12 Upcoming Family-Friendly Games in 2015

Posted by | January 21, 2015 | News, Opinion, Tips for Parents | 5 Comments

End-of-the-year lists are always a fun grab bag of arguments and criticisms over our favorite games, but nothing reflects our passion quite like looking ahead at new games on the horizon. Specifically when it comes to family-friendly games, we’re looking for upcoming titles that emphasize teamwork and cooperation, have minimal objectionable content, and most of all should be fun to play. Here are 12 such family games we’re looking forward to in 2015.

Yoshi’s Wooly World

Platform(s): Wii U
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E or E10+

The first console game actually starring Mario’s egg-laying friend in more than 15 years, Yoshi’s Wooly World expands upon the gameplay hook of 2010’s Kirby’s Epic Yarn as you explore an entire world made of cloth. Yoshi’s adorable tongue-snatching and egg-laying moves are intact, though this time enemies are converted into balls of yarn that players can use to manipulate the environment. Nintendo’s always polished and fun platformers combined with a two-player cooperative mode make Yoshi’s Wooly World one to watch for.

Mario Maker

Platform(s): Wii U
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E

It’s almost astonishing to think that a concept like Mario Maker is only just now seeing the light of day. Mario Maker is a user-friendly level editor that allows players to build their own Super Mario levels using the stylus and Wii U GamePad. While not much is known about the title, it appears from early promotional videos that players can build the levels as wacky or as challenging as they want and switch between distinctive eras and visual styles, such as the classic Super Mario Bros. from the original Nintendo Entertainment System or the HD graphics of New Super Mario Bros. U.

Dungeon Defenders II

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E10+

The original Dungeon Defenders won me over with its fun cartoon style and fast-paced, cooperative tower-defense action. In the long-awaited sequel the graphical style remains the same, while everything else has improved or expanded, including a better interface, skill trees, towers, and maps. The sequel also includes a team-based competitive mode where both teams assault each other’s bases while defending their own. Dungeon Defenders II is available right now on Steam’s Early Access program, but the final release will be free to play.

Starbound

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E10+

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of a little indie game called Minecraft but you may be less familiar with its 2D counterpart, Terraria. Upcoming title Starbound is the unofficial sequel to Terraria and uses the same charmingly pixelated art style where players can dig, collect, build, craft, and fight among an infinite amount of procedurally generated planets. Starbound is available through Steam’s Early Access program, and while it’s been fun and interesting to see the game’s public progress through nightly updates, the official release should be later this year. Like Minecraft the biggest appeal is playing with friends and creating new worlds together.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Platform(s): Wii U
Release Date: February 20
Expected ESRB Rating: E or E10+

Not to be outdone by Yoshi’s foray into a playful cloth world, Kirby gets a Wii U followup to the Nintendo DS title Kirby: Canvas Curse. Players use the stylus and GamePad to create new paths and routes for our spherical friend as he explores a colorful world filled with Kirby’s familiar foes. Once again Nintendo is thoughtfully including a friendly cooperative mode where up to three more players can join in to help Kirby.

Broken Age: Act 2

Platform(s): PC
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: None (Broken Age: Act 1 was not rated by the ESRB)

Thanks to one of the highest profile Kickstarter campaigns ever, Double Fine’s little adventure game project has been hotly anticipated by backers and fans alike. Act 1 was first released in January 2014 and left us with a mind-blowing cliffhanger. Act 2 promises to be at least twice as long with more in-depth puzzles but the same great charm, art, and superb voice acting. The story of Shay and Vella as two lost souls trapped in their own terrible situations is achingly relatable, and Double Fine have perfected that wonderful balance between good-natured humor and poignancy, not unlike the best Pixar films.

Splatoon

Platform(s): Wii U
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E or E10+

Competitive shooters are still one of the most popular genres in gaming, and Nintendo will soon provide its own family-friendly spin on the formula. In Splatoon you play as an inkling, a creature capable of transforming into a squid, armed with a colorful paint gun. In addition to attacking rival teams in 4v4 matches, inklings will need to cover as much ground as possible with their team’s paint color, allowing them to quickly traverse the level using squid form. Splatoon also offers the typical cartoon-friendly art style that Nintendo employs. With fun and polished gameplay, Splatoon could be the start of a memorable new franchise.

No Man’s Sky

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E10+

Intrigue has been steadily building since this ambitious sci-fi exploration title was first announced back in 2013. The entire universe is procedurally generated, and each player begins their adventures on their own planet. Players will need to explore, craft, build, and survive worlds both hostile and beautiful. The social possibilities, like the creation of star charts and sharing of details about various worlds, sound absolutely amazing if the indie team at Hello Games can pull it all off.

The Witness

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, iOS
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E10+

Jonathan Blow’s Braid exploded onto the indie scene years ago and remains a favorite among many. In the years since Braid, Blow has been quietly working on his next game, the very Myst-inspired The Witness. The Witness drops players onto a serene island filled with puzzles and mystery, and if it’s anything like Braid, it should include a major jaw-dropping twist or two. If you’ve enjoyed past first-person puzzlers like Portal or hearken for exploring a world that’s filled with puzzles and music rather than monsters, The Witness should provide a beautiful reprieve.

RollerCoaster Tycoon World

Platform(s): PC
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E or E10+

Most older gamers have fond memories of the original RollerCoaster Tycoon games, but these days most simulation and management games are found in free-to-play iOS titles. With RollerCoaster Tycoon World, Atari is hopefully bringing us a proper new installment in the franchise. Like RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, this game will let you custom build and ride your own coasters in 3D. For the first time in the series, World adds new multiplayer and social features, such as visiting your friends’ parks, sharing coaster tracks, and even managing the same park online together.

Mario Party 10

Platform(s): Wii U
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E

Love them or hate them, the Mario Party series has spawned nine games since the Nintendo 64 days, and 2015 will grace us with number 10. The same concept—wacky mini-games wrapped in a board game—returns, while new gameplay mode Bowser Party will take full advantage of the GamePad, creating unique 4v1 scenarios where the player with the GamePad controls Bowser. Mario Party may not provide the most balanced board game experience, but it should provide plenty of laughs—perfect for local multiplayer.

Star Wars: Battlefront

Expected Platform(s): Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Release Date: TBA 2015
Expected ESRB Rating: E or E10+

Star Wars has been woefully bereft of a good video game. With the closing of LucasArts, the studio behind the Star Wars games, the franchise’s gaming future looked bleak. Things will hopefully get back on track as Battlefield developer DICE works on the newest installment to the Battlefront series. Star Wars has always been an action-adventure family favorite, and Battlefront lets you relive some of the biggest battles of the series in classic team-based shooter formats.

Eric Watson

About Eric Watson

Eric is a freelance writer who enjoys talking about video games, movies, books and Dallas-based sports teams. He's a featured community blogger on GameInformer.com and every week he watches a random film from his collection of several hundred DVDs and live tweets about it @RogueWatson. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and daughter, two dogs, two cats, two fish tanks, some hermit crabs and a bookshelf full of Transformers.