Big Red Barrel’s Gaming Picks for 2015

Traditionally, the first year or so of a new console generation tends to be poor as developers are still getting used to new hardware. While 2014 may be remembered as the year when games were broken, the Golden Barrel Awards a few weeks ago proved that it wasn’t without some gems.

A new year is upon us and based on the mere sampling of games the staff here at Big Red Barrel have listed below, it should be a corker.

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Halo 5: Guardians (Tudor)

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I was in two minds about getting this included in our list. The recent disaster that is The Master Chief Collection is far too fresh to be forgotten. But that Beta! Halo 5: Guardians‘ game-play so far has been a nice mix of fresh and familiar. Not to mention a new hero in Agent Locke who’s already been briefly showcased in The Master Chief Collection‘s additional cinematics, as well as Halo: Nightfall.

  • Expected Release: Q4 2015

WWE: 2K16 (Coleman)

wwe-2k16

Though not yet announced, the latest iteration to the WWE 2K series is likely to be revealed later in the year, to be released in the fall. While many felt that WWE 2K15 left a bit of a blemish on the constantly improving series (due to missing features and an awkward new fighting system), 2K Sport found themselves answering to a large amount of criticism and having to explain that Xbox One/PlayStation 4 copies of the game were built from the ground up for the new consoles. I, for one, am excited to see just how 2K steer away from the minimal yearly improvements of THQ in this new generation of systems and hope for long-standing fans of the series that we see this leading wrestling simulator make a return to glory. Just please give us back our custom entrance music.

  • Expected Release: Q4 2015

No Man’s Sky (Tim)

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I am hopeful that No Man’s Sky will be great, but mindful of what we don’t know about it and still concerned that the latest from Hello Games could yet turn out to be a massive disappointment. No Man’s Sky‘s ambition and scale are huge, and it has continued to impress from a visual standpoint, but with little in the way of game-play details known, it is difficult to assess just exactly what we have to look forward to.

  • Expected Release: Q3 2015

Evolve (Smashsoul)

evolve

As of writing this, Evolve is only a few weeks away from launching, being one of the early birds in 2015. Coming from the team behind the original Left 4 Dead, it expands on the concept of asymmetric multiplayer game-play (first seen when fighting a Tank in Left 4 Dead). Players can choose to play on a team of four hunters or as a lone monster across a vast map playing various modes. After hands-on with Evolve at various points over the past few months, it’s definitely shaping up to be an interesting take on multiplayer – where co-ordination, communication and tactical thinking are key – and one that I’m definitely looking forward to playing with friends.

  • Expected Release: 10th February 2015

Kingdom Hearts 3 (Dom)

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I know this is a long shot but one of the games I’m most excited for this year is Kingdom Hearts 3. I don’t think anybody really expects this to come out this year but with the recent comments made by Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy, it has planted the small seeds of hope in the minds of Kingdom Hearts fans everywhere. With all the new possibilities for worlds and characters since the last Kingdom Hearts game such as both the Star Wars and Marvel universes, this is definitely one I’m looking forward to with great anticipation.

  • Expected Release: Q4 2015

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PacManPolarBear)

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The Witcher 3 is a triple A juggernaut with an experienced team, a reasonable budget and a whole lot of expectations behind it – CD Projekt RED needs to deliver. Details about a new playable character, tons of meaty, free DLC, an expansive open world and trailers with the kind of visuals typically reserved for graphics engine demos have done a lot to keep me excited. I can’t wait for the next Witcher game to come out and spit all over its RPG competitors and their limp-wristed “consequences” and “player choice” – just like the the first two Witcher games did. It’s time for the RPG made for adults to put the little kiddies to bed. Also, boobs.

  • Expected Release: 19th May 2015

Batman: Arkham Knight (Ryan)

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The end of the Arkham trilogy; glossing over the underwhelming Arkham Origins from WB Montreal, Batman: Arkham Knight sees Rocksteady return to their series. They’ve taken back the helm and are taking big jumps for the franchise, making this the most tantilising entry yet. The Batmobile, a new villain named the Arkham Knight and a general upgrade for the next generation of hardware – I’m more than ready for Rocksteady to blow my socks off and end their franchise rightly. The idea that this could lead into a Rocksteady Justice League game makes the wait even longer.

  • Expected Release: 2nd June 2015

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (Diarmuid)

uncharted-4-a-thiefs-end

Naughty Dog have a sterling record when it comes to delivering character-driven, cinematic games. Many had assumed that they would continue their tradition of jumping to a new IP with a new console generation. I, for one, am glad we will be stepping back into the mud-splattered shoes of Nathan Drake for (at least) one last frolick in the jungle. The Uncharted series has long been a favourite of mine so it won’t come as a surprise that this is my most anticipated game for the year.

  • Expected Release: Q4 2015

Adr1ft (Coleman)

adr1ft

We don’t know much about the Gravity-esque title Adr1ft other than it’s being developed by new studio Three One Zero, is being headed up in part by ex-Microsoft employee Adam Orth (remember the “Deal with it” guy on Twitter?) and it has an intriguing trailer. Headed to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC (with Oculus Rift support), this first-person survival title set in the low gravity of space has shown enough to gain my curiosity.

  • Expected Release: Q3 2015

Final Fantasy XV (Dom)

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Square Enix has been steadily western-ising the Final Fantasy series for years now, with every game from XII onward foregoing the traditional ATB and random encounter systems for more modern mechanics. This hasn’t always worked out so well with the XIII series receiving very mixed reviews from both fans and critics alike. However, there seems to be an almost universally positive feeling towards XV right now with the combat looking both fresh and exciting and we can only hope that it lives up to the high expectations fans have for the series.

  • Expected Release: Q4 2015

Starbound (Simon)

starbound

The game I look forward to the most this year is one that has been playable for about a year. Starbound was released in Early Access in December 2013. After numerous updates and patches, the developer Chucklefish is aiming to release the completed game in 2015. Starbound is a 2-D sandbox exploration game where your character starts out on their ship, ready to explore the galaxy. Along the way are dungeons to explore, wildlife to kill and resources to be mined. I’m really excited to see what the developer still has in store for the players and how much the game will change and improve by its release.

  • Expected Release: Q1 2015

The Order 1886 (Chris Xephon)

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When Sony announced that a triple A game for the PlayStation 4 from Ready At Dawn was being developed, I’ll admit to some trepidation. This was, after all, the studio that had previously worked on several PSP titles (albeit two well-received God of War games). That the game they revealed was a steam-punk influenced, third-person action/shooter, and a great looking game too, was all the more surprising. Set in an alternate-history London during the industrial revolution, with characters based on tales of King Arthur, this has all the makings of a fantastic and absorbing single-player experience.

  • Expected Release: Q1 2015

The Legend of Zelda Wii U (Lauren)

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After a long wait and several lesser Link-laden games, this year Nintendo is gracing us with the first truly open-world Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U. Taking elements from previous titles and forming them into a new environment, the new game will allow players to fully explore the beautiful Hyrulian landscape without any boulders or trees blocking the path. Little has been revealed of what we can expect from this title; all we have so far a game-play trailer which was first broadcast as E3 but that alone is enough to get me excited for this game –  so much so that I was determined to get a Wii U for this title. So far, we have seen some elements of Skyward Sword that may play heavily into this game; such as the sailcloth and a transforming arrow which could be linked to some of the powers from the previous game. There is no release date at the moment, but it is likely to be in the second half of the year; there should be lot more revealed to us hopefully at E3 at the start of the Summer.

  • Expected Release: Q4 2015

Star Wars: Battlefront (Tudor)

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Space battles and light-sabers. I don’t think I really need to say much more than that, but if you were to take a trip down nostalgia lane to Star Wars: Battlefront 2, you’ll have fond memories of waging war on the ground and in space in huge battles with an array of soldiers at your disposal. And with the release of The Force Awakens this year, Star Wars hype is at the highest it has been since before we ever heard the name Jar-Jar Binks.

  • Expected Release: Q4 2015

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Rik)

metal-gear-solid-v-the-phantom-pain

Picking up nine years after the end of the awesome (if criminally overpriced) Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, The Phantom Pain will see Venom Snake; formerly known as Big Boss, out for revenge against those who have wronged him. Aided by old faces and new, Snake will have a whole new arsenal of items and moves at his disposal, such as the ability to rock climb, call in help from allies and ride a horse, as he traverses the hugely expansive open environments of Africa and Afghanistan. Mother Base is making its return from Peace Walker, only this time, it’s not only possible to walk around your own base, but infiltrate other players’ bases too. I, for one, can’t wait to tranquillise my enemies and send them to the heavens with the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system. The Phantom Pain is set to be the biggest and most complex entry of the series, and it can’t get here soon enough.

  • Expected Release: Q2 2015

Until Dawn (Tim)

until-dawn

Until Dawn is something that was only barely on my radar as a point of interest, until I played it at EGX last year. The game contains performance captures from the likes of Hayden Panettiere, as well as other actors lending their performance and likeness to the roles of a young group being terrorised by a killer, trapped in a cabin in the woods. Containing many familiar horror tropes and elements of films such as I Know What You Did Last Summer or the Saw series, this seems like a horror game looking to scratch that Heavy Rain itch. With a history of Move controls being (not entirely) removed, this could still fall flat on its face into a pit of rusty needles but I’m keen to see if it can pull it off and deliver a high quality, dynamically-interesting story.

  • Expected Release: Q3 2015

The Last Guardian (Jess)

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Six years later and we’re still waiting. Coming after the poignant puzzle-platformer Ico, and the emotionally wrenching Shadow of the Colossus – two games that are integral to any ‘video games as art’ discussions – The Last Guardian promises more of the beauty and emotional depth we’ve come to expect from Fumito Ueda and the rest of Team ICO. But after the exciting official announcement at E3 2009, its vague 2011 release date came and went and we’ve been drip fed information ever since. If we are lucky enough to be blessed with The Last Guardian this year, we’ll enjoy the tale of a boy and his griffin-esque monster friend, with the familiar themes of companionships in a melancholy and hostile environment that made Ico and Shadow so special. If any development team is worthy of our patience, it’s Team ICO, and judging by their previous releases, it’ll certainly be worth the wait.

  • Expected Release: Q4 2015 (We can dream)

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These are just a sample of the games that have us excited? What is on your list that we named (or omitted)? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. cobberwebb

    Mine would be Tearaway Unfolded (PS4). If you haven’t played Tearaway on the Vita then this will be a must. Great sountrack, story, and imagination from Media Molecule.

  2. I was going to volunteer a Bloodborne entry but by the time I saw what was going on the list of games being written about was already enormous, so I figured “eh, people know I like some Miyazaki.”

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