2014 Under the Microscope - A Year of Transition

2014 Under the Microscope - A Year of Transition

Written Friday, January 10, 2014 By XBA Staff

Like the title says, 2014 promises to be a year of transition. With a whole slew of big name releases due to hit, the Xbox 360 and its huge install base isn’t ready to give up the fight yet. Meanwhile, the Xbox One’s library looks set to grow and improve with some massive exclusives and the most definitive versions of a large range of cross-generational titles. It’s going to be a fascinating 12 months.

The year kicks off with an odd set of rehashes. On Xbox 360, Halo: Spartan Assault hits following its release on mobile and Xbox One, as does the enhanced home console version of the PS Vita game Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. They’re followed by Fable Anniversary and Far Cry Classic HD in February, as well as Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on Xbox One, all of which give old releases a new lick of paint, hammering home just how much of a generation mangling year 2014 is going to be.

The action starts ramping up properly with the release of Eidos Montreal’s Thief towards the end of Feb. A cross-gen title, this one seems to have been through the wringer, with a number of direction changes announced during development. We’re not exactly sure what that means for the stealthy reboot, but we remain skeptically optimistic. Actually, Editor Dan is massively excited for it. The rest of us aren’t so certain.

The same can be said for South Park: The Stick of Truth. Repeatedly delayed, it’s a title that was rescued by Ubisoft following the collapse of THQ. It hits Xbox 360 in March alongside From Software’s spirit-crushing Dark Souls II, meaning that we’ll have some pretty highly-anticipated games to get stuck into early in the year. But as far as expectations go, neither can even come close to March’s other big release: Titanfall.

Respawn Entertainment’s Xbox-exclusive carries with it huge promise. With much of the development team responsible for Modern Warfare in place, some super sexy mech designs and a whole load of frenetic shootybangs to get your blood pumping, it could be the game of the year. Forget the doubters bemoaning Titanfall’s 6v6 matches, this one’s gonna take some beating.

Moving on to the second quarter of 2014 and there’s a bunch of tantalising prospects heading our way, including the long-awaited Watch Dogs. Ubisoft’s open-world action adventure is very high on our most wanted list, largely thanks to protagonist Aiden Pearce’s unique abilities. Changing traffic lights to cause pile ups, hacking phones and tapping calls has never looked so fun. To us, anyway. PRISM might feel differently.

Going up against Watch Dogs during Q2 is some pretty fierce competition, in the form of Hideo Kojima’s The Phantom Pain prologue, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes; Microsoft’s Xbox One world and game-builder, Project Spark; as well as the sure-to-be-great LEGO: The Hobbit and Bethesda’s potentially gargantuan subscription MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online. Whatever platform you’re playing on you’re going to be spoiled for choice.

Moving on to Q3 and there’s a couple of big names that stand out. BioWare will be hoping to silence the grumbles about Dragon Age II, as well as whatever dissatisfaction remains regarding the climax of Mass Effect 3, by blowing us away with Dragon Age: Inquisition. The studio has released a few wonderful glimpses of the expansive fantasy RPG so far, but we can’t wait to get stuck into it properly.

Meanwhile, competing for our time in Q3 will be Destiny, Bungie’s first release since giving up the Halo franchise. While Titanfall promises to offer fast-paced blasting, Destiny looks like a larger, deeper, slower experience that builds on Bungie’s knack for creating deep, storied universes while also delivering its own spin on story-led multiplayer. The battle between Destiny and Titanfall, two ostensibly similar games with massively different approaches, will make for one of 2014’s most fascinating stories.

But the year doesn’t stop there. On the release slates of the big publishers sit an impressive number of announced titles from monstrous series and potentially world-beating new franchises, many of which carry vague 2014 release dates. Here’s our picks of the bunch.

Ubisoft arguably has the strongest line-up of the lot. In addition to Watch Dogs and South Park, the publisher also has a commendable number of new IP on the way, including the potentially fantastic near-future MMO The Division and the connected, social driving game The Crew. Both look impressive. Flesh that out with a new Assassin’s Creed game (not announced yet but certain), as well as tasty looking digital offerings like the gorgeous Valiant Hearts: The Great War and the ethereal Child of Light, and Ubisoft seems to have all bases covered.

We’re also fascinated to see whether Rainbow Six: Patriots sees the light of day in 2014, following its much publicised development woes.

While Ubisoft has a tick for every box, Square Enix will continue to find new spins on its existing licenses. Final Fantasy is top of the list with Lightning Returns heading to Xbox 360 and Final Fantasy XV coming to Xbox One. Add that to Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and the possibility of the new Hitman game arriving this year, and it’s a line-up of solid fan-favourites. Only Murdered: Soul Suspect, due in Q2 2014, is new - but it’s a title that’s failed to pick up much buzz.

Compared to some of the other Japanese publishers however, Square Enix is still a big hitter, with the likes of SEGA, Capcom, Namco Bandai and Konami putting their hopes in just a few big titles. SEGA has the gut-rippingly exciting Alien: Isolation, but not a lot else; Capcom has Ultra Street Fighter IV on the cards, but that’s an expansion; Namco Bandai has the aforementioned Dark Souls II and possibly a new Tekken; and Konami has Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and the ace-looking Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. None are overburdened with huge upcoming releases.

In comparison Bethesda has a strong, tight line-up for 2014. Much of the publisher’s time, and money, will be dedicated to pushing The Elder Scrolls Online, but Wolfenstein: The New Order promises to breath life into an old franchise and Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within threatens to bring true survival horror back in a big, scary way. All three look excellent.

As does The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which could turn out to be the dark fantasy masterpiece CD Projekt RED has flirted with making for years. It’s going up against ex-Witcher 2 lead Tomasz Gop’s Lords of the Fallen, an action RPG that tantalisingly references both Borderlands 2 and Dark Souls among its influences. Come the end of the year we’ll know whether Gop was right to jump ship.

Which brings us to EA, undoubtedly the most prolific of all the big publishers. Just its sports game franchises alone - FIFA, Madden, NHL, NBA Live, UFC, PGA Tour - already see it rack up impressive numbers, and that’s without counting the likes of Battlefield and Need for Speed, new iterations of which we’ll no doubt see in 2014 alongside Titanfall, Dragon Age: Inquisition and the madcap shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. They’ll be making their presence felt.

Of all the games hitting in 2014, however, it’s the Xbox exclusives that carry the most weight. Halo for Xbox One could be monumental, 343 Industries’ opportunity to flex its muscles and reinvent the franchise for a new generation. Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive looks like a riot too, if that insanely colourful announcement trailer is anything to go by. If those two get it right and Titanfall fulfils its potential, the Xbox One would boast an exclusive line-up of the very best shooters available come December.

But what about the games that aren’t even announced yet? As we write this, publishers across the globe are putting together plans to reveal new and exciting games at E3, Gamescom, PAX, GDC and beyond. We’ll be there of course, we’re always there, ready to bring you all the news as and when it hits. From what we already know, 2014’s gonna be a good year. The big trade shows, and all the announcements in-between, will help decide if it’s great.

As for us, when we’re not globetrotting in search of the hottest games, we’ll be here, improving the new site, working on the mobile app and helping the ensure that XBA remains your home on the internet. Stick around, it’s gonna be fun.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 117
Comment #1 by Doctor Gordon
Saturday, January 11, 2014 @ 01:32:32 AM
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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Forum Posts: 117
Comment #2 by Doctor Gordon
Saturday, January 11, 2014 @ 01:33:42 AM
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damn i mean Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is gonna be so great!

Forum Posts: 25600
Comment #3 by BiggD
Saturday, January 11, 2014 @ 01:47:40 AM
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Thief, The Witcher 3, and Destiny will be the most glorious titles of 2014 (in my opinion).

I get my dark Single Player Stealth-fix. True next-gen engine, story-driven RPG. And of course, the open-world, cooperatively driven Shooter :D

Still, keeping an eye on MGS V: Ground Zeros, The Division, and Watch Dogs. And obviously whatever this next Halo title will be, be it Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 5, or a side title (spin-off).

Forum Posts: 13
Comment #4 by kaiyo penguin
Saturday, January 11, 2014 @ 02:23:57 AM
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lots of new games worth buying the xone for and lots of older games i still wanna play on the 360, so gonna be quite busy this year me thinks.... :)

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #5 by Italian Swagg
Saturday, January 11, 2014 @ 03:25:20 AM
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It was at this time last year on this very same post (the 2013 version) in which I said they forgot Telltale's TWD Season 2. Well that kinda failed since they only just released the first episode, but now they'll have to manage that game, along with Fables, Tales from the Borderlands, and Game of Thrones!

Nevertheless, 2014 looks to be a great year.

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #6 by StinkyPete2021
Saturday, January 11, 2014 @ 12:16:48 PM
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This year will be epic, but I just hope that Microsoft continues to put out games for the 360 like they promised.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #7 by Daniel Agger
Saturday, January 11, 2014 @ 07:35:30 PM
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Don't forget Telltale Games - Walking dead, wolf among us, plus all their other new games. Should be a great year for them too!

Forum Posts: 178
Comment #8 by Major Bones
Saturday, January 11, 2014 @ 08:58:01 PM
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Top 5 games I'm looking forward to

5) Wolfenstein
4) Halo for Xbox One
3) Destiny
2) Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2
1). Titanfall

I will probably pick up the Fable game as well.

Forum Posts: 942
Comment #9 by mosin360
Saturday, January 11, 2014 @ 09:44:14 PM
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You forgot the Windows 8 platform. Yeah it isn't huge but its still Xbox.

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #11 by SpectrumFlash
Sunday, January 12, 2014 @ 02:15:43 AM
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Top 5 Games I look forward to:

5)Dark Souls 2
3)Witcher III: Wild Hunt
2)Watch Dogs
1)The Division

Forum Posts: 457
Comment #12 by immortality20
Sunday, January 12, 2014 @ 07:34:20 AM
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Can't wait to see some unannounced new IPs, we're kind of lacking in that department so far. But I am looking forward to:
Evil Within
Lords of Shadow 2
South Park
Watch Dogs

among other great games. Let's hope it's as great as 2013 was for gaming, seemed there was something out every week last year I wanted to play.

Forum Posts: 25600
Comment #13 by BiggD
Sunday, January 12, 2014 @ 08:38:06 AM
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@11…I like you. The Witcher 3 is going to be fantastic.

Forum Posts: 62
Comment #14 by D4RK V1C3
Sunday, January 12, 2014 @ 11:46:55 AM
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My personal top 5 for 2014 so far :
Elder Scrolls Online
more episodes of The Wolf Among us
The Division
Fable Anniversary :D

Two of those are on the 360 still, but seeing the X1 isn't out here yet anyway... :P

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #15 by TheBaldBullet
Sunday, January 12, 2014 @ 12:29:42 PM
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What about the new Sniper Elite game?
Looks amazing :)

My top 5 for 2014 would be:

Alien Isolation
Watch Dogs
Sniper Elite 3
The Division
Walking Dead s2


Forum Posts: 497
Comment #16 by Caramel Cardinal
Monday, January 13, 2014 @ 12:17:46 AM
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no mention of the inevitible cod black ops 3
that will be out 11/11/14 for certain on xbox 360 xbone ps4 ps3

Forum Posts: 63
Comment #17 by mr_FOS NL
Monday, January 13, 2014 @ 08:58:34 AM
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Cannot wait for Dark Souls 2 and South Park! Still waiting for a good reason to jump to the XB-one. Too bad Fallout 4 is not listed. Probably 2015......

Forum Posts: 4442
Comment #18 by Dante XBA
Monday, January 13, 2014 @ 12:31:37 PM
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Lookin forward to that Destiny, man. Bungie sure knows how to create whole universes. They're a good company, and I'm sure Destiny is going to be a masterpiece.

Oh, and there's Titanfall. Kinda forgot about it in lieu of the deeper-than-paper shooters.

Forum Posts: 98
Comment #20 by Jedi MoonKnight
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 @ 03:38:02 AM
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Is that screen-shot with the Taxi an image from Rainbow Six? Whatever it is I've never been so mesmerized from one small image. That looks insanely beautiful.

2014 - Watch Dogs, baby! Please Ubisoft - bug test the hell outta that thing. Your last two Assassin's Creed games were/are alot of fun, but wayyy under developed.

Forum Posts: 19
Comment #21 by SeraphTC
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 @ 04:42:59 PM
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@21 That's 'The Division', not R6. I don't expect an R6 game any time this year.

Forum Posts: 80
Comment #22 by Kroesis
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 @ 11:47:48 PM
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I really want Squeenix to make another Deus Ex game! Still set to be a decent year for gaming. I wonder which title will be the one I purchase a One for...

Forum Posts: 83
Comment #23 by toddycst
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 @ 12:29:37 AM
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Lords of the Fallen sounds interesting.

Forum Posts: 48
Comment #25 by Ereaser NL
Thursday, January 16, 2014 @ 05:06:06 PM
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My top games will definitely be:
The Division

Also looking forward, but I probably won't pick up straight away:
Dark Souls 2
Telltale Borderlands (whenever the 1st episode gets released for free and buy the rest)
Halo Spartan Assault (once I have an Xbox One)

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #27 by HolliBushnellnuy
Friday, January 24, 2014 @ 07:13:15 PM
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i started this job and earn 2200$ frist week

Forum Posts: 1822
Comment #29 by HalfEVILmonkey
Thursday, February 20, 2014 @ 10:17:04 PM
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I thought 2013 was bad for games, but I think 2014 might actually be worse.

Forum Posts: 141
Comment #30 by Ypuh
Sunday, March 02, 2014 @ 10:18:12 PM
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Definitely a few look worthy of picking up. Destiny for sure, Titanfall a maybe and of course Fifa 15 on the One. Last but not least, The Division!

Combined with Battlefield and my first Madden game since 5 years my calendar is nearly full already.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #31 by bratnesti
Monday, May 05, 2014 @ 10:45:39 AM
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Can't wait for watch dogs.

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