Video Games

Appleton: Here are a few unheralded games to look for in 2015

I enjoyed a dozen or so new titles in 2014, but the year was disastrous for the video game industry.

Maybe it’s because this is my first full year in the video game media — and we are all doomsayers and troublemakers — but I can’t think of too much that went right in 2014.

Several major releases — such as “Assassin’s Creed Unity,” “Driveclub” and “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” — were completely broken. Others like “Watch Dogs” and “Titanfall” were overhyped and underwhelming. Still more exciting new games were brutally beaten back into 2015 by big-budget developers’ favorite new tool — the delay hammer.

However, the new year brings renewed hope, as most of the 2015 video game roster will be tailor-made for the new generation of consoles and the latest in computer gaming technology.

I’ve already gushed over delayed big-budget games like “The Order: 1886” and “Evolve,” so here are a few of the upcoming titles that you may not have heard about yet.

“No Man’s Sky”

This is absolutely the game to watch in 2015. “No Man’s Sky” will change gaming — for better or for worse.

The game features little in the way of narrative or goals, instead giving players the freedom to explore a beautiful and unfathomably large universe. The worlds in “No Man’s Sky” are procedurally generated, which means an enormous number of planets were generated through computer gadgetry that I don’t understand.

What I do know is that the developers are telling reporters it would take a person 5 billion years to visit each of the more than 18 quintillion — that’s 18 followed by 18 zeroes — planets.

I am worried this unimaginable scale will overwhelm my feeble mind, but that’s probably a good thing. If “No Man’s Sky” succeeds, expect dozens of procedurally generated games in the future. If it doesn’t, never-ending game settings will die.

“Star Citizen”

It seems like half of the games coming out in 2015 are space-related, and “Star Citizen” could be the title that offers the total galactic package.

“Star Citizen” appears to follow the vein of great space epics like “Eve Online” and the original version of “Star Wars Galaxies,” where players pretty much do whatever they want in a large interstellar environment. You can become a great trader who never lifts a finger, a mighty warrior who dominates through player vs. player space combat or find your own happy place somewhere in the middle.

“Star Citizen” will also offer a traditional single-player campaign, so there’s bound to be something for everyone. I’m positive that it will be one of those online games where the players who can spend their entire lives in-game will dominate it, though.

I’m also positive that the more than $60 million raised in crowdfunding means it better be good, or a lot of angry gamers will be filing lawsuits.

“The Division”

“The Division” is a third-person shooter in which players must keep the peace in an America laid low by a toxic disease that killed everyone shopping on Black Friday.

It’s a fantastic premise, and I am fond of Tom Clancy’s stamp on tactical shooting games.

But I have been hurt before. This is a game from the Ubisoft family of developers, some of whom recently gaffed with two major money-laced titles: “The Crew” and “Assassin’s Creed Unity.”

“The Division” also uses a brand-new game development engine, which scares me more than it excites me after a down year.

However, it’s important to cling to optimism as we step into 2015. Ubisoft also had some great games in 2014, and it has thousands of developers staffing its different studios. Maybe “The Division” will survive its delay to 2015 unscathed.

“Mario Maker”

When I was at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in July, a lot of the buzz I heard from my beanbag chair in the press room was about “Mario Maker.”

Wii U players will finally get to use that worthless, clunky gamepad for a truly noble goal: creating their own “Super Mario Bros.” or “New Super Mario Bros. U” levels. Prepare your stylus hand for rapid generation of Goombas and perilous green pipes.

It’s a genius concept: Take the most well-known game in existence and finally add a creative element. This is the type of game that keeps Nintendo afloat, and I am sure several generations of Wii U players will enjoy the casual “Mario Maker.”

“Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End”

I am looking forward to “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” because it will hopefully be the end of the Uncharted series.

I hate these games. I know they are pretty and people love them, but I don’t get it. He’s a thief, but he’s also an adventurous archaeologist and parkour expert. How is this different from “Tomb Raider”?

I hope 2015 is the last year the great developers at Naughty Dog toil away at a lackluster series.

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