PIXEL BURN – Bitscreed’s Most-Anticipated Games of 2015!

In which Matt shares his most-anticipated games of 2015 with uncharacteristic cheer & optimism. Don't get too used to it.
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Hello my name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I usually look back at some of the more important, interesting or irritating things to have happened in the week’s gaming news. Except this is early January and there’s bugger-all news worth talking about. So this first episode of the new year will instead be looking forward…to my most anticipated games of 2015. In no particular order.

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. Witcher 3 – The Wild Hunt, the third and reportedly final instalment of the videogame adventures of Geralt of Rivia. Aka The White Wolf, aka The Butcher of Blaviken, aka Loadsawimmin McSexytimes. I got into the series with The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – because I’m a weirdo who starts with sequels sometimes, and immediately fell in love with its grim, gritty setting of memorable characters, dubious morality, shades of grey and colourful language.

So the thought of all that coupled with a vast, gorgeous open-world that isn’t just a bunch of radio towers strewn across a field, makes resisting the hype around Witcher 3 incredibly difficult. Even for someone like me who keeps their enthusiasm permanently submerged in a mental ice-bucket. It also doesn’t help that CD Projekt Red have reliably shown themselves to be “one of the good guys” in how they treat their players, such giving away 16 bits of DLC free to everyone who buys Witcher 3. No pre-order’s required, no retailer-exclusive nonsense or any other such crap. And while I was as disappointed as most people about the game being delayed twice, I’m happy to take that a sign that CDPR care deeply enough to make Witcher 3 the best game they can, and look forward to playing it when it’s finally released in May. Assuming it doesn’t get delayed again.

Speaking of game series in which I played the sequel first, Chaos Reborn from legendary co-creator of the original XCOM Julian Gollop is the glitzy modern reimagining of the classic Chaos: Battle of The Wizards for the ZX Spectrum. Which was itself the predecessor for Lords of Chaos which I played first but was never any good at, back in the days when you could get an entire game on a cassette tape sellotaped to the front of a magazine. Like I did with Rebelstar 2, also by the legendary Gollop Brothers, and which I played years before I ever touched the original Rebelstar.

Anyway, enough wistful nostalgia. Chaos was basically Harry Potter meets Pokemon before either of those things were actual things, and Chaos Reborn keeps the basic premise. You play as a wizard fighting other wizards in turn-based battles by casting spells and summoning monsters, which can be real or illusionary. Real monsters are harder to summon than illusionary ones, but illusionary monsters can be taken out with a single hit from a Disbelieve spell. Spells and summons also have an alignment: either Lawful or Chaotic, and casting spells of a particular alignment shifts the cosmic balance towards that alignment making further spells easier to cast.

Chaos Reborn will also have a single-player mode inspired by Civilisation 5, where you explore prodecurally-generated magical realms either solo or with a friend, uncovering treasure and defeating enemy Wizard Kings. Making it even more like Lords of Chaos on the ZX Spectrum, which I’m pointing out purely as an excuse to use more old Speccy game footage like this.

Moving on this wouldn’t be a video of my most anticipated games if it didn’t feature at least one horror game, and that’s my cue to mention SOMA by Amnesia developers Frictional Games. Initially revealed through these awesome little short dystopian sci-fi horror films, by the time we got to see some actual in-game footage I was pretty bloody stoked by the sheer ambience of the thing alone…while also a bit disappointed at how it looked like Amnesia, only with more techy lying around .

But Frictional then showed us some more stuff like cool Giger-esque environments, giant glowy-eyed robot monsters, and brain-mangling torture devices, and I was hyped again. According to creative director Thomas Grip, as well as implementing a truly seamless world with no immersion-breaking loading screens, Frictional are leaning more heavily towards psychological horror for SOMA in a departure from Amnesia’s closet-hiding shenanigans. Which should hopefully mean less YouTube videos of theatre studies rejects overreacting to the slightest noise.

Bah who am I kidding. People would churn out videos of themselves pissing their pants over Return to Zork if they thought they could make a quick buck out of it.

SOMA’s not going to be for everybody of course because not everybody has the warped, masochistic love for pure horror games like I do, but if anyone can reinvigorate and reinvent the survival horror genre again however, it’s Frictional Games.

It sure as hell wasn’t Shinji Mikami.

SOMA is scheduled for a first quarter launch this year for PC and PS4 only, although Frictional have said there will eventually be an Xbox One version further down the line.

A much more-specific date than that of No Man’s Sky, which is still cryptically scheduled for release “sometime in 2015” for PC and PS4 only. There’s precious little more I can say about it without repeating what I’ve said in previous videos: I dig it’s colourful aesthetic, it’s Homeworld-esque art style, the sense of boundless freedom-of-exploration it’s promising, procedurally-generated universe, the seamless transitions between alien worlds and outer space. Like a growing number of people however I just wish I had a better idea of what else we can do in the game.

We know there are some kinds of resources you can gather, ships to destroy, dinosaur-aliens to avoid and mystical stargates to travel through, but to what purpose? Can we build bases or space stations? Can we share more than just planetary data with other players? Is there an overarching plot and conclusion to the game? I’m not asking Hello Games to spill the entire secrets of the No Man’s Sky universe in a press release before the game’s even out. I simply wish to know a bit more about what I can expect.

I’m still totally hyped for it though because PEW PEW PEW PEW BOOM! WOOSH!

Aaaaaanyway, If you’d told me me two years ago that I would be excited for a Metal Gear game, I’d have told you to shove that remark in a pipe with fistful of nanomachines and smoke it until you coughed blood. Now it’s not as if I dislike the Metal Gear series, far from it. Metal Gear Solid 1 occupies a small but comfortable niche in my heart, and I also enjoyed Metal Gear Solid 2 for the most part. Up until that 30 minute social studies lecture right at the end which gave me and a friend a massive headache at 2 o’clock in the morning. But I was younger then and not as able to appreciate the demented majesty of Kojima’s work as I do now.

I’m not saying Kojima’s a great writer by the way, no. The man writes complete and utter bally nonsense, flown in directly from Cloud Cuckooland under an armed escort of cyborg swans. It’s entertaining nonsense though, and whatever I might have to say about his writing ability, I love Kojima’s unique talent to do weird and wonderful things with the medium of videogames itself.

Whether it’s hiding important game information on the back of a CD case,

Making players worldwide collaborate to solve mind-bending puzzles about telephones and crying babies.

Or allowing players to kill in-game bosses with death by old age.

On the surface Metal Gear Solid V looks like it’ll be an open-world tactical espionage action game, but it’ll also be much more than that and I look forward to seeing what utterly mad stuff Kojima crams into it. One possible hurdle to my enjoyment is over decades of utterly mad backstory stretching back as far as the original Metal Gear in 1987. But since it’s all nonsense anyway and nothing an evening or two spent skimming a wiki can’t fix, I don’t think it’ll be too much of an issue. It’s not like I’ll be playing Metal Gear Solid V for any deep ruminations on the nature of war or a soldier’s place in society anyway. I’ll be playing it for the same reasons everybody else will: to strap balloons to horses and goats while people witter on about [“NANOMACHINES”] and [“OUTER HEAVEN”] and [“METAL GEAR?!”]. And anyone who tells you otherwise is either a liar or trying too damn hard to look clever.

And finally we have Routine, a first-person indie horror game set on The Moon by UK-based Lunar Software. First announced at Gamescom 2012, Routine takes its main inspiration from games like System Shock 2, White Day and Dark Souls, along with some roguelike elements of randomisation and permadeath. The basic premise is that you play a bold space technician despatched to the aforementioned Moonbase after all communications mysteriously cease, whereupon you discover the cause is something a tad more sinister than a wonky antenna. Everyone on the moonbase has disappeared, nearly all the facility’s robots have decided they want to be like Hector in the movie Saturn 3, and horrible, unspeakable squamous things lurk in the moonbase’s sewer system ready to pluck you from ladders and eat you.

Besides sporting the kind of classic 70s and 80s sci-fi aesthetic recently used to great effect in Alien: Isolation, what excites me the most about Routine is the team’s desire to make it as immersive as possible. For one thing there’s no Heads-Up-Display with health bars or other gamey things to detract from the atmosphere, your only weapon is a battery-powered multi-purpose toolkit that you also need to use to solve every other problems with, in-game computer systems are all operated in a way similar to those in Doom 3, and you move about as nimbly as you’d expect a space mechanic in a spacesuit to actually move. In short, the kind of things that all combine together into that tangible sense of “being there” that is so essential to a great horror game.

Although no official release date has yet been confirmed the team have been toiling in the dreaded “polish and finalisation stage” since August of last year, so we shouldn’t have too much longer to wait. At least I hope not! Because if I had to pick only one game from this list as my most eagerly anticipated title of 2015 then Routine would be it.

And that’s it for this first episode of Pixel Burn for 2015. I know it’s basically the video equivalent of a Buzzfeed list but if you still liked it then please do let me know, and let your friends, family and concubines know as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable, and I hope you’ll let me know what games you’re looking forward to in the comments below. Until next week, you can go now


About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.