2013 may have seen the launch of two major consoles, but 2014 promises an even bigger lure: games designed to show off what these new systems can really do. So here are five titles in the pipeline that I'm already prepared to put on my wishlist for 2014.
While the hacking and espionage game was expected to be one of the biggest launch titles for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Ubisoft announced just ahead of those major launches that gamers were going to have to wait until spring 2014 for it. Set in a smart-city version of Chicago, players assume the role of Aiden Pearce, a smartphone-wielding hacker who taps his way into everything from security cameras to ATMs -- and, of course, other people's smartphones. It's a clever (and timely) gameplay mechanic, and one that promises to be a lot of fun to explore. What could bring Watch Dogs down of course, is the hype. There was already so much excitement about this title ahead of the launch that it has a high hurdle to clear once it actually hits stores.
Original Halo maker (and Microsoft studio) Bungie made a splash at the PlayStation 4 launch event by announcing an exclusive for Sony's console. With the same visual style and setting of wonder and exploration as the Halo titles that made Bungie famous, this post-apocalyptic shooter also promises a new, fluid kind of game dictated not only by the story that the developers set out, but also by interactions with other Destiny players. Still, Bungie has said that Destiny isn't quite an MMO -- that's a massively multiplayer online game, for those who hate acronyms -- preferring instead to call it a "shared-world shooter," as IGN reported. Whatever it is, it should prove an interesting next step for Bungie and is a title to watch for when it comes out in September.
Super Smash Brothers 2
Nintendo is bringing a new Super Smash Brothers title to the Wii U and the 3DS in 2014, promising new characters such as "Super Mario Galaxy" characters Rosalina and Luma, as well as the trainer from the Wii Fit franchise. Nintendo has said that it's working on adjusting the balance of the characters in the game, as Kotaku reported. The company is also working on balancing hardcore and casual audiences within the game before it debuts this year -- arguably something that should be an aim for the console overall.
InFamous: Second Son
The third installment in Sucker Punch's InFamous series, Second Son will have the same open setting and basic feel as its predecessors. But, as shown at the PlayStation launch event last February, the game also shows off new abilities for the game's superhumans -- known as Conduits -- who can manipulate elements such as fire and ice. The title, due out in March, puts players in the shoes of a Conduit, Delsin Rowe, who is able to absorb abilities from others like him, promising much more varied and interesting gameplay. It's also a PlayStation 4 exclusive, hitting the console in March, and has the potential to be one of those must-have hits that the console needs to get a long-term edge over the Xbox One.
Elder Scrolls Online
Because we haven't all devoted enough of our limited time on Earth to Bethesda Softwork's Elder Scrolls universe, the company has announced an MMO set in the world that longtime fans have loved for many years. Gaming blogs have reported that developing the game has cost $200 million so far, and anticipation is running high. Then again, anxiety is also running high among some of the original games' biggest fans, fearing that an MMO will take away the characteristic complexity that makes Elder Scrolls games so unique.
Either way the debate will be settled soon. Elder Scrolls Online is set to launch with a firm --and memorable -- date: 4.14.14.