It is time for this year’s predictions. The year 2013 represents “the last hurrah” of the seventh generation consoles. It looks to be one of the best years. I think I said that last year, but this year even more. A number of my predicted top games for last year were pushed into 2013. Then, there are all the games that were already planned for 2013 release. This year is stacked for big releases.
This post is a compilation of my predictions for the top games of the 2013 year. I have looked at the games that are expected to release in the coming year and made my predictions on the best in each genre. Last year, I made my predictions a little late, all the way in April. This year, I decided to make them in January.
As a rule, I do not cover game genres that I do not play, so I do not make predictions for the Racing, Sports, and Fighting genres. I also do not play handheld games; I make no predictions of 3DS and Vita or iOS/Android (smartphone/tablet) games.
I make my predictions based on a combination of factors. Mostly it is hype surrounding the game, but I also think about other factors such as the developer’s history of games, the previous games in the series if it is a sequel, and what I personally think from the preview footage of the game. I generally weight full game releases higher than expansion packs. An expansion pack has to be perfect to beat a new full game.
Winner: BioShock Infinite
Other Contenders: Crysis 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4, ARMA 3, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Gears of War: Judgement, Aliens: Colonial Marines
Just like last year, it has be BioShock Infinite. It has a lot of hype behind it, but it looks like it will live up to it. All the gameplay I have seen has looked amazing. Not just the graphics, but the interesting mechanics available in a cloud city. No other action game this year has this much attention, and Ken Levine has shown he can pull it off.
Last year we had a battle between Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. This year a similar battle will occur between Crysis 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4. I expect Crysis 3 will be favored for the single player. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 will still be the top multiplayer shooter. Neither game has the complete package to beat BioShock Infinite.
ARMA 3 will be next in line, but it is a PC exclusive. It will score well — PC gamers will love it — but it will not have the reach to win big overall action game awards. If this were PC only, ARMA 3 will get the second place spot. It does not have the wide appeal that BioShock Infinite has, but it will do very well among PC awards.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Gears of War: Judgement are both in the same situation. The big stories in their franchises have basically ended, so these games are reboots of the series with new main characters. I have been following their preorder numbers, and both have low preorder numbers considering their releases are only a few months away. Also, there is not much hype around. No one seems interested.
Aliens: Colonial Marines will likely be last. I am sure many people would love a good shooter based on the Aliens franchise, but licensed games have a horrible history. Recently, the Batman: Arkham series has done well, but that is not enough for me to put this game higher. I think it will have a few novel gameplay mechanics, but suffer big game design issues as most licensed games do.
Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5
Other Contenders: Watch Dogs, Beyond: Two Souls, The Last of Us, Remember Me, Tomb Raider (reboot), Bayonetta 2, God of War: Ascension, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
My prediction is the same as last year: Grand Theft Auto 5. This game has a massive amount of hype, and everything I have seen looks like it will live up to it. Rockstar just makes good games. They have shown in the past they will delay games to ensure they are great at release. Grand Theft Auto 5 is just another example, with its planned release in 2012 pushed into 2013. Nothing else here can compete with this game.
For the first time in a number of years, we have a lot of original games in the Action/Adventure genre. Beyond: Two Souls, The Last of Us, Watch Dogs, and Remember Me are all original. I encourage you to read more about these games and watch their gameplay footage. There is a possibility that one of these games steals the award from GTA5 if they can build enough hype. I will just write a few words on each:
- The Last of Us looks to be the most conservative with a twist on the post-apocalyptic settings of other games. I think it will be one of the more popular games this year but not feel original enough to win big.
- Beyond: Two Souls will not get as much attention as Heavy Rain did. They are adding a twist on the gameplay with a ghost character that can manipulate the environment, but that is not enough to surpass the praise Heavy Rain received.
- Remember Me being published by Capcom questions its potential. Capcom just has a bad track record lately, but the game has interesting Inception-like memory altering gameplay.
- Watch Dogs is the most promising of the games, with the popular open world from GTA5 combined with a nice gameplay twist of being able to hack into almost anything. Also, unlike Capcom, Ubisoft has a good track record. Of these four games, I think it will do the best.
Now it is back to the sequels: Tomb Raider (reboot), Bayonetta 2, God of War: Ascension, and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Tomb Raider has a lot of hype around it but also a lot of controversy. I do not think it will live up to the hype. Bayonetta 2 is Wii U exclusive. Since Nintendo is funding its development, it will not get ported to other platforms. Wii U does not have the steam to attract attention. God of War used to be a flagship of PlayStation, but people just are not that interested anymore, so God of War: Ascension will not make an impact. As for Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, the first was a niche game; the sequel will be the same.
Winner: South Park: The Stick of Truth
Other Contenders: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Grim Dawn, Path of Exile, Marvel Heroes, The Dark Eye: Demonicon, Divinity: Origin Sin
This year it seems to be South Park: The Stick of Truth’s time to win. Will Obsidian successfully make a good South Park game? Previous South Park games have been pretty bad. There is a lot on the line. Unfortunately, THQ went out of business, which calls into question whether Stick of Truth will be released. I am hopeful that another publisher will pick up the rights to continue this game.
If Stick of Truth is cancelled or delayed, I see Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch as next in line. This game will be a repeat of Xenoblade last year. It already released in Japan but is coming to the States for the first time. It will score well, but most of the excitement was last year. JRPGs are not that popular in America either. It is also PlayStation exclusive, which hurts the attention it will get. Even so, I think it will be one of the higher scored games this year, and a good pick if South Park does not come out.
Grim Dawn, Path of Exile, and Marvel Heroes are a trio of action RPGs. Grim Dawn looks to be a typical single player + multiplayer game, but the other two will be online-only, free-to-play with a cash shop to support the game. Grim Dawn has had trouble getting funding for their game. I am not sure if it will ever get released. I just can not see it winning big awards. I think Path of Exile and Marvel Heroes will both get a lot of players in them, but not much attention from reviewers. There is a little need for reviews when players can play for free.
The Dark Eye: Demonicon and Divinity: Origin Sin are all indie games. Indie games while being unique games do not score well or sell very much. I enjoy playing indie games, but they usually do not have the polish of mainstream games. So I do not predict either of these to be a top game this year. I am sure they will be a lot of fun and hope that they sell enough to keep their developers in business.
Winner: Company of Heroes 2
Other Contenders: Total War: Rome 2, Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, SimCity (reboot), Pikmin 3, Europa Universalis IV, DOTA 2, World of Warplanes, Command & Conquer
Company of Heroes 2 is another game that is up in the air. THQ had a lot of good games in the pipeline. Relic Entertainment is known for making good strategy games. Most of their games have scored averages of 8 or 9 out of 10. Another thing I notice is that the second or third title in a popular game series usually ends up scoring the highest and being the most favored among gamers. I expect Company of Heroes 2 to follow this pattern.
Total War: Rome 2 is the next major game in the Total War series. This series has grown more and more popular over the years, but players have been clamoring for a sequel to Rome ever since Empire: Total War showed off what next generation graphics can do. I expect very good sales of this game and good reviews too. The Creative Assembly has had a chance to polish their game engine since Empire’s release. This game will be a hit. If Company of Heroes 2 does not come out this year, Rome 2 will be the winner.
Unlike Diablo 3, Starcraft 2 had a good launch and was generally well liked by strategy players. Heart of the Swarm is just an expansion, but I expect very high scores from it. It is not just a new campaign. There are lots of new features coming to the Battle.net system from a Call of Duty-style progression system for the more casual players to unranked matchmaking and an improved observer mode for the more hardcore players. Still, it is an expansion pack, so I cannot see it beating the above two strategy games.
SimCity, Pikmin 3, and Europa Universalis IV are the next tier of games this year. All of them will score pretty well, but not be as popular as the above games. SimCity will be the most popular due to its longstanding history, though the online-only requirement will hurt it a little. Pikmin 3 I expect to score the highest of these three, maybe even higher than some of the above strategy gamers, but the Wii U does not have the installed base for massive sales. Europa Universalis IV is going to be a niche game just because of its grand strategy nature. These games take a long time to play, and the average player does not get into them.
The lowest tier of games will be DOTA 2, World of Warplanes, and Command & Conquer. These are all free-to-play multiplayer-only titles. Of the three DOTA 2 will do the best, with the highest scores and most players, but still not enough to beat any of the top strategy games this year. The MOBA genre is just too full for any game to make a difference. World of Warplanes will be less popular than World of Tanks but still a success. Command & Conquer will have problems with pay-to-win in its business model. EA has a history of doing this.
Winner: The Elder Scrolls Online
Other Contenders: Neverwinter, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, City of Steam, Dust 514, Defiance
It is pretty easy to say that The Elder Scrolls Online has the most hype. I do not think it will live up to it totally, but I think it will be pretty good game and be fairly popular. Even though they have said it is a subscription game, I am predicting it will be changed to buy-to-play like Guild Wars 2. TESO is actually is very similar to Guild Wars 2. It has three competing factions fighting over territory, quests that just pop-up in your quest log as you explore, and an active combat system. Since it comes out later, it will not do as well as Guild Wars 2, but there is nothing else this year that can compete with it.
Neverwinter seemed like it would fail, but lately I have seen a lot of interest in it from the MMO community. Unlike the Neverwinter Nights series, Neverwinter is a real-time hack and slash game, but it will include an editor for players to create custom dungeons. The reason I do not include it in the RPGs section is because it requires online multiplayer. Ultimately, it is just about collecting better loot like Diablo 3 or Path of Exile, but players will have to work together to complete dungeons.
Surprisingly, my next pick is Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. This game was horrible at launch, but Sony has been reworking it for years now. I think they will finally succeed. It will do nowhere as well as The Elder Scrolls Online, but it will be a “good” game finally. It will be hurt by staying a subscription game, but it will score 8/10 and have a healthy playerbase.
I see City of Steam as being pretty much the same as The Secret World in 2012. It will be reviewed well and the players that actually buy it will like it, but it just will not get the attention that other MMOs will. Steampunk is niche compared to straight-up fantasy. Fantasy is just more popular.
I think the last two games, Dust 514 and Defiance, will both initially do okay, but eventually have to close shop or be in maintenance mode. They both have interesting concepts: Dust 514 interacts with the Eve Online world, and Defiance melds a TV show and MMO. But it is all about the gameplay. I have seen nothing that will separate them from existing MMOFPS’s like Planetside 2, Blacklight: Retribution, and Tribes: Ascend. Dust 514 will probably be offered for free with Eve Online players’ existing subscriptions. Defiance will last as long as the TV show is popular, which I expect to be no more than a year.
Overall Game of the Year
Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5
Other Contenders: The Last of Us, BioShock Infinite, The Elder Scrolls Online, Company of Heroes 2, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Total War: Rome 2, Watch Dogs
This is a repeat of last year. Grand Theft Auto 3 and 4 won most of the big awards the years they were released. I expect no different for Grand Theft Auto 5. I have seen nothing, even a year later, that could change my mind. The game has a lot of big hype. The gameplay will be just as good. The open world will continue to be the best in its class. Grand Theft Auto 5 will be Game of the Year.
Of course, there are a bunch of other games to consider. This is the most unpredictable since some of the games may not even be released or get cancelled. Others might be huge disappointments. Here is my overall ranking for the year:
- Grand Theft Auto 5
- Bioshock Infinite
- Watch Dogs
- The Last of Us
- South Park: The Stick of Truth
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
- Company of Heroes 2
- Rome 2
This list represents my overall feeling on the popular game genres. Action and Action/Adventure are at the top followed by RPGs and MMOs, and finally, Strategy games in last. This was not always the case. Command & Conquer, Age of Empires, Warcraft, Starcraft, Civilization, SimCity, and more all won Game of the Year awards at some point.
As always, I will write a follow-up next year to compare the actual winners to my predictions.