In what might just go down as one of the best years for gaming in history, and certainly the busiest, there were more than enough games to keep even the most discerning gamer satisfied throughout last year. Just take a look at the finalists for our 2010 Game Rant Awards and it’s obvious that many of those games could have been guaranteed winners in any other year.
So with 2010 under our belt, we’re turning our eyes to the future, and a year that is already looking to break the wallets of the gaming community. From first-person-shooters to RPGs, and every other genre in between, here are our 20 most anticipated games of 2011.
The calendars of console and PC fans alike will soon be marked with a major release (or two) every other week and there’s no question that we’ll be playing hundreds of games this year.
We’ll likely find a few hidden gems along the way, but these are the games that we simply can’t wait to get our hands on in 2011.
#20. Killzone 3
2011 may just be the year of the PS3, with Killzone 3 kicking things off the FPS genre with a follow-up to a sequel that didn’t quite blow minds, turning the standard war narrative into one of survival and political intrigue. Guerilla Games is looking to improve the mistake of the past by fixing technical issues, adding local co-op, and continuing to deliver fantastic visuals. Not to mention jetpacks! Since Killzone 3 is being launched with full 3D support, the game’s successes and failures might be a lesson for the industry as a whole going forward.
Killzone 3 will be released on February 22 for the Playstation 3.
#19. Metal Gear Solid: Rising
It doesn’t take much to get gamers excited about a new installment in the Metal Gear Solid series that Hideo Kojima built. Even if the man himself is less focused on the game than some might like, getting a chance to take a look at the origins of one of the series’ more mysterious characters is a welcome one. The game is also being designed by the team behind Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker, so they’re more than capable of taking on a sword-wielding killing machine. The quality has never been an issue, and the fact that Metal Gear Solid: Rising will be giving players a totally new experience means we can’t wait to see what Kojima Productions has planned.
Metal Gear Solid: Rising is currently slated for a release in 2011 on the PS3 and Xbox 360.
#18. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
While the original may not have been as massive a success with fans as other entries on our list, The Witcher 2 looks to take RPGs in a brand new direction. By injecting non-linear storytelling and and emphasis on cause and effect into the RPG formula, the developers at CD Projekt Red are aiming to give players the most control over a game’s progression we’ve ever seen. There’s no denying that the game looks gorgeous, but it’s the dedication to storytelling that could be what makes it a must-play.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings will be released on May 17, exclusively for the PC.
#17. StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm
After a blockbuster release, it was obvious that the time Blizzard put into developing StarCraft 2 was well spent, and we can’t wait for another dose. The upcoming expansion won’t be just a slight addition, but a brand new campaign for the Zerg race, complete with brand new units. Even though we’ve already seen how the game will end, we can’t wait to see what new game mechanics, level designs, and tweaks to multiplayer that will inevitably accompany the expansion.
StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm hasn’t yet received a release date, but we’re hoping the announcement will come sooner rather than later, even if it means our wallets will be taking an even bigger hit than usual this year.
#16. Guild Wars 2
Simply put, Guild Wars 2 is an attempt by ArenaNet and NCSoft to change the way people think about an MMO. The developers made it clear in their Manifesto trailer that they have had enough of games where quests are nothing more than meaningless tasks. With GW 2, the emphasis will be put back on the player, and remove the false mechanics of a massively-multiplayer-RPG. Quests will be initiated by and result in real-time events that allow a player to change the game in a meaningful way. The game looks great, and the fact that there’s no subscription only sweetens the deal.
Guild Wars 2 will be released sometime in 2011, for the PC and Mac.
#15. LittleBigPlanet 2
The game that gave the ability to players to become game designers from the comfort of their own couch is back with a sequel, and are they ever raising the bar. Media Molecule is expanding on the building blocks of the original by giving players the ability to write, control vehicles, create an army, record your own voice-over, not to mention crafting a compelling story. Minecraft has shown the extent that players will go to for creation’s sake, so these additions could take LBP 2 to the next level.
LittleBigPlanet 2 will be released on January 18, exclusively for the PS3.
#14. LA Noire
Having the opportunity to assume the role of Detective Cole Phelps in 1947 Los Angeles is an interesting enough idea for a videogame, but the fact that it’s coming from Rockstar, the same publishers who brought us Red Dead Redemption means this is one to get excited about. If developer Team Bondi takes even a slightly similar approach to forty’s LA, then LA Noire could really be something special, both in terms of technology and storytelling.
LA Noire will be released this spring, for the PS3 and Xbox 360.
#13. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
This one is a simple choice, since a new Zelda game is always a display of the best that Nintendo‘s platform has to offer. With Skyward Sword, the Wii’s Motion Plus controller will be granting players the chance to take control of Link’s shield and sword in a way that they’ve dreamed of since childhood. Aside from learning that Link’s sword will be more than just metal, the glimpses of the game show that Skyward Sword may look the closest to Ocarina of Time than any of the games since. The game may not be complete, but we’ve liked what we’ve seen so far.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is scheduled for a release in the spring of 2011, exclusively for the Nintendo Wii.
#12. Pokemon Black & White
You don’t really need a reason to look forward to a new Pokemon game anymore, but Nintendo has shown that Black and White are definitely taking the series into a new age. The games released to mind-boggling sales in Japan, and while it may not reach the top of the sales charts in the west, there’s no denying that the addition of 3D environments and animated battles along with brand new creatures are proof that this can’t be overlooked. There’s a reason the series has lasted this long, and we can’t wait to see how the developers have sought to outdo their previous work.
Pokemon Black and Pokemon White will be released in North America on March 6, exclusively for the Nintendo DS.
#11. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
It wouldn’t take much to get us excited about another follow up to the original Deus Ex, and the first trailer alone got us aching to step into the shoes of cybernetically-enhanced Adam Jensen once again. The cinematic story trailer is all a gamer needs to see why the futuristic setting and technological advancement have quickly made this joint venture from Square Enix and Eidos Montreal into a game to watch out for.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution will be released in March, for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
The success of shooters owes more than a small amount of credit to id Software, creators of Doom. Times have changed, and now the developers are set to show off the new game engine that they’ve been hard at work on when Rage is released later this year. The game’s apocalyptic landscape may be familiar to players, as will the story, but the visuals of the game have impressed nearly all who’ve seen them. So even if the game doesn’t give us a brand new story, it may give us the best graphics we’ve seen on a console.
Rage will be released September 13, for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.
#9. Portal 2
Anyone who knows PCs knows Valve, and anyone who knows Valve knows Portal, the game built on exploring a single physics concept that was quickly noticed by developers and gamers alike years ago. Now we’re looking forward to the idea being expanded into an entirely new game with Portal 2, along with a completely new co-op campaign. The physics puzzles of the first game have been upgraded with the addition of various gels and mechanics, so the depth of this game can’t be underestimated.
Portal 2 will be released in February, for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Mac.
#8. The Last Guardian
Little is still known about The Last Guardian, the newest project from Team Ico and Fumito Ueda, the creators of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. The initial announcement trailer hasn’t been expanded upon in great length, and only a few small details about the game’s development have been revealed. The game is visually stunning, and the pairing of a small boy with a feathered, bird-like dog-dragon is both interesting and mysterious. The truth is we would be looking forward to Ueda’s next project regardless of the content, since his two previous games have substantially changed the way videogames can be perceived.
The Last Guardian is scheduled for a release in the holidays, exclusively for the PS3. We can only hope that the game isn’t delayed any further.
#7. Dragon Age 2
Since the release of Dragon Age: Origins, BioWare has been busy. Origins was under production before Mass Effect was started, so the lessons that have been learned from that franchise are being adopted for Dragon Age 2. The gameplay we’ve seen has shown improved graphics, a new dialogue system, and a singular narrative replacing the character creation of the original. Regardless of the changes, we know good storytelling and RPGs, and BioWare has shown that they do too.
Dragon Age 2 will be released on March 8, for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.
#6. Gears of War 3
Epic Games has topped their previous work so far in the series, and Gears of War 3 looks to build on the games that came before it in nearly every way. The team is going all out for the third game, expanding on multiplayer, weaponry and enemy types, adding new characters and locations, and even letting the fans determine who lives or dies. We all know the game is going to be as good as the previous two, and the extra time until release will only guarantee that the launch will be a smooth one. But with the games being written by the same writer of the far-reaching Gears novels, we have absolutely no idea how the story will play out, or if Epic is planning on ending the series at all. Whatever the case, we’re in for a ride.
Gears of War 3 will be released in the fall of 2011, exclusively for the Xbox 360.
#5. Batman: Arkham City
Batman: Arkham Asylum will forever be remembered as the game that finally did the impossible, and made every gamer feel what it was like to be the Dark Knight. Now Rocksteady Studios is set to go even further, letting the player take on not just the Joker, but a brand new city full of villains. The VGA announcement trailer was stunning for its own reasons, but was loved by us for its dedication to the dark, gritty, realistic approach to Arkham City. As much as we would have loved to get behind the wheel of the batmobile, the developers have shown that they know better than us, so we’ll patiently await any opportunity to wear the cowl once again.
Batman: Arkham City will be released this fall on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.
#4. Diablo 3
Is there another developer working today with as sterling a track record as Blizzard? They may not release many games, but when a new one comes out, it’s an event. StarCraft 2 sold 3 million copies in it’s first month, and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm broke the PC’s 24-hour sales record. Blizzard’s product plan states that 2011 is the year of Diablo 3, and whether or not the game makes the jump to consoles or sticks to the PC, additions like the artisan and crafting systems, and the new Demon Hunter class are sure to help the game keep pace with Blizzard’s stable of mega-hits.
Diablo 3 will release this fall for the PC.
#3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
There are only a handful of companies who knows the RPG genre so well, that even their misses are forgiven by the hardcore who put more weight in the success of their hits. Bethesda has shown that when it comes to expansive worlds and fantasy storytelling, they are simply unrivaled. The Elder Scrolls series has been around a long time, and the developers have finally revealed the project that they’ve been developing in secret for years.
Skyrim will take the story and world that players have become familiar with, and inject a healthy dose of dragons while correcting technical issues of the past. It’s hard to have any doubts that the game certainly won’t disappoint, and the RPG genre has been filled with so many hybrids lately, we welcome the opportunity to experience some top quality role-playing from those who know it best.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be released November 11, 2011.
#2. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
If you haven’t already noticed from the entries above, it’s a good year to own a PlayStation 3. If there is one franchise that has proven what’s capable on the console, it’s Uncharted, and the series lead Nathan Drake is set to give players a brand new desert adventure with Uncharted 3. Our looking forward to the next game was a foregone conclusion, and the gameplay videos we’ve seen have shown that the same great graphics and challenging traversal are still there with the same cinematic flare of the previous games.
The most exciting thing about the game is how dedicated the team at Naughty Dog is to providing a new experience to fans, and giving them the feeling of a much more open world. It’s a good bet that the game will once again surprise players with amazing graphics, adrenaline-fueled cinematics, and an even more compelling story. And we can’t wait.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception will be released on November 1, 2011 exclusively for the PS3.
#1. Mass Effect 3
At last, the game that needs no introduction. BioWare has outdone themselves with each installment in the Mass Effect series, turning an at-times clunky RPG into a streamlined shooter placing an emphasis on conversation and player choice in a culture-rich alien landscape. With Mass Effect 3, Commander Shepard finally returns to Earth as the last hope for humanity’s survival against the Reaper threat. The announcement trailer was all we needed to remember how good it felt to step into the boots of mankind’s greatest hero, and the wait won’t be getting any easier.
We’ve gathered together everything we know about the game, and if one thing is clear, it’s that the story could go anywhere in the Mass Effect universe. Considering how drastically the game changed from the first to second titles, it’s still unknown how different the third game will feel. BioWare has been keeping an eye on the way players have interacted with the series, and we can’t wait to see just how they’ve put that data to use. The sheer amount of variables that will be used to shape our own story means that the conclusion to the trilogy could give the most tailored game experience that we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. And we can’t wait.
Mass Effect 3 will be released in November, 2011 for the Xbox 360, PC, and PS3.
So there you have it; the twenty games that we’re most looking forward to, and while you may disagree with the placement of titles on our list, you can’t miss the fact that this year is stacked. We included twenty, and there are still several notable titles that were omitted. From Homefront for those who crave some compelling story with their shooters, or Forza Motorsport 4 for racing fans who crave a streamlined game experience with their racing simulation, you’ll be hard pressed to find a genre or gamer who doesn’t have something to look forward to in 2011.
We look forward to another year of triple-A titles, hidden gems, and surprise games that will change the way we look at our consoles, and our indutry. We’ll be sure to bring you the best news, reviews, and insights along the way, and allow us to start the year off with a bit of advice:
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