Gamers consoled as new stars join old favourites

The usual suspects are back in new video game installments in 2014 — Mario, Solid Snake, and Master Chief, to name a few — but this year they’ll also be joined be some shadowy newcomers with monikers such as Aiden Pearce and Delsin Rowe.

Following last year’s release of Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4, many games scheduled to debut this year will harness the power of those next-generation systems in hopes of fulfilling long-simmering expectations (Watch Dogs, Metal Gear Solid V), pushing pre-existing franchises into the future (Thief, inFamous: Second Son), or potentially revolutionising the medium altogether (Titanfall, Destiny).

Here’s a glimpse at some of 2014’s most anticipated games:

Dragon Age: Inquisition (for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC; autumn): After disappointing many fans with 2011’s Dragon Age II, developer BioWare hopes to reclaim the throne with the third chapter of its ambitious fantasy series by providing players with more choices.

Destiny (for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One; Sept 9): Bungie Studios is going out of this world — way, way out of this world — for their first creation since 2010’s Halo: Reach. The sprawling interstellar shoot-em-up takes place within an always-online universe.

The Elder Scrolls Online (for PC, PS4, Xbox One; spring): The epic role-playing franchise Elder Scrolls goes online in this massively multiplayer rendition from ZeniMax Online Studios.

InFamous: Second Son (for PS4; Mar 21): The latest edition of Sucker Punch Productions’ superpowered series has a new setting, Seattle, and focuses on a new protagonist, Delsin Rowe. Exploiting his ability to absorb powers, the graffiti artist-turned-superhero works to take down the oppressive Department of Unified Protection. !

South Park: The Stick of Truth (for PS3, Xbox 360, PC; Mar 4): The long-delayed South Park game is expected to finally see the light of day this year. The role-playing lampoon casts players as the gang’s new kid who must team up with the show’s well-known, foul-mouthed characters.

Thief (for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC; Feb 25): After a decade-long absence, the pickpocket series Thief returns with a reboot from developers Eidos Montreal.

Watch Dogs (for PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC; spring): Interactive art imitates real-life in this surveillance-themed action-adventure romp centred on vigilante Aiden Pearce. With the touch of his smarter-than-smartphone, he can hack into cameras, computers, traffic lights, and power grids.

Other highly anticipated games include Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Brothers for various Nintendo devices; Dark Souls II; crowd-funded, adventure Dreamfall Chapters; Telltale Games’ interactive Game of Thrones; and a new Halo for the Xbox One.


Lifestyle

We catch up with Bushmills’ master distiller, who tells Sam Wylie-Harris more about this liquid gold.Irish whiskey masterclass: 11 things you need to know

Temples, beaches, and several nations with new names.From Bhutan to Costa Rica, Lonely Planet reveals its top countries to visit in 2020

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman who’s unsure how to manage her mother’s dying wishes.Ask a counsellor: ‘Is it appropriate to notify my mother’s friends of her death by email?’

‘The Big Yin’ talks to Luke Rix-Standing about living with Parkinson’s, the power of forgiveness, and why he will never, ever stop swearing.Billy Connolly: ‘You don’t wake up famous, you wake up scratching yourself like everybody else’

More From The Irish Examiner