The new year is dawning, and we're ready to set our sights for all the games to come in 2012.
It bears repeating that PC games are far from dead, and we've compiled a select list of 15 of our most-wanted titles that are set to grace the PC platform—many of them exclusively.
It's true most of you reading this are certainly still immersed in your explorations of Skyrim, but that shouldn't prevent you from looking forward to everything the future has in store. And further still, it's doubtless that you'll still be playing Skyrim when these games come out, but they'll provide a fine break to all your adventuring.
We expect that the year of 2012 will be packed with just as many great games as this year was, if not more so. Read on to find out exactly what's in store.
15. Grim Dawn
Grim Dawn comes from the creators of Titan Quest at their new studio, Crate Entertainment. The game is set in a high fantasy-with-guns setting and exists as a spiritual successor to the Greek mythology-themed action RPG, with better exploration, character advancement, and loot collection.
Described by the developers as being in 'pre-pre-pre alpha', it'll take some time before the game actually comes out—but they're gunning for a 2012 release.
14. The Secret World
After a near-decade of World of Warcraft, MMORPGs might be wearing thin, but that hasn't prevented companies like Anarchy Online developer Funcom from innovating the formula.
Their upcoming effort is The Secret World, a Cthulhu mythos inspired MMORPG that takes place in the real world, where secret factions battle one another for power. Amidst the hidden war, players investigate mysteries and attempt to thwart (or at least battle) an otherworldly invasion.
13. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
38 Studios may be an unproven development house, but the developers leading the studio's charge are veterans of the industry. Their first game—Kingdoms of Amalur: Awakening—is being spearheaded by Ken Rolston, the lead designer of Morrowind; with Forgotten Realms writer R.A. Salvatore on lore; and the talented Todd McFarlane on art direction.
The player takes on the role of a "chosen one" type character, builds up his or her character with a preference of four different races and an open class system across three masteries (warrior, mage, and thief), and subsequently fights his or her way across an open world. The game is set to combine the combat of God of War with the exploration of Zelda.
12. Dead State
Dead State, in case you haven't heard, is a zombie apocalypse-themed RPG with strategy elements. You're in charge of a group of human survivors who have to struggle to remain alive during the onset of the zombie apocalypse.
You forage for food, arm yourselves with weapons, and rescue other survivors who become a part of your group. Along the way, you'll even encounter unfriendly humans—separate groups of survivors—who want nothing more than to outlast you.
The game is being designed by veterans of both Troika Studios and Obsidian Entertainment. That—plus the zombie apocalypse theme—is a good enough reason to look forward to it.
11. Tribes: Ascend
Tribes: Ascend is the return of the Tribes franchise to its roots, away from the dismal and disappointing Tribes: Vengeance.
This free-to-play multiplayer first person shooter sees the return of the iconic jetpacks and skiing functionality that defined the experience of the first two Tribes games. This time around, players will have a loadout system allowing you to define your character according to various roles.
Players battle across a variety of modes including classic deathmatch, and capture the flag. Some of the original maps from Tribes 2 will even be making a return in Ascend.
10. Borderlands 2
Borderlands showed us it was possible to create an action RPG with the intensity of a real first person shooter and the compulsive loot-grabbing/collecting design philosophy of Diablo. It did so by marrying the two genres in a fusion of science fiction and a post-apocalyptic motif, and presented it with all the flare of cel-shaded visuals.
Borderlands 2 is set to offer all of that same charm, but with four new characters, more environments, proper multiplayer and an ambitiously crafted story—also taking place on the planet of Pandora—this time around.
The classic series featuring giant robots who duke it out across futuristic cityscapes is finally coming home to the PC.
Gamers may have thought that the series died with MechWarrior 4, after Microsoft decided to turn out the lacklustre Mechwarrior Assault series of games on the Xbox 360, but the series' original developers have finally managed to reclaim the license to produce a new Mechwarrior game that's true to the classics.
The game is set to offer big clunky juggernauts who must be piloted with strength, patience, and more than a little skill.
8. Planetside 2
Planetside was an underappreciated, massively multiplayer FPS that pit three futuristic armies against each other for total dominance of a planet. Players took on various military roles—as shock troops, engineers, pilots, and more—and backed up their companies, and batallions with whatever aid they could muster. The game was like a sci-fi Battlefield with many more players.
The experience is now set to return with the development of Planetside 2, which now offers a free-form character customization system, allowing players to soldier on according to their own taste. Battles will now last for days, or even weeks, and players will have to build alliances to accomplish long-term goals in their conquest of the planet.
Dishonored is a game currently in development at Arkane Studios, whose creators include Harvey Smith who headed the development of Deus Ex, and Raf Colantonio, who made Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. The game's aesthetic bears strong comparison with Half-Life 2's City 17, thanks to the contributions of art director Viktor Antonov.
Dishonored is an open world game set in an environment that blends past, future, and all the things in-between. It's a Steampunk world, with automated factories, horse carriages, and where man-eating rats roam the crevices of the dark, grimy streets of Dunwall.
Much like Skyrim, players have the freedom to approach every situation in a variety of ways, from stealth to straight up combat. It's also possible for players to use the environment to their advantage thanks to gadgets and magic.
6. Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3, at its best, manages to combine its narrative and game mechanics and make the colonial fantasy work. It says “this is what video games do, and you love it!” And it's not wrong. But halfway through the game, that falls apart. The plot quests force you down increasingly ridiculous and stereotypical paths. The clever hallucinations, the consonance of your character's bro-ness and your actions as a player, everything that implies that Far Cry 3 knows what it's doing, that it's going intentionally over-the-top with video game conventions, all of that falls away the further you get and more straightforward the story gets.
This is Far Cry 3: it's a game that lays bare all the colonial aspects of all video games. When Far Cry 3 works, it's a celebration and examination of the power fantasies of gaming, with a sly wink that says “all your favorite games do this, we just admit it.” When it doesn't work, it demonstrates the soullessness of the enterprise, mindlessly sniping or stabbing faceless virtual enemy after faceless virtual enemy and following the yellow dot on the screen until the stereotype-riddled movies play. Far Cry 3 can be amazing, but that amazingness seems accidental.
5. Mass Effect 3
The final episode in Bioware's science fiction trilogy will see the Reaper invasion of the earth as Commander Shepard stands trial for his (or her) actions in the previous game.
The game will be the culmination of all the events that took place in the first two games, and will see characters both old and new supporting Shepard as the last line of defense against humanity's ancient enemy.
Mass Effect 3 promises to innovate upon the combat and RPG facets of its predecessor.
4. Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is the sequel to Guild Wars and a major overhaul over pretty much everything the first game had to offer.
Following in the footsteps of Guild Wars, the game will be sold like any other—in a box, or purchased online—and entirely free to play with no subscription costs whatsoever.
The sequel takes place in a persistent, wide open setting defined by the actions of players—quests and events in Guild Wars 2 are dynamic. Equally dynamic is the combat, which promotes interaction between the player and his or her environment.
3. Torchlight 2
As we've mentioned in list of favorite RPGs, Torchlight 2 is the sequel to the indie action RPG, Torchlight.
Much, much more than just a reskin or additional content, Torchlight 2 offers full fledged multiplayer support, plenty of modding opportunities, and the ability for players to create and share their own campaigns. It's every dungeon master's dream come true—assuming you're one of those types who likes to create challenges rather than quests.
This steampunk-themed game will allow players to explore beyond the dungeons and out into the open world, where all new challenges await the game's four character classes.
2. Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm
Heart of the Swarm is the sequel to last year's lauded and loved Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty. It puts players in the role of the Zerg swarm and continues after the events of the first game.
Further enhancements—with new units, structures, and all their associated strategies—are also being added into the game's multiplayer mode, where most hardcore fans of the Starcraft series will inevitably find themselves in.
Starcraft 2 is a prime argument to pick up a PC or a Mac to play video games.
1. Diablo 3
A game that RPG fans are most excited for is Diablo 3. In development for close to five years and awaited for since the release of Diablo 2 a decade ago, Blizzard's upcoming sequel to the best action RPG of all time promises to deliver everything that should've been in the original game, with all the enhancements of current generation technology, and then some.
Diablo 3 offers five classes—including the return of the Barbarian—and takes place twenty years after the events of Diablo 2. Like Starcraft 2, the game is available only to the PC and the Mac, this is one game that every console gamer will be clamoring to buy a gaming rig for.