Back with another top 10 list, this time focusing on what might (or might not) happen in the year ahead.
2015 has already started with a bang, thanks to Nintendo coming out of the blocks early, Sony’s sell off of Sony Online and our first major AAA releases in Evolve and Dying Light. But what about the rest of year? Here’s ten possible things to expect (also for your enjoyment, check out the vids below. None of them are mine, I need to stress that, this is all just for fun.):
10. Microsoft Announces a New Minecraft Project
Having purchased Minecraft last year, don’t be surprised if Microsoft uses its newest in-house IP to its fullest extent later this year. TellTale are already working on a story based spin-off, but don’t be surprised if exclusive Xbox DLC or perhaps hints of a true sequel spring up around E3 time. Just don’t expect Microsoft to start pulling support of Minecraft on other platforms, that would definitely be bad for business.
9. Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Here’s the first true longshot prediction. Following two previously successful HD remasters in Ocarina of Time 3D and Wind Waker HD, plus the long awaited Majora’s Mask 3D (headed to us this time next week), many of us are wondering whether Nintendo will delve back into HD remastering territory one more time to shore up its Wii U software support in 2015. Twilight Princess deserves the HD treatment no doubt, but perhaps this is asking too much of the Zelda franchise … at least for this year, if a brand new Zelda reaches us by years end.
8. Diablo III’s 2nd Expansion
Diablo III had a rocky road at launch, but since then things have settled back down into a far more enjoyable and typical Blizzard form. Reaver of Souls was a top notch expansion pack and its transition to console went off without a hitch. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise if we hear of a second expansion pack at some point this year. Will Diablo return for one last crack at stardom? Perhaps a new class or two to play as? It’s all rumour at this point, but I’m all for it either way.
7. Lots More Nintendo DLC
Nintendo have jumped onto the DLC bandwagon in a big way of late, thanks to Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors. There’s plenty more where that came from of course, but given the amount of content that *could* be made, it won’t shock anyone if they announce more, especially given the increased sales of Amiibo figures.
Think about it though, they’d sell a ton more if they suddenly announced ‘classic battle mode’ for Mario Kart 8, let alone more characters for Smash Bros. (though that’s asking a lot, they have announced MewTwo, so it’s still in the realm of possibility). Then there’s the chance to create new puzzles for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker or new modes for upcoming shooter Splatoon. The options are now endless for Nintendo, they just have to ensure they get it right.
6. 4K Consoles
Rumours have been circulating of late that both Sony and Microsoft may announce 4K support for the Xbox One and PS4 soon, to the point that brand new iterations of both consoles will be released by the end of the year in time for the holiday season. 4K content has been a bit of a slow burner release wise, but with more and more TV’s supporting the tech and at reasonable prices now, it’s a solid prediction.
So will this just be Xbox One Lite or PS4 Slim? It’s the trend to re-release consoles a few years into their lifespan, bringing with it new options or features. 4K may not be the only thing Sony and Microsoft are eyeing off, and with major IP’s headed our way (Uncharted and Halo, et al) they could capatalise on those two alone to push out a new iteration of their pride and joy.
5. TellTale & Disney?
Hear me out on this one. TellTale has been announcing IP partnerships of all shapes and sizes of late, from Game of Thrones to Minecraft and Borderlands. But what if Disney came to them with a suggestion, one that comes together just in time for, say … a movie coming out very soon? I’ll just let you think about that for a moment as an opening scroll looms in the distance…
On top of that, there’s the massive Marvel franchise that could just as easily be mined for content (right now the only major Marvel gaming project is on iOS, outside of the Lego franchise). I can only imagine how much fun Deadpool would have breaking the fourth wall in a TellTale game.
4. Pokemon Next
Following the success of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, the next iteration of the Pokemon franchise will likely revert back to an original setting in its next yearly release. The mythical Pokemon Hoopa has been causing a stir among fans, with the unusual character the suggestive cause of all those portals in the recent titles, unleashing all manner of Legendaries. Perhaps Hoopa will bring about further change, possibly even a reset to the storylines we’ve been trying to keep up with all this time. The Delta episode did hint at multiple timelines and alternate worlds, perhaps the next game will tie all this together?
If Nintendo’s continued rejuvenation of its online and DLC strategy continues (as mentioned above), we may also see the first ever Pokemon downloadable add-on packs. This could allow further ‘episodes’ in the same vein as Delta to be added later on, even opening up easier and more fun ways for fans to attain the newest or hardest to get Pokemon outside of Nintendo Events.
3. Flops & Winners
It’s hard to predict what exactly will happen all year round in terms of the big winners and losers of the coming year, given many of the bigger releases headed our way in 2015 haven’t even been announced as yet. But here’s a few early suggestions to get you thinking:
The Order: 1886 will be one of the bigger flops of the year, despite its tasty visual treat. Most previews point to a lack of creativity gameplay wise which will hurt it in the long run, a real shame given Sony are banking on it as a big IP. Of course, there’s every chance that those previews are just that and we’re proven wrong.
Batman: Arkham Knight will be the biggest sequel of the year by far, if not the biggest release period. Raking in both money acclaim as Rocksteady takes its baby into a much bigger and environment rich open world, the only real challenge could come from the likes of Street Fighter V, Zelda Wii U, Halo 5, Just Cause 3 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. And then, of course, there’s Silent Hills…
One title that isn’t on the list is Rise of the Tomb Raider. It will be big, no doubt, but how much damage will be done by Microsoft’s surprise ‘exclusivity’ agreement?
The biggest new IP will likely be a battle involving (but not limited to) Evolve, Dying Light, Nintendo’s Splatoon and Mighty No. 9, the long awaited ‘spiritual successor’ to MegaMan. With more titles yet to be confirmed for release in 2015, this list will surely grow.
As for the biggest surprise release of the year, Quantum Break could turn out to be better than anyone anticipated. The potential is there to be something energetic, original and engaging, but we all know what happened to Alan Wake.
2. Old Favourites Return
Retro revivals are all the rage of late, both in the gaming world and on the cinema screen. We’ve already got a fair few on the way (including Dead or Alive 5: Last Round, Borderlands & DMC: Devil May Cry) and I’ve suggested Twilight Princess above, but that’s not all.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen the likes of Bully, Metroid, Jak & Daxter and … dare I say it? Oh go on … F-Zero. And then there’s Rare, who have plenty of classic IP’s I’m sure we’d all be happy to see again (Conker. Definitely Conker).
If nothing else, expect a deluge of older IP’s to make their return into the spotlight at some point in the next 12 months (or more), especially on the Sony front as they hope to continue to push the exclusive front. Now’s a better time than any to dive back into what worked and bring it back into the limelight to maintain its momentum (let alone the fact that right now, the PlayStation brand is its biggest asset outside of Spiderman).
One game you can almost guarantee will be seen, if not this year than next, will be Red Dead Redemption. With GTAV closing on its PC launch, that leaves Rockstar (just about) free to move onto its next phase, and as much as Bully is on this list, you’d expect their next biggest IP to make a return first.
1. Half-Life 3!
Yeah, no, sorry. The actual #1 is:
1. Nintendo Announce Successor to Wii U
The Wii U just never took off. A confusing brand name, a lack of proper use of its biggest tool (i.e. the Gamepad) and a complete empty slate in terms of 3rd party support left very little to be happy about, despite some late on sales thanks to Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. The Wii U will have at least another year in it, but if rumours are to go by, Nintendo might just get the ball rolling early on its next console.
It wouldn’t be admitting defeat to announce the next system now, nor would it hurt the bottom line given the fact that fans will buy Zelda and Starfox in the future anyway, in the same way they supported the GameCube late in its life. If anything, this is a chance to admit that sometimes you don’t get it right (and for Nintendo, it wouldn’t be the first time saying that either) and reset the track going forward. A new console that competes (or even exceeds) the Xbox One and PS4 might bring back that much needed support from outside sources, and we’ve already seen what they can do with a true HD system.
Most important of all, it would allow Nintendo to completely rid themselves of the Wii name, something that’s seemingly holding them back if nothing else. Update the gamepad if you have to, but give the console a bolder design choice and a new branding and it might just bring the punters back in their droves.
That’s it for another Top 10. Did you agree or disagree with the list? Have a prediction we didn’t think of? Let us know in the comments below.