Will 2015 Be the Year of the Video Game?

2014 wasn’t exactly a great year for video games. Between mixed reviews for over-hyped games like Destiny and recent attacks by hackers against gaming networks, the industry and its fans are ready to flip the calendar page on the new year. They’re also ready to flip through the months, with an impressive roster of games set to be released throughout 2015 – especially for those who have upgraded to the new-generation consoles. Here’s a sampling of what gamers are getting excited for.

Dying Light (PS4, XB1, PC) – Release date: January 27

What do you get when you mix the open world of GTA, the free-running parkour skills of Assassin’s Creed, and the environment of Left 4 Dead? One sweet looking first-person action game. Dying Light is set on a fictional island, where you’re parachuted in as some sort of secret soldier tasked with preventing the weaponization of the zombie spread. You join up with a group of survivors to battle against zombies and nefarious gangs, all while keeping your true mission secret. Dying Light features a dynamic time system, and when the sun goes down the zombies get extra freaky. There’s also a multiplayer mode that lets users control zombies and enter into other players’ games for interactive side missions. If the game looks as good and as fun as the videos suggest, 2015 will get off with a blast. However, you may want to wait for the reviews. The game is being developed by Techland, maker of Dead Island, which was positively received but criticized for bugs and a lack of polish.

Evolve (PS4, XB1, PC) – Release date: February 10

If you liked the idea of the aforementioned Left 4 Dead, you’ll want to check out its spiritual cousin, Evolve. The game is essentially a 4v1 multiplayer battle, where four human hunters try to capture one giant, badass monster on a fictional planet. It emphasizes true team co-operation by giving the human classes very specific abilities (the trapper, for example, can set up an electronic dome to contain the monster so it can’t escape and heal up). The monsters have a variety of special abilities, and as the name implies, must evolve to higher levels by snacking on animals in the game environment. Evolve looks really enjoyable, but there are some concerns about how long players will actually enjoy it. There are different game modes to toy around with, but they really all boil down to the 4v1 format. If developer Turtle Rock can make arena battles less repetitious, they’ll have a winner on their hands.

The Order: 1886 (PS4 exclusive) – Release date: February 20

The Playstation faithful point to exclusive titles as the biggest reason to own the console instead of Microsoft’s Xbox One, and a quick look at The Order shows they may be on to something. It is stunning graphically and the idea behind it is pretty neat, too. The game takes place in an alternate version of Victorian Era England, where Nikolai Tesla’s ideas have spawned a different kind of technological revolution. Amid the steampunk backdrop, users play as a member of the contemporary version of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table who must protect against ancient half-breed human\animal monsters. Oh, and there’s also this mysterious liquid stuff that gives you incredible healing power and a longer lifespan. It is a single-player game, so multiplayer addicts may skip over this one. But it definitely looks as cool as it sounds.

Battlefield Hardline (PS4, XB1, PS3, XB360, PC) – Release date: March 19

Battlefield is often considered the counter-culture version of Call of Duty, typically putting more emphasis on big battles and vehicles instead of running and gunning. But Hardline is taking a different approach to the franchise with a deeper campaign story involving cops and robbers rather than soldiers. Developer Visceral Games says it wants to highlight the choices that officers have to make everyday, so players can choose to be the bad cop who shoots first and asks questions later, or the good cop looking for proper arrests. Fans of the series will welcome the return of destructable environments and a myriad of multiplayer modes. Many developers have already dropped the old-generation consoles from their plans, but not in this case. That could prove costly, if it restricts the physics and gameplay of Hardline.

Bloodborne (PS4 exclusive) – Release date: March 24

Another exclusive title that has Playstation fans foaming at the mouth is Bloodborne, the younger sibling of From Software’s Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls games. Like The Order, Bloodborne players will have to duke it out with half-human monsters in a gothic setting, but it also promises to incorporate more RPG elements like character customization. Critics have hailed the game’s visuals as some of the best ever produced on a console gaming system. While Bloodborne boasts a new, quicker combat system, some fans may find themselves disappointed that the game is similar to its Souls sisters.

Mortal Kombat X (PS4, XB1, PS3, XB360, PC) – Release date: April 14

One of the most enduring game franchises in history marks its return in 2015 with Mortal Kombat X, set 25 years after the events of the last game. All of your favourite fighters and fatalities are back for the tenth edition of the genre-changer along with some new characters and kills. Developer NetherRealm Studios says it wants to make multiplayer a bigger aspect of MKX. Given that they haven’t fully explained how and the fact that it’s a fighting game, which is inherently linear, it remains to be seen how exactly this comes to fruition. But the sheer nostalgia of the franchise should give MKX some legs. The game is being developed for new-gen consoles and is expected to be ported over to PS3 and XB360 eventually.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4, XB1, PC) – Release date: May 19

Action-RPG fans are pumped for the third installment in The Witcher franchise, which is based on a novel series of the same name. The game looks similar to others in the genre, but its rich, open-world environment makes it especially intriguing. The developers, CD Projekt RED, boast the world will be 30 times bigger than the sequel’s, and 20% bigger than the Skyrim world. Witcher 3 also builds on the non-linear style of its ancestors, which gives gamers a huge variety in terms of how they play out the story. Apparently, it will take 50 hours to complete the main missions and another 50 to tackle the side stories – and that’s just one playthrough. While fending off invading armies in a fantasy setting may be a bit stale, Witcher 3 has a great chance at bringing some freshness to the idea.

Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4, XB1, PC) – Release date: June 2

Rocksteady is sure to have another hit in the making with the third game in the Arkham series. In Arkham Knight, the caped crusader faces off against the Scarecrow, who’s been busy uniting Batman’s enemies, a year after the events of Arkham City. The game continues to build on the physics, silky smooth combat, and open world from the earlier renditions, but also includes one major upgrade – you can drive the Batmobile! In teaser videos you can see the mean machine busting through concrete dividers, creating a much more believable and interactive environment. And like Batman, you can upgrade the ride as you collect skill points. As a bonus, if you pre-order the game, you’ll get a special download that lets you play some missions as the Joker’s sultry sidekick, Harley Quinn.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4 exclusive) – Release date: late 2015

Another franchise that’s poised to climax this year is Uncharted. The fourth game in the third-person action-adventure series aims to bring more of a stealthy aspect to the game, letting players hide more easily among the plant life in its lush virtual environment. In Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Nathan Drake sets out on a mission to uncover a global conspiracy surrounding pirate treasure. The game will likely be carried by its gameplay and story because there’s not a whole lot of new ideas that can be applied to the franchise without changing it drastically. But that shouldn’t be a problem for developer Naughty Dog. It’s last four games, the first three Uncharted titles and the zombie-survival epic The Last of Us, all won at least one game of the year award.

Star Wars Battlefront (PS4, XB1, PC) – Release date: late 2015

Star Wars games have a bit of a history when it comes to being suddenly cancelled for no apparent reason. Hopefully that doesn’t happen this time, especially with the new movie coming out in December. Not much is known about the story for Battlefront yet, but we do know that Endor and Hoth will be playable settings. But the trailer alone is enough to get more than just Star Wars fans excited about this beautiful game.

Halo 5 (XB1 exclusive) – Release date: late 2015

It’s not easy to talk video games without someone bringing up Halo. The original game and its successors shaped the entire first-person shooter genre with compelling level designs and incredibly addictive multiplayer action. More than 60 million copies of Halo games have been bought since the it debuted in 2001. The franchise is so important, its spawned its own cultural phenomenon including books, toys, comics, and an upcoming TV series being produced by Steven Spielberg. Like other returning franchises on this list, Halo 5 will have to draw strength from its storytelling and design. But given the fans’ loyalty to Halo’s multiplayer world, it’s not a stretch to predict this game will be Xbox’s top seller.

The Division (PS4, XB1, PC) – Release date: 2015

Tom Clancy’s The Division is being billed as a social shooter, similar in some ways to Destiny. It’s an open-world environment with RPG elements, but unlike Destiny it is contemporary in its setting and is played from the third-person perspective. In the game, you play as a member of a special task force, The Division for short, that has the authority to do whatever it takes to save what remains of US society after it collapsed under an infectious outbreak.

Disclaimer – Matt Padanyi is a Playstation fanboy and apologizes in advance for any Nintendo lovers who feel left out. Feel free to chirp him in the comments section, and let us know which game you’re most excited about!

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