The best PC games of 2014

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FPS

Who can renew the traditional FPS? Games like Far Cry 3 used an open world and RPG staples like crafting and progression systems to freshen things up. The likes of Survarium hope to one day employ similar devices, but otherwise there's a strong nostalgic leaning among games like Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wrack. Perhaps we'll find hope in the upcoming spawn of the 7DFPS game jam, which spawned greats like Receiver and Super Hot? Whatever happens, Titanfall's speedy traversal and moreish mech battling should offer some succour for those who want to pick up a big gun and make explosions happen.

Titanfall


Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release date: March 2014
Link:Titanfall site

Any game that lets you call in a pet mech from orbit is worth a look, but that’s just one of the reasons to keep an eye on short-session multiplayer shooter, Titanfall. Developers, Respawn Entertainment, have spent years trying to find a balance between fast-paced, jetpack-powered footsoldier shootouts and lumbering mech duels and, based on first impressions, may have totally nailed it. Soldiers can boost and wall-run through its cityscapes, hitching rides on friendly mechs before calling down stompy doom-machines of their own. Firefights flow freely from streets, to rooftops, to giant robots with rocket launchers. Titanfall promises the speed tactile satisfaction of Call of Duty’s multiplayer mode, but with greater variety and an engaging futuristic setting.

Find out more about how Titanfall’s frantic fights feel in our hands-on

Wolfenstein: The New Order


Developer: MachineGames
Publisher Bethesda
Release date TBA 2014
Link:Wolfenstein: The New Order site

It’s 1960, and free love and music festivals have been replaced by robot dogs and Nazi shocktroops. As Captain B. J. Blazkowicz it’s your job to single-handedly undo this alternative-history screw up using big guns and shouting. At first glance, The New Order looks like an old fashioned corridor shooter quite suited to the “Wolfenstein” name, but this frivolous mass-blaster promises a few interesting new ways to dice up robo-Nazis, like a laser that lets you slice through cover with pixel-perfect precision. Carve rude shapes out of concrete barriers, and then snipe your foes through the gap. It’s being developed by MachineGames, made up of some major figures from the Darkness and Chronicles of Riddick team at Starbreeze, which means it might just be good.

For a taste of Wolfenstein: The New Order’s trademark absurdity, check out our hands-on account, about fighting Nazis in a moon-dome.

Survarium


Developer: Vostok Games
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Survarium site

STALKER 2 was never to be, but most of its former developers are keeping the dream alive with Survarium, though a free-to-play arena shooter is hardly the form you’d want a spiritual successor to take. Fortunately, the maps they’ve shown so far are laden with the dilapidated beauty of STALKER’s irradiated wasteland, and Vostok eventually want to turn Survarium into something much bigger and more emergent, with a co-op mode that riffs on DayZ. The prospect of a 40-person server set in a STALKER-esque zone built in a modern engine is worth getting excited about, even if it has to start life as a relatively restricted competitive shooter first. Alpha sign-ups are available if you want to get in early.

Paranautical Activity


Developer: Code Avarice
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: 2014
Link:Steam early access

Paranautical Activity is a fast paced roguelike FPS. At first glance it looks like a blocky version of Doom, but the use of three dimensional space reminds us more of Quake 3. More importantly levels are procedurally generated for short, frenetic gunfights. Developers Code Avarice had a pretty rough time earlier this year when they signed up with a publisher in order to bypass Steam Greenlight, only to be told that they would still have to go through the process. Thankfully they eventually succeeded and are now in early access.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6: Patriots


Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Red Storm, Ubisoft Toronto
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release: TBA
Link:Rainbow 6 site

Domestic terrorism on American soil is a fairly brave subject to cover when it comes to mainstream videogames and probably requires delicate handling. Perhaps that’s why so many of the development team have jumped ship following the rather cold reaction to its early trailers. It may have undergone a total overhaul - as do so many of Ubisoft’s big budget releases. We can probably still expect rappelling out of buildings, vision modes and co-operative door breaching to make an appearance, but as to the game’s structure, little is known. Alas, there’s little reason to hope it will ditch the cinematic action nonsense of latterday Clancy games for the series’ origins as a supremely tactical squad shooter. We can but hope that Rainbow Six will one day re-emerge, but don’t expect it anytime soon.

Prey 2


Developer: Human Head
Publisher: Bethesda
Release date: TBA
Link:Human Head site

Early previews of this game showed a tremendously appealing vertical slice of sci-fi opening world shooting, with the player taking on the role of a human air marshal accidentally transported to an alien planet during the events of the first game. Here he becomes a bounty hunter, clambering and diving all over the Blade Runner inspired cityscape with some rather tasty firstperson parkour tricks, and no small amount of gadgetry. It looked exhilarating to play, with a wealth of combat and traversal options available to you, as you pursued your quarry through the neon and gunmental of a dizzyingly vertical environment. Alas, some sort of kerfuffle between devs Human Head and their publishers at Bethesda has halted production – although rumours emerged recently that Arkane have now picked up the baton.

Furious 4


Developer: Gearbox
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release: TBC
Link:Gearbox’s site

Originally set to be the fourth entry in the po-faced, pseudo-reverent WW2 shooter series, Brothers In Arms, early trailers for Furious 4 took such a divergent and whimsically vicious tone that the project was hurriedly hived off on its own. Since its initial reveal, however, the Tarantino-inspired action caper has been little seen or heard, with Gearbox claiming that there’s been a substantial facelift in the interim.

Doom 4


Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release: 2015
Link:id homepage

We've known Doom 4 was coming for years, but during that time very little information has dripped out about id's return visit to hell. Will it have a shotgun? Will have a blue keycard? Will it have a BFG? These questions haunt us. Production of id’s follow-up to Rage has been completely restarted at least once, with the words “development” and “hell” being thrown around recently. id’s John Carmack left the company in 2013 to work full-time at Oculus VR - how will that affect this troubled sequel to the divisive Doom 3?

Interstellar Marines


Developer: Zero Point Software
Publisher: In-house
Release: TBA
Link:Steam early access

Interstellar Marines has been in development in some form or another since 2005 and is now in beta, but we’re certain it’s going to get released in 2014, honestly. It’s an ambitious four player co-op shooter that takes its inspiration from the likes of System Shock 2 and Rainbow 6. The current build boasts some very impressive lighting and weather effects, but is still some distance from the dream game Zero Point are pitching.

Zone: Commando


Developer: Xitol Softworks
Publisher: In-house
Release: TBC
Link:Xitol’s site

Initially set for release in the middle of 2012, this multiplayer sci-fi shooter’s release date has been in hasty retreat. According to Xitol's Twitter feed, the project is still alive, but there's still not much to go on beyond pre-alpha screenshots and promises.

Enemy Front


Developer: City Interactive
Publisher: In-house
Release: Mid 2014
Link:Enemy Front

Remember when all first person shooters were set in World War 2? City Interactive do, apparently, and want to revisit that era with CryEngine 3 powered FPS, Enemy Front. It promises larger, more sandboxy environments than Call of Duty offered back in the day, along with scenery destruction and other modern engine gubbins. You play as a US war correspondent called Robert Hawkins, covering Nazi resistance movements across World War 2’s major European theatres of war.

Sniper Elite 3


Developer: Rebellion
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: 2014
Link:Sniper Elite 3 teaser site

As enjoyable as Sniper Elite's shooting has been, the series' level design has rarely taken advantage of the methodical, almost clinical nature of long-range warfare. Sniper Elite 3 wants to increase your tactical options, presenting a more open African sandbox filled with Nazis to shoot and military hardware to disable. As always, your power is in your ability to avoid detection, confuse the enemy, and set traps to silently but violently even the odds.

Verdun


Developer: Blackmill games/M2H
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: 2014
Link:Steam early access

World War 1 is an underused game setting, perhaps because it was far messier and more morally ambiguous than the smash hit sequel, World War 2. Verdun goes against that grain, setting a squad based multiplayer shooter in the trenches at that famous French battle (the origin of the phrase “They shall not pass” - Trivia Ed). It’s on steam early access right now and reminds us very much of Red Orchestra. Also this year players re-enacted the famous World War 1 ‘Christmas Truce’ and stopped shooting to throw snowballs at each other, which is just adorable.

Contagion


Developer: Monochrome LLC
Publisher: In-house
Release: 2014
Link:Contagion site

The spiritual successor to the Zombie Panic: Source Half-Life 2 has you and a few friends battling randomly spawning zombie hordes, carefully watching your ammo reserves as the undead menace gradually overwhelms you. Even worse, bitten friends can turn and become zombies themselves Think of it as a less frantic but equally dangerous take on the Left 4 Dead formula with plenty of randomisation to keep things fresh.

Rambo: The Video Game


Developer: Reef Entertainment
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: 2014
Link:Rambo site

“Oh hey remember me, Rambo? I was in the games of 2013 list!”
“Oh yes Rambo, what have you been doing since then?”
“I’ve been delayed till 2014”
“Okay, did we learn anything new about you?”
“Not really, but I did release a trailer with lots of explosions in it,”
“Aren’t you supposed to be based at least partly on the first Rambo film? The one that was about a traumatised veteran suffering from PTSD.”
“Technically yes.”
“Oh dear.”
“But wait! I’m using the original sound tapes from the film to do voice acting!”
“Hmmn”

Wrack


Developer: Final Boss Entertainment
Publisher: In-house
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Wrack site

Borderlands rather brought back the idea of the cel shaded shooter, once the sole dominion of the oft-overlooked XIII. Wrack goes back in time to an era of extremely fast movement, plentiful but not especially intelligent enemies, jump pads and sweet shotguns. It’s on Steam Early Access, after the fashion of the day.

Tower of Guns


Developer: Terrible Posture games
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Tower of Guns website

Tower of Guns is all about power ups. It’s designed to be a quick burst of procedurally generated FPS action that lasts as long as a lunch break, and over the course of that lunch break you’ll acquire a crazy mix of power ups and gun upgrades. Shotgun Rocket Launchers? Centuple Jump? All are possible with the right combinations of power ups.

Super Hot


Developer:
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: TBA 2014
Link:Super Hot website

Originally made for the 7 day FPS gamejam, Super Hot exploded in popularity when a Unity version was made available earlier this year. The smart take on bullet time (time only moves when the player does) immediately caught on, resulting in a full sized version being Greenlit near instantly.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel


Developer: Gearbox
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: October 14
Link:The Pre-Sequel's website

Where next for Gearbox's increasingly silly co-op FPS? To the moon, obviously. The Pre-Sequel rounds up NPCs from previous games and throws them together as playable characters, including (seemingly) the clattering, robotic Claptrap. Laser-based weapons and cryo ones will be making their grand appearance here, the latter of which will allow you to freeze enemies in place. Perhaps the biggest change, however, is the moon itself. Its low, low gravity will allow players to jump and float around the battlefield, while its lack of air will require them to keep track of their decreasing oxygen levels.

Evolve


Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: October 21
Link:Evolve's site

Evolve is a Left 4 Dead-style co-op FPS, which makes sense as it's from the team behind Left 4 Dead. The twist here is that you're hunters on the trail of an alien monster, which in a further twist will be controlled by a fifth player. Expect a menagerie of monsters to fight, however, including the Goliath and the Kraken, who we imagine will be released at some point. Fans of Left 4 Dead 2's asymmetrical multiplayer will want to keep an eye on Evolve–hell, even fans of Monster Hunter, as this appears to be treading similar stomping grounds.

We went hands-on with Evolve and then wrote about it, as is our wont. If you'd rather hear words than be forced to read them, however, check out this video on the same topic.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare


Developer: Sledgehammer Games
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November
Link:CoD's Advance Warfare site

Call of Duty goes full-on sci-fi for Advanced Warfare, Activision's first properly 'next-gen' CoD, and one that stars Kevin Spacey as the classy ranting bad guy. After years of samey corridor shooters, is there reason to be excited about this one? Well, there's reason to intrigued, at least. Now that it's finally unshackled from the Xbox 360 and PS3—those versions are being handled by a separate development team—this latest CoD might impress on a visual level, even if we suspect it won't stray too far from the template laid out by previous games.

Far Cry 4


Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: November 18
Link:Far Cry 4 site

Ubisoft's latest open world FPS is a far cr...well, you get the idea, but it sees them leaving the tropical jungles of the first three games behind. We're now in the Himalayas, which means snow, more vertical terrain, grappling ropes and “weaponised elephants”, obviously. We've every extremity crossed that Far Cry 4's story will be less mesmerisingly awful than its predecessor's, but with new moves such as kicking and mid-transit car-jacking, the open world first-person action should be better than ever.

Here's what we thought of Far Cry 4 after playing the game's explosive E3 demo.

Lovely Planet


Developer: QUICKTEQUILA
Publisher: tinyBUILD
Release Date: Out now
Link:Lovely Planet

The colourful art style, lack of gore, and Calum Bowen's infectiously chirpy soundtrack might lead you to believe that Lovely Planet is some easy-peasy 3D platformer, but it's actually a “great, merciless speedrunning platformer and twitch shooter”, as opined in our review. The “mediocre presentation” might sully things a bit, but this is the perfect antidote to the recent glut of corridor-based, iron sights, cinematic shooters comprising endless shades of the colour brown.

We thought Lovely Planet was mostly lovely in our review.