Despite one or two disappointments, the PlayStation 4 has had a stellar first year. Over the course of twelve months we’ve seen the platform’s catalogue of games go from strength to strength with exclusives such as inFamous and the re-release of The Last of Us coming alongside a growing list of fantastic multiplatform hits.
Looking ahead, things are only going to get better for Sony’s latest console thanks to the return of one mentionable flagship, a fistful of new IPs and one or two unexpected delays.
Originally pegged for launch this Autumn, Sony was forced to push back The Order 1886, thereby allowing developer Ready At Dawn more time to try and deliver on its promises. It’s now scheduled for release next February with recent showings trying to stoke the fires on the hype train.
Having been subjected to numerous gameplay walkthroughs, 1886 is looking to take that familiar cover-shooting formula back to Victorian England, albeit with a steampunk twist. Throw in a splash of dark mythology and some truly jaw-dropping visuals, and now, finally, we’re starting to see the full picture.
It’s perhaps not as inventive as the people originally hoped, with the early releases of a new generation historically a time of experimentation, and what will be quite divisive is just how far RAD are pushing for a cinematic experience, with absolutely sublime graphics subject to a 2.4:1 aspect ratio and gameplay that leans heavily on the convention of quick time events.
Whether that’s a turn off to you or not, this is the first major PS4 exclusive of the year, arriving on February 20th, and well worth keeping an eye on.
Touted as a spiritual successor to Dark Souls, Bloodborne is another game Sony decided to push back into 2015. Developed by From Software and helmed by series creator, Hidetaka Miyazaki, it’s easy to see where the comparisons lie. The fluid combat, foreboding atmosphere and dingy environments all lead back to the Souls series. However, the more we see of Bloodborne, the further apart it’s beginning to separate itself.
For one, combat is said to be more offense-based thanks to its risk-reward approach, allowing players to regain health from enemies that recently hurt them by delivering fatal flurries within a short period of time. It will encourage you to get stuck in, that’s for sure, but with more enemies to tackle at a time, you could easily find yourself overwhelmed.
On top of that, multiplayer is seeing a bit of a change-up thanks to the inclusion of the recently revealed Chalice Dungeons. Tackling the multi-layered dungeons with friends, these are randomly generated, and each time you enter, you’ll find it fitted with different swarms of monsters and plenty of grim pitfalls to try and avoid.
Bloodborne is set for release on March 27th.
Persona isn’t particularly huge here in the UK yet, when a fifth numbered instalment was revealed, we all seemed to go a bit bonkers despite very little actually being revealed. While we do know its coming to PlayStation console some time in 2015, that’s just about it, bar tenuous details surrounding its core themes.
Apparently the game has been in the works since 2010 and will focus on a central cast of characters in their quest to attain freedom. From what, however, remains a mystery. We’re sure to see more in the coming months although its safe to assume Persona 5 is in safe hands. The past few games in the series, including Persona 4 Golden on Vita, have all trumped expectations.
You’ve probably heard of Tearaway before. This gorgeous-looking platformer originally launched last year exclusively on Vita but didn’t receive quite the reception that it deserved. Not only was Sony’s handheld in a state of transition, Tearaway also happened to launch during the end-of-year rush, and may have been overlooked by many. 2015 will see the adventure of Iota and Atoi make a return.
Media Molecule announced at Gamescom that a PlayStation 4 version was in the works, called Tearaway Unfolded, complete with a raft of exclusive features and content. The Vita’s touch screen oriented controls and interactions have been overhauled with the DualShock 4 in mind, so that while there are certain similarities during this retelling of the story, the way you affect the game world have changed.
If you missed out on this on the Vita, Unfolded is your chance to experience this quite charming little platformer.
Now then, here’s the one we’ve all been waiting for. It was always going to happen yet, when A Thief’s End debuted at last year’s VGA’s, it sent the PlayStation nation into a frenzy. Here, just a few years after Drake’s latest adventure, was a slightly older, more rugged treasure hunter, alluding to one final outing. Amid the speculation that followed was one important question: what would Naughty Dog’s plans be for Uncharted 4, especially after working on The Last of Us?
Compared to Uncharted 3, A Thief’s End looks more like a proper sequel. Drake’s divisive third journey into the desert did little to break new ground and arguably could have done with more time to develop its ideas. Uncharted 4, however, has had a little more time to ferment, picking up several new features along the way. Aside from looking absolutely stunning, there’s an even bigger focus on fluid platforming and stealth, both of which run seamlessly into combat scenarios.
Though there’s no release date set, we can likely expect the game to launch towards the end of year and plenty more details and showing at the likes of E3 and Gamescom.
Announced back in 2012, Until Dawn went off the grid for a worrying amount of time before eventually resurfacing earlier this year. Quite a bit has changed since then. For starters, it’s now a PlayStation 4 exclusive and has been given a considerable facelift with new graphics, actors and an overhauled script. Surprisingly, developer Supermassive Games has stuck by its decision to support motion controls via PlayStation Move, possibly thanks to the pared back level of player input.
From what we’ve seen, Until Dawn also looks like a Quantic Dream game, mimicking Heavy Rain’s combination of quick time events and split second decision making to see the story branch depending on your actions within the game. Failing to find a particular item during an earlier scene can have spiralling consequences for later on, as represented by the game’s evocative butterfly effect diagram.
Thankfully, Until Dawn has also retained its teen horror focus, probing into the movie genre like few video games have done before. With eight teens on the mountain, it’s your choices and your actions in the game which determine who survives, even if the odds of keeping them all safe will be heavily stacked against you.
While no release date has been set for Until Dawn, it’s the kind of game that would fit quite well with a launch in the run up to Halloween.
Last up on our list of PlayStation 4 exclusives we have Hellblade, otherwise known as “Definitely Not Heavenly Sword 2: Please Stop Asking”. Though it may stylistically have a lot in common with the PlayStation 3 launch title, developer Ninja Theory has gone out of its way to confirm the games are not connected, with Celtic mythology at its heart.
It’s a slight shame to hear, but it doesn’t dampen our excitement for Hellblade, by any means. You see, Ninja Theory just has a knack when it comes to action adventure games, as ably demonstrated by Enslaved and last year’s DmC.
Though details are few and far between, with the game still in early development and its inclusion in our list for 2015 quite optimistic, Ninja Theory is promising to keep fans in the loop via a series of developer diaries charting the game’s progress.
Thanks for sticking with us throughout our Ones To Watch 2015 lists. Compared to the early stages of the generation in 2014, next year is looking absolutely jam packed with gaming goodness, and it’s been quite difficult to include every game that we wanted to. In other words, there’s all of this and more coming to a computer, TV or handheld screen near you.