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How do you follow a year like 2017? While the last 12 months have been awful in many respects, when it comes to new game releases it’s been among the best years in recent memory. Debating our favorite titles from 2017 was particularly contentious, with experiences like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Persona 5, Nier Automata, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Super Mario Odyssey all vying for attention.
In comparison, 2018 doesn’t have quite so many hotly-anticipated games. Sure, there’s the delayed sequel to Red Dead Redemption, and BioWare’s ambitious new online game Anthem. But while it may not have as many big names, 2018 is still shaping up to have some excellent releases. Iconic creators like Koji Igarashi and Keita Takahashi are returning to make the kinds of games they love, while colorful, personal indie games like Ooblets and Florence are shaping up wonderfully.
I’ve gathered together some of the most exciting titles slated for 2018. One small note: this list only includes games with actual release dates, or which have been promised for next year. So while the likes of The Last of Us Part II or Metroid Prime 4 could well end up releasing next year, they’re not included for that reason. There’s also a good chance that at least a few of these titles will be delayed beyond 2018.
With that out of the way, let’s all prepare for the next 12 months by being excited about video games.
Monster Hunter World is a big, bold bet that the series — a genuine phenomenon in Japan — can be a global hit. The shift to current generation consoles means a larger world, more realistic creatures to hunt, and a complex ecosystem that feels surprisingly real. Combine this with a number of quality-of-life tweaks, like streamlined controls and a better tutorial, and that bet might just pay off for Capcom.
Mass Effect: Andromeda may have disappointed many, but BioWare’s next effort looks much more ambitious. Called Anthem, it appears to follow the road paved by Destiny, with a vast sci-fi universe that’s shared among players, so you can venture off on your own, or take on some missions with a buddy. If that’s not enough, it has both rocket packs and space dinosaurs.
It’s been a long time since we had a proper Castlevania game, and the recent Netflix anime has only made fans more eager for some vampire whipping action. And while Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night may not be a Castlevania game in name, it has the right pedigree behind it. Helmed by long-time Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi, with a soundtrack from Symphony of the Night’s Michiru Yamane, Bloodstained looks to offer all of the same gothic horror action, but without the baggage of the Belmont family tree.
Code Vein has much of what has made the Souls series so appealing — namely challenging action-RPG gameplay and a dark, foreboding world to explore — but with a more anime-style sensibility. It takes place in a near-future vision of the world, where monsters roam the streets following a cataclysmic event that resulted in giant thorns piercing out of the Earth’s surface. Sounds like the perfect place to hone your sword-fighting techniques.
Microsoft’s open-world crimefighting game has already been delayed multiple times, and is now expected to make its belated debut next year. The game was still a little rough when we played it at E3 this year, but with the kind of wild, freeform action that made the original such a hit. Crackdown 3 will also add in an expansive multiplayer mode, using cloud technology to let players destroy entire cities.
You probably don’t need another game where you shoot zombies, but Sony’s latest undead blockbuster might change your mind with its sheer scale. In Days Gone, you aren’t just taking down small groups of walkers, you’re being chased by massive swarms that dominate the screen. Figuring out how to survive involves using the environment around you, including the weather, which can give you an advantage over the zombie hordes. Plus, you get a cool motorcycle.
If you took the core concept of the Monster Hunter series (i.e. hunting monsters) and transported it to a free-to-play PC title, you’d get something that looks a lot like Dauntless. The upcoming action RPG, which is currently in a closed beta, lets teams of four players join together to take down massive beasts across a vast fantasy realm.
Writer and director David Cage doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to crafting subtle, believable stories. But even still, there’s something intriguing about Detroit: Become Human, a story about androids exploring individuality in a world of humans. It doesn’t look like it will tread much new ground in this well-worn genre, but the layer of interactivity could add an interesting wrinkle.
Donut County might be the first major video game where the main character is a hole. You play as that hole, and every time you swallow something you grow even larger. It has shades of the iconic Katamari Damacy, and an art style that makes it feel like you’re gobbling up a surreal vision of LA.
The next game from LittleBigPlanet studio Media Molecule, Dreams is a bit of a mystery. It’s some kind of creation tool, described as “a space in which to create your own dreams, whether they’re games, art, films, music, or anything in-between and beyond.” There will be a community element, as players can share what they make, but beyond that the only thing we really know is that it looks incredible.
The newest Far Cry has a lot in common with its predecessors. It offers a huge open world to explore, and plenty of tools to turn that world into a playground. But Far Cry 5 is also trying to differentiate itself with a more serious tone; it takes place in the modern day United States, and tackles real-world issues like cults and racial conflict. We’ll have to wait until March to see how those two seemingly disparate sides gel.
Though it bears the EA moniker, Fe has much more of an indie vibe. Created through the publisher’s EA Originals label, the game puts players in a dark, yet colorful forest, where they must uncover mysteries and befriend strange, mythical creatures.
Created by a new studio headed up by Ken Wong, lead designer on the first Monument Valley, Florence is a brief, poignant romance that combines elements of comic books and video games into an interactive love story.
Following the series’ debut on mobile and the Warriors spinoff on the Switch, Nintendo has promised that its next full-fledged Fire Emblem is coming next year. Unfortunately, beyond the fact that it’s coming to the Switch, that’s all we know right now.
The next God of War is somewhat of a reboot, swapping out the series’ focus on Greek gods and stories for a world based on Norse mythology. The game itself also looks to be quite different than past entries, with a more open and modern role-playing structure, which should pair nicely with Kratos’ new job as a dad.
There are plenty of games that let you build your own theme park or zoo, but few that let you populate it with a towering Tyrannosaurus Rex. Jurassic World Evolution feels both like a great next step for theme park simulators, as well the perfect tie-in for the Jurassic Parkseries. It lets you build the park of your dreams — while making sure that the dinosaurs don’t turn it into a nightmare.
The latest entry in the Disney / Final Fantasy crossover series has been a long time coming. Kingdom Hearts III was officially announced back in 2013, and it’s been more than a decade since its predecessor launched on the PS2. The third entry will complete the trilogy, while also introducing new worlds based on Pixar franchises like Toy Story.
The Last Night made a splash at E3 this year thanks to its flashy visuals — and some questionable comments from its creator. The game itself is a very cinematic 2D adventure game with some very strong Blade Runner influences, in which players navigate a cyberpunk city with strict class divisions.
The follow-up to classic-style Japanese RPG I Am Setsuna, Lost Sphear is looking to build on the success of its predecessor in a few ways. It has a more robust battle system, for instance, and a more varied world to explore. Perhaps most important: there are inns so you can take a break from fighting monsters.
The Blue Bomber is back — and he has a different vibe. Unlike the most recent entries in the series, which adhered to an 8-bit-style aesthetic, the next Mega Man utilizes a more hand-drawn art style. But it still offers the same side-scrolling action, and plenty of robots to blow away.
Metro Exodus continues the harrowing, post-apocalyptic tale of its two predecessors, set in a harsh wasteland that was once Russia. You’ll have to deal with the elements as well as horrifying mutated creatures, and Exodus adds in new elements like dynamic weather and environments that change depending on the time of year.
Moss is a fourth-wall breaking VR game with shades of Redwall. In the fiction of the game, you’ve been transported to a fantasy realm where you meet a talking mouse, who you control in order to navigate puzzles and explore the world. But unlike most video game characters, the mouse is aware you’re there, resulting in a unique dynamic.
The original Ni No Kuni managed to blend the expert RPG instincts of Level-5 with the lush anime worlds of Studio Ghibli, and that looks to continue with the sequel. While Ghibli isn’t officially on board for the sequel, the development team is largely the same, so expect the same gorgeous fantastical realms and memorable characters.
Ooblets combines some of the most charming games in existence — think Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Pokémon — and mashes them together in an incredibly cute package. You’ll live in a quaint town, manage your own farm, and grow crops... that you can then use to battle other people. Hey, at least they’re adorable.
It may have an inscrutable working title, but Project Octopath Traveller offers something very familiar: a classic-style Japanese RPG, complete with pixelated 2D graphics. Even better for genre fans, it’s being helmed by the same team behind the excellent Final Fantasy-like series Bravely Default.
Rockstar’s latest gritty Western was originally supposed to come out this year, before it was delayed until the spring. We still don’t know a whole lot about it, but based on the early trailers, it looks to be yet another sprawling open world, with plenty of stories to uncover as you take on the role of an outlaw fighting your way across America.
If the haunting adventure The Last Guardian left you wanting more of Fumito Ueda’s dream-like worlds, this might be just the thing. It’s not a brand new game, but instead what looks like a fairly robust remake of the PS2 classic Shadow of the Colossus. It’s a powerful experience that merges storytelling and gameplay in fascinating ways, and now you can enjoy it on your PS4.
One of a number of crowdfunded sequels to classic games, the next Shenmue managed to become the most funded game in Kickstarter’s history. Naturally, it’ll be a challenge to live up to those lofty expectations, and it’s not clear whether or not Shenmue III will manage that feat. The first trailer showed off gorgeously detailed environments, alongside comically deadpan characters, resulting in a curious mix of big-budget and retro.
One of the more curious reveals at E3 this year was Skull & Bones, a strategic naval warfare game set in a world of pirates. Given that it’s being developed at Ubisoft, it seems like a natural evolution of the swashbuckling elements of Assassin’s Creed IV. It’ll include both a single-player campaign and a multiplayer aspect, where you can compete with friends to find the best treasure.
One of the most overlooked games of this generation is Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive, a wild and inventive take on the typical action of open-world games. Thankfully, the studio is getting a chance to build on that, but with a much more recognizable character: Spider-Man. It could just be the webslinger’s best video game outing, though it’s important to note that you’re definitely not going to be killing anyone in the game.
With the demise of Disney Infinity and the dip in popularity for Skylanders, it seems like the toys-to-life genre is on its way out. But that isn’t stopping Ubisoft from jumping in with the sci-fi tinged Starlink, a game where players can build their own ships using collectible components in the real world, and then pilot their creations in the game itself.
While humanity debates whether or not we should go to Mars IRL, Surviving Mars will give you the chance to hang out on the red planet virtually. It’s a strategy game from Paradox Interactive — the same team behind games like Cities: Skylines — that tasks you with building a colony on Mars. It’ll be a challenge, and people will die, but it’s your job to keep that number as small as possible.
1994’s System Shock was an incredibly influential game, paving the way for similar first-person experiences like BioShock and Dishonored. But it’s also often overlooked, which makes its upcoming reboot all the more timely. It’s a refresh of the sci-fi classic, complete with upgraded visuals and a new interface, that should make it more palatable to modern audiences.
Vampyr is an ambitious open-world RPG from the studio behind Life is Strange. It’s a game where your choices matter a great deal: as you stalk around the streets of London as a vampire, you’ll need to decide whether or not to feed on the citizens around you. Who you decide to kill — or spare — will dramatically change the people and world around you. Bite with care.
The fourth season of Telltale’s excellent adaptation of The Walking Dead will also be its last. We’re not quite sure what the studio has planned for its last stab at the undead apocalypse, but at least we know who will be in charge: unlike the detour of season three, the final season will once again put you in the capable role of survivor Clementine.
Keita Takahashi, the iconic creator of Katamari, is back with a new game that looks appropriately weird. Called Wattam, it’s described as an “exploratory game,” and it looks almost like an interactive toy. The kind of toy where you can hold hands with a cloud or soar through the air as a lawnmower.
Way back in 2013, Telltale released a tense and gritty fantasy whodunit with The Wolf Among Us, an adaptation of the comic Fables. Now the studio is returning for a second season, though it doesn’t sound like it will continue the same storyline. Instead, Telltale says, players can expect a “fresh” narrative that serves as “a standalone product separate from season one.”
The once-niche Yakuza series has seen something of a breakout year in 2017. It started with the wonderful prequel Yakuza 0, which was then followed by a remake of the first game in the series. That makes now an ideal time for Yakuza 6, the first game in the series built for modern hardware. It has everything you’d expect: deep combat, a thrilling criminal drama, and also a gangster watching a baby, for some reason.
Nintendo hasn’t talked a lot about what it has planned for next year, but one of the games we do know about is an adorable new Yoshi adventure. The side-scrolling game has an aesthetic that looks like a cross between Paper Mario and Yoshi’s Woolly World, complete with papercraft levels and an extra fuzzy hero.
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