StarCraft II ---> WoW: Cataclysm
After over a decade of waiting, fans of the original StarCraft might finally get their mitts on the sequel this year. Like many games, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was expected for late 2009, but was bumped ahead for development reasons and is now anticipated to launch in the first half of 2010.
The Terran, Protoss and Zerg races are all present in the sequel, which is set in a distant part of the Milky Way galaxy some four years after the events of Brood War. As the name denotes, Wings of Liberty specifically focuses on the Terran faction, while the Protoss and Zerg campaigns will ship as expansion packs called Legacy of the Void and Heart of the Swarm.
A completely overhauled Battle.net is in the works, with a competitive ladder and marketplace, and StarCraft II will supposedly feature roughly the same number of units as StarCraft, many of them new or enhanced versions from the original.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
The always creepy S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series returns this February after making an early appearance in the Russian and German markets. The story unfolds shortly after Shadow of Chernobyl when Ukraine's Security Service agent, Alexander Degtyaryov is sent on a mission to explore the Zone.
The post-apocalyptic world in Call of Pripyat (CoP) will feature graphics advances, including GPU tessellation for DirectX 11-compliant GPUs. On the gameplay side, fans of the series are expecting CoP to follow the first game's formula which was deemed more immersive and right down eerie. Call of Pripyat's open world will also receive a 'free play' mode that will let you wander around to discover secrets and hidden areas.
Developed by Cryptic Studios (the folks behind Cities of Heroes/Villains and Champions Online), Star Trek Online is the franchise's first MMORPG. It is set in the 25th century, 30 years after Star Trek: Nemesis, and each player will command their own ship, serving either the United Federation of Planets or the Klingon Empire.
Like Cryptic's other games, Star Trek Online features a diverse character base, allowing players to choose between numerous stock races or even create their own. Ship-to-ship combat emphasizes slow-paced tactical resource management while on-foot combat resembles that of a traditional MMO.
Players can customize and outfit their ships with an NPC-driven crew, take part in an expansive Galactic Economy, and pool resources to form fleets (guilds, basically), which can build space stations, mining platforms, satellites, shipyards, and more.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is set 300 years after the last installment of the highly acclaimed KotOR franchise. After choosing between two factions, the Sith Empire or the Galactic Republic, players will carve their way through a story-driven world, where decisions will push their alignment toward good or evil.
The developer intends to structure the content in a way that someone could replay the game as a different class, without experiencing the same cut scenes or story. That's a huge task, but given Bioware's rich history (Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, Dragon Age: Origins, etc), it's entirely believable. There will also be an emphasis on companion characters, which progress based on your actions, can fight alongside you, and have their own specific companion quests.
*Note: The release date of Star Wars: The Old Republic was changed just before publishing, but we felt it still deserved to be mentioned.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
Supreme Commander 2 picks up 25 years after the events of the first title. When the Colonial Defense Coalition president is assassinated, CDC members deny involvement but wind up blaming each other and a galactic war ensues. As one of three factions, players will engage in epic battles on expansive maps. The sequel will also bring an updated rendering engine, tech tree, path finding, and AI.
As the third and largest expansion to the six-year-old MMORPG, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will bring a massive amount of new content and flip Azeroth on its head.
The update will add two new races (Worgen for the Alliance, Goblins for the Horde), more race and class combinations, heroic modes for classic dungeons, flying mounts in Azeroth, a guild leveling and achievement system, an increased level cap (85), and entirely revamped zones. That is all in addition to the usual round of new items, quests, creatures and abilities, of course. The expansion will also see the return of Deathwing, who causes a new Sundering and is the main antagonist of Cataclysm.
There has been no official announcement by Blizzard suggesting World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will hit store shelves this year, but it seems likely that it will arrive this holiday season or shortly thereafter.
Other noteworthy titles slated for 2010 include: DC Universe Online, Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, Guild Wars 2, Hitman 5, Kane & Lynch 2, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands and Silent Hunter V: Battle of the Atlantic.
For a more complete look at what's coming this year, take a look at this list on Wikipedia.
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