The New Year is upon us and the forecast for gaming looks cloudy. There are some really cool games on the horizon, and some that I think may have more impact than expected in this industry. We’ll see the introduction of new studios in 2020 that are hoping to shake up the field, as well.
There’s no doubt that we’ll have a long list of crummy games that burn bright and fast, many of which even I won’t really like much and I can find things to like in nearly any game. Don’t let that draw your worry, though. Today I’m going to list seven games that I’m really interested in watching through 2020. These are the games that already give me hope or are swinging for the fences in trying something new and interesting. Success of failure, these games will be a lot of fun to pay attention to over the next twelve months.
Release Date: May 2020
Developer: Amazon Studios
Amazon has decided they need to expand their already nearly all-encompassing reach by breaking into the video game industry, and they’re starting it off with New World. A game where players find themselves shipwrecked on an island off the coast of North America around the fifteenth or sixteenth century.
I got interested at first because of the nonstandard time period and setting, which I’m excited to explore. The fact that the game is effectively a guild-based survival game in MMO form was another big draw for me. Since Amazon owns the hosting (normally a large cost for other projects) more money has gone into development and that seems to show more as the game starts to shape up. Players will have the chance to play in the next beta event in a few months, and then release is expected this May.
Amazon already has another big-budget game in the pipe, which means that New World could prove to be far more important to the state of the industry than initially thought. It’s not just a new studio with lots of money, but also one with a huge IP they plan to capitalize on in the near future.
The question will be whether resources get syphoned off the New World development to work on the new Lord of the Rings project, or whether New World gets extra attention as a training ground for the new studio. The latter would mean for a lot of new ideas and creativity, and I’m excited to find out which option they chose.
The setting of New World is relatively uncommon, but the game may be even more important as an indicator of what we should expect from the future Lord of the Rings MMO being developed by the same studio.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
Release Date: 2020 or 2021
Developer: Visionary Realms
Magnus opus of Brad McQuaid, Pantheon promises a return to an earlier time in video games with a little less hand-holding and a lot more dependence on other players for you progression. For those of us who cut our teeth on games like Ultima Online and Everquest, Pantheon feels a lot like going home after being stationed overseas for the last couple decades. You knew when you boarded the plane that it’s probably not as good as you remember it, but you start finding yourself appreciating it for a whole new wealth of reasons one you get there.
The question is whether or not the studio can survive after Brad’s recent passing. The corporate structure is notionally fine, but Brad was such a key component of the development that it’s fair to wonder how they’ll move forward without him. Luckily, there are a lot of Sony Online Entertainment veterans involved, and that experience may carry them through the finish line.
With classes and mechanics that feel like an updated version of EQ, Pantheon should appeal to a lot of the older members of the gamer audience.
Release Date: April 2020
Developer: CD Projekt Red
I seriously doubt that anyone is surprised to see this one on the list. I’ve been a huge fan of CD Projekt Red for years and I’m very happy to throw my money at them. Cyberpunk 2077 is such a departure from the Witcher series that I don’t think you can assume an automatic success, but I think you can definitely expect something interesting. I forecast epic failure or industry-changing success is on the horizon.
If Cyberpunk 2077 is as good as I hope it is, this could be one of those key moments in the industry that change what we see for years moving forward. MMOs have struggled as single-player experiences continue to gain ground, another epically immersive experience from this studio could severely slow multiplayer experiences in the near future, not to mention pushing a surge in the cyberpunk genre. This juggernaut definitely has the potential to create serious impact for in the industry.
Release Date: TBA, but Beta expected in 2020
Developer: Cryptic Studios
Not a whole lot is known about this game just yet, but what we know is interesting. Cryptic is one of those studios that consistently makes games that I enjoy playing… for a little while. They’re very good at system and UI design, and that makes their games play very smoothly. It gets overlooked sometimes, but really solid interface and game systems are critical to really good gameplay. Cryptic nailed that in Star Trek Online and other games they’ve rolled out, but where they lose me is usually with the depth of these games.
They mention something about random cards/abilities being a component of the game. I think this is a concept borrowed from Shroud of the Avatar. Instead of traditional hot-bars, there may be some randomness in what spells/abilities pop into them. I think it’s likely that Cryptic will find a way to implement the system well and I’m interested to see that, but I’m worried about their revenue model and I’m worried that they may not go enough beyond the initial implementation to create the depth needed for a really solid game.
Release Date: TBA, but Beta expected in 2020
Developer: Artificial Core
A new developer on the scene with a pretty interesting idea for a new MMO, Artificial Core recently announced Corepunk. Watching the announcement trailer, the game feels like what would happen if someone turned a MOBA into an MMO, and I’m interested to see how that works out. New developers and new ideas are always worth exploring, so I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.
What I think appeals to be the most is that the mechanics and aesthetics appear to be pretty simple and bright, which makes me think this could be a good game for the nieces and nephews. It’s supposed to be rated for mature players but being an online game, that’s kind of a given. I’ll have to try it out to make sure first, but I’m hoping that it is a relatively clean game that I can let the kids try with me.
Release Date: Q1 2020 (per Steam)
Developer: Donkey Crew
I really enjoy survival games, and Last Oasis seems like a sort of steampunk meets post-apocalyptic survival game. As another new developer, I’m expecting new ideas from the game and what we know so far already suggests that expectations will be met. Early indications are that the maps are large with multiple biomes in each and none of them last long due to a slowly encroaching desert that sweeps across the global map over time while new zones are created from thawing ice on the opposite side.
The dynamic nature of the maps addresses one of the main issues I have with the survival genre, games get boring on static maps as players max out their bases and can turtle indefinitely. A system that includes periodic forced migration should help keep the game interesting and dynamic, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that system plays out. If nothing else, just the ideas the team have come up with for the setting are already far different from traditional MMOs and have my attention.
Large steampunk land-crawlers and dynamic maps make Last Oasis something that has my attention.
Release Date: 2020-ish
Developer: ArtCraft Entertainment
Right before they announced their crowdfunding campaign, I had a chance to go see the early version of Crowfall and I was an immediate fan. I soon became an investor (be sure to note the obvious bias that creates in this case), not because of the game itself, but more because of the game systems supporting the title. The idea of standing up and later killing worlds over and over as a series of dynamic campaigns with various rulesets was incredibly interesting to me. It’s an idea that is sure to extend past this one game and this one genre going forward.
Crowfall is a game that’s purely PvP and all other systems lead to that core game loop. That’s not to say all players have to be focused on PvP, though. Industrial players can focus on supporting their chosen factions war activity through industrial efforts in the campaigns. That gives meaning to crafting that I feel is often missing from MMOs.
The team hasn’t announced an official release date for the game yet, but I’m expecting what might be called an Early Access version of the game to release with-in the next month, maybe two at the outside. I don’t think it’ll take the team a whole year to clean up the issues that release reveals, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see an officially declared release before the end of 2020. We’ll just have to wait and see, though.
I hope this list gets you excited about the next year as I am. It’s not just that there are a number of titles that are doing interesting and unique twists on old genres, but they’re also spread out nicely though the year. Several key releases are scheduled over the next several months and some if not most of those will slip towards the next quarter or farther. That’s just the nature of development, so it’s a given that few will hit their target dates. Enough are towards the end of their development cycle that at least a few will, though.
This is great because it gives us something to be interested in throughout the year. Each quarter will come with a handful of surprises and interesting concepts to try out. It just happens that a couple pretty major releases are scheduled early this year. That means we’ll have major titles making waves in the industry with plenty of time to feel some of the effects by the end of the year.
There are a few concerns, and then there are a handful of games I didn’t mention, some of which I think may have a pretty critical year in front of them. These are the games that have most captured my interest, though. I’d be interested to know what games you all are excited about though. Also, if you know any games that you think might be interesting for kids, let me know. I’m always interested in expanding the library of kid-friendly choices. Until next time, have a great start to your newest year, and game on!