Studio: Omnigon Games
Formats: PC, Max, Linux
Release date: 2014 (alpha version playable now)
Indie developer Omnigon Games has already attracted the attention of Jagex Games Studio, maker of RuneScape and the upcoming Transformers Universe. Their sandbox game, UemeU (pronounced You-Me-You), gives players intuitive tools that allow them to quickly build entire game worlds. The online alpha version of the game has already seen everything from racing games to action platform games to surreal art experiences developed by gamers flexing their creative muscles. Omnigon offers two play modes, realizing not everyone will want to invest some time into building worlds from scratch. In addition to the Build mode, which comes packed with enough technology to design some elaborate and deep gameplay experiences; there’s the Play mode, where players get to interact with the games that others in the community have created. The game builds upon lessons learned from other games in the genre like Minecraft, ModNation Racers and Little Big Planet.
Studio: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment/Arrowhead Game Studios
Release date: Summer 2014
The classic Midway arcade multiplayer game is getting a reboot courtesy of the brand new WB Games Vault digital distribution brand. Gauntlet revives the four-player cooperative experience as gamers select from the warrior, wizard, valkyrie and elf and explore procedural dungeons filled with treasures, potions, keys and health. But there will also be plenty of danger around every corner, as enemies like ghosts, grunts, demons, spiders, sorcerers and skeleton warriors respawn with the goal of killing your party. Teamwork remains an important part of this game, as each character possesses distinctive play styles to help fight enemies. The warrior excels at melee combat, while the wizard has the most powerful magic. This classic quarter-muncher consumed a lot of my own money during summers as a kid, so it’s nice to see the fantasy gameplay live on in this latest incarnation.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Studio: Batman: Arkham Knight
Formats: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment/Rocksteady Studios, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release date: 2014
After handing over the reins to WB Games Montreal last year for the prequel, Batman: Arkham Origins, developer Rocksteady Studios is delivering the conclusion to its bestselling and critically acclaimed Batman trilogy with this first next-gen offering. Batman: Arkham Knight introduces a drivable Batmobile to the open world gameplay dynamic, pushing the interactivity for those who want to explore Gotham City.
The game’s storyline has the Scarecrow returning with a roster of super villains such as the Penguin, Two-Face and Harley Quinn for one purpose — to kill the Dark Knight. After attempting to replicate the Batman movies in years past, Warner Bros. enlisted Rocksteady Studios to develop its own story lines for Batman: Arkham Asylum and that freedom has inspired a deep and immersive series of original open world games. As impressive as the last games, the PS4 and Xbox One up the ante when it comes to allowing fans step into the boots and cape of Batman and fight crime throughout Gotham City.
Studio: Sega/Creative Assembly
Formats: PC, Xbox One, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360
Release date: Fall 2014
Sega has a lot of winning over to do with fans after last year’s launch debacle of the company’s Aliens: Colonial Marines game from developer Gearbox Studios, which inspired a class action lawsuit after gameplay featured at preview events didn’t match the final product. Sega has enlisted trusted and internally-owned Creative Assembly to offer a completely different experience for fans of the 20th Century Fox film franchise.
Alien: Isolation puts players in control of Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, who sets out with a crew to the remote trading station Sevastopol after the flight recorder of her mother’s ship, the Nostromo, is discovered 15 years after its disappearance. The developer hopes to recreate the horror and suspense of Ridley Scott’s original 1979 Alien film. Gone are the powerful weapons of the Colonial Marines and hordes of xenomorphs. This game pits a single, intelligent and deadly alien menace against a small crew that’s unprepared and trapped in space. The first hands-on with the game at GDC received positive buzz.
Lego Minifigures Online
Studio: The Lego Group/Funcom
Release date: 2014
Riding on the high of The Lego Movie, The Lego Group has enlisted massively multiplayer online (MMO) game developer Funcom (Age of Conan) to take a different approach to an online Lego world. The Lego Group and developer Netdevil failed to entice enough fans to explore Lego Universe back in 2010, shuttering the online game world a year later.
In addition to the hit Warner Bros. movie, Lego Minifigures Online has other things riding in its favor this time along. New technology has resulted in a more fully realized universe that features popular playset settings from the toy lines including Astro Patrol, medieval and pirates. Thousands of players will converge in these brick worlds taking control of 100 different minifigures, which range from an Aztec Warrior to a DJ to a plumber. Gamers can unlock codes for new minifigures by purchasing physical toys at retail. There will be cooperative gameplay experiences as well as player vs. player challenges to keep fans coming back for more. The timing seems “awesome” for Lego to succeed in the crowded online gaming space, especially if this game takes the free-to-play route.