Even we get tired of our own voices sometimes (admittedly not very often, as podcast survivors can attest). But while we like to think we can tell you a thing or two about gaming every now and then, you don't need us to explain what the biggest games of 2011 are going to be. Just glance at your pre-order list.
So for our 2011 preview series, we thought we would hand over the reins to you, dear readers, and see what kind of horse was left at the end. We asked you to name your most anticipated game of the year and, using highly advanced scientific techniques (To: Eurogamer Tech Team, Subject: Help!), we synthesised the following reverse-anticipatory list of your picks for the coming 12 months.
There may be a few surprises along the way, but early consensus around the office is that you're not as stupid as you are beautiful – and that we can get on board with most of your choices, including your number one. Read on to see what you voted for and to see what you had to say about your choices.
10. Gears of War 3
Microsoft, Epic Games / Xbox 360 / Autumn 2011
Last time it was a giant worm, so goodness knows where Epic's horse-necked space-marine factory will take us from here. We can hazard a guess though. In story terms, to begin with, there are plenty of plot strands dangling in the Seran wind left to tie up, not the least of which concerns Marcus' wayward father and the Locust queen (which is all a bit John Major/Edwina Currie for our liking).
Given Cliff Bleszinski's comments about how Gears 2 was perhaps too set-piece-driven, at the expense of the first game's lean approach to combat scenarios, we're hoping for a tight campaign that makes the most of its newfound four-player co-operative context. Plus of course, there's Beast mode, which looks set to do for Gears' ghoulish menagerie what Horde once did for the bit-parters of the COG.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Nintendo / Wii / 2011
Does there come a point where the relentless quality of gameplay within a framework can no longer make up for the sense of repetition? Providing the dungeon design in Zelda's Skyward Sword is as arresting as some of the recent handheld instalments, you'd imagine not. Nintendo will certainly be hoping its design team is still up to the task, given the game's role in hawking the 1:1 MotionPlus bolt-on.
But putting aside the enhanced precision and traditional excitements of the boomerang and the bow and arrow, we're hoping that Skyward Sword will be more of a reinvention than yet another reimagining. Much as we eagerly consume the sub-series that has now established itself on the DS, we wouldn't mind something closer to the daring of Majora's Mask for Link's first true Wii adventure.
Bethesda Softworks, Splash Damage / PC, PS3, Xbox 360 / Spring 2011
It's been in the public eye for so long now we've almost run out of things to say about it (although the interminably loquacious Paul Wedgwood, boss of developer Splash Damage, undoubtedly has not). However, that hasn't stopped you voting for this brave and interesting new take on the team-based first-person shooter.
Another recap? Why not. Having first customised your appearance and abilities in Brink's elegantly engineered character creator, you are sent to battle alongside either AI or human comrades. You're directed to support the team effort by an adaptive objective system that incentivises complementary gameplay approaches. You also get to dance and clamber your way through combat using the ingenious SMART button, which elevates you beyond the torpid button-machinations of the average FPS navigator by autopiloting you over complex geometry. It looks pretty amazing too. What's not to like?
7. Batman: Arkham City
Warner Bros., Rocksteady / PC, PS3, Xbox 360 / Q3 2011
If asked to justify Arkham City's status as one of the most anticipated games of 2011, most Eurogamer staffers would point simply to Arkham Asylum. Ever-so-narrowly defeated by Uncharted 2 in our 2009 poll for Game of the Year, Rocksteady's phenomenal debut on current-gen systems won the studio the megabucks support of Warner Bros. That same year, it also overcame the competing vision of Christopher Nolan's cinematic Dark Knight to establish itself in our hearts. No mean feat.
Arkham City looks to expand on the considerable foundations laid down just under 18 months ago. With Rocksteady's hand on the tiller, it looks set to do so cautiously and with great affection for the subject matter. Asylum's quality owed much to its non-linear progression through an evolving but enclosed environment; Arkham City, we hope, will take a new approach without forgetting those lessons.
6. LA Noire
Rockstar Games, Team Bondi / PS3, Xbox 360 / H1 2011
Until last year, LA Noire was merely the long-forgotten pet project of Brendan McNamara. He's the man who created The Getaway – a reasonable PlayStation 2 openworld adventure now so long in the tooth that many gamers may struggle to remember it, or him.
Now, thanks to the crafty marketing skills of publisher Rockstar Games, some incredibly bold performance-capture technology and some extraordinary gameplay ideas – imagine interrogating a suspect in 1940s Los Angeles and taking your cues from their actual facial response – LA Noire is one of the hottest prospects for this year.
5. Portal 2
Valve / PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360 / 22nd April
This was a triumph. Sure, it was delayed, but at least they made a joke out of it. Portal's simplicity and brevity were two vital components of its success so the concepts thrown around last year – such as physics effects 'bleeding' through portals, most notably – raised a few complexity-averse eyebrows.
Then again, we're struggling to think of a Valve game which hasn't been amazing. Like Blizzard the studio simply doesn't release things it's not proud of, and it seems unlikely that it's about to start fouling things up with the sequel to something so universally adored – however delicate the original may have been in hindsight.
4. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Square Enix, Eidos Montreal / PC, PS3, Xbox 360
In one sense, this was always going to be a risk. In another, the confused response to the rapidly-ageing Invisible War, not to mention the hungry reaction to anything involving choice-and-consequence at the back end of the noughties, gave Eidos Montreal something of an open goal to aim at with this bold new companion to the Deus Ex stories.
Nah, not really – everyone was going to be enormously picky about whatever the studio did with this beloved series. It's one of the few which can be identified by ideals as much as mechanics, so the fact that we're all panting with anticipation speaks well to the decisions the developer has taken. The marketing's been clever, too – playing through the same level for journalists three brilliant times in a row at last year's trade shows illustrated the possibility spectrum better than anything else could have, and was a masterstroke we hope the game can live up to.
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bethesda Game Studios / PC, PS3, Xbox 360 / 11th November
One of the worst-kept secrets in an industry where Careless Talk seems to be in everyone's default perk loadout, the game we eventually came to know as Skyrim portrays the last of the events that will fulfil the prophecy foretold by the Elder Scrolls. And you play a dragon hunter voiced by Max von Sydow.
Numerous tweaks and changes and enchanting new locations should be enough to keep fans interested (not that they will require much encouragement). A brand new engine (we double-checked) could be enormously beneficial to a series which, like Fallout, could do with a visual makeover in order to catch the passing trade.
2. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Sony, Naughty Dog / PS3 / 4th November
The train level. The mountain village. The ice caves. The train wreck. Shambhala. Uncharted 2 may have been a simple game beneath its layers of narrative and technological artifice, but then Raiders of the Lost Ark is basically about a guy looking for a box and you don't see anyone complaining. As Indy might say, it's the mileage – and the miles we covered in Nathan Drake's shoes in Uncharted 2 were utterly riveting. It was a videogame engineered by people who understood everything they were trying to do.
Now they're coming again, and Drake's quest this time sends him into the heart of the desert – partly on the hunt, as ever, for some ancient, transformative bounty, and partly to stretch Naughty Dog's technological legs. Apparently the desert was chosen because of the unique challenges it would represent at every level of development. Where's Nolan North when you need him? "Woah."
1. Mass Effect 3
EA, BioWare / PC, PS3, Xbox 360 / "Holiday" 2011
Have we run out of drumroll? It's not been a bad fortnight for BioWare on Eurogamer. Mass Effect 2 was confirmed as our Game of the Year, and then you agreed, making it number one in the Eurogamer Readers' Top 50 Games of 2010. With that much momentum behind it, perhaps it's no surprise to see Mass Effect 3 at the top of this pile.
Is it here on merit though? Do we really know enough to justify this level of hype? Cynics might say not, but in truth we have seen far more than that tantalising trailer. We've played through two massive primers in the shape of the flawed but wonderful original and its incomparable sequel. We know what hangs in the balance.
More importantly, we have walked our own path to this moment, and the grave threat we will face off with at the end of the year will have to contend with heroes steeped in hard-thought decisions as well as hard-fought experience. This is our war in a way that few RPGs – few games of any kind – can claim to offer.
Whoever prevails (EA's bank manager can probably afford to crack open the cooking sherry around about now, actually), we reckon Mass Effect 3 will mark the end of something special. It's no surprise, now all the votes are in, to learn you share that sentiment.
Join us tomorrow to find out which games our favourite developers (i.e. the ones who pick up the phone and answer their email) have selected as their picks for 2011.