2015 is set to be a landmark year in video games. The newest consoles of this generation have had some time now to adapt to the changing nature of the industry. Developers have been able to unleash more power than ever before with the PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U. It is no surprise that many of gaming’s greatest franchises have chosen this year to make a return, some of which we have been anticipating for the better part of the last decade. Here are the top 10 upcoming video games of 2015 for consoles and PC, with the latest announced release dates and gameplay videos.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Release Date: May 19th, 2015 (PC, PS4, and Xbox One)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an action role-playing game set to be in an open world setting. Currently being developed by CD Projekt RED, this game will be the third installment of its series and is based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy novels. The release date has been announced to be May 19th, 2015.
Gamers should be happy knowing that they need not play the previous two games to understand the story of Geralt. Wild Hunt is a stand-alone experience according to CD Projekt RED. The developer has stated that there will not be a multiplayer mode and there will be a focus on making this single-player experience the deepest yet, focusing on Geralt’s personal struggles and delving further into the lore. It is a rarity these days in which developers often feel that a game will not be accepted due to the lack of an online multiplayer component. However, that is far from the fruth.
Marcin Momot, Community Manager for CD Projekt RED, said “It’s not the most humble of answers but – it improved in every single aspect. We have a huge, detailed and open world filled with quests that will have their consequences you will have to deal with. We completely revamped the fighting system to make it more responsive, fluid, and fun for the players. We expanded on the world, making it bigger, more detailed, and more meaningful. And of course – we worked hard to nail the quests, making them interesting, and as influential as possible. Your decisions will leave their mark on the world and on the people. When talking to someone you always have to have the consequences in mind – what will be the outcome of your action? Will it eventually help you, or will it hinder your progress.”
There is no question of a massive game world. The setting of Wild Hunt is 30 times larger than in the previous Witcher games, and the world size is 20% larger than Skyrim’s. PC gamers will rejoice but the graphics look beautiful no matter what the platform.
Monsters’ abilities may differ based on time of day. The witcher-sense has been added, as well as combat on horseback, swimming underwater, using a crossbow, and even climbing and vaulting over obstacles. The game will feature the REDengine 3, which is specifically designed for non-linear gameplay set in vast open world environments.
Batman: Arkham Knight – Release Date: June 2nd, 2015 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Rocksteady made history when it first released Batman: Arkham Asylum many years ago. It was universally hailed as one of the best video game adaptations of a comic, if not the best. Arkham City and Arkham Origins expanded on this world further and even that will appear minuscule in scope compared to how large Batman: Arkham Knight will be. Many super-villains make a return as well as Arkham Knight, a militarized version of Batman specifically designed for this game.
This will be the fourth in the series and set to take place one year after the events of 2011’s Batman: Arkham City. Batman is at the peak of his physical ability and he must face Scarecrow, who has returned to Gotham City to unite his deadliest enemies in a plot to finally kill the Dark Knight. Many of the old gadgets, such as the grapnel gun, will return, as well as a new batarang sensor that can be used to gain intel of the surrounding areas.
Batman can now glide throughout the city longer and perform steeper dives. Players can chain combo moves on prone opponents without interrupting the streak. A new mechanic, “Fear Takedown”, allows Batman to incapacitate three enemies simultaneously as long as he remains undetected. The bulletproof Batmobile can be driven and upgraded with more abilities to add to its already fearsome arsenal of weaponry. Riddler trophies also make a return.
Arkham Knight’s Gotham City is about five times larger than the open-air Arkham City prison in Arkham City. The game has received many awards for its presenation at E3 2014 and remains one of the most anticipated video games of 2015.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Release Date: TBA 2015 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an upcoming open world action-adventure stealth video game developed by Kojima Productions. It will continue the story directly after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. The plot involves the mercenary leader Venom Snake as he travels to Africa and Afghanistan during the Soviet War to exact vengeance against the people who destroyed his forces in the previous game. Kojima has stated that these two titles act to form one combined work, and Ground Zeroes serves as a prologue.
Players will reprise the role of Snake (aka Big Boss) in The Phantom Pain in a massive collection of open world set-pieces. The gameplay mechanics have not changed significantly from its predecessor. Therefore, Snake’s large repertoire of weapons and stealth abilities will be used again to traverse the environment. Cars and tanks can be driven in addition to horse-back riding. Friendly helicopters can be called in for support against enemies and AI companions, such as Quiet (a female soldier), can have varying abilities and effectiveness based on Snake’s relationship with them.
Unlike previous Metal Gear Solid games, the player can now choose in what order the story events take place by choosing missions in sequence. Also in contrast to the older games is that the developer is conducting the voice acting and motion capture with English-speaking actors and stuntmen first (with Japanese dubbed over afterwards). Kiefer Sutherland will voice Snake, a choice Kojima has made as he “needed someone who could genuinely convey both the facial and vocal qualities of a man in his late 40s.” The game takes place in 1984, when Snake is 49 years old.
Kojima has confirmed that the playable world in The Phantom Pain will be more than 200 times larger than in Ground Zeroes. Special perks can be gained by importing saved data from the latter as well. Thankfully, the game will also be released for Xbox 360 and PS3. No players left behind.
No Man’s Sky – Release Date: TBA 2015 (PS4 and later on PC)
No Man’s Sky is easily one of the most ambitious upcoming video games in recent history. It is an adventure game featuring an expansive procedurally generated sci-fi universe. Developed and published by British studio, Hello Games, the gameplay revolves around the player being free to explore and upgrade his or her starship and abilities. Scheduled to release in 2015, it will be exclusive for the PS4 initially and later brought to PC.
So how does the game work exactly? Players take upon the role of a planetary explorer in order to embark on long voyages through space, in which they can engage in combat with hostile forces. There are countless undiscovered planets that can be surveyed. One can interact with the flora and unique species of organisms native to each planet, which can be chronicled by your explorer. The final version of the game will use a 64-bit seeding key, which would allow for more than 18 quintillion possible planets, said to take “5 billion years to explore.”
What about the online side of things?
This is what gamers are most curious about. It will be possible to share details of visited planets with others online. Discovering a new planet will enable others to travel there using a large galactic map, once hyperdrive capability is attained. It’s important to note that some areas may have extremely hostile ecosystems, with harsh conditions and even giant carnivorous worms. The overall goal is to reach the center of the galaxy and the resources and means to make it possible will improve as the player gets closer to the center. Without doing additional exploration, trading, and other ventures, one could theoretically take forty to one hundred hours of gameplay to do it.
It is the open nature of the universe that truly compels us. No Man’s Sky won “Best Original Game” and “Best Independent Game” at E3 2014.
The Legend of Zelda – Release Date: TBA 2015 (Wii U)
Let’s face it, the Wii U has been relatively quiet this generation compared to PS4 and Xbox 360, whose games are constantly raising the bar of what it means to be considered “next-gen”. Gamers tend to underestimate Wii U games but that is not the case here.
The Legend of Zelda, being developed by Nintendo, is slated to be released sometime in 2015. It will be the eighteenth main installment in the series and the first original game to be developed in high-definition graphics. It will also feature an open world in which players can find many different ways to approach each area. The scale of the game is jaw-dropping and it’s no wonder why it’s generating so much hype for the Wii U, a console considered rather dated among its rivals.
The environment can be traversed on-foot or riding Link’s trusty horse, Epona. The motion capture of the horse’s movements through the meadows, valleys, and the automated avoidance of obvious obstacles (such as trees) is remarkably fluid. Link can also jump off of Epona and fire arrows at enemies in slow-motion, to allow for better aim. The Legend of Zelda’s in-game engine was originally revealed as a tech demo at E3 2011 when Wii U was first announced. That demo was simply a demonstration of the potential of the new console at the time.
Now, years later, there has been considerable “rethinking the conventions of Zelda” and the drive to change the experience from a linear path to a non-linear, open world, and objective based gameplay. Dungeons and puzzle-solving are two major elements of the story that will see that change. It is clearly evident just from the size of the sweeping landscapes that “the puzzle solving in this game begins the moment the player stops to thinks about where they want to go, how they will get there, and what they will do when they arrive.”
Halo 5: Guardians – Release Date: Fall 2015 (Xbox One)
Halo 5: Guardians is an upcoming first-person shooter, developed by 343 Industries. 2015 is going to be a significant year for Xbox fans everywhere, as this installment is meant to act as the direct sequel to Halo 4 and unleash the power of the Xbox One like never seen before. Halo 4 previously took the game engine in Xbox 360 to its limits, calling for a new engine once the Xbox One arrived. Many players are highly anticipating what they will come up with next in Master Chief’s latest adventure.
The movement from the Xbox 360’s hardware will broaden the scope of the game and allow it to run at 60 frames per second, utilizing the console’s dedicated servers. 2015 will also coincide with a Halo television series, produced by Steven Spielberg, which will run in conjunction with Guardians’ launch.
Final Fantasy XV – Release Date: TBA 2015 (PS4 and Xbox One)
Final Fantasy XV, if you can believe it, was announced in May 2006, nearly a decade ago. Originally titled “Final Fantasy Versus XIII”, it was eventually renamed in June 2013 and confirmed to be a stand-alone title in the long-running Final Fantasy series. Furthermore, it was revealed to have switched from the Playstation 3 to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Watch the recent TGS 2014 trailer here.
This game is much different than previous games from Square Enix. Featuring a darker atmosphere and more realistic characters, it also has an open-world environment and a battle-system reminiscent of the Kingdom Hearts series. The story is based on the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology but it is meant to be separate, with its own unique world design and characters. Noctis Lucis Caelum is the main protagonist and the prince of a mafia-like royal family that is protecting the last remaining crystal in the world. There is an invasion of a warlike nation that desires to capture that crystal. It will be the first to use the company’s Luminous Studio game engine. Though originally directed by Tetsuya Nomura (who also designed the characters), these duties have switched to Hajime Tabata in 2014, who had been acting as co-director.
In general, Final Fantasy XV is largely RPG with elements of a third-person shooter game. Interactive cutscenes occur in real-time without interrupting the combat. Pre-rendered full motion videos (FMVs) will be incredible (as they typically are) and there are many kingdoms and villages in the environment, with an emphasis on freedom and creativity. Objects can also be destroyed and different paths can be taken in order to reach a destination (you can even ride a Chocobo!), which isn’t the norm in Final Fantasy games.
The day and night system and dynamic weather affects which monsters appear on the map. Camping during the night is necessary to maintain optimal combat performance and even level up. Minigames, such as fishing, are one of the many things a player can do outside of the main storyline. Most significant is how deep the combat system is. Dubbed the “Active Cross Battle System”, it is a more realistic version of what we’ve seen in Kingdom Hearts. There are no load screens or transitions as the battle scenes are seamlessly integrated. The player can select commands like “Attack”, “Technique”, or “Magic” and the character will perform the move. Noctis is the only controllable character but he can perform many combo moves if he partners with his allies. Guest characters can freely join in during certain parts of the story.
Final Fantasy XV has long been absent from the public’s eye and was even thought to be in development hell. However, there is no question that it seeks to breathe new life into the often criticized JRPG genre. Though it has much to live up to, it’s possibly the most anticipated RPG in recent times – and may spawn multiple sequels.
Star Wars: Battlefront – Release Date: Holiday 2015 (PC, PS4, and Xbox One)
Star Wars: Battlefront is DICE’s latest project and is meant to reboot the entire franchise in a way never seen before. The ill-fated Star Wars: Battlefront III is still fresh in our minds after leaked footage surfaced many years ago. Sadly, that particular project never came to fruition.
At E3 2013, DICE, the famed developer known for thef Battlefield series, revealed the game in a teaser trailer. Recently, at E3 2014, the first official trailer was shown.
According to studio head Patrick Söderlund, this game is “DICE’s interpretation of what Battlefront should be.” It is being developed on the Frostbite 3 engine and was actually very close to being cancelled prior to being lobbied by DICE to take up the project. Needless to say, gamers all over the world have gone absolutely nuts (in a good way) to see a great remnant of the past return on the next-generation consoles.
Not much is known about Battlefront but it is already confirmed that Hoth and Endor will be two of the many playable maps. More information is to be revealed in Spring 2015. In late October, 2014, it was stated that the game will be launched for the holiday season of 2015 and will tie in with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will be the next episode of the Star Wars film series. Hype overload?
Kingdom Hearts III – Release Date: TBA 2015 (PS4 and Xbox One)
Perhaps 2015 will be the year Japanese games make a come-back. Kingdom Hearts III is being developed by Square Enix and is to be published by Disney. It will be the first of its series to cross-over onto a Microsoft console and the first to go multi-platform upon release.
Its predecessor, Kingdom Hearts II, was released on December 25th, 2005 – on the Playstation 2! That is a very long time to be waiting and there were periods during this past decade when we nearly lost all hope. However, the title was long thought to be in development despite not being officially announced. During E3 2013, after years of speculation and hype, Kingdom Hearts III was finally confirmed to be in development. Needless to say, many people rejoiced. The combination of JRPG and Disney was nothing but strange but this series has held a permanent place in the childhood of millions of gamers worldwide.
Sora will once again be the main protagonist. Riku, Donald Duck, Goofy, and King Mickey will return. The plot revolves around the original trio’s attempt to look for the seven guardians of light and the “Key to Return Hearts”, as well as stopping Master Xehanort’s plan to balance the light and darkness for good. A new teaser trailer at E3 2014 confirmed Xehanort’s return.
Tetsuya Nomura, the director and producer of the Kingdom Hearts series, has stated this regarding the gameplay: “The action’s pretty frantic. The really bold action we’ve always had is getting even crazier. Kingdom Hearts III has three-person parties, but NPCs and other characters join the fight in each individual world, and the resulting action is really flashy and exciting. The enemy AI is a lot more intricate, too, and I think the gameplay will reflect that new dynamic balance. For example, there’s a foe that’s shaped like a vehicle, and Sora may jump on it and fly around; that’s already implemented.”
Nomura said that the plot will pick up directly after the events of Dream Drop Distance. In September 2014, it was announced that he would step down as director of Final Fantasy XV (which he had been spearheading since its inception) and focus his full attention on other projects, namely Kingdom Hearts III. A month later, he reported that the game had switched to the Unreal Engine 4. It is important to note that since the release of Kingdom Heats II, Disney acquired the rights to Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Despite this, they are “looking at all of Disney, new ones as well” – including worlds based in Marvel Comics and the Star Wars universe. Difficult does not imply impossible.
Haley Joel Osment, who voiced Sora in the previous games, said he had been in talks with the development team and will likely reprise his role. Kingdom Hearts III still has a long way to go but there is no question that it will make history. It is the long awaited conclusion to the trilogy and there is much more information we just haven’t seen yet.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Release Date: TBA 2015 (PS4)
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, being developed by the universally exalted Naughty Dog, will be set several years after the events of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, and said to be “his greatest adventure yet and will test his physical limits, his resolve, and ultimately what he’s willing to sacrifice to save the ones he loves.”
The teaser trailer was officially released on November 14th, 2013 and features an ancient map of Africa. The map stops at Madagascar and Île Sainte-Marie is marked – a part of the route traveled by Francis Drake long ago. A gameplay demo was shown on December 6th, 2014, which has made many players’ jaws drop from the sheer beauty of the graphics and the large scope of the environment in which Drake traverses. It is known that Drake’s older brother, Sam, will play a role in the story, but no specific details on the plot itself is known at this time.
One thing is for certain. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves won Game of the Year in 2009 and Naughty Dog has historically outdone itself again and again, showcasing the impressive potential of the console. A Thief’s End will be a game-changer and likely to set the industry standard for graphics on the Playstation 4. Just like its predecessor had done with the Playstation 3. It is slated for release in 2015.