Once we get past early summer things get a little hazy. We enter a nether-realm of shifting dates and unclear prophecies. By then we'll also have a whole bunch of games I haven't previously mentioned show up in the intervening months, stuff that we didn't have release dates for to place them in our line-up. This final post in our preview attempts to survey them all. To the future! (And check out part one and two if you haven't seen them already.)
A new World Of Warcraft expansion will undoubtedly be playing on the minds of plenty of PC gamers. Cataclysm is due some time this year, and will radically shake up Azeroth. New dungeons, new regions, a new level cap, archaeology, and two new races: Goblins and Worgen. If you are partial to a bit of the Blizzard megalith, then this is going to be pretty enticing.
Of course the MMO realm is over-flowing with other possibilities in 2010. There's Lego Universe which is y'know, for kids, but is likely to appeal to a much wider audience. From the same studio there's Jumpgate Evolution, a colourful and accessible space MMO, which is counter-balanced by the recent saved-from-extinction Black Prophecy, which looks dark and Germanic. And then there's The Secret World, Funcom's attempt to bring all the conspiracy and mythology of our world into a single contemporary setting. Buffy meets The X-Files meets Cthulhu, or something like that. I'm very excited about that one.
Heroes of Newerth is one of a whole bunch of games that is currently playable at a beta stage, but doesn't yet have a definite release date. The Defense Of The Ancients type game from S2 games could be fairly popular this year, and we're seeing lots of support for it from the traditional hardcore fans in that area.
Another strange addition to the line-up of games without exact dates is Mortal Online. We'll hopefully be covering this soon, but as an ultra-hardcore first-person MMO reminiscent of the original Ultima Online days, this has certainly got our interest. Perhaps it's something you should be taking a look at too?
I've also been spending some time with the strange Eve-like robot MMO, Perpetuum Online. Developed by a small Hungarian studio, this game appears to have been very much inspired by CCP's opus, but is set on a science fiction planet where players pilot various types of mech. So far I'm still in the newbie chassis, but I'm going to get me an assault mech soon. I'll let you know how it goes after I've been ganked by some hardcore PvPers.
I don't know how many of you have been following the development of Overgrowth, but the anthropomorphic animal-based fighting game is intriguing indeed. It appears to have survival elements, suggesting you're going to live in the world as one of these humanoid animals, but the key thing is physics-based combat, in which you do martial arts on your enemies, and use physics objects from the environment as weapons. No release date on this, but it should be mid 2010
RPS readers are probably a little more familiar with the perpetually-developed Natural Selection 2, an RTS/FPS hybrid based on the original Half-Life mod. Unknown Worlds have put their heart and soul into this, their first commercial game, and it's going to be fascinating to see what the response is when it finally arrives.
Also out in the indie wilderness is the impressive-looking multiplayer space combat game, Naumachia. It's one of a whole bunch of smaller titles that we can expect to see in 2010 - titles that we will probably end up spending just as much time with as anything the big studios produce. What will PopCap come up with, for instance? And will Cactus find his way to a major release this year?
Also out in the realm of smaller releases is Trackmania 2, the actual proper sequel to the insanely excellent Trackmania games. This was only announced towards the end of last year, but we expect it to turn up by the Autumn.
Then there's Max Payne 3, still apparently scheduled for autumn this year. It'll be interesting to see whether it actually hits that date. It's also going to be interesting to see how Rockstar Vancouver manage to update the game from the previous to. Alec and I went back to look at Max Payne 2 last year, and it really hasn't aged well. For a game that was the future of action, it really does look like a thing of the past.
Also slated for that rough end of the year period is the return of the Medal Of Honour series. I'd be surprised if it actually turned up this year, but I think EA have it scheduled to arrive before March 2011, so in the next year, if not 2010. It's hard to really care about this, as it's bound to be a rehash of Modern Warfare 2. Millions will buy it, but I'll probably be playing something else.
Then there are a bunch of games that may or may not actually arrive in 2010, like Brink. Splash Damage's astonishing-looking team-based shooter will be throwing in all kinds of strangeness that we've never seen before, like player-designated asymmetrical objectives, and a new movement system. It's already be shunted back to the end of the year, but there's every reason to suspect that it might slip further.
And what of Splash Damage's big brother company, Id Software. Also working with ZeniMax on their next game, Rage, we still don't know a whole lot about it. Notice that the teaser site that appeared last year has quietly disappeared from the net, and now redirects to the Id page. This game could slip and slip for all we know, and if there are any answers, they're unlikely to arrive before QuakeCon in the summer. I'd like to see Rage arrive for Christmas 2010 and answer all our doubts, but I think it's a good contender for a 2011 release.
Crysis 2 is always out there but unknown. A known unknown, if you will. It's going to be a return to the realm of the nanosuit combat, we know that much, but will it cover the same ground of alien-battling, or will Crytek finally drop that ideal and just let us fight other humans? And will it make 2010? Right now it appears to be roughly aim at the end of the year, but it's another game that could easily slip by another year.
What is still on the cards for 2010 is Deus Ex 3 from Eidos. Their studio in Montreal have been busy at work on the RPG-FPS sequel for quite some time now, and we're expecting to get a lot more information over the summer. It might just make this year, but equally it could end up in early 2011 or beyond.
Finally, don't expect to see Half-Life 2: Episode 3 this year, however. It's probably happening, eventually, but Valve aren't saying anything. I'd put long odds on that one appearing before 2011.
Anyway, yes, there's plenty I've missed, other stuff that Tim Stone has already covered, and things we don't yet know about. In conclusion: there's tonnes on the horizon. It's going to be another interesting year.