So many reasons to love 2015
It's already been quite a year. We've seen the release of the final entry in the Batman: Arkham series, wandered the seemingly endless wilderness as a cat-eyed monster hunter in The Witcher 3, and died more times than we could count in Bloodborne... but 2015 isn't over yet. There's so much more to look forward to and the best games of 2015 may yet be on the way. Just take a look at the second half of this year's lineup. It's almost too good
Halo 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Fallout 4, and other revered series are on their way. Then there are games like Star Wars Battlefront and Guitar Hero Live, giving their respective franchises a fresh start on new-gen hardware. With games like these, the year is looking like it's going to finish strong. And just so you don't miss out on anything, here is our list of our most anticipated games for the rest of 2015.
Available on: November 10 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
It's finally happening, and it's happening this year. The next game from the creators of Skyrim and Fallout 3 (is that a killer portfolio, or what?) will head to Boston hundreds of years after the nuclear apocalypse, giving players an all-new irradiated wasteland to explore. Even more exciting than where you'll be, though, is who you'll be: Fallout 4 begins before the bombs drop, following your character as he or she takes shelter in Vault 111 and mysteriously resurfaces 200 years later.
That means your character has a bit more personality than usual, with fully-voiced dialogue, and a lot more knowledge, increasing your options for survival and crafting. You even can build your own settlement, a bastion of civilization out in the wastes, but be prepared to defend it from mutants and raiders. In other words, it sounds a lot like Fallout 3 meets Metal Gear Solid 5, with loads more stuff than both of them. Better clear your calendar for November (and the rest of winter).
Guitar Hero Live
Available on: October 20 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U)
Better start getting your fingers warmed up because the new Guitar Hero Live has a redesigned controller that's going to put your riffing skills to the test. There are six buttons on two rows allowing you to string together notes and pull off chord patterns that weren't possible on the old controllers. That isn't everything that's changed to get you back to rocking out to pop classics in your living room. Guitar Hero Live is letting you live out your rock star dreams on stage, in first-person, and in front of a live-action audience.
The game's campaign brings you backstage with a live-action band and walks you out to booming crowds of thousands of screaming fans. If you perform well, the fans will continue to love you, but start flubbing those notes and you will face the wrath of the booing crowd and your disappointed band mates. Guitar Hero Live will also feature an online Guitar Hero TV service, which will present new songs and challenges to players looking for more music to master.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Available on: November 10 (Xbox One, Xbox 360)
Now that she's recovered from the exceptional amount of injuries she sustained during her time in Yamatai (the physical ones anyway), Lara Croft is back for a brand new, likely painful adventure. Where last time her only goal was to survive, this time she's hell-bent on finding a personal purpose and proof that she isn't as mad as everyone thinks. Proving the existence of an immortal prophet seems like it hits the sweet spot in this regard. But a well-funded shadow organization is trying to get their first, so Lara will have to use every trick in her book to reach that goal, up to and including bear-battling.
While it's exciting that Rise of the Tomb Raider will feature a more in-depth crafting system, hunting challenges, and incredibly diverse locations, the return of deep and detailed tombs is what's really got us gutting our wallets. Granted there will be some the one-off challenge room from the Tomb Raider reboot sprinkled here and there, but show-stopping, multi-step tombs will be the star of the show, and we can't wait to weep with frustration trying to solve them.
Halo 5: Guardians
Available on: October 27 (Xbox One)
Cortana is (possibly) dead, Master Chief has gone AWOL, a new generation of Spartans have arrived in full force, the Forerunner have returned. Oh, and there's aim-down sights now; everything about Halo 5: Guardians seems to be deconstructing the sci-fi shooter series, giving us new twists and taking unexpected turns. These changes make us nervous, but also terribly excited.
After all, Halo - much-loved as it is - is a bit long in the cybernetically-enhanced tooth at this point. Developer 343 Industries has taken the reigns from former developer Bungie and made the games unmistakably their own, but this is the teams first full effort on Xbox One. However, with gorgeous presentation, an intriguing storyline, new characters, new squad-based gameplay mechanics and a refined multiplayer experience, Halo 5 is shaping up very nice indeed.
Available on: September 8 (PS4)
Tearaway exploits all of PS Vita's veritable Swiss Army knife of sensors and buttons to create an experience that truly puts You at the center (literally - it uses the front camera to put you in the sun). Brilliant as Tearaway is, it's still exclusive to Sony's quiet little handheld, and that means comparatively few people have been able to enjoy it. That's where Tearaway Unfolded comes in.
Tearaway Unfolded doesn't just translate the experience onto PS4 - and, more importantly, DualShock 4 - it adds to it. Sure, you can use the touchpad to make your in-game creations, but you can also load up the companion app for a bigger, more precise canvas. You can hold up your controller to catch items, then flick up on the touchpad to send them sailing back out, or even use motion controls to shine the light bar around the world. If you didn't catch the adventures of Iota and Atoi the first time around, don't miss your second chance.
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
Available on: October 23 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Set in 1868 London, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate follows twins Evie and Jacob Frye as they attempt to win the city back from their Templar nemeses, who have eliminated all political opposition in the lead-up to the industrial revolution and now rule Britain as a fully-fledged shadow government. It's a bit like Oliver Twist, except with more stabbing and vicious street brawls, and less gruel.
While the familiar Assassin's Creed formula seems alive and well here - run along rooftops, kill targets on the sly, use magic x-ray vision to keep tabs on your targets - Syndicate also brings along some brand new mechanics, and adds a bit more polish to established ones. Now you'll be able to steal, drive, and fight on top of carriages (and the roofs of moving trains). You'll also have a rope launcher (read: grappling hook) that will let you climb buildings or set-up air assassinations, making your parkouring killers twice as efficient. Combat is now more up close and personal, and stealth more diverse, making Syndicate look like a complete and attractive package.
Available on: September (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
ADR1FT (or Adrift, if you like being able to pronounce things) is the sort of thing you'd get if you took Gravity and Gone Home and smooshed them together really hard, then had the result hang out at Alien: Isolation's house for a while. You play as an amnesiac astronaut and the apparent sole survivor of an event that left your space station in tatters. Oh, and you're running out of oxygen. Fun!
Your goal in ADR1FT is twofold: don't die, and get back home. The actual gameplay behind that looks to be fairly simple, as it primarily involves you floating around the remains of the station, solving puzzles and gathering clues and precious oxygen tanks alike. It'll also feature Oculus support, which sounds both awesome and unbelievably terrifying - seriously, the announcement trailer alone makes us nervous. That's all we really know about ADR1FT, so make sure to keep an ear out. In space, no one can hear you scream, so you'll have to listen close.
Available on: September 15 (Xbox One)
Forza 5 wasn't as good as Forza 4. Fact. Sure, it looked all shiny and had drivatars and Top Gear and everything, but it was comparatively disappointing. So the prospect of Forza 6 righting all the wrongs of its predecessor is tantalising indeed. We're getting night races, wet weather, an improved risk/reward system for earning credits, more tracks, 450 cars, full 1080p/60fps display this is looking like real deal.
But perhaps the reason to be most excited about the game is the introduction of multiplayer leagues. This will pit you against people of a like-minded approach to racing. Idiots will have to race idiots, gentlemen will have to race gentlemen. It sounds too good to be true. Hopefully it won't be.
Available on: TBA 2015 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
We've technically already had Borderlands in space, but why stop at visiting a moon? There are all sorts of worlds out there filled with fascinating creatures for you to beat the tar out of and call mean names. If that's what you're looking for, Gearbox's upcoming co-op FPS Battleborne has you covered.
An epic space adventure where a group of misfits from across the universe battle for the fate of the last living star, Battleborn shoots for epic scale without forgetting the cheeky banter and silliness that has endeared players to Gearbox games before. There's plenty of that to be found, like an overzealous military bro-bot and a swordsman who knows that anything you want is yours as long as you lick it first. Playing to Gearbox's strengths in a whole new galaxy, this looks like one hell of a fun intergalactic beat-down.
The Tomorrow Children
Available on: TBA 2015 (PS4)
As the game tells it, after the Soviet Union's unsuccessful bid to coerce the human race into a single, global consciousness failed, things got a little bit weird. They're still weird, to tell the truth. But as a projection clone summoned into the brave new world, it's your duty to restore the Republic's glorious infrastructure by claiming resources, building facilities, and collaborating with your fellow projections to defend your little corner of the world from the beasts that lurk beyond.
Developer Q-Games is best known for the Pixeljunk series, which put interesting twists on familiar genres like shoot-em-up and tower defense. The Tomorrow Children kinda looks like - a cross between Minecraft's creativity, Monster Hunter's resource-harvesting battles, and Dark Souls' unpredictable multiplayer. It's hard to guess how it will turn out, but it's even harder to dislike that Soviet-propaganda-poster-baked-onto-a-circuit-board aesthetic.
Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem
Available on: December (Wii U)
Virtually nothing has been said about this game in the many months since it was first revealed. We dont know what Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem looks like or how it plays, but we do know that Nintendos team at Intelligent Systems is hard at work on it. We just wish we knew more about one of the very few Wii U games planned for this year.
Based on the teaser trailer, we know this crossover brings together characters from both decades-old series, covering multiple titles from both SMT and Fire Emblem. Nintendo will be handling the development, and its occasionally been referred to as an RPG by the publisher, though how the disparate fantasy characters of FE will meet the post-apocalyptic demon killers of SMT is anyones guess. Our instincts tell us we wont see anything new of this until E3.
Destiny: The Taken King
Available on: September 15 (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)
With two expansions already in the bag, Bungie is looking to extend the weekly Destiny to-do list with an even larger expansion. The Taken King comes complete with a Raid, new areas to explore, additional Strikes, more multiplayer maps, and all kinds of exotic and legendary gear to collect. And all of these new activities, enemies, and competitive components are coming to invade the Destiny universe, thanks to one really pissed off father: Oryx, the Taken King.
In the first expansion, The Dark Below, the guardians went up to the moon and killed Oryx's son Crota. Now, the winged Hive monstrosity is coming to earth in a Death Star-sized tomb ship, ripping the souls from Fallen, Vex, and Cabal, and using those taken (get it?) life forms to create a massive army. Pricing issues aside, this looks like the proper, huge update Destiny has been waiting for.
Lego Marvels Avengers
Available on: Holiday (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U)
No, this isnt the Lego Marvel Super Heroes game again, and yes, developer Travellers Tales has really set these Lego game releases on rapid fire. Lego Marvels Avengers is a new game based on the Avengers movies. Youll be able to relive the times the Avengers assembled on the big screen and play as all of the super powered heroes like Captain America, Black Widow, and Iron Man.
Whether the scenes and events from character-specific movies like Captain America: Super Soldier and Iron Man will appear is yet to be seen - which seems like a good idea with all the origin stories that need to be told. Either way, the Lego-ized versions of Marvels Avengers and Age of Ultron are coming in all of their blocky, adorable glory.
Available on: TBA 2015 (Xbox One)
Asymmetrical multiplayer seems to be creeping into games more and more - not that were complaining. Well take just about any chance to show our cocky friends whos really in charge, so Fable Legends 4 vs 1 gameplay sound like the perfect opportunity to end a few friendships.
Up and coming villains take on the task of populating a dungeon much like in RTS games. Carefully planned traps and overwhelming ambushes are the name of the game as you make use of dwindling resources as efficiently as possible. Heroes, on the other hand, have it easy. Hacking, slashing, shooting arrows and launching fireballs. Just another day in the park for them.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege
Available on: October 13, 2015 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Rainbow Six went a bit flashy with the Vegas games. Since then, the series has been stuck in development hell, as Ubi searched for the right way to resurrect it. Rainbow Six: Siege seems like a nice balance between the old Rainbow Six, and the new. Its focus on tense multiplayer scraps, where team Rainbow assaults a series of terrorist hide-outs, offers something a little different from most other shooters. And its damn good fun.
However, to mangle a phrase: (military) man cannot survive on adversarial multiplayer alone. Thats where the dreadfully-named Terrohunt comes in, offering a cooperative hoard mode for those who prefer to shoot virtual bad guys instead of buddies. And, a few AI tweaks aside, this game type is damned entertaining. Is that enough to justify your $50/40? Probably not, so expect more reveals as we approach the games October launch.
Available on: August 4 (Wii U)
The creator of the Ninja Gaiden series, Tomonobu Itagaki, is steering his creative mind away from Ryu Hayabusa to make a game with a different kind of ninja cast. Like tattooed Russian, prisoner ninjas that not only carry swords, but also dispatch their enemies with machine guns and rocket launchers. And, as you can expect, all of the gore and blood sprays show up in full force for the Wii U exclusive.
At E3 we also learned that the game will feature a wacky 8v8 competitive multiplayer component that will include multiple game modes. One of the modes involved players gathering fruit and taking it to a giant blender, and another had players collecting different, brightly colored chickens. It looks like developer Valhalla is having some fun with this new IP, and we can't wait to see what else they have in store.
Available on: September 22 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC)
OK, so maybe bringing Pele out on stage at E3 to (refuse to) talk about the beautiful game wasn't the best idea in hindsight. EA has a right to be excited for the future of FIFA. It's getting the general raft of improvements, of course, and defense is a big focus this year. But the biggest addition is perhaps the series' most important: women's soccer teams will be included for the first time.
It's not just a simple swapping of character models, either. EA recorded motion capture of some of the sport's biggest players, like American forwards Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux to represent how the women's soccer (I'm sorry, football) teams will move and play on the field. FIFA 16 will also include 12 women's teams from around the world.
Available on: September 29 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
Some things in life are certain. The sun will rise, the tide will roll in, the radio will play at least one Taylor Swift song per hour and there will be a new NBA 2K game each year. If youve glazed over at the prospect of this being another dull update then youre an idiot. Not only are the 2K games the best sports titles money can buy, 2K16 has hired Spike Lee to handle its My Career story mode. And thats a big deal.
Sure, it wont make you buy the game if youre uninterested in hoops, but its an exciting moment for video games generally to have a director of Lees calibre involved with the project. And if you are partial to basketball? Gameplay details are scant right now, but Visual Concepts usually listens to the issues raised by the community. Expect minor tweaks on court, rather than major overhauls, because 2K15 really hit a sweet spot.
Madden NFL 16
Available on: August 15 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360)
Like Prince or David Bowie, the Madden series is always finding new ways to reinvent itself. Ok, fine, reinvent might be a little strong - but it's hard to deny that each iteration offers something new to go along with the pretty new graphics. This year, Madden NFL 16 brings the Draft Champions mode, which is the logical conclusion of all those fantasy draft leagues (short of actually hiring star players to assemble your own football team).
There's also been some fine-tuning to the on-field play, primarily in the realm of passing. Everything from throwing to catching and movement of quarters or receivers has been upgraded, meaning that you'll be able to make successful completions with more style and grace. Once you've adapted your playstyle, you might be on your way to becoming the next Hingle McCringleberry.
Available on: TBA 2015 (Xbox One)
Limbo creator Playdead has a flare for understated, creepy games, which is what made their first title such a hit. After four years of silence, the developer has re-emerged with an equally uncanny title called Inside. While details on it are still vague, our first look at its eerie atmosphere and gameplay has us twitching in our seats--in the best way.
Set in a bleak-looking world where people march ceaselessly forward like zombie drones, you play a character with free will, trying to maneuver through the landscape without being discovered. This includes hiding from search lights, running from vicious animals (also a mermaid), and pretending to be one of the unthinking horde, all while chasing down someone yourself. Featuring a slightly wide color palette than Limbo--the main character wears a red shirt!--the whole package looks great, and this is one creepy adventure we are don't plan to miss.
Available on: August 18 (PS4, PC, Vita)
Do you miss the stripped down, hide n seek gameplay of the older Metal Gear Solid titles, and dream of returning to blocky, sealed room puzzles? Volumes stealth action embraces those bygone days, as players take control of gentlemanly thief Robert Locksley. He sneaks around military bases in search of treasure, broadcasting his heists to the world with the help of Volume, his AI companion.
Volume is the next game from Thomas Was Alones Mike Bithell, and it looks to have a similar propensity for tight gameplay and dry humor, even featuring the voice talents of the brilliant Andy Serkis. The action has you peeking around corners and watching the guards vision cones as in days of yore. And navigating the guarded rooms is made even more challenging by Locksley strict policy against killing.
Available on: August 25 (PS4)
Not every film needs to be Citizen Kane, nor does every game need to aspire to high art. Until Dawn is purposefully styled on trashy horror films like I Know What You Did Last Summer, throwing a handful of scared teens into deadly situations to the delight of a squirming audience. Hell, Until Dawn even stars Hayden Panettiere, just the type of damsel in distress youd expect to see wearing a towel while being chased by a masked killer.
This unique adventure game starts as a small group of friends meet in a remote cabin on the one-year anniversary of their friends death. Soon enough the group is running for their lives from a mysterious maniac, getting picked off one by one. Players are tasked with making snap, life-or-death choices for the characters in gruesome situations, likely leading to some unique outcomes to this mystery. Until Dawn seems to embrace its campier elements, which will hopefully make for scary good time when played in the dark.
Available on: September 11 (Wii U)
If youve ever played a video game in your life, it was likely a Mario game. We could throw a football out a window, and it would likely hit some poor kid on the head while he jumped through Super Mario 3D Land on his 3DS. But for all the luster behind Mario and his games, one thing has always been absent--customization. Thats about to change with Mario Maker.
Mario Maker gives you the tools to actually craft your very own Super Mario Bros. level. Using the Wii Us GamePad, you can simply tap and drag all manner of blocks, pipes, and power-ups to anywhere on screen. Want a simple stage to test out? Go for it. Want to create a stage so hard even the infamous Kaizo Hack falls to its knees in fear? You can do that too! And if the eight-bit look doesnt suit you, you can always switch the palette over to the New Super Mario Bros. look. Wahoo!
Available on: September (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3)
NHL 16 isnt just about perfecting your on-ice fundamentals and ascending the ranks to a championship cup (though that is definitely a big part of it), the game puts you in control of every aspect of your team. Before you even set foot on the ice, you can also take on the teams general manager responsibilities. This means, youll have to oversee everything from the draft to player morale off the ice, and really get into the nitty gritty aspects of running a professional hockey team.
On top of a story-based campaign mode, players will be able to take part in nearly a dozen separate gameplay modes including the returning EA Sports Hockey League. This mode now lets you build a squad based on different player classes, then compete with that team online. This allows you to create a unique group that fits your own specific playstyle. NHL 16 is bringing much more to the table this year with new gameplay balancing, even more realistic arenas, and even mascots.
Formula One 2015
Available on: July 21 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Codemasters' 2014 F1 title was a (comparative) disappointment, as it offered very little over the 2013 game, even cutting out the excellent 'classic mode' content of the preceding version. But the previous games, great as they may be, are all old news now. F1 2015 will be coming to new-gen, and earlier in the F1 season than usual, updated with DLC as the real thing progresses. So maybe by July or August we'll be racing around a new-gen Monaco, chasing after a new-gen Rosberg who used new-gen 'tactics' in qualifying. And swerving to avoid a new-gen Maldonado.
It will likely be the first time we see the EGO engine running on PS4. And seeing as EGO provided one of the most versatile and impressive platforms on last-gen, that is a mouth-watering prospect. It's got to be amazing.
Need for Speed
Available on: November 3 (Xbox One, PS4)
It seems developer Ghost Games has decided to give Need for Speed a new-gen reboot. The game features the arcade-style, drift racing you see in The Fast and the Furious movies. But, just to mix things up, not all races are about being the fastest and placing first - sometimes its all about style.
In a new multiplayer mode called Rep Attack, you gain rep points by pulling off death-defying stunts. Drive close to oncoming traffic or pull off a super sick drift and you earn more points to push you up the ranking. The new Need of Speed looks absolutely fantastic with its nocturnal open world and flashy, street lamp lit race tracks. With a full car customization system, beautifully detailed world, and a few new ideas coming into the racing genre, this could be just the reboot Need For Speed needs.
Minecraft: Story Mode
Available on: TBA 2015 (PC)
Have you ever looked out over the blocky hills of a brand new Minecraft world and thought, Well, this is fine, but I could really use some dialog options. No? Well sorry, bub, because Minecraft is getting a Story Mode either way. Or more accurately, Mojang is working with Telltale on a new and entirely separate episodic series called Minecraft: Story Mode. Which sounds like the best possible way something called Minecraft: Story Mode could turn out, to be honest.
Telltale says it will follow a new narrative that's driven by player choice - much like its other licensed adventure series. Mojang assures Minecraft fans that Story Mode isn't going to squash anybody's creativity by introducing official canon events, it's just a 'cool game'. And even though Microsoft owns Mojang now, you can expect Story Mode to appear on PlayStation consoles, along with the other usual suspects.
Dishonored: Definitive Edition
Available on: August 25 (Xbox One, PS4)
Dishonored 2 will blink its way toward release sometime in early 2016, but with four years since the first game's launch, you might need a refresher on how that supernatural campaign for revenge worked out in the end. That's exactly what the Dishonored: Definitive Edition is for: packing together the original game and all its DLC, it'll bring the full Dishonored experience to PS4 and Xbox One late this summer.
The Definitive Edition will of course follow the adventures of assassin Corvo, a bodyguard framed for the murder of his royal charge, who is now on a quest for justice or revenge according to player discretion. In addition, it will feature four DLC packs, including Dunwall City Trials (a batch of Dishonored-themed mini-games that are as grizzly as you'd expect), Void Walker's Arsenal (made up of all the pre-order bonuses for each retail version of Dishonored) plus The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, which tell the tale of the Empress' assassin and Corvo's nemesis, Daud. For fans of the original who need a proper helping of bloody vengeance to tide them over until next year, this game is where the magic happens.
King's Quest: Your Legacy Awaits
Available on: TBA 2015 (PC)
With publishers more and more willing to delve into their old licenses, its hardly surprising that a new Kings Quest is once again in the works. Equally unsurprising is that it will stay close to its adventure game roots, and see the episodic release structure thats become inherent to the genre.
Whats probably the most surprising aspect of the upcoming entry is just how well it appears to marry the appearance of a modern adventure game with classic Kings Quest style. Despite abandoning point-and-click controls, King Graham traverses his world much as he did in his younger years - by getting far too close to obvious traps and deadly monsters than anyone should. Maybe in another 30 or so years, our persistent hero will finally figure out how to keep himself in one piece.
Flame in the Flood
Available on: TBA, beta out July (Xbox One, PC, Mac)
The main goal of many video games is to get you to feel powerful, putting a deadly weapon in your hands and letting you go to town on dozens of faceless goons. But then there are games like Flame in the Flood, which take that sentiment and inverts it so we can see the nasty results, like the scene in Galaxy Quest where the pig monster turns inside-out. In practical terms, that means putting you on the absolute bottom of the food chain with only a stick to defend yourself, where drinking water without boiling it first or getting caught in the rain will kill you. In fact, most things will kill you, and you can expect to die over and over and over again.
While that sounds way more unpleasant than fun, the joy of Flame in the Flood comes in slowly learning what it takes to survive, and managing to do it for longer and longer each time. It's by no means a forgiving game, and the smallest mistake will send you back to the mouth of the long river you're trying to follow, but there's something rewarding in learning from those mistakes and doing better next time. Plus, there's apparently something special waiting at the end of the river, and we're more than a little curious to find out what it is.
Available on: Q4 2015 (PS3, PS4)
The Shin Megami Tensei series may have been around longer, but its spinoff Persona has gone on to find massive success here in the West since its genre-blending third entry on the PS2. Mashing-up dungeon crawling, strategic JRPG combat, Pokemon-style monster collection, and the power of friendship, the Persona series puts you in the role of an ordinary Japanese high school student with extraordinary powers. It's rare that a game can make answering questions on a pop-quiz and hanging out with friends as interesting as battling demons, but Persona 5 aims to do all of that again by the end of the year.
Despite its expected release by Q4 2015, we actually don't know that much about Persona 5 other than what we've gleaned from a handful of trailers, but that's only got us even more intrigued. It looks like you'll be playing as a student (surprise!) who moonlights as a cat burglar when he's not busy studying for finals. Random JRPG battles and social links return, but everything looks more animated, more action-packed, and even more slick and stylish than ever before. Persona 5 looks so effortlessly cool, even its menus have us excited.
Available on: TBA 2015 (PC)
If the gameplay of Fortnite is even half as impressive as it sounds, every other tower defense game on the market is up for a rude awakening. First touted as the premiere showcase of Unreal Engine 4, years of development and redesign have pushed this colorful base builder out of the spotlight - and thats a damn shame.
A nightly onslaught of unfriendly creatures may be the base of the games action, but its the daytime base building and maintenance that seems to be the real hook. Fully customizable fortifications look to be as easy to build as they are to admire, although were not sure if our friends portion of the wall will be able to match the architectural nuance of our own. Still, when the baddies are coming to town, well take all the help we can get.
Available on: TBA 2015 (Xbox One, PC)
PlayStation so far has had the lion's share of impressive indie games, but Xbox's independent landscape isnt as barren as it may seem. At the front of Microsofts indie inclusive ID@Xbox initiative is Below, the next title from Capy Games (Super Time Force, Critter Crunch). The game is reminiscent of the original Legend of Zelda, only a bit more challenging.
Harkening back to the days of punishing mystery dungeons on 8- and 16-bit systems, Below drops players into massive caverns with little guidance. The exploration is all about trial and error, with tough-but-fair combat throughout, and permadeath to make every accomplishment feel earned. The visuals and soundtrack are already impressive, but will mainstream gamers come running to this challenging, weird console exclusive?
Available on: November 2015 (PC)
The success of XCOM: Enemy Unknown shouldn't be a surprise given developer Firaxis' pedigree with strategy games, so of course we're getting a sequel. What is surprising is how XCOM 2 follows the outcome of the first game. In an interesting twist on the sequel formula, XCOM 2 assumes that your failure to stop the alien menace in Enemy Unknown is canon, and takes place 20 years after Earth has been taken over by extraterrestrials.
XCOM 2 adds a ton of improvements. Now, you'll be able to extract wounded soldiers from the field mid-mission to prevent their demise (or bring back dead ones to keep their gear), hack enemy turrets, and even loot corpses for equipment. As a member of Earth's only freedom force, you'll likely be outmanned (outaliened?) and outgunned, so many missions will require you to get in, complete your objective, and get out before being wiped out. No pressure, though - it's only the future of the human race on the line.
Star Fox Zero
Available on: December (Wii U)
It's been too long since Fox McCloud and the Star Fox team banded together for a space-faring shoot-em-up. The last console game was Star Fox: Assault, released on GameCube in 2005, and everything since then has been a portable title or remake. Not that we mind portable games and remakes mind you, but the truth is that we crave something new.
Thankfully, there's plenty to look forward to for Star Fox Zero. For one, it's got a new developer: Platinum Games, the same studio behind action titles like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Bayonetta 2. Then there's the new vehicles, including a gyrocopter and a bipedal dinosaur/bird-like form that the Arwing can transform into.
StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void
Available on: TBA 2015 (PC)
The finale to StarCraft 2's trisected story has been a long time coming; the Terran-centric Wings of Liberty debuted a whopping five years ago. And since the Zerg got their turn in Heart of the Swarm expansion, the spotlight is finally swinging over to the gold-and-blue Protoss to close out this epic space RTS trilogy. StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void will wrap up three games' worth of story build-up in singleplayer, and revitalize the multiplayer scene with a swath of new units for each race.
There are some particularly intriguing units among the five that are being added, including the return of the Zerg Lurker, and the Protoss Adept that can take the place of a phantasmal mirror image it sends out. You've also got some exciting new multiplayer modes to look forward to, including the harmony-testing, 'two players one base' dynamic of Archon Mode, or the Allied Commanders mode that lets you team up with an online pal for an extensive co-op campaign.
Available on: TBA 2015 (PS4, PC)
Hey - you don't rush Jonathan Blow when he's making his next game, just like you wouldn't tell van Gogh to hurry it up with that new painting. Say what you will about Blow himself, but there's no denying that Braid is an immaculately made game, with so much care going into nearly every facet of the experience. If The Witness can pull off even half of that game's thought-provoking atmosphere and puzzling challenges, then it's sure to be a first-person adventure to remember.
Exploring a seemingly uninhabited island might not sound so exciting, no matter how gorgeous, colorful, or varied that island's environments may be. But as another recent first-person puzzler, The Talos Principle, has proven, the simple act of following through on your curiosity, as you wander through picturesque landscapes and solve cryptic puzzles, can be amazingly rewarding and deeply engaging.
Available on: TBA 2015 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)
They say people don't believe in heroes anymore. That might be a good call if you live in Mad Max's gritty desert hellscape, where the corpses are fresh, the cars are tricked out, the battering rams have battering rams, and everything's on fire. In the upcoming vehicle-heavy apocalypse simulator, Mad Max may have lost his Mel Gibson mug in favor of a timely Tom Hardy look, but make no mistake: he's still the off-his-axels crazy killer you remember, complete with Australian accent.
In the Road Warrior's interactive debut, there's two things you can definitely expect: ill wills, and ill wheels. When he's not snapping the necks of ne'er-do-wells or looting corpses, Max's main objective is souping up his hellish hotrod, the Magnum Opus. It'll be interesting to see how the developers (the same folks behind Just Cause) will implement a high-stakes vehicle builder, but color us intrigued for this sun-scorched display of vehicular manslaughter.
Let It Die
Available on: TBA 2015 (PS4)
There is a lot going on with the Let It Die trailer. First off, the game is being made by Suda 51's team Grasshopper Manufacture (the guys behind Lollipop Chainsaw and Killer is Dead) so you know it's going to be a little weird. When the trailer started to play at the E3 reveal, it was just that, weird. A naked dude walks down a hallway, kills another naked dude wearing goggles, then takes his goggles.
This continues with many more foes, each adding to the formerly naked dude's equipment. Basically, the trailer didn't give us very much information on the actual gameplay. In an interview with Suda at E3, we did get a few details on the game, like how it's a multiplayer free-to-play title, players will be able to create and build up their own character, and characters will be able to perform classic wrestling moves on their opponents (not just hit them with spiked baseball bats).
Available on: October 27 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
If you were complaining that WWE 2K15 didn't have enough wrestlers on its roster, then you're in luck. 2K has heard your cries, and this year's premier video game adaptation of the squared circle is going to get over 120 playable wrestlers for you to choose from. That's twice as many as last year's outing, and that number doesn't even include inevitable DLC combatants
Not much else is known about WWE 2K16, but we're hoping for a graphical update as well as new modes and improved controls. As the only wrestling game in town, WWE 2K16 needs to live up to fan expectations, so hopefully the care that Yuke's and 2K is giving to roster will extend to the rest of the game. Screenshot of WWE 2015
Everybodys Gone to the Rapture
Available on: August 11 (PC, PS4)
The Chinese Room is the development team behind the haunting Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. For their newest title Everybodys Gone to the Rapture, theyre taking on the end of the world. This isnt about earth-cracking earthquakes or acid rain from deadly skies--this apocalyptic title is about the depression that happens after all that has passed. Its about searching for any sign of humanity, of hope.
It sounds like a bummer, but Rapture promises to intrigue with its beautiful graphics and hint of mystery. The cottages, woods, and rivers of 1984 England look gorgeous, and as you move through them, youll get the sense of more than meets the eye. There are weird electromagnetic noises coming from certain devices, and a strange orb of light floats alongside you as you explore. Shadows of the past can also be seen with a keen eye, as strange static ghosts appear from time to time. Its the end of the world, but that doesn't mean there aren't tons of loose ends.
Rock Band 4
Available on: October 6 (PS4, Xbox One)
Time to dig up all those plastic instruments that have been gathering dust in your attic for the last few years; Rock Band is making a comeback. Developer Harmonix is bringing Rock Band 4 to the new generation of consoles, and by the looks of things so far, the game is going to be massive. Not only will it give players access to the song lists that have been released in previous entries, Harmonix plans to build upon the game with expansions and DLC.
Best of all, the developer is working on making your old plastic instruments compatible with the new gen hardware - which sounds great. I mean, who wants to repurchase the drum set and all those extra peripherals again? It's been a few years since the rhythm game craze has simmered down, but now it seems that it's time for another encore.
Just Cause 3
Available on: December 1 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
The Just Cause titles are the type of concentrated insanity that only games can offer. Where else can you tie a car to a helicopter, ride an exploding gas canister like a rocket, and instantly transition between skydiving and a high speed boat chase. Hero Rico Rodriguez better be up for the challenge because Just Cause 3 looks to be bigger and crazier than ever.
The game promises the return of the unbeatable combination of grappling hooks and parachutes, but with improved abilities and physics. Just Cause 3 will also add wingsuits to Ricos tool set, and the island setting will be bigger than ever, including underground caves as a series first. However, developer Avalanche is also launching its Mad Max game this year. Can the studio can actually ship two massive, open-world adventures in 2015.
Star Wars Battlefront
Available on: November 17 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Having DICE (creators of the Battlefield series) be the developer behind the new Star Wars Battlefront, seems to be a match made in heaven. Who better to make the iconic Star Wars battles come to life than the guys who inspired the design of the original games? DICE's Star Wars Battlefront is looking most impressive. Not only did the developers replicate the models of the vehicles and weapons from the movies, the music and sound effects create battlegrounds that feel like you've stepped right into the silver screen.
Warzones like the Battle of Hoth let you fly snow speeders around AT-AT legs and man the icy trenches of Echo Base. On Endor, you can hop on speeder bikes or drive AT-ST walkers as you fight for control over the lush forests. If you ever wanted to play out scenes from the original trilogy, this is your chance. Everything about Battlefront seems to fit with the Star Wars feel, but we'll see how strong the force is with this one when it hits this November.
No Man's Sky
Available on: TBA 2015 (PC, PS4)
The No Man's Sky reveal blew us away at E3 2014. It's a procedurally generated universe that continuously builds on itself, offering massive planets to explore, each one with its own wildlife, terrain, and environmental conditions. All of these variables are interconnected. The environment will change what the animals look like, what materials you can gather, and what vegetation grows on the planet - making that world completely unique. Sounds like a lot to explore right? Well, then comes the mind-blowing part.
But exploring one planet isn't even scratching the surface. You can hop into a spaceship, take off into the stratosphere and fly through an entire universe full of new worlds, asteroids, and creatures. There also appear to be hostile enemy fleets cruising around the void, begging to engage in a Star Wars-style space battle. There's much more to see of No Man's Sky, and we can't wait to find out more when the game deploys later this year.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Available on: September 1 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360)
In the continuing saga of Big Boss and Hideo Kojima saying hes done with him, here comes another Metal Gear game. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the first open-world game to sport the stealthiness of Kojimas epic tale, but its more than just a new setting. Its a modified Snake in a totally different world.
The Phantom Pains open-world setting means Snake will spend time riding on horseback (which he can totally do stealthily!) and driving vehicles. Hes also just woken up from a nine-year coma - with a cybernetic arm! New mechanics and new abilities for Snake mean The Phantom Pain will really spice up the MGS world. And did we mention you can airlift goats? Yeah, thats a thing. Its pretty awesome.
What are you looking forward to?
There you have it. Those are all of the games we know will be releasing in 2015. Now, all we have to do is wait. What games are you looking forward to playing? Which ones are going to make the next few months the most painful as we draw, ever so slowly, to the release date? Let us know in the comments below.