The new year has begun, and this week I’ll be offering three lists of our most anticipated titles of the coming year in the fields of movies, television and video games, which will serve as a practical preview of what’s to come.
Today, we begin with gaming, and after such a banner year for games in 2023 – 2024, it seems a little anemic with titles running the more eccentric side with a lot of focus on ARPGs, Japanese titles and more.
It’s a contrast to 2023 with multiple juggernauts including new “Zelda,” “Spider-Man,” “Baldur’s Gate” and Bethesda games not to mention success stories like “Alan Wake II” and “Hi-Fi Rush,” to disasters like “Redfall” and “The Lord of the Rings: Gollum”
2024 is a year in which Xbox looks to be making a bit of a comeback as PlayStation has limited exclusives, whereas MS’s acquisitions look to finally be bearing fruit. Here’s a breakdown of what’s to come:
“Alone in the Dark”
Though originally a major revolution in gaming, the “Alone in the Dark” franchise has struggled for relevance for years with the most recent title back in 2015 scoring dismal reviews. So comes this ground-up reboot with David Harbour and Jodie Comer in the lead roles as they take on monsters and solve puzzles. Unlikely to be a game changer, but could be a fun ride.
“Fallout: New Vegas” and “The Outer Worlds” creators Obsidian are back for this first-person fantasy RPG is something of a sequel to “Pillars of Eternity”. Originally starting out as their take on “The Elder Scrolls,” it has been refined to something more streamlined and with a heavy focus on combat. Should it make it out this year, Microsoft could have a serious contender considering Obsidian’s track record.
“Black Myth: Wukong”
Famed Chinese fable “Journey to the West” has been adapted for games before, most notably with the under rated “Enslaved: Odyssey to the West”. Now Chinese developer Game Science is having a go with this single-player Soulsborne-style dark fantasy powered by Unreal Engine 5 and with Western AAA studio production values, a title that could shape how games are developed in the country in the years to come.
“Dragon’s Dogma II”
Over a decade on, the Japanese-style Tolkien fantasy game with its richly detailed world returns. The single-player narrative-driven action RPG is made in Capcom’s RE Engine (used in the “Resident Evil” remakes) and revolves heavily around choice, and bringing back the original’s famous Pawn mechanic to the “Shadow of the Colossus”-esque monster climbing fights.
“Final Fantasy VII Rebirth”
Square Enix delivers the second part of its planned trilogy, remaking 1997’s classic “Final Fantasy VII” as a beautiful, massive epic – expanding both the story structure and character development. With Midgar behind them, ‘Rebirth’ should now really open up as the game goes much bigger than a city into something potentially rather daunting and trickier to pull of.
Supergiant knocked it out of the part with 2020’s “Hades,” a roguelike cleverly designed around a procedural narrative in a way that forces multiple playthroughs with varying possibilities. Replacing Hades’ rather hot son Zagreus in this eternal resurrection cycle, is his sister Melinoë whose travels will take her well beyond Hell to explore other elements of Greek mythology.
“The Last of Us: Part II: Remastered”
Considering how beautiful this game was in 2020, it’s hard to see it getting much better – but Naughty Dog is having a go at improving the graphics, accessibility features, fast loading and more – bringing it up to date for the PS5 and likely first time to PC later in the year. Should be worth the $10 upgrade price.
“Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth”
Following up “Yakuza: Like a Dragon” comes this, the first time the franchise has released day-and-date worldwide. Whilst some of the story unfolds in Yokohama, the action partly shifts to Hawaii and boasts a major new sub-game titled Dondoko Island. The last game’s new wild-haired and red-suited protagonist Ichiban Kasuga and original “Yakuza” protagonist Kazuma Kiryu team up in the tale which features several new activities to get involved in.
“Little Nightmares III”
Supermassive Games’ third entry marks the first without Tarsier Studios’ involvement and also serves as a stand-alone sequel to the first two. New child protagonists, Low and Alone make their way through The Nowhere and escape from a looming threat.
“Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024”
2020’s “Flight Simulator” reinvented the iconic franchise for the modern age, but this year’s take on the property goes even further. Graphics get updated with new rendering, models, vegetation, weather and seasons. Kinds of flying massively increase to cover a range of activities from aerial firefighting and rescue missions, to cargo transport, gliding, racing, hot air balloons and more.
“No Rest for the Wicked”
Moon Studios, the company behind the gorgeous Metroidvania-inspired platformer “Ori and the Blind Forest” and its sequel, are going multi-platform with their new title – a top-down isometric game that aims to reinvent the action RPG genre and offers a darker and more mature tone than “Ori”. You play a holy warrior trying to stop a plague that emerged in the wake of the king’s death.
A fascinating-looking survival indie game from Ironwood Studios, the story unfolds in the Pacific Northwest, where the Olympic Peninsula has been evacuated and quarantined due to strange physics-defying anomalies and metal monsters. You traverse the landscape and your relationship with your station wagon is said to be the most important element of gameplay.
“Persona 3 Reload”
Atlus’ iconic series returns with a title that takes the third main game in the series and goes beyond a basic prettier graphics remake to deliver something that bridges the gap between the third and fifth games. There’s a whole new social link system, new day-to-day activities and more that should help put this on the level of the fourth’s ‘Golden’ and fifth’s ‘Royal’ editions.
“Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown”
After the last few titles have been in 3D, and after the disastrous failed attempt to remake ‘Sands of Time,” the “Prince of Persia” franchise needs a hit. It might have it with this 2.5D title more akin to the original games and one of the first titles from Ubisoft in a while that looks a little different. It has also faced some seriously harsh backlash to the trailers – a good chunk of which consists of criticisms of the Prince’s appearance.
“Princess Peach: Showtime!”
Nearly 20 years after a failed last attempt, Mario’s damsel in distress Princess Peach finally gets another crack at leading her own gaming title in which she and a star-shaped guardian named Stella must stop the witch Grape and her minions after they take over a theater. The stage setting allows for multiple costume/personality changes – turning Peach into a detective, a swordfighter, a kung fu expert and more.
“Rise of the Ronin”
“Ghost of Tsushima” meets “Nioh” with a dash of Ubisoft in this PS5-exclusive single-layer third-person action RPG from Team Ninja. You play the Veiled Edge, a ronin working for hire during the Boshin war amidst the final years of the Edo period (late 1800s Japan). You travel between Tokyo, Kyoto and Yokohama in the game that’s dubbed a grounded take (no fantasy elements) and not Soulslike – even as it will have a solid amount of difficulty.
“Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II”
The Unreal Engine 5-created title follows up 2017’s award-winning “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice,” a wonderful if somewhat shorter-length title, with a full-sized narrative here. Senua returns in a brutal journey of survival and psychosis, tackling the myth and torment of Viking Iceland. This could give Xbox the kind of PlayStation-esque third-person cinematic action-adventure game console exclusive it desperately needs, a certain irony there considering the first was a timed PS4 exclusive.
“Silent Hill 2 Remake”
Seeing the success of the “Resident Evil” remakes and wanting a piece of that pie, Konami is giving its horror franchise giant “Silent Hill” the same treatment – hiring “Layers of Fear” developer Bloober Team to take on the most iconic game in the series. Early trailers were impressive, but the big question is when will it actually arrive – on that front the answer is unclear for now.
“Skull and Bones”
Ubisoft’s long-in-development and frequently retooled multiplayer title could go either way, but it does offer a high-seas pirate adventure less comical than “Sea of Thieves” and more akin to the sailing sections of “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag”. Its troubled development history gives one pause, but could work out if Ubisoft makes sure its ship shape before launch.
“S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl”
Technically the fourth game in the FPS survival horror series, but the first new chapter in thirteen years. Developed, cancelled, and restarted in Unreal Engine 5 and hitting development issues due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the game finally arrives next year and is said to feature a “huge, borderless open-world and a non-linear story”.
“Star Wars Outlaws”
“Star Wars” has escaped the exclusivity prison of EA, just as that company was finally getting it right with “Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order” and its sequel. The result is this new open-world title from Ubisoft in which you play a female Han Solo-esque scoundrel working the underworld side of this universe in the gap between ‘Empire’ and ROTJ. Hopefully, it’ll avoid overindulging on fan service.
“Still Wakes the Deep”
“Dear Esther” and “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture” developer The Chinese Room tackles this atmospheric ‘Lovecraft on an off-shore oil rig’ first-person tale for Game Pass. Players are pushed through claustrophobic environments and freezing waters to escape an unthinkable horror that has emerged from the North Sea during a vicious storm.
“Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League”
Rocksteady Studios finally returns with the frequently delayed title that, despite obvious efforts to downplay and strip back its live service elements after the backlash, still has fans eyeing it with suspicion. The reviews for this should be very interesting, and DC Games could hit a rough patch if this is as lackluster or worse than “Gotham Knights”. But it’s a new Rocksteady title which means it deserves a shot.
After the GOTY contender “Street Fighter 6” and the strong “Mortal Kombat 1” brought new entries to classic fighting game franchises, another returns with “Tekken 8” and so far reaction seems to be as promising as those titles. Boasting completely redesigned visuals, the story mode sees Jin Kazama seeks to defy his fate and faces his father, Kazuya Mishima. A new single-player mode called Arcade Quest offers a simulated arcade experience for solo players with customizable avatars and AI learning.
“Baby Steps,” “Brothers A Tale Of Two Sons Remake,” “Europa,” “Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn,” “Foam Stars,” “Frostpunk 2,” “Harold Halibut,” “Homeworld 3,” “Killer Klowns from Outer Space,” “Manor Lords,” “Mario vs. Donkey Kong,” “Nightingale,” “Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door,” “Replaced,” “Shadow of the Ninja Reborn,” “Skate Story ,” “South Park: Snow Day,” “Star Wars: Dark Forces (Remaster),” “Stellar Blade,” “Tomb Raider 1, 2 & 3 Remastered,” “Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines 2,” “Zenless Zone Zero”