2013 is to be considered a fine feast, one for which can already read an extensive menu. We'll glimpse into the steamy kitchen and see the fleshy morsels that we'll drag onto our plates, piping hot, and those that we'll probably scrape aside, to be served reheated, late at night in an ill-advised sale purchase.
This is simply part one of our preview, with two more parts to follow in the coming days. Read on, and feel your glands become swollen with anticipation of the digestions to come. The games are in a mystery order, and there will be a prize for the first person who can guess what that order is.
Ron Gilbert, he of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island fame, is making a new adventure game (!) with seven main characters (!!) and jumping (!!!). Not only that, he's leading a team of Double Fine's bravest men and women into the darkest depths of the human psyche, so naturally, there's an underwater-breathing hillbilly. Also, the cave talks.
Dead Space 3
The rumors of space's death have been greatly exaggerated. It's still up above the sky, doing space things, as is its wont. But oh does it ever continue to be infested with the scythe-armed undead. And the lights up there? They pretty much always malfunction. What a pain, right? So basically, we're looking at more Dead Space, but with (optional) co-op and crafting. Spooky? Probably. But maybe don't go in expecting the next great step in “ohgodscaryscaryscary” technology.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Aliens: Colonial Marines has been clambering around in the vents of Gearbox's development space station for years, but – after countless delays – it's finally just around the corner. No, it's above you! Or... beneath? Actually, WAIT. It's everywhere. Now you're dead. But maybe that's not the worst fate that could've befallen you. Aliens' multiplayer might be worth a look, but the campaign's displayed a worrisome lack of personality, smarts, or scares.
Crysis 3's being billed as a ferociously overgrown middle ground between Crysis and Crysis 2, and that's a series of words we can absolutely get behind. And certainly, the snippets we've seen and played suggest a very finely tuned game of nano-powered manshooting and MAXIMUM squid punching. But will all the puzzle pieces come together and justify Crytek's lofty promises? Also, more importantly, can it topple the likes of Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider, and Assassin's Creed III to capture 2013's most prestigious honor: the title of bowiest bow?
Over the years, Lara Croft's been countless different things to different people. Sex symbol, role model, household name, Angelina Jolie. That, in large part, is why Crystal Dynamics' re-envisioning of her raiderly origins is such a big deal: this isn't the Lara any of us know. So what will she be like? How will she grow over the course of her first adventure? Was all of that “you'll want to protect her” nonsense just uninformed marketing speak? Will there be tombs? And, perhaps most crucially of all, will the game itself be more than just a standard leapy shooty stabby adventure? Come March, we'll find out.
For better or worse (usually better, thankfully), Ken Levine makes the games he wants to make. The original BioShock was an utterly mad undersea criticism of Randian Objectivism, and now he's ditched his drill-armed diving suit and taken to the skies. And what do we find in the sky? Early-1900s-tinged American Exceptionalism, of course! Early impressions seem to suggest that Levine and co have struck gold again, but – whether polished to the high heavens or gravely flawed – this one's sure to spark some serious discussion.
Strike Suit Zero
After a very successful Kickstarter, Born Ready Games are one of a number of developers looking to see space combat return to your screen. And they're one of very few who are going to achieve that. Combining elements from Freespace, Wing Commander, X-Wing and Colony Wars, it then adds its own robot modem, adding a sense of third-person action. The strike suit caught people's attention, and if it can deliver this might be one of the first big Kickstarter successes.
DmC: Devil May Cry
The Resident Evil spin-off is now twelve years old, and the title of the fifth game in the franchise doesn't exactly suggest they're bursting with fresh ideas. However, this is a reboot for the series, using the comickybook trick of setting it in a parallel universe. While publishing is still in the hands of Capcom, it's no longer internally developed, and without Hideaki Itsuno at the helm. This time it's UK-based Ninja Theory, following on from Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey To The West. For some reason the PC has to wait 10 days longer than the consoles to play.
Immediately evoking thoughts of Dungeon Keeper, Paradox may well prove wise to have swooped in to fill the gap left by EA's failure to revive the franchise. Much looks near identical, from digging dungeons to defending against invading heroes. But they also promise above-ground raids, along with some CCG-style card-collecting antics.
Two and a half years ago we were first excited to hear that many behind the excellent Titan Quest were working on their own ARPG. Two years later they raised a mammoth half million dollars on Kickstarter, which of course only means the game gets even further away. But does mean it is happening. Which means later this year we should see the open-world approach to the action-RPG that the Earth is so desperately needing.
Bound to be November
Absolutely nothing is announced about BF4, other than that DICE are working on it. In fact, the nominal website attempts to deflect attention away and back onto BF3 and its ongoing expansions. (And even more desperately, onto the horrible Medal Of Honor: Warfighter.) But EA are bound to be desperate for it for Christmas, especially with the MoH series proving a massively inadequate gap-filler for the non-Battlefield years. So your guess is as good as ours, really. But it wouldn't be too surprising to see the series take a whole new direction, perhaps venturing into science fiction.
After a pretty tough year for developers Bohemia Interactive, ARMA 3 has seen a big delay. With two developers still held captive in Greece, and clearly a huge amount of their resources focused on seeing them released, they've also seen a change in project lead. So it should now be Summer when we see the latest in their astonishingly detailed and somewhat daunting ultra-realistic military simulation series. As ever, we wish the very best to Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar.
Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs
First half 2013
It's a very intriguing prospect. A sequel to Frictional's utterly terrifying Amnesia, developed by they behind Dear Esther, the chinese room. But any fears of its losing the spooks have been put aside by a truly erk-inducing trailer. In fact, if there was anything wrong with Amnesia it was a slightly weak story - if the chinese room can plug that gap, this might be epic. Quite what it's all about is not yet known, but you can be sure you'll be walking in the pitch black, being terrified of everything.
Sacrificing one genre for another. As an ARPG, it looks like it might be good fun. As anything to do with the Van Helsing myth, it looks like it's gone mad. Playing as the vampire killer's son, you'll take on endless crowds of mythical beasties in what could actually be an evolutionary step forward for the action RPG. That's if they can deliver on promises of tower-defence-alike trap building and hideouts. There's still quite a wait to find out.
Call To Arms
Described as "the true successor of the Men Of War series", Digitalmindsoft are looking to update their hugely respected franchise to modern warfare. The rather odd decision is to try to crowd fund it, but not using a major crowd funding site. Instead they've established their own, which is unsurprisingly failing to attract much attention, with just 3% of its goal raised, and your money being taken right away whether they make their target or not. Bit of a strange situation.
Tune in tomorrow for Part two!