With two new next-gen consoles just released, 2014 promises to be a vintage year for video games: we expect the first crop of truly essential titles for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to appear very soon.
But don’t worry if you haven’t invested in either (or both) of those consoles yet: read on and you’ll see there are plenty of brilliant incoming titles for older machines too.
Ladies and gents, here are the games you should be preparing your thumbs for this year...
Titanfall (Xbox One/Xbox 360/Windows)
A sci-fi shooter in which players fight either on foot or from within giant mech suits, Titanfall might just be the first truly great AAA game of the new console generation. Developed by Respawn, a studio founded by the minds behind the Call of Duty series, the game is online multiplayer only, but with a twist: there are single-player campaign elements like a plot and non-player characters woven in.
The range of Titan mechs on offer (plus the ability to fight as a jetpack-wearing footsoldier) means the player can approach combat in a variety of ways – something which led to Titanfall bagging an armful of awards at last year’s E3. It’s on sale 13th March.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Xbox One/PS4/Windows)
Gravel-voiced horn-dog and sometime monster-slayer Geralt of Rivia returns in the third (and apparently final) game in CD Projekt RED’s action RPG series. The developers claim The Witcher 3 will have the largest open world in RPG history (20 percent bigger than Skyrim’s) and 100 hours of gameplay if you count both the main story and open world side quests.
A true next-gen title that won’t be available on the older generation of consoles, The Witcher 3 will be out in the second quarter of 2014.
The Witness (PS4/iOS/Windows)
The much-anticipated second title from indie game martinet Jonathan Blow (his first was the excellent Braid), The Witness is a first-person puzzle/exploration game set on an uninhabited island. As you explore, you’ll unlock new areas of the island by solving 3D mazes.
Sounds straightforward, but given that it’s Jonathan Blow we’re talking about here, there’s something far deeper at work. The man himself says, “the point is the magic that happens in the player’s mind when he understands the subtle things that the mazes are saying – because the mazes aren’t just puzzles, they are lines of communication that aggregate, become more complex and eventually say surprising things.”
The game, due in “early 2014”, will be a timed exclusive on the PlayStation 4 before appearing later on PC and iOS.
Watch Dogs (PS3/PS4/Xbox 360/Xbox One/Wii U/Windows)
Originally supposed to arrive at the tail end of 2013, Watch Dogs will now be released in the spring of this year. Ubisoft’s third-person action adventure game takes certain cues from the company’s Assassin’s Creed series (namely the open world setting and parkour movement) but deals with the worlds of hacking, information warfare and networked technology.
Roaming a futuristic Chicago, the player can hack into phones to steal the user’s bank details, or cause electronic equipment such as traffic lights to malfunction, causing a distraction in order to escape the police’s clutches. We can’t wait to get involved.
Game of Thrones (consoles/PC/Mac/mobile)
We know virtually nothing about this other than that it’s being made by Telltale Games (latterly responsible for the utterly riveting Walking Dead games) and is based on the HBO TV show rather than George R.R. Martin’s novels. Expect a point-and-click adventure full of difficult moral choices and the show’s heady blend of betrayal, blood and (naked) bodies.