Sony and Microsoft want you to buy their new consoles badly. Really badly. After months and months of reveals, announcements, demos, press conferences, policy reversals, feature announcements, and everything else that’s wrapped up in a console launch, it’s easy to find it all pretty grating at this point. How long can we reasonably stay excited for these new consoles before all of the marketing and gossip and hype becomes overwhelming?
I wouldn’t blame you if, in the cold of day, taking a look at what these devices actually were and what software would be available at launch, you were nonplussed. Launch lineups for video consoles are often underwhelming. With hardware and firmware specs that are constantly changing and hard deadlines it is difficult to develop for a launch. It’s easy to look at the lineup both companies have for their shiny new machines and decide against buying in early, instead waiting half a year or more until some more of the heavy hitters debut. Without killer apps like Halo and Uncharted, you’d be perfectly reasonable in deciding to wait a while.
Here at CultureMass however, we’re still pretty excited about the next-gen. While not every game coming out at or shortly after launch may be a knock-out, here are seven games coming out at launch or within the launch window (by the end of March 2014) that we’re excited about:
Dead Rising 3, Capcom Vancouver
The original Dead Rising was a fantastic open-world survival-horror game that left the player in a gigantic suburban mall filled with zombies. While the sequel wasn’t as well received, the third entry, debuting exclusively on the Xbox One on November 22nd, is looking to be the next big step in the franchise you’d expect to see on a next-gen platform. A seamless open world with not a load screen to be found that could easily fit both the maps of the original and its sequel several times over, there’s a huge world to explore here.
Unfortunately, it’s filled with zombies. Lots of zombies. An unreasonable amount of zombies. Higher memory afforded by the Xbox One has allowed developer Capcom Vancouver to pour zombies into the game by the *hundreds*, to the point entire alleyways can filled to the brim with undead hordes. Thankfully, despite the grittier art style, all of the crazy combo weapons and humor are back and at your disposal to help deal with the zombie apocalypse. Got a sledgehammer and a cement saw? You’ve got yourself the sledge saw (see the image abve). Machete and a shotgun? Make a gunblade. We can’t wait to get our hands on the game and try out all of the insane weapon combos against the zombie hordes, all while wearing a mascot helmet and a speedo. –Nick Hahneman
The Witness, Number None, Inc.
What happens when you cross the format of Myst, the mind behind Braid, and next gen platforms? The Witness happens. A beautiful game, The Witness transports the player to an intricately designed island, much like Myst did 20 years ago. A ponderous, intellectual challenging game, The Witness is a unique title when it comes to next gen. It’s a strong title in Sony’s line-up on PS4, a great looking indie game. Furthermore, it represents a bit of a steal from Microsoft, as Jon Blow, the leads at Number None, helped solidify Xbox Live Arcade as a platform with his title Braid.
Early previews of the game show a fascinating, open-ended approach to puzzle-design. With little to no text or instruction, the island is designed to naturally guide players from puzzle to puzzle, helping them develop their problem-solving skills organically. As a fan of the genre, I can’t wait to see what Blow does here. What mysteries does this island hold, and who is the witness? We’ll have to wait until early 2014 to find out, but I can’t wait. –Nick Hahneman
Crimson Dragon, Grounding, Inc.
Gamers who first serious console was a PS3, Xbox 360, or Wii may not understand what makes Crimson Dragon such an exciting title. Crimson Dragon is the spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon Orta which was released on the original Xbox in 2003 and was the last game in the beloved Panzeer Dragoon series. Panzer Dragoon Orta was a beautiful game at the time, with a great story and great soundtrack. A rarer type of game at the time (and these days), it was also on on-rails shooter. What the lack of mobility afforded however, was intense, incredibly difficult but satisfying combat.
A downloadable game exclusive to the Xbox One at launch, Crimson Dragon is a follow-up to a series I long presumed dead, developed by a new studio but with the same director as Orta. A good looking game, for sure, it’s not going to impress anyone looking to see what the full extent of the graphical capability of these consoles. At $20 however, the chance for me to go down brutal nostalgia lane is incredibly appetizing, and the title should be a great filler in-between the other premiere launch titles. –Nick Hahneman
Infamous: Second Son, Sucker Punch Productions
The Infamous series was one of the premiere exclusive series on the PS3. A great game that totally delivered on the superhero (or supervillian, depending on your in-game choices). The powers and abilities in the game worked incredibly well in the fully-realized open world of Empire City. The moral choices worked mostly well, but more impressive were the characterization of the player-character Cole and supporting case. While the sequel underwhelmed comparatively, both titles cemented the franchise as one of the premiere Sony exclusives.
Second Son however, is leaving Empire City behind, opting for the real-world location of Seattle. Coming in February of 2013, the game features player character Deslin who is appropriately giving off a grunge rock, rebel-without-a-cause vibe, and is voiced by the current big name in video game VO, Troy Baker. What’s really impressive about the title though is how beautiful it looks, and how it shows off the power of the PS4. Giving Deslin fire-based super-powers have allowed Suckerpunch Studios to show off some of the most insane particle effects, dynamic lighting, and ambient occlusion of any next gen game. – Nick Hahneman
Killer Instinct, Double Helix Games
The only game that I am really excited about for is Killer Instinct, which launch with the Xbox One on November 22nd. I love good fighting games and I played Killer Instinct not only in the arcade, but on the Super Nintendo and N64 as well. I spent way too much time trying to get better with Saberwolf, when I should have just stuck with my boy Jago all along. What really has me interested though, other than the desire to fight and to see my old digitized friends, is the way Microsoft has gone about selling the game.
Many gamers have wanted something more akin to an a la carte style of purchasing when it comes to direct download games, especially in a world that is stuck on DLC and costume packs. So the idea that a player could pay for just the characters they want is good in theory, but how will it hold up in practice? Killer Instinct will be a testing ground in a way for that, as well as an effort to bring a new generation of fans to the long dormant franchise. In the end, the mixture of nostalgia and intrigue have secured that one of the first games of the new generation I buy will be this fighter from the classic series. –Stephen Wilds
Star Wars Battlefront, DICE
It’s really hard for me to focus in any of the launch titles of this incoming generation when we are mostly certain that there is a next installment of Star Wars: Battlefront on the way; I mean, it has been officially announced, but I have been fooled more than once. Star Wars has been one of my favorite sagas of all time, and joining in some of the most famous battle of that series is a dream come true to me. I love what the former two titles did in the past, but also I recon what else could be done or be perfected (like the space battles, which were far from perfect, but the core idea was essentially there!) And this is the kind of thing I care whenever we talk about the new generation, shinier graphics are cool, but I love to consider what else could be done with the new technology: Larger battlefields, larger number of combatants on the field, more vehicles to hop on. We’re getting closer to the actual Battle of Hoth experience! – Daniel Castro
Titanfall, Respawn Entertainment
Have you heard of Titanfall? That question has frankly become Titanfall’s defacto motto, not ‘prepare for titan fall’ as I’m sure the developers at Respawn Entertainment intended. To many, the question seems inane. ‘Yes, I have seen and heard about Titanfall, and it looks like Call of Duty with robots’ they’ll say. While that’s understandable, given what the trailers of the game has shown, the constant exuberance from everyone who’s actually gotten their hands on the game tells quite a different story. By their accounts, almost unanimously, Titanfall is *the* next gen game. Or at least the game that seems like the biggest leap into next gen.
While the game looks great, by all accounts, Titanfall’s greatest achievements are in pushing the design elements of first-person twitch shooters into the next generation. From dynamic battlefields where players can call in giant robots to change the flow of the battle, to populating the maps with easily-killed AI’s to help the less-skilled players feel like they’re contributing, to the incredible mobility afforded to players allowing them to double-jump and do parkour-like moves off of any wall, Titanfall seems to be ratcheting up the stakes. The end result is looking to be an experience faster and more intense than any first-person shooter out there, and I can’t wait for March 11, 2014 to try it out. – Nick Hahneman
So those are the games we’re most excited about that are making the next generation of game consoles appealing to us. Are there any games you’re looking forward to that are justifying the purchase of these machines? Let us know in the comments below!