TIME Video Games

Nintendo to Shut Down Club Nintendo Rewards Program

Mario , Luigi
Jeff Daly—Invision for Nintendo Mario and Luigi take the field at Sun Life Stadium before the face-off between Florida State and University of Miami on Nov. 15, 2014.

But members will be treated to more downloadable content in coming months

Nintendo announced plans Tuesday to shut down its rewards program, Club Nintendo, after six years of operation in North America.

The scheme allowed members to earn free items — such as downloadable games, posters or character figures — in exchange for loyalty “coins” collected by registering products or completing surveys.

The company plans to release new downloadable content until the official end date on June 30, including their Flipnote Studio 3D software, which allows users to create and share three dimensional animations.

“We want to make this time of transition as easy as possible for our loyal Club Nintendo members, so we are going to add dozens of new rewards and downloadable games to help members clear out their Coin balances,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Nintendo says it will announce a new customer loyalty program at a later date.

TIME Video Games

5 Reasons to Buy the New Nintendo 3DS and 5 Reasons to Wait

Nintendo

Should you pick up Nintendo's newest handheld? Here's TIME's review

Picture your ideal gaming handheld. What does it look like? Dual joysticks? Ergonomic gamepad? A plus-sized screen? Headgear-free 3D? High fidelity sonics? The battery life of a Kindle?

You won’t get all of those from Nintendo’s “New Nintendo 3DS,” the revamped 2015 edition of its popular portable, but you will get a few. The question then becomes, should you fork out $200 for the new 3DS—especially if you already own one—when it becomes available in stores on February 13?

I’ve been playing with the system for a week, polishing off a long game of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (started back in 2011!), fooling with the forthcoming Majora’s Mask remaster, and having a look at Capcom’s Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Here’s my take:

The arguments for buying one

You’re really into stereoscopic 3D

The 3DS’s feature namesake seemed very cool when I first tried it at the handheld’s E3 unveiling in 2010. Seeing three-dimensionally without headgear or eyewear of some sort still feels like Clarkeian magic. Trouble is, to maintain the illusion, you had to keep your head still. Move a bit either way, and the image garbled.

The New Nintendo 3DS rectifies this by introducing camera-based eye tracking, something the company calls “Super-Stable 3D.” Now, at setup, you’ll be trained to work within a field of view that’s pretty generous, allowing you to move your head more freely without jeopardizing the effect.

It still requires you hold the handheld at least a foot (Nintendo recommends 14 inches) from your eyes, and it’s not like an IPS monitor where you can twist the screen and still see everything clearly—you’re still limited to a few degrees of leeway either way—but it’s far more forgiving than it was. Enough so that I’d deem it usable. I’ve long considered 3D on the 3DS unusable, and simply turned it off; I’m reconsidering my use of the technology now that it basically works as it should have from the start.

The only caveat: I wear glasses, and noticed the eye tracking would occasionally get confused when I had them on, whereas it was rock solid when I had them off. (I’d say it works as advertised 95% of the time with glasses on.)

You’ve been waiting for a dual joystick Nintendo handheld

The new C Stick—it looks like a pencil eraser and sits just northwest of the face buttons—isn’t as precise as a true second joystick. But if all you need is a way to shift the camera around in a 3D game, it gets the job done. Nintendo launched something called the “Circle Pad Pro” in 2012, a kludgy-looking righthand joystick attachment for older 3DS models. The C Stick works in any game with Circle Pad Pro support (a partial list is here), albeit less exactingly, like the trackstick technology once popular in older laptops.

I wouldn’t want to have to rely on it to play games that require brisk reticle finessing, say I’m aiming a ballistic weapon in a frenetic shooter, but in others like Monster Hunter 4 and Majora’s Mask, where it’s employed to swivel the camera and eyeball the scenery as you maneuver an avatar through the world with the left joystick, it’s indispensable, and should be a system seller when Xenoblade Chronicles hits in April.

Better sounding sound

Nintendo isn’t advertising this one, but I think it’s noticeable enough to callout: the stereo speakers—now piped through five-point cross-shaped holes—sound notably louder and clearer than the ones on the older models. Did Nintendo include superior sound hardware (or algorithmic processing)? Or is it simply the size of the holes and/or the shape of the speakers? I have no idea, but something’s clearly different, and better.

The promise of future power

We’re taking Nintendo’s word here, but Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime claims the new 3DS’s leap over the old 3DS, power-wise, is tantamount to the 3DS’s processing leap over the DS. If the claim’s accurate, it’ll be a pretty serious bump, though all we’ve seen so far, game-wise, is preliminary video of Monster Games’s Xenoblade Chronicles port.

Nintendo says getting around the 3DS’s menus should also be faster. I haven’t done any comparison timing tests with my standard 3DS XL, but then interface speed never felt sluggish to me on the prior models.

The most tangible improvement? Download speeds. I had no idea how much data transfer from the eShop was hampered by the system itself in the older models, but the new system is wowsers fast, capable of pulling down 5,000-block files in a matter of minutes.

All the tiny but significant refinements

Want a battery that lasts slightly longer? An ambient light-sensitive backlight that automatically adjusts the screen brightness? Built-in amiibo and NFC wireless support, so you don’t have to buy an add-on peripheral? A web browser that can finally playback videos? A second set of shoulder buttons that mimic the secondary triggers on a gamepad? A volume slider that now sits comfortably on the lefthand side of the screen, parallel to the 3D one? All the activity indicator lights in one place? Easily depressible Start and Select buttons positioned where Start and Select buttons belong?

This is clearly the best version of Nintendo’s 3DS, in other words. If you’re into the games and the idea of two-screen gaming, this is without question the iteration to own. True, 3DS owners who’ve already paid hundreds of dollars have to fork out another $200, but when you consider what some people pay to upgrade smartphones or tablets annually—and as a mainstream gaming device, the 3DS leaves smartphones and tablets in the dust—it’s arguably a steal.

The arguments against buying one

You think stereoscopic 3D’s a gimmick

My regular 3DS XL’s 3D switch has been off pretty much since I bought it. I avoid 3D versions of films in theaters. I’ll never owned a stereoscopic 3D television. I have no interest in the current flavors of the technology’s crude, eye-straining, aesthetically pointless visual trickery. You can still disable the technology on the New Nintendo 3DS, but as a system-selling feature it’s still ironically the least interesting thing about the 3DS.

You’re waiting for a Nintendo handheld with a retinal display

The New Nintendo 3DS’s main screen still runs at the old 3DS’s 400 by 240 pixel resolution. On a nearly 5-inch screen, that’s pretty anemic, well below even the old NTSC standard (640 by 480 pixels) that games like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask supported back in the 1990s. (By contrast, the PS Vita’s 5-inch screen has supported 960 by 544 pixels since 2011, and Apple’s 4.7-inch iPhone 6 runs up to 1334 by 750 pixels.)

It’s not a dealbreaker: games on the 3DS, new or old, look perfectly competent. But it’s past time Nintendo brought its handheld visuals up to par with industry trends. Imagine what a high-definition Nintendo handheld might do for the company’s coffers.

You hate glossy exteriors

My original Aqua Blue 3DS had a shiny, high-reflective finish. I didn’t mind because the non-black coloring mitigated visible fingerprint smudging. But I was happiest with the 3DS XL, which employed something nearer a matte finish, making it easier to grip and smudge-proof.

Not so the New Nintendo 3DS, which resurrects the old shellacked look in either red or black colors. Nintendo sent me the black model, so I can’t comment on whether the red finish mitigates fingerprint visibility, but the black model’s outsides look pretty grubby after extended use.

All the odd feature back-stepping

For instance: the New Nintendo 3DS doesn’t come with a separate AC adapter, though it’s compatible with any other 3DS adapter. The power button now weirdly sits on the bottom of the unit instead of on the interior lower half of the clamshell, which can lead to accidentally turning it on. It also trades SD for micro SD support and ships with a paltry 4GB card. Worse, a tiny screwdriver is required to remove the entire backplate just to access/change said card.

Of all the changes/subtractions, the removal of a hard “wireless off” switch and shifting of the stylus and game cartridge slot to the system’s underside make the most sense, but the rest—compromises based on form factor rejiggering, or in the adapter’s case, to keep the price at $200—leave a slightly sour taste.

You really wanted a non-XL option

The New Nintendo 3DS, which shipped in both basic and XL versions in Japan, is only available in XL sizing stateside. Getting specific, that’s a not insubstantial weight difference of 329 grams (XL) versus 253 grams (basic), and a proportions one of 6.3 inches by 3.68 inches by 0.85 inches (XL) versus 5.6 inches by 3.17 inches by 0.85 inches (basic).

Nintendo says it’s only selling the XL version stateside because that’s the version buyers prefer, and who am I to argue? (It’s certainly my preferred version.) It’s just a shame the market couldn’t accommodate the apparent minority looking for something a little lighter and more totable: the basic version was just barely pocketable; the XL definitely isn’t.

TIME Innovation

Researchers Make Super Mario Self-Aware

I, for one, welcome our new plumber overlords

Mario doesn’t need you anymore to help him rescue the princess. A new project by German researchers, called Mario AI, gives the famous Italian plumber the ability to understand speech and learn new skills as he navigates his colorful world.

Plopped into a level from Super Mario World, this super-smart version of Mario can understand verbal commands from humans spoken in both English and German. He can explore the level of his own volition and make discoveries that he relays to a human observer. For instance, ask Mario what a Goomba is (the most famous of Mario enemies) and he’ll initially say he doesn’t know. Wait until he’s killed one of the creatures, though, and he’ll say, “If I jump on Goomba, then it maybe dies.”

Mario also has different emotional states that dictate his activities in the game world. When he’s hungry, for instance, he’ll search out coins to eat, and when he’s curious, he’ll perform more acrobatics to explore more parts of the level.

The project was developed by a team at Germany’s University of Tubingen. It makes use of speech recognition software developed at Carnegie Mellon Univeristy.

[Mashable]

TIME apps

The 5 Best iPhone Games To Play This Week

Try 1+2=3, a deceivingly difficult game of quick calculations

Looking for some fun new games to play on your iPhone? Here are five favorites TIME rounded up this week. Enjoy!

  • Shadowmatic

    Shadowmatic
    Shadowmatic Shadowmatic

    Shadowmatic is one of the most challenging puzzle games around, not necessarily because the puzzles themselves are impossible to solve, but because the game requires players to think differently. The goal is to contort objects in order to match a shadow cast on a wall. Use objects from your surroundings in order to solve the puzzle. It’s like a mind-bending shadow-puppet spectacle.

    Shadowmatic is available for $2.99 in the App Store.

  • Flockers

    Flockers
    Flockers Flockers

    Flockers is shockingly similar to the yesteryear gaming hit Lemmings, in which players must lead a flock of animals over a series of obstacles and, hopefully, not to one of many violent deaths. It’s a puzzle game in action. Take your sheep through 60 levels and see if they can survive the gruesome machines and pitfalls designed to pulp your clueless herd.

    Flockers is available for $1.99 in the App Store.

  • Lowlander

    Lowlander
    Lowlander Lowlander

    In a world full of retro games, Lowlander is so retro that it’s nearly analog. It’s a throwback to a time of pixels the size of a quarter, and game movement as simple and as straightforward as the arrow keys. Actions are selected from a drop down menu as you try to battle your way through the Amazon. Imagine the RPG Tom Hanks plays in Big, but colorful, and on your iPhone.

    Lowlander is available for $1.99 in the App Store.

  • 1+2=3

    1+2=3
    1+2=3 1+2=3

    There’s a level of inanity to this game that’s hard to stomach, were it not for the fact that it’s been near the top of the iTunes chart for the last week. Clearly players are responding to the idea that basic math equations thrown at them at top speed are not only a lot of fun, but strangely challenging. It’s literally single digit operations, and yet, it’s not hard to make mistakes. Not really a brain teaser as much as a puzzle game, 1+2=3 is a great way to spend a few minutes of free time.

    1+2=3 is free in the App Store.

  • Hexxy Snake

    Hexxy Snake
    Hexxy Snake Hexxy Snake

    A lot like the classic game Snake, Hexxy Snake is a game in which players control a growing snake, navigate it towards food and around obstacles, and, more importantly, away from its ever-growing tail. The added challenge to this game is anticipating the slightly fractal element of guessing the precise angle at which your snake will turn when it comes to a fork in the hex background.

    Hexxy Snake is $2.99 in the App Store.

TIME Taiwan

Man Found Dead in Taiwan After Multi-Day Video Game Binge

Taiwan Video Game show
Pichi Chuang—Reuters People play computer games during the Taipei Game Show 2009 in Taipei, Taiwan.

The man was reportedly a regular customer who often played for days

A man was found dead in a Taiwanese Internet cafe after an apparent three-day video game binge.

The 32-year-old man with the surname Hsieh died from cardiac failure, and an employee found him motionless on the morning of Jan. 8, CNN reported Monday. Hsieh entered the cafe on Jan. 6, according to Jennifer Wu, a police spokesperson from Taiwan’s Hunei district.

Police said the man had likely been dead for hours before he was discovered. The Taipei Times reports that the man was a frequent customer who often played for days on end.

“He has been unemployed for a long time, and Internet cafes were the only place he could go to,” Wu said.

[CNN]

TIME Video Games

10 Classic PC Games You Can Play Right in Your Browser

These 10 MS-DOS titles load up in your browser — no floppy disks required.

The Internet Archive has tanked the world’s productivity by re-releasing almost 2,400 classic PC titles, all playable within a web browser. With that many games, you can bet there’s a lot of bad ones, and sadly, some of the best titles don’t work. But these 10 favorites not only function, they’re still tons of fun.

TIME Video Games

These Will Be the Hottest Xbox One Games of 2015

Check out the biggest Microsoft-exclusive games coming to Xbox One in 2015

Here’s a look at the year’s 10 most anticipated games for Microsoft’s Xbox One console, excluding rumored 2015 projects with as yet indeterminate timeframes (hello Crackdown, Gears of War, Scalebound and Phantom Dust!)

  • 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.

    Available: March 3

  • 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.

    Available: Q2 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.

    Available: Holiday 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: TBD 2015

TIME Video Games

The New Mortal Kombat X Trailer Is Full of Blood and Brains

Warning: This trailer's graphic

There’s a new trailer out for the upcoming Mortal Kombat X game, and it is not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach).

The trailer is more extensive than the first, released in June. While that one was just a teaser, this one’s intended to show players what real battle is going to look like. It features a preview of one of the uniquely gruesome “fatalities” that made the franchise famous. Be warned: Kano gets his head cut off and his brains spill out, all in state-of-the-art graphics.

The game is currently in development by NetherRealm Studios, and will be released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on April 14.

 

TIME Video Games

Nintendo’s New 3DS XL Handheld Finally Hits Stores Next Month

Nintendo

Nintendo's newest gaming handheld features control tweaks and a significant performance boost

Nintendo’s newest handheld gaming device will be available in the U.S. on February 13, 2015, the company announced Wednesday. The New Nintendo 3DS XL — “New” is formally part of the moniker — is faster, has a second joystick and fixes a longstanding problem with its 3D screen.

Nintendo announced the console’s release date at its first Nintendo Direct of 2015, a 46-minute barrage of information ranging from surprises like a new Fire Emblem game (for 3DS) to an outpouring of new amiibo figurines to long overdue Wii U tweaks that stand to improve the console’s backward compatibility.

But the pièce de résistance came toward the show’s end, when Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime stepped in to confirm recent rumors that the company’s next handheld will launch in less than 30 days. And like the existing 3DS XL, it’ll run $200. (Nintendo didn’t announce a price drop for the current 3DS XL, but I’d wager one’s imminent.)

The New Nintendo 3DS XL (hereafter NN3DS) doesn’t wow at first blush. Save for the new grayish nub poking from above the face buttons and some nominal switch realignment, you’d probably mistake it for the old 3DS XL. The size, weight and frame appear unchanged. But in theory, the upgrades beneath the hood could be significant.

The handheld’s new righthand C-Stick feels a little late to the party (Sony’s PS Vita finally landed dual thumbsticks in 2011, and games that benefit from left/right sticks have been mainstream since the 1990s), but at least it’s finally here. The game that’ll arguably benefit from it most, Capcom’s Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, will launch with the NN3DS alongside Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3DS remake on February 13.

Nintendo says it’s also improved the device’s 3D gameplay — its technological raison d’être — by using the front-facing camera to track where your head is, adjusting screen output accordingly. I’m still not sure that’s enough to justify stereoscopic 3D as either a novelty effect or gameplay component, but in theory, this rectifies the existing problem where shifting your field of view even a little warps or distorts the 3D screen image.

Other improvements are subtle but important: the NN3DS includes amiibo and NFC support (you have to buy an attachment for this if you own an existing or older 3DS). Nintendo also says it’ll add amiibo support to Super Smash Bros. for 3DS by February 13. A new light sensor automatically adjusts screen brightness based on ambient lighting, thus providing some battery relief. And the battery itself lasts “slightly longer,” per Nintendo.

Nintendo’s added a second set of Z-trigger shoulder buttons, bringing the control layout nearly to par with a standard console gamepad (and, notably, superior in this regard to Sony’s PS Vita). The new internal layout required Nintendo to downshift from standard SD cards to the micro SD format. Nintendo says each NN3DS will include a 4GB micro SD card (Instructions will be provided how to transfer data from older 3DS systems). And the handheld will come in “New Red” and “New Black” colors at launch.

The most potentially significant (albeit intangible) upgrade: a faster processor, which Fils-Aime touted as analogous in magnitude to the leap that occurred from the DS to 3DS back in 2011. Nintendo was vague about how that’ll parse on the gaming side—the screen’s individual resolutions haven’t changed, still a lowly 400 by 240 pixels (upper) and 320 x 240 pixels (lower)—but the company says the interface should be zippier, citing improved surfing performance and faster download times.

Weirdly, the NN3DS will be the first Nintendo handheld in ages to ship without an AC adapter. Nintendo says you can use your existing adapter if you already own a 3DS, which either means the company’s pitching this thing at current 3DS owners, or it’s poised to befuddle potential new owners accustomed to mobile devices coming with all the essentials (you can purchase an AC adapter separately).

The rest of the presentation focused on firming up known product release timeframes. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for Wii U will arrive on February 20. Splatoon, the company’s clever 4v4 paint-gun shooter, will be available in May. The company’s amiibo figurines are ramping up big time, including a new Super Mario series (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Bowser and Toad) that’ll arrive on March 20 with Mario Party 10. A Xenoblade Chronicles port for the NN3DS is coming in April. And Xenoblade Chronicles X, the Wii U game topping all others for me personally (including the new Zelda!), is still just “2015.”

Lastly, Nintendo is adding native Wii game support to the Wii U, allowing select titles to live in the Wii U ecosystem without having to boot into Wii mode. It looks like it’ll require title by title support, so it’s not a blanket reprieve for all Wii games off the block, but rejiggered Wii titles that supported the Wii’s classic or pro controllers will also (finally!) support direct control with the Wii U GamePad.

And you don’t have to wait for that last improvement: Nintendo says you can grab select Wii games from its eShop today, starting with Super Mario Galaxy 2–each runs $10 for a week, shifting to $20 thereafter–followed shortly by Punch-Out!! (Jan. 22) and Metroid Prime: Trilogy (Jan. 29).

Update: Some are wondering why Nintendo hasn’t announced a non-XL version of the NN3DS stateside, a version already on the market in Australia and Japan. Wired‘s Chris Kohler speculates helpfully about the why here.

I’d add this: I wonder how much it’ll impact the NN3DS’ appeal to younger players with much smaller hands and an age-dictated ergonomic preference. I’ve seen no studies or reports indicating how those demographics have played out with 3DS vs. 3DS XL sales, but assuming there’s a certain age group that might actually prefer the smaller system (to say nothing of the extra price relief), and given Nintendo’s traditional focus on younger players with its handheld systems, it’s a curious omission.

TIME Video Games

These Will Be the Hottest PlayStation 4 Games of 2015

Check out the biggest Sony-exclusive games coming to PlayStation 4 in 2015

Here’s a look at the year’s 10 most anticipated games for Sony’s PlayStation 4 console, excluding rumored 2015 projects with as yet indeterminate timeframes (hello Final Fantasy XV, Tearaway Unfolded, Rime and Gran Turismo 7!)

  • 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.

    Available: February 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.

    Available: March 24

  • 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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?

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: 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.

    Available: TBD 2015

    Read next: The 15 Best Video Games of 2014

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