If you don’t count the Wii U (and I don’t), the next generation of gaming is nearly upon us. Here are the top ten next-gen games I’m dying to play.
1. Watch Dogs
Ubisoft stunned the gaming world a year ago when they unveiled Watch Dogs at E3 2012. Since then, this title has reigned supreme on my radar. It’s all about the new mechanics of the game’s near-future setting, where you function as a one-man army in a wired metropolis that you control. From stoplights to traffic cameras, every part of the city is a potential weapon for you to use in your vigilante campaign against a totalitarian cyber-conspiracy.
2. Star Wars: Battlefront III
DICE, maker of the acclaimed Battlefield series, is making the next, way-too-long awaited entry in the Star Wars: Battlefront series. It’s a pairing so perfect, it ranks right up there with the genius of J.J. Abrams being chosen to direct Star Wars 7.
3. Halo 5
Officially, this title is still tentatively known merely as Halo Xbox One, but we all know that it’s really the next entry in the new Master Chief trilogy that began with Halo 4. The Chief seemed to hang up his armor for good at the end of that game, but the teaser trailer above shows him back in the helmet and digging up all kinds of serious trouble. As long as it’s as great as the last game was, I’m there.
4. Quantum Break
We still don’t know a whole lot about this game, other than that it centers around some manipulation of time. But it’s from Remedy, the creators of Max Payne and Alan Wake, two of the best story-driven games ever made. Alan Wake was formatted like an interactive TV show, with episodic gameplay and serialized story lines. (There were even story recaps before new episodes.) Quantum Break is the next natural step for Remedy: it uses both gameplay with a next-gen game engine, and a live-action TV show. The twist: what happens on the show will be a direct result of how you play the game. Sound like a complex undertaking? Heck yeah. Is it ambitious? Wildly so. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s the storytelling masters at Remedy.
The braintrust behind the Call of Duty franchise is back with their first original IP since that celebrated series launched. Titanfall presents a new kind of combat: nimble, jetpack-equipped soldiers mixing it up on the battlefield with huge mechs. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and the next-gen horsepower it’s built for should make for some frenetic online play. But forget all that; this game’s credentials alone are enough to justify playing it.
6. The Division
Ubisoft’s latest Tom Clancy game is a sprawling open world set in the near future after a pathogen has decimated mankind. You’re part of the Strategic Homeland Division, which is charged with salvaging and defending whatever remains of mankind. The online-only game pairs you with friends, loads of cool gear and weapons, and lets you explore-and-salvage to your heart’s content. It looks like a blast.
7. The Order: 1866
Templar warriors, steampunk machinery, Victorian England setting, and monsters that emerge from the mist moving like lightning. That’s pretty much all we know about PS4 exclusive The Order: 1866, and it’s all I need to know. I am so in.
8. Beyond: Two Souls
Okay, this one isn’t technically next-gen per se, since it’s coming to PS3 before it hits PS4. But you can’t look at this thing and not think next-gen game. Video games have never done a star vehicle with this level of sophistication before. Other Hollywood stars have lent their likenesses and voices to video games in the past, but Ellen Page truly stars in Beyond: Two Souls. Using advanced motion capture technology, Quantic Dream is able to bring Page’s facial expressions to the foreground like never before. Paired with an impressive supporting cast and a fascinatingly dark story, Beyond is going to set a new standard for cinematic gaming.
9. Ryse: Son of Rome
Crytek, a studio always on the front edge of graphics benchmarks, and they’re bringing their technical wows to Xbox One with this cinematic take on the Roman Empire. Expect plenty of heavy violence and gore, with visceral gameplay that takes a page out of Call of Duty. It boasts a compelling story and some of the most jaw-dropping graphics ever to grace a console. It’s the Gears of War of the Xbox One launch.
If Eidos Montreal brings the same level of quality to its Thief reboot that it did to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, then we’re in for something very special. The stuff they’ve shown off from the game looks incredible, advancing the premise in excitingly cool ways, even if it bears more than a passing resemblance to certain elements from Dishonored. But I have faith that Eidos will pull off something amazing and unforgettable.