The best PC games of 2014

PC Gamer at

ACTION

Big-budget behemoths often dominate the action category, and so it proves in 2014. The surely-headed-to-PC Grand Theft Auto 5 rubs shoulders with intriguing multiplayer survival games like The Division. The spectres of distant games like Star Wars: Battlefront, Mirror's Edge 2, Deus Ex Universe and Beyond Good and Evil 2 offer haunting glimpses of a time beyond 2014, but all may fall before the return of the space flight sim. Star Citizen is coming. If its team can effectively utilise that vast crowd-sourced budget, we could be in for something a bit special.

Tom Clancy’s The Division


Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA
Link:The Division site

A disease spread on Black Friday decimates the US in five days. As part of the Division, you are tasked with saving what remains. Go up against both AI and other players in Ubisoft’s hugely ambitious third-person shooter MMO. Expect meticulously designed environments courtesy of the promising new Snowdrop engine; expect ludicrous attention to detail (car windshields finally shatter like they should); just don’t expect it to come out any time soon. The Division will be done when it’s done, as Ubisoft’s recently delayed Rainbow Six: Patriots demonstrates.

Watch Dogs


Developer Ubisoft
Publisher: In-house
Release date: Spring 2014
Link:Watch Dogs site

Though in recent years, Ubisoft has been happy to milk the Assassin’s Creed licence until its ruddy teats squeaked, let us not forget that the space-wizards-thru-history mega-franchise was born of huge creative risk: a new IP that cost so much develop that, rumour has it, sales didn’t cover the cost of development until its sequels were on shelves. Now, the same gigantic studio, Ubisoft Montreal, has unveiled Watch Dogs - a game with no smaller a scope than Assassin’s Creed, combining the complex sedition of information warfare with brutish third-person action and, it is suspected, with some sort of clever multiplayer/singleplayer crossover. It’s not only a showcase for the kind of polygon-crunching power the cutting edge PC can generate (finally loosed from the shackles of last-gen cross platform releases) but it also establishes a fiction that Ubisoft hopes will see it through the next decade.

We recently got our mucky paws all over Ubisoft's Watch Dogs. Have a read of what we thought here.

Grand Theft Auto 5


Developer: Rockstar
Publisher: In-house
Release: TBC
Link:GTA 5 site

There’s been no confirmation of Rockstar’s next blockbuster for PC, but it would be a world gone topsy-turvy if Grand Theft Auto 5 was marooned on consoles for ever. This isn’t Red Dead Redemption, a game developed by a studio with around three PC credits to its name – this is GTA, a series whose every main instalment has appeared on PC. And it’s developed by Rockstar North, a team that (even including its legacy as DMA Design) has brought all bar seven of its games to PC. And where are the internet petitions to port Walker over from the Amiga, I might ask?

One of the biggest releases of 2013, GTA 5 sees the player take on the role of three different characters trying to make a crust amid the tinseltown glamour and sunbaked squalor of Los Santos. And it’s an ill-gotten crust at that, given the series’ heritage of exuberant criminality: heists, hits and high-speed chases are the order of the day, interspersed with all the leisure activities a high-rolling hoodlum might desire. The game’s online component, GTA Online, lets you do all that but...online, expanding Red Dead Redemption’s brilliant multiplayer to envelop the entirety of Los Santos.

Mirror’s Edge 2


Developer: DICE
Publisher: EA
Release Date: TBA
Link:Mirror's Edge site

Mirror’s Edge 2 will be an open-world action adventure according to EA Labels president Frank Gibeau, who apparently used the term in the publisher’s E3 analyst call last June. It’ll be a prequel, too, telling the origin story of tattooed heroine Faith, pre-tattoo. The extent of the sandbox is currently unknown - all we’ve seen of the game a short trailer featuring a pair of gloved hands and lots of punching. But the change of direction has the chance to make a cult classic look like a practice run. Not least because Mirror’s Edge 2 runs on Frostbite 2, Battlefield 4’s engine. It particularly excels at physics, so you’ll get your money’s worth in shattering glass and billowing fabric.

"[Producer Sara Jansson] pitched an idea that frankly could only be built on gen four. It’s a stunning concept, and when she came to us we knew we had it. And yes, we've been testing ideas and we've been prototyping stuff, and I'm glad that we waited to get the right idea,” says Patrick Söderlund, executive vice president of the EA Games Label. “I was frankly blown away,” he says.

Read our early report of Mirror’s Edge 2

Mad Max


Developer: Avalanche
Publisher: Warner Bros
Release: TBC 2014
Link:Mad Max site

An open world Mad Max game from the developers of Just Cause? You don't need to be Bolo Santosi to see the value in that. We've barely seen any of it so far, but Mad Max seems to fuse the the go anywhere, grapple-hook anything attitude of the Just Cause series with brutal weaponry, ammo scarcity, added car customisation and a significantly browner colour palette.

Elite: Dangerous


Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: In-house
Release: 2014
Link:Frontier’s Elite site

David Braben is finally to make the Elite sequel everyone has been patiently waiting for since Frontier: First Encounters came along in 1995 and didn't work properly. With crowdfunded millions and possibly more from investors, this could be the starbound successor people have longed for. In the months since its rather sparse announcement, Braben and co. have released some promising videos and screenshots that indicate they’re on the right track. Between this and Star Citizen, it seems we may be heading for a new golden age of space sims.

If you crowdfunded Elite: Dangerous, there’s a chance you now have access to its alpha version - head here for the full details. The rest of us will have to make do with this impressive ship battle trailer.

Star Citizen


Developer: Cloud Imperium Games Corporation
Publisher: In-house
Release: November 2014
Link:Roberts Space Industries

The hype behind Chris Roberts' new project was phenomenal, to the tune of $35 million and rising. A spiritual successor to the likes of Wing Commander, Privateer, Freespace and their ilk, Star Citizen is one of the grandest experiments in a genre many considered to be dead. Trumping even Elite: Dangerous in the give-us-all-your-money stakes, the project has thus far sucked in cash like a supermassive black hole; if Roberts and co. use the resources wisely, Star Citizen could well turn out to be the biggest and most ambitious space sim ever made. So no pressure then.

Star Citizen has now raised an incredible $35 million to date. Just a year ago, it was little more than a twinkle in Chris Roberts' eye.

Deus Ex Universe


Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release date: TBA
Link:Deus Ex Universe

“Most of the team behind Deus Ex: Human Revolution is already working hard on this new game,” said Eidos Montreal head David Anfossi back in October, confirming that Deus Ex Universe’s series of interlocking Facebook/iOS games will include a proper big-budget game that we can play on our PCs. It will be part of a larger network of spin-off titles that’ll all play their part in an “ongoing, expanding and connected game world built across a generation of core games” which will include “additional Deus Ex games and experiences available in other media such as tablets, smartphones, books, graphic novels.” etc. A smattering of suspicious snorts accompanied that last particular snippet at PC Gamer towers, for who wants to hunt down a story through a disparate collection of formats? We’ll comfort ourselves with the knowledge that the team behind the excellent Deus Ex: Human Revolution is returning, and with the intriguing suggestion that “trans-humanism segregation” will be an important element of the new game.

Transistor


Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: In-house
Release: TBC 2014
Link:Supergiant site

Supergiant's next game after the sumptuous Bastion mixes real-time with turn-based battles, telling the story of a singer named Red who comes into possession of a sentient greatsword. We don't know much more than that yet, but we do know that composer Darren Korb is back on board, as is Logan 'Rucks' Cunningham. That's pretty much all we need to know, for now. It looks gorgeous.

Mercenary Kings


Developer: Tribute Games
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: Early 2014
Link:Mercenary Kings site

Not enough games follow in the explosive footsteps of Contra and Metal Slug, so it's good news that Mercenary Kings half-exists (and will fully exist early this year). In development now, the sidescrolling shoot-'em-up adds crafting and online co-op into the mix. It doesn't hurt that Tribute Games made that Scott Pilgrim tie-in, and can endow this snappy action game with the same sort of exquisite pixel art.

Speedrunners


Developer: DoubleDutch Games
Publisher: tinyBuild
Release Date: TBC 2014
Link:Speedrunners site

It was only a matter of time before someone made a game about speedrunning, and here we are with the aptly named Speedrunners. It's a four-player, competitive platformer featuring grappling hooks, and let's just take a minute to appreciate that glorious sentence. DoubleDutch and tinyBuild plan to release a single-player, offline version of the game for free – if you want the full, proper multiplayer version, you'll have to stump up some cash. Which is fair enough.

We were on hand when Speedrunners was announced to grapple-hook it onto our front page. Later, we wrote about the plans to release an offline version of the game.

Dungeon Dashers


Developer: Jiqxor
Publisher: Jiqxor
Release Date: Early 2014
Link:Dungeon Dashers site

Turn-based dungeon crawlers tend to involve a lot of planning and trepidation, but – as the name may have clued you in – Dungeon Dashers wants to speed things up a bit. This top-down adventure whittles away the nested menus and fiddly interfaces, leaving a fast-paced, team-based dungeon crawler with a frankly adorable board game/miniatures aesthetic. As with so many games on this list, Dashers is currently on Steam Early Access – the final product aims to add online co-op and a Hardcore mode.

Kingdoms Rise


Developer: Flyleap Studios
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA
Link:Kingdoms Rise site

A multiplayer fantasy combat game featuring '360 degree swordfighting', something previously only achievable by militaristic owls. Based on available evidence, the game's duelling is actually pretty cool, letting you waggle your blade in any number of directions to block, parry, stab and slash your enemy into teeny tiny bits. There are also bows, magic spells and Blink-style teleporting – if you like War of the Roses but wish you could hurl fireballs, you might want to keep your eyes on Kingdoms Rise.

A Hat In Time


Developer: Gears for Breakfast
Publisher: Joystiq
Release date: Mid 2014
Link:A Hat in Time

A vivid 'collectathon' platformer in the vein of Banjo Kazooie with an art style appropriated from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, A Hat in Time saw astonishing success on Kickstarter last year, raising $236,000 and massively overshooting their $30,000 target. An alpha build is due in February, and the developers will be adding Steam Workshop support to allow players to grow the game themselves.

Dying Light


Developer: Techland
Publisher: Warner Bros
Release: 2014
Link:Dying Light site

Techland's next zombie game might invite comparisons to their shambolic Dead Island series, but on first glance it has more in common with Mirror's Edge, asking you to run away from the undead horde – and climb up buildings, and parkour over rooftops – rather than slowly battering their heads in with a wooden paddle. You'll have to be more careful at night, as zombies become more aggressive when the sun is down.

EVE: Valkyrie


Developer: CCP
Publisher: In-house
Release: 2014
Link:EVE: Valkyrie site

An Oculus Rift-enabled space dogfighting game is obviously something that needs to exist, and who better to make it than EVE: Online developers CCP? Little of Valkyrie has been shown off yet, but if it can live up to even half of its immense potential this is sure to be a Rift must-have.

To find out what it’s like to pilot a starfighter in virtual reality, check out our face-on impressions with Eve Valkyrie from Fanfest 2013.

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number


Developer: Dennaton Games
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release: TBC 2014
Link:Hotline Miami site

Originally designed as an expansion pack, Hotline Miami 2 soon spiralled into a full sequel that takes the original's already strange story into even weirder territory. It involves a film inspired by the events of Hotline Miami, a bunch of masked vigilantes who view the original game's Jacket as a hero, and very probably lots of levels where you go around killing gangsters with a variety of handheld weapons and firearms.

We went hands-on with Hotline Miami 2 a couple of months ago. Read what we thought of it here.

Nuclear Throne


Developer: Vlambeer
Publisher: In-house
Release date: TBA 2014
Link:Nuclear Throne

Vlambeer’s new roguelike shooter is only available in early access form, but the instantly satisfying, impactful feedback so characteristic of their games is already present. As a mutant in a procedurally generated wasteland, you’ll be running into enemies with guns almost as big as yours. Fortunately, you’ll be able to improve your equipment and your abilities the more of them you kill. If you’d rather wait for the full release, which shouldn’t be too far off (Vlambeer work extremely fast), check out their Twitch channel

Magicka: Wizard Wars


Developer: Paradox North
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release date: Early 2014
Link:Magicka: Wizard Wars

Wizard Wars is a competitive multiplayer rethink of the manic, joyous co-op of Magicka. It will retain a streamlined version of the same combat system, in which player summon elemental orbs and combine them in to spells. Magicka’s hilarity stems not just from the tongue-in-cheek presentation, but in the huge capacity for self harm allowed for by the elements system. Cast a lightning spell while soaking wet and you’ll electrocute yourself silly. Fire a laser beam inside a reflective dome shield and you’ll likely kill yourself and anyone else in there with you. It’ll be hard to take the competition seriously, but when Wizard Wars eventually arrives, hilarity will ensue.

Lords of the Fallen


Developer: Deck 13, CI Games
Publisher: City Interactive
Release date: TBA 2014
Link:Lords of the Fallen site

As an action RPG with a methodical take on combat, Lords of the Fallen risks immediate comparison to Dark Souls. Its developers say that they’re not trying to capture the punishing survivalist nature of From Software’s modern classic, instead they want players to dictate the challenge for themselves. You can use deadly magic to make fights easier, for example, but that’ll reduce the amount of loot they drop when they die. You play as Harkyn, a huge warrior with an even bigger hammer on a quest to punish the fallen gods of his world for failing mankind.

Phantom Army


Developer: Zombie Studios, Smilegate
Publisher: In-house
Release date: TBA 2014
Link:Phantom Army site

The creators of Blacklight: Retribution have teamed up with Smilegate to create a third-person multiplayer competitive cover shooter. Visually, it looks a bit like Counter-Strike rendered in Team Fortress 2’s cheery Pixar style, but will distinguish itself with randomly generated arenas and lithe characters that can roll and vault around the environment.

Assault Android Cactus


Developer: Witch Beam
Publisher: In-house
Release date: TBA 2014
Link:Steam Early Access

A frantic twin-stick shooter in which you play a police android called Cactus, fending off robotic foes on the Genki Star - a craft made up of dynamic changing levels. Expect the floor to shift under you and the walls to change shape as you gun down dozens and dozens of storming foes. There’s co-op support, of course, unlockable characters with varying fighting styles, and more levels and enemies are constantly being added as the game nears release. Assault Android Cactus is currently undergoing playtesting on Steam Early Access.

Aztez


Developer: Team Colorblind
Publisher: In-house
Release date: TBA 2014
Link:Aztez

On the evidence of the available trailers and screenshots, you might not realise that a lot of Aztez takes place on a turn based strategic overmap. It’s your job to grow the might of the Aztec empire and fend off all challengers in the process. Moments of conflict send you down into hyperviolent, sidescrolling battles, all of which take place in a sparsely coloured art style designed to make the gratuitous blood gouts appear even more luminous. Random events and overworld challenges are also included to encourage replayability, and there’s already evidence of Devil May Cry-esque crunch to the combat.

Bombernauts


Developer: Tyler Glaiel
Publisher: Self-published
Release date: TBA 2014
Link:Bombernauts site

A multiplayer brawler in which you can throw unlimited bombs to knock enemies off the combat platform. Even when dead enemies can still throw the occasional bomb back in, making this the bombiest game since Bomberman. It’s being made by Closure creator, Tyler Glaiel, who promises lots of game mode and power-up customisation to allow players to house-rule the most fun they can out of the explosive concept.

Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex


Developer: Neople
Publisher: Nexon
Release date: TBA 2014

A massively multiplayer shooter based on the Ghost in the Shell anime should be cause for excitement, but for those that loved the film, there’s the fear that the dark cyberpunk aesthetic and intellectual musing on the nature of sentience will be lost. That so little is still known about Neople and Nexon’s MMO, announced in February 2013, raises further cause for concern, has it escaped onto the net and started a life of its own? If Nexon can keep it contained it’ll feature “fierce hacking battles between cyborgs fighting over strategic resources” and, ominously, “a new concept that integrates artificial intelligence with the player.” Prepare your brain-sockets for entry.

Atomic Ninjas


Developer: Grip Games
Publisher: In-house
Release date: TBA
Link:Atomic Ninjas

This cheery multiplayer combat game started life on the Playstation 3 and the Vita, but is due a Windows release at some point. It’s a typical 2D slasher affair in which you take command of one of a cast of quirky martial artists including Sergei, a ninja who wields a spade, and The Very Last Samurai, whose motto is “Honor. Respect. Karaoke.” Quick and casual games like Atomic Ninjas have the potential to thrive on living room machines should Valve’s Steam Machine idea take off.

Universum: War Front


Developer: StarworksArt Studio
Publisher: In-house
Release date: TBA
Link:Universum site

Universum wants to be all of the games at once, it seems. It’s an RTS that lets you dive down into the mud to take control of your warriors in third-person. It also claims to be influenced by Dota 2, to some extent, and is set in a high fantasy sci-fi universe akin influenced by Star Wars. Battles will take place across five planes - underground, ground, air, water and space. It sounds like an insanely ambitious project for a small team, but Divinity: Dragon Commander shows that the concept is viable in today’s technology. Universum will be released gradually, as detailed on their Kickstarter page.

The Stomping Land


Developer: Alex Fundara
Publisher: In-house
Release date: TBA 2014
Link:The Stomping Land

The Stomping Land is a multiplayer dinosaur-hunting game. You play as a tribe member on an island populated by several player-controlled tribes and an entire ecosystem of dinosaurs to hunt. As a group you must hunt, salvage and craft to improve your chances of taking down bigger game. As you become master hunters and no longer have to run from hungry T-Rexes, food will become scarce, and players will be forced to raid each other’s settlements to survive. Dinosaur games have been tried before, with various limited degrees of success, but using the lizards as a backdrop to the human drama of a set of tribes fighting for survival is a smart move. The idea has earned the team a significant payday on Kickstarter, and The Stomping Land has been Greenlit, so we can hope to see it popping up on Steam this year.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance


Developer: PlatinumGames, Kojima Productions
Publisher: Konami
Release date: January 9 2014
Link:Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

For action aficionados, PlatinumGames have been sorely missed on PC. For fans of batshit postmodern plotting, the Metal Gear series has also been sorely missed on PC. Here comes Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, then, to bridge the gap between Platinum and Kojima Productions and give us a dose of the expertise behind top console action games, Bayonetta and Vanquish. You play as former boring soldier man and current high-tech cyber-ninja, Raiden, who has a katana that can cut through anything. You use this Katana to exact revenge on, well, everyone. Will there be massive cutscenes? Yes. Will we learn the meaning of the word “revengeance?” Probably not.

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z


Developer: Team Ninja, Spark Unlimited, Concept
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Release date: February 14 2014
Link:Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z site

We’re desperately short of great third-person action games in the Bayonetta /Devil May Cry mould on PC, so plans for a PC-bound Ninja Gaiden are, theoretically, welcome. However, the introductory trailer for Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z was so bad that any excitement we might ordinarily muster for such a project must now be tempered with the fear that it might be total balls. It’s a cel-shaded take on Ninja Gaiden in which you play a ninja called Yaiba with an arm made of metal and a cybernetic eyeball. He’s hunting the man responsible for his injuries - series hero Ryu Hayabusa. Expect swearing, blood, blades and, based on the trailer, lots of trying too hard.

Star Wars: Battlefront


Developer: DICE
Publisher: EA
Release date: TBA 2015
Link:The Battlefront reveal trailer

A great big stomping AT-AT boot announced that Battlefield developers, DICE, are working on a reboot of Battlefront in Frostbite 3. Given that EA only acquired the license weeks before the E3 reveal, this is unlikely to be anywhere near complete, especially given the fact that DICE recently put all of their projects on hold to direct development resource to the shonky Battlefield 4 launch. Still, it’s good to know that in a future far, far away, there’s another large-scale Star Wars game in the works.

We got so excited about this we penned a list of things we’d like to see from the new Battlefront.

Beyond Good And Evil 2


Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: In-house
Release: 2014
Link:Ubisoft’s site

Every silver lining has a cloud: Michel Ancel’s efforts to resurrect 2D platformer hero Rayman proved so tremendously and ebulliently successful that it has delayed his return to Beyond Good And Evil 2. All that’s been seen of the sequel to the superb off-beat action adventure is a rendered trailer and a few splashes of concept art, but if Ancel’s recent form is anything to go by, we won’t be getting half-measures if the project ever comes to light. Don't expect much in 2014, however.

Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD


Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: 15th January
Link:Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD micro-site

A return to the Assassin's Creed III timeline might seem an odd choice, given that we're all swigging rum and singing shanties alongside Black Flag's pirates. Even odder is the idea of returning for an upgraded and prettified version of a PS Vita exclusive. Even so, Assassin's Creed III: Liberation was notable for featuring the series' first female protagonist - Aveline de Grandpré - and drew praise for its recreation of 18th century New Orleans. This HD remake will add new missions and remove the original's touch-screen gimmicks.

Watch Aveline take on guards, gators and frilly dresses in the Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD announcement trailer.

Devil's Third


Developer: Valhalla Games Studios
Publisher: TBC
Release: TBC
Link:The official site

Things have been a little quiet since THQ withdrew as the publisher for this thirdperson shooter and melee combat game set on a war-ravaged future Earth. It has good pedigree, coming from a studio forged by principal developers of the Ninja Gaiden games, but neither the presence of near-legendary developers and a multi-million budget proved sufficient reason to keep it on THQ’s slate. We await to hear its fate.

Galak-Z


Developer: 17-bit
Publisher: In-house
Release: TBA
Link:Galak-Z

Lasers? In space?! What manner of twin-stick shootery madness is this? The sweet, fast, frenzied kind, by the looks of it. Galak-Z also promises advanced AI enemies and a series of spacecraft inspired by ‘80s and ‘90s anime. It’s a timed Playstation 4 exclusive, unfortunately, but hopefully it’ll hit our desktops later this year.

Crypt of the Necrodancer


Developer: Brace Yourself Games
Publisher: In (the) house
Release: TBA 2014
Link:Necrodancer website<

Crypt of the Necrodancer is the world’s first rhythm action roguelike. After a dungeoneering accident, our heroine has her heart stolen by a disco-lich, and not in the good way. Animated only be the power of dance, she must trek onwards, driven by a mystical sound. In practice this means a twist on the old roguelike conceit of enemies only moving when you do. Now both you and the monsters can only move on the beat, leading to a literal dance of death. The devs promise that you’ll even be able to upload your own music, procedurally generating the dungeon from your own sick beats. Oh, and you can play it with a Dance Dance Revolution pad too.

Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2


Developer: MercurySteam
Publisher: Konami
Release: February 2014
Link:Castlevania site

The first Lords of Shadow was a pleasant surprise for many, winning players round with a highly competent (if derivative) mix of third-person action, exploration and puzzling. The sequel skips from medieval times to the modern day, with the protagonist, now going under the name of Dracula, awakening from a long slumber. Expect the acrobatic hacking and slashing of enormous supernatural creatures and enough of the red stuff to defeat even the most powerful of detergent cleaners.

Ultra Street Fighter IV


Developer: Capcom
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: August
Link:Capcom's Ultra SF4 site

OK, so we're reasonably certain this will be the last version of Street Fighter IV – unless there are any words that supersede 'ultra' – but if you've held out this long to give Ryu and Ken a good beating, this fourth version of the Capcom's classic fighting game should be the one to get. What's new? Extra characters – Rolento, Elena, Hugo and Poison – along with extra stages and modes and every bit of costume DLC released so far. By the end, Capcom will have hopefully made enough money to greenlight Street Fighter V, Super Street Fighter V, and Mega Street Fighter V: Hyper Ultra Omega Arcade Edition.

You'll be pleased to hear that Ultra SF4 will ditch Games for Windows Live (mainly because GFWL doesn't exist any more). This version comes with a couple new battle systems too, which we've detailed here.

Thief


Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: 2014
Link:Thief’s less than stealthy site

Thief - previously Thief 4 or, lamentably, Thi4f - was announced years ago to many a raised eyebrow. Then Square Enix released one of the best games of 2011 in the shape of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Hopes were high when Eidos Montreal’s next project was eventually revealed to be an open world reboot of everyone’s favourite nicking simulator, though eyebrows did revert to an elevated position when we were finally given access to preview code. QTEs? A “focus” mode? An experience system that rewards you for kills? The new Thief suddenly didn’t seem very Thieflike at all. Thankfully, some of these features were later scrapped or further explained as optional systems, but we’re sneaking into this one with a note of caution.

Based on our recent hands-on, there's reason to be worried about Eidos Montreal's reboot - though there's still plenty of time for them to put it right.

Paradise Lost: First Contact


Developer: Ashtree Works
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: December
Link:Ashtree’s website

In Paradise Lost you play as Subject W, a squid-like alien plant that escapes from a lab where it’s being studied by probably evil scientists. The game fuses the reactive stealth of Deus Ex and non-linear layout of the Metroid and Castlevania games, and as you play, Subject W can evolve its skills to suit your play style. To help you evade the lab’s security, you can posses guards, lob organic bombs, create decoys, and clamber around on walls and ceilings. It’s yet another game on these pages to use pixel art, but notable for its animation, which is remarkably detailed. As well as all this, there’ll be a story to follow, as well as puzzles to solve and platforming challenges littered around the facility.

Full Mojo Rampage


Developer: Over the Top games
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Full Mojo website

A chaotic voodoo themed roguelike with co-op for up to four players. Explore randomly generated levels and discover strange magicks with which to blow stuff up. It's already available via Early Access, but expect 2014 to bolster its hocus-pocus dungeon crawling in the run-up to a full release.

Fortnite


Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA
Link:The Fortnite site

Remember Fortnite? We'll forgive the blank looks (though not the drooling), because Epic have been atypically quiet about their Unreal Engine 4-powered fort-building game since it was announced way back in the prehistory of 2011. We do know, however, that Bulletstorm devs People Can Fly are on the case, under their new moniker Epic Games Poland. It will be a PC exclusive, and since its vague 2013 release date has now sailed into the sunset, we can only assume it's happening this year. The game itself looks particularly impressive, in an Unreal sort of way, though a proper look at Fortnite's monster-repelling action would be much appreciated, particularly after Epic have been troublingly reticent about it for so long.

We chronicled the announcement of Fortnite over a fortnight ago – two years ago over a fortnight, to be exact.

Hellraid


Developer: Techland
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA
Link:The Hellraid site

Hellraid started life as a Dead Island game mode, before being spun-off into a full game. That might be why it looks rather a lot like Dead Island, albeit with a moderately less tropical fantasy theme. In addition to zombies, you'll fight skeletons, flaming skulls and other demonic entities, in a co-op campaign for up to four players. As with a certain other 4P multiplayer shooter (this time Left 4 Dead), Hellraid features a Director-like 'Games Master' AI that will aim to keep each playthrough feeling fresh. Well, as fresh as a game about battling the undead can possibly get.

War of the Vikings


Developer: Fatshark
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: Early 2014
Link:The WotV site

Fatshark's brutal medieval combat game War of the Roses is set to receive a sequel, this time focusing on those lovable mead-quaffing scamps the Vikings. Hang on, they were a bit nasty too, weren't they? WotV swaps the squabbles between the houses of Lancaster and York for the invasion of the Viking army. You can play as either a member of the invading army, or as one of the understandably defensive Saxon soldiers, in a series of pitched multiplayer battles to the death. You'll be able to customise your probably-short-lived warrior too, designing their heraldic symbol, weapons and armour, and most importantly their beard.

River City Ransom: Underground


Developer: Conatus Creative
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: September
Link:River City Ransom site

8-bit beat-'em-up River City Ransom is getting a belated sequel, because Kickstarter. Also: because awesome. The original was an open world 2D RPG beat-'em-up, and this follow-up is an open world 2D RPG beat-'em-up, but with more detailed combat and pixel art. A couple of big names are associated with the project: Rich 'Disasterpeace' Vreeland, responsible for most of your favourite indie game soundtracks, and Yoshihisa Kishimoto, director of Double Dragon and “the grandfather of the beat'em up genre”. Should you be excited? If you like beating up bad guys in a series of sidescrolling environments, then hell yes.

Steel Storm A.M.M.O.


Developer: Zeolite studios
Publisher: Kot in Action Creative Artel
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Steel Storm site

A spin off from the anime inspired tank ‘em up Steel Storm, Armored Mechanized Mobile Operations turns the series’ multiplayer mode into a fast-paced lane-pushing game. Currently on steam early access, expect more characters, weapons, crafting and a matchmaking system to be introduced before the full release.

Scivelation


Developer: Black Wing Foundation
Publisher: TopWare Interactive
Release Date: Early 2014
Link:Scivelation site

By the time Black Wing's long-awaited Scivelation (formerly Salvation) finally releases, the Apocalypse may well have happened for real. It's a third-person shooter with interesting religious overtones, set in a literal post-apocalypse after the epic clash between good and evil left the Earth in a bit of a state. You'll play as a member of the 'The Resistance', resisting 'The Regime' that arose from the ashes to assume control of the ruined world. Where do they get these names from?

We were given a brief look at Scivelation a couple of years ago, before the game retreated into the darkness, never to be heard from again. Well, until 2014, hopefully.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2


Developer: Beenox
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: Early 2014

Your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man will be swinging into town early next year, slightly ahead of the film. Unless it wants to spoil things, the superhero sandbox will take lessons from the first game and pick up right where the movie left off. Expect a more detailed New York City; expect a morality system; expect Stan Lee to pop up somewhere.

Smashmuck Champions


Developer: Kiz studios
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Smashmuck website

A fast paced cartoonish lane-pushing game with a strange and comical cast of characters. Some of the items have been designed by Scott Kurtz of the webcomic PvP. It's currently on Steam Early Access as a free open beta, so the developers are welcoming new ideas for champions, skills and game modes.

Starwhal: Just the Tip


Developer: Breakfall
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Starwhal website

Starwhal is local co-op game where you play as jousting Narwhals attempting to impale one another with their horns. It looks a lot like Geometry Wars, but with deliberately clumsy QWOP controls and neon space whales.

Road Redemption


Developer: DarkSeas Games
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: Early 2014
Link:Road Redemption Kickstarter

Ahhhh, so close. No, it’s not Rockstar’s long-awaited and non-existent port of Red Dead Redemption, but don’t get all pouty, because this unofficial sequel to Road Rash is bristling with bonkers high-speed bike chases, samurai-sword-inflicted injuries, and wince-inducing ragdoll physics.

The Sun at Night


Developer: Minicore Studios
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: 4th February
Link:The Sun at Night site

The Sun at Night – formerly known as Laika – takes the tragic story of the Soviet dog launched into orbit in the 1950s, and gives it a happier, alternate history outcome. In this parallel universe, Laika somehow returns to Earth with the ability to talk, dons a set of shiny silver armour and some high-powered weaponry, and proceeds to take her revenge. (For the sequel, perhaps Buzz Aldrin could go around disintegrating moon-landing-deniers?) The Sun at Night will be released in three parts, the first entitled Laika Believes. It will take the form of a sidescrolling, shooty Metroidvania with RPG elements and “massive, nonlinear levels”.

Routine


Developer: Lunar Software
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Routine website

Routine takes the classic deserted space station horror setting to it’s logical extreme. You arrive at a gorgeously realised spooky moonbase to discover that everyone has vanished, and must explore it to figure out why. The emphasis is on horror over action, and there’s some lovely lighting on display, as well as a novel UI that uses in game screens instead of a HUD. Consider it Doom 3, but with subtlety.

Starlight Inception


Developer: Escape Hatch entertainment
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Escape Hatch website

With Elite and Star Citizen hogging the limelight, it’s easy for smaller space games to fall between the cracks. Starlight Inception is helmed by a former LucasArts developer, and you can see the influence of X-wing and TIE Fighter at work. Unusually, the game is being co-developed for PS Vita.

Nidhogg


Developer: Mark Essen
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 13 2014
Link:Nidhogg website

If you’ve read PC Gamer for the last couple of years you’ve probably seen us talk about how brilliant Nidhogg is, which was pretty selfish of us, since the general public has never had a chance to play it. All that will finally change in 2014 with the frenetic two player fencing game finally getting a commercial release, with improved artwork and new moves, including a dive kick. Sadly there’s no word on whether Owen Hill’s fabled ‘wildebeest’ manoeuvre will finally be officially recognised.

Wings of Saint Nazaire


Developer: Wings of Saint Nazaire team
Publisher:In-house
Release Date:TBA
Link:Nazaire site

A Unity-built space combat game with a focus on accessible control schemes, Wings of Saint Nazaire is more of a homage to Wing Commander than X-Wing, and joins the swelling ranks of indie space games warping our way. How can it stand out? Well, at the moment, the developers are planning to release it for free when it’s complete, which is nice. Also you can play the alpha right now, which is even nicer.

Sub Rosa


Developer: Cryptic Sea
Publisher:In-house
Release Date:TBA
Link:Cryptic Sea site

Don’t be put off by Sub Rosa’s simplistic appearance, this is a clever multiplayer game about striking tenuous deals in a city of ‘80s gangsters. In the standard competitive mode there are three teams trying to gather gold, cash and a data disk, and return them to their hideout. Two of those teams will need to trade items to meet their target, which inevitably means tense item swapping in car-parks at gunpoint. It’s the third team’s job to smash this fragile peace and kill both teams. Expect tense stand-offs and sudden betrayals if the playable alpha ever turns into a full commercial release.

Deios


Developer: Barch
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: TBA
Link:TigSource forums

Visually, there’s nothing like Deios. The dense, muddy pixel art sputters and fizzes with bursts of visual static as you wander a world of huge god-creatures. It’s a run ‘n gun shooter interspersed with scatterbrained philosophical outbursts. You have a chance to customise your weapon every now and then, combining bizarre objects to alter your rate of fire and damage. You’ll find a playable demo on the TigSource forums.

RIOT


Developer: RIOT
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: First half of 2014
Link:RIOT site

RIOT will give you the chance to alter the outcome of clashes between police forces and protesters, giving you control of a side of your choosing in an attempt to reflect the mentality and motivation behind those involved in violent protest. The fascinating subject matter is realised in a striking, bleak pixel art aesthetic, and will focus on real clashes from Egypt, Spain, Italy and Greece. The team are using eye witness accounts and testimonials from those involved on both sides of the clashes to present an even-handed take on riot behaviour.

The Flock


Developer: Vogelsap games
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:The Flock site

The Flock are twisted things, skeletal humanoids lurking in the deeps of a dead Earth. Now they rise, seeking the solar capsule left by the last humans. Emerging from the shadows in May, teasers for The Flock promise an unusual struggle for survival in an asymmetric multiplayer arena. A handful of players take to the field, and each must battle it out to reach and control the capsule for victory. But there’s a twist. Holding the capsule transforms the player into the Carrier, becoming prey but with a bite of its own. Less agile and weaker than the Flock that chase it, the Carrier can turn the torch-like artefact on assailants to vaporise those in motion. Training the beam on stationary attackers will force them to stay put but leave you vulnerable to Flock not accounted for. Dutch indie Vogelsap promises a tense game of cat and mutant mouse.

Battle Cry of Freedom


Developer: Flying Squirrel Entertainment
Publisher: In-house
Release: TBA
Link:Flying Squirrel Entertainment site

Battle Cry of Freedom promises first and third-person scraps featuring over 500 players, no less, in this American Civil War strategy game with an eye on historical accuracy. You’ll be able to build barricades and trenches into the environment to hold tough checkpoints, and you can even employ musicians to boost morale. It’s being developed by the four-person mod team behind Mount & Blade: Warband’s Napoleonic Wars expansion.

Overgrowth


Developer: Wolfire Games
Publisher: In-house
Release: TBA
Link:Overgrowth site

Giant anthropomorphic rabbits do battle with their eternal foes - giant anthropomorphic wolves - in this exciting and long-developed action RPG from Wolfire. Overgrowth’s physics and animation systems mesh beautifully to create frenetic, impactful fights. Thanks to procedural wounding tech and some vicious weapons, it’s also rather violent. Eventually the mechanics will prop up a full campaign, but that’s some way off for now.

World of Warships


Developer: Wargaming.net
Publisher: In-house
Release: TBC 2013
Link:World of Warships

World of Warships completes Wargaming’s triumvirate of free-to-play team multiplayer war sims. The classes show greater variety than World of Warplanes, and even World of Tanks. Aircraft carriers can launch airborne squadrons from afar, while speedy schooners will try to duck under battleship bombardment ranges to deliver a quick, fatal torpedo. It sounds interesting, but can Wargaming keep the ponderous pace of boat battles exciting?

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor


Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Warner Bros
Release Date: October 2
Link:The Shadow of Mordor site

Middle-Earth's dark side is explored in the aptly named Shadow of Mordor, which puts you in the role of a recently revived ranger with various wraith-like abilities. Set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the story sees its anti-hero Talion taking revenge for the death of his family, something he hopes to achieve through the medium of gutting orcs. Much has been made of the game's Nemesis system, which will see certain baddies remember actions or wounds you've inflicted on them in the past, for instance seeking you out later to get revenge.

Have a watch of this recent trailer for more information about Mordor's Nemesis system.

Assassin's Creed Unity


Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: 28 October
Link:Unity's site

Given how long fans have been speculating about a French revolution setting for Ubisoft's swaggering historical action games, and given that it marks the first generational leap the series has made since the first game, it's a little strange there's not more buzz about Unity. Perhaps it's the fact that it's the seventh Assassin's Creed in as many years (not counting the handheld versions); perhaps it's the depressing fact that they couldn't be bothered to animate any playable female characters; perhaps we're simply already bracing ourselves for the jarring Abstergo sections no one has ever wanted in these games. Looking past all that for a moment, the thought of gaily leaping across Parisian rooftops with a few chums in tow is very appealing—arguably more exciting is the talk that Ubisoft may have finally abandoned all those awful eavesdropping missions. Black Flag was a good sign that there's still some meaty goodness at the heart of this series; Ubisoft just need to trim away a lot of the fat.

Rob Zombie has directed a short (and extremely gory) Assassin's Creed Unity animation, and yes that did feel very strange to type.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham


Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros
Release Date: Late 2014
Link:Lego Batman 3

'Beyond Gotham' here means 'into space', with Batman teaming up with his cadre of superfriends to take on Brainiac from the Green Lantern comics. It's a Lego game, so we probably shouldn't expect too many massive changes here, and indeed there's something to be said for their comforting familiarity. Sidescrolling shooter bits have been spied in recent trailers, however, and you should know that Adam West will appear in the game—both as himself, and as 'Classic Batman'. Expect anyone who's ever fought, fought with, or looked at Batman cock-eyed in the street to star alongside him, including Superman, Batgirl and Batcow. Yes, there's a Batcow.

Escape Dead Island


Developer: Fatshark
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: Autumn
Link:Deep Silver's site

It's clear that Techland and Deep Silver see a lot of potential in their tropical zombie apocalypse setting: in addition to the main game, we've had a MOBA—Dead Island Epidemic—and now a third-person stealth/combat game in the form of Escape Dead Island. While we wait for the bright, breezy Dead Island 2 to arrive next year, there may be fun to be found in this psychological, cel-shaded game, which interestingly is being made by War of the Roses developers Fatshark. You won't be immune to the virus in Escape, something that should make its shambling, rotting enemies even more deadly.

Hunt: Horrors of the Gilded Age


Developer: Crytek
Publisher: Crytek
Release Date: Autumn
Link:The Hunt site

Crytek's recent troubles have cast a sizeable shadow over this four-player co-op shooter set in the monster-ridden 19th century, and that's a shame, as it's shaping up to be pretty damned exciting. It's basically what Darksiders developers Vigil Games did next: ie a multiplayer hunting game set in a series of randomly generated environments. Resident Evil 4 and Left 4 Dead appear to be big inspirations for the game's third-person monster-slaying, and if Hunt's free-to-play elements aren't too egregious, this could be one of the surprises of the year.

Our announcement post contains a few more details, but be sure to check out our E3 hands-on afterwards.

Dynasty Warriors 8


Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Release Date: Out now
Link:Dynasty Warriors 8

Omega Force's long-running hack-and-slash hasn't had much of a presence on PC over the years, but the by-product of that is that we haven't been burned out yet on a series that changes little year-by-year. It's a gloriously silly, ridiculous game of pinball where the skittles take the form of human soldiers on a massive battlefield, fighting for whatever faction your extravagant general hero has a beef with at the time. Repetition is definitely a factor, but this is a series you can't stay mad at for too long.

Hack and slash your way to our review for more details on DW8.

Dead Rising 3


Developer: Capcom Vancouver
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: September 5
Link:Dead Rising 3 site

Well of course Dead Rising 3 was coming to PC—it was just a matter of when. Capcom's first properly open world Dead Rising ups the zombie count in addition to upping the world size, revamping the crafting system in the process so that you don't have to seek out a workbench to mod your weapons. Other big changes are afoot too: the game's traditional strict time limit has been removed, at least for the normal story mode, allowing us to explore the corpsey city of Los Perdidos at our own pace.