Tomb Raider -> XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Shipwrecked and inexperienced, a 21-year-old Lara Croft is physically and emotionally tested as she escapes her captives and explores a mysterious island near Japan. The reboot maintains elements that popularized Tomb Raider, such as puzzles and platforming sequences. However, there will be a greater emphasis on survival (you'll find your own tools, weapons and other essentials) as well as combat (no more lock-on aiming). The developers are also striving to achieve more of an emotional bond between players and Lara.
Developed by Hi-Rez Studios, Tribes: Ascend will veer away from previous iterations by focusing on rigid class-based weapon loadouts that serve as a cornerstone for the free-to-play model. You'll receive at least one class when you're new, but others will have to be purchased with real money or in-game credits earned by killing enemies, repairing structures, capturing objectives and so on. The developer will also sell cosmetics and boosters. Despite going FTP, the title will feature many classic elements such as jetpacks and skiing.
It's not every day that you get to play a triple-A game for free, but that's precisely what Crytek plans to deliver with its upcoming military shooter. Developed with CryEngine 3, Warface will reportedly pack top-notch graphics and physics along with "immersive and fluid second-to-second" combat. There'll be both PvE with massive boss fights and competitive PvP for a more traditional FPS experience. As with most free-to-play titles, Warface will presumably sell cosmetics, weapons, maps and other in-game content for real cash.
As the fourth expansion to Blizzard's eight-year-old MMORPG, players should know exactly what to expect: more quests, higher levels, a new race and/or class along with other changes. Such is true with WoW: Mists of Pandaria, which focuses on the war between the Alliance and the Horde as they discover the land of Pandaria. The update adds nine new instances, challenge dungeons, the Pandaren race and Monk class, a revamped talent system, a pet battle system, PvE scenarios, an increased level cap from 85 to 90 and more.
It's been over a decade since the last X-COM release but fans of the franchise will receive two this year: XCOM, a reboot that mixes FPS action and tactical management, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown, more of a strategy-oriented throwback to the original. Feast or famine, as they say. There's far more info for the FPS entry, which is set in 1962 and follows the story of FBI Special Agent William Carter. 2K assures fans that the game won't be a generic linear shooter, mixing in RPG progression elements and squad-based combat.
It goes without saying that some chosen games won't materialize this year and we've undoubtedly excluded some noteworthy titles -- not least of which are End of Nations, Firefall, Fortnite, Natural Selection 2, Planetside 2 and The Darkness II (coming on February 10). If we included everything, our list would reach unruly lengths, but there's nothing stopping you from sharing your most anticipated PC games for 2012.