Video games in 2015: What to watch for

Winter breaks in the past have personally consisted of family I don’t actually want to see, copious amounts breakfast burritos and good ol’ fashioned video games. All that free time often leads to looking ahead, this time to 2015, and to daydreaming about some of the new and exciting games being released in the year to come.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

From Polish developer CD Projekt Red comes the open-world action roleplaying game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the third entry into CD Projekt’s Witcher trilogy.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Witcher, think gory, mature fantasy in the vein of Game of Thrones but with a heavy dose of Slavic and Polish mythology.

Following 2011’s sublime The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, The Witcher 3 will follow the series’ returning protagonist, the white-haired Geralt of Rivia as he deals with The Wild Hunt, a sort of Grim Reaper-esque force within The Witcher’s mythos.

Geralt must also grapple with the return of Ciri and Yennifer, playable characters who have not yet appeared in any of CD Projekt’s earlier games but are featured heavily in the novels the games are based on, written by Andrezj Sapkowski.

A departure from the previous entries in the series, The Witcher 3 will be open-world, akin to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim with a huge and beautiful world begging to be explored.

CD Projekt will continue the story established in the previous games in their morally-ambiguous way, promising an adaptive and “unparalleled novel-like story, spanning over 100 hours of gameplay.”

The developer claims the game will feature 36 separate endings, corresponding with the choices the player makes throughout the story. For an roleplaying junkie like myself, this game is definitely one to keep an eye out for.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be released for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PCs on May 24, 2015 and will be published by WB Games in North America.

No Man’s Sky

Developed by the British developers, Hello Games, No Man’s Sky is an upcoming space-simulator focused on exploration and survival in a procedurally-generated galaxy that is presumably populated with other players.

Judging from the pre-release materials, exploration is entirely seamless. Planetside, you mozey about and discover new species of procedurally-generated flora and fauna that will bare your name, provided you were the first player to discover that particular species.

From there, you can hop into your spaceship and fly straight out of the planet’s atmosphere and into space, where you can interact and battle with other spacecrafts without the delay of a loading screen.

In action, the seamless exploration looks incredibly innovative. With millions, if not billions, of stars and planets to discover and gawk at, No Man’s Sky is incredibly ambitious, to say the least.

However, it’s unclear exactly what the game is all about. While the prospect of soaring across the galaxy is enticing enough for some, what is the impetus behind it all? Hello Games has been very hesitant to reveal some of the game’s core mechanics and the context behind it all.

If Hello Games can build a satisfying and cohesive game around what they have already shown, then No Man’s Sky will truly be something special next year. Nonetheless, it sounds incredibly satisfying to spend hours upon hours slowly uncovering the farthest reaches of space.

No Man’s Sky will be released sometime in 2015 as a timed exclusive on the Playstation 4, and will find its way to PCs once that exclusivity has expired. No Man’s Sky is being self-published by Hello Games at this time.

Hyper Light Drifter

For fans of the 8-bit and 16-bit era, Hyper Light Drifter is an upcoming action-roleplaying game crowdfunded in 2013 through Kickstarter.

Described as a modern and expansive take on video games like A Link To The Past and Diablo, Hyper Light Drifter features a downright gorgeous pixel art style coupled with fast-paced, responsive yet difficult combat system.

You control one of the titular Drifter as he explores a “beautiful, vast and ruined world riddled with unknown dangers and lost technologies.”

Hyper Light Drifter is the first game from artist Alex Preston, founder of development studio Heart Machine. It is usually wise to be tentatively excited for a studio’s first project, but Preston has recruited fellow indie Beau Blyth, who worked on 2013’s bushido-brawler Samurai Gunn.

The soundtrack of Hyper Light Drifter features music from ambient-electronica artist Disaterpiece, who previously contributed to the wonderful soundtrack on 2012’s FEZ.

Hyper Light Drifter will be released on PC, OS X, Linux, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Wii U, Xbox One and the OUYA in early 2015.