In no particular order, we begin with...
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Developer: EA BioWare
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Expected: Q4 2014
The third game in the Dragon Age series, Inquisition is looking to roll back some significant mis-steps BioWare made with Dragon Age II, generally considered to be a lacklustre sequel to one of the best RPGs of all time, Dragon Age: Origins.
Highly reused environments are out, replaced by a large open(er) world with a much greater emphasis on exploring, rather than being shepherded down a tightly-controlled linear path. The overhead camera, sorely missing in DA2, makes a welcome reappearance, as will being able to give item drops to party members, rather than most of them being locked solely to your main character.
It's been a rocky few years for BioWare, with Dragon Age II, The Old Republic, and Mass Effect 3 all under-performing, both in terms of sales and quality. Can BioWare turn it around? I hope so, but my phasers are set to "cautiously optimistic" on this one.
Tom Clancy's The Division
Developer: Ubisoft Massive
Expected: Q4 2014
A title that seemingly came out of left-field at 2013's E3 but went on to win many Game of the Show accolades, The Division is a tactical third-person shooter set in New York after a rampant pandemic has left the city a wasteland. You'll need to find friends, gather supplies, neutralise threats, and find a way to survive in harsh environments following the catastrophe.
The Division is probably the single most beautiful game I have seen so far of all the next-gen engines. Running on Ubisoft's Snowdrop engine, from the video I will link at the end you will see it looks absolutely stunning. The multiplayer operates in a persistent world, so grouping up with friends might be the way to go to maximise your returns here, since soloing may be challenging.
My only concern is, given how ambitious this title seems to be, will it be ready by this time next year? I'm hopeful, but wouldn't be surprised at all to see this slip into early 2015. Hopefully we'll find out more in the months ahead.
Developer: Carbine Studios
Expected: Q2 2014
The only MMORPG to appear on my list this year, Wildstar looks to be a fresh take on a stale genre. Frankly I'm tired of the WoW clones by this point, and Wildstar's art style has minor similarities with WoW, but the comparisons basically end there. Set on the planet Nexus, Wildstar is a sci-fi themed RPG which has some novel ideas about customisation and combat, namely that it should be fun. Unique combat mechanics, coupled with the Path system which basically lets you further customise your character beyond race and class to deliver precisely the kind of gameplay experience you want, make this the most exciting MMORPG I have read about in years.
Sadly my beta invite got lost in the mail, but I hear through the grapevine that the game plays as good as it looks. Carbine are also doing social media right, and their "Devspeak" videos are absolutely worth looking at as they detail the game's humour and mechanics in ample measure. The only concern I have is with its payment model, since the game will be subscription but you'll be able to buy an in-game item called CREDD which will act as a one-month subscription. I'm not sold on this, but I'll wait to see how it actually all works before making a final judgement.
No release date has been announced yet, although the beta has been going on for about six months now, so it can't be much longer until release. Expect this to hit store shelves around the Spring.
Lords of the Fallen
Developer: Deck13, CI Games
Publisher: CI Games
Expected 2H 2014
Unfortunately there's not a lot of information about there about LotF yet, but the little there is looks very interesting. Tomasz Gop, former senior producer for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, is the executive producer here, and comparisons have been made to Dark Souls when it comes to the game's setting.
Three classes have been announced (warrior, rogue, cleric) with skill trees devoted to each, and the game's art style certainly tickles my fancy. Again, details are scarce, but I have it on good authority that new information will come to light in January, with more to follow later in the year. This one's flying under the radar, but worth keeping an eye on.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Expected: 4th March 2014 (NA), 6th March 2014 (EU)
After a year's delay following original publisher THQ's implosion, The Stick Of Truth will finally be released in March. South Park Studios are extensively involved in the game's development, and South Park co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote the game's script and provided the relevant voices. Expect bathroom humour, pop culture references, and swearing aplenty. This one will definitely be Not For Children (although no doubt many will buy it for their kids).
Basically, if you like the show you'll like the game, and if you hate the show then you'll hate the game. Hopefully there'll be enough content here to justify a full-priced game; god knows they've been working on it for long enough if that's any indication.
Stay tuned for part 2 of my 2014 wrap-up, coming as soon as I have the time to write it.