The third and most important part of the preview of 2013 has been arranged by our guest editor, Simon Tremendous. Famed for his pioneering and colourful work in compiling lists of things that are about to happen in the next twelve months, Tremendous has been lauded around the world as the next big thing in discussing what the Next Big Thing might be. When we asked Tremendous how he felt about the coming year in PC gaming, he told us to stop writing idle rubbish about imaginary columnists and get on with some proper fucking work for a change. That snooty bastard.
Screw him, anyway.
Total War: Rome 2
What we've seen of the Rome remake suggests that The Creative Assembly have continued along the path laid out by Shogun 2: a comprehensive remake that builds on their already towering heap of RTS and TBS technology. It's going to look incredible, to be sure, but just how much we end up enjoying the final showing will depend on all those nuances which make Total War games tick. We can't imagine they'll make a misstep with this one, and if we can make a druid empire - as we reportedly can - then all will be well in RPS' Total Wars.
SimCity's always-on requirement is inevitably going to light the mountain-top beacons of alarm in the PC community (not least because of inevitable, I say again INEVITABLE launch-day issues), but the rest of the game is looking like Maxis at full power. A teeming, charming imaginary metropolis springing up at your fingertips, with all the tools to examine what is going on under the pavement, and under the social dynamics of your Sims going here and there. It's bound to be popular, and we look forward to seeing just how the city simulator will face down the challenges of entertaining 2013's discerning gaming audiences.
StarCraft II: Heart Of The Swarm
Blizzard's decision to make Starcraft's latest iteration into a chaptered series was always one that caused our eyebrows to arch in surprise and interest, and Heart Of The Swarm will be the proof of how they're handling that plan. It's looking promising, with a sprawling new campaign and some major changes to multiplayer. It will, at the very least, keep the hungry SC-playing masses engaged as they are forced to learn something new, so soon after the release of the first chapter. Quite where Blizzard will go with this series is something that will have a major influence on the state of PC gaming as a whole.
Few games have fired interest like the zombie-survival RPG Dead State, but with release not until December, we have to wonder if it will fall too far after the zombie gold-rush to really resonate with the over-zombified gamers of late 2013. Whatever the general consensus, it seems a safe bet that RPG-veterans at DoubleBear will deliver an interesting game, and one that should give the hivemind something brainy to chew on next Christmas.
Grand Theft Auto V
It's still not really clear when Geetav will get a PC release, just that the console release is set for the second quarter of the year. Nevertheless, we do expect it to arrive on our big bad boxes at some stage, and hopefully it will run a little better than the wobbly GTA4. We don't know too much about the fifth game at the moment, with the exception of it being More and Bigger than previous games, with a giant LA-style city playing host to motor-vehicular crime antics. The appearance of three protagonists with interweaving stories suggest that Rockstar have been taking more cues from the world of TV and cinema, so let's hope they've been paying attention to what's been going on in games, too.
Dirty Bomb sounds a bit like a euphemism doesn't it? And I mean it sounds A LOT like a euphemism. Anyway, UK FPS studio Splash Damage's foray into F2P realms is looking not unlike a sequel to the Enemy Territory games, and is no doubt a cousin to what they attempted to do for Bethesda with Brink. Set in London, this team-based, class-driven multiplayer combat game will no doubt appeal to a particular core of PC games, especially those who feel that the Enemy Territory way of doing things still has legs. We'll be fascinated to see how SD handle this, and also how they intend to monetise. (Always a heart-stopper.)
Release: It's a puzzle.
Jon Blow's first-person puzzle game remains one of the boldest and most intriguing prospects in the indie world. Dan had a big old play with it which he reported here, and I should like to quote from that, if I may: "The environment is so much of the puzzles but it’s also more than puzzles; an awful lot of the surroundings is just ambient. For example, well-buried in the undergrowth, are several audio buttons that reel off quotes from famous people. I stumbled across what I thought was a white concrete podium topped with small arbitrarily deposited cylindrical blocks; Blow tells me later, this is a place-holder for a picnic, complete with gingham cloth, food and a glass of wine."
There are a few sequels we're genuinely, profoundly, erotically looking forward to in 2013, and both this, and the next entry, and highly anticipated for their open-ended melee-focused weirdness. They're both radically different, but should also satisfy many of the same urges. Having been dragged kicking and scream to the PC via internet petition, Dark Souls met mixed responses, but remains generally loved despite sadface-making conversion to our platform. The sequel, which has been confirmed for PC from the outset, might fare a little better, and if the devs' track record is anything to go by, it should remains satisfyingly brutal.
Zeno Clash 2
If you haven't played Zeno Clash already, we recommend you go pick it up. Few games are as odd, or as memorable. Zeno Clash 2 promises to up the odd and provide even more material for memory, with a sprawling surreal open world setting. The devs told us: "The game is broken up into several different areas, a bit like a Zelda game where you travel from one area to the other, and they are all connected in a natural, organic way. In terms of scale people shouldn’t expect anything massive like a Stalker or Elder Scrolls game (we have to emphasize that we are still a small indie studio and that Zeno Clash 2 is a downloadable title) — But as an example I would say that just combining a couple of areas in the game would cover an area as large as all the walkable sections of the original Zeno Clash combined." For more, check out Jim's interview with Chilean devs, ACE Team.
We mentioned in part one of the preview that DigitalMindSoft are now making a sequel to the Men Of War series, but what are the originators of the series doing? Well, Russian studio Best Way have moved on to making something a lot more like Fallout or Stalker - a post-apocalyptic RPG with action bits. Jim talked to them over here and they said: "We plan to create a considerably vast world. Sometimes it scares us when we realize how much work we still need to do. There will be story missions with interactive scripted scenes. However after the completion of such a mission, the player will be able to freely roam the game world, take part in various events, complete additional quests and uncover secrets of the new world."
Day Z Standalone
Release: Not in 2012, anyway.
With BIS at the heart of an international controversy over arrested developers in Greece, the media focus has softened a little on Day Z, but that has done nothing to tarnish our anticipation of the standalone game - an event that many Day Z players are awaiting keenly. The mod still ticks along nicely, but so much as been promised for the standalone that its appearance now promises to be revelatory, and could bring in a new wave of fans that bounced off the complexities of the Arma 2-driven original. We're planning extensive RPS adventures once this appears in the new year.
Company Of Heroes 2
CoH2 is teetering, along with a number of other teeterers, on the precipice of THQ's possible demise. We're expecting that it will find a release even if that publish does fall down a bit hole, but there are no guarantees. If it doesn't appear then we will be losing what looks like a sensational game - even if a good part of it appears to be taken from Company of Heroes Online. It'll be grand to see Relic roll out the Eastern Front, and there's nothing that will keep us from devouring its campaign and multiplayer if it does reach the light of day.
Not too much has been seen of this Vampire Versus Evil Corporation game, but signs point to it being interesting. It's a first-person RPG in a techno-horror setting, which isn't something we're able to say about many games right now. It's actually worth taking a glimpse at the teaser trailer for an idea of the kind of atmosphere they're aiming for.
The Elder Scrolls Online
The main objection to this game seems to be from the many non-MMO players who have no interesting in pwning the n00bs in Tamriel. Understandable, but for the MMO-friendly there's a lot going on, as Zenimax explained in this interview: "...the action-based combat, I really do think it sets us apart. I know there are other games that have it, but specifically, when you’re playing online with your friends, we have synergy abilities where you pair up. Those kinds of things definitely take it [to the next level]. You definitely have the large PvP battles. It’s really a matter of how it all blends more than any one specific thing, because we can look at almost anything and say “Hey, another game has done something similar to this.”"
Rise Of The Triad
The manic-looking remake of Rise Of The Triad generated far more excitement than we could ever have expected, and we can't help but worry it won't live up to expectations when it arrives later this year. However, we have this quote from the development studio boss to make us feel certain its something we want to see: "Dog Mode is a mode where you turn into a dog. So you see a nose and tongue lolling out [from first-person]. And you can get into areas as a dog [that you couldn't as a human]. Primary fire mode is biting people in the crotch, and they die instantly. Or you can hold down the mouse buttons to howl [makes frighteningly accurate howling sound], and everything just explodes around you. That’s Dog Mode. It’s super awesome."
Dragon Age 3: Inquisition
Release: "Late 2013"
Oh yes, Dragon Age III is coming out in 2013, too! What a busy year it will be. What we know about Inquisition is that it will attempt to mix elements of both Origins and Dragon Age II, increasing the ability of the player to prepare and position for fights, and also introducing broad character customisation possibilities. Whether this will prove to be a pleasing blend will remain to be seen, for many people remain sceptical after Dragon Age II.
Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse
Release: April, maybe
Uncle Charles Cecil raised an immaculate $771,561 on the Kickstarters to get this made, which shows just how many eager fans this series still has. Cecil was quite expansive in his chat with John. But it'll probably be rubbish anyway... Only kidding! It'll probably be fine. But just fine. Not like actually good or anything. Yeah, it'll probably actually be really terrible. Or good. One of those two. Who knows? Not us. It's time for bed.
Part four of our 2013 preview will never appear, because there are only three parts.