Hype time. Few of us on staff have had a chance to even touch these pre-release titles, but that doesn't stop us from drooling every time a new detail is announced or a new trailer is released. It's nearly impossible to not get hyped up for what's to come, even if fairly often a hyped game ends up being a big letdown. Well, here's hoping that these most wanted picks turn out for the best.
It all comes down to this. Two RPGs' worth of decisions will finally make their end results known in Mass Effect 3. While we can't wait to see how the overarching story pans out — pro tip: the reapers probably lose — it's all the little plot threads reaching their conclusions that make our heads spin. From the council and bug queen in Mass Effect to the ending choice in Mass Effect 2, Shepard has had many opportunities to kill off potentially evil beings of unknown worth or let them live to help or harm another day. As the story and characters were the main drivers in the first two games, the RPGamer staff anticipate seeing them to their conclusion.
Which isn't to say that the combat and interface mean nothing. BioWare made sweeping tweaks in the sequel, ranging from excellent choices like eliminating inventory to less popular ones like reducing the number of skills per person. The pace of the battle portions was sped up as a result, but as Mass Effect 2 didn't have much of a fan revolt on its mechanics, it will be interesting to see if BioWare makes more sweeping tweaks, or if Mass Effect 3's short development cycle is an indicator that not much will change. Considering how much we enjoyed Mass Effect 2, that would be okay by us, and we are eagerly looking forward to Mass Effect 3 as RPGamer's most wanted game of 2011.
Seeing as Dragon Age: Origins was a big winner in RPGamer's 2009 Game of the Year voting, it's no surprise that Dragon Age II has shown up on this list. We have to admit that we're looking forward to it with mild trepidation, unsure of how the changes to the combat and conversation systems will work out. The story and characters, however, look pretty great so far, so we'll give BioWare the benefit of the doubt. At the least, we're looking forward to learning more about Dragon Age II before its release this spring.
Blizzard has demonstrated time and again that it can not only innovate, but also produce excellence by creating well polished, beautiful, finely balanced games that cater to both the hardcore and casual audiences simultaneously. Even though nearly a decade has passed since the last Diablo release, it continues to be the standard by which action RPGs are judged today.
Blizzard has already revitalized two of its franchises with great success. Warcraft III improved on the first two games so well that it inspired many games after it, including Blizzard's own World of Warcraft. Starcraft II stunned the world by managing to exceed the expectations of a rabid fanbase who demanded perfection after years of waiting. We expect nothing less than a complete hat trick when Blizzard releases Diablo III, the third iteration of its venerable action RPG franchise, later this year.
by Becky Cunningham, Glenn Wilson, Phillip Willis, Michael Cunningham