By DevourerOfTime 25 Comments
As I discussed in this blog post, I originally was going to make a list of games I was excited about for 2014 back in the start of January, but school kind of demanded my attention and I never got around to it. Now that school is done and summer is here, I would like to write a bit about the games left to come out this year (that I haven't already talked about) that I'm excited to play. So here's the second part of the Top 30 Most Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014.
Sorry this is a little late. I planned on having this out last week, but job hunting, traveling out of the country to attend UFGT, and getting sick kinda pushed this back a little farther than I'd like. Sorry!
- Top 30 Most Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014 - #30 - #21
- Top 30 Most Anticipated Games for (the rest of) 2014 - #20 - #11
Platform: Vita, PS4, Xbone, Wii U, PC, 360, PS3
Release Date: October 2014
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, the third entry in the series, isn’t even out yet and I’m still excited for the next sequel. While the 3DS eShop title Pirate’s Curse seems to be building on the established formula for fans to enjoy, Half-Genie Hero seems to be made to revamp Shantae and introduce new players to the series. Shantae has always been a relatively niche Nintendo handheld focused series and is now releasing on nearly every other platform under the sun, so it makes sense. I don’t know if Half-Genie Hero will be quite as good as the metroidvania goodness that came before it, but I’m kinda excited just to see the series get the audience and recognition it deserves.
Release Date: 2014
Oreshika is not just on this list because it looks like a solid classic turn based JRPG with a beautiful cel-shaded aesthetic reminiscent of Okami on a platform that desperately needs it, it’s on here because it’s a sequel to a Japan-only classic that stole a gameplay hook I had been thinking about for years now. Okay “steal” is probably the wrong wording, as the original game, roughly translated to the badass name “Over My Dead Body”, was released on the PS1 and I just wasn’t aware of it until recently. Regardless, this game is an excellent opportunity to dissect how that mechanic benefits the game and how it was implemented and emphasized from start to finish.
Oh yeah, should probably explain what that mechanic is, eh? Well I’ve always been fascinated with permadeath. It works wonders to raise tension and stakes in the moment to moment gameplay of Diablo or Spelunky, while fostering a deeper connection with the characters of a story in Fire Emblem or even a Nuzlocke run in Pokémon. But permadeath is nearly nonexistent (beyond self-imposed rules like the aforementioned Nuzlocke runs) in the traditional turn based JRPG genre and I’ve brainstormed for years on how to pull it off.
And we came up with a fairly similar base solution: a multi generational story that’ll see many of your party members die of old age as well as in battle. It adds that juicy tension to the combat while creating a unique, gameplay driven relationship with a family line, kinda like how you naturally built a story and connection to your generic as hell characters in XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
Oreshika, unfortunately, chooses to up the anime factor (and, therefore, the embarrassment factor of even being excited for this game in the first place) on the idea by making your offspring age about 35x faster than normal and your characters have sex with gods to have children. Uhhhh….. Yeeeeeaahhh….. that’s a thing, but it doesn’t disuade me from still wanting to analyze it from start to finish.
Platform: PS3, PS4, PC
Release Date: June 2014 (PC)
Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]
Yeah, I didn’t get through this list nearly fast enough to post before the PS3 & PS4 launch, but I have still yet to play the game(s) because of a foolish mistake to back the game’s Kickstarter and commit to getting the PC version. So hush.
Really, I could talk about how much fun Super Pole Riders is going to be in a social setting amongst friends or how cool Hokra is for actually making a video game that accurately depicts what it’s like to play a sport or I could talk about how much Johann Sebastian Joust reminds me of the impossible task of getting multiplayer games of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure going, but this whole package is just a vehicle for me to play BaraBariBall.
BaraBariBall is Super Smash Bros. with the same approachability, easy controls, surface simplicity, and hidden depth, but A) doesn’t require mayhem to keep players engaged B) has a clear definable goal to a match that everyone can relate to C) that has excellent and varied maps that accentuate the core gameplay mechanics and D) that has a tournament level competitive nature to its gameplay without removing or ignoring mechanics. It is, basically, up there with Divekickas one of the most approachable fighting games I have ever seen.
And as someone who has much love for the FGC and puts a lot of effort into making it as approachable, inclusive, and accessible to as many people as possible, games like BaraBariBall are a godsend.
Release Date: Winter 2014
I’m a fairly recent fan of 4X games. To which I mean I’ve only played about 3 games of Civilization IV and Civilization V over the past year and the addicting one more turn gameplay is just as great as people made it out to be.
Beyond Earth is nothing more than more of the same with a twist. Same basic structure that’ll keep me up to 4am, but with aliens, less rigid progression, and the potential for cyborgs or alien-human hybrids taking over new planets.based on a game I never played, but has a concept I can get behind. In a predicted not-too-distant future (because it seems inevitable instead of dystopian) we try to colonize other, earth like planets that’ll have all sorts of alien lifeforms and civilizations. I could go into more detail, but blah blah blah you get the gist of it. It’s more Civilization! And I can’t really complain about that.
Platforms: Wii U
Release Date: Summer 2014?
Character Action games, the weirdly named subgenre for what is essentially the stylish & fast-paced 3D evolution of the beat-em-up, enjoyed a lot of fantastic entrants this past generation. No More Heroes had some of the most challenging and rewarding boss fights out there, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was the best Metal Gear game in nearly a decade (and since), and Devil May Cry… had an HD port of Devil May Cryand Devil May Cry 3. But the subgenre found its peak in Platinum Games’ Bayonetta. It was everything you could ask for. Combat that constantly tested and rewarded your skill and reflexes, an incredible variety of weapons and abilities that drastically altered your approach to combat, and a control scheme and combo system that were pretty much perfect. The debate continues whether the sexually charged titular character was appropriately handled and I don’t think many people are going to jump to defend the goofy and convoluted story, but Bayonetta was basically what the entire genre was working towards on the gameplay side of things.
But how do you make a sequel to the quintessential character action game? I don’t know. I don’t know what Bayonetta 2 could be other than “just more Bayonetta" or "Bayonetta but not quite as good”, unfortunately. But I’m willing to give them the chance to surprise me. I know I really should condemn the medium for the constant unnecessary sequelization and push towards new ideas instead, but I don’t think more of the same is a always a bad thing. Bayonetta was fucking fantastic and even if they make a game that isn’t quite as good or tries a few new things that don’t quite work, I think giving a passionate team the opportunity to try to improve and innovate on already great game is worth a shot.
Much like how Dark Souls II disappointed many, no matter how hard Bayonetta 2 could fail, there is nothing it can do to affect anyone’s enjoyment out of the original. So why not give it a shot?
Platforms: PC, 360, PS3
Release Date: June 3rd, 2014
People who complain about how many releases of Street Fighter IV there are simply don’t understand fighting games, let alone how much time and effort goes into balancing and tweaking them. Tier lists and match-ups can come down to a single pixel of a hit box, a single frame of invincibility or recovery, or how much metre an attack builds when it lands. When all of that is taken into account for each 24+ normals, 2+ specials with ~3 different versions, 1 super, and 2 ultras (which isn’t even counting command normals, distance dependent normals, EX moves, and special cases like Gen who has two complete movesets) for each of the 39 characters, you’re talking about making tiny, tiny tweaks that have huge impacts on the metagame. Without investing the time to properly balance and examine these tweaks carefully, you could have a character with an attack or technique that cannot be punished or a buff to a bad character that ignores their current flaws, keeping them at the bottom tier.
And these balance changes are lasting. Fighting games have tried to have constant patches for balance purposes like shooters or MOBAs, but it generally discourages a player from getting invested in the games. If the combos I spent 10 hours experimenting with and mastering the timing of won’t even work in a week, why would I put the time in to learn them? If my way of combating a certain strong attack by an opposing character has its hitbox shifted, why would I take the time to learn the match up? The infrequency of these updates allows for each nook and cranny of a game to be explored, for misunderstood characters to rise to the top, for “unbeatable” characters to have their weaknesses exposed, and for every player to strive to be more effective and efficient in their play.
Fans of Street Fighter IV will buy Ultra. It adds new dynamics to a game whose current state has been thoroughly explored for 2 years. It adds 5 new characters (and, therefore, 210 new match-ups), new interesting modes like Edition Select, and quality of life changes like online practice to a game that has been kicking around for five years. With that kind of support and hours of entertainment numbering in the thousands, I’d gladly pay the $140 total asking price.
And considering how much the FGC has grown over the past 5 years, I imagine I am very much not alone in thinking that.
Platforms: Wii U
Release Date: 2014?
Probably a turn-based tactical RPG, but we don’t know.
We know absolutely nothing about this game.
We don’t know if it will be good. We don’t know what it will play like. We don’t know if it will be generic sword & sorcery fantasy like Fire Emblem or sci-fi post-apocalyptic religious-nonsense like mainline Shin Megami Tensei. We don’t know if it fuses tactics with the dungeon crawling to make some sort of alternate take on Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. We don’t know if it will be grid-based, top-down, third person, or first-person. We don’t know if there will be permadeath or if there will be demon fusing. We don’t know if there will be manual stat allocations or if there will be class ups. We don’t know if it’s a direct crossover of established titles or a new title that takes the soul of both series into account. We don’t know what it’s about. We don’t know who it’s about.
For all we know this game will be absolute trash.
But it still doesn’t stop me from dreaming about how these very different series could be intertwined. It’s the concept of taking two established-yet-separate properties, really breaking down every element of each, and somehow fusing them into one being that makes crossovers (and, to a lesser extent, games that mix genres) so appealing to me. What elements are, when boiled down, truly necessary in a series? What elements work together and what no longer makes sense? How much do you remove from one series to make the game accessible for the other’s fans? What style do you go for artistically and musically?
We know nothing of Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem, but that’s okay right now. The absurd concept of joining those two series I love is enough to get me excited about it. I know that the end result won’t be nearly as cool as the dozens of ideas I have when I daydream, but I’m still excited to see exactly what Nintendo and Atlus have in store for us.
Platforms: Wii U, 3DS
Release Date: Winter 2014
I spent the entire Sportsfriends post listing off ways in which BaraBariBall improves on the premise of this series in a more streamlined and approachable package, but what can I say? I love me some Smash Bros. and always have since I read in disbelief that extensive preview of the original in some obscure, forgotten gaming magazine. Link, Pikachu, and Mario in the same game? It’ll never happen! Yet the series would become a staple at my childhood birthday parties, during my teenage class skipping, in my crowded university dorm room, and in the basement of my own place. I grew up with this series and, despite how much my life has obviously changed, have never really stopped playing.
So, while many bemoan the series for its lack of commitment to the competitive style that was discovered within Melee and others see it as nothing but chaotic four player nonsense that doesn’t deserve to be looked in a competitive light, I’ve fallen into a more neutral role that just accepts the games for what they are, warts and all. There has never been a game in the series that has been “bad” yet, just a series of games that lack focus and don’t give enough attention to the style of play some exclusively prefer. It’s a jack of all trades multiplayer experience with Nintendo nostalgia filling in all of the cracks and I don’t see this fourth game changing all that.
But I am impressed with everything I’ve seen so far. The roster selections have been smart, there have been more concessions made to the competitive side without sacrificing the manic four player experience, and the flow of the gameplay is a distinct mix of previous entries. That’s really all I can ask for to keep me hooked for several more years.
Release Date: Winter 2014
You have to commend Atlus on how they handle their spin-offs. They consistently deliver excellently made games that capture the essence of the source material instead of relying on fanservice to succeed. Persona 4 Arena, for example, was a great fighting game that appropriately imitated each characters playstyle despite the abrupt genre shift and had the mechanical depth necessary to succeed in the genre, yet with an approachability rarely seen in anime fighting games. Hell, the Persona series itself is just a big spin-off of Megami Tensei and it still carries the same heart and soul of MegaTen despite it morphing into a (somehow critically acclaimed) high school simulator dungeon crawling JRPG.
So I don’t know why I would doubt Persona Q, despite having the dubious honour of being a spin-off crossover of a spin-off. Instead of just pumping out a story with the Persona 3 and Persona 4 characters with a tacked on gameplay system, they’re actually taking this crossover pretty seriously. Make no mistake, Persona Q is shaping up to be an Etrian Odyssey-ass Etrian Odyssey game. Even knowing that Persona attracts a more modern RPG player, they didn’t back down from including the complexity of Etrian Odyssey. Instead they decided to appropriately fuse in Persona gameplay elements to the Etrian Odyssey base wherever it made sense. They even make concessions to appeal to both crowds simultaneously, offering simpler difficulties and optional auto-mapping for Persona players and increased character customization for Etrian Odyssey fans.
So while I’m too big of a sucker for both series to resist the idea of a Persona 3 & Persona 4 crossover with Etrian Odyssey gameplay systems, it’s really the devotion to the execution that has me excited. It’s easy to say “wouldn’t it be cool if…” for crossovers, but it’s another to really break them down and fuse them together without alienating either side. It really looks like Atlus is taking all the right steps here and I can’t wait to play this game when it gets a localized release later this year.
And, as someone who has always described Persona 4 as an Anime Scooby Doo JRPG, JESUS do I love that Scooby Doo-esque logo.
Platforms: PS4, PC
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Trailer: [Giant Bomb Link]
Bastion was an obvious highlight of the last generation. If Braid put an end to the era of downloadable independent titles being viewed as just cheap fan efforts and simple retro inspired titles, Bastion made people seriously consider why they perceived a barrier of quality between retail and downloadable efforts. 2011 could be argued to be the last year where triple-A retail games thoroughly dominated the market and, with games like Saints Row: The Third, Portal 2, and The Witcher 2, they were no slouches either. Yet, despite the competition, Supergiant’s little game received an incredible amount of deserved praise and Game of the Year nods because of its smooth and responsive combat and storytelling that was quite mature for this medium, both in content and in presentation.
But Transistor is not Bastion. It cannot be Bastion. It’s the classic struggle to follow-up what came before, like a sophomore album or a younger sibling following in the footsteps of their accomplished sister/brother. Many people are going to be disappointed with Transistor, regardless of its quality. And I don’t really think there was anything Supergiant could have done to change that. People naturally enjoy a brand new experience that surprises and innovates, but you can’t make a second first impression.
Transistor is exactly the game that they should have made. It takes those magical parts in their previous game, like the stunning art direction and genre blending soundtrack, and incorporated them into a whole new gameplay and story experience. It tells the player to expect the same quality of experience, but nothing like what has come before. This capturing of the essence of what worked in prior works are what made Disney movies so magical and memorable in the nineties and Pixar movies now (well, before the last few films at least). Completely different specifics, but that same attention to detail and engagement with the audience.
And that’s exactly what I wanted.