Every show should have one unexpected highlight. This was Gamescom 2011's. From some of the creative minds behind Deus Ex, Arx Fatalis and Half-Life 2, it's a dazzling first-person action/adventure game, set in an alternate history version of 17th to 18th Century London in the midst of technological revolution. As a master assassin, you're out for revenge on the conspirators who killed your Empress, and using stealth, sorcery and an arsenal of deadly toys, you're going to ensure that they pay. Dishonored is exciting both for its world – strange but totally believable – and its intelligent, emergent gameplay, which brings to mind the likes of Thief, Deus Ex and Bioshock, as you combine supernatural powers and earhly weapons in all kinds of ingenious and spectacular fashions.
Due: 2012 on Xbox 360, PS3
Mass Effect 3
All Bioware has to do with Mass Effect 3 is conclude the story of Mass Effect 2 and not mess it up. If anything, the threequel looks to do better than that. Much work has gone into tightening up the third-person gunplay and enhancing the tactical feel, but ME3 feels both incredibly epic and full of heart, with big scenes of the reapers stomping all over the Earth combined with smaller, emotional moments, all delivered with Bioware's signature storytelling nous. Mass Effect 3 has its work cut out in balancing its action game and RPG elements, but this should be one of the gaming highlights of next year.
Due: 2012, Xbox 360,PS3,PC.
The Secret World
Six years after World of Warcraft began its domination of the genre, the Massive Multiplayer Online Game seems to have lost its power to surprise. Star Wars: The Old Republic might change this with its Star Wars atmosphere and narrative focus. Guild Wars 2 might by changing the way the genre plays. However, its Funcom's The Secret World that has us most excited. Conceived by Ragnar Tornquist, who created the classic point-and-click adventure The Longest Journey, it throws away conventional fantasy for a modern day setting, with three global factions, the Iluminati, the Templars and The Dragons, fighting dark eldritch horrors and each other as they battle to control occult powers and – in the long run – the world. The Secret World is all about freedom, with no classes or levels to hold you back or make you grind. Instead, it's all about climbing the ranks of your faction organisation, unlocking new missions and gaining access to new equipment and new powers. Best of all, the "kill 5 of these/collect 5 of these/take this message from A to B" shenanigans of other MMOs seem to have disappeared,to be replaced by narrative-led missions that differ depending on your faction. We can hardly wait to join The Secret World.
Due: 2012, PC