It's the Final (Looking Forward at 2014) Countdown

Without question, 2013 turned out to be a banner year for video games. With new franchises, new consoles, and some truly evolved game experiences, it was a good year for gamers… <p>But it just might have nothing on 2014. <p>There are some titles that were delayed into 2014, some teased for those new next-gen systems, and some that may make you hold on to your old ones. First, a few honorable mentions and disclaimers. While the WiiU had a strong surge at the end of 2013, the two games we're most excited for on it, <i>Super Smash Bros</i> and the future <i>Zelda</i>, don't have release dates, or even real release <i>windows</i> yet. Now that doesn't 100% remove something from the final list, but it did contribute to their disinclusion. Likewise, we're not including anything that doesn't have a final title. <p>We also want to give shout-outs to the games that would've made this list if it could've only been about twenty entries instead of ten. Games like <i>Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare</i>, <i>Watch Dogs</i>, <i>South Park: The Stick of Truth</i>, <i>Elder Scrolls Online</i>, <i>The Witness</i>, <i>The Witcher 3</i>, <i>Mad Max</i> - look, what we're saying here is that there will be no shortage of quality game playing this year. <p>But there are only ten that made it onto the list, and here they are, in order of our excitement.

The Order: 1886

<i>PS4 - Fall 2014</i> <p>There isn't much out there about this new adventure game from Ready at Dawn and Sony Santa Monica, but it is already one of the most exciting PlayStation 4 exclusives coming in 2014. This story has it all: alternate history, half-human half-animal monsters, and, despite it being the 19th Century, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It also has technologies far past what we should see this early, playing both sides of the time-warped world. <p>The announcement trailer shown at E3 in 2013 absolutely blew gamers away with hyperrealistic graphics and the additional beauty of a brand-new IP being developed for the next-gen PS4.

Thief

<i>Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One - February 25, 2014</i> <p>The earliest release on our list, <b>Thief</b> reignites a classic franchise with a reboot from Eidos Montreal and Square Enix. Garrett, one of the coolest characters we saw at E3 2013, is controlled in a stealth-driven gameplay that offers multiple paths, supernatural powers, bow-and-arrow awesomeness, and, of course, the chance to pull off some great heists. <p>If that all sounds familiar, that's because last year's <i>Dishonored</i> borrowed a lot from the <b>Thief</b> franchise. With the original coming back, we're anxious to jump into Garrett's shows and find out what makes this steampunk world tick, and whether he's a hero in disguise or just a despicable thief.

Child of Light

<i>Windows, PS3, PS4, WiiU, Xbox 360, Xbox One - 2014</i> <p>We <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19606-child-of-light-a-playable-poem-that-should-be-your-most-anticipated-next-gen-game.html>went on at length about <b>Child of Light</b></a> after being introduced to it on the PlayStation 4 at Sony's launch event. The game from Ubisoft takes classic JRPG battles and intersperses them with a 2D platforming world and a story that is literally a poem. <p>With watercolor art and a fantasy overlay upon a late Victorian era world (yes, that makes us 3 for 3 on the timeframes here), the story of <b>Child of Light</b> is told in a rhyming ballad style. The game is art upon art and beauty on multiple levels. We're excited to play more of the game upon its release and see how the poem of Aurora's life unfolds.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

<i>Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One - 2014</i> <p>What fan of fantasy wouldn't want to live in the world of <b>The Lord of the Rings</b>, especially in a time between the novels <i>The Hobbit</i> and <i>Fellowship of the Ring</i>? <p>In this open world action game, you play as the ranger Talion, who has recently died. Pulled back into life, he maintains a connection with Wraith abilities that allow him to access the other world. Warner Bros Interactive's Monolith Productions has control of the adventure which promises some next-gen advancements beyond just the pretty pictures. In a hat tip to the Telltale Games adventures, how you interact with characters will be remembered by those characters, changing the way they interact with you later in the game. <p>There have been a couple of <i>nearly</i> awesome games in Tokien's world (LEGO titles notwithstanding), and it looks like <b>Shadow of Mordor</b> can be the game to push the video game adaptation of his novels into a new age.

Titanfall

<i>Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One - March 11, 2014</i> <p>This is very likely at the top of the list of exclusives for nearly everyone who became an early adopter of the Xbox One. Granted, the game will also come out for the 360 and PC, but the Xbox One has been the platform of demonstration, and owners of the system are definitely excited for everything it has to offer. <p>Developed by Respawn Entertainment, a company made up of the original <i>Call of Duty</i> developers, the game pits massive mechs called Titans against run and gun Pilots in multiplayer matches. <p>Everything we've seen about this new age shooter looks plain and simply <i>fun</i>. There's strength and speed. There are shooter mainstays and entirely new bits. Everyone will be talking in March about the first time they dive-bombed a Titan, took out the pilot, and hijacked it. Everyone will be talking about head-shotting a pilot just before their Titan exploded. We want to be part of that conversation.

inFAMOUS: Second Son

<i>PS4 - March 21, 2014</i> <p>Oh, <b>inFAMOUS: Second Son</b>, why aren't you in our hands yet? <p>Just ten days after we go crazy with our Xbox Ones, we'll be jumping into the PS4 and Sucker Punch's next action-adventure game. When they released the first <i>inFAMOUS</i>, Sucker Punch changed the way we looked at super powered video games. After all, in the past, it was pretty cut-and-dry: you were a hero, or a villain, and that was that. In this world? It's a whole lot of gray area and you're only as good, or as bad, as you want to be. <p>Delsin takes over for Cole McGrath as the star of the series, seven years after the last game. Delsin's powers will have much more variation than Cole's with light and smoke based powers revealed so far. An absolute bonus to the game is in the principal voice actors: Troy Baker, Travis Willingham, and Laura Bailey. If those names sound familiar to you, it's because you watch <i>Avengers Assemble</i>, saw or played <i>LEGO Batman</i>, or have watched pretty much any cartoon or played any major video game in the last two years. Yeah, they're that prolific, and they're that good. <p>There aren't a lot of games where the voice actors become a main selling point, but we'll make the exception for Baker and company.

Fantasia: Music Evolved

<i>Xbox 360, Xbox One - 2014</i> <p>Remember how we said <i>most</i> Xbox One users have <i>Titanfall</i> as their top exclusive? That's because we're here to tell you that <b>Fantasia: Music Evolved</b> has us even more excited. <p>The next game from music superstars Harmonix, <b>Fantasia</b> borrows its name from the Disney franchise of the same, and features the player as the newest apprentice to Yen Sid, the sorcerer. Through rhythmic motion with your arms, you "conduct" a virtual symphony orchestra through songs ranging from hip-hop and dance ballads to classical pieces found within the original film. <p>But then there's the twist. Each song has three mixes, allowing you to layer new takes on the song upon each other to make a new composition each time. Take "Bohemian Rhapsody," and add in 80s metal, then a strings-heavy orchestra, and jump back to the original; see how they all sound together, and try again to get your ideal mix. The game also allows you to explore areas as you work to bring music and life back to the world. <p>It's a music game. It's Harmonix. It's Disney. That's all I need to know. Throw in the fact that every time I've played, I've immediately gone home and played the songs on my stereo, waving my hands around like an idiot trying my best to remember how it went. Yeah, this one is going to be fun.

Dragon Age Inquisition

<i>Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One - Fall, 2014</i> <p>The <b>Dragon Age</b> series is truly something special. Each game features a new, unique playable character and a slightly altered style of gameplay, while still building the world and its story as a whole. <b>Dragon Age Inquisition</b>, the third main game in the series, promises to continue that trend this year, with elements of the gameplay from the strategy-heavy first game and the more action-oriented second one both infused. <p>Playing as a male or female, Human, Dwarf, Elf, or Qunari Inquisitor, your story will overlap with that of the Warden from <i>Origins</i> and Hawke from <i>DA2</i>. That means if you've played the others, your story will be customized for the way you've played so far (and you'll see some old friends along for the ride). <p>That's all we <i>really</i> know about <b>Inquisition</b> so far, but it's also all we <i>need</i> to know. <b>Dragon Age: Inquisition</b> is right near the top of our radar, and we'll be watching carefully as it approaches release.

Destiny

<i>PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One - September 9, 2014</i> <p>Perhaps the most enigmatic game on this list, <b>Destiny</b> is the start of a new planned ten-year epic from Bungie, the developer behind the almost universally acclaimed <i>Halo</i> series. <p>Playing as a Guardian, you're in a futuristic first-person shooter world that combines gunplay with some super powers, single player with co-op with competitive multiplayer. You'll fight for the last bastion of humanity on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system. You'll fight alone, and you'll see other players from around the world who are hoping to do the same. <p>One of the coolest moments of all of E3 was during the <b>Destiny</b> developer walkthrough, when suddenly, after starting off alone then joining friends you met on the battlefield in real time to form a team of 3, the worlds "Public Event" flashed upon the screen. By running towards the event, you're suddenly on a field with several other players, all joining together to take down a larger threat than you could manage alone. It completely changes the way you think about a game, blurring the line between single-player and multiplayer in a way we haven't seen on consoles. Couple that with the combination of styles from westerns, <i>Star Wars</i>, and of course, <i>Halo</i>, and you have one exciting looking game. Playstation gamers (on either Sony platform) get exclusive content and early beta access, if you're looking (like us) to play this game absolutely as soon as humanly possible.

Everything Telltale Games is Putting Out

<i>The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead Season 2, Tales from the Borderlands, Game of Thrones</i> <p><i>Windows, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, PS Vita, Other platforms - Throughout 2014</i> <p>What can we say about Telltale Games? They are on a role unlike anything experienced in the video game industry. After taking the classic point-and-click adventure game and turning it on its head with dynamic memory for NPCs, high-tension low-action stretches and episodic gameplay that always leaves fans wanting more, you'd swear Telltale's 2012 Game of the Year <b>The Walking Dead Season One</b> just <i>had</i> to be the pinnacle of their achievements. <p>You'd swear that, then you play <b>The Wolf Among Us</b> episode one, or <b>The Walking Dead Season Two</b> episode one, and everything you knew melts away. With all they continue to learn, all they continue to accomplish, you just know the best gaming experience you will ever have from Telltale is the next one you play. <p>Oh, and did we mention that in addition to Robert Kirkman's zombie epic continuing, and the story of Bill Willingham's <b>Fables</b> fleshing out further this year, they're also launching two <i>more</i> games? First up is the hit shooter/RPG <b>Borderlands</b> getting the Telltale treatment, and after that, late next year? It's <b>Game of Thrones</b>, in cooperation with HBO, based on their version of George R.R. Martin's world of political betrayal, epic battles, and oh yeah, DRAGONS. <p>All year long, you'll get to keep playing new Telltale games, and that makes for one exciting 2014, even if you don't have one of those newfangled consoles.

10 to Watch for 2014: VIDEO GAMES

Date: 06 January 2014 Time: 09:00 PM ET