Console exclusives can be the bane of the choice you had to make or the cherry on top of a terrific purchase, but will always be an inevitable part of a competitive hardware market. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all laid their exclusive cards carefully again in 2014 with some terrific results. Playstation 4 players got a stunningly remastered edition of The Last of Us, as well as Driveclub and Infamous: Second Son.
A number of exclusives didn’t appear this year that were expected to (Don’t think we didn’t notice, PS4. Pull your socks up. And tuck in that shirt.) But the silver lining of the delays is that 2015 is looking more jam packed full of brilliant-looking exclusives than ever. Picking the most anticipated is not for the faint of heart, but it is the task I woke up today and made this strong cup of tea to do. So let’s get started.
Ready At Dawn's first run at a full original console release has had a bit of a rickety ride through the press. But will it keep its promises? The lavish steampunk Victorian London setting and design elements promise a rich world with a layered backstory and a creative range of gameplay, but of the footage seen so far it's clear that there's still a reasonable chance of it turning out to be another predictable cover shooter, neglecting its compelling premise and becoming all style and no substance. Time will tell. If The Order: 1886 delivers, it could be a stalwart experience of what new generation console gaming is capable of, setting the standards high and leading the charge into a better and brighter future for Sony's contender. For now, we're sufficiently excited to know more to forgive it for not arriving in 2014 as originally planned.
Though Naughty Dog has achieved more praise lately for The Last of Us, the survival epic can never fully overshadow the celebrated developers' previous flagship franchise and darling of the Playstation 3, Uncharted. The first three entries climbed aboard the adventure-archaeology train a step or two behind the impressive and well-liked previous Tomb Raider rebooting trilogy from Square Enix, yet exceeded them in just about every way - scale (both in terms of story-depth and literal draw distance), script and visuals (my GOD that French chateau was gorgeous), while also improving substantially from game to game. No easy task.
Playing an Uncharted game feels like being the protagonist of a high budget movie, and what higher praise is there for a videogame? The stories may not always have been the most unpredictable around, but the way the characters experience them inspires genuine affection, which makes you forget they live in a screen across the room from you. What we've seen of Uncharted 4 suggests it's on a course not only to uphold these high standards but blow them onto a whole new level, with at least one location that appears immune to predictable gameplay, and the introduction of protagonist Nathan Drake's brother can only add to the experience. Shake-ups at Naughty Dog show no sign of slowing this one down, and we can't wait to play it.
There’s little choice but to recognise the enormous anticipation for this title, and it’s all with very good reason. Whether this game delivers or not, the almost-unbelievable level of ambition attached to the concept is akin to the escapist and fantastic purposes of video games as a whole. A small video games studio in Guildford is building a galaxy, so that we might get just a tiny taste of what having the capability for interstellar exploration would be like. And it’ll keep growing. Procedural generation with a 64-bit seeding key reportedly creates the possibility for up to 18 quintillion different planets to explore. Humans have dominated the crap out of this planet, but the sky is no man's - who knows what we'll find there? Let alone after the PS4 exclusive window ends and PC players start to join in too. All being well, in 2015 we’ll be boldly embarking on the biggest adventure mankind has ever undertaken from the comfort of our living rooms. It doesn't get much more exciting than that.
Can Naughty Dog do no wrong, or do you have Uncharted concerns? Will The Order serve up exceeded expectations or just be another monotone shooter? There's plenty of upcoming PS4 exclusives I've walked right on past - which do you think I should care about more? Maybe i should have forgone software at all and got more excited about the slim chance of more from Project Morpheus? Here's to an excellent year of Sony's new generation console coming into its own in 2015.