1) Dead Island: Riptide (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Release Date: April 23, 2013
The Setup: Picking up shortly after the events of the first game, Dead Island: Riptide resumes the tale of Sam B., Xian Mei, Logan Carter and Purna, following the survivors' trials and tribulations on the island of Banoi. In the aftermath of a tropical storm that eventually leaves the now infected protagonists on the island of Palanai, the four (along with a fifth character Jon Morgan) must once again outrun the zombie horde before it consumes the island completely.
Why It Made The List: Despite being unable to surpass the expectations set by its highly publicized reveal trailer, Dead Island was an addictive romp through a zombie-infested island resort setting. Shortcomings such as quick-to-respawn flesh bags and an unforgiving difficulty for those brave enough to tackle the game alone notwithstanding, Techland's Left 4 Dead/Dead Rising composite was an absolute delight to play. With environmental effects playing a huge role, its zombie-respawn rate retooled, tweaks/fixes to the co-op play, and a map that is "vastly different from the one in the first game" among a few of the spin-off's(?) many improvements, Riptide is going to do that voodoo it does so well, all over again…bitch.
Why It's #1: Of all the FPS titles on this list, Dead Island: Riptide holds the most promise. I know many might argue that Techland's pseudo-sequel belongs a notch or two lower, but I believe otherwise. I've played Aliens: Colonial Marines, and I've played BioShock: Infinite. I've fired my share of arrows in Crysis 3, and I've confronted the mutated freaks of Metro: Last Light. And while these titles are absolutely stellar and I cannot wait until their respective releases next year, I just know that Dead Island: Riptide is going to be the one FPS to keep me up well into the wee hours of the night. As a gamer who adored the shit out of Dead Island, I -and any like-minded folk – stand to gain the most from Riptide's release.
Simply put, Techland is busting its ass to right the wrongs of Dead Island, and to ensure that Riptide measures up to its predecessor's buildup. The developer has also incorporated new defense scenarios wherein players can defend a house from an aggressive mob of the undead, a la any classic zombie movie. From the outrageous number of quests, to the weapons mods and near limitless combinations, I cannot even begin to imagine how much bigger Dead Island: Riptide is going to be over the original.