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While 2014 looks like it's going to be a great year for gaming, it will also bring its fair share of disappointment. Some games will turn out far worse than advertised and some will arrive much later than expected.
Delays are a common occurrence. Some games seem more susceptible than others, though. Sometimes it's because of how ambitious they are. Other times, the reasons are less rosy. Here are a few games that I'm expecting to take the scenic route to stores
South Park: The Stick of TruthObsidian Entertainment's long-awaited South Park RPG has already been subjected to numerous delays. It was first slated for a 2012 release. Publisher THQ delayed it to Spring 2013 before they went bankrupt. Ubisoft scooped up the project and announced a December launch date. A month later, they delayed it to March. Can you blame me for being a tad skeptical of this latest release date for Stick of Truth?
Role-playing games by their nature seem more prone to delays. They're larger and more open-ended than games of other genres so there's a higher potential for bugs. The developers have to account for all the different paths that players will take through their games.
Plus, this is Obsidian we're talking about. I love the shit out of their games (especially KOTOR 2 and Mask of the Betrayer) but they have more bugs than an NSA storage closet. Neverwinter Nights 2 had a glitch where party members disappeared forever. Fallout: New Vegas's bugs included a moonwalking dog with no eyes. I wouldn't be shocked if Ubisoft decided to push the game back a bit so Obsidian could do more Quality Assurance. It could be the difference between a good game and a great one.
Elder Scrolls OnlineElder Scrolls Online, like South Park, has a confirmed release date. That's generally a good sign. A delay's more likely when a company's cagey about the exact date.
That being said, I wouldn't be shocked if ESO was pushed later into 2014. ZeniMax has a lot riding on this game. Even if the rumored $200 million development budget is bull, developing an MMORPG over seven years isn't cheap. Plus, the company's putting the reputation of their most precious franchise (Elder Scrolls) on the line with this release. They have every reason to take a slow, cautious approach.
The stringent non-disclosure agreement for ESO's beta testing gives me reason to doubt the release date, too. Testers aren't even allowed to say that they're in the beta, much less provide any details on the game. I can understand a company wanting to control the flow of news about their game but when you're this secretive, it seems like insecurity.
Even if the PC and Mac versions arrive in April as planned, there's a possibility that the console versions could slip. The Xbox One and PS4 launch is currently set for "June 2014." I suspect the exact timing hinges on how well the PC and Mac release goes. If ESO has a rocky launch on PC and Mac, it's likely ZeniMax would hold off on the console release so they can stabilize the other versions first.
FortniteHey, remember this game? It's a co-op survival game from Epic. Players scavenge items during the day and build up a fortress. At night, they have to defend their base from monster attacks.
I don't blame you if the game slipped from your memory. Ever since Epic Games announced this title in late 2011, they've been tight-lipped on its progress. In November, they said won't be out until 2014 "at the earliest" - which doesn't inspire much confidence at all.
It's not clear what's holding up Fortnite. The fact that it's the first Epic game to use the company's Unreal Engine 4 probably doesn't help, though. It's Epic's best chance to showcase their new tech. That puts a lot of pressure on this game to succeed. The better Fortnite is, the better Epic's engine looks to potential licensees.
Tom Clancy's The DivisionThe Division was one of the big surprises of E3 2013. This post-apocalyptic shooter uses a new Snowdrop engine capable of astonishing visuals. I was blown away by how detailed and dynamic the graphics were. The VGX trailer showed a photorealistic cop car being ripped apart piece-by-piece by gunfire and then covered in snow by a sudden storm. It's a game that really shows us what next-gen will look like.
Building this engine sounds like a daunting task by itself. Building the engine and then making an MMO out of it, though? Yikes. There are so many other considerations to make when you're dealing with a giant online experience. You have to worry about balance, server stability, progression and so on. This is a huge project and Ubisoft will need a lot of development time to get the game right.
A new report published today casts further doubt on the game's 2014 launch. A source told GameReactor that "actual game development has barely begun." Take all the time you need, Ubisoft. The game's not going to look dated in a year.
DestinyBungie's MMO shooter has already been pushed from early 2014 to September. A further delay seems likely due to a combination of factors.
Like other developers featured in this article, Bungie has to cope with high expectations. Destiny is their follow-up to Halo, one of the most well-known franchises worldwide. They and Activision expect this new franchise to last at least ten years. If Destiny's going to hold our attention, it needs to be as jaw-dropping as Halo: Combat Evolved was back in 2001. That's where the expectations have been set.
The MMO-like features of Destiny add to the challenges. In addition to crafting a tight shooter experience with driveable vehicles and massive alien worlds, Bungie also has to build seamless matchmaking for competitive and cooperative multiplayer. Oh, and they're using their own engine. Total cake walk, right?
I really hope I'm wrong about Destiny and all the other games on the list. Their timely release would make 2014 a better year. I can't shake the feeling that we'll have to wait longer than we want for these games, though.