By Jim Rossignol on January 3rd, 2011 at 8:00 am.
Hello. I’ve written a list feature containing the PC games that I’m most excited about in 2011. It’s enormous. I’ve made the list appear in roughly the order of excitingness. You can read it, below, if you want.
And if you’re not already freaking out about how much game there is to play this year, then you should definitely take a look…
THE TOP EXCITEMENTS OF THE PC GAMING PLATFORM
The Witcher 2 is the game I am most looking forward to in 2011. The original game was deeply flawed, it’s true, but it was also a game that spoke strongly of the passion and dedication of its creators. What we have seen of the sequel only serves to amplify that feeling that CD Projekt not only want, desperately, to create a genuinely great RPG, but that they have the means to do it. All my hopes go with this project.
Portal 2. PORTAL 2. There’s just no possible way I could not be in a frenzy of anticipation when the last few bytes of this download from Steam. I’m intrigued inside out to see what the co-op holds, but the single player element will no doubt be devoured first, and with great relish. What will Valve have done with the sequel to one of the most interesting games of all time? The answer to that question is going to be delicious. It’s out on April 18th in North America, and April 22nd for Europe. What does that mean for Steam? I am not sure, but it worries me.
Deus Ex 3. I think we’re all getting tentatively excited about this. Hell, it’s a Deus Ex game. Even if the result is an abortive monstrosity we’re going to need to play it out, just to be sure. What we have seen, however, is promising. This could just work its way into the classics list if the dev team do not falter. Oh God, let them not falter.
The application of Monaco is, perhaps, limited. Our experiences with the game suggest that you’re really going to need to have four people in a room together, with gamepads and such, if you want to make the most of it. However, what we can say is that’s it’s going to be chaotically splendid. There’s a reason this won the last IGF, you know. This is the reason: it’s brilliant.
Brink. An odd one to get truly, unmitigatedly excited about, eh? Well, not only does it look beautiful, I think that we are ripe for another big multiplayer FPS, and this might just be it. Quake Wars might have missed the mark a little, but there’s no doubt that it was extremely impressive and enormously ambitious. It felt, I think, like a game company learning its limits, testing the boundaries of what it can do. Brink will be that same company at full power. It’s already had a strong showing at the EG Expo. The final results could be extremely interesting. (I’ve lost track of exactly when this is coming out… April-ish?)
PlanetSide Next – we don’t know a whole lot about this, to the point where there isn’t even a website I can link to, but that only makes the excitement more acute. It’s in that nebulous state where it might be an incredible sequel/rebbot, or it could just be a free-to-play relaunch or similar, we just don’t know. The first few months of original PlanetSide was one of the greatest gaming experiences I have known, I pray to the grim Gods of the gaming that this will recapture even a fragment of that awesome chaos. The beta is up “soon” for some kind of relaunch in March/April. Even if it is just the f2p reboot, we are getting in there for some Vanu action.
Diablo III. It’s funny how all the screenshots make it look tiny and fiddly, and yet it all makes sense in motion. Yeah, let’s face it, Blizzard’s action-RPG is going to be enormous. There’s no doubt about it. We’re going to play the hell out of it, whether we think about skeleton-shattering level ‘em is a good idea or not. It’s like a black-hole: the gravity of hyperbolically slick loot-collection is just too great. I’m expecting to be sucked in at the end of 2011, just like everybody else.
Speaking of Diablo-alikes, the squad-Diablo of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution is looking extremely attractive. Orks, Eldar, Tyrannids, Space Marines and even – we hear via some German PC mag – playable Imperial Guard. It’s going to satisfy the urge to kill stuff for the Emperor/Blood God like nothing else. Not quite clear when this comes out, but I believe it’s “Spring”. My favourite time of year for sitting inside, playing games.
We’re not entirely sure whether Dead State is going to make it into 2011, because all we know for certain is that the game isn’t going to arrive in 2010. However, the zombie-survival RPG is one of the most alluring projects currently underway, not simply because of the ex-Troika pedigree, but because of this sprawling interview we did with the project director, the same chap who wrote Bloodlines.
You are probably going to say that the main reason I am excited about Guild Wars 2 is the amazing-looking fantasy environments that the ArenaNet team keep showing off and, well, you’d be right. So there. I’ll probably wander around as much of that world as I can, just because it’s there. Fortunately it also looks like the game that underpins it all is really something special. If this isn’t the MMO that gets the most RPS attention in 2011 then I will eat my Epic Hat Of HoboClown +2.
Firefall. The designer of Tribes 1&2 meets the designer of World Of Warcraft. They
fall in love decide to make a game together. That game is going to be a free-to-play shooter that mixes third and first-person perspectives, which blends MMO with traditional FPS action, that is mostly co-op vs alien monsters, but also has some big old PvP possibilities. It looks totally gorgeous. It should be out at the end of 2011. That is what I am talking about. Dev team Red 5 talk about it, too, just here.
Duke Nukem Forever. I’m not all that excited about this in terms of being an interesting experience. It’s going to be a first-person shooter, and not much more. But holy crap I am looking forward to seeing this saga resolved in an actual, playable game. Phew!
Six Gun Saga is the single-player not-boardgame that we can next expect from one-man studio Vic Davis. This time it’s a game about cowboys. It was also the feature of a pretty extensive interview that Mr Kieron Gillen conducted with Mr Davis. It would be wise to read that interview, which can be found here. We were expect this game around Christmas 2010, so I am guessing it slipped to 2011, unless it was released in secret, and invisible.
Subversion. We saw Introversion’s procedurally-generated tactical espionage ‘em up Subversion being played at London indie-fest, World Of Love, and we saw that it was good. Just how good? Well, that’s something we should find out when Introversion release the beast later this year. We’re going to say it’ll probably get a meta-good of “pretty good” on a scale of one-to-good.
OTHER CONTENDERS FOR POSSIBLE EXCITEMENT AND HYPETALK
Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad represents the best of the kind of grim, grey, manly manshoot that scares us here at Castle Shotgun. There’s no doubt the potential the game has for brutal accomplishment, however, and we’re expect this to be one of the quiet masterpieces of 2011. Quinns has already begun to just eat rats and chair-legs in anticipation of a bit of method-gaming for the review. Tripwire are talking “Q2 2011″ for this one.
Skyrim. The fifth Elder Scrolls game arrives on the 11th of November. Apparently the engine is all new. Apparently it’s a direct sequel to Oblivion. We will learn much more about the game in the coming few weeks. Right now, I am cautiously optimistic, with an undertone of extreme excitement.
DOTA 2. I still find it a bit odd that Valve are making this, but not as odd as Blizzard find it. They find it so odd that they have activated their lawyers, and legal stuff is happening! Hard to say if that will influence the announced 2011 release date, but I think it might. There’s not much else to go on, but we do have this Q&A for some details of what DOTA 2 might entail.
I actually managed to leave Mass Effect 3 out of the original draft of this. We’re fairly excited to see how Bioware follow up on one of the best games of 2010, of course. And the trailer has London in it? Hmm.
Blight Of The Immortals. Thanks to IronHelmet’s accidental beta we were playing it in 2010, but I am expecting this game to go huge in 2011. What we are playing now certainly needs to some balancing and some tweaking, but both co-op and PvP games are already fascinatingly compulsive. Expect RPS to be laden with talk about this real soon.
Rock Of Ages. Art history in a bowling/tower defence game. We talked to Ace Team about why the boulder is smiling. That made us smile. There is no firm release date for this yet, aside from “2011″. Ah, sadface.
Total War: Shogun 2. Yes, we know that Empire betrayed your trust and made you want to sacrifice your mother on the altar of indignation, but frankly that does little diminish the fact that The Creative Assembly are going back to remake Shogun into a new thing of beauty. I couldn’t really give two hoots about the overhauled multiplayer, but that campaign map looks lavish, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. SEGA are claiming a March 15th release date, which is going to make this a rather busy springtime.
Fate Of The World. Another game due in March is the worringly bleak and pleasingly elegant global End Times simulator, Fate Of The World. Quintin frightened himself by playing it just here. I think it’s going to be a splendid controversy when it arrives, and I look forward to not being able to cope with international grim meathook futures.
Batman: Arkham City. Blimey, Batman had a long intro sequence. If you got past that then you began to look around and say stuff like “hey, guys, this might be one of the best superhero games of all time!” No one will listen, until they do. When they do listen, they will be very excited. And that will get boring. All of which makes the sequel, due at the end of 2011 but already spitting out lavish screenshots like sequined bats from the batcave, one of the most attractive propositions of the year.
There aren’t many MMOs on this list, but there’s no way that we could leave Funcom’s contemporary supernatural outing off it. The Secret World provides numerous reasons to be excited, not least of them being the skill-based structure and the “flat” nature of the world that will allow everyone to play together. Quintin previewed the game here, and described it as a “gentle revolution”. That’s what we’ll be hoping for.
Torchlight II. All I need to know about this is that it is more Torchlight, only co-op this time. That means I can play it with Lady Rossignol, and there will be harmony in the household.
Crysis 2. It’s going to be fascinating to see whether CryTek were able to learn from their mistakes with Crysis and to make the sequel into the rounded, muscular manshoot that we all want it to be. The idea of it being “wide but linear” seems to have been at forefront of their design chatter, so we can expect some large arenas to mess about in, just like the best bits of Crysis. Seeing how those urban environments work out will be the thing, of course. As shooters go, this is a big deal, especially for CryTek. It’s out at the end of March.
Dragon Age 2. Well, it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. Right? It’s out March 8th in the US, and March 11th in Europe. (March is seriously going to kill me, isn’t it?)
Bulletstorm. Epic might be talking about creativity and stuff, but we know the score: sometimes you just want to kill up some dudes and hear a congratulatory “M-M-M-MONSTER KILL” echoing in your years. And that is sort of what will happen here. A February 22nd release date for the booted sci-fi death-frenzy from the makes of Painkiller, with a little help from Epic.
Spy Party. This could be like an antidote to Bulletstorm. Hecker describes it as “A Spy Game About Subtle Behaviour.” Or in more depth: “an asymmetric multiplayer espionage game, dealing with the subtlety of human behavior, character, personality, and social mores, instead of the usual spy game explosions and car chases.” It’s not clear when it’ll be out, but it is clear that it will be enormously interesting to play.
Jon Blow is also at the controls for another game. It’s The Witness. It’s all still fairly mysterious at present, with the art revealing a 3D island, with lots of buildings and doors and levers and stuff. Blow is saying that the game will be “quiet and philosophical”, which makes it different enough for the rest of the army of loud and unthinking games that we’re going to want to take a look. Let’s just hope the PC version is timely.
Grim Dawn. I know we haven’t talked much about this, but I think Grim Dawn could be splendid. It’s being made by some chaps who worked for Iron Lore, and it’s built using much the same tech as Titan Quest. More interesting, perhaps, is the sort of Steam-Cowboy supernatural apocalypse world that it’s set in. Definitely something I’m looking forward to exploring. The game is already available to pre-order, so we’re hoping it will hit early on in 2011, despite the lack of a firm date.
Men Of War: Assault Squad. I’ve harped on about this at length a couple of times now on RPS, but I’ll admit that it’s a bit of an odd fish. It’s basically a pure skirmish and multiplayer game, which is being developed by DigitalMindSoft, rather than the original MoW team, who are now making Men Of War: Vietnam for 1c. Assault Squad has been in beta for a while now, and I expect it to be out soon.
Men Of War: Vietnam. 1c are releasing the next big single-player Men Of War game, this time set in Vietnam, and with US and Vietcong campaigns. I’m still a bit wary of it, because I am not 100% convinced of the setting, but the Men Of War engine could definitely handle this kind of tactical game. I’ll be interested to see more. We wrote about it in a bit of detail here. No firm release date on this that I can see.
Cargo! It’s hard not to take a good look at whatever Ice Pick Lodge now produce, because their previous games – Pathologic, The Void – were headbender insane. Cargo! is in stark contrast to those werid, nightmarish games, being both a puzzle game and enormously colourful. We’re certain that the weird isn’t going away, however.
Natural Selection 2. It feels like a lifetime since Unknown Worlds embarked on their project of turning the sequel to a Half-Life mod into a commercial RTS/FPS hybrid, and the final stages of that project are now underway. With the beta underway, we should see the game arrive within the next few weeks, all being well.
Rage. I liked it when Tim Willits said that Rage was basically nothing new, but it was awesome. These days that seems reassuring. Id aren’t going to mess with the formulas, they’re just going to make it even prettier than it’s ever been. That said, this isn’t a straight up scripted shooter, and I’m intrigued by its vehicular carnage and apocalyptic world. I think Rage still has scope to surprise us on its scheduled launch in September 2011.
Dead Space 2. The first Dead Space game stamped its way into our hearts in a rather awkward fashion. It felt a little clumsy, but there was no denying the ambition and pace of it. We’re hoping for great things of the sequel, which has already been showing off some spectacular space sequences at press events. Still not quite sure about that Left 4 Dead styled multiplayer, however. Hmm. It hits on January 25th.
Max Payne 3. It he still Max Payne if he’s bald and living in Brazil? That’s the question everyone is asking. And you can see why they might be worried… Of course all that really matters is that he can still slow down time to shoot people quite accurately as he sails through a bunch of slow-moving debris. Isn’t that right? Right. No release date on this, but we’re assuming toward the end of 2011.
Warhammer 40k: Space marine. I can’t believe this is the first game to use the URL spacemarine.com! Also: this delayed action ‘em up looks like just the ticket for those of us with a fondness for large men in armour. The Emperor is going to get served, and not in a bad way. If you want to know a bit more about this then check out Quintin’s preview. We currently have this pegged for “summer 2011″.
From Dust is looking shiftily unusual, and that pleases The Hivemind. A game about magical terrain deformation that involves looking after a tribe of weird humanoids sounds right up our… tract of terrain. It’s going to be available via digital download during the first half of the year. Word on the street is that we will play it and the write words that in some way evaluate its worth in the wider scheme of things.
The Sims: Medieval seems to be turning The Sims into a quest-driven fantasy adventure with political, romantic, and diplomatic elements. It’s intriguing. The Sims has always been a series worthy of experimenting with, but I wonder if this could finally uncover a formula for using the simulated people in a way that is even more inventive than the vanilla version. It’s out in March.
The Old Republic. Bioware’s grand MMO project continues to trundle towards the enormity of its release. There’s little doubt that it’ll be a decent game, but whether it’ll be one of the great MMOs, well, that’s still unclear. We’re expecting this in the third quarter of 2011.
Neverwinter. Cryptic are having a go at the D&D universe by create a quasi-MMO online RPG, which will supplement its own adventures by allowing players to use the world to create their own scenarios. Sounds like something we should play! What’s perhaps even more appealling is Cryptic’s own admission that they need to do better than they did with Champions. Neverwinter should be arriving at the end of 2011.
XCOM. Yeah, yeah, it’ll be crap because it’s not X-Com, it’ll be crap because it’s like Bioshock. All that stuff. I am still genuinely interested to see how it turns out – just put it through a filter whereby it’s actually called “1950s UFO Investigation” or something. The setting looks great, and the game idea is strong. I think this could be awesome. It’s due at the end of 2011.
Section 8: Prejudice. This budget multiplayer sequel might just be another flash in the pan when it hits, but we’ll definitely be playing it. Partly for robo-biff, partly for the big sci-fi maps, and partly because falling from the sky is always okay, no matter how many times you do it. This is arriving from the big blue skies of development “early” in 2011, which we think means Februaryish.
Might and Magic Heroes VI. The name format has been altered slightly, but this is still much the same game that we’re familiar with from endless years before. Of course it’s also looking lavishly pretty, and apparently Black Hole are enhancing the RPG aspects of it. Not sure of the release date on this one, apart from it being some time in 2011.
Cities In Motion. Okay! Fine! This probably won’t be that great, but I am infrastructure junkie. It’s out on the 25th of February.
Frozen Synapse has been available for a while in that paid-for-beta sort of way, but the final release should be early in 2011. Kieron has already raved about it to you, so there is no reason for me to point out that there is a serious game of tactical cleverness down there. You should take a look.
Xenonauts. Ah yes, the XCOM antidote! Alec interviewed its creator here. This is a game based on the original turn-based dynamics of the X-Com games, designed to fill the gap that other games no longer seem to wish to slot into. We’re hoping to see it arrive sooner rather than later, if just because it will cheer Alec up. No precise release date for this, but the main site is full of information about the ongoing project.
Battlefield Play4Free. So DICE are taking Battlefield 2, optimising it, and making it free to play. That’s some kind of seriously big deal, I think. Battlefield 2 already ate a large chunk of my life, so I don’t know if I can allow this to get me too. It’s been announced for “early 2011″, whatever that means.
I really don’t know enough about Sword Of The Stars 2 to judge whether it will do important things to the space 4X genre, but I do know that I like big shiny spacecraft, and it has those. Look at those fuckers!
Dirt 3, or “Thirt” as I believe we are calling it, is a game in which cars are driven faster than can be reasonably expected to be safe. I don’t know if I like the sound of that, but at least it’s the kind of thing that should be happening in a videogame.
Depth. It’s a multiplayer “aquatic stealth” game. One team of divers, one team of sharks. I can’t wait to see how that plays out. I suspect it will play out with some divers getting eaten. Also, we’re always saying how they’re aren’t enough stealth games, well, the same is true of playable sharks.
I’ve really not got much interest in the Tomb Raider games, but John seems to like them, so maybe he’s on to something. This year will see a reboot of the series with Lara Croft, in which the traditional Lara is turned into a muddy adolescent. It’ll probably be fine.
Infinity Universe. Well, we hope it will come out in 2011, but it’s one of life’s beautiful mysteries.
Yes, I’ve missed out a bunch of games, especially on the indie front, but that’s because this is just the list of stuff that has caught my attention, or that I know enough about to have some kind of personal interest in. If something isn’t on this list it’s because I hate it and think it will be the worst game of all time. On that basis: holy crap that’s a year of games to look forward to. Let’s get to work.
[Header image derived from this splendid story.]