20 most anticipated games of 2014
The Order 1886

It’s shaping up to be a truly vintage year for gaming. As well as the obligatory big-name sequels, the new generation getting into full-swing will usher in the biggest avalanche of original, ambitious IPs in recent memory.

On top of that, the booming indie scene has never been stronger, nor more exciting. Without further ado, Mark Butler takes a look at 20 games he can’t wait to play in 2014.

The Order 1886
[Steampunk Spectacular: forthcoming thriller The Order: 1886]

Dark Souls II

The latest in an increasingly revered action RPG series that has become synonymous with an intense and formidable sense of challenge, Dark Souls II will usher players once more into a fiendish series of trap-filled dungeons, hazardous landscapes and jaw-dropping boss encounters.

The faction system is being extended, new measures are being introduced to ensure even greater adversity, and there’s no indication that the franchise’s rampant creative imagination or atmosphere has been dulled one iota. Put simply: it looks tremendous.

Coming to PC, Xbox 360 and PS3

Watch Dogs

Bold, innovative and much talked-about, this sandbox action-adventure is armed with a fantastically nifty concept. Watch Dogs is a game that allows your character to hack into and disrupt technological devices and networks around the city they inhabit, opening up all kinds of interesting possibilities for achieving your shady goals: whether it be stealing information, infiltrating a locked-down stronghold, or assassinating a very public target.

Taking the crafty side-quest solving possibilities of  a series like Hitman and serving it up in a riveting new package, it seems that this is going to be a tantalizing experience for people who love gaming experimentation and action-packed problem-solving – not to mention those who just want to watch the world burn.

Coming to PS3, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Wii U

The Witness

A compelling first-person puzzler from Braid creator Jonathan Blow, exploration and discovery is the name of the game here.

Offering up non-linear gameplay and a genuine sense of mystery as you negotiate the wide-reaching environments, this intriguing mystery has you explore a vibrant and colourful uninhabited island in a bid to unlock its secrets. Could it be a modern day Myst, in both magnitude of impact and excellence of execution? Only time will tell.

Coming to PS4, PC and iOS

Titanfall

Intense, COD-style action? Check. An array of futuristic weapons? Check. Jetpacks? Check. Colossal mechs that you can hijack? Check.

Respawn’s incredible-looking deathmatch FPS looks like a veritable feast of multiplayer mayhem, pandering to the childhood playground fantasies of action fanatics everywhere. Offering an epic sense of spectacle, scale and empowerment, it’s strongly-tipped to be a genuinely special experience.

Coming to PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Routine

Indie horror continues to have some inspired ideas up its sleeve. Set in a refreshingly retro version of space – complete with floppy discs that must be collected – Routine has you investigate an eerily-deserted lunar station, where something very nasty awaits.

Thanks to randomised environmental threats, locations and pick-ups, it changes every time you play – which is probably a good thing, as you have minimal means to fight back, and permadeath awaits you should you fail. Could this be 2014′s sci-fi answer to Amnesia?

Coming to PC

Metal Gear Solid V

One of the most famous franchises around gets a tantalising new lease of life thanks to a new open-world approach, which unleashes the tried-and-tested sneak and shoot stealth-action formula into an exciting video game sandbox.

Freedom and flexibility is the order of the day here, with vehicles, night-time excursions and base-building fleshing out the backbone of Snake’s latest espionage outing. Just when the lunacy of Hideo Kojima’s writing was pushing us to breaking point, the gameplay shift here should be more than enough to reel us back in.

Coming to PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Game Of Thrones

Telltale Games’ extraordinary blend of emotive, absorbing drama and immersive point-and-click adventuring deservedly won them great acclaim and commercial success with their award-winning Walking Dead series. So when it was announced they would be turning their episodic attentions to the complex, fascinating fantasy world of Westeros, there was tangible euphoria.

Details on the project are scarce for now, but to say that it’s a mouthwatering prospect would be an understatement. We can’t wait to see what tale they have to tell.

Coming to multiple platforms, including PC, consoles and mobile devices

Destiny

How on earth do you follow up the colossal success of Halo? By taking on something much more audacious, ambitious, and potentially even more groundbreaking it seems, if you happen to be Bungie.

A post-apocalyptic online sci-fi shooter to blurs the line between FPS and MMO in compelling fashion, there are notable similarities in theme, story and style with the Halo titles, but the scope and graphical splendour of the enterprise really does look a giant leap forward.

Coming to PS3, PS4. Xbox 360 and Xbox One

South Park: The Stick Of Truth

Written and voiced by gleefully offensive satire kings Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves, this couldn’t be further removed from your typical lazy, money-grabbing spin-off. Developed by excellent RPG veterans Obsidian, it genuinely looks like a brilliant, extended South Park episode with you at the very centre.

There’s plenty of in-jokes, familiar faces and no-holds barred humour to appeal to fans, while the side quests, minigames and leveling systems sound like a whole heap of fun. Let’s hope there’s plenty of Scott Malkinson, crab-people and Super Best Friends action in store.

Coming to PC, PS3 and Xbox 360

Bayonetta 2

When it was announced that the follow-up to Platinum’s lightning-paced, visually-lavish and stylistically outrageous hack-and-slash experience would be a Wii U exclusive there was palpable anger among many non-Nintendo gamers – such was the devotion that the entertaining original inspired.

Previews suggest it could be even more chaotic and extravagant as its predecessor – in the best possible sense, of course.

Coming to Wii U

Daylight

This ghostly psychological experience from Zombie studios is set in an abandoned hospital. But while its location may be almost cliched, its approach is most definitely not.

Procedurally-generated so that the environment and items change every time you play, the game takes a leaf out of Amnesia’s book by throwing combat out of the window and leaving you to prowl the pitch-black corridors unarmed. Wielding only a mobile phone and other merciful light-giving items, it seems as though many a nervous soul will find their imaginations wandering wildly while playing this.

Coming to PC and PS4

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Following widespread criticism over the more ‘streamlined’ approach taken with Dragon Age II, BioWare have gone back to the more expansive exploration and landscapes of the excellent original saga, while also overhauling key aspects of combat, decision-making and character interaction.

If they can re-introduce the kind of sweeping scale that made the first instalment such a joy, while beefing up the action and retaining the immersive writing and drama that has become a real calling card in the industry, BioWare could have a sublime fantasy epic on their hands.

Coming to PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Hotline Miami 2

Top-down smash and blast-em-up Hotline Miami was one of the surprise highlights of 2012: a brutal yet smart retro brawler that transformed room-to-room brutality into a form of ingenious blood-soaked puzzle solving.

The forthcoming follow-up looks every bit as deranged and delightful. We’re expecting plenty more surreal cut scenes and wanton acts of extreme violence – as well as another killer synth soundtrack, of course.

Coming to PC, PS4 and PlayStation Vita

The Evil Within

Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is the man who effectively created and popularised survival-horror back in the ’90s, and now he’s back with a brand new project that seems to have turned the twisted creep-factor up to 11.

Coming across like a dastardly mix of Silent Hill, Condemned and Mikami’s own seminal Resident Evil 4, previews suggest a nerve-jangling onslaught of both gory, visceral schlock and unsettling psychological chills, as you step into the shoes of a Detective who must battle an evil, oppressive force.

Coming to PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

The Forest

This tense open-world thriller from fledgling studio SKS casts you as the survivor of an air crash, left to fend for yourself in the wilderness. You must forage for food, build shelters, and battle to stay alive – because when darkness falls, something very nasty is lurking out in the woods.

The initial footage looks incredibly suspenseful and panic-inducing, while SKS’s special effects experience on movies such as 300 and Tron: Legacy bodes well for the visual impact. Even more excitingly for those with nerves of steel, it will offer Oculus Rift support.

Coming to PC

The Order: 1886

Set in an alternate version of gothic Victorian London where gun and crossbow-wielding knights battle half-human monsters, this looks like the ultimate action experience for Victoriana-loving Steampunk enthusiasts.

Initial footage offers glimpses of mist-soaked cobbled streets, dimly lit by stoic lamp-posts as bloated zeppelins drift by overhead. If the mood and tone is nailed and the slightly bonkers storyline gets delivered with enough flair and cheesy fun, this could be genuinely fantastic.

Coming to PS4

The Witcher 3

CD Projekt Red’s gritty, visceral and compelling fantasy RPG returns – this time armed with one of the biggest open-world settings imaginable. Yep. That’s right. Even bigger than Skyrim.

With the lofty standard of absorbing narrative, sublime characters and murky sub-plots we’ve come to expect likely to be in attendance once more, and everything from dedicated monster-hunting side quests to settlement-specific sagas there for players to tackle, it looks as though Geralt’s last hurrah could be more bloody and brilliant than ever.

Coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Quadrilateral Cowboy

Brendon Chung’s high-concept puzzler places you in the shoes of an expert computer hacker in the ’80s, who must use codes and programs to help an array of agents sneak past locked doors, security cameras and the like to breach buildings and make off with sensitive documents.

Its retro aesthetic and sensibility is a thing of beauty, while its unusual approach and mechanics have justly seen it highlighted as one of 2014’s most original indie prospects.

Coming to PC

Alien: Isolation

Somebody did it. Somebody finally did it. Somebody made a survival-horror based Alien game drawing on the seminal first film’s grimy, foreboding industrial space aesthetic, where the creature of movie legend is given its just due as a horrifying, gargantuan manifestation of formidable, merciless menace.

Trust Creative Assembly – hitherto best-known for their brilliant Total War strategy series – to be the ones to save us from previous FPS mediocrity. Here they’ve seemingly created something tangibly tense, terrifying, patiently-paced and beautifully atmospheric, as you endeavour to use stealth and your wits to keep out of the clutches of the monstrous titular Xenomorph. Bring it on!

Coming to PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

Sunset Overdrive

Rocking the same sort of wicked sense of humour and fun that made Ratchet & Clank such a pleasure to play, Insomniac Games’ colourful new venture is shaping up to be a veritable playground of delights.

Combining parkour with stylized graphics and an array of goofy weapons, the cartoonish action sees you taking on a city full of mutants with an exuberant box of acrobatic gameplay tricks, with you arsenal including wall-running, zip-lines and a range of gymnastic moves.

Coming to Xbox One

Mark Butler

Which games are you most looking forward to in 2014?

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