2014 is going to be the epic year the gaming world has been waiting for; 2013 gave us consoles with the potential for great games — but no great games. This year will be different, as a truly awesome lineup of titles is quickly headed our way.
Regardless of what you like to play, here are the 14 games that any gamer will want to keep an eye out for in 2014.
1. For the sneaky redistributor of wealth: 'Thief'
If Robin Hood ever traversed into a futuristic rendition of the Victorian age, his adventures would resemble "Thief," the fourth installment in the titular series and the first to be developed by Eidos Montreal (the studio behind the more recent renditions of the "Deus Ex" franchise).
As Garrett, players will once again don the cowl and steal from the rich. And as has been the series' trademark, combat will be largely ineffective, forcing players to steal and escape with nothing more than the supplies in their backpack. The game's artificial intelligence is designed as some of the best in the industry, too — meaning AI elements are literally "aware" of potential hiding places and react accordingly to hunt you down — and should provide for a dangerous battle of wits and stealth.
Released in late February (Win/PS3/PS4/X360/XOne), the game has already seen some mixed critical reception, partially as a result of the inconsistency of the artificial intelligence. But no one can deny the franchise's tremendous potential.
2. For the lover of giant robots: 'Titanfall'
From one of the creators of the massively successful "Call of Duty" franchise comes "Titanfall." The game is built around the classic post-"Transformers" fantasy of letting players take control of a gigantic robots called "Titans," and battle each other to mechanical death.
Each Titan has its own unique abilities, and players can also jump out of these monstrous exoskeletons and fight on foot. While designed exclusively with multiplayer in mind, the game does still have elements such as plot and character development — meaning your loyalty to your faction will have context.
And if it's done correctly, "Titanfall" would very much ruffle some feathers in those pretentious "single-player only" gaming circles that have long scoffed at multiplayer for its supposedly weaker narratives.
The game will be available March 11(Win/XOne/X360).
3. For the diehard gamer: Dark Souls II
Prepare to die. That is really all you need to know about "Dark Souls II," the sequel to the infamously, sadistically difficult game that nonetheless proved to be one of 2011's most addicting hits. And like it's beloved but polarizing predecessor, there aren't many reasons to find "Dark Souls II" any more attractive than its cursed, undead protagonist. The story once again seems muddled and cryptic, the combat system is operating on the same basic mechanics and the enemies have only been made more difficult (if that even seemed like a possibility).
Yet, just like its predecessor, "Dark Souls II" is emphatic proof of the line between the person who likes to game and the gamer. If you can survive yet another installment, you truly are amongst the most dedicated of your kind.
The game will be released March 11 worldwide (Win/PS3/X360).
4. For the 'V For Vendetta' wannabe: 'inFamous: Second Son'
Exclusive titles like this will fuel console wars. The third proper entry into the now-iconic series, "inFamous: Second Son" will be released only on PS4. Players assume the role of vagabond graffiti artist Delsin Rowe as he tries to use his newfound superpowers to fight back against the oppressive "Department of Unified Protection."
The game takes place seven years after the events of the second installment, and features the return of several familiar characters. But by and large, it's a brand-new story about a brand-new hero. Fear not, however; even without the classic protagonists, the game still allows players to wreak all the supernatural havoc they desire and, as is the series' tradition, choose to be a savior or destroyer.
The game will be released March 21 (PS4).
5. For the anti-social but multiplayer-loving gamer: 'Destiny'
From the team that brought you "Halo" comes ... you really don't need to hear anything else, do you? "Destiny," the first proper release by developer Bungie after their departure from both Microsoft and the aforementioned legendary franchise, is a "shared world" shooter that lets players act as members of "the Guardians," a collective of several races that have taken it upon themselves to protect humans in a post-apocalyptic nightmare.
It's "shared world" only in the technical sense, because though players are all online and exploring the same world at once, you do not have to even see, let alone interact with anyone you don't personally invite. The game's dynamic environments have a certain randomness to their actions, resulting in characters that interact with each other and their surroundings in unprecedented and unscripted ways.
Bungie knows how to make an amazing series; whether they can do so without Microsoft remains to be seen. The game will hit stores Sep. 9 (PS3/PS4/X360/XOne).
6. For tech lovers: 'Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes'
While iconic "Metal Gear" director Hideo Kojima is known for making confusing and risky decisions, telling fans that he will release his next game in two parts would have irritated even the most ardent of supporters. Serving as a stand-alone prologue to the fifth installment of the series, "Ground Zeroes" will let players star as the infamous Naked Snake as he infiltrates a deadly base in order to extract two characters involved with his series counterpart, Solid Snake.
The game will once again feature a healthy combination of stealth and action, with a central requirement being the need to craft your own weapons to achieve success. Keeping in line with Kojima's promise of greater integration, the game will actually allow players to access their weapons library via smartphone, while also using real-time to calculate the passage of day and night.
The game will be released the third week of March worldwide (PS3/PS4/X360/XOne).
7. For the aspiring Anonymous member: 'WATCH_DOGS'
Though it recently gave several fans a scare over its possible cancellation, "WATCH DOGS" is still in development. And gamers should be quite thankful for this fact, because the premise it offers is truly unique. As hacker Aiden Pearce, players will break into electronic systems, smartphones and bank accounts to survive the new era of information warfare.
But before you start to think this is one solely for the computer geeks, the game also has plenty of action. And if that isn't enough, the multiplayer component is actually pretty devious: players can secretly enter another's game to plant a bug in their software.
"WATCH DOGS" is due for release sometime between April and May (X360/XOne/PS3/PS4/Win/Wii U).
8. For the nostalgic: 'Mario Kart 8'
Ah, Wii U, finally, there is a game for you.
"Mario Kart 8" looks much like its predecessors, allowing players to assume the roles of their favorite Nintendo characters — like Yoshi or Princess Peach.
Players once again take part in the most chaotic go-kart racing of all time. The game features returning elements such as motorbikes, hang gliders, 12-player competitions and underwater races, while also adding in a gravity-defying wall and roof racing element. Fans of previous versions are sure to be pleased, as are the critics.
The game will be released May 30 (Wii U).
9. For the horror buff: 'Dying Light'
From the makers of "Dead Island" comes the latest in "survival horror." "Dying Light" lets players, either cooperatively with three other players or alone, traverse the zombie-filled islands of South America.
The focus on the undead, multiplayer and weapons-crafting is clearly reminiscent of developer Techland's previous work, but it benefits from stronger visuals this time around. With a dedicated day-and-night system that actually makes your enemies even more feral, the game is truly one of the most chilling representations of horror in a medium that is yet to find a proper voice for its chills this generation.
Dying Light will be released in Spring of 2014 (Win/PS3/PS4/X360/XOne).
10. For the old-school 'Resident Evil' fan: 'The Evil Within'
And almost as if to challenge "Dying Light" for its spot on the throne as the premier horror game for the year, the makers of the "Elder Scrolls" series present "The Evil Within," directed by none other than "Resident Evil" creator Shinji Mikami.
Waking up in a world surrounded by monsters, Detective Sebastian Shaw remembers nothing except the death of his fellow officers and friends at the site of a gruesome murder. With all the impeccable horror timing, Mikami has clearly mastered but was increasingly failing to bring to life in his original series, "The Evil Within" is set to be one of the most terrifying and immersive experiences in interactive entertainment.
The game will come out in late August (Win/PS3/PS4/X360/XOne).
11. For the alien xenophobes: 'Evolve'
From the people that brought you the evolution of multiplayer in "Left 4 Dead" comes "Evolve," a game that has literally had to endure Chapter 11 bankruptcy to make it to your consoles. Once again placing an emphasis on working with others in online gaming, players assume the role of hunters in the jungle tasked with finding and killing an alien.
The twist, however, is that the alien is a fifth human-controlled player, and has the ability to evolve into a far deadlier creature. With a variety of weaponry and alien powers, the tide of battle shifts only based on the talents of the individuals, and places one supreme player against four deadly combatants. Built on the game engine behind classics like "Crysis," the game is stunning to behold, and will surely go down as one of 2014's most rollicking good times.
"Evolve" is scheduled for release sometime between July and September (Win/PS4/XOne).
12. For those with a need for speed: 'The Crew'
Perhaps an incredibly ambitious attempt to take a bite out of a racing simulation market cornered by franchises like "Need For Speed" and "Burnout," Ubisoft's "The Crew" boasts something that racing fans have desired for a long time: a huge environment to explore with complete freedom. So huge, in fact, that it takes 90 minutes of your life to drive from one end of the game's world to another!
Players will be able to build cars, infiltrate criminal groups, form "crews" with other racers and drive across the world without the game ever pausing for a loading screen. With a supplementary Android and iPhone app that allows players to work on their vehicular creations whenever they want, expect some tremendous customization, and a lot of gang decals.
"The Crew" will be released in the third quarter of 2014 (Win/PS4/XOne).
13. For the existential soul: 'Murdered: Soul Suspect'
Already having earned the dubious honor of "Title Most Likely to Look Like a Typo," "Murdered: Soul Suspect" was intentionally marketed via Twitter and through cryptic trailers to maintain a sense of secrecy that only amplifies its absurd plot.
Players will assume the role of Detective Ronan O'Connor, a ghost trying to solve his own murder. The game focuses just as heavily on mental games and puzzle solving as it does on the action, and markets itself as a proper murder mystery. This makes it certainly one of the few games that actually has the self-awareness to give context to the player's own death — an oft-overlooked aspect of gaming that is really quite conducive to some existential pondering.
"Soul Suspect" is scheduled for release in June (Win/PS3/PS4/X360/XOne).
14. For the 'Mario' fan that just can't grow up: 'Bayonetta 2'
No modern list of games is complete without a sequel number and a scantily clad femme fatale as the lead.
In the case of "Bayonetta 2," the character isn't even clad at all, in fact; she uses her hair as a form of clothing, and during tense fights, loses control of said hair. But beyond the blatant fetishism lies a game with one of the most aggressive and exhilarating battle systems ever, fluidly mixing guns and melee combat in a ballet of brutality. Whether "Bayonetta's" creators have actually grown up and are willing to take women in gaming more seriously remains to be seen.
"Bayonetta 2" will be released sometime during the summer (Wii U).
So what other games are you looking forward to? Be sure to sound off in the comments below!