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Writer: Joseph Viola
Platform(s): Multi-Platform
Release: 10/02/2014

The game that I am most looking forward to in 2015 is EVOLVE as it is the first game in some time to offer a whole new outlook on tactical co-op combat. Essentially, the premise of the game is one giant version of “hunt or be hunted,” where at any moment the tables can turn for either the mercenary hunters or the monster that is being hunted. EVOLVE will almost defiantly set the stage for new dynamic levels of team play as it is impossible to take on the monster by yourself. Players will need to work together to utilise each of the class skills and mechanic to subdue the monster before it reaches a level where it can easily annihilate your team. In saying this, though, it’s not all fun and games for the monster either, you will need to constantly be on the run and planning five steps ahead as the hunters close in behind looking for that single moment to trap you and end your rampage prematurely.

EVOLVE is also showing off a very high level of graphical power with it showcase Nvidia’s new antialiasing and gameworks integration technology’s and really makes the game a visual delight to look at. From the arid hostile environments that are present on the planet Shear to the snow filled fields that are present on some of the maps. Every level will offer a different degree of tactical advantage and disadvantage that will need to be discovered by the players in order to make the best of the situation they get placed in.

Basically, when EVOLVE launches you can guarantee that you better have a good sense of teamwork or be prepared to learn the hard way by getting smacked around by a 30foot monster. Remember, it’s hunt or be hunted.

 

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Writer: Tim Sezar
Platform(s): PC & PS4
Release: March 2015

Perhaps I’m just getting old and jaded, but I’ve found myself becoming less and less excited for new video game releases as of late; However, I know what I like, and Killing Floor 1 proved to be a solid, time-tested online co-op gem that has been positively embraced by the gaming community at large. I, and I’m sure much of the KF cohort have long been awaiting news of a sequel to the original frantically wild blastfest. It was the first game of its kind to combine wave-based combat with a solid economic foundation, as well as hilarious cockney accents.

So why the hell am I so excited for Killing Floor 2? Because, all preliminary reports suggest that this could be the greatest online co-op shooter since Left 4 Dead 2 swarmed the vast web space of co-op mic-raging throughout Christmas ’09. While not a cutting-edge piece of technological advancement (built using the now-dated, yet highly capable Unreal 3 engine), the team at Tripwire look to be pushing the engine’s capabilities to its limits with some of the most detailed monster dismemberment in upwards of a decade (flashback to Soldier of Fortune II [2002, Raven Software]), with an even bigger, badder arsenal of weapons and a whole host of new features, such as more classes and a more developed and fluid melee combat system.

It’s worth noting that the team at Tripwire were all very big fans of Soldier of Fortune II, and the engine technology developed by Raven Software that facilitated the kind of depictions of graphic violence that seems to have been lost in the sands of time until now.

Don’t get me wrong, as a fairly balanced, right-thinking citizen I certainly don’t condone violence of any kind; however, there’s an unparalleled sense of catharsis in plastering some monster’s guts all over the wall with your newly acquired shotgun. So when preorders roll out, put a couple of copies aside for you and your mates and prepare for the relentless Zed onslaught!

 

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Writer: William Kirk
Platform(s): PS4 & Xbox One
Release: 20/03/2015

Far out, there are so many games I wish I could talk about. The Witcher 3, Persona 5, Life is Strange, Bloodborne, and Xenoblade Chronicles X are just a few I could ramble about for hours on end. There is just so much potential this year, and yet, I’ve chosen to highlight a remastered PSP game that originally released in Japan several years ago.

Final Fantasy is kind of a big deal to me. I grew up with it, so I have an almost unconditional love for the franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I know Square Enix has abused the brand name, and it’s hard to argue that the XIII trilogy wasn’t a mess (even if it had some good ideas). Why I am so excited for Type-0, however, is because of how different it is; both in terms of storytelling and design. I’ve been hearing praise for years, so it’s exciting to finally be able to play it.

Furthermore, the game’s director Hajime Tabata has recently been put in charge of the development of Final Fantasy XV. There is no game in existence that I anticipate more than that title, so, for this reason, I also want to see his vision for Final Fantasy and where he might take the franchise. The fact that we already know Type-0 is a good game is encouraging, and it’s doubly exciting that we get our first hands-on for Final Fantasy XV with the included demo, too.

 

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Writer: Colton Onderwater
Platform(s): Multi-Platform
Release: Early 2015

Indie studio, Heart Machine got off to a fantastic start when they announced Hyper Light Drifter via Kickstarter back in October 2013. Receiving over 20 times the amount asked for in the aforementioned campaign, the developers of the game have been busy finishing this stunning title by teaming up with lead programmer of Samurai Gun, Beau Blyth.

Set to be released early this year, this 16bit, top-down brawler has been compared to classic titles such as the early iterations of The Legend of Zelda. With an absolutely stunning art style, the game draws on cyberpunk-esque themes set in a far-distant dystopian future to create levels that are incredibly stylish and bring out the sense of wonder and adventure simply by looking at the screenshots.

Going through the dev-logs and looking at the playthrough of the preview builds, aspects of this game from the look, music and character design each have their distinctive flavor and fit exceedingly well into the world that Heart Machine is trying to portray. As well as this, Hyper Light Drifter looks very fun with its classic combat system and creative character design. Being sold on this project even prior to it receiving funding, it has the potential to not only meet, but exceed my expectations.

 

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Writer: Shane Smith
Platform(s): Xbox One
Release: 15/04/2014

Mortal Kombat is a long-running fighting series that I’ve had a soft spot for since I was ten years old, despite some poor releases and spinoffs in the past. Since the reboot, it’s brought back the killer franchise in all its glory offering a solid story mode, cinematic presentation, and gory action-fueled gameplay. So, needless to say, this April is looking very promising with the latest entry in the series, Mortal Kombat X. It’s the first new-gen outing for the legendary fighter and is looking to introduce some new fighters and original innovations in gameplay. In the latest edition, NetherRealm Studios has incorporated three distinctive fight-styles to select from for each character, plus there are environmental interactions, and, of course, gore galore (arguably the most yet).

As for the roster, I’m glad classic characters such as Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Kung Lao and Raiden have made their return, but I’m personally more excited for the newbies. Some of the fighters making their debut include D’Vorah, the half human-half bee creature, an Aztec eagle warrior named Kotal Kahn; plus the daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade: Cassie Cage. Fans young and old will gasp in awe at the newly updated x-ray attacks as they are gorier than ever. So bring on April, as Mortal Kombat X is looking to be the most ruthless entry in the series yet.

 

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Writer: Patrick Waring
Platform(s): Multi-Platform
Release: TBC 2015

That image up there is all the information that we have about Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 (FNAF) at the time of this writing. It certainly sticks to Scott Cawthon’s minimalist style and I can only imagine what horrific plot details he’ll trickle out this time around. For those who haven’t followed the game or aren’t aware, both FNAF games are pretty similar in terms of gameplay and design. The games are also very simple and had a short release cycle, with the first game being released in August of last year and the second game appearing only four months later. The player is cast as a security guard working, for terrible pay, in a creepy “Chuck-E-Cheese” style restaurant. The place is also filled with homicidal animatronic animals, which are as endearing as they are disturbing. Your goal, as the player, is to survive the night using a combination of CCTV and various device across both games. It’s novel in that your character can’t actually move in either of these games, keeping you rooted to the spot throughout.

It raises interesting questions about the player characters motives; indeed, much of the game raises a lot of questions which are often answered with further questions. Details about paranormal activity, a tangled web of tragic events and some creepily sentient robots is what keeps me playing these games. I won’t spoil too much detail for those who want to play it, but for the lazy I’d recommend these two fan songs. The cryptic detail they provide is about as concrete as what you’ll get in the game in terms of answers. They’re not specifically more or less accurate than any other source, which I guess is my favorite part of this series. A lot of discussion, rumor, conjecture around a great story, threaded through frequently released games which keep the flame of interest fueled. With the previous release schedule in mind, we could expect the third game around March sometime. I’m pretty psyched, you should be too.

 

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Writers: Nick Ballantyne
Platform(s): PS4 & PC
Release: TBC 2015

Science Fiction has always been characterised by exploring the unknown, whether that was via spaceship or philosophical murmuring about fear and mind killing. It might not contain sandworms, but No Man’s Sky has got the spaceship bit down. Flying from planet to planet, discovering new forms of life, you can hear Arthur C. Clarke cheering from his grave at how amazingly sci-fi this game looks. It’s a bold and beautiful universe that’s screaming at me to jump in and explore everything I can.

There are two big reasons I’m so hyped for No Man’s Sky. The first, which I gushed at you no more than three lines ago, is that this game looks sci-fi as hell. You fly around in a spaceship, explore new worlds, discover new life, shoot lasers at whoever you want and narrate everything you do as Jean Luc Picard in your head (Or Malcolm Reynolds if you feel adventurous). The second reason is that every trailer for it has just been gameplay, and it all works.

If you look up a trailer for No Man’s Sky, it’ll feature in-game footage, which makes me happier than receiving free pizza. There’s no BS about it, just a clear demonstration of what the game is capable of. Even this interview shows off gameplay (and the badass inner mathematical workings involved). Sure, we haven’t seen anything like resource collection or alliances, but that’s not really the major selling point for me. I can seamlessly go from planet to planet, exploring and discovering with reckless abandon. Then again, that could get really boring. Well, guess I’ll just have to wait and discover for myself.

 

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Writer: Lliam Ahearn
Platform(s): PS4 Exclusive
Release: TBC 2015

A new Ratchet & Clank game is coming in 2015 to coincide with the movie release, and I’m super hyped. The last Ratchet game, Nexus, brought back the exploratory feel and focus on adventure and platforming I loved in the originals while complimenting it with modern third-person shooter controls. As far as gameplay goes, it showed me that R&C can still get better without abandoning anything I loved about it in the first place. On the other hand, Nexus was a shorter, cheaper Ratchet; this new game is a chance to do something big again.

So far, all we know about the game is that it’s based on the movie coming this year, which reimagines the story of the original PS2 release. So is this just going to walk us through the events of the movie? I don’t want to play through a story I’ve already watched, or watch a story I’ve already played through (depending on which is released first). I want a new experience from both, especially the game. I want it to be able to surprise me and keep me engaged. I don’t want to be waiting for the next plot point from the movie to pop up.

What really matters is the gameplay though, and I’d love to see Ratchet 1 brought into the modern world. I want to pull out my Pyrociter or Tesla Claw and be able to shoot Drek’s minions with Nexus’ modern controls. I want to visit Metropolis, Black Water City, and Pokitaru with some lovely PlayStation 4 visuals. What about a huge Crack-in-Time-style explorable universe or wide open environments like Sargasso from Tools of Destruction? This is Insomniac’s chance to incorporate the best of the best, and that has me very, very excited. Just don’t give me the typical movie tie-in, please, I’d be devastated.

 

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Writer: Bernadette Russell
Platform(s): Wii U Exclusive
Release: TBC 2015

Why does this topic require a word count? It’s Zelda for the Wii U, what else is there to say? 2015 has so many releases that the calendar markings look like confetti, but Zelda U eclipses them all. An open world? Check. Jaw-dropping artwork? Check. A video so heavily obsessed over that I now believe Aonuma and I are besties? Check!

Nintendo know how to create supply and demand, and they are evil geniuses when it comes to hype; even non-Zelda fans must be able to appreciate that this game looks incredible. When I finally open my ‘Centre for people who want to play Zelda instead of work, and want to do other Zelda related things too,’ I promise you are all invited. I’ll be the one holding my Majora’s Mask 3DSXL and copy of Zelda U and sobbing happy tears.

 

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Writer: Brendan Holben
Platform(s): Multi-Platform
Release: TBC 2015

I have to admit, the ongoing Big Boss saga that has made up a large part of recent Metal Gear titles hasn’t completely taken me. Snake Eater is an amazing game, but I never got to play the portable titles that kept up the Big Boss story and what I did see of them didn’t excite me. I’m still not quite sold on The Phantom Pain’s premise, but the leaps and bounds in gameplay and design Hideo Kojima promises (presuming he can deliver) is incredibly exciting.

Alright, Ground Zeroes was a bit of a disappointment – at least at a gameplay-per-dollar standpoint – but it did show the new direction for the series. Better yet, it showed how well the new Fox Engine can be ported to PC, which is good news for the PC Master Race. The biggest change to the Metal Gear formula is the introduction of open-world environments that can be traversed by different vehicles, allowing Venom Snake (as in Naked Snake, as in Big Boss, as in Solid Snake’s dad) to plan and tackle missions in a multitude of ways. The mother-base feature returns from Peace Walker with the added ability to walk around the base while equipment and soldiers “procured” during missions are returned there to improve and expand Big Boss’s army. He can also call in support such as commando teams to scout the area or helicopters to take out the enemy, plus he can call in two sidekicks: Quiet the sniper and DD the trained wolf. Their abilities and skill increase based on your relationship with them, which you know will mean lots of wolf patting! (Yay!)

We’ve come to expect a certain level of quirkiness in Hideo’s games and hopefully our favourite battlefield soap opera won’t disappoint.

 

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Writer: Daniel Tyler
Platform(s): PC Exclusive
Release: TBC 2015

As the saying goes: with risk comes reward; a value that many game creators have (arguably) long since abandoned. In recent years, developers have more often than not stayed close to what’s familiar when making games (as it’s safe). For a business, playing it safe means being around for longer, but as a creator, will you be remembered? Admittedly, it’s possible that the there haven’t been any innovations that warranted the risk, or, at least that was until now.

2015 marks the year where immersion takes a leap forward, with the Oculus Rift finally making its consumer release. Over the past couple of years, the indie development scene has shown us just a taste of what can come of this technology, but what if they had a bigger budget?

Alien Isolation, one of the scariest games I have ever played, holds on to that crown with both claws when combined with the Rift in a fan mod. Playing it through the Rift, I was twitchier, more on edge than I ever was with the keyboard and mouse alone. In addition, Elite Dangerous, while not the most fun I have had being stuck in a seat, is something on a level on its own when combined with the Rift. Looking around the cockpit, seeing the ship through my own eyes and tracking my targets through my eyes is something that words cannot describe.

Picking the Rift as my choice for what has me most excited about 2015 is not just about the technology itself, but the possibilities that come with it. Immersion is what often makes or breaks a game, and the Rift removes another barrier between us “playing a game” and “living a game.” Ubisoft, EA, Activision, Blizzard and the many of AAA publishers out there. We give you a new way interact with gamers, why not take the risk and dare to dream?

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