimCity, and the game boasts a number of major changes and improvements, including greatly improved 3D graphics, online multiplayer (with your cities able to interact with those of other players), curved roads (finally!), and new approaches to water and power that are less cumbersome to implement (but no less challenging to manage). Unfortunately, while an active modding community continues to add to SimCity 4's playability to this day, the new game may not support user-generated content at launch. And fans are already griping about the always-online requirement.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time Watch trailer(s)
Sony | February 5 for PS3 / Vita
The delayed fourth game in the Sly Cooper series brings your favorite thieving raccoon back for another stealth mission (picking up right after the now-eight-year-old Honor Among Thieves left off), with time travel a key plot point. Thieves in Time also brings a new developer (Sanzaru Games) to the franchise, but expect gameplay to be similar to that of the first three games, though with a much bigger world to explore and a more refined graphical design.
South Park: The Stick of Truth Watch trailer(s)
THQ | March 5 for 360 / PS3 / PC
While there have been numerous video games in the past based on Trey Parker and Matt Stone's enduring Comedy Central cartoon series, The Stick of Truth appears to be the closet yet any game has come to capturing 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 Parker and Stone (including the script and voice acting), and you'll be playing as 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. Despite publisher THQ's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, the game is still scheduled for a March 5 release.
Star Command Watch trailer(s)
Warballoon Games | tbd early 2013 for PC / iOS
Billed by its developers as "sci-fi meets Game Dev Story," this Kickstarter-funded project is really a Star Trek adventure/simulation without the official license. You'll get to customize your own spaceship, fill it with yellow-, blue-, and red-uniformed crew members, and send it out to explore the pixel-art-styled galaxy, where aliens both friendly and hostile await. While projected release dates have come and gone, the most recent news has Star Command reaching gamers early this year.
Star Trek Watch trailer(s)
Namco | April 23 for 360 / PS3
While Star Command may capture the spirit of Star Trek, the simply titled Star Trek is the real deal (well, to the extent that you consider the J.J. Abrams vision of Star Trek as the real deal). The new game is a third-person action-adventure that takes place between the events of Abrams' 2009 film and the upcoming sequel, with cast members (including Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto) reprising their roles in an original storyline involving the alien Gorn race seen in both the original series and in Enterprise. A co-op mode allows two players to take on the roles of Kirk and Spock.
Star Wars 1313 Watch trailer(s)
LucasArts | tbd for 360 / PS3 / PC
The latest attempt to translate Disney's (yeah, we said it) storied franchise into a worthwhile gaming experience, Star Wars 1313 promises to be grittier and more mature than past games. The action-adventure title pits you in the role of a bounty hunter in Coruscant's seedy underbelly (who knew) deep below the planet's surface, where the force is absent and conventional weaponry and combat rule. A preview last summer had the gaming press raving about the Industrial Light & Magic-created graphics, which suggested that the game is probably destined for next-generation consoles (which, in turn, means that a 2014 release date could be in the cards).
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Watch trailer(s)
Blizzard | March 12 exclusively for PC
When Blizzard's Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty 93 launched in 2010, it was as the first part of a trilogy. The middle chapter finally arrives in March in the form of Heart of the Swarm. More an expansion than a new game (hence the $40 price tag), bringing with it 20 or so new missions, seven new multiplayer units (as well as changes to existing units), and a plot centered on the Zerg race.
Sony | tbd 2013 exclusively for Vita
One of the more promising PlayStation Vita titles currently listed for 2013, Tearaway comes from Media Molecule, developers of the acclaimed LittleBigPlanet series. Not much is known about the new game, though it will be a platforming adventure featuring papercraft-style artwork and will utilize all of the Vita's various inputs (motion controls, touch, and cameras).
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist Watch trailer(s)
Ubisoft | tbd Q1 2013 for 360 / PS3 / PC
The sixth title in the stealth action-adventure series picks up after the events of Conviction, with Sam Fisher (sadly, no longer voiced by Michael Ironside) leading the newly formed Fourth Echelon in a mission to track down and eliminate a dozen terrorists who have initiated attacks against the United States. The "spies vs. mercs" multiplayer mode is returning after being omitted from the previous game, and Kinect owners will be able to use voice commands.
Tomb Raider Watch trailer(s)
Square Enix | March 5 for 360 / PS3 / PC
The long-delayed reboot of the 17-year-old franchise is finally arriving in March. Simply titled Tomb Raider, the Crystal Dynamics-developed action-adventure game (that also incorporates bits of stealth, survival horror, and melee combat) restarts the story of Lara Croft with a darker and grittier (perhaps too much so) tale that chronicles her rise from scared youngster to bad-ass hero. Unusually for the series, the new game will also include two multiplayer modes.
Total War: Rome II
Sega | tbd 2013 exclusively for PC
The first Rome installment in the Total War franchise notched a 92 back in 2004, so a return to the Roman Republic/Empire holds great promise for fans of strategy gaming. Rome II will feature both sea and land battles, and a larger overall map than the first game. No release date has been set, but it likely won't surface until the fall.
Watch Dogs Watch trailer(s)
Ubisoft | tbd 2013 for 360 / PS3 / PC
Ubisoft's brand-new title is an open-world stealth action-adventure centering on the character of Aiden Pearce, a gifted hacker/spy who resides in a supercomputer-dominated version of Chicago. The game received an enthusiastic response at last year's E3 conference 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). With no release date and truly impressive visuals in the demo, this could easily be another game that winds up on the next-gen consoles, though Ubisoft promises that it isn't.
Possible but unconfirmed
The following titles may appear in 2013, but could just as easily get pushed back to 2014.
Unnamed Microsoft game console (Xbox 720)
Unnamed Sony game console (PlayStation 4)
While Nintendo's new Wii U can't even outsell its predecessor, the other next-generation consoles could have a bigger impact on the industry—if they provide gamers with a compelling reason to upgrade immediately. Both Sony and Microsoft are expected to unveil their new consoles at this year's E3 conference (or perhaps as soon as March in special press conferences by each company), though the consoles' actual release dates are a big question mark at this point, and it is certainly possible that one or both will be held back until 2014. One expert is already predicting that the new consoles will be cheaper than their predecessors were upon launch, perhaps in the $350-$400 range.
Mojang | for PC
What does game designer Markus Persson have in store as his follow-up to the surprising hit Minecraft? Though still early in the development stage, the upcoming 0x10c will be a space simulation set trillions of years in the future, with the entire universe on the brink of extinction. Each player will get her own ship, but to find out what happens from there, you'll need to follow along on the game's official blog.
Electronic Arts | platforms tbd
A beta release is expected this fall for EA's latest Battlefield game, which will be set in the present day and again developed by DICE. Few other details have been revealed.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4
Activision | platforms tbd
While Activision has yet to announce any Call of Duty release for 2013, it would be unlike them to skip a year; we've had a new installment every autumn since 2005. Since the Modern Warfare titles seem to arrive every other year, that would make Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 (not to be confused with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare) the likeliest title to arrive this year. The complicating factor, of course, is which platforms the game is being developed for; if it is the next-generation consoles, a delay to 2014 is possible.
Activision | platforms tbd
Bungie's first post-Halo, post-Microsoft project is an original title called Destiny (at least for now), though almost nothing is known other than what was accidentally leaked last fall: the game will be set 700 years in the future, when a benevolent, spherical alien craft hovers above the last city on Earth while other aliens threaten to eliminate the human race. While the company seems to have been targeting a fall 2013 window, this could be another title that hinges upon the release of the next-gen hardware.
Dragon Age III: Inquisition
Electronic Arts | platforms tbd
BioWare's third Dragon Age RPG will be influenced by its competitor Skyrim, and could also arrive on the next-generation consoles.
The Last Guardian Watch trailer(s)
Sony | for PS3
Team Ico, the developers behind the now-classic Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, have been promising a follow-up for ages. If and when it ever arrives, The Last Guardian is expected combine the puzzle platforming of Ico and the massive scale of Colossus; gamers will play as a boy and his giant winged pet/creature as they traverse through a mystical land.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6: Patriots Watch trailer(s)
Ubisoft | platforms tbd
The latest FPS in the Rainbow 6 series has been delayed for so long that it may now be a next generation title despite previously being announced for the PS3 and 360 with a 2013 release window.
The Walking Dead: Season 2
Telltale Games | platforms tbd
Telltale has promised a second season of episodes in its ongoing Walking Dead series, which collectively won Metacritic's Game of the Year award in 2012. The new season is again expected to unfold over five episodes, which are loosely targeted for a 2013 release.
Number None | for PC
The next project for indie developer Jonathan Blow (Braid 93) is the self-funded PC game The Witness, an ambitious, maze-oriented puzzle game 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.
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.