For as picky as people can get when you say that you don't like something, saying that you are interested in something is what really brings 'em out of the woodwork. Usually that's because you're talking about something you like and someone else wants to know why your list or podcast or whatever didn't include whichever game they're positively rabid about. This manifests in weird ways, from subtle digs to full-on lash-outs.
With all of that in mind, there's no way to build a list of upcoming games that have me wanting to know more without trigging a similar response. But I still found myself wanting to say a few things about upcoming games. These are games that I hope come out in 2015, but these days it's impossible to know, right? While it's weird to say that I hope these games are good--ultimately, I want every game to be great because as someone who plays a lot of games I'd rather not play bad ones--these are projects that I'm currently keeping an eye out for. These are games I want to see more of. There are still plenty of questions surrounding most of these--some more than others, as you'll see--but something about what's already been shown or the potential at hand has me interested enough to say a little bit about it here. I didn't want to limit it to 10 games or some other arbitrary limit, but I also didn't want to go on forever about every single announced game that has at least one interesting feature in it.
So here's what's top of mind for me these days:
Memory of a Broken Dimension
Every few months I go through a phase where I remember that Memory of a Broken Dimension is an announced project, and go hunting for more information. I'm hesitant to classify MOBD, but there's a released build that we looked at awhile ago that has elements of text-prompt hacking mixed with a beautiful, glitched-out first-person situation that appears involve the solving of puzzles, in a sense. But that was a while ago. Since then, the game has gone through Steam Greenlight and is said to be on track for a 2015 release on PC, Mac, and Linux. I love the look of this thing. I could stare at it for hours. Assuming it makes it out this year, I fully intend to stare at it for hours.
Blendo Games' Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving are games I sort of perpetually keep meaning to play. Having skipped those (so far), it might be a little weird that I'm really looking forward to Quadrilateral Cowboy. But the concept--rigging up heists and hacking your way around security systems by writing little bits of pseudocode--sounds amazing. Considering Quadrilateral Cowboy has the same art style as those other games, I should probably spend the time I have left catching up on Blendo's past works.
Crackdown 3 or Whatever They're Calling It
I guess this is just "Crackdown" right now, and it's not much more than an E3 trailer. Can you reboot a franchise after only two games? Whatever, it hardly matters. Crackdown interests me for a few reasons, but I guess my main feeling is one of curiosity. Can a superpower-focused open-world game work in the wake of Saints Row IV, which basically out-Crackdowns Crackdown? Is the Agility Orb still an effective collectible, or have other open-world games with zillions of paper-thin side missions and trillions of trinkets to grab soured the concepts for everyone else? I certainly wanted to enjoy Crackdown 2. I even played that weird, location-based Crackdown game for Windows Phone that no one else has probably even heard of. I'd like to think that a new Crackdown could still be fantastic cooperative fun. We'll see.
Day of the Tentacle: Special Edition
What do we know about this new version of the sequel to Maniac Mansion? Nothing! Is Day of the Tentacle one of the best adventure games ever made? Yes, absolutely! By the time Grim Fandango was released I had already moved on from the adventure genre and I was pretty squarely focused on covering console games for a living at that time, which ate into whatever time I had to play PC games. So I have zero connection to it and the announcement of a new version of that isn't something I can get excited about. DOTT is my wheelhouse. DOTT is fantastic. I was thinking about playing this again anyway, so I might as well save my left-handed hammer for... whatever this new version ends up being.
DID YOU KNOW that WKRP's Richard "Les Nessman" Sanders provided the voice of Bernard in the original game? And that the game was sold in two configurations, a floppy disk-based version without voices at all and a CD-ROM with the magic of real speech? It's true!
A Proper Next-Generation Need for Speed Game
Let's assume that, after a year off, EA is going to get Ghost Games back on the hook for a new driving game for 2015. The Need for Speed franchise has been up and down several times over the decades, and 2013's NFS Rivals was a disappointing game that came close to being great. It's time for the franchise to reposition itself, and you'd like to think that taking 2014 off will give everyone enough time to get it right. I'm in the mood for a game that features real cars but doesn't take itself ultra-seriously like a Gran Turismo or Forza would. The Crew was most definitely not the game I was looking for.
I do not worship at any Metroid-shaped altar, whether first-person or third. But Tom Happ might. Casting his game, Axiom Verge, as a simple Super Metroid clone would seem to sell it incredibly short, though. It certainly takes cues from that seminal work, but goes further. As someone who has certainly loved games of this style before (Symphony of the Night, Shadow Complex), Axiom Verge seems to be making some really interesting moves while straddling a great-looking line that recalls the retro style of the 16-bit era without sticking to it too slavishly. At least that's what it looks like from a distance, anyway. I've kept away from preview builds of it so far and look forward to playing it for myself. Sounds like it's on for Spring?
Mortal Kombat X
Mortal Kombat X is going through the same, slow character reveal process that Mortal Kombat 9 did, but I feel like it's not hitting as hard or stirring up quite as much fervor as the previous game did. Perhaps that's because MK9 was such a solid return to form for a franchise that took some serious twists and turns throughout the PS2/Xbox era. MKX is taking some neat-looking risks, both with its roster and with how it uses those fighters, with stance choices prior to a fight that give you three different takes on each fighter. It's also a chance for the franchise to introduce a big batch of new characters, which is perhaps why these character reveals seem so sluggish. It's hard to get excited about a new character like D'Vorah until you get to play with it for yourself. It's especially difficult when you start to think about the new characters brought in during that MK5-7 stretch and how MKvsDC and MK9 felt like strong reactions designed to get away from Bo' Rai Cho, Hsu Hao, Hotaru, and all those other forgettable additions to the roster. Hopefully Ferra/Torr, Cassie Cage, Kotal Kahn and the rest of MKX's new additions will fare a bit better.
Galak-Z: The Dimensional
Dear 17-Bit Games,
Please stop moving to Kyoto or whatever it is you're doing and finish your game.
In playing bits and pieces of Galak-Z over the years, I've really come to appreciate its classic anime-influenced style and the way it moves. The developers also talk very big about its procedurally generated nature, which is something that's a little harder to see during a short demo, but is something that should help make this thing pretty rad when it's released. Whenever that finally is.
Just Cause 3
Just Cause and the recent Far Cry games occupy a similar space in my mind. Just Cause, obviously, is a bit more destruction-focused, but both games thrive when things get chaotic, and the moments that emerge from said chaos transforms these games from fairly standard twists on the open-world formula into something incredibly special. Hopefully Just Cause 3 will keep all of that up and running. Throw in a few awful/amazing accents along the way and multiplayer that supports thousands of people doing a bunch of weird shit and you've ticked almost every box on my Just Cause Sequel Sheet. OK, the multiplayer probably won't come as a part of the core release, but... well, JC3 had better be just as moddable as its predecessor was, how about that? OK?
I get a knot in my stomach when I think about Mario Maker. It's the thing I always wanted and it might not come together the way I've always wanted it. I hate being in this situation, because it feels like I'm picking apart a thing that'll probably get 90% of the way there, at least. But tools to easily make, play, and share your own Super Mario Bros. levels are some of the most powerful tools in the world. You're essentially being handed the building blocks, the original scriptures of modern gaming and told to "do whatever."
But it comes with caveats. Physics! The game will feature different tile sets from different Mario games but the early word makes it sound like they'll all feel the same. Nope. That's the wrong move, all the way. Make the SMB1 tileset feel like that game. Make Mario Worldfeel like Mario World, damn it. Make sure that people can create packs of levels, functional pipes, new warp zones, and all of the trimmings. Essentially, if you're going to do this, Nintendo, please do it right. Please.
You wouldn't necessarily expect Nintendo to get behind a multiplayer shooter, especially one about splats, platoons, and... spittoons? I don't know, I played a few matches of this at E3 last year and thought it controlled really well, offered a unique take on competitive shooting, and offered some unique tactical options with its weird ink/squid moves. Painting territory to gain ground on the enemy is a cool idea, and the whole thing looked great. It also controlled a lot better once I turned off the tilt controls, which didn't make aiming much fun. Hopefully it'll be good enough to draw in a steady community of players when it's released later this year.
The Tony Hawk franchise deserves a proper reboot. with Tony Hawk getting out on Twitter awhile ago and then recently reconfirming his upcoming console game at Sony's CES keynote (and saying that it'll come to PS4), it looks like 2015 will be the year for this return. But what is it? Who's making it? Robomodo? Some other, unnamed studio? Will it be a big disc game? Will it have Activision's Sierra logo stamped onto it and ship out as a downloadable? I'm excited to hear the answers.
You know what? Forget all those games. What about the sequels and games that people should be making? You know the ones. Let's cover a few, and I'm sure you have plenty of your own to add.
SEQUELS THEY SHOULD MAKE INSTEAD
Tony Hawk is coming back, EA. Bring back Skate and reignite the weird competition between two franchises that had vastly different goals while both sort of simulating the same type of activity! It'd be worth it for the big, dumb opening FMV sequence alone, wouldn't it? The Hall of Meat commands you to find whatever's left of Black Box (didn't some of them end up on the Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare team?) and buy those people a half-pipe for their office.
Fucking come on already.
Rock Band 4
I am not a businessman. You can tell by the way I just implied that someone like Harmonix should get back into the plastic instrument business. This is perhaps a weird one, since there's technically nothing stopping me from playing more Rock Band 3, and there's plenty of DLC for that game that I never purchased, but something that works with the consoles I actually have connected up at home and a renewed effort to go and secure even more DLC would be much appreciated. Or I suppose we could just wait for the inevitable Guitar Hero resurgence.
Mercenaries 2 No But For Real This Time
Mercenaries 2 was a fucking wreck that bore little resemblance to the original game. Make an actual sequel to the first Mercenaries, that'd be pretty cool. Maybe something like Just Cause 3 scratches this itch a little too well these days, I'm not sure. But the first Mercenaries was pretty rad.
Shadow Complex 2
Again, I am not a businessman, but it sure would be cool if Chair/Epic walked away from the zillions of dollars that Infinity Blade brings in and made a full-scale Shadow Complex sequel. Maybe I'd feel less strongly about this if I enjoyed Infinity Blade, I don't know. It just never clicked with me at all.
In conclusion, I'm looking forward to 2015. I'm hopeful. Optimistic, even! OK, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. But there are clearly some interesting games coming along this year and they're once again coming in all shapes and sizes, from teams big and small, on a good variety of platforms. I'm sure some of it will get canceled. And some of it will get pushed into 2016. But for now, it's looking pretty good.