The Xbox One will dominate Microsoft's attention through the rest of the year, but why leave the 360 in the dust so soon? There are plenty of games coming for the current Microsoft machine worth your time, and none require you to spend a bunch of money you don't have on a box you might not want.
The following is a list of 25 games you should be paying attention to in the near future. Some are established franchises, others are brand-new ideas, but all of them look to be quality gaming experiences. And good news! They're all coming to an Xbox 360 near you--no new hardware required. So what are you waiting for?
The Walking Dead: Season Two (TBA 2013/2014)
Never before have we laughed, cried, smiled, and frowned during a video game than while experiencing the incredible story of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead. Universal acclaim and a bevy of Game of the Year awards don't lie; the first season was a brilliant game from pillar to post, and the 400 Days DLC set up the second season perfectly...but now it's time to move on.
The second season has been teased with a short video of our heroine Clementine as she moves her way through danger. It didn't show much, and it was barely two minutes, but it was enough to remind us just how set we are for the next season of the game to start. If the second season's storyline sees even half of the quality of the first game, then Telltale is doing something right.
Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD (January 14)
Xbox players who like the Assassin’s Creed series might not have any idea who Aveline is. She starred the Vita exclusive Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, set in 18th century Louisiana and running parallel to the events of Assassin’s Creed III. Aveline is as lethal and effective as the rest of the Assassins, but her story has yet to be told to the entire gaming world…until now.
The Vita hit is getting promoted to consoles with a new, shiny HD coat of paint, losing its Sony exclusivity in the process. Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD will be downloadable only starting in early 2014, and Assassin’s Creed buffs should take the chance to experience another piece of the series’ expansive lore.
Earth Defense Force 2025 (February 4)
We don’t like bugs. Spiders, ants, and other creepy crawlies give us the heebie-jeebies, but the Earth Defense Force games have allowed us to take out some aggression on the six or eight-legged devils. The newest adventure, Earth Defense Force 2025, is due soon, allowing us to take the fight back to those insect insurgents.
Along with the bug crushing mayhem, Earth Defense Force has always gives us a layer of well-appreciated comedy, making us laugh in more ways than just the maniacal laughter that comes with shooting a giant ant right in the thorax. We hope EDF 2025 retains that charm, because squashing those humongous heathens won’t be the same without it.
The Wolf Among Us (TBA 2013/2014)
Telltale Games knows that they can't sit back and rest on the success of The Walking Dead. They need to again come up with a fresh and exciting subject for an episodic game, just to show they're not a one-trick pony. Enter The Wolf Among Us, a brand new game based on the very popular Fables comic books. Episode One is out now, but that's merely an appetizer; four more episodes are due soon, and we can't wait.
If you're not reading Fables, we'll explain as we shake our heads in bewilderment: Fables is the story of countless nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters forced from their home by a being only called "The Adversary." The characters form a community in New York City called "Fabletown," where the game picks up. We'll play as Bigby Wolf (guess who he is) as he tries to control his wolf side. Yeah, that's Fables. Pretty cool, right? It's worth a read before you play Telltale's adaptation.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (February 11)
The final game in the Final Fantasy XIII saga, Lightning Returns looks completely different than the other two games, but in a good way. Instead of a standard turn-based RPG, the action of Lightning Returns will look more like a stealth action game. Lightning will be able to traverse the world as she pleases, which is a change from the rigidity of the other games.
The battle system will mix elements from the entire Final Fantasy lineage, including Active Time Battle, Paradigm Shifts, and even Dresspheres from Final Fantasy X-2. Lightning will use different outfits to gain strength and abilities just as Yuna and company did, and we're surprised by that. We thought we'd never see any mechanics from that game again outside of the upcoming HD remake. As long as Lightning doesn't turn into a pop star, we're cool.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (February 25)
In our anticipation for Lords of Shadow 2, we’ve developed a lot of questions about where the series is going, each having multiple possible answers. Will we be playing in modern times like the VGA 2012 trailer suggests, or the same setting as before? More importantly, who will we be controlling? Gabriel? Simon Belmont? Alucard?
We have a lot of things that need answering, but that doesn’t make us any less interested in Lords of Shadow 2. The first one breathed new life into the Castlevania name, and the 3DS narrative bridge set things up perfectly for us. Now all we need is the next game…whatever the minor details may be.
Thief (February 25)
Everyone's talking about the next Thief game sneaking its way to the next generation of consoles, but let's not forget that current-gen players will be able to take control of the Thief as well. Thief looks to be taking many cues from Bethesda's most recent release Dishonored, and considering how great that was, borrowing ideas can't be anything but good.
We're really glad Thief is coming to both generations of consoles, as it gives those who can't upgrade right away some consolation. It's been a long time since we've played a Thief game, and leaving out a segment of players would probably mean we'd have to wait even longer for another new Thief. We wouldn't want that at all, so everyone should play Thief.
Fable Anniversary (February 2014)
Newer gamers who cut their teeth on the Xbox 360 only missed out on the original Fable adventure, getting only to experience the second and third games of the trilogy. Well, this was true until now, as Lionhead Studios has remastered the original Fable for release on the Xbox 360 in celebration of the game's 10-year anniversary.
All of the visuals have been upgraded to full 1080p HD, a brand new interface will allow for a seamless transition from the original Xbox to the 360, and a brand new save system will FINALLY let us save anywhere and everywhere in Albion, even in the middle of quests. Now that we think about it, we kinda miss Albion. It'll be nice to go back.
South Park: The Stick of Truth (March 4)
The South Park RPG previously controlled by THQ has found a new home with Ubisoft, and even though it was originally slated to be out already, we're sure the delay will only make things better. After all, show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are still at the helm, and that will never change.
While the idea of playing a game in the world of South Park is intriguing, we're most excited to see a classic turn-based RPG in the limelight. After Ni No Kuni earlier in the year, we're more than happy to revel in some more turn-based action, even if we're lighting farts on fire or summoning the Chinese food restaurant owner. Count us in.
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (March 4)
The Ninja Gaiden games never skimped on the blood and gore in the past, and we weren’t sure how the series could top its ultra-violent nature. However, our questions have been quickly answered with Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, which throws the living dead into the ninja slasher mix. It’s not enough to slash enemy ninjas into bits, now they’re throwing in zombies too.
The game focuses on Yaiba, an evil ninja whom is resurrected into a cyborg after Ryu Hayabusa takes him down. He then spends the rest of the game killing zombies and stopping their insurrection so he can gain the power to avenge his death at Ryu’s hands. It’s odd to see the familiar hero as the main antagonist, but we don’t think we’re worried about Ryu being “bad.” The last trailer shows us that Yaiba is plenty evil on his own.
Titanfall (March 11)
The darling of countless trade shows this summer is building a Xbox One fanbase almost by itself, but let's not forget that 360 owners will be able to join the fun too. Titanfall's campaign feeling in multiplayer form has a lot of people buzzing, mixing familiar first-person combat with full-on heavy metal mech battling. We're in love.
We do wonder if the online capabilities of the 360 will be able to handle Titanfall, as the game is said to rely on the cloud for most of its information. We're sure Respawn has considered this and picked an appropriate team to work on the current-gen version, but replacing cloud technology could turn out difficult. We'll find out if Titanfall succeeds across two generations in 2014.
Dark Souls II (March 14)
We are not prepared for Dark Souls II. We will never be prepared, not even on March 13th. Dark Souls II will bring the pain just as its predecessors have, and while we'll be tearing our hair out trying to conquer its many obstacles, we'll love every second of it. We can't wait for Dark Souls II, even though we're sure we'll regret playing it almost immediately.
We don't anticipate our love/love to hate relationship with Dark Souls changing upon the sequel's release. If anything, we're willing to bet that Dark Souls II will be even more frustrating and unfair than the other. As each sequel in the Souls franchise releases, the games creep closer and closer to "most difficult game of all time" territory. The Battletoads better watch their backs, that's all we're trying to say.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z (Q1 2014)
We’ve always wondered what franchises would make for a great MMO, but we never considered Dragon Ball Z. After all, that story is concrete, and we’d much rather play as Goku, Vegeta, and the other established characters instead of some self-made Z character that isn’t nearly as awesome as we want it to be.
Battle of Z, however, puts the DBZ MMO thought into our heads with its four-player co-op capabilities. Players can team up to fight the biggest villains in the DBZ universe, or they can take the fight to each other in 4 vs 4 online battles. Fighters can heal each other mid-battle and team up for unique attacks as well. It’s not a true MMO, but Battle of Z is probably the closest thing we’ll get, so we’re going to enjoy it.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (Q1/Q2 2014)
Somehow we've found the time to pry ourselves away from Plants vs Zombies 2 to write this post, but only because we're talking about Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. This isn't the same tower defense; this is full-on third-person war against a horde of the undead. All of our favorite flowers will be brought to life in a way no mobile phone can recreate (yet).
Perhaps most exciting is the ability to play as the zombies in multiplayer modes, a first for the entire series. After all of this time, we'll get to teach the plants a lesson instead of the other way around. We just hope the zombies can put some pep in their steps; we know they're undead, but no one's going to win a war walking less than a mile an hour.
Watch Dogs (Spring 2014)
Using an entire city's security system against our enemies is something we've never done before, but you better believe Ubisoft has us interested in doing just that in Watch Dogs. We've seen Aiden Pearce do some pretty incredible things, like catching a criminal by overloading an electrical box he's running by or raise a security gate to cause a pursuer's car to crash. The possibilities are endless, and that's why we're so excited.
A new IP always feels like a breath of fresh air, and Watch Dogs may be the freshest air we get in 2013. We have no idea what to expect, and that's why we can't wait.
The Evil Within (Q2 2014)
After the less-than-stellar performance of Resident Evil 6 last year, survival horror fans are starved for a game that will take them back to the glory days of being scared out of their wits. Shinji Mikami, the man responsible for Resident Evil 4, is going to make those people regret ever asking for a new horro game when The Evil Within launches.
The Evil Within looks SCARY. The E3 demo showed off some incredible gameplay, and the screenshots show a world full of mystery, suspense, and blood, lots of blood. With Mikami at the helm, we have no doubt that The Evil Within will make us scream in terror and delight...if we can handle it.
Murdered: Soul Suspect (Q2 2014)
If given the chance to try and solve your own murder, would you do it? That's the basis of Square Enix's newest IP Murdered: Soul Suspect, due early next year. Combining the otherworldly detective work of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective with the world of LA Noire, Murdered will lead us through a murder-mystery thriller as we try to piece together why we woke up dead.
Strangely enough, the idea of Murdered came up when the game's creative director wondered aloud if John McClane from Die Hard was actually a dead man helping the cops from beyond the grave. If that means Ronan will emulate McClane during the adventure, we'll have zero problem with it. Perhaps Bruce Willis himself would want to lend his voice. Wouldn't THAT be something?
Dragon Age: Inquisition (Q3 2014)
A measly teaser is all we saw of Dragon Age: Inquisition at E3 2013, a move that left some of us scratching our heads. Sure we saw Morrigan again, confirming a sorely missed presence in the next game, but aside from that we still had no idea what the game looked like, how it played, or anything else. Luckily, since then some information has come across the wire, and we like what we see.
Recent information tells us that we're once again playing as a brand new character in the DA universe, leaving Hawke and the Grey Warden by the wayside. We love that idea, but we hope we'll be able to meet our former compatriots somewhere in the land of Ferelden. We'd hate to think that something terrible happened to one of them...or both.
Destiny (TBA 2014)
Bungie's next venture has impressed across the board, and we're glad that Destiny will be coming to the current-gen systems. Though we won't be surprised if Destiny thrives on next-gen consoles, giving late adopters the option to meet their Destiny is an honorable gesture.
The game looks to be the same incredible first-person shooter gameplay that Bungie is known for, just missing a familiar face. We get the feeling that it won't take us long to get acclimated with the new crew; we'll be shooting the bad guys just like we used to in no time.
Dying Light (TBA 2014)
After Dead Island Riptide, we thought that Techland might be finished with the zombie motif and would move on to something else. As it turns out, with a new developer comes a new twist on the formula, and while part of us wonders if Dying Light will be the spiritual Dead Island 3, we’re more than optimistic about what Techland can put together.
The idea of zombies getting stronger at nightfall has happened before, but we don’t think we’ve ever worried about the sun going down this much before. We’re afraid that sundown will turn every zombie into the Tank from Left 4 Dead, and if that happens…well, we guess it’s called DYING light for a reason.
Fantasia: Music Evolved (TBA 2014)
Harmonix and Disney are teaming up to give us a brand new take on the motion-based dance games in Fantasia: Music Evolved. Now, instead of just dancing along with an on-screen avatar, we can use our rhythm to bring life back into the world, just as Mickey the Sorcerer’s Apprentice did so many years ago. We can’t wait!
The soundtrack will be a mixture of popular music and the classical soundtrack of the movie, and all of it can be remixed however we wish. We call a dubstep version of Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain (YouTube it, you know the song), and it will be the absolute best.
Mad Max (TBA 2014)
When we saw that Mad Max was getting a video game, we had an avalanche of questions for developer Avalanche Studios. What’s the focus of the game? It sorta looks like Fallout, is it going to be like Fallout? Is Mel Gibson voicing Mad Max? The only question that disappointed us is the last one (no Mel Gibson boooo), but everything else sounds INSANE.
Mad Max sounds like it will mix the best of Fallout with Twisted Metal, focusing on vehicular combat through the wastes of the Mad Max world. Vehicles will be customizable, allowing to us to create and maintain our own post-apocalyptic asskicker. Mad Max sounds ambitious, but with Avalanche and their Just Cause pedigree at the helm, we’re not too worried about it. Bring on the madness.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (TBA 2014)
An early favorite for “most bizarre PR campaign of 2013,” The Phantom Pain had us scratching our heads for a while. What’s with all the hallucinations in the hospital? Who’s this Joakim Mogren fellow with the bandages? Seriously, what’s with the flaming horse? Once Kojima unveiled that Phantom Pain was indeed Metal Gear Solid 5, things made sense: we’re not supposed to know anything yet. This is Kojima, after all.
Let’s not forget about the impressive-looking Ground Zeroes either. Apparently that is a prologue for the events of Phantom Pain, but whether or not they will make one giant game or be a digital/retail hybrid remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s more Metal Gear, and we missed Snake and his buddies. We’re ready for more tactical espionage action.
Strider (TBA 2014)
Fans of recent fighting games know all about Strider Hiryu and his high-tech ninja arsenal, but outside of a few dustups with Iron Man and Captain America, few of those fans are familiar with the source material. Capcom must have noticed this, because a brand new Strider game will hit the digital marketplaces in 2014, and we hope it brings Strider back to the forefront of gaming.
The new Strider is set up in a Metroidvania format, giving us a giant world to traverse and plenty of collectible items and weaponry to aid us in battle. The action is intense too, sometimes filling the screen with explosions, beams of light, and pieces of our enemies. It’s about time that Strider got another crack at the limelight, and we won’t have to wait long for it either.
Wolfenstein: The New Order (TBA 2014)
The Nazis won World War II, and they've developed an army of robots and mechs to impose their will. Who can the world turn to in this dark, awful time? None other than B.J. Blazkowicz, that's who. Welcome to Wolfenstein: The New Order, Starbreeze Studio's take on the storied Wolfenstein franchise.
While we don't know if MechaHitler himself will return, we do know that this is world we'd want no parts of living in. However, we'll certainly revel in taking control of B.J. as he tries to rid the Nazi blight from the world...again.
Listen, we know you're busy--and that means you might have forgotten about one of the bigger Xbox 360 releases to come in the past few months. Here are some of the biggest recent releases, in case you want something to buy right now.
Need for Speed: Rivals (November 19)
Need for Speed returns for another run around the track inNeed for Speed Rivals. We haven't seen much footage for the 360 version of the game, only the very pretty Xbox One offering, but we're still plenty intrigued.
The name "Rivals" suggests that this will be a racing-focused entry, but we'd like to point out that criminals and cops are considered rivals as well, so the Hot Pursuit modes should stay put. Racing is fun and all, but running from the cops as previous NFS games have allowed us is a thrill we can't replicate outside of games. Well, unless we wanted to sit in jail, which we don't.
NBA 2K14 (October 1)
2K Sports has ruled over the basketball video game kingdom for some time, adding a layer of symbolism to choosing Lebron James, aka "King James," as the cover star. Now, with EA Sports looking to retake the hardwood, NBA 2K14 will see something that 2K12 and 2K13 never had to worry about: actual competition!
NBA 2K14 has a slew of updates and new features to please their legions of fans. Crew Mode and its 5-player online mode makes a triumphant return, fulfilling a ton of fan requests. The new Pro Stick will allow for absolute precision on offense, but the strengthened defenses won't make things easy. Even though 2K will have an opponent on the court this year, we're confident they'll still walk away champion.
Skylanders: Swap Force (October 13)
We mentioned Disney Infinity and its upcoming toys earlier, but let’s not forget about the current reigning figurine champion. Skylanders has a game of its own coming out this year, and Swap Force is going with the theory of “less is more.”
Only 16 new figurines will debut with the new game, but those 16 figures will have interchangeable parts. Doing the math, that means out of 16 figurines with three parts each comes 256 possible combinations. 256 new Skylanders made from only 16 different figurines. Man, the Skylanders franchise just keeps on coming, doesn’t it? It’s time to clear out even MORE room in the GamesRadar office.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes (October 18)
The Lego games have been a great way to allow kids to play as their favorite characters while maintaining a humorous, family-friendly atmosphere. Lego Marvel Super Heroes looks to extend that Lego-fied gameplay to the Marvel universe, and we’re interested to see how it will compare to the DC games.
We’ve seen Lego versions of our favorite Marvel heroes, like Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man, but we’re sure this game will be chock-full of characters from all over the Marvel library. We’d like to suggest Squirrel Girl. She commands squirrels to her beck and call, and if you’ve been in any city, you know what that means: unlimited allies at her disposal. Squirrel Girl. Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Do it.
Batman: Arkham Origins (October 25)
The Batman is swooping back onto consoles, but as a younger, more vulnerable Caped Crusader. Yes, we’re going back in time in this prequel to the Arkham series developed by WB Montreal. Where’s Rocksteady? We don’t know, but hopefully we will soon. This time Batman will be fighting thugs under the mistletoe, as the story takes place on Christmas Eve in Gotham City. Santa Claus he is not; Batman prefers delivering Christmas beatdowns to all the people on the naughty list.
Deathstroke and Black Mask will be part of the villain lineup for Arkham Origins, but that’s all we know so far. If we had a choice, we’d bring back Scarecrow for some more supernatural battles. Those moments in Arkham Asylum were really cool, as is the Scarecrow cameo in Injustice. Give us more of that.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (October 29)
Avast, ye hearty sea dogs! Ubisoft is taking Assassin's Creed 4 to the stormy seas of the Caribbean, introducing us to a new assassin along the way. The open seas will prove to be a new playground for AC fans, both above and below the waterline.
Edward Kenway is a greedy, selfish pirate. Beyond that, though, we don't know much about him. We have a hunch that he'll stab his way into our hearts in no time at all. October 29th can't come soon enough.
Battlefield 4 (October 29)
While the next-gen Battlefield 4 game will be praised for its graphics and presentation, we expect the same kind of attention to detail in the current gen. After all, Battlefield 3 was one of the most graphically pleasing games on the system. Why wouldn't BF4 be the same way?
Battlefield 4 is the same tried-and-true first-person shooting that players have enjoyed for years, and DICE has proven they can provide it at its best. Will BF4 be next-gen? Yup, but the current generation won't be left behind either.
WWE 2K14 (October 29)
Step back into the ring with your favorite WWE wrestlers with WWE 2K14, the first game under the new 2K Sports label, hits stores in October. Along with new faces like The Ultimate Warrior (which is amazingly cool, by the way), the gameplay has been updated for the fastest WWE experience yet.
The endless chain of counters has been replaced with counters now leading into high-impact moves. Strikes are faster, which means combos are faster, which means more damage can be dealt faster. New OMG moments deliver some vicious hits, like a boot to an opponent's head while it's up against the ring post. All of these things and more will try to make WWE 2K14 the most authentic WWE game yet, and we're anxious to see for ourselves.
Call of Duty: Ghosts (November 5)
2013 is Infinity Ward’s turn with Call of Duty, and their next game is centered on a team known as the Ghosts. Other than a brief teaser, that’s all we know right now.
We will be getting more information at the Xbox reveal on May 21st, so for now all we can do is speculate. Judging by the precedent of the series, we doubt we’ll be dealing with any friendly ghosts, though naming the campaign squad members after famous ghosts would be a nice touch. We want to play as Slimer, Infinity Ward. Let us be Slimer.
There's more evil within
See, and there you were saying "well, the Xbox 360 is surely dead this year!" Now who's the sucker? It's you. You're the sucker. We'll keep this sucker updated as more games come out/are announced--what games are you looking forward to on Microsoft's "outdated" last-gen console?
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