THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE
Format: PC | Developer: Bethesda | Publisher: Bethesda | Out: 2013
ZeniMax, owners of Bethesda, put together a crack team especially for The Elder Scrolls Online, the first ever online game in the series. Led by MMO veteran Matt Firor (Dark Age of Camelot), the game is set across the entirety of Tamriel. You'll visit familiar locations including Skyrim, Morrowind, and Cyrodiil, as well as some making their first appearance in a modern game.
As the first gameplay footage shows, combat's been designed so that you have to watch enemies and read their attacks to defend, rather than rely on gear bonuses or robotically tapping the number keys. Characters can mix and match skills, so you aren't stifled by the class system and can, for example, roll a double-handed axe-wielding mage. Bethesda haven't totally ruled out a console version either. Did someone say next gen? AK
LOST PLANET 3
Format: 360, PS3, PC | Developer: Spark Unlimited | Publisher: Capcom | Out: 2013
Capcom may have farmed out this prequel to western developer Spark Unlimited, whose CV includes shonky twosome Turning Point: Fall of Liberty and Legendary , but Lost Planet 3 looks decent. As Jim Peyton, a rig worker on planet E.D.N III (the location of the first game), Capcom promise story-orientated action that will not only shed more light on the ice-coated scarescape, but bring plenty of (really quite gorgeous) action to the party too.
Gameplay is like a cross between Dead Space and Monster Hunter with horror, suspense and collectibles lurking around every corner. Look out for 'struggles' (read: QTEs) where you have to free yourself from the grasp of deadly Akrid aliens, and huge and devastating mechsuits. With the chance to upgrade these by completing side-quests in an open world, as well as new weapons and other goodies, it could yet be one of next year's better games. NI
Format: PC | Developer: Epic | Publisher: Epic | Out: 2013
Fortnite will be the first game from Epic to run on their mega-powerful Unreal Engine 4, which is slightly at odds with its fun, frothy visuals. Beneath the hood this is a sandbox shooter centred on exploration: players scavenge for resources during the day, before building a fort to fend off waves of monstrous creatures at night. Like COD's Zombies mode crossed with I Am Legend.
Taking a lighter graphical cue from Team Fortress 2, the developers are drawing further inspiration from Valve's game in terms of how they support Fortnite, promising plenty of new features post-release and, before that, a Beta early in 2013. For anyone beginning to feel a little burned out on Gears of War, Fortnite will definitely offer something a little different from Epic's recent menu of monster-chested marines. JH
Format: PC | Developer: Bohemia | Publisher: TBC | Out: 2013
ARMA 3 is the hardest of hardcore military sims, taking place in the 2030s during a conflict between NATO forces and 'Eastern armies' led by Iran. It's set on the Greek islands of Lemnos and Ai Stratis, which Bohemia are recreating using maps and reference photos.
In fact, their quest for realism resulted in two developers being arrested for espionage by the Greek government for taking photos of military bases. ARMA's remit is realism, and you'll not only control ground infantry, but air and land vehicles as well - all with authentic handling and physics. The enormous environment covers 270 square kilometeres, and will feature over 50 towns to explore and crush under your tank treads. AK
RAINBOW SIX PATRIOTS
Format: 360, PS3, PC | Developer: Ubisoft | Publisher: Ubisoft | Out: 2013
Since the target footage was revealed in 2011, everything has gone dark on the next Clancy-tinged action-fest, Rainbow Six Patriots. Perhaps not surprising given that, behind the scenes, four frontline members of the dev team have - worryingly - been whacked, including the creative director, David Sears. Ouch.
We're hopeful that Patriots will still break cover in 2013 as the premise has potential. The bleak, yet powerful idea of every day folk becoming ruthless terrorists is a welcome break from highly trained military drones being pumped out like a human Kalashnikov in the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter, although being able to play from the perspective of both killers and counter-terrorism units definitely gives it a sniff of the CODs.
Ubisoft reckon it could yet be a next gen game. Our bet? It'll straddle both generations... though of all the games that could suffer delays, we reckon this one is right at the front. NI