2015 is shaping up to be a pretty substantial year for console gaming, with each of the three leading consoles–Wii U, Xbox One and PlayStation 4–receiving a nice variety of titles.
While most games on the list are cross-platform, there are a few timed exclusives as well as console exclusives to boot, and we weigh which games look to be solid hits that gamers are anticipating.
Since the gaming industry is in a sort of creative standstill as far as original content goes, most of the hotly anticipated games are sequels and continuations of popular franchises. To start things off, though, we do have an a rather distinctive indie that’s captured our collective imaginations to redefine what a sci-fi game can be.
1. No Man’s Sky
Release Date: TBD (2015)
Developer: Hello Games
Platform: PS4 (timed exclusive), PC, Xbox One?
Genre: Space Sim, Procedural Universe
No Man’s Sky is one of the most impressive looking games in recent memory, taking a huge leap forward in sci-fi space sims.
Developed by indie studio Hello Games, No Man’s Sky soon took the gaming world by storm when it was revealed at Spike’s VGX 2013 showcase. The indie itself is a beyond-massive game that maintains randomized, procedurally-generated universes that are so big gamers could spend months at time exploring them.
“It’s a real place, a real planet. You can walk for days and days, or depending on the size of the planet, weeks and weeks. Players can play for months on end and still never meet,” Hello Games founder Sean Murray said.
Every planet, star system, and galaxy are unique, complete with exotic flora, fauna and bizarre sci-fi secrets hidden deep within every asteroid, sun or moon. Explore regions to snag precious materials and build up your ship, or scrap
To keep things action-packed, gamers can engage in interstellar ship-to-ship dogfights throughout the cosmos. There might even be alliances and warring factions throughout the universe, and enemies will likely be just as randomized as the environments.
2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: WB Games
Developer: CD Projekt RED
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
The Witcher series has always been the premiere dark fantasy RPG, and CD Projekt RED concludes its epic saga with The Wild Hunt.
Few games of this generation tap the raw power and potential of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, showcasing a new era of console performance in all areas: graphics, smooth and steady frame-rate performance, sound quality, and everything else.
The Witcher 3 harkens back to what made the previous Witcher RPG games successful while also streamlining combat to a tee, adding in a wealth of new features and content that promises to keep even the die-hard Geralt fans busy for weeks on end.
Boasting over 200 hours of content, players will traverse multiple landmasses and explore regions that are rife with beauty–from rolling plains to frosty mountain ranges–and tackle a huge array of sidequests to build nobility and foster alliances that shape the world around you.
With the Witcher 3 there’s a true sense of epic magic throughout every turn, but the game makes it clear right from the get-go that this isn’t your fairtale world where princes ride off into the sunset: this is a gritty, dark and bloody world filled with murder, death and chaos, and you’re doing what you can to save it.
CD Projekt RED also wants to turn exploitative DLC on its head, and that’s why they’ve decided to pack every game with 16 packs of free add-on content. Plus they’ve done what they can to equalize performance on all systems, trying to put an end to the “console fanboy wars”, assuring that The Witcher 3 is the “same build” across PS4, Xbox One and PC.
3. Xenoblade Chronicles X
Release Date: TBD
Developer: Monolith Soft
Platform: Wii U (exclusive)
Genre: Open-World RPG
Xenoblade Chronicles X represents the preeminent JRPG experience. It’s the ultimate foray into massive open-world content and stylish, innovative battle mechanics, and marries the worlds of epic fantasy with sci-fi majesty.
Monolith Soft’s indirect sequel remains one of the most anticipated and strong titles the Wii U has to offer this year, culminating in a remarkably vivid experience that’s filled with unique combat, a dazzling array of distinct worlds filled with alien flora and fauna, and a compelling story arc that absorbs players into a new frontier world.
The Wii U exclusive has so much to offer that playtesters have clocked in 300 hours of time with their playthroughs, showing just how huge the game really is.
From extremely dynamic battle sequences to deep character customizations and skill sets, XCX whisks you away to a unique world called Mira where humanity has crash-landed and must begin anew.
It’s up to you as a special BLADE operative to recover lost life force energy for the survivors at New Los Angeles, exploring and charting the strange alien planet and tackling juggernaut enemies along the way. You’re in charge in protecting the last vestige of humanity within this new bizarre frontier world, and when the menacing alien threat returns to finish the species off, it’s your duty to rise up and meet them head on.
Everything about the game looks absolutely enchanting, and it’ll assuredly be one of the strongest JRPG’s released in recent memory.
4. Halo 5
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Platform: Xbox One (exclusive)
Halo 5 represents a bold new direction for the landmark shooter. Developer 343 Industries has spun a new story arc that weaves in a new protagonist, the ONI Spartan operative Agent Locke, who’s conscripted to search out and find Master Chief.
Set in a more cryptic tone shrouded with mystery and possible treachery, the ONI spy searches across the galaxy for the legendary warrior, who’s become a shadow throughout the years. And when Locke finally catches up to Spartan-117, things get even more confusing, as you can see in the dual trailers below.
As far as mechanics go, 343i has totally rebuilt Halo’s framework to make competitive multiplayer feel decidedly more “next-gen”.
The team has added in 7 new Spartan abilities that every player has access to that range from simple sprinting to dodge-thrusts straight out of CoD: Advanced Warfare and even a lethal, but tricky, ground-pound maneuver.
After playing the Halo 5 beta in January, I have to say that the new changes feel decidedly stylish and intuitive. These mechanics add a whole new layer of depth and strategy to the game, allowing players to tactically plan out maneuvers on-the-fly.
Not much is known about the campaign in terms of mechanics though. While the new trailers certainly sparked our interest in terms of the story, we haven’t seen any actual gameplay footage of the singleplayer mode in action, but we’ll likely see it at E3 2015.
Gamers are still dubious about trusting 343i after the travesty that is The Master Chief Collection, but for now they’ve piqued our interest and managed to build hype, and the game certainly does have its own unique and elusive flair.
Be sure to drop by Halo 5‘s new ARG #HuntTheTruth campaign for tidbits on the game’s story arc, as they’ll likely fall into place as time goes by.