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Gamasutra's Best Of 2010: Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of 2011
Gamasutra's Best Of 2010: Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of 2011
December 15, 2010 | By Kyle Orland

December 15, 2010 | By Kyle Orland
More: Console/PC

[Gamasutra continues its 2010 year-end lists by setting its gaze forward instead of backward, looking at titles that are already lighting up the 2011 release calendar, from L.A. Noire to The Last Guardian. Previously: Top 5 Trends, Top 5 Major Industry Events, Top 5 Surprises, Top 5 Disappointments, and Top 5 Controversies.]

Sitting in the middle of the holiday deluge at the end of a year as chock full of quality releases as 2010, it may seem silly to even think about looking ahead to next year's crop of titles.

Yet the game industry stubbornly refuses to stop progressing, and players seem eager to dig in to some of gaming's upcoming courses before they've even finished looking at what's on their current plate.

Aside from the obvious sequels and updates to the biggest-selling franchises of the last few years, there are a few titles that stand out as the most intriguing and mysterious blips on the 2011 radar.

Here are just a few of them, and why we and so many like us can't wait to get our hands on them.

L.A. Noire (Team Bondi/Rockstar)

Despite a development history that stretches back to 2004, very little was publicly known about this crime drama until relatively recently.

Even after a March preview in Game Informer magazine revealed the 1940s Los Angeles murder mystery would feature a cast of 300 characters speaking over 2,000 pages of dialogue, publisher Rockstar Games maintained its standard aura of media silence.

But that silence is beginning to crack, with the game's first trailer showing off the innovative motion-capture process from partner Depth Analysis that creates full 3D models directly from captured performances.

That revolutionary technology is being put towards a game where interrogating suspects and examining clues carefully matters just as much, if not more, than shooting bad guys, and where conversations that would be cut scenes in most games can end up being pivotal gameplay moments.

It's quite a departure from a publisher known more for do-as-you-please sandbox titles -- and for project head Brendan McNamara, whose last release, The Getaway, was a more straightforward cops-and-robbers shoot-fest. Still, it's a departure that has many looking eagerly to the game's planned Spring 2011 release.

Star Wars: The Old Republic (BioWare Austin/EA)

After six straight years of attempts to beat World of Warcraft on its own MMO turf, some have despaired that the king of the genre will ever be taken down. That doesn't include EA, though, which has plowed a record amount of money into developing BioWare's first massively multiplayer title.

Being a BioWare title, it's perhaps not a surprise that developing individual storylines is a focus for the game's 12 full-time writers.

In-game choices will reportedly affect branching personal tales and give a concrete shape to what can often seem like pointless, stat-padding fetch quests in other MMOs. A fluid class system promises to do away with the need to find specific players to fill certain roles as well, letting players change their in-game job along with their mood.

Though the game's current release window of "fiscal 2012" does extend a bit past 2011, there are already a lot of breathless fans hoping the game manages to hit the earlier part of that window.

Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony)

Thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen may have officially unveiled Journey back at E3 2010, but it was only last week we got our first glimpse of the game in motion, a glimpse that featured a desolate, sandy world with a lone, robe-clad protagonist.

The controls are reportedly equally desolate, limited to a jump button and a shout command, the latter of which is your only mode of interaction with the other players joining you in the online-enabled title. When thatgamecompany's designers talk about the game, they tend to use lofty language about emotional connection and meaningful interaction without getting in to many specifics about what you actually do in the game.

Such fuzzy gameplay information, and an even fuzzier release date of "2011," might not seem like much to serve as a basis for a highly anticipated title. But after the elegant, genre-busting beauty of thatgamecompany's flOw and Flower, the company's projects get the benefit of the doubt.

Portal 2 (Valve)

After its release in 2007, the original Portal quickly went from being an afterthought addition to Valve's jam-packed The Orange Box release to being an over-referenced cornerstone of nerd culture. Now that "The cake is a lie," "Still Alive' and the Weighted Companion Cube have had some time to go from clever to tired to kitsch and back again, Portal's tightly constructed first-person puzzle gameplay and interwoven story have stood on their own as a new classic.

Valve has taken its time crafting the sequel into something much grander than the brilliant-but-short experience of the original (which was based on student project Narbacular Drop).

The company has kept anticipation high with a slow but steady drip of demos, trailers and information regarding the game, stressing the title's new co-operative mode and a helpfully British spherical artificial intelligence guide Wheatley. More open environments and new gameplay elements like propulsion gel promise to expand the original game's variety of puzzles as well.

Though a two-month delay has pushed this long-anticipated title's release back to April, the fact that the game has a firm release date at all makes it one of the least hard-to-wait-for games on this list.

The Last Guardian (Team Ico/Sony)

Team Ico has attracted an inordinate amount of attention for a developer with only two games under its belt, but the wide-open expanses, beautiful art direction and largely context-free adventure gameplay of the PS2's Ico and Shadow of the Colossus have earned the gaming world's attention, and an HD re-release on the PS3, as well.

So it's not that surprising that so many are excited about The Last Guardian despite nothing more than a couple of trailers showing a tunic-clad boy traipsing around and clambering on top of a giant dog/bird/dragon thing without apparent direction. The sheer emotional weight wrought from these spare video trailers shows that, if you have the art direction down, sometimes the actual gameplay can seem like a secondary consideration.

The game is currently loosely targeted for a Q4 2011 release, but don't be surprised if that timing slips back even further as the team perfects its vision. With over five years now since Shadow of the Colossus' release, the team is obviously willing to take its time on this one.

Other anticipated 2011 titles: Dead Space 2, Infamous 2, Dragon Age 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3, the sequel to that other game you liked.

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Eric Monacelli
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Where's the Okamiden and any 3DS love? I understand but it's a clear sign of the times to see Nintendo products being overshadowed so much.

Russell Carroll
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I'm also surprised there aren't any 3DS titles or even a single Nintendo title on the list? Not even in the 'other' list?

I wish I didn't feel like Nintendo is simply ignored b/c they are Nintendo and their platforms are often treated like a disease by many in gaming.

I'll add Ghost Trick as one of the titles I'm most looking forward to, but I dig stuff that is a bit off the beaten path ;).

(...and honestly the list above is fairly well targeted at just one type of gamer)

E Zachary Knight
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Well, considering Gamasutra didn't release a Most Anticipated Wii games list last year, it is not surprising to find no games for the Wii or 3DS on this list.

Russell Carroll
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Good call...

Sadly I remember that now, and what it means.

But good call.

Boto Gatas
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Maybe they do it (exclude Nintendo) to generate more comments (aka clicks, aka $) from us. ;)

Scott Galloway
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Nintendo has been classically tight lipped over every piece of hardware and software line up for new hardware that they have any control over so don't be too surprised if there is nothing more than a breeze of mist of information and then when they are ready a big HERE I AM DEAL WITH ME WORLD!

Leonardo Ferreira
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"the sequel to that other game you liked" made my day.

gus one
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The next Call of Duty of course. And from a new studio so that will be interesting.

Samuel Fiunte Matarredona
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Mass Effect 3

no doubts about that

Glenn Sturgeon
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The fact its an inhouse id game speaks for itself. Iv'e litteraly seen 10s of 1000s of people rave about thier intrest, excitement & expectations for this title. (or maybe its one person with 1000s of accounts8)

I can assume this article was written before Bethesda announced ESV Skyrim since its not on the list?

Well its hard to underplay the sequal of this gens consoles "first Next Gen title". Needless to say the prequal sold alot of 360s to alot of hardcore and non "hardcore gamers" that ended up pretty hardcore after they had been through the game.

Skyrim is the sequal most everyone will buy just to see if it moves the franchies & gameplay in the direction they personaly wanted it to go. Well thats unless it ends up with a MC score in the 20s-30s lol.

I couldnt help but add the last sentance.

The fact is everybody knows it will at least be a realy good game and wouldn't be to suprising if they touched on sheer greatness especialy for a semi general public accepted rpg.

Only the KOTR game has a real chance to compete with this comming game as far as new RPG sales go for 2011. Just the amount of attention Skyrim got from its anouncement & a couple of minute promo vid is staggering. Not everyone likes the genre or franchies but all took note of its comming. 11.11.11

My personaly anticipated titles for 2011 are Rage (pc) & From software's Project Dark (consoles).

Prash Nelson-Smythe
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But the last proper new game from id was Doom 3 and it wasn't very good. People getting excited about a game they haven't fully played is not a useful indicator.

Glenn Sturgeon
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to give advance thought, discussion, or treatment to"

Nudge, Nudge, wink, wink... need i say more?

Eric Geer
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No Ninty love at all on this opinion piece. So I'll make up for it.

I believe it might be another one of those games that gets passed by, but Lost in Shadow looks incredible.

Zelda: Skyward Sword? Last Story? Xenoblade? Kid Icarus 3DS?

David Crosson
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So many - Eric you're right on with those nintendo games...

-Skyward Sword

-Last Story (since we're prob never getting Lost Odyssey 2)

-Kid Icarus

-Elder scrolls 5

-Mass Effect 3

-Codename Kingdoms (at least some news on it - Crytek + gladiatorial combat sounds awesome)


-LA Noire

-Child of Eden

-Gears of War 3

-Batman Arkham City


too friggin many...i need to win the lottery

Eric Ruck
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No love for FE3R? For any game that spooks lots of otherwise sane adults so bad that they can't finish it, the sequel deserves some attention.

Jacob Barlaam
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all things considered, diablo 3 sould be up there

Cate Ericsson
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Agreed, but other than that leaked document (which may or may not be accurate), there's no talk that it's being released next year. The other games mentioned have all targeted 2011 as a release date, whether it's fuzzy or not (except for SWTOR, not sure why that's on the list really). Blizzard exempts themselves from these lists all the time, simply by never stating a release target until it's right around the corner!

But agreed, D3 is easily one of the Most Anticipated Games under development right now, whether it's released in 2011 or 2012.

John Osborne
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Interesting - Old Republic over DC Universe Online?

David Crosson
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Also, where the heck is Shadow Complex 2???

Dave Sodee
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Diablo 3 for sure ! We need a good tactical shooter in the Rainbow 6 vein but that seems an area that had dried up. All run and gun shooters for oh so long...

Wylie Garvin
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Funny how different that list is from my own Top 5 most anticipated games for 2011.

Where's Ni No Kuni on that list, for example? Where's the ICO/SotC bundle?

[edit: okay, they mention the bundle in the post. but still.]

Marc-Olivier Beaupre
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Lots of good names here...but honestly, Deux Ex shoudn't be in the other anticipated title, it's in the top 5. Amazing trailers after amazing trailers and each time the trailer is the number 1 video of the day.

I like Journey's atmosphere, but it's not in the Top 5.

My two cents.

Michael Scala
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Arkham City

gus one
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The Witcher 2. Come on people how can you miss that. Plus the Deux Ex follow up. SC2 XP. Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3. And then there is Red Orchestra2: Heroes of Stalingrad that has got me interested. And of course Battlefield 3. The next wave of Kinect games (awesome thing of beauty is that hardware). One thing is for sure and that is that it will be an eclectic range - this year was a little FPS top heavy. Going to be a great year nevertheless.

Boto Gatas
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Why they don't mention the new Zelda? Is it so underhyped and disaccredited? The times they are a-changiníÖ anyway itís the one game Iím looking for in 2011. I only have a Wii, by the way (and my PC is too much low end to this new hyper games).

GianLuca Malagnini
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Guild Wars 2

Charles Forbin
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Duke Nukem!!!

Someone had to say it. :)