Ones To Watch 2014 Recap: The Yearly Franchises

It’s the calm before the storm in the games industry at the moment. The popular February-April launch window has long passed, E3 brought a lot of news and excitement in June, but now we wait and play the Destiny beta ahead of Gamescom and the flood of new releases that are set to come at the end of the year.

So, what better time than now to take a look back on our Ones To Watch In 2014 feature from the end of last year, and check in on all of the games that we highlighted? Which games have released to great acclaim and which have tanked on the store shelves? Who’s still on target to release in 2014 and who’s slipped back into 2015?

We’ll be going through and answering these questions over the next couple of weeks, starting with the yearly franchises, as well as bringing the spotlight onto some of the freshly announced games that will still manage to make it to your consoles by year’s end.


FIFA 14 was no slouch when it arrived on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but the experience that comes from working with finalised hardware will play dividends for the next evolution of the game series.

A raft of improvements will feature, from more realistic lighting and fixing certain oddities in player animation, to a greater number of physics objects and tracking and marking the pitch with each footfall and slide tackle. However, it’s a seemingly simple change to the ball physics, of preserving the ball’s momentum and spin through contact with players that promises to have the greatest affect on the gameplay.

What we don’t yet know are what changes will be made to the increasingly popular Ultimate Team mode, and what we’ll see transferring back to the PS3 and 360 versions of the game, which won’t be branded as Legacy Editions just yet.


After the recent successes and popularity of the Need for Speed games under Criterion Games and Ghost Games, it’s somewhat surprising that there won’t be a new game in the venerable series this year, with the announcement coming in early May that the next game will not be until 2015.

However, the writing has maybe been on the wall for this to happen. With Criterion slashed in size, as many of the staff shifted over to work as part of Ghost Games on NfS: Rivals, and the somewhat iffy track record that the series has had when it hops between studios, Ghost are acting as responsible custodians of the franchise’s reputation by keeping it to themselves.


We’ve yet to see an announcement for F1 2014 come out of Codemasters, but news of this game has been ever-so-subtly teased quite recently. In fact, just 10 days ago, in their weekly blog update, Community Manager Lee Williams responded to a tweet by telling people to “pop back soon”.

F1 2013 was announced on July 16th last year, and with the usual release date at the end of September or early October, I’d certainly expect to hear and see something rather soon.

Expect to see a new graphics engine pushing the game on PS4 and XBO, as they try to bring the latest rules changes to the virtual world, dodgy looking noses and all. However, there’s also a chance that they will push on with last year’s Classics DLC efforts, and integrate more cars from the ages and more classic tracks into the game, which would surely delight fans.


Another yearly game series that we know almost nothing about is NBA 2K15. It was a graphical tour de force on the PS4 and XBO at launch, with a presentation which was able to get about as close to real life as sports games ever have. However, it did have issues such as requiring an online connection to play a single player career mode and perhaps skewing too heavily towards the use Virtual Currency and the micro-transactions that back this.

However, while we can expect the second year on the new consoles to deliver even more graphical refinements, all we actually know is that MVP Kevin Durant is to be the cover star and that the music in the game is being curated by Pharrell Williams.


Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare certainly announced itself to the world with a bang, unveiling Kevin Spacey as the major Hollywood actor who’s lending not just his voice to the role of Jonathan Irons, but his visage as well.

The other surprise comes from the shift from a two year development cycle to a three year one, with Sledgehammer Games stepping out of the shadows to launch their own future setting and sub-series, rather than Treyarch as many would have expected.

Details on the plot of the game are a little sketchy, but this is a world in which private military corporations are the dominant forces in the world, as national powers wilt and wane. You play as Jack Mitchell – voiced by the ubiquitous Troy Baker – a US soldier whose first engagement does not exactly go to plan and eventually decides to join the Atlas Corporation.

However, future warfare is backed up by more advanced technology, with soldiers all wearing exoskeletons that allow them to double jump, rip doors off cars and even make themselves near invisible to the naked eye. This alongside the plethora of drone-based technologies and things like the multi-function grenades.

It all adds up to what could be the biggest gameplay shift for the franchise since Modern Warfare, and fans will be eager to see what this means for the multiplayer, ahead of its release on 4th November.


While I personally expected Ubisoft to stick with the piratical themes of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, having found an off shoot of their traditional gameplay formula which seemed to strike a chord with many, they’re heading down a very different path.

Assassin’s Creed Unity takes us to Paris and the heights of the French Revolution, as new protagonist Arno Dorian endeavours to uncover another Templar plot. Paris will be brought to life by a more refined and optimised version of the AnvilNext engine, that will better make use of the PS4 and XBO’s power to render larger and more realistic crowds, thanks in part to Ubisoft splitting the console generations apart – though we’re yet to see what the AC game for PS3 and 360 will be like.

However, while return to city-based gameplay sounds like a step back for the series, the addition of co-operative play will help to push it to greater heights. Some missions will only be playable on your own, large swathes of the game will be open to playing as a group of four, with the trailer revealing this feature one of the major highlights of Ubisoft’s E3 show, though this has been sullied when they admitted that you would not be able to play as a woman, despite the character customisation options.

That’s it for the yearly franchises, which are by and large games that we still know relatively little about, as they gear up for more revelations at Gamescom, before releasing later this year.

Tomorrow we’ll be taking another look at the first batch of cross-platform games, some of which you will have already been playing.


  1. AC is the top of my list by a long way. Only other games I’ll likely pick up this year are Alien and Far Cry 4. Oh, and maybe GTA5 remastered.

  2. Literally not interested in a single thing there.

    I would say that it just goes to show that a yearly release can be damaging for some titles, but if a Need for Speed title happened to pop up, I’d probably snap that up in a second.

    I feel that Assassins Creed has however been somewhat damaged by a yearly release. Really not very interested in those titles at all these days. AC2 blew me away (I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did), but every release since has felt like pretty much the same game, with annoying new things added for the sake of it (such as the multiplayer & its varying modes, which I still don’t fully understand how to play to this day).

    • I feel kind of the opposite, I haven’t enjoyed a need for speed since ProStreet, which was in 2007 I think.The new ones seem pretty generic and seem to be Iin similar locations. Also I cant stand the handling which requires drifting just to turn.

      I got lots of time out of AC4, so Unity looks tempting. Might be because Its the first AC I got since AC2.

      Each to there own I guess!

    • Same as Forrest, none of those franchises appeal to me.

  3. Haven’t bought an F1 game in for a couple of years so I’m happy that Codies’ first new-gen offering is going to be decent enough to make me take the plunge!

    Otherwise, I’ve always been a sucker for FIFA (think I’ve picked a copy up every year since 2003) and I love the Assassin’s Creed series so those are yet another two games that are likely to eat into my bank account.

    • Ha! I have every FIFA since 08, although usually pick up the following year, like a cheapskate! Also, Battlefield should probably be in this list shouldn’t it?

  4. Unity is really the only game I’m interested in there. The return to dense urban areas and the introduction of co-op really appeals to me.

    The futuristic setting of COD doesn’t really look that good to me, I always prefer realism over sci-fi, and Advance Warfare just looks like DARPA’s wet dream where they’ve just come up with as many gadgets and gimmicks as they could think of.

    F1 2012 was the last one I bought I think, Codemasters just don’t add enough for me to justify buying a new one each year. The classics stuff was a nice touch last year, but I’d like to see something different maybe like a Manager mode, where you are the Team Principle, managing the development of the car, and hiring engineers and drivers. During the races, you would be able to tell your drivers when to push, when to save tyres (and fuel) and when to call pit-stops. If F1 2014 has something like that, or at least some new features that look interesting, then I’ll definitely consider it.

    • “Unity is really the only game I’m interested in there. The return to dense urban areas and the introduction of co-op really appeals to me.”

      That right there.

  5. One of CoD, battlefield, Assassin’s creed for me, not decided which yet. Ill probably get more out of the latter two but they launch closer to driveclub…

    Would probably be unable to resist a next gen F1, I still play the 2011 game occasionally.

    And Fifa or course. Been buying that every year for ages. I always get plenty of use out of it and it retains its value well if you sell it at the right time, got £28 for mine sometime in June, got less for sniper elite 2 weeks after release.

  6. You forgot WWE 2k15!
    It’s coming to both generations of consoles and most excitingly will have the team behind the excellent NBA 2k series playing a greater role in development.
    I’m quite excited to see the level of polish this brings to a fun series which really gets the ‘sport’.

  7. Will be interesting to see this years sports games with an extra yr to understand the machines, I expect some damn fine games. Am interested in F1 to see what they do with that (graphic wise)

    Def going for NHL 15, AC 5 and maybe NBA2K15, def will not be getting COD or fifa as fallen out of love with them both

    Will be interesting to see if BF Hardline has as many problems as BF4 did at launch

  8. Since we haven’t had a proper AC game since Revelations, Unity might just get me very interested again.

    As good as 3 and 4 were, they weren’t really AC games. Especially 4. Which was just some (admittedly good) pirate game with the AC label on it. So Unity looks like it’s going back to what it should be. Unless they manage to squeeze some naval combat nonsense into it again.

    Not so keen on their idea of dropping the multiplayer (which I’d finally come to like with AC4) and putting that co-op stuff in. Which will involve playing what should really be a single-player game with some friends. Or hoping you don’t end up with complete muppets if it has the option to stick you in a random group. And I kind of hope it doesn’t have that option. Waiting around while it’s finding a group of players for you is really going to ruin the game.

    • To be fair, they were being heavily criticised for the rinse & repeat formula and needed to push it into new (and hopefully interesting) directions*. As someone who wasn’t interested in the franchise at all, Black Flag was enormous fun. I’m sure the sales were suitably decent and highlight that there were many returning fans of the franchise. Pity it wasn’t for you, fella. Perhaps Unity will be far more up your proverbial alley. :-)

      Keep in mind I paid little interest to the franchise up until recently and even I kept on hearing the franchise negatives on games websites as well as the lips of friends over the years.

      • I always liked AC but became very wary after AC3… I thought it was bloddy terrible.
        AC4 would have been boring if it wasn’t for the pirate bits which at first I thought I’d hate, after witnessing the Ship mechanics in 3.
        Luckily, from what I’ve seen of the setting of Unity, the Co-op and graphics, this looks like it’s getting interesting again. I think it’s the scenery that made the first games so appealing to me. Couldn’t beat jumping around on rooftops in the sunset etc. Compared to most games at the time, AC2 was stunning.

      • *AC2 visuals were stunning.

      • Also… I’m not sure what bloddy terrible means, but that’s what it was!

      • Look at the average scores on something like Metacritic (yes, I know, there’s all sorts of issues with doing that ;)

        2 was an improvement on 1, and then Brotherhood is even better.

        Revelations was a bit of a disappointment, getting the lowest score of the first 4 games. Which might be because we’d already had 2 games with the same character.

        So then obviously it was time to go in a new direction. Unfortunately, that involved lots of annoying ship battles and a lot less of the stuff that made the first games so good. And scores seem to reflect that.

        Looks to me like the changes in 3 and 4 have failed. People want an Assassin’s Creed game, not some piratey nonsense with the AC label attached to it.

        Which isn’t to say any of the games are bad. They’re not. Even 3 and 4. Personally, the best bits lately were the extra PS exclusive missions and the Freedom Cry DLC. And even Liberation (the PS3 HD version).

        But yes, it looks like Unity will please me much more. If it pleases everyone else too, great. Proves you don’t necessarily have to make big changes. Originality can be highly overrated. It _can_ be good, but there’s nothing wrong with doing the same thing again (with new characters and story).

      • Ah, your last line is very telling (in a good way depending on which side of the fence you are). You want some fan service. To feel looked after and have it refined to within an inch of its life and to not bugger around with the main formula(e). Makes perfect sense, fella.

        I just think Ubisoft was very much aware of the flack they were receiving and wanted to push into uncharted waters, ahem. It’s worked. Sadly, not for you. What’s interesting, though, is that Unity might bring me back to the franchise again as co-op stuff gets me slipping off the chair when it comes to gaming (assuming the game is pretty decent in the first place). Also, it might win you back over as you’ll hopefully see it as a return to form. We’ll see, eh, fella?

        Knowing our luck, we’ll both be bitching about how bad it was when it comes out! :-D

      • I think they were in a tricky situation after Revelations. Some people were obviously wanting something new, and some were wanting something not quite new, but bigger and better, maybe.

        Then a lot of people possibly realised they didn’t want something new (look at reviews for AC3). At which point they tried again with the new AC, but did a better job of it. And now they seem to have realised that’s not quite working, so they’re going back to what made it work in the first place.

        I think they were in a situation where they could only please half the people. Give us something new and piss off the ones that want more of the same, or give us more of the same and lose the interest of people who have had enough of that.

        Maybe Unity will please more people. The ones who wanted more of a traditional AC game look like they’ll get what they want. And the ones that wanted something different might be ready to go back after a couple of years of tedious naval battles.

        Of course, the internet shall be full of people have a good whinge about it for no logical reason. Which is always kind of reassuring. I’d be worried if that didn’t happen.

  9. Seems like a lot of sports & cod games coming out this year, the yearly usually crap.

    But on a good note, pro15 on ps4 oh yeh

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