The best PC games of 2012

PC Gamer

We've been spoilt for amazing PC games this year, but it's only going to get better in 2012. We've already brought you previews of Planetside 2 , Mass Effect 3 , World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria , Guild Wars 2 , Dishonored , Hitman Absolution , Diablo 3 and Bioshock Infinite , but now we've compiled a list of every game out this year, for your reading pleasure. By the end of this feature, you should have an idea of just how incredible 2012 is going to be.

Check inside. The games of tomorrow are waiting for you.

Looking for the Best PC Games of 2013? Click here.

ACTION

Grand Theft Auto V

Publisher: Rockstar

Release: TBA 2012

Being a numbered GTA title is a big deal. We know GTA V is set in Los Santos, Rockstar's take on Los Angeles, and that it may have multiple protagonists. What we don't know is whether it's a continuation of GTA IV or a return to the pop culture of Vice City and San Andreas. The golden hues and gloss of the trailer suggests the latter, but, hey: that could just be California.

Where GTA V does seem to offer something new is in the promise of expansive outdoor environments. With the series traditionally tied to urban areas, the possibility of a little more freedom is intriguing, as is the suggestion that the main character's hobbies include hiking. That said, Rockstar would do well to focus on fundamentals: bringing GTA's combat up to scratch, allowing us to interact with the environment more meaningful ways, and moving from the one-employer-at-a-time structure.

Cross of the Dutchman

Publisher: Triangle Studios

Release: 2012

An action-adventure in the mould of Fable 3 from indie studio Triangle, this game places you in the enormous shoes of legendary Dutch warrior-pirate Pier Gerlofs Donia. You'll liberate Frisia and do sidequests in a charming cartoon take on Western Europe. Grutte Pier was seven feet tall and could decapitate several people with a single blow, apparently.

Metal Gear Solid: Rising

Publisher: Konami

Release: 2012

As big-haired, sharp-cheekboned cyber ninja Raiden, you're hunting baddies in the near-ish future. The emphasis is on quick, offensive swordplay, using the dev's terrifying attention to how bodies are sliced and diced. The series is perhaps best known for its fourth-wall-shattering plot devices and inventive game mechanics: we're always happy to see more of that on the PC.

Brothers in Arms: Furious 4

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release: Summer

It's a team-based shooter, again, but rather than updating to a modern combat scenario, this new Brothers in Arms sees a gang of armed-to-the-teeth Yank soldiers take on those pesky Nazis. The demo we saw involved jetpacks and demented violence. It recalls Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, with plenty of gore and Nazi-branding. Like a 1940s version of Bulletstorm.

The Darkness 2

Publisher: 2k Games

Release: Spring

We didn't get The Darkness the first time round: a mob-set shooter into which mystical forces have imbued the central character with special abilities. Fortunately, its sequel is set to enlighten the PC. It includes 'Quad-Wielding', which allows players to slash, grab and throw enemies with two demon arms while simultaneously wielding two guns. You also get to tell imps when to murder your enemies from the shadows. Ace.

Strike Suit Zero

Publisher: DoubleSix

Release: Spring

Many, many games feature the end of the world, but not many see you staving it off with a giant transforming space robot thing. It's a very '80s take on the space shooter, with ludicrous firepower and an infinite amount of power-ups, but the calibre of its creators should ensure it's anything but 8-bit. It's never going to be hugely challenging, but there simply aren't enough giant transforming space robot things in games these days.

Prototype 2

Publisher: Activision

Release: Summer

2009's Prototype was a solid cityroaming murder sim, with some smart touches like being able to take on an enemy's appearance. The sequel sees new protagonist James Heller taking on evil mutants and evil soldiers with equal aplomb. Heller's got a few new abilities, such as tendrils that can envelope enemies, and everyone can be ripped into fleshy chunks. Expect openworld carnage, copter takedowns and, hopefully, a bit more depth.

Spec Ops: The Line

Publisher: 2k Games

Release: 2012

A third-person cover shooter set in the sand-blasted remains of Dubai, this promises tough choices in an uncompromising narrative. The banner feature is 'Dynamic Sand', accurately-modelled silicates that can form avalanches to crush friend and foe alike. 2K remind us that 'sand has no loyalty', flagrantly disregarding the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin.

Shank 2

Publisher: Klei Entertainment

Release: 2012

We weren't big fans of the original Shank,a 2D side-scrolling platform shooter (think Contra). This sequel promises to make amends with revamped controls and a new co-op survival mode. The cell-shaded art looks great.

Shoot Many Robots

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release: 2012

It's a four-player side-scrolling shooter with a little RPG flavour. Hillbilly protagonist P Walter Tugnut can be upgraded with bits and bobs he salvages from the many, many robots he's likely to shoot. It's nice to see a game wear its mission statement.

Captain Blood

Publisher: 1C

Release: 2012

A swashbuckling third-person adventure. A mix of combo-based sword battles and ship-to-ship fi ghting, you'll upgrade both your boat and crew on your quest for the biggest, pointiest hat of all. It's been in development for a long time: wait and see.

Solaris Assault Tech

Publisher: Studio Inektek

Release: 2012

An arena-based mech combat game based on the Unreal 3 engine, and being developed with BattleTech founder Jordan Weismen. Long live giant stompy robot games. We need more.

Assassin's Creed 3

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release: 2012

Rumour has it the French or American revolutions are pegged to appear – but it could, of course, feature both. Based on its treatment of history, we're putting our money on fist-fights with Thomas Paine and a minecart chase with William Wordsworth.

Super Monday Night Combat

Publisher: 2012

Release: Uberent

The DOTA-inspired arena thirdperson shooter returns with three new classes – revolver-toting Gunslinger, robot-herding Combatgirl and groundpounding Veteran. New maps and increased customisation round out the package – and it's free to play, too. It's certainly one to watch if you like your DOTA with a side of TF2-style cartoon charm.

Street Fighter X Tekken

Publisher: Capcom

Release: Spring

Pitting Capcom and Namco's finest against each other for the first time outside of bitter playground arguments, Street Fighter X Tekken brings tag team battles to the Street Fighter IV format. But is it coming to PC or not? A PC version was announced by Capcom in April, but quickly withdrawn as a 'typo', before being upgraded to a 'maybe'. Come on Capcom.

Transformers: The Fall of Cybertron

Publisher: Activision

Release: 2012

The sequel to 2010's vehiclesand- robots blaster, this demonstrates that Activision have finally learned the rule of sequels: namely, more dinosaurs. All we've seen of the game so far is a teaser trailer revealing T-rexin- disguise Grimlock. A revamped weapons and upgrades system promises to make character progression feel more meaningful than it was last time.

War of the Roses

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release: Summer

A slightly po-faced approach to the battles that ravaged England during the 15th century, it promises to take a gritty, shooter-style approach to sword and axe combat.

Star Trek

Publisher: Paramount

Release: Autumn

The tie-in game to JJ Abram's take on Star Trek continues the story, with Kirk and Spock starring in a co-op shooter, hunting down an alien threat to the galaxy. Think Mass Effect but without the RPG elements. Devs Digital Extremes have already shown footage of Kirk leaping from an airlock, through the vacuum of space, onto the side of another ship. Question: will it tie into the next film, due out in 2013? Answer: unknown.

Darksiders II

Publisher: THQ

Release: 2012

Darksiders wasn't actually too bad as a third-person action slasher. In the sequel, you take control of Death (the other four horsemen taking a co-star role) as you rock into the underworld and beat the unliving crap out of baddies, like it's the end of the world. Which it actually is. The team responsible claim that levels will be at least twice the size of those seen in the first game, and that the hub cities will contain significantly more dungeons. Which is nice.

Max Payne 3

Publisher: Rockstar

Release: Autumn

Circumstances once again conspire to see Max Payne thrust sideways in slow-motion through the windows of life. Everyone's favourite action-detective runs, guns and shaves his way through Sao Paulo in a Rockstar developed sequel to Remedy's shoooter. The team responsible are making a big deal of the way Max moves naturally through the city.

Scivelation

Publisher: TopWare Interactive

Release: 2012

Taking place in a post-apocalyptic future where the Forces of Good and Evil and Arbitrary Capitalisation have wiped each other out, Scivelation is a third-person shooter that pits you against the Regime. It sounds a lot like RAGE, but looks more like Hard Reset.

Devil May Cry 3

Publisher: Capcom

Release: 2012

Ninja Theory have worked hard to show that their DMC reboot respects its roots. The game will see a younger Dante slicing and air-juggling his way through two different worlds: one bright and colourful, the other dramatically monochrome.

Raven's Cry

Publisher: TopWare Interactive

Release: 2012

Pirate sandbox adventure that looks to be a darker, more gritty take on the wolves of the sea. The combat system mixes real historical weapons, complete with their own special moves and abilities, with a more tactical slant.

Ride to Hell

Publisher: Deep Silver

Release: 2012

Protect your territory from rival biker gangs in what promises to be a GTA style take on sixties West Coast America easy riding culture.

The Amazing Spider-Man: The Movie

Publisher: Activision

Release: 2012

The tie-in game for next year's Spider-Man game is directed squarely at the tie-in-lunchbox and duvet set. Expect a mixture of free-swinging city traversal and third-person brawling. It looks all right, the swinging-down- New-York about as good as you'd expect. But the previous games from the same dev have been hit and miss, so it's probably best to wait for the reviews.

Ghosts of Moscow: Death to Spies

Publisher: 1C

Release: 2012

A third-person stealth adventure set during the Cold War. The third Death to Spies game casts you as a trio of Russian spies undertaking missions in North America, Cuba and Europe. We're not sure how it'll compete against the new Hitman given IO's ever expanding budget. But it's possible this will fulfil your need to choke people to death and then pinch their undies.

Top Gun: Hard Lock

Publisher: 505 Games

Release: 2012

Merely a typo away from the original film's subtext, Top Gun: Hard Lock takes the hit movie's bombastic, homoerotic airborne combat and turns it into a bombastic, presumably homoerotic game. To get a pretty good idea of exactly what it's going to be like, play Tom Clancy's HAWX, Afterburner or Crimson Skies with Highway to the Danger Zone playing on your iPod.

Lollipop Chainsaw

Publisher: Warner Brothers

Release: Spring

Cute cheerleaders with chainsaws have been sorely missed in gaming. Fortunately, Juliet Starling – the cheerleader in question – is equipped with a chainsaw to massacre the undead. It feels like a one-note take on Dead Rising's best jokes, but Suda 51's involvement is sure to make it a triumph of style over substance. Its presence on the PC is a mere rumour at the moment, but we'd love to see it. Come on Warner, throw us a bone.

Anarchy Reigns

Publisher: Sega

Release: Spring

Tentatively confirmed by Sega for the PC, this gloriously ludicrous-looking multiplayer brawler comes from Platinum Games, the developers of absurdly leggy console title Bayonetta. Expect absurdly burly men (and ladies) hitting each other – a lot – in ever more creative ways, with the added bonus of being able to call in such everyday occurrences as black holes and plane crashes. Subtlety really isn't on the agenda here.

Inversion

Publisher: Namco Bandai

Release: 2012

Inversion offers third-person co-op blasting in the company of the Grappler, a scenery-flinging descendent of Half-Life 2's Gravity Gun that is described as “using a revolutionary gravity manipulation engine”. Yeah, whatever. You'll use it to create cover and grab your enemies, a mysterious high-tech force known as the Lutadore. We are fairly sure that they are not Mexican wrestlers, but it is too early to say for sure.

Tomb Raider

Publisher: Square Enix

Release: Summer

This long-awaited reboot sees a younger Lara stranded on a Japanese island during her first trip overseas. What we've seen suggests a much darker, more violent game with a focus on survival rather than the improbable dungeoneering of yore. First impressions call to mind the excellent reboot of Resident Evil via Resi 4. But where does that leave Lara's excellent platforming?

Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City

Publisher: Capcom

Release: 2012

A class-based third-person shooter where you tackle Hunters, Tyrants and the Nemesis in the setting of Resi 2. Full four-player co-op support for the campaign makes this one to watch.

Smite

Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios

Release: 2012

A mythological take on the DotA format from Hi-Rez, the folks behind Global Agenda and Tribes: Ascend. It's based on Unreal Engine 3 and will ditch the isometric RTS approach for plenty of over-the-shoulder twitch action.

Ravensdale

Publisher: Spellbound

Release: 2012

A steampunk fantasy action game. A hack and slash RPG, but with the slashing powered by coal. You'll be tapping into steam vents to supercharge your foecrushing weapons and gadgets. Excellent hats, too. Which is extremely important to us.

MechWarrior Online

Publisher: Infinite

Release: 2012

Infinite Games' MechWarrior series reboot boasts customisable mechs, a detailed stat-tracking system, and a story that evolves based on the results of your actions. Who says there's no such thing as a free hundredfoot walking tank?

Awesomenauts

Publisher: DTP Entertainment

Release: Spring

Huge robot armies, 2D graphics and DotA-style levels should make for a perfect PC title, and the developers are keen to bring it to our desktops. But their publishers want it to be console only. Boo!

SIM

Combat Wings: The Great Battles of WW2

Publisher: City Interactive

Release: Autumn

Aerial combat simulators have gained momentum in recent years, and Combat Wings takes us back to World War II. Again. Apparently it's all been painstakingly recreated from actual battles and aeroplanes, while maintaining a arcade level of approachability. Combat Wings could open its doors and pelt us with bombs of fun.

War Wings: Hell Catz

Publisher: Mad Catz

Release: 2012

The first game from noted peripheral manufacturer Mad Catz, War Wings: Hell Catz is part of a planned series that will explore a variety of different eras of air combat. This first sortie is set in World War II's pacific theatre and looks to be a little more arcadey than its more traditional simulator cousins. Nonetheless, it's probably safe to expect that there could well be more than a few tie-in flightsticks and the like.

PUZZLE

Nabara World: The Labyrinth of Light

Publisher: Mentor Interactive

Release: Spring

An English-language version of this Spanish title is reputedly heading to the PC early next year. Naraba World: The Labyrinth of Light is an educational game for young children that allows players to learn maths by manipulating light and colour. Let's see if Rich can tell the difference between this and StarCraft.

Quantum Conundrum

Publisher: Square Enix

Release: 2012

Kim Swift returns with Quantum Conundrum, a first-person puzzle game in the vein of her most famous brainchild, Portal. You're trapped in your mad-scientist uncle's manor house and must shift between dimensions to manipulate the environment – swapping into the Fluffy dimension to make heavy objects lighter, for example. Sounds like real science to us.

A Virus Named Tom

Publisher: Misfits Attic

Release: Autumn

“A Virus Named Tom has a nice Dexter's Laboratory-esque '50s vibe to it. It's a game about a strand of dodgy DNA infecting retro robo dogs, among other things. It's basically the pipe puzzles from BioShock, with the twist that you're controlling the virus as he changes the flow of fluids. It's a simple and amiable take on an old favourite, but we figure Tom is a much less threatening name for a virus than Elk Cloner or MRSA.

Toki Tori 2

Publisher: Two Tribes

Release: Spring

Two Tribes's sequel to platform puzzler Toki Tori is being developed with the close participation of series fans. They're opting for an open development process that involves a free (but limited) development version of the game on Steam. The teaser trailer hints at various transformations for the teleporting, egg-collecting hero. Bloody egg collectors. Always ruining omelettes.

Monaco

Publisher: Pocketwatch Games

Release: 2012

Monaco describes itself as Gauntlet meets Hitman, a top-down retro heist game for up to four players. You play as criminals attempting to pinch cash and loot from secure locations. It's also dead good: in 2010 it picked up the Excellence in Game Design award at the IGF. Don't take their word for it, either. We've been playing it, and it's blummin' ace.

RACING

Time@tack

Publisher: Yami Hoshi.nl

Release: Spring

A free car time trials game set to leave the grid after the launch of Windows 8's Store. Apparently it's been made by a not-for-profit bunch of journalists. We doubt it'll have the depth of DiRT 3, but it's sure to offer a few drop-in bouts of fun.

Ridge Racer Unbounded

Publisher: Namco Bandai

Release: Spring

Marks the long running series' first move away from the arcades towards more realistic racing, as well as its first venture onto the PC. It promises exhilarating collisions and a TrackMania-style track editor.

Crash Time IV: The Syndicate

Publisher: RTL Interactive

Release: 2012

Race around 100km of racetrack in modern Cologne while solving automotive crimes. It received a critical panning when it came out on Xbox earlier in the year, so best not to get your hopes up.

Project Haste

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release: 2012

It's an ATV racer by Techland, the folks behind nail'd. Project Haste is a working title, so this could well be a sequel. All we know is that it'll feature aerial tricks and extensive multiplayer. The original picked up a solid 76% back in PCG 223.

RaceDriver: GRID 2

Publisher: Codemasters

Release: 2012

The little we know about this track racer suggests increased online integration in the manner of the most recent Need For Speed games. As a cousin to DiRT and direct successor to the venerable TOCA, it'd be great to see it make a return.

F1 Online: The Game

Publisher: Codemasters

Release: Spring

Codemasters have firmly re-established the F1 franchise, but F1 Online sees the racer go free-to-play. We saw it at Gamescom last year and it looked like a fun but basic topdown racer, with direction and speed worked from your mouse. Low system requirements make this an accessible web-game for genre fans, and you can buy new bits for your car too. Vroom?

F1 2012

Publisher: Codemasters

Release: 2012

When F1 2011 escaped from its predecessor's shadow, shedding a legacy of evil, cheating AI drivers as it went, we were there on the sidelines cheering it on. There are still important places for the F1 sim series to go, however. Proper weather modelling would be nice, as would a long-awaited revamp of the Career mode that has remained unchanged since F1 2010. We're excited to see what Codies Birmingham will do with a solid base to work from.

Carmageddon Reincarnation

Publisher: Stainless Games

Release: 2012

1997's Carmageddon introduced an anarchic, fruity approach to the racing genre that remains unmatched. Stainless Games have retained the rights and are updating the game as Carmageddon: Reincarnation. Without a publisher behind it, will Reincarnation get the attention and love it deserves?

ADVENTURE

The Mystery of the Wicked Village

Publisher: Alachofasoft

Release: 2012

A follow-up to Murder in the Abbey, The Mystery of the Wicked Village marks the return of Brother Leonardo de Toledo. He's stranded in a backwater village following a funny turn and must point and click his way to the bottom of the strange goings on in this rural locale. Guest starring the Devil, of all people. Well, he always likes to poke his pointy nose in.

The Thirty Nine Steps

Publisher: Lace Mamba

Release: Summer

An adaptation of the John Buchan novel of the same name, The Thirty-Nine Steps is part of an initiative to bring classic stories to people who don't read. It's billed as a storytelling experience rather than an adventure, using on-screen text to help players stage manage their own experience. It's a laudable goal, but we're not sure whether it'll qualify as a game.

J.U.L.I.A

Publisher: Lace Mamba

Release: Spring

Sent on a mission to investigate the first extraterrestrial lifeforms, astrobiologist Rachel Manners wakes from a cryogenic sleep onboard her spaceship and finds her fellow crew members dead. The plot immediately recalls RAGE, but this is a very different kind of adventure. Her only companions are a giant robot called Mobot and the eponymous mothership AI. It's all pleasingly reminiscent of The Dig with a touch of Silent Running.

Extrasolar

Publisher: Lazy B Studios

Release: 2012

Browser-based space science from the chaps behind Cogs, all wrapped up in an alternate reality-style package. You control a planetary rover in real-time, waiting hours between orders while trying to uncover the mysteries of another world. An earthbound narrative runs alongside the game, fleshing out the mysterious company funding your activities. Potentially a very cool use twist on the longform browser game.

Fables

Publisher: Telltale Games

Release: 2012

Based on the comic book series about fairy-tale characters in exile in the modern world. The focus has always been on smart dialogue and detailed characters: something that we'd love to see refl ected in the game.

The Silver Lining Episode V: A Thousand Times Goodnight

Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios

Release: Spring

The fan-developed follow-up to King's Quest by Phoenix Online Studios. Episode V brings the saga to a close nearly ten years after the project began.

Catherine

Publisher: Atlus

Release: Christmas

Catherine is an intriguing adult psychological thriller in which the woman prances around in a variety of frilly but ultimately impractical underwear. We want this to appear on the PC so badly, and informed rumour has it that it's going to do just that.

Realms of Ancient War

Publisher: Focus

Release: Spring

Realms of Ancient War – aka RAW – is a two-player co-op fantasy hack and slasher, with a topdown perspective. It's being developed for Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network as well, and it looks like a cross between Magicka and Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light. It's promising stuff: if the devs nail the 'dip in and out' feel of hack and slash, it could really work.

The Lost Chronicles of Zerzura

Publisher: Lace Mamba

Release: Spring

Horror adventure titles can be really, really good (Amnesia) or really, really bad (pretty much everything else). There is no such thing as a mediocre horror adventure game. This one follows a young inventor who discovers the mythical land of Zerzura during the Spanish Inquisition. Unfortunately, it just doesn't look or sound particularly scary. More horror please.

The Journey of Iesir

Publisher: Big Blue Cup

Release: 2012

An indie developed Adventure Game Studio project, The Journey of Iesir follows a young Viking looking to reclaim his heritage. Similar to Monkey Island, it combines a historical setting with modern humour, sending up hippies, gangsters and Japanese demons, among others. Iesir certainly looks remarkable, with a hand-painted style that rivals anything else in the genre.

Y: The Case of John Yesterday

Publisher: Focus

Release: 2012

Amnesiac point-and-click adventure hero John Yesterday is tasked with tracking down whoever is burning homeless people alive in modern-day New York. The teaser hints at a supernatural change of pace for developer Pendulo, better known as the studio behind the Runaway series. Here's hoping for an unexpected take on the 'hero without a memory' cliché.

Twilight Zone

Publisher: Legacy Interactive

Release: Spring

The classic black-and-white American sci-fi horror TV series is transmogrified into a game. You play as a struggling actor who gets trapped in a recurring role in a TV series, and you have to find out why you're in this nightmarish scenario. Developers Legacy Games have established themselves in casual TV licences – they've already made tie-in games for Doctor Who and House.

Lucius

Publisher: Lace Mamba

Release: Spring

Lucius's twist on the Omen mythology is that it sees you take control of the so-named spawn of Satan. It's a horror title that revels in references to classic '70s scary sprog movies The Exorcist, Carrie and The Shining, too, with Lucius riding a trike and being exorcised by priests. The key to getting it right is going to be making Lucius someone players can identify with – and making it as scary as Amnesia. Both of these are pretty tall orders.

Haunted

Publisher: Lace Mamba

Release: Spring

Taking place in 19th century Europe, this sounds like a wacky counterpart to the Blackwell series of point-and-click adventures. It follows protagonist Mary as she befriends ghosts in old London, Scotland and Transylvania. Up to six companion ghosts – and a werewolf – are available to help solve puzzles, including a giant blue Scotsman and a tiny pirate

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

Publisher: Phoenix Studios

Release: 2012

Jane Jensen is best known for her work on the Gabriel Knight series, and more recently Gray Matter. Cognition employs her talents as a story consultant in a game where heroine Erica Reed is able to investigate crimes by seeing into the past. Kind of like a less useful Minority Report. It's currently seeking Kickstarter funding, so it might never see the light of day unless YOU donate.

Men in Black: The Videogame

Publisher: Activision

Release: Summer

The world really needs another Men in Black film, doesn't it? You wouldn't have imagined that to be the case, but those whacky folk at Columbia certainly think so. And of course with it, along with the action figures and lunchboxes comes the inevitable tie-in game. It's being made by Activision, whose Transformers titles have been sort of all right. It might not be entirely terrible. We can hope.

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release: Spring

The latest in the Frogwares series sees Holmes attempting to clear his name when he becomes the main suspect in a vast fraud. Puzzles are said to have been toned down to make the game more accessible to new players. Holmes' new clue-finding 'sixth sense' sounds a bit like Detective Vision, shortening the distance between the World's Greatest Detectives. We approve.

The Secret Files 3

Publisher: Deep Silver

Release: 2012

Those Secret Files aren't so secret any more: after the original and its sequel, many, many people know about them. So why don't they call it Moderately Well- Known Files, instead? The third in the series sees protagonists Nina and Max return, and the only thing we know is that they're getting married. What could possibly go wrong? And will it result in a series of convoluted, mindless puzzles tacked together to make a 'story'?

Botanicula

Publisher: Amanita Design

Release: Spring

Amanita Design's Machinarium was a charming, beautifullypresented point-and-click adventure that sadly ran out of steam towards the end. While ploughing a similar furrow, Botanicula seems to lose Machinarium's swampily melancholic atmosphere, and is more focused on being fun and cute. That's not necessarily always a bad thing, although it does look a tad Worker and Parasite at times.

Deponia

Publisher: Lace Mamba

Release: Spring

A comedy adventure game with multiple protagonists set in Deponia, a world modelled after the work of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Matt Groening. It's a comedy of errors in the traditional sense, complete with elaborate cases of mistaken identity. The hand-drawn backdrops certainly look nice, and it's interesting to see an adventure game wear its influences so openly on its oversized lacy sleeves.

Amy

Publisher: Lexis

Release: 2012

A small midwestern town is beset by zombies after a mysterious meteor strike. Protagonist Lana is infected, and must take care of an eight-year-old autistic girl with mysterious powers in order to survive. As high-concepts go, it's a mixture of the novel and the deeply familiar: providing it avoids the usual escort-quest pitfalls, it could be one to watch.

Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle

Publisher: Reef Entertainment

Release: Spring

Follow Morgane as she searches for the lost treasure of Turtle Island and tries to become the most fearsome female in the Caribbean, proving that turtles really are the new monkeys.

Hidden Mysteries Titanic 2

Publisher: Big Fish

Release: Spring

You are an amnesiac ghost tasked with creating a timeline where the Titanic didn't sink. It's a hidden object puzzle game, suggesting that the fabness of a high concept is inversely proportional to its actual mechanics.

Beyond Good and Evil

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release: 2012

Three years have passed since Beyond Good & Evil 2 was teased and we still don't know very much about it. Rumoured to be too massive for the current generation of consoles – but it would be good to know that the game does exist.

Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements

Publisher: Himalaya

Release: Christmas

Build your character by earning the favour of the elements: fire, earth, water and air. The pre-order version even comes with a cloth map, if it wasn't already old-school enough for you.

Jack Keane 2

Publisher: Astragon

Release: 2012

No details – save a 2012 release date – have emerged for this sequel to Deck13's 2007 matinee point-and- click adventure. Here's hoping that Jack's second outing is able to escape from the long exhausted Monkey Island influences.

MMO

World of Darkness

Publisher: CCP Games

Release: 2012

We still don't know how badly CCP's White Wolf MMO has been affected by the recent layoffs, but their senior producer Chris McDonough has reassured the community that it really is still happening. Honest. Pitched as a brutal take on the vampires 'n' werewolves roleplaying setting, World of Darkness will feature the rather nasty sounding permadeath: but we're not quite sure what that means when everyone has already died.

Infinity: The Quest of Earth

Publisher: I-Novae Studios

Release: Christmas

The dream of seamless spaceflight has been around as long as PC gaming. Infinity is incredibly ambitious: a freeform sci-fi MMO featuring everything from fighters to dreadnoughts, set in a vast randomly generated universe with full atmospheric flight. Few details are available, but as dreams go, we really, really want this one to come true.

Phantasy Star Online 2

Publisher: Sega

Release: 2012

Currently confirmed for Japan only, the sequel to Sega's 2000 action MMO features new boss battles and a revamped combo system. The original game introduced a number of concepts – like hub areas with combat instances branching off them – that have since become part of the fabric of the MMO. Who knows – maybe the sequel will be just as forward-thinking.

Living After War

Publisher: Prosiebensat.1 Digital

Release: Spring

Real-time strategy gets post-apocalyptic (read: mohicans) in this free-to-play title. Some 200 years after a nuclear war, humans return to find earth overrun with radioactive mutants. The blend of strategy and shooter sounds interesting, with players able to control mechs and tanks directly. However, surely we're getting a little tired of the post-apocalyptic setting by now?

Otherland

Publisher: Gamigo

Release: Spring

If the Mass Effect MMO never happens, I suppose we'll have to make do with Otherland. Based on Tad Williams' popular series of virtual-reality themed novels and running on Unreal Engine 3, it thankfully looks a tad more substantial than your average sci-fi opera MMO. Better than all that, it's going to be free to play, too, so you won't have to part with your cash if it turns out to be rubbish. But we're sure it won't be.

Royal Quest

Publisher: 1C

Release: Summer

Marking 1C's first venture into the world of MMOs, this comes complete with castles to capture and loot to gather. 1C have form in the fantasy genre: they published both King's Bounty and Fantasy Wars, and this should put the game on a good footing in the bulging MMO market. Hopefully they'll stick some IL-2 Sturmovik planes in there as well.

The Secret World

Publisher: Funcom

Release: Spring

Ragnar Tørnquist's story-driven MMO is set in a twisted take on the real world, where all conspiracies are true. Join one of three secret societies and battle dark Lovecraftian horrors while taking part in a grand ARG-style mystery that extends beyond the game itself. It's a big year for MMO fans, and The Secret World is a serious, if quirky contender.

Sevencore

Publisher: gPotato.eu

Release: 2012

Cheap post-apocalyptic MMOs are usually greeted with a collective sigh in PC Gamer towers, but Sevencore does look a bit more interesting than most. Particularly because it features both dragons and motorbikes. But not dragons on motorbikes.

Wizardry Online

Publisher: Gamepot

Release: Autumn

The Wizardry tabletop RPG games enjoyed huge success in Japan, leading to this MMO. It's currently in beta testing, with an impressive trailer setting the scene. We hope that western audiences get a hilariously dodgy translation, too.

Lime Odyssey: The Chronicles of Orta

Publisher: Aeria

Release: Spring

The lime of the title isn't a fruit, it's a mysterious artefact that will reunite Nisis' ravaged realms in this MMORPG. It looks colourful and playful, with characters donning funky hats before milking cows.

Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online

Publisher: Vigil Games

Release: 2012

Last year's E3 trailer confirms that while there is only war, 'war' can be broadly interpreted to include giant stompy Titan robots, motorcycles, and angry-looking shooty men. Good news!

World of Planes

Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment

Release: 2012

This just happens to also be a World War II air combat MMO. Locations have been painstakingly reconstructed from satellite imagery and contemporary maps, and the damage model boasts unprecedented levels of detail.

Bounty Hounds Online - Pro Pack

Publisher: Lace Mamba

Release: Spring

A sci-fi MMO set on 'Clear Sky Planet', which is presumably a place and not a theme-park dedicated to the Stalker expansion. You'll pick one of five mercenary classes and battle on behalf of your choice of faction. The £9.99 game client comes with £10 worth of in-game credit. It's an interesting business model: 'free to play' with a mandatory initial payment.

Eligium - The Chosen One

Publisher: Frogster

Release: Summer

Silly us – we assumed they'd just misspelt Belgium. Eligium is another free-to-play MMO promising five classes, a high degree of customisation, manifold dungeons and PvP action. And lightning. Apparently one player is “the chosen one”, which kind of defeats the point of it being an MMO. Maybe only one person will play it.

Age of Wulin - Legend of the Nine Scrolls

Publisher: gPotato.eu

Release: 2012

Age of Wulin – Snail Game's latest MMO – certainly has a large budget, with astonishing graphics and proper human characters. It takes a skill-based approach to the genre, where your character picks up such Jesus-beating skills as running on water. Don't write it off just because it's relatively unknown.

Fallout Online

Publisher: Interplay

Release: Summer

There doesn't seem to be any end to the Bethesda/Interplay interminable legal scuffle over Fallout Online. It makes the OJ Simpson trial look like an episode of Judge Judy it's gone on so long. So far we know that humans and ghouls will be playable characters, and that the game will feature tough choices and quests with multiple solutions. Let's hope it escapes the courts long enough for us to find out more.

Salem

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release: Summer

Set in a fantastical version of 17th century New England, Paradox's MMO likes to do things differently. Rather than respawning, if your character dies they're gone FOREVER. So all the items they've created with Salem's alchemic crafting system can be collected by other players. It seems like a particularly masochistic take on the MMO, and it'll be interesting just to see if it works.

Wakfu

Publisher: Ankama Games

Release: Spring

A turn-based tactical follow-up to the wildly popular Flash MMO Dofus. It's got a lovely hand-drawn art style with a self-consciously videogamey twist: something like Hayao Miyazaki drawing Scott Pilgrim. Deep crafting and an interesting take on online citizenship – where players can take roles as governors, guards and outlaws – round out the package and make Wakfu one to watch.

Tera

Publisher: En Masse Entertainment

Release: 2012

If MMOs are growing up, Tera is a late-adolescent teen: slightly gawky but strikingly beautiful. (She's over 16, honest.) It's powered by Unreal Engine 3 which allows for some gorgeous visuals, and it adds shooter mechanics to the mix. Developers En Masse Entertainment say they're tailoring it specifically for western gamers.

Wildstar

Publisher: NCSoft

Release: 2012

WildStar is billed as an attempt to create the 'next great MMO'. It'll feature varied challenges tailored to the player's choice of faction, race, and class. It faces increasingly tough competition, however: not least from NCsoft stablemate Guild Wars 2.

Deadlands

Publisher: Cliffhanger Productions

Release: 2012

Deadlands Online is an action- RPG from Pinnacle Games, based on a horror western setting. Cliffhanger are still looking for a publisher, so don't hold your breath – but we'd certainly be happy to have it see the light of day.

Shadowrun

Publisher: Cliffhanger Productions

Release: 2012

Cliffhanger's take on the legendary cyberpunk pen-and-paper franchise will be an online browser game. It's about time this setting got a proper outing, but with no game details the jury is out on whether it'll do it justice.

Star Conflict

Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment

Release: 2012

A mass-multiplayer spaceship combat game, team-based with multiple modes and customisable ships. While it bills itself as an MMO, Star Conflict's matchmaking and progression systems sound more like Battlefield than EVE.

RaiderZ

Publisher: Perfect World

Release: 2012

An action MMO, RaiderZ has been in development since 2006. It features acrobatic twitch combat and a bright, colourful design. This particular take on the multiplayer RPG hasn't had much of a showing on PC, so it's worth keeping an eye on.

RPG

The Dark Eye - Demonicon

Publisher: Kalypso Media

Release: Autumn

Despite being huge in its native Germany, the Dark Eye series has never really had any more than a glimpse of international markets. Demonicon takes up the mantle from last year's Drakensang. Main character Cairon's deadly fighting skills make it feel like a rough and ready kind of RPG. We're just not sure if it'll do enough to pull non-German players away from Skyrim.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Publisher: EA

Release: February 7, 2012

Kingdoms of Amalur certainly has a decent pedigree of games chaps working on it – Ken Rolston (Oblivion), RA Salvatore (Some books people like) and Todd McFarlane (children's toys) have all contributed. But despite its action-oriented RPG setting, something just doesn't quite add up about it – it all just feels a bit too Fable. And we haven't seen any dragons in it yet.

Risen 2: Dark Waters

Publisher: Deep Silver

Release: 2012

There's literally nothing that can't be improved with the addition of pirates. Teutonic RPG Risen faintly impressed us last year, but its sequel adds a good ol' dash of shiver-metimbers to the proceedings. It's surprising no one's thought of doing a proper seafaring RPG. A Yarrr-PG, if you will. And yes, we will wheel that joke out every time we write about it.

Northstar

Publisher: Kerberos Productions

Release: 2012

Hang about, is it still the '80s? Freeform space exploration, trading and combat mixed with a strategic ground game? This is old-school PC gaming at its oldest. NorthStar developers Kerberos are the studio behind the galaxy-conquering excesses of Sword of the Stars, so they know a thing or two about spaceships and strategy and all that business – and there's always room for another take on Elite.

Gorky 21

Publisher: Kalypso Media

Release: Christmas

1999's Gorky 17 – aka Odium – was a Polish take on the postnuclear- war scenario, and in some ways a precursor to Stalker. For follow-up Gorky 21, TopWare have inserted just about every sci-fi cliché going, including steampunk weapons and nano-technology power-ups. It'll be interesting to see whether or not TopWare go full Fallout 3, or just keep the original game's top-down roots.

Dead State

Publisher: Doublebear productions

Release: 2012

An isometric zombie apocalypse RPG, Dead State is more about survival than it is about massacring hordes of your former friends. Advanced AI and involved mechanics promise to create emergent, open-ended narratives on the fly. Perhaps most excitingly, it has been written by Brian Mitsoda, the talented chap behind cult classic RPG Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines.

Of Orcs and Men

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

Release: Summer

Of Orcs and Men's big twist on the fantasy genre is that the traditionally despicable orcs are, in fact, suffering at the hands of humans. The RPG casts you as an elite orc soldier, who must recruit other orcs and goblins to fight back against mankind. It's all a bit reminiscent of Overlord, but the tone seems a lot more brutal and eminently more gritty.

Clan of Champions

Publisher: NIS America

Release: Christmas

A hardcore tactical RPG from Japanese developers Acquire where you punch and sword your way through a trad fantasy setting. Acquire also made What Did I Do To Deserve This, My Lord?, possibly the only game to sound like a Leonard Cohen song.

King's Bounty: Warriors of the North

Publisher: 1C

Release: Summer

The ridiculously enjoyable and completely absurd RPG gets a new episode in Warriors of the North. There's, a new hero – called Olaf – and 'gorgeous Valkyries' as new companions. Wub at first sight.

Dungeons and Dragons: Neverwinter

Publisher: Atari

Release: 2012

Cryptic are building a new Neverwinter, which is also what you'll be doing in this return to the well-worn franchise. It's a cooperative online RPG, but the pricing structure has yet to be finalised.

Two Worlds II: Pirates of the Flying Fortess

Publisher: TopWare Interactive

Release: 2012

Pirate-themed expansion to open-world RPG Two Worlds II which boasts new weapons, areas and enemies and something called 'impact-oriented horse armour'.

The Sims 3: Masters Suite

Publisher: EA

Release: Spring

There's next to no information on the new Sims expansion, other than the name. There are also three screenshots, which show a lot of kinky bedroom and bathroom action – always welcome in The Sims universe.

PLATFORM

Rotastic

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive

Release: Spring

Rotastic's been doing the rounds on Xbox Live already this year, but it's set to swing onto the PC next spring. It's 2D platform gaming at its most simplistic, where your character swings around levels to grab goodies. It does look a bit iPhoney, but also offers perfectly-formed casual gaming for the masses, with a two-player versus mode for if you get bored of the old singleplayer format.

Closure

Publisher: Closure Team

Release: Spring

A haunting monochrome puzzleplatformer from Tyler Glaiel and Jon Schubbe. You'll solve environmental puzzles in a world where objects only exist when they are illuminated. It looks remarkable, with strong art direction establishing an identity for the game alongside the Limbos and Braids of the world. It won Excellence in Audio at the 2010 IGF as well as 2009's IndieCade Gameplay Innovation award.

MUSIC

Skillz: The DJ Game

Publisher: Playpen Studios

Release: 2012

A rhythm action game in the style of Guitar Hero, Skillz: The DJ Game expands the genre to include two turntables that can be spun, scratched, and tapped. It's been designed for touch-screen portable devices, but is coming to the PC with support for gamepads. The soundtrack includes Diplo, Mr Scruff, Kid Cudi and Roots Manuva, we'll have you know.

SPORT

Cricket life 1st Edition

Publisher: Gamebience

Release: 2012

Cricket Life 1 is a cricketer management sim from Canadian developers Gamebience. You'll sign deals, make media appearances and build a business in addition to actually, you know, playing cricket. No mention of taking bribes, sadly. It's endorsed by Australian cricketer Michael Hussey, demonstrating that he is probably doing very well at Cricket Life 1.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Publisher: EA

Release: 2012

Nothing has been said about what's new for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13's game mechanics, but EA are making a big fuss about the box it'll come in. Fans voted for the golfers they wanted to see on the cover, with popular young golfing bucks Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy winning out in the end. Gripping stuff we're sure you'll agree. PGA Tour 12 scored only 15%. Whoops.

RTL Winter Sports 2012

Publisher: DTP Entertainment

Release: 2012

A PC version is on the cards despite an apparent focus on the Wii. It offers ten different winter sports and a variety of single- and multiplayer modes. Early screenshots have confirmed curling, which is very exciting, and the E3 trailer shows real people pretending to ski and snowboard in their incredibly clean houses. Less of that please.

Fifa Street

Publisher: EA

Release: Christmas

Footie Day, sweepin' defenders away, on my way, to kick a ball with my feet. Can you tell me how to get, how to get to FIFA Street? Come and play, football by pressing 'A', you'll find players there, and a team to beat. Can you tell me how to get, how to get to FIFA Street?

FPS

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Publisher: Sega

Release: 2012

Based on the characters of the Alien film series, Aliens: Colonial Marines sees another wave of doomed soldiers stranded in Hadley's Hope following the catastrophic destruction of the atmospheric processor.

Prepare to be dragged into vents and impaled on tail-spikes as you and up to three friends find yourselves in a running battle for survival against H R Giger's most famous creations. Gearbox's devotion to the franchise shows in the details, from the sound design (in space, everyone can hear if you get the pulse rifle noise wrong) to the wintry gloom of LV-426 and sparse, loaded banter between squadmates. Where additions have been made, care has been taken to stay in step with the films.

Hopefully this will be the first Aliens game to capture the camaraderie that is so central to the films, and so fundamental to the space marine shooter. LV-426 is, after all, where it all started.

Far Cry 3

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release: 2012

After Far Cry's technical chops and Far Cry 2's relocation to Africa, the next installment in Ubisoft's open-ended shooter series is taking another step sideways. Far Cry 3 is a meditation on madness: the island you're stranded on is populated by sociopaths. It's a drama as much about making you think as about making you wildly fire an AK-47 over a bit of cover.

The assault on a compound shown at E3 confirmed that freeform combat is still central, but the sequence is bookended by scripted events that tie it all together.

The scope of combat has expanded to include context-sensitive takedowns, such as killing a guard with his own knife before throwing it into his mate. I've got no idea where protagonist Jason Brody learned this, but it's presumably the same place where he learned to blow up bridges and hijack helicopters. He might just belong on that island after all.

Miner Wars 2081

Publisher: Keen Software House

Release: Spring

Taking the role of a spaceship pilot, you're free to make your own paths through huge asteroids, and shoot fellow players. A totally interesting concept, but we're slightly wary of zero-G shooters following the dull as dishwater Shattered Horizon.

Iron Front - Liberation 1944

Publisher: Deep Silver

Release: Spring

Based on Arma II's engine, Iron Front is a recreation of the Soviet offensive of 1944 in southern Poland. Taking the role of either a German or Russian soldier, you'll be able to take control of tanks, planes and your own feet to destroy the enemy. Expect clips from it to show up in forthcoming ITV documentaries haplessly pretending to be real life battle action.

Gotham City Impostors

Publisher: Warner Bros

Release: Autumn

A very different kettle of bats to Arkham City, it's a jokey online first-person shooter, with Batman, Catwoman and Joker impersonators battling to the death in a brightly-lit version of Bats' home town. Developers Monolith have already proved themselves in comical shooters with the still-great No One Lives Forever, but they'll have to pull out the stops to take on TF2.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Publisher: Valve

Release: 2012

What started as a port of CS: Source for consoles has become a wholesale revamp for the great-grandfather of the modern military shooter. Billed as a 'bestof' compilation of CS 1.6 and Source, Global Offensive is expected to boast detailed matchmaking to lower the barrier to entry for new players. Time to brush up on your bunnyhopping

Taking Point

Publisher: Cronix Games

Release: 2012

Taking Point is an indie FPS that promises multiplayer action on par with Call of Duty or Battlefield. It's certainly ambitious, but there's little of the game to see so far beyond a gallery of gun renders and early map designs. In that regard, at least, it's making us nostalgic for the golden age of FPS modding. Those were the days.

Warface

Publisher: Warface

Release: Crytek

A free-to-play online shooter from Crytek, the smart folks behind Crysis. Features co-op and class-based PvP in a variety of modes as well as all the expected visual flare. It's pretty much guaranteed to be the bestlooking free FPS on the market, but it's not the only one with cool robot suits. 'Welcome to Warface, soldier' barks the trailer, remarkably keeping a straight face as it does so. Oh, Warface, how you amuse us.

Prey 2

Publisher: Bethesda

Release: 2012

The original was an interesting, innovative title that never quite added up to the sum of its gravitydefying, portal-planting parts. Prey 2 immerses us in an alien world, with a US Marshal waking up to find he's a bounty hunter on a distant planet. Its emphasis on shooting and neon-lit visuals make it look like a Mass Effect quest in a Tron universe.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6: Patriots

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release: 2012

Ubisoft's attempt to consolidate their place on the modern military shooter bandwagon. The hype describes it as a mix of tactical squad-based combat with 'unprecedented levels of humanity'. Footage released by Game Informer caused a bit of a stir, not least for its nowinfamous wife-kissing quicktime event. Heavy handed, but the production values are there.

Ghost Recon Online

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release: 2012

A free-to-play modern military shooter with customisable skills and equipment. It's looking far prettier than direct rival Battlefield Free 2 Play, and the presence of cloaking devices and other high-tech abilities suggests that it's not taking itself too seriously. Ubisoft invite you to 'become the ultimate ghost', which we suspect we will achieve by dying a lot.

Blacklight Retribution

Publisher: Perfect World

Release: 2012

A fast-paced free-to-play multiplayer shooter set in a slick cyberpunk metropolis. It'll be supported by microtransactions, but these look to be mostly cosmetic. It features jetpacking robot hardsuits and cool helmets that'll allow you to see through walls and detect flaws in enemy armour. Seriously, 2012. We turned 14 years ago. You can stop trying so hard.

Sniper Elite V2

Publisher: Rebellion

Release: 2012

Rebellion's game of sitting very still and summarily executing people from far away has been built specifically to take advantage of the PC's more powerful hardware. Based on the teaser trailer, we can expect operatic music, dramatic pauses, and Nazis getting shot in the neck in slow-mo X-ray vision. It really is grotesque. But hey, it's not gratuitous if you've waited a long time to make the kill, right?

Metro: Last Light

Publisher: THQ

Release: 2012

Metro 2033's tense, oozing atmosphere covered a lot of the game's flaws. The follow-up aims to fix them, with THQ's Danny Bilson reckoning that it “Improves on the original in every way.” The tunnel rats and mutants are back, too. An ongoing civil war over a doomsday device provides the backdrop. And everyone loves a fight to avoid the threat of total violent annihilation, right?

Arma 3

Publisher: Bohemia Interactive

Release: 2012

PC gaming's premier hiding in a bush and trying not to die simulator returns with a vast Mediterranean island to explore. In addition to the usual comprehensive array of weapons and vehicles, the singleplayer campaign boasts a renewed focus on narrative. For us, it'll always be about emergent multiplayer madness and the mods.

Zone: The Battleground

Publisher: Xitol Softworks

Release: Sniper: Autumn

Details on this indie sci-fi FPS are scant. There's plenty of concept art and soundtrack material doing the rounds on the internet, but actual footage of the game or screenshots are near non-existent.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2

Publisher: City Interactive

Release: Spring

For a game about dressing as a Christmas tree and shooting people from afar, Sniper: Ghost Warrior did rather well, selling enough units to warrant console ports. This time you've got a spotter at your side.

Syndicate

Publisher: EA

Release: Spring

It may have ditched isometric strategy for the fi rstperson, but the new Syndicate is looking no less cerebral than the original: it's just that 'cerebral', in this case, means 'hacking people's brains and making them shoot themselves'. Ace!

STRATEGY

DOTA 2

Publisher: Valve

Release: 2012

Valve are in a strange position with Dota 2. As the straight sequel to the Warcraft III mod that invented a genre, it's The Man: the conservative stalwart for its more experimental cousins to set themselves against. It's not an accident that Valve revealed the game with a million-dollar International Tournament at GamesCom: this is a competitive game to its core.

This means the same creep-farming, last-hitting action RTS mechanics that have undergone constant refinement since 2003. Don't expect upheavals like Blizzard DOTA's mounts, just a relentlessly tested and veteran-approved take on a classic.

Valve are looking to address rage-quitting by teaching players when and how to turn a gank into an epic comeback, and spectator tools are designed to make it easier than ever to watch and learn. If you take your ancient-defending seriously, this is the place to start.

Fields of Glory: Wolves from the Sea

Publisher: Slitherine

Release: Spring

We picture lots of wolves paddling little wolfy boats up to a beach somewhere, with special oars that can accommodate their furry paws. We get a hexagonal strategy add-on pack. Apparently this one packs over 200 new battle group graphics and '12 plus' new historical battles. We can't confirm how many more than 12 there are though. There could be 34,000.

Jagged Alliance: Back in Action

Publisher: Kalypso Media

Release: Spring

Rid foreign lands of harsh dictatorships in this remake of 1999's Jagged Alliance 2. Unlike strategy titles that pit unfeasibly large tanks against unnecessarily large aliens, this sees you control a team of four mercenaries, with the emphasis firmly on tactics over firepower. A new 'Plan and Go' system recalls Frozen Synapse's tense battles.

Legends of Pegasus

Publisher: Kalypso Media

Release: Summer

Yes, it's another 4X space sim, but at least it looks a little more interesting than a Sins of a Solar Empire clone. There are three races: humans, the Xor and a third unrevealed class. The lead character will be able to jump between them all. Developers Novacore Studios are working hard to make sure its singleplayer campaigns are accessible.

Magna Mundi

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release: Spring

“It's just another Magna Mundi,” sang the Bangles, we think. Promising 400 countries and four centuries of world history, it seems to be along the lines of Paradox's other Very Serious Grand Historical Strategies. Expect many, many pages of statistics, a manual the size of the Yellow Pages and country management complete with it own weather systems.

Prime World

Publisher: Nival

Release: 2012

The only MOBA to have a Zuma-like minigame built into it, Prime World provides a novel take on the classic DotA gameplay, leaning towards accessibility and opening the door to casual gamers. You design your kingdom in the game's Facebook component, raising buildings and researching tech that unlocks and boosts champions in the MOBA game--which is just as deep and hardcore as any you've played, with skill shots, twitch moves and terra-forming terrain that shows which side is winning. The all-important champion design looks promising, with inspired designs and unique mechanics, like the Rat Catcher sending his quick-yet-vulnerable mice minions to steal gold from all enemy players on the map.

Dragon Commander

Publisher: Larian Studios

Release: 2012

Dragon Commander is a game featuring dragons with jetpacks. We're going to repeat that: dragons with jetpacks. It's an RTS with RPG elements set in the Divinity universe, but... dragons with jetpacks. Dragons with jetpacks? Dragons with jetpacks! You can also marry a skeleton who has enormous apples instead of breasts, and fly with her on a magical aircraft carrier. Magical aircraft carrier! Because dragons with jetpacks.

Port Royale 2

Publisher: Kalypso Media

Release: Summer

The latest in the series of aquatic trading games. Set in the 17th century, it sees your young character enter turbulent waters – both literally and figuratively. You can either play it straight as a trader and set up trading routes, or steam in as an adventurer and commit acts of piracy. We know which one sounds most appealing to us. We're not sure if it'll do anything particularly new, but it's certainly going to be solid.

X-Rebirth

Publisher: Deep Silver

Release: Autumn

The X series essentially took Elite's space trading model and revamped it for the 21st century. X Rebirth is the sixth release in the series, featuring a whole new user interface and high-speed space exploration. It won't be compromised by console co-development, either – developer Egosoft have promised it'll be strictly PC only. Yay!

Wargame: European Escalation

Publisher: Eugen

Release: 2012

It's a Cold War-era RTS with a lovely descriptive title by the chaps behind Act of War. A proprietary engine allows hundreds of infantry and vehicles to be rendered at once, giving the potential for warfare on a Supreme Commander scale.

Men of War: Condemned Heroes

Publisher: Lace Mamba

Release: Spring

Placing you in command of a Soviet penal battalion during WWII, the latest in the series looks to be the toughest yet. It's intended to tell the story of these poor doomed soldiers. A brutal challenge for strategy veterans.

Gettysberg: Armoured Warfare

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release: Spring

The free-to-play game is set in the American Civil War, but adds tanks, miniguns and a first-personshooter viewpoint to the traditional real time strategy. A pleasingly bonkers combo.

Naval War: Arctic Circle

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release: Summer

Paradox finally get round to an RTS set in the present day, and all it's all about boats in the Arctic circle. It seems Russia has gone to war with the rest of the world (didn't they stop doing that in the '80s?) and it's up to NATO to stop them. Expect much chasing around the chilly waters of the north pole, complete with state of the art weaponry and ships.

Warlock - Master of the Arcane

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release: Summer

Have you ever wanted to become a master of the arcane? A warlock, so to speak? Well, now your dreams have come true. Built on the hexy turn-based-strategy Majesty, Warlock lets you build a wizard up to warlock status by researching and mastering spells, and doing other wizardy things like growing a big beard and wearing a cloak.

Masters of the Broken World

Publisher: Snowberry Connection

Release: 2012

Hex turn-based strategies are a big deal in the eastern bloc at the moment. This gives you a whole broken world to, er, master. Starting as a bedroom project, it's been picked up by Snowball Connection, who previously gave us Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword. True story: they're marketing at retired Estonian schoolteachers. PC GAMING!

Carrier Command

Publisher: Bohemia Interactive

Release: Spring

A remake of the 1988 original, the new Carrier Command is a mixture of high-level strategy and real-time vehicle control with a sci-fi bent. Expect to pilot tanks, aircraft and drones from your comfortable seat on board a futuristic aircraft carrier. Not 2012's highest-profile return of a beloved franchise, but it'll chime with gamers of a certain age.

Crusader Kings II

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release: Spring

We're pretty sure there isn't any period in the past two thousand years that hasn't been covered by historical strategy games. Crusader Kings II begins in 1066 and covers the next four hundred years, and it's focused more on intrapersonal relationships than ramming ships into the coast of Spain until you win. Graham's already played a bit and he liked it a lot, describing it as: “The kind of history I can get behind.”

Scrolls

Publisher: Mojang

Release: 2012

Not to be confused with more lumpily-titled The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Mojang's Scrolls is a card battler that is designed to scale from small-scale competitive matches to long-form campaigns. True to form, and much like card games of the real world, a degree of random chance promises to keep the game fresh. We don't know how it'll play, but the mind behind Minecraft has earned more than a little benefit of the doubt

Star Wolves 2: Ashes of Victor

Publisher: 1C

Release: Spring

This presents you with an open-ended campaign set in a galaxy on the cusp of open war. It's always been a tough series to crack for new players, so we'd like to see Elite Games Team try to lower the barrier to entry a little bit.

Circus World

Publisher: Excalibur

Release: Spring

Jolly circus management with an Appreciation Engine that allows you to monitor how audiences are responding to your show. You can take a seat from a fi rstperson perspective and watch over 30 types of performer. From the maker of Populous.

Victoria 2: A House Divided

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release: Spring

Grand strategy with a focus on the American Civil War, with new political, economic and cultural mechanics. Guide your nation through the upheavals at the birth of the 20th century and try not to get yourself shot in a theatre.

King Arthur 2: The Roleplaying Wargame

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release: Spring

This sequel sees King Arthur return to the land of real-time strategy, complete with all the dragons and mysticism that existed during the era. Expect huge battles and some lovely visuals.

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Publisher: Activision Blizzard

Release: 2012

An expandosequel to the biggest strategy game in the world, the campaign focuses on one-time Queen of Blades. The new campaign allows you to upgrade Kerrigan and her Zerg swarm over twenty missions, while multiplayer has been updated with three new units per side. Almost everything else receives an overhaul too.

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