By Sage Ashford
This past November, the gaming world saw a shake-up the likes of which it hasn't seen in nearly a decade, as Sony and Microsoft both released their new consoles to the public. With that, alongside the release of Nintendo's Wii U system, the "next generation" of console gaming has finally begun in earnest. But what's a gaming console without games? That's where I come in, with Next-Gen Gaming Watch, a column designed for Bleeding Coolers (I'll admit not the catchiest name, but I'm new here!) to give them an idea of what games to look out for from month to month, alongside any other relevant tidbits being revealed about our new consoles. So, without further ado…
First up on the list, a digital download title published by developer/publisher Red Barrels, Outlast is a first-person survival-horror game released for the PC and Playstation 4. Following the story of a freelance journalist named Miles Upshur as he investigates the mysterious Mount Massive Asylum, Outlast appears to have two key features that distinguish it from the rest of the survival-horror market. The first is Miles' inability to actually fight off the inmates and other threats inside the asylum; with a common complaint about survival-horror being the ease with which you can go against threats (thereby reducing tension since you can simply kill everything), Red Barrels has seemingly alleviated this concern by taking combat out of the game almost entirely. The second unique factor? For the player to see inside this dark asylum, they must use the night vision on Miles' video camera to see, which also forces them to manage resources to conserve battery life and find batteries to keep progressing.
Outlast was released on Steam last year on September 13th, but didn't see a release on the Playstation 4 until February 4th. Currently the game is available for Playstation Plus users to play for free, and seems to be a well-received example of proper survival-horror gameplay from a genre that didn't do quite as well during the Wii/PS360 generation.
Next up on the list is Capcom's Strider. An action game jointly developed by Double Helix Games (Killer Instinct) and Capcom's Osaka studio, Strider is apparently a full-on remake of the original NES game, with series mainstay Strider Hiryu once again battling in Kazakh City to assassinate Grandmaster Meio. Announced during 2013's San Diego Comic-Con, Strider is a game that caught most gamers by surprise if only due to reticence on Capcom's behalf to use any of its older properties not named "Street Fighter".
Having gone without a new game for well over a decade, there still seems to be a lot of pressure on Capcom to deliver, both in terms of quality and in the game's "Nintendo Hard" difficulty the original title was known for. Strider releases on Windows, PS4, Xbox One, and the PS3/360 systems on February 18th.
Nintendo joins the fray with the release of the long-awaited Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. A 2D side-scrolling platformer being developed by Retro Studios for the Wii U, DKC:TF sees Donkey Kong and his friends forced to fight a group of animal Vikings after they're blown off Donkey Kong Island by the leader of said Vikings. The game will allow multiple players to work together as Donkey Kong, Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky Kong to help save DK Island.
This game is noteworthy for Nintendo for essentially the same reason, stated twice: for one, it's the first game for Wii U owners since the superb Super Mario 3D World, released this past December. For another, it's pretty much the only major title Nintendo will see for all of Q1 2014. But knowing Nintendo's frankly ridiculously impressive track record, aside from a vocal minority of gamers, this game will end up being so good most won't care. In any case, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze releases in North America and the EU February 21st on the Wii U.
And finally we come to the "big" title of the month, Thief. Developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square-Enix, Thief is a genuine reboot along the lines of what we saw from Crystal Dynamics last year with Tomb Raider. The fourth installment in a series that dates all the way back to the late 90's, Thief is a first-person stealth game that's had quite the rocky start so far. As with all series that exist for long periods of time, Thief has a rather sizable and dedicated fanbase with lots of opinions about how this new game is "getting it all wrong".
…The difference here is, Eidos Montreal has actually decided to listen to that fanbase. Entire systems have been re-thought or scrapped entirely due to negative reaction. When it gets to that point, for better or worse, when this game releases the fans of this series will be responsible for how this game turns out. Thief drops on PS4, Xbox One, Windows, and PS3/360 on February 25th in North America, February 28th in the EU.
January is usually a slow month for every form of media, as most companies realize their customers are still recovering from the giant hit their pocketbooks took during the holidays. For that reason, January was largely absent of any big game releases next-gen or otherwise, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition aside.
But as we slide into February, the concern of whether or not consumers will spend money on products starts to fade, which matches up to this increased release slate of games for this month. Still, both Sony and Microsoft are noticeably absent from this list, saving their releases for March when the new generation's war starts to heat up again with the release of Titanfall and inFamous: Second Son. I'll be back in early March to talk about those titles, though unfortunately if you're a Nintendo fan you've got a loooong wait until May , so hopefully between now and then a Nintendo Direct will have happened to give you lot hope in these cold winter months. Until then…Make Mine Marvel? Hm, no that probably won't do as a signature line…I think it's taken.
Sage Ashford is a college kid with far more hobbies than he has free time. You can find him on Twitter @SageShinigami, but also at his own blog Jumping in Headfirst .