South Park is one of those rare TV shows that keeps getting better, and after seventeen seasons, that's a pretty amazing feat. The irreverent comedy about a group of foul-mouthed nine-year-olds living in a Colorado mountain town started as an excuse to push the censors to their limits, but has since become one of the best places to go for political and social satire. Apparently there are a lot of South Park fans at RPGamer, as the highly anticipated South Park: The Stick of Truth is our most wanted RPG for 2014. Of course, that could also have something to do with the game's developer, Obsidian, who is responsible for a number of much-loved RPGs, including Alpha Protocol, Fallout: New Vegas, and Dungeon Siege III. To date, South Park: The Stick of Truth has had an extremely rocky history.
It was originally scheduled to be released at the end of 2012, but was delayed due to the bankruptcy and asset-sale of then-publisher THQ. The rights were picked up by Ubisoft, who was set to release it in early 2013 but delayed it one more time due to quality issues. Finally, it once again missed a Fall 2013 release date and was pushed back to a firm March 2014 release. In the fall, South Park's three-part trilogy parodying George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones and the popular HBO television series of the same name effectively created a gigantic advertising campaign for the game, in which the characters dressed in the same costumes they wear in the RPG. This has stoked the fire for further anticipation. With the release finally imminent, we at RPGamer are excited to get our hands on it.
The mere mention of the Dragon Age franchise will rouse a host of emotions. To say that the quality of this series has been uneven would be an understatement. Dragon Age: Origins was a legitimate surprise to a lot of gamers, as it successfully melded the prototypical BioWare approach to Western RPGs with the settings and themes of Tolkien's works. Memorable characters flooded the cast, action was varied and strategic, exploration was paramount, and the world had a vibrancy that rivalled even Mass Effect. Sadly, when Dragon Age II was released only a year later, it failed to satisfy a large cross-section of gamers. Many changes were made, and it could be argued that a sizable amount of them were not for the better. They say third time is the charm, though.
There are many reasons to be excited for Dragon Age: Inquisition. One of the biggest is that BioWare has been listening to us. The game was delayed a full year to autumn 2014 in order to ensure that multiple playable races, among other things, could be added. Party members will be more customizable, combat will be a mix of DA2's pacing with the strategic elements of Origins/Awakening, the environments will be more varied, and the world itself will be a large sandbox primed for your exploration. The game looks downright gorgeous on DICE's Frostbite 3 engine, and while we have no doubt that the presentation values will be high, we're more excited to see how BioWare has learned from previous series entries. With any luck, Dragon Age: Inquisition may be the RPG of the Year for 2014.
It's no secret that a number of us on the RPGamer staff are huge fans of The Witcher, a gritty low-fantasy series starring the mutant monster-hunter Geralt. In The Witcher 2, developer CD Projekt delivered a game that gave players some impressive role-playing choices — so impressive that the middle of the game was completely different depending on one major choice. This time around, CD Projekt is promising us an open-world Witcher game, appropriate for the long journey Geralt requires to solve the mystery of the Wild Hunt and his former love Yennefer. CD Projekt really is the little company that could when it comes to technical and design challenges, so we're greatly anticipating what it can do with this open-world premise. We expect The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to be a worthy send-off for our world-weary friend Geralt.
by Adriaan den Ouden, Trent Seely, Becky Cunningham