As us gamers know, Q4 – the three month period between October and the end of the year – is the prime time slot for videogame releases. It’s Christmas time, and generally speaking it’s also the time where people aren’t as tight with their wallets, making it the perfect time to close out the year with a slew of new releases. Each and every year I ponder as to why some smaller games risk releasing and getting lost in the shuffle with bigger budget, bigger name titles such as your Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed etc, but alas I’m not a videogame developer or publisher, just a consumer with an appetite to play a wide array of games. And luckily for me there certainly isn’t a lack of games being released between now (September 7) and the end of the year. So below I’ve compiled a list for you – and myself – with what I believe are the top 20 games being released in Q4. And yes you may notice that there is no Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty in my list, and no it’s not because I’m a ‘hipster’ that doesn’t play AAA games, it’s simply because only 20 games could make the cut and I think the Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed franchises have seen better days. So, shall we begin?
20) Massive Chalice (PC/Mac – Q4 2014)
Well somebody had to come in last place, but hey – at least it made the cut. I’m not the biggest PC gamer but the fact that this game is being developed by Double Fine, it at least has my interest. I actually backed Massive Chalice on Kickstarter over a year ago when the Double Fine/Kickstarter craze first began, so my money has already been spent and I’m not getting it back, regardless of how the game turns out.
19) Costume Quest 2 (Multiplatform – Oct 7)
I liked the first Costume Quest, but I didn’t love it. It had a cute and fun premise with a humorous story, however it was the repetitiveness of the game’s combat that let it down. I’ve got to admit that I was surprised to hear a sequel was being made, given that Double Fine doesn’t usually do sequels, but here’s to hoping the issues from the first game get ironed out.
18) Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric / Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal (Wii U/3DS – Nov 21)
How many times has Sonic been reimagined, re-skinned and/or rebooted? I don’t know, but it seems like a lot. And with each new iteration, it just feels like Sonic fans are the ones losing out. However, with the 3DS and Wii U versions launching simultaneously and with a TV show to follow, I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that Sonic Boom looks like the reboot that might actually pay off for the series. Fingers crossed right up until release day though, because Sonic fans have been let down plenty of times in the past.
17 Freedom Wars (PS Vita – Oct 29)
It’s very disheartening to know that the Playstation Vita isn’t even three years old and Sony seems to have all but given up on it. Freedom Wars is the highest-selling Vita game in Japan though, but whether it will be received as well in the west remains to be seen. Outside of Freedom Wars there really isn’t any exclusive games for Vita owners to get excited about, so it really does have a lot of weight on its shoulders. SCE Japan are one of Sony’s most prolific developers though, so here’s to hoping they deliver the goods and give Vita owners a reason to be excited this holiday season.
16) Run Sackboy! Run! (PS Vita, IOS, Android – Oct 2014)
There’s not exactly a shortage of endless runners on the app store, but don’t take that as a complaint; especially not when there’s gems like Rayman Jungle Run on the market. So who’s to say Sackboy can’t join in on the fun and wet the appetite before the release of Little Big Planet 3? Sounds like a smart move to me, especially if it’s free!
15) Game of Thrones (PC, PS3, 360 – 2014)
I was very skeptical when Telltale Games announced they were making a Game of Thrones videogame, and actually I still am skeptical. Why? Well firstly because their previous games The Walking Dead and Fables are comic books that fit Telltale Games’ art style, making it a smooth transition from paper to Playstation, whereas Game of Thrones is very realistic visually, therefore I don’t think it will work with a comic book art style. Secondly, it’s slated to be released this year but yet all we’ve had is a teaser trailer. Stranger things have happened in the videogame industry but honestly I can see this one being delayed to 2015.
Admittedly I’m not the biggest Borderlands fan out there. I find the gunplay to be unbearably repetitive – especially when playing alone – and I find it to be needlessly hard in parts. However I do like the art style and the humour of the game, which is why I’m very much looking forward to seeing the Telltale Games do something different with the franchise outside of repetitive shooting.
13) Broken Age Act 2 (PC/Mac – Q4 2014)
Tim Schafer has a bit of a (bad) reputation for failing to hit deadlines. Although he also has a reputation for making great games – and he proved that once again with act 1 of Broken Age. I’m sure it was said in one of the Kickstarter backer documentaries that Act 2 of Broken Age was scheduled to be released in April 2014, but here we are five months later in September and there’s still not a set-in-stone release date. I wouldn’t be surprised if Act 2 gets pushed back to 2015, but honestly I’m sure it will be worth the wait.
12) The Evil Within (Multiplatform – Oct 13)
Shinji Mikami. A name that should resonate well with gamers, as the creator of the Resident Evil Series can pretty much be called the creator of the survival horror genre in videogames. The only reason this game isn’t higher up on the list is because Shinji – while having made some classic games – has also made some real duds, particularly with his last release Shadows of the Damned. It will be playable at this years Eurogamer Expo in Earls Court and it will be the first game I plan to play. So whilst it currently sits in the number 12 spot of my most anticipated releases, that could very well change after some hands on time.
11) Killer Instinct Season 2 (Xbox One – Oct 15)
Season 1 of the rebooted Killer Instinct was my first time playing the Killer Instinct franchise, and I soon found out that it isn’t particularly noob-friendly. Even though I suck at the game and I didn’t find the combat/combo system to be accessible for casual fighting game players like myself, I still loved the game and really sunk some time into it. The outlandish and interesting characters with the game’s great graphics are what appealed to me most, and I can’t wait to see more of the same in season 2.
10) Hotline Miami 2 (Multiplatform – Q4 2014)
As I said earlier, I’m not the biggest PC gamer. I generally tend to ignore the PC marketplace as a whole, but when Hotline Miami came out in 2012 it had garnered enough buzz critically and commercially that I couldn’t help but be intrigued. Fortunately the game was ported to Playstation Vita in June of last year and I believe it to be one of Playstation Vita’s best game. Fortunately Hotline Miami 2 will be launching concurrently on Playstation platforms with the PC release this time, but again it’s another game that we haven’t heard too much from and I have to question if we will see it see this year.
9) The Witness (PC, PS4 – Q4 2014)
Braid was a special game. Jonathan Blow is a special game developer. Braid was the first Xbox Live Arcade Game I ever purchased, and it was the first game – upon release in 2008 – that set a trend for years to come with the increased popularity of not only independent videogame developers, but the increased quality of indie games, too. It’s been a long time since Braid was first released though – over six years, in fact – and his second game, The Witness, has been a long time coming. Thankfully the wait is almost over for Jonathan Blow’s second game, and I’ve got a good feeling that it could be a contender for game of the year.
8) Super Smash Bros. (3DS Oct 3 – Wii U Q4 2014)
You know the formula by now: Nintendo characters – and some third party characters – brawl in a variety of 2D stages. So simplistically brilliant and no coincidence that the game sells in abundance with each new iteration. Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U will be the fourth and fifth entry in the series, and I have no doubt that the Wii U version will be universally loved by Nintendo fans, but it’s actually the 3DS version that I’m most looking forward to. It will be the first time Smash Bros. is playable on a handheld and I’m interested to see how it fares as a predominantly singleplayer experience.
7) Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One, PC – Q4 2014)
E3 is the place for the big developers and publishers to showcase their games, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the debut of Ori and the Blind Forest during Microsoft’s press conference this year. And it’s a testament, really, that Ori was the one game that stuck in my mind when the conference was over, considering the amount of game trailers that were shows. It seems like most indie games have fled to the Playstation 4 and Vita either as exclusives or timed exclusives, but it looks like Microsoft may have secured themselves a gem with Ori.
6) LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4, PS3 – Nov 19)
I’m sure there are some diehard LBP fans out there that were disappointed to find out that Media Molecule has moved on from the franchise, but the reveal trailer at E3 should have put some minds at ease. It certainly looks like a LittleBigPlanet game – which is a good thing – but this time some friends of Sackboy are coming along for the ride to shake up the formula. With The Order: 1886 being pushed back to next year, there really is a weight on Sackboy’s shoulders this holiday season, as it’s now just one of two big Playstation 4 Games – with the other being Driveclub – that are going to have to bring home the bacon for Sony in Q4.
5) Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One – Oct 31)
There was a hole left in the heart of Playstation fans during Microsoft’s 2013 E3 press conference, the day Insomniac Games’ logo showed up to reveal they were in a partnership with Xbox. Sunset Overdrive looks to set the developer back on track after the bump in the road that was Fuse, and it looks like a pure blend of Infamous and Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding. It’s a shooter alright, but one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s been a long time since I’ve booted up my Xbox One and I think Sunset Overdrive is the perfect reason to boot it up again.
4) Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire (3DS – Nov 28)
Ruby and Saphire are by far my favourite generation of Pokémon games. I have very fond memories of my 9/10 year old self playing Ruby and Sapphire with my friends on our Game Boy Advances at TGI Fridays one night and then on another night at a friend’s house for a sleepover. So yes I am very much looking forward to be taking a trip down nostalgia lane with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and I can’t wait to be addicted to Pokémon once again.
3) WWE 2K15 (Multiplatform – Oct 31)
I’ve got a good feeling about this year’s WWE outing from 2K Games. Yes it is essentially a rebranding, updated and improved version of last year’s game – much like every other sport game – but this is the first WWE game for next generation consoles and it’s also the first time Sting will step foot into a WWE ring (albeit in a videogame). The new rivalry mode looks to match the excellent attitude era and 30 years of Wrestlemania modes from WWE ’12 and ’13, and the only real disappointment is that this year’s special edition is a Hulkamania edition, not a Sting centric edition – which, you know, would have made sense given that it’s kind of a big deal that Sting is with the WWE in some way, shape or form for the very first time.
2) Bayonetta 2 (Wii U – Oct 24)
Bayonetta is one of my favourite games of all time. And it’s no coincidence that the developer – Platinum Games – is also one of my favourite developers. And honestly, it wasn’t until recently that I really got excited about the sequel, thanks to the recent Bayonetta 2 dedicated Nintendo Direct. It looks like more of the same zaniness from the first game but like every good sequel it looks to be bigger, better and more badass (thanks Cliffy B).
1) Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One – Nov 14)
We was all expecting to see the announcement of Halo 2 Anniversary Edition at Microsoft’s E3 this year, right? And we got that.. but we wasn’t expecting to also be getting Halo 3, 4, Combat Evolved, the Nightfall digital series and access to the Halo 5: Guardians Beta all packed in as well. Phew. The Master Chief Collection certainly can’t be accused of lacking content and bang for your buck, then. I’m not even the biggest Halo fan – I’m much more of a Gears of War guy, actually – but how, if you’re a gamer, can you not be looking forward to the release of this behemoth?
So there you have it. Those are my top 20 games I’m most looking forward to between now and the end of 2014. Whether or not all of them will actually see the light of day in 2014 is doubtful, but maybe that’s a good thing for gamers’ bank accounts.