We’re a ways into the new year now, but as has become tradition with the start of a new year, the staff gets together to run down just a sample of the games we’re all interested in this year. Obviously this list can’t account for all the surprise releases no doubt in store, nor the games that still do not have a firm date or release window (still waiting patiently for Silksong) or anything we forgot because there’s just so much coming out these days that it’s hard to keep track of it all. Also this list would go on forever if we really tried to list every possible thing we’re looking forward to.
Dragon’s Dogma II
The original Dragon’s Dogma is now over a decade old, and has been a solid cult favourite for much of that time. Directed by Hideaki Itsuno, Capcom’s epic RPG is a mix of the generic and the unique. Its western-style high fantasy setting is bland, but its gameplay is often bracingly distinctive. Itsuno is back for this hotly anticipated sequel, which retains the novel “pawn” system of player-made, AI-controlled henchmen. If Capcom can deliver a more interesting story and setting, Dragon’s Dogma II could be something of a dark horse for 2024.
Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail
As a huge FFXIV fan, I would be remiss if I said I was not looking forward to the new expansion. Even though the last one pretty much seemed to close off the main scenario, Dawntrail seems to be a much deserved break for our heroes. Probably not, though…
Under Night In-Birth II Sys:Celes
The sequel to The Best fighting game is fast approaching and I could not be more excited. Under Night was the first fighting game I properly got into and it’s only been getting better with each new version. The addition of rollback netcode alone is enough to make the sequel worthwhile, but the sheer number of tools and quality of life updates they’ve been adding (replay takeover! Accessible frame data! Save states in training mode!) make it a massive step up over what came before. My time with the beta was a blast and I can’t wait to hop back in for more matches.
STALKER 2: Heart of Chornobyl
Delayed for several years due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, STALKER 2 is currently due out in the first quarter of this year. The original STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl is still considered one of the most atmospheric games ever created, even though the original release was plagued with various glitches and it required a variety of fan-made patches before it was fully satisfying. STALKER’s sound design and its drab, depressing atmosphere merged incredibly well with the kinetic first-person shooting against a variety of irradiated monsters, as well as other humans occupying the Chornobyl exclusion zone. Whether the sequel can deliver a similarly bleak and foreboding experience while also being a more technologically complete game is still unknown, but I am eagerly waiting to find out.
Agent 64: Spies Never Die
The January 2023 re-release of Rare’s beloved 007 tie-in shooter GoldenEye was a moment of nostalgic delight for a lot of people. Agent 64 is a loving homage to both GoldenEye and Rare’s later game Perfect Dark. Veterans will instantly recognise the visuals, control scheme, and objective structure. Self-publishing indie developer Replicant D6 impressed with a very slick demo some time ago, and hopefully they can extend the pleasing retro feel to feature length. With split-screen multiplayer on the cards in addition to a solo campaign, it sounds like 1997 all over again.
Warhammer 40K: Space Marine 2
The original Space Marine came out of nowhere and proved to be one of the best Gears of War-likes of that generation. Its sequel has a lot of promise and I’m curious to see how a game in that style will play in 2024, given that Gears of War itself has been taking a break for a bit of a while now.
Death of a Wish
Lucah: Born of a Dream was one of the best action games of the past decade. Its combat is some of the best around and its story is equally strong, telling a stirring tale of how to exist in a world that oppresses oneself that was expressed just as much through play as it was through its writing. Death of a Wish, from what I’ve played, seems poised to once again take that title. Death of a Wish is a direct sequel to Born of a Dream and builds off that foundation in exciting ways. Very excited to play the final game and see where the story goes. (Also you should really play Lucah as well.)
If The Outer Worlds proved that Obsidian Entertainment could beat Bethesda at their own game when it came to sci-fi, Avowed is their attempt to out-do The Elder Scrolls. However, it’s important to note that Avowed does not promise a massive open world, like Skyrim. Instead, it has opted for a more hub-and-spoke approach, similar to The Outer Worlds and Obsidian’s more traditional RPGs. Set within the same universe as Pillars of Eternity, we know the game will feature spellcasting and sword fighting, as well as plenty of dialogue and story. Obsidian has traditionally been known to craft far stronger narratives than Bethesda, and it will be interesting to see if that holds true now that both studios are part of Microsoft.
Contra: Operation Galuga
The thought of seeing another Contra game after the travesty that Contra Rogue Corps was is scary, but since Operation Galuga is being headed by WayForward, who released the excellent Contra 4 on DS, I’m cautiously optimistic about what we’re likely to see in this.
Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater
Konami have burned some bridges with their handling of Metal Gear Solid in recent years, particularly in their malign neglect of the PC market. Their upcoming remake of Metal Gear Solid 3 is another chance to regain some good will. Developed internally using Unreal Engine 5, this version boasts some impressive handling of materials and natural environments. In the event that Delta is released in 2024, it will be curious timing for PC players – the original version of MGS3 took until October 2023 to reach the platform.
Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines 2
Bloodlines 2 has been vaporware for years at this point, switching developers and publishers. Now it seems it’ll likely see the light of day, but will it be any good? Considering that the first game is well over 20 years old at this point but is still seen as one of the best RPGs ever, most likely no?
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
I think it’s fair to say no one could have predicted the direction Final Fantasy VII Remake went in. A highly metatextual sort of sequel to the original game was definitely an unexpected turn of events. But it’s also one that’s exciting because I have no idea what to expect from the rest of the Remake trilogy. Granted, knowing Square Enix’s track record with the Final Fantasy VII compilation and how that all played out (not well, to put it lightly), this could easily fall apart spectacularly. Either way, I’m looking forward to finding out. If nothing else, Rebirth should deliver more of what Remake did so well (excellent combat and deep, complex systems to play with) and, most importantly, isn’t afraid to get really, really silly like Final Fantasy should be.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
My interest in Suicide Squad at this point is mostly at an academic level, given the game’s notoriously bad reception when previewed in 2023. Suicide Squad reeks of having the hands of Warner Bros. executives all over it, seemingly designed as a live-service game first, with other considerations coming second. Despite this being the first game made by Batman: Arkham creators Rocksteady since Arkham Knight in 2015, Suicide Squad appears to have suffered much the same fate as Middle-earth: Shadow of War, which had microtransactions forced into it, or Gotham Knights, which also appeared to have been designed as a live-service originally. Whether Suicide Squad can overcome this troubled recent history remains to be seen.
Revered by real-time stealth tactics fans, the Commandos series died off after the disastrous Commandos: Strike Force in 2006. In recent years, the genre has been revived by German studio Mimimi Games – but now they, too, have closed their doors. It falls to untested outfit Claymore to pick up the baton, with this revival of the series which started it all. Publisher Kalypso promises an origin story for the Green Beret and his comrades, perhaps focusing on the early phases of World War II. Hopefully, a better-known franchise name can help secure a wide audience.
Skull and Bones
Any other company would’ve canceled this game by now, but we’re talking about Ubisoft. I played Skull and Bones back in 2018 and it looked like a pretty decent multiplayer game spun around Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag’s excellent ship management side of things. Now, it’s been quite a while and it sounds like things might’ve changed a bit, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.