The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launched late last year, offering grand promises of next generation gaming experiences. But for now, a lot of those promises are just that; promises. New consoles are still at their full prices, and games once expected to release alongside the systems are being rescheduled to come out in the “launch window”.
Not familiar with this vaguely defined window? It’s a term consumers are beginning to discover can mean as long as six to nine months after hardware reaches the shelves.
If you’ve been reluctant to upgrade, you’re in luck. Developers and publishers don’t intend to ignore the massive install bases of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Many great titles are still headed to last gen hardware in 2014.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Whether you love or hate South Park’s raunchy satire, you can’t deny the franchise’s cultural impact. What started as a late night cable comedy in 1997 has grown into a vibrant media property complete with a movie, tons of merchandise, and yes, several video games.
The Stick of Truth promises Japanese RPG style combat and adventure alongside the cynical cast. The game borrows heavily from the show’s recent Game of Thrones-inspired plot arc, so expect lots of self serious fantasy role-play in the kids’ ramshackle backyard forts and living room taverns.
Dark Souls II
The Playstation 3 exclusive Demon’s Souls released to unexpected popularity. Its high stakes, high lethality gameplay and innovative invasion based multiplayer offered an old school challenge that grew popular enough to merit a multiplatform spiritual successor in Dark Souls.
Now, Dark Souls II is nearly here. It promises all the things fans loved about its hold-no-hands, take-no-prisoners gameplay, along with new systems, like hallucinations and phobias, to keep things fresh. If you’re feeling coddled by the big mainstream hits, Dark Souls II’s grim, desperate fantasy world may just be the breath of vile dungeon air you’re looking for.
Watch_Dogs looks set to explore the risks of our highly networked world. Set in a near future Chicago, the game puts you in the shoes of hacker Aiden Pearce, and equips you to solve all manner of open world challenges through hacking, sneaking, and gunplay.
One of Watch_Dogs’ more exciting features takes a page from the Dark Souls playbook. You can enter other players’ games while they’re going about their campaign, but the game gives them no notice of your intrusion. Play carefully, and you can hack that other player’s devices to steal valuable data. Play less carefully, and you might find yourself in a gunfight with a man in control of the street lights and automated traffic barricades, resulting in memorable showdowns.
Halo developer Bungie is no stranger to ambitious sci-fi shooters, but Destiny’s trailer looks like a cross between some of the greatest games of the last generation. Its rich world and visual style evoke memories of Mass Effect, but coupled with the free-roaming cooperative multiplayer of Borderlands, and the full body gear customizing of World of Warcraft.
The game defies classification in its shared world multiplayer, too. Neither MMORPG, nor deliberately instanced by party, Destiny matches players of similar skill, equipment quality, and in-game location to play together. You can group up if you like, or just work toward the same task without ever exchanging pleasantries in the game’s public events. If executed properly, this feature could provide a great way to make friends with cooperative strangers for future play.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Dragon Age: Origins saw lavish praise at its launch for providing a modern RPG that paid tribute to the legendary classic Baldur’s Gate franchise. Its sequel, Dragon Age II, was, well, less warmly received for resorting to bland quests and more simplistic combat, but fans still hold out hope for Inquisition to restore the series’ reputation.
Inquisition is a bit further from launching, so there isn’t a lot of concrete info on it, but what we have heard sounds promising. The team at Bioware aims to return to Origins’ more tactical, cerebral combat and great storytelling, but with a more open world informed by the wildly successful Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It sounds like they’re taking inspiration from the right place.
Mighty No. 9
When Capcom cancelled Mega Man Legends 3, fans of the series had little hope that they might see their classic gaming hero come to life again. Lucky for them, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune took matters into his own hands by making a crowd funding campaign for a brand new franchise. His Mighty No. 9 joins the list of successfully Kickstarted games coming in 2014.
Mega Man fans responded to Inafune’s pitch with an incredible outpouring of support and (importantly) money, pledging over four million dollars once all sources were tallied. Now a star-studded development team is hard at work crafting distinctive characters, catchy music, and tight action gameplay. They’re even chronicling the game’s development in a high quality documentary, some of which you can already see here.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5
Every other game on this list will come to both PS3 and Xbox 360, but it didn’t feel right to deny Persona 5 a spot on this list for its PS3 exclusivity. Developer Atlus has revealed only a cryptic teaser trailer for the game, and it isn’t even confirmed for release outside of Japan yet. Still, if you’ve played through any of the 80+ hour long Persona adventures before, you’re justifiably excited for the end of 2014 in Japan (likely 2015 in other territories).
Since Persona 3, the series has risen to popularity for its ability to tell stories of teens with real world troubles who secretly protect the world from maddening extra-dimensional monsters. Neither side of a Persona game can be ignored, as the strengths you find in everyday friendship empower you to stand against encroaching darkness. There’s far too little space to tell you the whole story here. Go read Dave’s article on the Vita edition of Persona 4 to learn more about why you should be excited too.
Breathe easy, last gen console fan! Whether you’re just still on the fence about which system you want, or you can’t seem to squeeze another big purchase into your entertainment budget, you’ve got plenty of fun games headed your way while you sort things out. Most of these titles are headed to next-gen consoles as well, so you’ll still be playing the games that are making headlines well into 2014.
Did I forget any must have games coming to last-gen consoles? Tell our community in the comments so they don’t miss out.
Are you ready for that next-gen console after all? Check out our feature breakdown before you make your decision.