In a year full of sequels and last-gen remasters, you could be forgiven for thinking that this section might have proven a little meagre. But the fact is that 2014 had a plethora of new IPs, from small curiosity pieces to blockbuster triple-A titles.
What we said:Child of Light proves that cheap downloadable RPGs can be done right after all. Visually enchanting and featuring a clever twist on classic turn-based combat, this puts many full-sized RPGs to shame. Even with painful rhyming dialogue and generic story, you'll find yourself hooked to the end.
What we said: Destiny's issues are rather obvious, and Bungie probably should have known better considering their pedigree, but this is all overshadowed by how fun and additive the game is once you get going. The feeling of wanting to do one more mission, to kill one more pack, on the off-chance I get some better loot, is the icing on the cake that is made up of satisfying FPS combat. Sure, the baking time is longer than other gaming cakes out there, and it isn’t the most exotic or original recipe in terms of its ingredients, but that doesn’t stop it from tasting so moorish that I want another piece right now.
What we said: Sunset Overdrive brings the fun. Though Insomniac's inexperience with open-world games leads to inconsistent mission design and a few oversights, its infectious energy, breathtaking traversal, silly weapons and violently colourful playground make for a brilliant way to blow off steam.
What we said: Super Time Force delivers the depth of Braid with the intense SHMUP satisfaction of an old-school run and gunner, letting you assemble a ridiculous army of skateboarding dinosaurs and Uzi dolphins by abusing time paradoxes. Something we don't get to write often enough.
The Talos Principle
What we said: Croteam knocked it out of the park with The Talos Principle. Written by Tom Jubert (FTL, The Swapper) and Jonas Kyratzes (Infinite Ocean), not only did The Talos Principle wow us this year with its intricate puzzle design, but the setting and story combined to tell a metaphysical parable that proved incredibly thought-provoking. An outstanding puzzle title in its own right, filled with inventive mechanisms that never outstay their welcome, The Talos Principle also offered some surprisingly deep subject matter for philosophical musing.
What we said: A victim of its own elegance and simplicity thanks to some ruthless cloning, Threes is nonetheless one of the best puzzle games of the year, and one of the finest mobile games to date. Simple to pick up, yet difficult to master and reach truly top tier scores, Threes was charming, addictive, and perfectly balanced.
What we said: Titanfall doesn't do anything truly revolutionary, but Respawn's rollicking shooter delivers a welcome shot of adrenaline directly into the heart of the genre, packaging familiar components in a truly satisfying and accessible way. More importantly, though, it's fantastic fun, regardless of whether you're a hardcore FPS gamer or just want to blow off some steam. Every match feels like an epic battle, from first charge to desperate extraction, set throughout some of the best maps that we've rampaged through in years.
What we said: Watch Dogs has its moments. Interconnected future Chicago is a hacker's playground. You'll infiltrate heavily guarded compounds without even setting foot in the building, leaping between CCTV cameras like a digital ghost. You'll turn car chases into carnage as you detonate sub-street steam pipes and raise bridges, speeding away from pile-ups that would make Elwood Blues doff his fedora.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if the biggest entertainment franchise on the planet is taking a leaf out of your book (as COD seemed to do with Titanfall this year) then you must be doing something right. Of course, if we were judging this category on imitatio, Threes would probably have run away with it.
But Titanfall wins the award for best new IP this year because not only was it one of the very best games of the year, but we can't wait to see where Respawn take it next. Regarding the latter point, you could say the same of Destiny and Watch Dogs, but those games arguably just hinted towards greater promise rather than exhibiting exactly why we should be excited straight out of the gates. Similarly, Super Time Force and The Talos Principle were unique games that brimmed with creativity, but might clearly be considered one-offs. That's not to disparage them in any way, simply that when it comes to the complete package in present and looking ahead, it's hard to see past Titanfall.
I'd been suffering from shooter fatigue for a little while, I think, coming into 2014. Titanfall wrecked that. In it came, a mashup of balletic, fluid agility and dynamism, and raw mechanical power, and it changed the genre. We discussed how its parts could be considered far from unique, but they'd never been packaged as well as this, delivering such exhilarating, ever-changing experiences time and time again. Titanfall sized up the heavyweights of the most conservative genre in town, said it could do better... and then did.