2014, which was a decent year for gaming, is long gone. I’ll be uploading my top 10 games of 2014 shortly but I still have to complete a couple of games and contemplate their placement on my list. So, in the meantime, I decided to compose a list of my most anticipated games of 2015, a year that shows more promise than its predecessor. The list of 2015 releases is insurmountable, since many 2014 titles were delayed to the following year, and a lot of them have potential to be something amazing. I could have made a list of 20 or more games, but I decided to keep it short and simple; this means that there will be honorable mentions. Along with my 10 most anticipated games of 2015, I look forward to The Division, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Until Dawn, Evolve, No Man’s Sky, Halo 5 Guardians, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, and Yoshi’s Wooly World. But these next 10 games, ordered alphabetically, have got me extremely pumped for 2015, and I look forward to seeing how they are received both critically and commercially, and come next year, how many of them will land on my Top Games of 2015 list.
Batman: Arkham Knight
I personally skipped out on Arkham Origins as it wasn’t developed by the true Arkham geniuses at Rocksteady. Rocksteady have announced that Arkham Knight will be their final game in their Arkham trilogy and will be their biggest yet. That statement alone is enough to get me pumped for 2015. The Arkham series, without a doubt, house the greatest super hero and licensed video games ever made, so Arkham Knight has some big shoes to fill. This time around, the stakes have risen and Batman seems to be in quite the struggle as he fends off against the newly created villain, the Arkham Knight. The reveal of the Batmobile was an imminent one and introduces new dynamic elements to both the travel and combat system. And seeing how the Scarecrow segments in Arkham Asylum were some of my favourite, I am quite pleased to hear that he is the main antagonist. Batman: Arkham City is one of my favourite video games of all time, and for better or for worse my expectations are ridiculously high. But Rocksteady managed to meet expectations and up the ante with Arkham City so I have faith that they will not disappoint.
Commonly referred to as the spiritual successor of Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne is From Software’s next title in their iconic “you will die” repertoire. Directed by Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki, Bloodborne has the potential to cater to the hardcore soul’s fan and be fairly accessible to newcomers like myself. Bloodborne is set in the Victorian era, encompassing a gothic aura similar to that of Van Helsing. The combat seems slightly faster than the meticulous pace of the Soul’s series, and a heavy emphasis on cooperative play opens new possibilities for gameplay. Having a certain MMO feel, players, with the help of a friend, can raid dungeons, explore for loot and battle against tough enemies and enormous bosses. Like many other games on this list, not much is known about the story of Bloodborne, but the main hooks for me are its unique setting, diverse class system, rewarding difficulty, and the agile combat system. Although Bloodborne suffered a slight one month delay, it is a beneficial move for Sony to space out their two Q1 exclusives, Bloodborne and The Order 1886.
Broken Age: Act 2
The first act of Broken Age is an amazing game and it was just shy of being one of my top 10 games of 2014. The art style was exceptionally gorgeous, having a unique pastel based execution, the voice acting was fantastic, with Hollywood actors clearly bringing their talent to the draw board, and the riveting tale of independence and growing up, told through the eyes of Shay and Vella, ended on such a well-executed cliffhanger. Graphic adventure games have been recently gaining critical acclaim and enormous popularity; with the likes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, quality scarcity is most certainly not an issue and Broken Age Act 1 will most certainly be added to the list of amazing adventure games. Although I’m fairly saddened by the length of the game, and how I have to wait a whole year to conclude Shay and Vella’s intriguing story, I have the utmost confidence in Tim Shafer and the fine folks at Double Fine Productions and believe they will deliver a satisfying conclusion.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was one of the biggest surprises of 2013/2014; people, myself included, weren’t expecting FFXIV to be this good, especially after its horrendous original release in 2010. Final Fantasy XIV is one of my favourite games on PlayStation 4 and is the best console MMO, period. The Final Fantasy series has a struggling history, and many fans of the series just associate the FF brand as a shell of what it once was. The success of FFXIV and the anticipation of FFXV show that this series still has legs and could possibly shine once again. Final Fantasy XV looks absolutely stunning, both in the graphical and gameplay department. Once titled Versus XIII, FFXV expands on the action based combat system of Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy Type-0, adding a realistic twist to the formula. The action combat system, titled Active Cross Battle System, is the first in the main series to depart from the traditional turn based system. The setting is also slightly different, as it takes place in a modern-day like fantasy. Initially revealed at E3 in 2006, FFXV was in development hell for quite some time and not only until 2013 did Square Enix reveal that the title was still alive and well. Whether or not the game lives up to its unfathomable hype remains to be seen, but if the recent footage is any indication of the final product, then the ten years of waiting will surely pay off.
The Order 1886
The Order 1886 is Sony’s first triple A exclusive of 2015 and will probably start off the year for me. That triple A exclusive for PlayStation 4, that console selling title is just not there at the moment. Killzone Shadow Fall was fairly generic, Infamous: Second Son was great, although a little disappointing, and LittleBigPlanet 3 didn’t live up to its potential. Is “The Order 1886” the console selling game that Sony needs so desperately? It’s uncertain at the moment, but it has the potential to be Sony’s first amazing triple A exclusive. Set in an alternate history of Victorian-era London, humanity has been at war with half breed monsters for centuries. An order of knights discover Black Water, a mysterious black liquid that extends their lifespan and give them remarkable healing abilities, giving them the necessary edge to fight against the half breeds. Taking place forty years after the Industrial Revolution, the order strives to advance mankind’s technology to survive against the supernatural threat. Since this is Ready at Dawn’s play on history, the order is exposed to weaponry that was not present in 1886, due to the technological advancement. The game caters to Sony’s tried-and-true cinematic quality; the cutscenes are astounding and the transition to gameplay is seamless. Although early preview coverage indicated that the game was in a rough state, and that if Ready at Dawn’s vertical slice was any indication of the final product, then gamers should be worried. Luckily it seems that Ready at Dawn took the criticism to heart and have polished up their ambitious title, impressing more and more with every trailer and/or gameplay video. Will the Order 1886 be the console selling game that Sony needs so desperately? Come February 20th, we’ll know that answer.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Microsoft arguably had the stronger E3 press conference in 2014, showcasing a bombardment of triple A titles and a couple of intriguing exclusives, with Ori and the Blind Forest taking the cake. I was pleasantly surprised when Microsoft revealed this independent game, as it seemed different from their traditional publishing repertoire. That reveal trailer is arguably one of my favourite game trailers, amongst the likes of the phenomenal Dead Island trailer, evoking a tranquil sense of beauty and loss. Hell, my girlfriend cried when she watched the reveal trailer. If the full game can replicate at least half of the emotional quality from the trailer, then Ori and the Blind Forest will be an unforgettable experience. The art design is staggering, mirroring the likes of Ubisoft’s Ubiart framework, possessing that same hand-drawn quality. Inspired by current and classic adventure games, Ori and the Blind Forest pays homage to the Rayman and Metroid franchises and is intended as a lover letter to those series. The core story hasn’t been revealed, but Moon Studios have expressed that they were inspired by works such as The Lion King and The Iron Giant, encompassing an emotional coming-of-age story. A story of self-discovery and self-sacrifice. Set for a March 11 release date, Ori without a doubt is my most anticipated Xbox One exclusive, and I can’t wait to delve into this beautiful experience.
Persona 4 is my favourite video game of all time. After playing the excellent golden edition on the PlayStation Vita, it was impossible to not be excited for the next entry in the Megami Tensei subseries. Persona 4 was such a beautifully crafted experience, and allowed me to reflect the characters’ personal struggles with my own. Game director Katsura Hashino has expressed how Persona 5 will be “thematically accessible” for both Persona veterans and newcomers and how emotional perspectives will cater to this reflective experience. As entertaining and addictive Persona’s dungeon crawling turn based gameplay is, the true impressive feat of the series is the enthralling story and exceptionally well-developed characters. Hopefully Persona 5 will continue this legacy, and innovate on the widely entertaining social simulation gameplay that the series is renowned for. Little is known about the plot so far, but based on the few teaser trailers we’ve seen, Persona 5 seems to be taken place in a modern Tokyo-esque city, and could possibly rely on the tropes and follies of our current generation and modern society. If Persona 5 is at least half as amazing as its masterful predecessor, then this could easily be one of the greatest games of all time.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
So the timed exclusivity on Tomb Raider’s sequel is controversial. If an established franchise is multiplatform, it should stay multiplatform, unless if a certain party is helping develop or fund the project; examples of this are Wii U’s Bayonetta or PS4’s Street Fighter V. Who knows, perhaps Microsoft is lending an insurmountable number of assets to Crystal Dynamics so they can pump out the best game they could possibly make. That’s understandable, if that is the case, but we don’t know what the story is at the moment. Those who played Tomb Raider on PS3 or the Definitive Edition on PS4 won’t be able to experience its sequel, at least not right away, and that’s a shame. All annoyances aside, I am extremely excited for Rise of the Tomb Raider. The reboot was fantastic and showed a more vulnerable Lara, trapped in a dark, mature, catastrophic environment. The sense of survival and desperation were well executed and the open world exploration was outstanding. The reboot felt like a more mature, open world Uncharted, and that’s a great thing. All that’s been released so far is a teaser trailer, so a lot hasn’t been revealed yet; but I guess just knowing that it’s coming and that sense of not knowing will keep us fans eagerly waiting.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Uncharted 4 is easily my most anticipated game of 2015. I absolutely love the Uncharted series and Naughty Dog is arguably the greatest developer in the industry. Based on the game’s title and the physical appearance of Nathan Drake, fans, myself included, speculate that this may be the last adventure in the series; if this is true, based on what we’ve seen so far, Uncharted is going out with a bang. Not much is known about the story at this point in time; all we know is that Drake is unwillingly embarking on one last final adventure and that his brother is somehow involved in this mess. The 15 minute demo shown at the PlayStation Experience was simply amazing. A heavier influence on stealth adds a new dynamic element to the action frenzy gameplay of Uncharted. It seems that during a typical shootout, if played correctly, Drake can re-enter stealth mode and avoid any further combat, escaping the peril of battle. And the map design is far wider and more player accessible, allowing different ways to approach a situation. These two refinements to the Uncharted formula were clearly influenced by Naughty Dog’s previous masterpiece, The Last of Us. Naughty Dog most definitely have a lot to live up to with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, but seeing how the directors behind ‘The Last of Us’ are in charge of the project, we could possibly be getting the greatest game of this console generation.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
After the success of the Wii exclusive, Xenoblade Chronicles, its spiritual successor is set to be released in 2015, and it looks nothing short of amazing. Embracing a Gundam-esque atmosphere, and encompassing a large scaled open world, Xenoblade Chronicles X could be the triple A exlusive that the Wii U has been dying for. Players can travel in large humanoid machines called “Dolls”; Dolls have the ability to fly, traverse water, and transform into other vehicles such as motorcycles and tanks. Exploring the vast landscapes and battling against enormous exotic creatures seem to be the icing on the cake. Not much content has been revealed as of now, but from the footage that has been released, there’s a good reason to be excited for this gem. Alongside Persona 5, Xenoblade Chronicles X seems to have everything to satisfy my JRPG itch; 2014 was fairly disappointing in the JRPG department with no release mirroring the likes of 2013’s Ni No Kuni or 2012’s Persona 4 Golden, so hopefully 2015 will deliver a robust catalogue of JRPGs with Persona 5 and Xenoblade Chronicles leading the pack.
Although 2014 was a decent year, it most certainly could have been better; so here’s to hoping that 2015 learns from 2014’s mistakes and shines brightly. What 2015 games are you guys looking forward to? Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below, I’d love to hear from you guys.