TIME Video Games

The 12 Most Promising PlayStation 4 Games of 2014 So Far

A dozen upcoming titles to keep your eye on.

  • Ones to Watch

    Sony

    If you want a gander at all the exclusives coming down the pike for the PlayStation 4, these aren’t the slides you’re looking for: Sony’s opening maneuvers during 2014 — same as Microsoft’s for the Xbox One — are mostly multi-platform affairs.

    But the upside of pointing you at what’s nearly here in lieu of future-gazing games listing a year or more out? We’re looking at stuff you can play in just a few weeks or months: a rundown of games with firm timeframes, including two or three PS4-only heavy hitters.

  • Strider

    Amazon just purchased Double Helix, making Strider the studio’s first release as a subsidiary of the octo-retailer. Co-developed with Capcom, it’s a remake of the 1989 arcade side-scroller (also by Capcom) wherein you guide a sword-swinging martial artist through a Blade Runner-esque metropolis, dispatching ninjas and the like on your expedition to cross blades with the game’s big bad, Grandmaster Meio.

    What’s new? Metroid-like “free” city exploration, allowing you to hunt for weapons and other miscellany at leisure.

    February 18

    (Also for PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

  • Thief

    The original Thief, subtitled “The Dark Project,” was a revelation in 1998, a murky world of dim sluiceways and moonlit machine-works that melded tiptoes exploration and combat avoidance with purloining, puzzle-solving and ingenious light manipulation, all staged in a dark fantasy world by way of H.P. Lovecraft and Terry Gilliam — a welcome antithesis to id Software’s frenetic, atmospherically one-note Doom.

    Developer Eidos Montreal’s Thief reboot seems less a radical rethink than reimagining of that original game, a chance to introduce players who missed the 1998 PC game to stealth-play staples like the protagonist’s concussive blackjack, manipulating light sources to streamline stealth navigation, and the series’ lovely-weird Victorian steampunk purlieus.

    That, and the reboot offers fresh wrinkles, like A.I. sophisticated enough to probe more inquisitively (think souped-up versions of Assassin’s Creed‘s haystack-needling guards) as well as nonlinear problem solving designed to make levels feel less like levels and more like mini-sandboxes.

    February 25

    (Also for PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

    Ground Zeroes is really a teaser for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which we probably won’t see until 2015 (or later). It serves as a narrative bridge between Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and the latter game — a budget-priced interlude that’ll offer either a little or a lot of gameplay, depending on your approach.

    That clear time variability hinges on how much of the game’s open world you opt to explore, say how many side missions you engage (and in what order) before tying off the prologue’s primary narrative. As in Peace Walker, there’s a base management angle whereby you can devise or upgrade weapons and other items.

    March 18

    (Also for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

  • inFAMOUS: Second Son

    Sony’s first major exclusive after Resogun and Killzone Shadow Fall, inFAMOUS: Second Son is another sequel that’s probably banking more on the PlayStation 4’s prowess than reinventing the series’ open-world wheelhouse.

    You play as a fresh-minted superhero ingenue with series-unique abilities — in this case, powers that riff on a chain-wrapped around your arm (yep, others have noticed the similarities to God of War, too) — executing parkour-style maneuvers to zip around a dystopian near-future version of Seattle and do battle with a government-based anti-superhero outfit.

    March 21

  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

    What I’ve played of Final Fantasy XIV on the PlayStation 3 is often fantasy retread, but at least we’re talking highly polished retread — leaps and bounds beyond where this game was in 2010.

    Since it’s been available for Windows and PS3 for months, we already have a gameplay verdict (thumbs up), so with the PlayStation 4 version, you’re looking at a visual and performance upgrade (I assume on par with the PC version’s graphics), hopefully an improved gamepad interface and the option to play remotely with the PS Vita. As with the PS3 version, the game will not require a PlayStation Plus subscription to play.

    April 14

    (Also for PlayStation 3, Windows)

  • Dying Light

    Mirror’s Edge meets Dead Rising? Could be enticing, considering how fantastic Mirror’s Edge and Dead Rising were. Dying Light‘s first-person parkour angle could prove enough gameplay sugar to help the post-apocalyptic zombies shtick go down. Only instead of avoiding combat, this game’s full of it, playing out in shanty-filled rural and metropolitan areas somewhere unspecified.

    The twist, and anything starring zombies nowadays needs at least one if not several, involves the game’s day/night cycle: During the day, the zombies are shambling, barely threatening husks, but at night, they can move like you, sprinting, leaping and climbing up the sides of structures and other hidey-spots. And woe unto players spotted by a certain rare strain of nighttime-only zombie: you’ll only survive such an encounter if you can elude the thing using traps and other tactics (the creature’s apparently unshakeable) until sunrise.

    March 31

    (Also for PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

  • Child of Light

    Just look at that trailer — who doesn’t want to play Child of Light, a roleplaying platformer “inspired by fairy tales” that’s as adorable as adorable comes? You play as an abducted child trying to return home while challenging the Queen of the Night, who’s snuffed-out the sun, moon and stars.

    Yes, I typed “roleplaying” and “platformer” in a sentence. The platforming elements appear to hew more Castlevania than Super Mario Bros., but combat — when you’re not off solving environment-based puzzles — resembles something you’d see in a turn-based RPG. Imagine something like Rayman if enemy encounters summoned a Final Fantasy-style battle interface and you’re probably close. Ubisoft adds that you can unlock over 200 skills and fiddle with over 600 crafting combinations, so beaucoup de RPG-style customization.

    April 30

    (Also for PlayStation 3, Wii U, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

  • The Elder Scrolls Online

    The most promising thing I’ve read about The Elder Scrolls Online is this beta player’s first impressions writeup, and the words “I have yet to be asked to go kill 10 skeevers, or cut some maple wood for someone’s house, or gather 20 wolf pelts.”

    Sounds promising indeed, assuming whatever you do instead of that’s as (or more) engaging. There’s little else to say at this point: It’s an Elder Scrolls MMO, meaning epic, deeply Dungeons & Dragons-indebted high fantasy, scaled even further up.

    Will it break any major MMO molds? Unlikely. Will it give Elder Scrolls wonks something to do until the next main series installment? Sounds like it.

    June 2014

    (Also for OS X, Windows, Xbox One)

  • Murdered: Soul Suspect

    A game about a deceased detective trying to solve his own murder while fending off supernatural adversaries — I have no idea what to think, but I want to know more, so give the marketing department its due. It’s by Airtight Studios, the developer of Dark Void, a so-so 2010 flight-based combat game, and Quantum Conundrum, a more warmly received puzzle-platformer, neither of which tell us much about the studio’s hand at story-driven action/adventures. Fingers crossed then.

    June 2014

    (Also for PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

  • MLB 14: The Show

    The ninth entry in Sony’s critically acclaimed baseball series gets its first PlayStation 4 makeover. In addition, the 2014 version will lay the groundwork for year-to-year saves (letting you carry them forward to future versions), include a Quick Counts option that’s basically a way to speed through a full 9-inning game in under 30 minutes (without compromising statistics) and Sony says it’s further fleshed out the series’ popular Road To The Show mode.

    Spring 2014

    (Also for PlayStation 3, PS Vita)

  • Pavilion

    Indie developer Visiontrick Media (a two-man studio) bills Pavilion as “a fourth person exploratory experience about guidance, influence and subliminal control.” We’re talking a genre-abstruse-possible-puzzler with hand-painted 2D backdrops and “dreamy ambient music,” where “reality [clashes] with fantasy,” where you “manipulate the surrounding environment, influence [the main character's] sense and guide [him] on the path towards truth” and where I’m obviously mystified enough by all of this that I’m using the developer’s own words to describe what I can only hope turns out to be as thought-provoking as it sounds in the pitch.

    Spring 2014

    (Also for PS Vita)

  • LEGO The Hobbit

    Traveller’s Tales returns to Middle-earth in this obligatory LEGO Lord of the Rings followup. Your desire to partake, since the gameplay particulars are unchanged — puzzle your way through film locations and events with a cutesy comedy filter — probably depends on how many you’ve played already, or how invested you are in Peter Jackson’s voluminous trilogy.

    1H 2014

    (Also for Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Wii U, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

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