By Matt Peckham
February 2, 2015

These are the biggest games for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS due this year. Highlights include Bloodborne, The Legend of Zelda, Halo 5: Guardians and Batman: Arkham Knight.


Evolve

Whoever put this Evolve trailer together did their best to make developer Turtle Rock Studios’ fire-breathing extraterrestrial monster frightening. It’s not (after you’ve seen you’re umpteenth Balrog-like, you’ve seen them all). But here’s what is: 4 vs. 1 cooperative play, meaning four players, each with unique abilities, who square off with a fifth player manipulating the deadly monster–a monster capable of “evolving” and becoming even more nightmarishly strong.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

February 10


The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

Another New Nintendo 3DS launch title, Majora’s Mask 3D follows in Ocarina of Time 3D‘s footsteps: an enhanced remake of one of–if not the–best Zelda games in the series’ history. If Ocarina of Time was design legend Shigeru Miyamoto splicing cutesy storytelling with groundbreaking three-dimensional gameplay, Majora’s Mask is director Eiji Aonuma and Yoshiaki Koizumi’s edgier followup, pitting players against a leering, runaway celestial object and time itself.

3DS

February 13


Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

One of the first games to highlight the New Nintendo 3DS’s view-swivelable C-Stick, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate kicks Capcom’s popular creature-stalking sim into vertical mode, allowing you to leap from ledges, climb walls and even grab-attack the new topographically-mindful monsters.

3DS

February 13


Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

The latest Kirby platformer rolls Nintendo’s cutesy pink blob into a tiny ball, then sends him wheeling through colorful levels, guided by rainbow-like lines players draw on the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen. Nintendo says the game will feature amiibo support for Kirby, as well as series regulars Meta Knight and King Dedede.

Wii U

February 20


The Order: 1886

Imagine The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by way of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, staged in Victorian London, with dollops of Lovecraftian horror. Wrap all of that around a third-person shooter that’s like a gothic Gears of War, and the only question’s whether the gunplay–criticized as ho-hum in hands-on demos–can live up to the visually ambitious set design.

PlayStation 4

February 20


Screamride

Screamride is how you take a boring-sounding (albeit popular) older franchise (Roller Coaster Tycoon) and transmogrify it into a madcap, stomach-upending, gravity-bending, structure-exploding jamboree. Want to cobble together jet-propelled rail rides so G-force intensive they eject shrieking riders mid-loop? Lob wrecking balls at towering structures that collapse in gloriously intricate detail on horrified passerby? This is the American Society for Testing and Materials’ worst nightmare.

Xbox One

March 3


Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

It’s a new turn-based strategy game from studio Intelligent Systems (Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Paper Mario), and that’s enough to make this list, but Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. adds a steampunk setting, third-person gunnery and a use-or-hedge resource system to heighten its novelty.

3DS

March 13


Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

Didn’t buy a PlayStation Portable? Or you did, but didn’t play this action roleplaying battle mashup when it first hit in 2011? Here’s your chance, then, to play a high-definition remaster of what many consider one of the best Final Fantasy games yet published by Square Enix.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One

March 17


Mario Party 10

The first Mario Party game for Wii U (and tenth in the main series) adds two new modes: Bowser Party and amiibo Party. In Bowser Party, four players can square off with a fifth (Bowser), attempting to reach the end of a game board without being caught, while in amiibo Party, up to four players compete on game boards specially tailored for each figurine.

Wii U

March 20


Bloodborne

Revered Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls developer From Software’s latest vamp on the existential abattoir maintains the concept’s combat-focused, risk-reward core, but refines how you do battle, lending you more agile combatants and Victorian-styled weapons capable of transformations that let you vary melee tactics to counter a broader range of combat scenarios.

PlayStation 4

March 24


Pillars of Eternity

The first of the mega-successful crowdfunded video games financing-wise, Pillars of Eternity promises to indulge fans of games like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, an old-school fantasy world-building exercise flush with isometric 2D visuals, real-time tactical gameplay (with pausing) and some of the genre’s most famous names–Tim Cain, Chris Avellone and Josh Sawyer, to name just a few–at the design helm.

Windows, OS X, Linux

March 26


Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Kombat X looks like a modest gameplay overhaul of developer NetherRealm Studios’ 2011 series reboot draped in next-gen visual finery, but it sports a few notable changes: you can now vamp on environmental variables to reshuffle your battle tactics, and characters have different move profiles that significantly alter how they fight.

PlayStation 3/4, Xbox 360/One, Windows

April 14


Mighty No. 9

A Mega Man reboot by another name, Mighty No. 9 takes that classic 2D platforming game’s ideas–a robotic protagonist, clever weaponry and crazy end-level boss battles–and adds unique transformational abilities gathered from defeated enemies.

PlayStation 3/4/Vita, Xbox 360/One, Wii U, 3DS, Windows, OS X, Linux

April 2015


Xenoblade Chronicles

One of the smartest roleplaying games in the genre’s history comes to the New Nintendo 3DS (and only to the New 3DS–it’ll be the first that taps the new handheld’s souped up processor). This is your chance to play what by all accounts looks to be the definitive version.

New Nintendo 3DS

April 2015


The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Two words: open world. That’s what sets roleplaying epic The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt apart from its celebrated predecessors: Polish developer CD Projekt Red turned heads when it described the game as roughly a full fifth larger, geographically speaking, than Bethesda’s vast Skyrim.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

May 19


Splatoon

Splatoon was one of the best things I played at E3 2014, both a whimsical sendup of carnage-laced competitive shooters and a clever rethink of the genre’s tropes. Imagine a 4 vs. 4 action game that lets you spray ink all over the screen like You Can’t Do That on Television‘s slime pumped through Super Soakers. The basic idea’s simple enough: whoever’s team covers the most square footage with their color of ink wins.

Wii U

May 2015


Batman: Arkham Knight

The eponymous villain in developer Rocksteady’s third (and perhaps final) engagement of DC’s Batman mythos should hopefully breathe a little life into a series long overshadowed by the Joker. The biggest change, aside from the grander city and shift to newer platforms, is the inclusion of the Batmobile, like a grimmer versions of Ratchet & Clank, in which you shift between Batman and his ride to solve puzzles or augment battle tactics.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

June 2


Adr1ft

Everyone’s comparing 505 Games’ Adr1ft to Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, because both involve someone in orbit floating through the wreckage of who-knows-what. Best case scenario? We’ll get to play a video game that one-ups Cuaron’s Gravity (which needlessly mangled basic scientific principles) by making rigorous physics per the hostile extremes of orbital space the game’s unremitting antagonist.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

TBD 2015


Below

The characters and creatures in Capybara Games’ Below seem awfully tiny, but assuming you can zoom in (so you won’t go blind playing this thing), exploring a new, highly dangerous, permanent death-threatening game world designed by the studio responsible for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is more than enough to draw my attention.

Xbox One

TBD 2015


Cuphead

And now, something totally different: a platforming game–emphasis on run-and-gun with elaborate boss battles–that looks like an early 20th century cartoon. Cuphead sports hand-drawn visuals, mono-mastered (original) swing tunes and a protagonist with a candy cane drinking straw stuck in his porcelain brainpan. Who knows how it’ll play, but I could watch for hours.

Xbox One

TBD 2015


Deep Down

Jump to the 4:25 mark in the video above to see developer Capcom Online Games’ original tease for Deep Down back in 2013, an extraordinary-looking dungeon crawler (even then) with optional multiplayer elements. It’s had to endure a barrage of presumptive comparisons to Dark Souls, but there are worse things, right?

PlayStation 4

TBD 2015


Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance

Grander than any Disgaea game to date, developer Nippon Ichi Software’s recalibrated tactical roleplaying adventure will reportedly feature bigger battles (up to 100 characters on screen at once, courtesy the PS4) and new combat wrinkles, including team-up maneuvers.

PlayStation 4

TBD 2015


Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

End of world stories are as cliched as Adam and Eve potboilers (we’re nothing if not species-obsessed with alpha/omega narratives). But this one’s by Dear Esther creator The Chinese Room (they’re actually located in Brighton, U.K.), and so worthy of notice–an existential “adventure” examining the lives of six people living in the English village of Shropshire as the apocalypse unfolds.

PlayStation 4

TBD 2015


Fable Legends

Like Turtle Rock Studios’ asymmetric shooter Evolve, Fable Legends is a 4 (heroes) vs. 1 (villain) cooperative roleplaying game that borrows lightly from Bullfrog’s Dungeon Keeper. Up to four players tackle quests orchestrated by a villain (also optionally a player), including the battles, in which the villain can deploy creatures against the heroes in realtime.

Xbox One

TBD 2015


Fire Emblem

The newest Fire Emblem game by the team behind Fire Emblem: Awakening (the most celebrated in the turn-based strategy Fire Emblem series) promises to marry global movement and local battle maps, while making your narrative choices more impactful.

3DS

TBD 2015


Halo 5: Guardians

While the 2013 E3 trailer for “Halo on Xbox One” was about cinematically teasing Halo 5: Guardians, 2014’s “your journey begins” was all about the forwards-looking-backwards Master Chief Collection. Having remastered the series, Microsoft and developer 343 Industries will take the next inexorable step in Halo’s second trilogy, though experienced through the eyes of a new protagonist, Spartan Locke, searching for the missing-in-action Master Chief.

Xbox One

TBD 2015


Hyper Light Drifter

What if hack-and-slash Diablo looked like an 8-bit console game and felt like playing a Studio Ghibli movie? Hyper Light Drifter sounds and looks just weird enough to maybe (just maybe) pull off that nostalgia-mashup trifecta.

PlayStation 4/Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, Ouya, Windows, OS X, Linux

TBD 2015


Inside

Developer Playdead’s Limbo was a lovely little chiaroscuro-friendly puzzle game that sort of collapsed the second you went probing for deeper import. Their followup, Inside, looks to be a far more elaborate vamp on the dystopian platforming trope, at times appearing to take cues from Delphine Software’s groundbreaking Out of This World.

Xbox One

TBD 2015


The Legend of Zelda

Tantamount to last year’s Wii U-saving Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda is Nintendo’s most elevated of games, expectation-wise, this year. Teased at E3 last year and again in December, the first console-based Zelda game since 2011’s Skyward Sword for Wii looks to be Nintendo’s take on the open world genre, dropping you into a vast fantasy world while at the same time subverting many of the series’ tropes.

Wii U

TBD 2015


Let It Die

Thought it metamorphosed from one game (Lily Bergamo) to another at E3 last year, developer Grasshopper Manufacture’s original hack-and-slash, extreme action, online-focused premise appears intact. The difference appears to lie in the way death works, prompting dispatched players to trade roles as they transition between sessions, and culling non-player characters from players’ deceased avatars.

PlayStation 4

TBD 2015


Mario Maker

Want to build your own side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. levels? Skin those levels to look like different Mario games, from the NES’s glory 8-bit days to the Wii U’s slick, high definition New Super Mario Bros. U? Do all that from the comfort and convenience of the Wii U GamePad? Share your levels with others online?

Wii U

TBD 2015


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

The exploitable A.I. in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes pretty much broke the prequel/demo for me. Stealth-gaming entree Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain promises to deliver smarter enemies and a game world “200 times” that of Ground Zeroes…with a commensurate helping of director Hideo Kojima’s maddeningly (if often ingeniously) esoteric storytelling.

 

PlayStation 3/4, Xbox 360/One, Windows

TBD 2015


No Man's Sky

In your imagination, open universe ambler No Man’s Sky really is as infinite as developer Hello Games keeps boasting, giving you an endless, procedurally generated cosmos to plumb (and enough to do that you’ll never tire of doing it). In reality, no one has the faintest idea whether all the game’s random-seeded vastness is going to be beautifully significant, or astronomically shallow. Fingers triple-crossed, then.

PlayStation 4

TBD 2015


Ori and the Blind Forest

Moon Studios’ otherworldly platforming adventure has so far trafficked exclusively on its sublime Miyazakian look, but if the sidewise leaping, clambering and puzzling live up to the set design, this could easily be one of 2015’s finest.

Xbox One

TBD 2015


Persona 5

Developer Atlus’ fifth “high school shindig plus dungeon reconnoitering” roleplayer has enormous shoes to fill, after Persona 4 made just about everyone’s “best roleplaying game in forever” list. All we know about Persona 5 is that–weirdly but also intriguingly–director Katsura Hashino’s been pitching the game as an interactive self-help experience.

PlayStation 4

TBD 2015


Quantum Break

Quantum Break is studio Remedy Entertainment’s next big thing after bringing us Max Payne and Alan Wake: a third-person adventure about three characters who gain the ability to manipulate time in various ways, say examining the future to better inform present choices, or freezing temporal activity entirely.

Xbox One

TBD 2015


Ratchet & Clank

Alas, Sony has released neither a trailer nor screens of its upcoming Ratchet & Clank reboot (until then, you’ll have to settle for the film trailer above, first shown at E3 last year). What do we know about the game? That it’s essentially a remake of the original, released back in 2002 for the PlayStation 2, updated to take advantage of the PS4’s oomph and coincide with the film’s arrival sometime later this year.

PlayStation 4

TBD 2015


Rise of the Tomb Raider

Studio Crystal Dynamics’ followup to 2013’s Tomb Raider is technically a timed exclusive (meaning it’ll eventually land on PC and PS4), but that may be all Microsoft needs to move systems in 2015 given the plaudits accorded the reboot.

Xbox One

TBD 2015


Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues

The latest Ultima by another name, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is Richard Garriott’s return to epic computer roleplaying, a crowdfunded (and developed), episodic (five total), Ultima Online-like, optionally offline (with a solo story mode) fantasy reapplication of Garriott’s respected design principles.

Windows, OS X, Linux

TBD 2015


Space Engineers

The glib-sounding pitch for Space Engineers seems to be “Minecraft in space.” That’s not my takeaway from the trailer (or the formal description, which sounds much narrower than Minecraft‘s freeform LEGO riffing, focused as it is on the “engineering, construction, and maintenance of structures in space.”) But I’ll grant this: it does look considerably nicer than Mojang’s opus.

Xbox One

TBD 2015


StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void

Blizzard’s third and final Starcraft II real-time strategy installment, Legacy of the Void adds the alien Protoss to the mix (following humans and Zerg) as well as the latest multiplayer/eSports bells and whistles. Look for the public beta to launch sometime this year.

Windows, OS X

TBD 2015


Star Fox

Nintendo hasn’t released videos or stills of its upcoming Star Fox game for Wii U–the brief above is of various putatively related mini-games–but I was one of a few allowed to go hands-on with an experimental version at E3 last summer. Still a spaceship-based shooter, the demo had me use the GamePad’s motion sensors to aim my Arwing’s weapons, simultaneously controlling the craft by thumbing the joysticks to accelerate or turn and pull off signature moves like barrel rolls, loops and the tactically essential Immelman turn. And the Arwing could still morph into a land tank, rocketing down to the surface of a planet, then rattling around the battlefield and laying waste to the landscape.

Wii U

TBD 2015


That Dragon, Cancer

Unless you’ve had a child diagnosed with a terminal illness and lived through years of that process playing out, it’s impossible to grasp the magnitude of heartbreak involved, but the parents of just such a child are designing a game about their experience, as both a testament to their son’s life, and a way to help us understand.

Ouya, Windows

TBD 2015


Tom Clancy's The Division

Another epic angle on Ubisoft’s recent obsession with open-world games, The Division imagines a The Stand-like disease upending civilization, and a group of U.S. sleeper agents–trained to respond to just such a breakdown–emerging to do battle (in third-person) against the forces responsible for the virus’s deployment.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

TBD 2015


Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment: Tides of Numenera takes its name from roleplaying touchstone Planescape: Torment, bringing a fantasy world designed by Dungeons & Dragons heavyweight Monte Cook to life wrapped in an isometric engine, tabletop-like rules and a trippy, existentially complex story set in a distant, earthbound, science-fantasy future.

Windows, OS X, Linux

TBD 2015


Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

Since Uncharted series mainstay Amy Hennig abruptly left developer Naughty Dog last year, I’ve been worried about Nate and Sully’s fourth tour of duty. The game looks as terrific as you’d expect it to in preliminary gameplay videos, so the question’s whether the series’ conventions–another “lost treasure” adventure, clambering over elaborate scenery (mostly on autopilot in the prior games) and relentlessly gunning down hordes of foes–haven’t overstayed their welcome.

PlayStation 4

TBD 2015


Volume

Robin Hood meets Metal Gear Solid meets Andy Serkis, who in fact plays one of the characters (Gisborne) in developer Mike Bithell’s anticipated followup to Thomas Was Alone.

PlayStation 4/Vita, Windows, OS X

TBD 2015


The Witness

In development for years, creator Jonathan Blow’s followup to Braid looks like a straightforward puzzle game–a maze-like island divided into subsections that players explore, where each puzzle doubles as a teaching tool for later puzzles–that apparently conceals anything but straightforward things.

PlayStation 4, Windows, iOS

TBD 2015


Xenoblade Chronicles X

There’s no more anticipated game than Xenoblade Chronicles X in 2015’s lineup, across every platform, for me. It may lack Halo 5 or Uncharted 4‘s star power and broader genre appeal, but I’d nonchalantly throw those games under a bus to play this one. (That is, assuming developer Monolith’s crafted something as vast, dynamic and compulsive as Xenoblade Chronicles–we’ll see.)

Wii U

TBD 2015


Yoshi's Woolly World

As yarn to Kirby, so wool to Yoshi: Yoshi’s Woolly World takes that notion–inflecting conventional platforming ideas with knitting materials–and wraps it around Nintendo’s iconic dinosaur. More than a visual re-skinning of the Yoshi’s Island series, Yoshi’s Woolly World imbues Yoshi with filament-manipulating abilities, including an entourage of colorific, puzzle-solving yarn balls.

Wii U

TBD 2015

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT

You May Like

EDIT POST