Gamescom—Europe’s largest annual gaming convention and the second largest in the world—came and went last week in Cologne, Germany, and left in its wake a plethora of previews and trailers for excited gamers to sift through. Most of the industry’s major players were present, and the focus was very much on the continued development and maturation of next-gen consoles in the marketplace—a circumstance balancing the most viewed and approachable games of next year.
Right to it, then. Trailers ahoy!
MORTAL KOMBAT X
Gamescom brought us confirmation of a badly-kept secret, as Kano returns to the series (a few years older and a whole lot more… cyborg-y.) We also learned of a few new features coming in Mortal Kombat X courtesy of franchise creator Ed Boon, who detailed a few interesting facts. The game jumps around the 25 year period following Mortal Kombat 9, and will feature a rather significant number of new characters—perhaps even more than half the roster, which means some familiar faces are going to be cut. DLCs, anyone? One last tidbit. A new -ality is coming. Guess away, folks.
From the mind of Michael Ancel, the creator of Rayman, comes Wild – a PS4 exclusive title that looks to have a vast, open-world scope with the added twist of giving players the ability to play as literally any living creature in the game—human, wolf, sheep… or trout. You name it, you can play it—which will make for some pretty interesting multiplayer interactions. Wild is a title that looks to truly take advantage of the next-gen label for more than just a graphical facelift.
Until Dawn showed the Gamescom masses that horror is still alive and kicking in next-gen. Developer Supermassive went back to the drawing board two years ago to revamp their survival horror entry, and by all accounts the improvements are evident. The game has a fairly traditional slasher setup—eight friends are trapped and held captive in an abandoned cabin and must fight to survive. The twist is that you, the gamer, can control all eight characters, and must determine whether to sacrifice or save yourself in a given circumstance. Thanks to a ’butterfly effect’ narrative system, there are literally hundreds of different ways to proceed through the game based on what you want to do. And yes. It is possible for all eight characters to die.
So what has Bioware been up to between Mass Effect and Dragon Age entries? We found out at Gamescom via the announcement of Shadow Realms, a new IP hitting the PC next year in 4-vs-1 (taking a page from Evolve) online RPG format. One player assumes the role of a powerful shadow lord while four others team up to take it down. Bioware describes gameplay as evocative of tabletop D&D adventures in an episodic format.
We haven’t exactly been restrained in our anticipation of Alien: Isolation (due out this October), but to be fair, the game has thus far earned every bit of praise thrown its way. The new trailer released at Gamescom highlights the highly improvisational nature of combat, which serves to emphasize the desperate, uneven one-on-one nature of the gameplay. In classic survival horror fashion, evasion is the name of the game, and anything at all that provides a few seconds of respite is of use.
RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER
Crystal Dynamics, coming off their bold retelling of Lara Croft’s origin story in last year’s Tomb Raider reset, looks to be making impressive headway on the next chapter of Lara’s life. However, Rise of the Tomb Raider made headlines this past week for another reason—when Microsoft announced the game would be an Xbox exclusive. The dismay of PlayStation owners lasted less than 24 hours, though, as Xbox CEO Phil Spencer revealed that the game is a timed exclusive for Microsoft, not a full-blown exclusive.
THE EVIL WITHIN
Survival horror legend Shinji Makami’s The Evil Within is easily one of the most anticipated games of 2014. While we’ve heard about this game for quite some time, gameplay footage is flowing more freely these days given its proximity to launch in October. We did glean a few new things from Gamescom, though—the game will (unsurprisingly) carry an M rating for, among other things, setting children on fire, and reportedly has a 15-20 hour single player campaign.
From Software, developers of the merciless and excellent Dark Souls franchise, is arriving on the next-gen scene with a bang. From’s latest IP, a beautifully realized, brutal, Victorian Gothic nightmare titled Bloodborne, doesn’t depart too far from its Souls roots—horrific monsters, vivid imagery, memorable boss encounters, and a high level of difficulty. Not everything is similar, however. The biggest core change, aside from setting, comes from the gameplay itself—word has it that Bloodborne took Dark Souls, removed its trademark sluggish and occasionally clunky combat, and added a heavy dose of speed and fluidity instead. Needless to say, this is one of our most anticipated next-gen titles of 2015.
THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT
Speaking of hotly-anticipated 2015 titles, The Witcher 3 made a Gamescom appearance as well, and the game continues to look absolutely incredible. While not many have had an opportunity to get any hands-on time with the title, what we do know is that developer CD Projekt Red has high hopes for the game’s story and scale, and all the previews we’ve seen to this point look smooth, majestic, and almost impossibly beautiful. CD Projekt Red’s track record makes us feel pretty good about the saga of Geralt of Rivia ending on a high note.
From Ninja Theory, developer of Heavenly Sword and Devil May Cry, comes a new third-person sword combat-based action game exclusively for the PS4. Hellblade’s first trailer introduces us to Senua, the game’s protagonist, who is on the cusp of a very personal journey through the depths of the underworld, as rooted in Celtic mythology. The game is still a ways away, but Ninja Theory has always been a developer worth keeping an eye on.
THE ORDER: 1886
Battle in Neo-Victorian London. Play as a secret order of knights anachronistically armed with some serious firepower. Take on supernatural enemies. Fight alongside… Nikola Tesla? Yeah. This PS4 exclusive is well on its way to selling itself.
THE VANISHING OF ETHAN CARTER
Horror gaming’s renaissance continues with yet another PS4 exclusive. The lush locales of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter set the stage for this creepy supernatural mystery, which seems to be more of an entry into investigative horror rather than the standard torture porn or gorefests common to the genre. Horror fans have a lot to look forward to in the next year or two.
THE TOMORROW CHILDREN
In a way, it’s difficult to describe the unique promise of The Tomorrow Children. It’s a game that looks to be part sandbox, part MMO, and part RPG—a weird kind of highly stylized pseudo-blend between Fallout and Minecraft. The game is set in the aftermath of a ’60s Russian experimental global mind-meld gone wrong. You, as the player, venture out into the Void 90 years later to help restore the human race to its former glory in a Marxist society. An ambitious title, certainly, but also a breath of fresh air in respect to gameplay norms.
ASSASSIN’S CREED: UNITY
We’ll say this for Assassin’s Creed: Unity. While it may feel like too much AC in too little time, 19th century Paris and it’s angry, restless denizens look absolutely stunning. Between this and Rogue, franchise fans will have plenty to keep them happily occupied through the rest of 2014.
If there’s one game the trailer for RIME is reminiscent of, it’s a next-gen Wind Waker—and that’s high praise, indeed. RIME is the simple story of a boy forced to rely on his wits to both survive and escape from a mysterious island and an ominous curse. If scenic open world puzzlers are your thing, this game is worth monitoring.