We dive into another little selection of upcoming cross-platform games today, with quite a few notable RPGs on the way. As with yesterday’s selection, publishers are only gradually switching from one generation to the next, with some projects sticking to the PS3 and 360, while others are being more adventurous and trying to tackle the newer platforms in addition to the old.
This post itself is a joint effort, as I wrote the first couple of entries, before handing over to Aran for his greater experience with the aforementioned RPGs which, as I’ve explained before, I think are a bit like ham.
We start things off with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, which is the first part of Hideo Kojima’s most recent “final” entry. It’s funny to think that Metal Gear Solid V was originally teased as two separate entities, and for quite a long time, before they announced that they would be the same game, before changing their mind again and deciding that Ground Zeroes, the prologue to The Phantom Pain, would be split off and released in March.
If you think that’s confusing, then it’s nothing compared to Metal Gear Solid’s meandering plot!
Ground Zeroes takes place a little after the events of Peace Walker, and sees Big Boss (now with a new voice) infiltrate an American base in Cuba. Perhaps the most exciting new development for the game has been the Fox Engine, adapting well to both last and now current generation machines, which has regularly wowed with an impressive real time lighting system and day-night cycle, and this has in turn come to affect the gameplay. As you progress through the game, you can find yourself facing quite a different situation, depending on the time of day, and this dynamic should help to add variety to the game.
However, this release could have some drawbacks, and as a separately released prologue, Konami will have to be careful to deliver a large enough game to justify the cost and not appear like a cynical business move to boost revenue streams.
Thief comes from the team at Eidos Montreal, who most notably tackled the Deus Ex prequel, Human Revolution, to high critical acclaim. Now they’re having a crack at fully rebooting the Thief franchise, and though the excellent DX:HR will have earnt them a fair bit of trust, there are a few signs that this reboot might not live up to the expectations of the diehard fans.
In the last few months, they have reacted to that vocal fanbase from the original series, and removed an XP system and QTE events from the game. Of course, it’s great that they are able to react to the feedback they’re getting, but could be a little worrying.
Personally, I think it looks great, with a very physical feeling to the game as Garrett’s hands are always in view and touching nearby objects, and I also enjoyed the way the first person viewpoint moves during animations. The level design too allows for several different ways of tackling an objecting, playing with light and darkness, choosing between lethal and non-lethal stealth, or turning to more supernatural abilities, as Garrett goes on a stealing spree across The City.
Whether it is able to live up to the original series’ legacy, not to mention how it stacks up against recent titles like Dishonored, will be fascinating to find out as it arrives on PS3, 360, PS4, XBO and PC at the end of February.
Over to you, Aran.
I’ll be honest when I say that, in my opinion, Final Fantasy XIII is the weakest game in terms of gameplay I’ve played in the franchise, so much so that I didn’t bother with the sequel (and I even played FF X-2!). I did quite enjoy the story but wasn’t heavily invested in it like other games that came out so I don’t know too much about the third entry to the FF XIII block, except that Lightning is the main character and must save the world again.
The game itself was announced in August 2012 and has been designed as a more open world affair, instead of the linearity of previous entries in this Final Fantasy branch. As well as the open world there is a time limit in place, with Lightning only having 13 days to save the Nova Chrysalia inhabitant’s souls, so that they can be transported to a new world, as the old one ends.
The open world of Lightning Returns will also act independently of the player, so NPCs will go on their own little journeys over the course of those 13 days, meaning you can’t just rush back to a person and complete a quest. The game has already released in Japan earning itself high review scores, though sales have so far failed to live up to its predecessors.
Over in the West, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will be coming to PS3 and Xbox 360 on February 14th.
While I have played Demon’s Souls, I haven’t played Dark Souls which is more down to lack of time than anything else. However, if the latter was anything like the first, then it is probably a tough challenge to play through. Considering Dark Souls had a Prepare To Die edition I’m guessing I’m correct in this assumption!
For those of you who have never experienced either Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls but are looking to play Dark Souls II, I do have a warning: these games do not forgive your mistakes, taking glee in killing you and banishing you to the beginning of a world if it has to.
Dark Souls II was announced in December 2012 but will not be a direct sequel to the original, instead focusing on a new character instead, though there will be certain links to Dark Souls. In what way the games will be linked (other than name) hasn’t be announced, but according to Dark Souls’ director, Hidetaka Miyazaki, it will be on quite literally the other side of the same planet. Meanwhile, gameplay possibilities will be expanded by the use of dedicated servers.
Sticking to more familiar hardware and the larger install base, Dark Souls II will release in 2014 on PS3, Xbox 36o and PC.
I didn’t join the Elder Scrolls fan club until I picked up Oblivion a few months before Skyrim came out, but upon playing Oblivion I pre-ordered its sequel, and I don’t pre-order many games. I adored Skyrim despite the bugs that plagued the PS3 version, because it was just so immersive. I even wrote a mini-series of articles about my journey as the adventurer, Strongfury. However, I haven’t really dabbled too much in MMOs, so Elder Scrolls Online is a mixed bag for me.
ESO will be set 1000 years before the events of Skyrim, this time the plot including a war over who will be the Emperor Of Tamriel, and Deadric Prince Molag Bal trying to transport the entire continent to his own realm. There are three factions in the game that the player can join, including The Aldmeri Dominion, Ebonheart Pact, and Daggerfall Convenant. All of Tamriel will be explorable, though which areas will be open from the start and which will be locked off for expansion purposes isn’t yet clear.
It was announced in May 2012, though it has been in development since 2007, and is finally heading to release on April 4th 2014, for PC & Mac, with the PS4 and XBO versions to follow in June. Quite controversially, it will also require a subscription service, costing £8.99 a month in addition to the initial full priced retail outlay.
The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings is, in my opinion, the best exclusive the Xbox 360 had (though it did also release on PC, where it enjoyed much more advanced graphics). The story followed Geralt, a Witcher, who was trying to find the persons responsible for the murder of King Foltest and others. It was an example of a branching story, constructed in such a fashion that the way events unfold, whole story arcs could end in different ways depended on decisions made in the game.
So it’ll be interesting how The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt references past events, or if it will focus primarily on Geralt and his run in with the titled entity, a group of spectre like hunters that kidnap people, before releasing them at some point in time with no real memories of what happened. Geralt has had a run in with the Hunt, but managed to survive, although throughout Witcher 2 there are flashbacks involving them.
Due to the ambitious scale of the game, where The Witcher 3 will apparently have a world 30 times bigger than the old Witcher games, and larger than Skyrim, The Witcher 3 is only targetting PS4, XBO and PC, so that it can deal with the much grander environments with absolutely no loading screens. If you haven’t seen the trailer, you should watch it, because it looks stunning.
Come back tomorrow, when it’s time for a look at just a handful of the Indie games on the way for 2014.