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Player Affinity’s PC staff
has logged a good thousand hours in Skyrim between us all, and by the time we’ve scoured the land of Tamriel for
every last wedge of cheese we’ll be well into 2012. By that time a whole new slew of must-play games will be on
shelves waiting to devour our precious time. Here are the ones that we’re most looking forward to
Guild Wars 2
Joe Wong: This year, much like last year, seems to have a ton of sequels in them, with Guild Wars not being an exception. While the first Guild Wars was a unique idea, a non-subscription based MMO focusing on quick expansions to keep the content flowing, Guild Wars 2 is poised to capitalize on those great ideas, while adding on exciting new features that weren’t present in the previous game. Though there is a glut of new features, such as a new skill system as well as a dynamic combat system, there is one feature that truly stands out: Jumping. I’ll look forward to jumping into the world of Guild Wars when it releases in 2012.
Ari Runanin-Telle: This is the game that I am looking forward to the most next year. There are plenty of reasons for this, from the creative environment traversal to the art style, but the biggest is probably how unique the setting is. Like the original Bioshock, Infinite benefits from taking place in an environment you don't immediately understand. Many game worlds can be easily identified as "modern", "apocalypse", or "fantasy", and the prospect of exploring Columbia, a new place that seems just as unique as Rapture, is very exciting to me. It's also a departure for Irrational Games, moving away from its comfort zone of claustrophobic corridors and a dark color palette. Just those two features, and Ken Levine writing it is enough for me to get excited, but there are also a large number of improvements as far as game design is concerned. Watch any of the interviews with Levine and it's apparent that Irrational has learned from both it's successes and mistakes in the original Bioshock.
Charles Battersby: I can quote Atlas Shrugged in three languages, so the original Bioshock with its Ayn Rand-inspired speeches was one of my favorites from 2007. I’m also one of the few people who enjoyed Bioshock 2 almost as much as I did the first game, so I’m very excited to see where Irrational takes the series next. This time around our protagonist actually speaks, has a backstory and makes a friend along the way. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a massive crush on Infinite’s leading lady Elizabeth, so getting to spend a few hours in her company, while shooting bad guys will be one of the highlights of my gaming year.
Ari: Borderlands, while not the best made game of 2009, was certainly one of my favorites of the year. While many of my peers were complaining about the color palette and repetitive activities, I was maxing out a second character class. That being said, I understand that Borderlands had a lot of issues and problems that held it back. That's why I'm so excited for Borderlands 2. Gearbox understands what made the first game so divisive, but also what made it so great. The new classes and skill trees have plenty of potential, and some interesting ideas about weapon manufacturers and variety have already been shown. Gearbox has gone on the record, saying that more effort is being put into the story, one of the first game's largest problems. One concern I do have is the PC version's online features. Gamespy ruined the co-op features for the first few weeks in the original, and I'm hoping that the online services are improved this time around, at least enough so that I can join a game in the first month. Full of personality, fun, and potential, Borderlands 2 stands out to me in the crowded year ahead.
Joe: Having thrown around 100+ hours into the first Borderlands, Gearbox Software has me really excited and pumped for the next installment of this great franchise. While not a lot has been revealed so far, the notion of previous gun brands being fleshed out and having special abilities, such as the Tediore brand having the ‘cheap’ aesthetic and having the ability to toss out your used ammo as a grenade. These things, coupled with a more robust skill system will hopefully make Borderlands 2 a fantastic game in 2012.
Mass Effect 3
Ari: More so than other games coming out in 2012, Mass Effect 3 is the game that I'm looking forward to for story closure. After Mass Effect 2, it's clear that Bioware is sticking close to the formula they so well established in the sequel, almost to its detriment. The meat isn't the gameplay in these games, however; it's the story. In this respect, Mass Effect 3 looks like it will deliver in spades. From what's been shown so far, it's clear that the stakes are higher, not just on a galactic scale, but a personal one as well. This anticipation comes with a caveat, though. There are a lot of parts of Mass Effect 3 that look somewhat unsubstantial. The multiplayer has the potential to have interesting consequences and outcomes on the main singleplayer storyline, but the gameplay itself in the co-op seems like Horde mode in Mass Effect dressing. No matter how the multiplayer content turns out though, it's a safe bet that Bioware will craft an excellent singleplayer experience and conclusion to the trilogy.
Charles: Okay, I’m a Bioware fanboy. Whatever they make, I’m there. Still, I couldn’t care less about the multiplayer, which seems like meddling from the publisher. Mass Effect is Commander Shepard’s story, and I don’t want to spend my time playing as Generic Space Commando #2 in Horde Mode.
Joe: No list of mine would ever be complete without the inclusion of a Blizzard title, and with Diablo 3 around the corner, this fits the bill perfectly. Diablo 2 was truly one of my favorite games of all time, spending countless hours doing a Diablo or Baal run over and over just to get more loot was awesome. There have been a lot of changes inside and outside of the Diablo universe, with Blizzard North dissolving into numerous different studios, this will be the first Diablo game that hasn’t been spearheaded by the Schaefer brothers. That being said, this game is looking phenomenal, with a few key changes to the formula being made, streamlining the game while still allowing for a lot of player customization and loot grubbing.
Charles: Diablo 3 made my “Most Anticipated “ list from last year too. What I had to say then still applies this year: Technically Diablo III is coming out whenever Blizzard gets it done. Regardless of when it hits store shelves, I’ll be there waving a fistful of money begging to get my paws on it. I’ve been a fan of this franchise for well over a decade and played the first Diablo game on a mac powerbook with a 56k modem back in the days when a 56k modem was “High Speed Internet”. Some might say that Diablo 3 looks too much like the same old Diablo we’ve had for fifteen years- but that is in no way a bad thing. Give me more of the same, with pretty new graphics, and I’ll be happy.