It might have given us both Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption, but 2010 was dominated by noisy headlines about motion controllers and lots of sequels. Will 2011 be any better? Here’s a look ahead at what we’d like to see from our favorite developers, as well as some of what we’re hoping to avoid.
10. The Mega-Announcements of both Grand Theft Auto V and Half Life Episode 3. We’re sure 2011 won’t lack for surprising announcements, ranging anywhere from Sony’s new handheld plans, advances in cloud-based gaming, or even a new Gran Turismo title slated for 2025, but GTA V and Half Life Episode 3 are still the big ones. Waiting for these reveals is like predicting the next major earthquake – every media event that unfolds without a peep about either of them just adds to the tension. If we can get Valve and Rockstar to line up these announcements with the planned May 21st Rapture event, most of us won’t mind being left behind with the rest of the atheists and democrats and so forth. Note to the faithful: do not attempt to import Grand Theft Auto V into Heaven. This would be disastrous.
9. A good reason to use a motion controller. The Playstation Move and Microsoft Kinect wowed us early with impressive technology last fall, but neither of them provided a good reason to keep playing into the winter. If you thought a glowing wand would make Heavy Rain any less of a dismal descent into failed parenthood, you thought wrong. Kinect’s Dance Central made some inroads into the core gaming market, but both devices are clearly geared toward the casual player thus far. Here’s hoping that Killzone 3 makes the best of the Move’s amazing sensitivity, and that Child of Eden or Forza 4 can turn the Kinect into something more than a cool party accessory.
8. No more zombies. Please stop with the zombies – especially you, Playstation Network. I never thought I’d see the day where I pine for a good Nazi, but here we are, so unless you’re Left 4 Dead 3, please stop putting zombies in your games.
7. At least two new games from Valve. Any new game from Valve is cause for celebration, and in 2011, we’ll be getting at least two: Portal 2 and Defense of the Ancients 2. We’ve done extensive coverage on Portal 2, which adds co-op to the already ingenious gameplay of the original. Defense of the Ancients 2 is a PC sequel to a popular Warcraft III mod that blends role-playing elements with real time strategy.
6. Holiday 2011 Release Ragnarok. Expect to call in sick this November, as it’s crammed with at least three AAA releases, including Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Uncharted 3, and Mass Effect 3. We fully expect some strategic delays to break up this gorgeous traffic jam, but as it stands, Holiday 2011 will challenge your spouse in new and interesting ways.
5. 3DS. Nintendo’s new glasses-free 3D handheld may only have a three hour battery life, and it might scramble your toddler’s brains, but so what? Saints Row: Drive By, Star Fox 64 3D, and Assassins Creed: Lost Legacy are generating interest, and like everybody else, we can’t wait to see this device for ourselves.
4. Mass Effect 2 bridge DLC. BioWare recently confirmed that additional downloadable content for 2010’s best game is arriving soon. Since Mass Effect 3 is right around the corner, it’s possible that the content will bridge the gap between games. Kasumi, Overlord, and Shadow Broker comprised some of Mass Effect 2‘s finest moments, so we’re anxious to find out what BioWare has in store for the Normandy crew this time around.
3. Download-only and Independent Games. EA CEO John Riccitiello thinks that this is the year digital distribution finally overtakes traditional hard copy gaming. If this happens, lay some blame at the feet of 2011’s crop of downloadable games. Here are a few we’re especially excited about.
From Dust, a Black-and-White-style world builder minus the Molyneux:
Stacking, the next effort from Tim Schafer and Double Fine:
thatgamecompany’s followup to flOw and the underappreciated Flower, Journey:
…and the Terry Gilliamesque tower defense game Rock of Ages:
2. So many big releases in 2011. There are an astounding number of sure-fire buys coming our way this year. Since we report on these regularly, we’ll just list them here: Dragon Age 2, Elder Scrolls V, BioShock Infinite (Edit: this was wishful thinking on our part, since it’s slated for 2012), Diablo III, inFamous 2, LA Noire, Batman: Arkham City, and Uncharted 3.
And that’s not even scratching the surface. We’re also keeping eyes on games like Rage, Gears of War 3, F.E.A.R. 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Witcher 2, Forza 4, Red Faction: Armageddon, Bulletstorm, Test Drive: Unlimited 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, The Last Guardian, Dead Space 2, Silent Hill: Downpour, and Torchlight 2. While this is quite the bumper crop, it’s worth noting that only five of the above listed games aren’t direct sequels.
1. Mass Effect 3. “Yes,” you say, “we get it. You like Mass Effect.”
We (Alex) really (Elisabeth), really (Trevor) do; rarely does a game captivate us collectively like this. A return to the Normandy can’t some soon enough. Even if BioWare reveals a likely but dreaded delay into 2012, we’ll still have our existing suite of Shepards to tinker with leading up to the final showdown against the Reaper threat on Earth. Who else is betting that the Illusive man is really an A.I. hologram, and is in cahoots with Harbinger? Somebody is definitely in cahoots!
And that wraps up our optimistic look ahead at 2011. What are you looking forward to this year? More iPhone games? New console announcements? Another grim military shooter with an obligatory snow level? Speak out in the comments below, or on our message boards.