Our last community question was all about your favorite game of last year. This time around we're asking you to look ahead to 2015 and choose the game that you're most excited about. Whether it's a AAA product or an obscure indie title, we're looking forward to hearing about what you're looking forward to.
While you ponder which upcoming game interests you the most - and if you need some help, here's a fairly comprehensive resource - here are the games that sit atop Team USG's "Most Wanted" list.
OK, so I said "The Legend of Zelda" on this week's podcast, despite not really thinking it's going to make 2015. But we've written plenty about that particular game this week, for some reason, so I'm going to talk about the game that inspires a smaller, more sedate form of enthusiasm for me: Etrian Mystery Dungeon.
My three big revelations during the DS era were RPG related: I love Dragon Quest, I love dungeon crawlers (thanks to Etrian Odyssey), and I love good roguelikes (thanks to Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer). What would happen if you combine some of these games, you might wonder? Well, Mystery Dungeon got its start as a Dragon Quest spin-off (the sequel, Torneko's: Last Hope, even made it to the U.S.), so no mystery there. And Sega basically created an Etrian Odyssey/Dragon Quest fusion with 7th Dragon for DS (fan translation here), so that's set. Etrian Mystery Dungeon, then, simply completes the trifecta.
So how will it work? I haven't really been reading about the game because I want to be surprised once it shows up, but the idea has tons of potential. Both Etrian Odyssey and Mystery Dungeon share a common thread of dungeon-diving while facing the threat of ever-more-perilous challenges. Both have a nasty tendency to hit you with sudden game overs for biting off more than you can chew. Both can be tremendously addictive both in spite of, and because of, their ruthless unfriendliness.
Where the two games differ greatly is in Etrian Odyssey's emphasis on building and developing specific parties and investing in permanent upgrades and skills, whereas Mystery Dungeon at its best sends players hurtling back to the start of the game and experience Level 1 for bumping their toe. When Mystery Dungeon abandons its harsh punishments for failure, as in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, it loses its tooth and edge; without the fear of death to keep you alert, the dungeon-crawling becomes a stress-free romp rather than a constant flirtation with disaster. Boring. There's also the fact that Etrian Odyssey is all about drawing permanent maps as you explore, while roguelikes revolve around the unpredictability of random dungeon generation each trip. That's like trying to marry a priest to an atheist.
I don't know exactly how those two design philosophies will reconcile themselves, but I do know that Etrian Mystery Dungeon features the former series' traditional classes, roaming F.O.E. sub-bosses that can ravage the "safe" spaces typically offered by town hubs, and some great music. I trust ChunSoft and Atlus to sort out the rest and create a wonderful and addictive RPG in the process.
I feel odd about nominating this game, since I could very well hate it. Perhaps it'll be a crappy Myst clone. But maybe… just maybe it'll be something very exciting and new.
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is, depending on who you talk to, an experimental game, a slice of non-linear drama, or a piece of interactive fiction. To me, it's simply a highly intriguing adventure game that sucks me in thanks to its cozy catastrophe-inspired, post apocalyptic storyline. The fact that it looks drop-dead gorgeous doesn't hinder its appeal either.
I saw it at E3 last year, and couldn't help but be impressed. The player starts in an idyllic country lane, and the game is open to explore whichever way you see fit. There's no traditional breadcrumb trail to follow - it's completely up to you to decide where to go, and how to interpret the evidence you pick up along the way. As you explore, clues and events are triggered that help paint a larger picture, and the ultimate objective is to figure out what's going on - beyond the fact that you seem to be stuck in a beautiful part of rural England, and everybody seems to have disappeared.
Quite how it'll all come together remains to be seen, but based on The Chinese Room's prior games, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Dear Esther, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture will probably be unconventional, and won't spoon feed the player. Instead, it'll be something you'll need to think about, and very likely something you'll draw your own conclusions from.
Like I already said, I'm still not sure whether I'll like it or not, but Everybody's Gone to the Rapture's premise is so damn intriguing, I can't help but be mad keen on playing it to see exactly what this thing is - and how its story is articulated. There are plenty of other games I'm looking forward to this year, but they're all known quantities. This one isn't - and that's what makes it so appealing to me. I just hope it's as fresh and new as it promises to be.
This is a hard one, because we're so early in the year at this point. Darkest Dungeon, Persona 5, Batman: Arkham Knight, Uncharted 4, and more; all these games look amazing, but I'm wary about them after the latter part of 2014. Will they all deliver on their promises? Even then, the hype is strong within, so I'm going to say my most anticipated game is Street Fighter V.
Capcom producer Yoshinori Ono has been slowly pushing his labor of love, Street Fighter IV, forward. After the success of the original release and Super Street Fighter IV, it feels like Ono has had to beg and plead to add more content to the Street Fighter universe (or make any fighting games at all, really). For a long time, it looked like Ultra Street Fighter IV was going to be the last hurrah, without even a PS4 and Xbox One release.
Even with the leak stealing some of the thunder from the PlayStation Experience announcement, Street Fighter V is exciting. It's obviously early and built on some of the previous character assets from Street Fighter IV, but the animation is improved and the trailer hinted at additions like just-blocking and level-based damage. I expect as we move forward from the original reveal, Capcom will add more to the game to make it feel more like a new, numbered entry in the Street Fighter franchise.
I'm also pretty psyched to see what Capcom can come up with for the roster this time. The new characters in Street Fighter IV - Crimson Viper, Abel, Hakan, El Fuerte, and Seth - were all awesome additions to Street Fighter lore (I didn't miss Rufus, I just don't like him). With the chance to make some new characters and the extra muscle of Sony behind them, I'm looking forward to what Street Fighter V will become.
When I think of 2015, my mind naturally turns to RPGs, and Persona 5 is without a doubt my most anticipated game of the year.
Scheduled for release sometime later this year on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, it will follow in the footsteps of Persona 3 and 4, which are considered two of the best RPGs of the PlayStation 2 generation. At this point, I would consider it to be Japan's best RPG series (yep), beating out even stalwarts like Dragon Quest and Monster Hunter. Seriously, have you been to Japan lately? Persona is everywhere there.
For those who haven't heard of Persona for some reason, it's a spinoff of the apocalyptic Shin Megami Tensei series featuring Japanese teenagers who solve mysteries using demons. The hook is that you go through the entire school year day by day, uncovering more and more clues as you go. Think of it as Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Harry Potter, with a heavy dose of Japan for good measure.
For me, Persona hits on pretty much everything I want out of an RPG: great music, a strong sense of humor, memorable characters, and interesting structure; all backed by deep customization and fast-paced combat. Persona is one of those RPGs where you hardly even notice how much time you've put into it. You'll be obsessing over which demons to fuse and promising that you'll stop after the next dungeon cycle; and the next thing you know, your game clock has you at 25 hours. Or 100 hours.
Persona 4 Golden took all of those qualities and combined them into one of the most satisfying RPG experiences I've had in years. I don't know that Persona 5 will be able to match it, but after six years of waiting, I have to believe that Atlus has something great up its sleeve. No matter what form Persona 5 ultimately takes, I can't wait to play it.
After playing so much (maybe too much?) of the Souls series over the past five years, it's safe to say I trust FromSoftware implicitly at this point. And when it comes to Bloodborne, I really have no other choice: Keeping with the cryptic nature of their games, From isn't keen on giving away too much about this upcoming PlayStation 4 release. In fact, it was almost a delight to watch director Hidetaka Miyazaki impishly weasel out of answering specific questions at his PSX panel back in December.
Still, I've been fortunate enough to play roughly an hour of Bloodborne across various press events, and the small sliver presented to me didn't disappoint. Yes, it plays very much like a Souls game, but with one key difference: Since you aren't afforded the luxury of a shield, Bloodborne forces you to focus on pure offense. As someone who usually doesn't go anywhere in Souls without a protective plank held in front of my face, I'm really looking forward for Bloodborne to pull me out of my comfort zone. It's honestly a terrifying prospect, and one I can't wait to experience.
Oddly enough, one of the main reasons I'm looking forward to Bloodborne lies outside the confines of the game itself: namely, what the wonderful Souls community will make of this game. I'm anticipating the countless lore videos, podcasts, message board discussions, and other content that results from a group of like-minded obsessives bashing their heads against FromSoftware's many mysteries--and I have no doubt Bloodborne will encourage this kind of healthy behavior. With most of Dark Souls II behind me, I'm about ready to have From put my skills to the test all over again--praise the sun it'll be happening so soon.