Its been a long boring, terrible 2013. A few minor titles worthy of mention, but certainly nothing like whats in store for us in 2014. As an avid gamer of many genres, my upcoming year looks bright and my free time… not so existent. The following is a list of titles through 2014 (that we know of) that I am most anticipating.
5.) Everquest Next (& EverQuest Next Landmark)
Its hard not to be excited about a new MMO evolution. If what George Davidson is saying about the “living world” adaptive intelligence systems in his upcoming game…. every other MMO might as well stop what they are doing right now and reset development (maybe even Blizzard found out and stopped Titan in its tracks?). The fact that a game won’t have specific spawns of enemies, and that exploration will be returned to a genre sorely in need of a non-static playing field are all fantastic reasons why this title is still on my list.
You might ask, for such a rousing level of support for the game, why did this clock in at #5? Well the whole round-table garbage-nonsense of seeking player feedback has basically turned a normal, developer gives us information and we discuss it, into more of a messy diatribe between bitter veterans and the newbie casual gamers all nuking it out for who is most right. In the end the developers have basically ignored the popular sentiment (on several occasions) in favor of doing what they feel is right for the game (duh?). So why exactly were players invited to the discussion? Marketing. It sounds good when your “incorporating player feedback” into early iterations of your title.
As much excitement as I had for this title, has mostly been tempered by the complete lack of information coming out about EverQuest: Next. We’ve seen far more information about Landmark, a title I am not overwhelmed with (never did buy into the whole Minecraft thing), then almost anything about EverQuest: Next. I understand the developers push for getting people psyched up about EQN:L but honestly the whole “$100″ to alpha test our game just felt corporate and nothing at all like the “incorporating player feedback” jive they wanted early on. Felt a bit hypocritical to me (note: they do want our feedback, but only people willing to pay in advance for a game we know next to nothing about).
Something about this title caught my eye when I saw it being showcased in an XBOX One commercial. As someone who specifically plays PC only games this title looks fantastic. From someone who enjoys the strategic gameplay found in Battlefield 4 (versus competitor title Call of Duty), its an interesting change up in the genre. This marks the only first person shooter on my list and I am specifically leaving off Destiny (was never a huge fan of Bungie and their games seem to be overhyped mediocrity). Theres also something to be said of being a huge fan of the Mechwarrior franchise when growing up. The new Mechwarrior Online version lacks the same character of the original titles, which featured an engaging single player experience (and soundtrack!) that I miss greatly.
The idea of ground infantry supporting mechs was always something I hoped would show up in the Mechwarrior franchise but it was poorly managed by FASA/Microsoft so the series basically aborted itself too soon. Titanfalls blend of the Mechwarrior-but-cooler robots and a FPS experience that looks like it could stand on its own (without the mechs)… and you have a title that I really can’t wait to experience.
In the end, this is a title that I can’t imagine keeping my interest for very long, but we’ll have to wait and see if the online combat is as fun as Battlefield 4 has turned around to be for me (yay for some mother-effin patches!).
3.) The Witcher 3
I’m going to be completely honest. I never finished the Witcher 1 because by the time the Witcher 2 came out the graphics were terrible and I’m a horribly superficial gamer. The Witcher 2 blew my mind, however, despite a combat system that was mastered in about 3 minutes. The idea of an open-world ala Skyrim/The Elder Scrolls merged with the story and graphical prowess this studio has put into the title have created a serious contender for best RPG of 2014. I haven’t seen an upcoming title that will challenge this, period, exclamation mark.
100′s of hours of side quests and exploration, a revamped combat system, a new trait system, and the most amazing graphics your likely to witness in 2014 (with the exception of a few titles that will appear above this one in my 2014 best of list)… and your truly going to be in for a treat with this title.
Combine the upcoming amazingness of The Witcher 3 and the debacle that is soon to be the Elder Scrolls Online… and if you haven’t heard of the Witcher you will soon. Everyone and their sister will likely buy TESO and subsequently stop playing before the first month is over. We are talking an impending flop the likes of which Squaresoft and Final Fantasy Online will laugh and point at for years. TESO has butchered everything that made the TES series great. Its my duty to dub its replacement ahead of time and I name The Witcher 3 the replacement for all things previously reserved for the TES series.
I’m an enormous CCG/TCG/OTCG/OCCG, whatever you want to call them, fan. These type of collectible card games are modern day equivalents to Chess for our generation of gamers. They allow two opponents to be equally matched on a battlefield with only skill in play and in deck-building deciding the victor. Their are no twitch reflexes to complain about, merely a players own skill at a title. I’ve specifically chosen HEX over Blizzards Hearthstone because to be quite honest, I’ve grown tired of the simplification game Blizzard plays with my favorite genres. They certainly had me going for a long time, but its clear that their desire to be a multinational huge corporation has turned their game design into one of “how can we appeal to more players”. Its a sad time for fans of games like Diablo and the original Warcraft series.
In regards, specifically, to the card games (sorry about that detour)… I feel HEX has done a better job of maintaining the deep game play levels provided by a game with an actual learning curve. Magic the Gathering has survived for a very very long time (coming up on two decades?). Its done this, not by simplifying the game mechanics, but by introducing new ones and keeping the game play and meta fresh. Their only slip in the 20 some years this game has just about existed is their lacking progression into the online space. Magic the Gathering Online is a terribly antiquated system that will be relegated to retired status the moment Hearthstone and HEX enter the scene in force. Its pay model is also laughingly stuck in the 90s, charging MORE then most gamers pay for the physical copies of the cards.
In the end I’m very excited about being able to play a M:TG-caliber card game without the 90′s drapery. Its going to be a game that likely occupies my slow times at work and my every idle moment coming up with new strategies and deck builds. This is the title to chose if your on the fence about which of the two CCGs to play. Being the master of Hearthstone is like being the king of the 6th grade. I like to have a sense of accomplishment and I just can’t see that happening with Hearthstone now or anytime in the future.
1.) The Division
Yea… I was a bit surprised to have a Tom Clancy top my list. Not since Rainbow Six: Vegas have I purchased a Tom Clancy title. When I saw the E3 video for this title and it dawned on me that I wasn’t watching a single player game, but a squad of 4 real humans working together did I begin to understand the potential of this title. Check it out;
Small group play is exactly what the MMO persistent genre needed. Far too many people are obsessed with the massive 100v100v100 fights you will get in upcoming and current MMOs. They are always left with a poor taste in their mouth when they see the shitty server/client performance that inevitably follows. Top that off with a severe balancing issue (you can’t guarantee my side has 100 players all the time!) and the perfect solution is to build a game around small groups.
The Division is one of those titles that will be a sleeper hit. Its following will eventually be enormous. It will take the flop of several major MMOs coming out this year for it to truly shine, but if the Division can hold true to its design intent its going to be one helluva amazing ride. The Snowdrop engine that powers this game is truly breathtaking and any owner of a next gen console or top of the line PC will be in for a visual orgasm from the videos I’ve seen to date. Top that off with an RPG experience akin to Fallout and you’ve got the makings of what will likely be the RPG game of the year; a tough feat considering my #3 selection. If you research one game because of this article, let it be this game. You will not be disappointed. For being so kind and reading all the way to the end, let me link you a video of said engine at work;
Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you all in 2014. Hope you all have a great holiday season!
#thedivision #hex #witcher3 #titanfall #everquestnext #listmas