RIP Ralph Baer
I really, really hate writing obits. I really do. But I take it as a personal honor to be able to say good things about the men and women I respect, whether in this industry or just in my life, and Ralph Baer is the reason all of this exists in the first...
HomeFeatures Metroid 3DS, Halo 5 Delay, And More Predictions For 2014
Metroid 3DS, Halo 5 Delay, And More Predictions For 2014
Posted on Sunday, January 5 @ 06:00:00 Eastern by Alex_Osborn
As we enter an exciting new year of gaming, it's hard not to constantly contemplate what the next twelve months may hold. As such, I've decided to channel my incessant need to speculate into a constructive endeavor, resulting in a fresh batch of predictions from my brain to yours. What sort of surprises will 2014 hold? Read on to find out what I expect the new year will bring to the gaming faithful.
Halo 4 launched just over a year ago at the tail end of 2012, giving 343 Industries just two years of solid development time to build a brand-new Halo game for the next generation. Make no mistake, Halo is Microsoft's most valuable franchise, and screwing up its Xbox One debut (let's pretend Spartan Assault never happened) could really be detrimental to not only the brand, but the Xbox platform as a whole.
That said, the Big M is undoubtedly pumping loads of cash and manpower into the Master Chief's next big adventure, so perhaps with enough hands on deck it will be ready to ship this holiday season like the company promised last year. Still, I remain skeptical. Halo 4's online presence is dwarfed by the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty, so 343i is really going to have to bring the big guns if it expects this new Halo for Xbox One to compete, especially with Titanfall and Destiny on the way.
Nintendo Announces New Metroid Title... For 3DS
While Retro Studios may currently be hard at work putting the finishing touches on Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, there's reason to believe a new Metroidgame is in the works as well. During the VGX reveal of Cranky Kong's inclusion in the upcoming ape-centric platformer, Reggie Fils-Aime was adorned with a Metroid pin, either teasing or merely trolling the millions of Nintendo fans around the globe hungry for more of the space-traveling bounty hunter.
While I'm holding out hope for a new Metroid Prime for Wii U, I have this sinking feeling we're going to get a more traditional 2D side-scrolling Metroid for 3DS. For one, it's easier to produce, and two, it's been a long time since we've seen something of the Fusion or Zero Mission flavor. The handheld's install base is quite large at this point and will only continue to grow at a steady rate, so a fresh new entry that harkens back to the series' origins sounds like a logical move. After all, Nintendo found quite a bit of success doing that just a couple of months ago for Zelda with the release of A Link Between Worlds.
The Last Guardian Re-Revealed, Launches On PS4 In The Fall
Sony refuses to confirm that Fumito Ueda's The Last Guardian has been canceled, so there's reason to hope that the chronically-delayed project from Team ICO will one day see the light of day. So much time and money has been poured into this title that one would imagine Sony has to release it at this point, regardless of the game's quality, if only to recoup some of that investment.
The game has been reworked, leading me to believe that it will now be a PlayStation 4 title. Sony made the mistake of announcing the game way too early, so I don't expect them to re-reveal the game until the company is sure it will be ready to go the same year. I think 2014 is finally the year we get that reveal, perhaps at E3, with a release this holiday season.
Steam Machines Impress, But Fail To Garner Mass Market Appeal
Valve pulled back the curtain on its plans for living room domination late last year with the reveal of SteamOS, Steam Machines, and an innovative new controller. 2014 is the year we finally see the company's vision become a reality, and I think SteamOS will prove to be a major hit among the hardcore gaming crowd. Valve knows how to make a solid, user-friendly UI, and I'm sure gamers will appreciate having that from the comfort of their couch.
That said, I don't expect it to branch far beyond that. The more casual crew will likely stick to the ease and familiarity of consoles (myself included) relegating Steam Machines as a solid alternate offering for those hardcore gamers looking for the optimal and uncompromising gaming experience.
PlayStation 4 Maintains Steady Lead Over Xbox One In Worldwide Sales
The battle between Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is going to be a hot topic all throughout the year, as these two high-powered consoles fight for consumers' dollars. I'm confident in saying that PlayStation 4 will likely outpace Xbox One in worldwide sales by a fair margin all throughout 2014, with the gap being slightly less significant in North America.
I believe the higher price point will continue to be a thorn in Microsoft's side, as consumers fail to see the added value of Kinect or its integrated television features. Meanwhile, Sony's commitment to the gamer will prove to be a major talking point and heralding back to the days of PlayStation 2. The first-party exclusive lineup will be robust with plenty of game announcements, again outshining Microsoft's efforts as Xbox One attempts to cater to a much wider demographic with middling results.
Zelda Wii U's Art Style Is Strikingly Similar To Skyward Sword's
Nintendo has promised to showcase the next proper Zelda game for Wii U in some capacity at E3, and with the console struggling as much as it has been this past year, I'd imagine the company will show more than just an ambiguous piece of artwork.
While I'm not particularly fond of the Skyward Sword art style, an improved version of that particular graphical direction seems like a logical move for the company, as it blends the more mature look with the series' iconic whimsy. Going with a dark and serious style would contrast with Nintendo's current direction, and the overly artistic cel-shaded style of Wind Waker has proven to be polarizing in the past. As such, I think Nintendo will play it safe and take the middle road. It's not what I want, but hey, the Big N can't please everyone.
Wii U Continues To Struggle, Nintendo Fails To Justify GamePad's Worth
Sales numbers for Wii U have been less than stellar for quite some time, and the upcoming releases of Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze likely won't move the needle in any significant way. Mario Kart is Nintendo's most popular franchise, so we'll definitely see a spike in sales, but not enough to turn the tablet-based console's fortunes around.
In addition, the company won't be able to provide a compelling reason for the inclusion of the GamePad. Much like the stereoscopic 3D of Nintendo's handheld, the tablet gimmick will prove to be nothing more than a vestigial add-on that offers very limited impact on in-game experiences. Nintendo didn't shy away from offering a 3D-less option of its handheld line last year, so there's definitely a possibility of a GamePad-less Wii U console announcement, allowing them to discount the price of the box. Sadly, that just makes too much sense and would require Nintendo to swallow its pride... again.
Microsoft Cuts Xbox One Price To Better Compete With Sony
As previously mentioned, I expect Xbox One to trail behind Sony during the better portion of 2014, forcing the company to reevaluate its business model going into the holiday season. When the initial launch excitement dies down and things level off mid-year, I think Sony's dominance will become more apparent, prompting Microsoft to slash the price of the console in time for the holiday season.
I think Microsoft will opt to eat the cost rather than pull Kinect out of the box, as the motion-based camera is clearly something the company is dedicated to. There is, however, a small possibility we see a more bare bones SKU that doesn't include Kinect, but Xbox One would really have to be struggling for Microsoft to do something like that. I don't see the company getting that desperate.
What surprises do you think 2014 will hold for gamers? Be sure to comment below and let us know.