Here are some of the games that Paste can’t wait to play in 2013. It’s a bit hard to make a list like this, as we don’t really know what’s coming the second half of the year. (Notice every game on this list that has a release date is scheduled for the next five months.) Will Sony and Microsoft release their new consoles in 2013? It’s almost a certainty that they’ll officially announce the follow-ups to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at E3 this June, but at the moment we know nothing about them or when they might actually be released. So a list like this is less a guide to what to look forward to this year and more a snapshot of where our particular interests lie at this moment in time. And that snapshot could be wildly different if taken tomorrow. If a 2013 release date for Dark Souls II is announced, say, this afternoon, that game would easily make this list. Maybe Watch Dogs would make the list if I could finally realize why everybody went absolutely nuts over it at E3 last year. I’m just pointing out that desires are nebulous and sometimes we don’t really know what we want, and that things change over time.
Anyway, last year a very wise man wrote the following words:
We’re the ones doing the anticipation, here. This is our list and our own opinions, and I’m sure they’ll probably differ from yours in a few spots. That’s what the comment box is for. Go nuts.
All of that still holds up. With that in mind, let’s see what’s happening in 2013.
1. Bioshock Infinite
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release Date: 3/26/2013
No, you didn’t click on last year’s list. Once again Bioshock Infinite is Paste’s most anticipated game of the year. It seems like it will actually exist in the real world, finally, and for real, in just a couple of months, after years of dev time and a handful of delays. Even if it wasn’t the work of Ken Levine and the follow-up to one of the best games of the current era I would be looking forward to this one for its early 20th century aesthetic and exploration of American exceptionalism.
2. The Last of Us
Platform: PlayStation 3
Release Date: 5/7/2013
With The Last of Us Naughty Dog finally gets to work on something new after three excellent Uncharted games. The Last of Us looks a bit like NBC’s TV show Revolution, with a grizzled anti-hero and tough young woman trying to survive in a world that’s collapsed after the electricity ran out. The open-ended gameplay lets you slug your way through raiders and other interlopers or pursue a relatively non-violent path. The visuals look absolutely gorgeous and with Naughty Dog at the helm we can expect a game that’s as well-written as it is designed.
3. Rayman Legends
Platform: Wii U
Release Date: 2/26/2013
The Wii U’s 2013 line-up looks a little bare compared to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but it’s the exclusive home of at least three of the best games I played at E3 last year. Rayman Legends is the sequel to 2011’s excellent Rayman Origins, and promises to maintain all the charm and elegance of that ingenious platformer. It also cleverly uses the GamePad for crucial co-op support from a friend.
Release Date: 3/5/2013
The new SimCity expands Will Wright’s city-building classic into a network of conjoined cities with its online multiplayer. What you do with your city will have an impact on your friends’. Together you can share or trade resources, work together on such big projects as airports, and maybe get a better understanding of how our actions affect the well-being of others. SimCity has always been a very complex game with a simple and intuitive interface, and the newest iteration seems to expand on that in both directions.
5. Grand Theft Auto V
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Release Date: Second Quarter 2013
The Grand Theft Auto franchise is built entirely on promise. Will this year’s GTA V finally nail the landing that all the other games have bobbled? Rockstar games have some of the best writing and acting in the industry, along with the most impressively realized worlds. They’re rarely fun to play as games, though, and that great story-telling is often undermined by smug and smarmy humor. Rockstar’s produced some of the industry’s most amazing and memorable moments, though, and every new game offers hope that the designers have finally put everything together into a consistently great game. I can’t wait to see if GTA V is the one.
6. The Wonderful 101
Platform: Wii U
Release Date: First Quarter 2013
Platinum’s Wonderful 101 was one of the best games I played at E3 last year, back when it was still called Project P100. Its superheroes rumble through the city in tight formation, dispensing painful justice against invading aliens like a cape-sporting mob. 101 makes smart use of the system’s GamePad, switching the action from the TV to the touch-screen without disrupting the game’s flow, while combining the look of Viewtiful Joe with the minion-based gameplay of Pikmin.
7. Metro: Last Light
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Release Date: March 2013
The sequel to the cult classic Metro 2033 should still be coming out this year, despite publisher THQ’s bankruptcy. Like the first game, Last Light promises to be slower, more realistic and way, way more Russian than most shooters. (Okay, sorry, 4A Games, more Ukrainian.) Expect Call of Duty by way of Dostoevsky. Like the excellent Far Cry 2, 2033 was an ugly, brutal game, and I was enthralled by how little interest it had in my own comfort. If Last Light is as smart and fatalistic as that, it could be one of the best of 2013.
8. The Witness
Platform: PC, iOS
Release Date: TBD 2013
Jonathan Blow’s follow-up to Braid is a three-dimensional puzzler that’s skipping consoles in favor of the PC and iOS devices. It can be easy to mock Blow’s portentous rhetoric in Indie Game: The Movie and the turgid, melodramatic writing of Braid, but I can’t deny that Braid is one of the most thought-provoking and smartly designed games of the last few years. I know very little about The Witness, but Blow’s involvement alone makes me excited to play it.
9. Pikmin 3
Platform: Wii U
Release Date: Spring 2013
After skipping out on the Wii, Pikmin returns to consoles just in time to embrace the Wii U’s tablet controller. The GamePad is a natural fit for this map-intensive game, letting you see exactly where you need to send your Pikmin at all times. The colorful characters and lush green world are beautiful in HD, and it’ll be interesting to see if this largely one-person game can expand on the meager multiplayer of Pikmin 2.
10. Skulls of the Shogun
Platform: Xbox 360, PC, Windows Phone
Release Date: 1/30/2013
I first played this cartoonish turn-based strategy game a few years ago at a PAX East. I remember really enjoying its cute Japanese aesthetic and Military Madness-style action, but that was so long ago I barely remember why. If anything, I’m just looking forward to the game finally existing outside of game conventions.