2015 has seen its share of game releases that made even the most patient and frugal gamers ignore their instincts and splurge on Day 1. Bloodborne, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight have already released to great acclaim, and have all either been on par with or outscored last year's Game of the Year, Dragon Age: Inquisition. What's exciting about this is that the best game of 2015 might not even be out yet. To keep things concise, this list will only consist of brand new games with confirmed release dates - so remasters, ports and games with placeholder release dates will not be included. Here are the big AAA game releases officially due this year.
Until Dawn is an interactive narrative that likens itself to a horror film and comes from developer Supermassive Games. It stars Hayden Panettiere as one of eight playable characters whose fate will be in the hands of the player. The game is built in the same vein as Telltale's The Walking Dead and Heavy Rain, with branching choices that will dictate the end of the story.
Until Dawn tells the story of a group of friends that take a trip to a secluded cabin in the mountains. As it turns out, there is a serial killer on the loose and the group has to survive the night by any means possible.
In Until Dawn, every character can live or die, but no matter how the story plays out, you cannot lose even if everyone dies. Every playthrough is meant to be unique to every player, so in that sense, the game can be infinitely replayable.
Mad Max: Fury Road is arguably the best movie to release this year, and now Avalanche Studios is capitalizing on the brand's revitalized popularity with a new open-world action game simply titled Mad Max.
The game features a heavy emphasis on vehicle combat and customization, and it takes inspiration from the Batman Arkham series in its close quarters combat system. Players will be able to upgrade Max in a variety of ways, from unlocking offensive and defensive buffs to being able to disarm and use enemy weapons to their own advantage.
The world itself is massive, and rewards players for taking the time to explore by offering up tidbits of information as to what an area was like before the apocalypse, creating a sense of character within each region.
Hideo Kojima's swan song with Konami is almost upon us. The legendary game designer has been declaring the end of his time with the series since Sons of Liberty, but unfortunately Konami has seen to it that this time it's for real.
After getting a taste of what to expect from the game last year with Ground Zereos, the experience will be evolving even more into what is undoubtedly the most open-ended Metal Gear game to date.
Players will have no limits in how they go about playing The Phantom Pain. Campaign missions can be accomplished in multiple ways, or even dynamically aborted if you feel like going off the beaten path to explore the wilds of Afghanistan. All the while, you will be building up and defending your heavily customizable fortress, Mother Base, from enemy players online.
Super Mario Maker aims to give Nintendo users the largest community-driven content marketplace on the Wii U. The game lets players take classic Mario levels and scenarios and turn them all on their heads by throwing all manner of enemies, traps, and power-ups together to create all kinds of chaos. However, players can only upload their creations after they beat it themselves - so nobody can complain that a level is impossible to beat.
The Warehouse level in the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater back in 1999 is the stuff of gaming legends. The series has had quite an extended hiatus, with the last official entry dating all the way back to 2002. So the pressure is on developer Robomodo to re-create the magic of the original games for a whole new generation of gamers.
Robomodo did release an HD remake of the original game back in 2012 to incredibly mixed results, so there is some legitimate concern to whether or not they can pull this off.
It's been about five years since the last entry of Rock Band hit store shelves. Co-op music games pretty much fell off the face of the planet soon afterwards, so it's refreshing to see not only the franchise, but the genre make a long-awaited return.
Rock Band 4 will be compatible with over 2,000 tracks from the previous games and runs at a crisp 1080p, 60 FPS. It's worth noting that the developers elected to drop the keyboard peripheral, but they maintain that the game will still utilize the guitar, bass, drums and vocals.
Rainbow Six: Siege is a tactical multiplayer shooter that offers multi-faceted environments with intense close-quarters action that demands its players consider every step before taking them. The result is a controlled chaos that's addictive to watch and a bit intimidating to play (in a good way).
Environments are both destructible and reinforceable, which helps to promote replayability by adding an element of unpredictability to each match. Siege looks like it has all the makings of a popular eSport, so expect this game to be relevant for a while.
It wouldn't be a fourth quarter release without another Assassin's Creed title. Syndicate is the latest in a long (looong) line of annual historical assassination romps, and this time players will explore London in 1868 during the Industrial Revolution.
Ubisoft is hopeful that Syndicate will help the series move past last year's troubled release, Assassin's Creed Unity, and will attempt to bring more sense and context to the story as it pertains to the modern world.
Easily the Xbox One's most anticipated exclusive, Halo 5: Guardians is the latest entry in the legendary first-person shooter franchise and the first to take advantage of next-gen technology.
Guardians will also predominantly feature a protagonist who is not Master Chief. Players will also be taking the role of Locke, another Spartan soldier whose mission it is to search for the Master Chief.
The campaign mode will feature a larger emphasis on co-op gameplay, as the game will have squads of Spartans following the player character around, making it conducive for people to drop in and drop out at their leisure.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Wondering whether there will be another Call of Duty game is like wondering if the Earth is still rotating around the sun. If it isn't, something is horribly wrong. The most profitable first-person shooter franchise of all time has another game coming out this year, and for the first time ever, it's Sony, not Microsoft, that has scored the timed exclusivity deal on the game's DLC.
Black Ops III continues to push the franchise into the future and will build on the freedom of movement mechanics introduced in last year's entry, Advanced Warfare. Look for a lot of gamers to decry yet another cash cow release, then turn around and buy the game Day 1.
Even though it's just a timed exclusive (and most games are nowadays anyway), Xbox One gamers will have a pretty solid head start on Rise of the Tomb Raider when it hits Microsoft's current gen console this November. Rise of the Tomb Raider is the follow up to 2013's Tomb Raider, a massively successful reboot of the classic '90's and early 2000's franchise.
With Tomb Raider's popularity officially revitalized, there are (unsurprisingly) already talks of a third game, so it's safe to say that Lara Croft is going to be relevant for a long time to come.
If there's any upcoming release that can force its way into the Game of the Year conversation, it's Fallout 4. The track record is there to prove it. Bethesda has taken home the Golden Joystick in 2006, 2009, and 2012 for Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim, respectively.
The competition is fierce this year, but no game will offer its players a bigger playground with as much freedom as Fallout 4 will. No matter who wins, one thing is for sure: the people who have won the most this year is the gamers.
Personally, I think Battlefront is the most intriguing AAA game left on the 2015 game calendar. As a life long Star Wars fan that poured countless hours into the original games, I'm excited to see how DICE adapts their design philosophies to the Star Wars brand.
I have my doubts about a consistent 60 FPS during online multiplayer matches, but battles look like they are going to be as layered and dynamic as any of the original games. The lack of space combat is a bit of a bummer, but isn't that what sequels are for?
The open-world action movie that is the Just Cause series is going next-gen this December. If you're looking for emotionally gripping narratives here, you've come to the wrong place - unless a tinge of anger followed up by a massively chained set of explosions really tugs at your heart strings.
Just Cause is and always has been about creatively insane stunts, corny dialogue, and destroying anything and everything, just because you can (as the name implies). And now with even more processing power to work with, Just Cause 3 is sure to be the craziest game in the series yet.
The original Xenoblade Chronicles almost didn't make it to the United States. If it weren't for the fan campaign, Operation Rainfall, we wouldn't be anticipating the arrival of its spirtual successor, Xenoblade Chronicles X.
Although it is not a direct sequel, X does evolve the core Xenoblade experience by adding even more futuristic elements, presenting a world that is far more advanced technologically. Players will also have the ability to pilot a mech across the game's open world. The game also promises to be a less linear experience than its predecessor, letting players customize their own character's appearance and class.
Just to be clear, Hitman is not a reboot. It is simply going to return to its roots, and the title is a representation of that ideal.
The original games were built around the idea of a sandbox assassination, delivering multiple methods for the player to complete their contracts in a large space. Absolution streamlined these idea to make the series more appealing on a commercial level, but IO Interactive is doing away with that completely to give fans, both new and old, the real Hitman experience.
So there you have it. Which release are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments!