So as you’ve hopefully already read, Matthew posted a two–part list of his most anticipated games of 2015. It occurred to me this was a great idea, so I’d like to steal it now and present my own list. The games run from ten to one, with number one being my most anticipated. I’ll post numbers ten to six today, and the rest at some point this weekend.
Before we get to that, a quick note. You’ll probably notice a certain similarity between many of the games on my list. My palette when it comes to games isn’t terribly refined – I’m more of a movie guy. So you’ll see a lot of third-person action adventure games, and a lot of FPS games. No fantasy games, no sports, no puzzle games, no platformers, no racing games… Sorry, that’s just the way of things. Let’s get to it.
10. Fortnite (Epic Games, PC)
This is a third-person survival sandbox game. The quickest way to describe it would be Minecraft by way of Team Fortress. During the day you and your teammates run around and collect resources – wood, stone, concrete – and build structures. At night, monsters come out and try to kill you and destroy your stuff. And there’s weapons and you have to defend particular points and it always ends up in chaos.
In watching gameplay footage, a couple of things impressed me. The building interface looks intuitive, fast, and flexible. You can put together either simple or complex structures quite quickly in game. And the AI also looks to be shaping up nicely. No matter how maze-like or well-defended your structures appear, they always seem to figure out how to get at you. There’s also a good variety of weapons and traps and other stuff to keep gameplay fresh.
I’ve been a fan of Epic Games since the Unreal series, and though I never really got into Gears Of War I’m excited to see what these talented people have in store with Fortnite.
9. Firewatch (Campo Santo, PC)
This is a first-person exploration/mystery game. You play as Henry, a lookout stationed high atop an observation tower in the Wyoming wilderness. You begin the game tasked with keeping an eye out for fires, but strange events soon draw you out of the tower. With only your supervisor, Delilah, to keep you company on the other end of your radio, you strike out into the forest to investigate.
In all honesty I don’t know that much about what’s going on here, and I’m perfectly okay with that. I like the idea of being on your own, but still having someone to talk to. This is a nice way to move the narrative along, but still maintain the feeling of isolation. And I’m curious about what sort of weird stuff you’ll find when you get out into the woods. I’m not sure how much the gameplay trailers have revealed and I don’t want to know. The introductory stuff (like the trailer above, which is very non-spoiler-y) I’ve seen has me intrigued enough.
While this is Campo Santo’s first game, they’re definitely a seasoned bunch. The team includes Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman (formerly of Telltale Games), Nels Anderson (formerly of Klei Games) and Olly Moss (probably best known as the designer of numerous gorgeous posters for print shop Mondo).
8. Evolve (Turtle Rock Studios, PC/PS4/Xbox One)
This is an asymmetric multiplayer FPS. Four players control hunters, and the fifth player controls a massive monster. The hunters are all different classes: trapper, support, medic, and assault. Each class will have various different characters with different abilities and play styles. And of course there will be a variety of monsters for the fifth player to choose from. Over the course of a match, these monsters will be able to “evolve” to regain health and unlock new abilities. The maps will also feature other wildlife NPCs, which can be killed by either side for powerups.
In all, the game is set to launch with 12 hunters, three monsters, four game modes, and over a dozen maps (with multiple DLC packs no doubt already complete or nearing completion). It would’ve been nice to get a few more options for monsters in the game itself, but like I said, they do evolve. And those evolutions bring on choices for different abilities. So even with just three to chose from, it seems like there’d be a good number of permutations. Plus, the developers have promised all future maps will be free of charge. Only new monsters and hunters will cost you. So that’s something.
Turtle Rock are best known as the developers of Left 4 Dead, so clearly they have a handle on this squad-based co-op multiplayer thing. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this one.
7. Quantum Break (Remedy Entertainment, Xbox One)
This is a third-person action game. The game’s story revolves around a time travel experiment gone wrong, and a handful of characters who find themselves able to manipulate time in various ways as a result.
One aspect of the game I’m not totally sold on is the planned meshing of TV episodes to act as bridges within the story. Supposedly the content of these episodes will be affected by your in-game choices. So you’ll play a bunch, then watch a live-action TV episode that continues the story for a half-hour or so, changing depending on your choices, then jump back in for more gameplay, and so on. This sounds extremely ambitious and difficult to pull off to a meaningful degree. But hey, if it works it could be neat.
Storytelling aside, the gameplay I’ve seen looks interesting. One of the characters essentially has the ability to pause time. Pinned down by heavy fire? Pause time, move to a flanking position, start time, and mow down your enemies from the side. Not much else is known about the ways other characters will be able to mess with time. So I’m curious to see what sort of fun stuff the developers have come up with on that front.
Speaking of the developers, this one’s from Remedy Entertainment. Remedy have been around almost twenty years now, and they’re best known for the Max Payne series and its “bullet time” mechanic. This is a series I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Heck, if you want to go back even further, check out Death Rally. Fantastic little top-down action racing game. I never got into the Alan Wake stuff, but it’s on my list. Anyway, Quantum Break looks like fun.
6. Until Dawn (Supermassive Games, PS4)
This is a third-person survival horror game. If you’ve ever watched a horror movie, you’ve probably put yourself in the shoes of one of those unfortunate teenagers, trapped in a remote location with a psychopath. You’ve watched them blunder around, only to wind up unarmed and locked in the basement. “Moron!” you’ve shouted. “You should’ve just snuck out the window!”
Well, this game appears to let you take charge of the story. You follow a group of eight friends, visiting a mountain retreat. From there you get a pretty stock sounding horror setup. Random killer, struggle for survival, etc. The game promises “innovative choice mechanics” and “an upredictable and dynamically adaptive story” in which anyone can live or die based on what you do.
As usual, I’m skeptical about anything that claims to have a branching narrative. The developers say thousands of outcomes are possible. But how different are we talking about here? I’ll have to see it.
Where the game kind of sells me is in the presentation. The character models and environments look pretty stunning. And there are some recognizable names and faces among the cast. Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, Nashville) is in there, as is Rami Malek (The Pacific, Short Term 12). These are people whose work I like. So already I’m interested to see them, and play as them.
In watching the gameplay, it presents as almost an interactive movie. You’re being chased by a killer, do you: a) hide under the bed, or b) run to the bathroom and lock the door? It’s like choose-your-own adventure storytelling. What remains unclear is how punishing the choice mechanics are. Does one wrong move mean death? They say you can live or die, and I assume that goes for all the characters. So a theoretical perfect playthrough would see all eight make it to the morning. But is that next to impossible? Will it require tons of trial and error? Or is it fairly doable? I’m just not sure. Either way the game looks tense and fun and I look forward to playing it.
I can’t say I know much about developers Supermassive Games, except they made a Dr. Who game that was not particularly well-received. But hey, Until Dawn is going to be a PS4 exclusive, so I’m sure Sony will be keeping a close eye. It seems like a pretty ambitious game, but judging by the way it looks and the actors they’ve brought on, they’ve put the money and time in to make it work.
Well, that’s gonna do it for now folks. As I mentioned, check back later this weekend to see my top five most anticipated games of 2015.