If you pay close attention to anything for long enough, you're going to develop a sixth sense about it. Pay enough attention to the game industry, for example, and you'll be able to predict, with some degree of accuracy, how good a game is going to be before you even get a chance to play it. You're also going to want to start speculating about that, usually all the time, but especially whenever game releases are slow and there's not a whole lot else to talk about besides which games on the distant horizon have us the most excited. (Here's 100 of them, for a start.)
These are just (educated) guesses, of course. The year ahead is littered with all kinds of unknown variables, like unforeseen delays and monster gaming juggernauts that haven't even been announced yet. Based on what we know now, though, here's our best guess as to what's going to draw the most praise in the months ahead.
MOST EXTRAVAGANT PIXELS:
Far Cry 3
Award Probability: 65%
deep into the console cycle, it’s getting harder and harder to call out
specific games for looking better than the rest, but out of what we’ve seen so
far, Far Cry 3 is kinda breathtaking. With its lush jungle foliage, striking
waterfalls and crazy-eyed thugs, the demo we saw at E3 last year has stuck in
our minds more than most of the other stuff we saw – although to be fair, that
might have more to do with the “definition of insanity” speech in the demo.
Cry’s always been about setting players loose in big, untamed environments, and
even at its most buggy, it’s always been beautiful. And seeing the series
return to a colorful jungle setting after its tour of duty in the brown African
savanna is a refreshing change. Whatever Far Cry 3’s other faults may end up
being, its good looks are indisputable.
Last Of Us
Dog’s post-apocalyptic something takes second place for two reasons: first, all
we’ve seen of it is a trailer that, while generated by a PS3, isn’t actually
gameplay. Second, we’re not actually sure it’s coming out this year. Even so,
Naughty Dog’s been doing some extremely impressive visual work lately with
Uncharted, and we’d expect any successor franchise to push the boundaries of
what’s possible with current-gen hardware even further. Or just look more
amazing than everything else. That’s a reasonable expectation, right?
BEST FANBOY-ENRAGING REBOOT:
DmC: Devil May Cry
Award Probability: 74%
know what? We get it. It’s always hard to adjust when an iconic character gets a
radical overhaul. And at first, we were right there with the knee-jerk-freakout
reactionaries when the wraps were pulled off Dante’s “emo” new look. Since
then, we’ve come around, though, because let’s face it: "old" Devil May Cry had a good run, but what was once considered super-badass gradually became stale and silly. (And
really, nothing says “we’ve run out of ideas” like making the second half of
your game about backtracking through its first half.)
while turning Dante into a brooding, brunet teenager might be a
questionable move, the series could really
use a good shakeup, especially if it comes from Ninja Theory, makers of the
underappreciated-but-brilliant Heavenly Sword and Enslaved.
Above: It helps that this looks like something we’d actually want to play
Runner-up: Tomb Raider
Raider is a franchise in dire need of rescue. Not because its games are bad,
mind you, but because its fans seem to have stopped caring a long time ago.
Lara Croft has been sliding into irrelevance for years, repeatedly upstaged by
the likes of Nathan Drake, so seeing the hypercompetent adventurer reborn as a
scrappy, skin-of-her-teeth survivor is a premise with a lot of potential. And
while we’d applaud it just for trying something new, the fact that it’s doing
something new and interesting actually
has us excited for a Tomb Raider game for the first time in a long time.
DEADLIEST TIME-MURDERER: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Guesstimated Award Probability: 100%
what, you’re not still playing this nonstop? And you won’t be for the
foreseeable future? Really? Oh, fine.
Guess it’s just us, then. OK, well, how about…
Award Probability: 76%
before MMOs became the go-to receptacle for PC gamers’ endless clicking, Diablo
was the original time-sink. And while there’s no shortage of potential
hour-devourers on the horizon, especially on PC (Dota 2, XCOM and the endless
updates to League of Legends spring to mind), there’s every reason to believe
that Blizzard’s tireless (and somewhat tiresome, to be honest) perfectionism
and dedication to nailing Diablo’s formula will result in one of the most
endlessly addictive loot-hoarding and mouse-clicking sims ever devised.
Friends, lovers, spouses, children – remember that we love you. But you will
never, ever see us again.
Assuming it actually comes out this year, that is...
Runner-up: Borderlands 2
near-perfect a trap as Diablo III is, it has two fatal flaws: it’s not on
consoles, thereby effectively immunizing those players against its harmful
effects, and it doesn’t have tons of over-the-top firearms. Borderlands 2 will
correct these flaws, thus ensuring that nothing ever gets done and society
eventually grinds to a slow, juddering halt.