It launched back in November 2004, is one of the most cherished PC games of all-time and people have been clamouring for a follow-up the 15 years since - and today, at GDC, that finally became a reality. Yes, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines is getting a sequel, and it's coming to PC and consoles in 2020.
Last December Epic released its own digital games store, and now over three months later it boasts some 85 million players. Fortnite has helped, of course, as has its offering of a free game every two weeks, but most controversially it's been through its acquisition of exclusives - such as 4A Games' Metro Exodus - that it's gained most notoriety. In the wake of the announcement of Google Stadia, and at Epic's own keynote at GDC where it announced a $100,000,000 fund for developers, we caught up with Epic founder Tim Sweeney to talk though the current state of play.
At this year's GDC, there's one topic ruling the conversation; streaming services, and the arrival of Google as a player in what's now become a very tangible space. How long ago it now seems from the comically messy launch of OnLive, or from when Microsoft's 'power of the cloud' mantra was a stick used to beat it during the difficult early years of the Xbox One.
Capcom, you might have noticed, is on a bit of a roll. Monster Hunter finally met with the global success it's always deserved, its survival horror series won back its fans with the pure horror of Resident Evil 7 and the superlative reimagining of Resident Evil 2, and even the humble Mega Man series is on surer footing than it's been for a while. Really, though, it's what's coming next that really excites me: Devil May Cry 5 isn't just the return of Capcom's most stylish series. It's the return of Capcom's most accomplished director.
There's a new Far Cry coming early next year, and it's set in a post-apocalyptic Hope County.
Back in 2000, the then 32-year-old Akihiro Hino sat down to play Dragon Quest 7 - the latest instalment in a series he, and indeed much of Japan, held dear. It was Dragon Quest that inspired Hino to go into the video games industry, after all. When playing the third entry over a decade earlier, he was smitten, fascinated with how so much was done with so little; how the animation and artwork, so simple in its execution, conspired to make something so touching and moving. It was like, Hino said, being hit over the head.
Forza Horizon 4 is here! And what a game it is - I've spent the last few days blitzing through Playground Games' exquisitely crafted composite of the United Kingdom, and marvelling at the beauty of it all. It's not just one of the best racing games in years - it's one of the very best open world games, too.
Dante is back. And so, it seems, is Capcom, the Osaka-based company on a winning streak the likes of which we haven't seen since its 90s and early 00s pomp. Resident Evil 7 successfully brought the series back to its horror roots while delivering a modern twist, and Monster Hunter World finally gave that series the recognition it deserved in the west, while on the horizon there's the exquisite looking Mega Man 11 and next year's sumptuous Resident Evil 2 remake.
I'd call it motorsport's best kept secret, but at this point it's most definitely not. At the very least Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and BMW are all in on it - where else can you see motoring's finest marques going head-to-head across some of the world's finest racing tracks? Blancpain GT has more than a fair shout at being the most interesting, exciting motorsport series around at the moment (and its rounds are all free-to-air on YouTube - this lot get it), so the prospect of a game centred around its antics is an exciting one indeed.
What a trip it's been. Back in 2013, when a little team that was working out of a busted-up old studio they shared with a taxi rank on a small street in Guildford revealed its follow-up to a series of cute cartoon racing games, it was one of those moments. No Man's Sky captured the world's attention like few other games have before it. And for three years No Man's Sky was given the world's stage, making headline appearances at E3 conferences and with creator Sean Murray guesting on big-name US talk shows. "I thought Morgan Freeman was God!" quipped Stephen Colbert as Murray appeared on The Late Show and showed off his procedurally generated universe. "You're actually the second God I've had on the show."
Growing up in Naha, Okinawa, Masashi Takahashi fell in love with games, even if he was too young to properly play them. Sitting watching his two big brothers before he was able to properly read, Takahashi patiently watched them play through Final Fantasy 3, lending a hand whenever he could. "They were there to explain a lot of things - they described difficult words to me like 'chaos', like 'holy power'. These kinds of words I couldn't understand by myself, so they helped, and it was fun to watch them playing."
Finland has provided its fair share of classics over the years - from Resogun to Trials through Alan Wake and Angry Birds - but here's one of a different vintage; a game that draws upon a Finnish classic from the 19th century. Kalevala is an epic that's informed much of Finland's national identity, drawing upon Finnish folklore (and proving influential to Tolkien as he built his own mythology) - and all this without a voxel in sight.
It is, if nothing else, quite the double act.
Okay let's get the big one out of the way first, seeing as it comes up every time there's a Sonic racing game. Why is Sega's mascot, renowned for his breakneck speed, reduced to sitting behind the wheel of a car every time him and his crew get together for a racer? Well, if you'd been paying attention you'd know the answer already; it's because Sonic's so fast, if he was to go on foot it'd be plain unfair. So, there you have it in black and white. Let's move on swiftly, shall we?
Well, who would have thought it. There's a new Battlefield game coming out this year, and it uses World War 2 as a backdrop for DICE's chaotic multiplayer sandbox, while also folding in features such as a new co-op mode and character customisation - both of which were the focus point for the reveal trailer - and doing away with the series' long-standing premium pass. Shortly after yesterday's reveal event, I got the chance to sit down briefly with DICE's creative director Lars Gustavsson, a long-standing member of the team and part of the franchise since its very beginning, to talk through some of the changes.
There's never really been an easy time to debut an online-focussed multiplayer game on Steam, but the past few months have suggested there's never really been a more brutal one. PUBG and Fortnite rule all, leaving high profile casualties such as Lawbreakers in their wake while many more smaller games have suffered. And into that, roll7 - the developer of the brilliant OlliOlli, its sequel and Not a Hero - has made its first ever multiplayer game in the future sports title Laser League.
PlatinumGames has unveiled World of Demons, an action game that pits samurai versus yokai in what looks very much like a spiritual successor to Ōkami, leaning as it does on traditional Japanese folklore and mythology and featuring artwork that's heavy on parchment textures and drawn with thick, tangibly inked lines.
In an instant, it became my most anticipated game of 2018. Kunos Simulazioni, developers of the brilliant Assetto Corsa, had bagged the rights to the Blancpain GT series - perhaps motorsport's healthiest championship, and certainly one that boasts the most diverse manufacturer participation with Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes, Bentley, Audi and McLaren all taking part. Not a bad list, really, and the racing's more than half decent too.
Its name invites calamity, a certain misfortune, and I absolutely adore it for its blunt simplicity. Human: Fall Flat. That, there, is slapstick served up with a certain eastern European dryness. It's perhaps little wonder, then, that this comic puzzler has done so well in the 18 months or so since its release, having recently racked up some two million sales. Fall flat? It's done just about anything but.
Pop-Up Pilgrims is a PlayStation VR exclusive from Dakko Dakko, the studio that previously made such offbeat gems as Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails, The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character and Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims (if experience has taught this studio anything, Pop-Up Pilgrims suggests it's how to craft a snappier name for its efforts).
It's been five months since Splatoon 2 launched on the Switch but, as is increasingly the case in Nintendo's approach to its online-focussed games, work hasn't slowed in the slightest. Last week saw the launch of Clam Blitz, an all-new and extremely frenetic ranked mode which brings a football flavour to the colourful chaos of Splatoon. It's extremely strategic, and quite brilliant. We got offered the chance to fire some questions to Hisashi Nogami, Splatoon's producer, to talk about updates, music and much more.
The story of how Final Fantasy came to be is as famous as any of the tales spun by the series itself. Of how one Hironobu Sakaguchi, working at a Square that was down on its luck, gave his fledgling RPG a little flourish in its title, and how it created an irony that stalks the series to this day. Sakaguchi thought it'd be his last game, while others in the company thought it'd be Square's swansong too, so close to bankruptcy was the entire operation.
One of the more pleasant surprises during an occasionally bleak Sony conference at last month's Paris Games Week was the reveal of Concrete Genie - a wistful third person adventure game gently exploring themes of bullying and childhood through luscious hand drawn art that stands out in contrast to its moody urban environment.
Triumph through adversity. Such has always been the way of Final Fantasy, which seems to exist in its own perpetual struggle. Indeed, it thrives off it - the series name famously originated from creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, working out of a then-beleaguered Square on what he believed at the time to be his last project. Later projects, such as Final Fantasy 12 - a high point for the series, in my own opinion - came from tumultuous development, and of course most recently Final Fantasy 15 marked the end of a very long, winding and often torturous road.
Let's take a second to salute Driveclub, the PlayStation 4 launch title that missed the launch, and then stalled upon its final release thanks to a number of technical gremlins and design oversights. Despite that drama, it flourished into something quite remarkable - a muscular racer with a touch of Project Gotham Racing's flair to its handling and some of Gran Turismo's polish in its impeccable looks. Against the odds, it became what's set to be one of this generation's finest driving games.
Monster Hunter, in case you didn't already know, is great. A series of boisterous action games that charge you with tracking down and felling preposterous, wonderfully realised beasts before skinning them so that you might make a new pair of trousers from their hide then go and hunt some more. It's an intoxicating loop honed over generations, though not without inheriting a few of its own little quirks along the way.
Just when you think you know someone near and dear, they go and surprise you all over again. It's been some 12 years since Shadow of the Colossus' original release, and one remaster and a fresh new remake later it's lost absolutely none of its ability to awe. This is a game whose power hasn't diminished one iota in all that time, and in Bluepoint's exquisite remake it's a game with the capacity to spring a surprise or two, no matter how familiar you are with the original.
David Cage is no stranger to controversy. Through the 20 years of Quantic Dream's existence - an anniversary celebrated after last night's PlayStation showcase that kicked off Paris Games Week - the French studio has always made games that push at various boundaries. The trailer for Detroit: Become Human, Quantic Dream's forthcoming PlayStation 4 game that explores the moral implications of the rise of artificial intelligence, was perhaps the developer's most controversial yet - a short, often brutal look at a chapter of protagonist Kara's story in which scenes of domestic abuse and child abuse feature heavily.
There was a Sonic the Hedgehog game that came out a short while ago, you might have noticed. It was also a mighty fine Sonic the Hedgehog game, too, restoring a little swagger and glory to the series thanks to the efforts of Christian Whitehead and his team with the outstanding Sonic Mania.
Editor's note: With the release of a new Gran Turismo due next week - some four years in after the last entry - we thought it'd be a good time to revisit our profile of the series' creator Kazunori Yamauchi, first published upon the release of Gran Turismo 6 back in 2013.