Deities, dancing, and the undead.
As we covered in our PlayStation 2017 Report Card, this year was good but not great for Sony Interactive Entertainment. If we're judging the PlayStation 4's future on software alone, it's a more successful 2018. From Ghosts Of Tsushima to Days Gone, a promising group of first-party games is complemented by third-party console exclusives like Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom and Left Alive. And hot on the heels of the praise-worthy Persona 5 comes a couple dancing spin-off Persona games. Having something for everyone makes for a solid approach for the new year.
If you're curious about the biggest games to play in 2018 for other platforms, check out our individual features highlighting the most anticipated Xbox One games, PC games, and Switch games. You can also check out our feature focusing on the biggest games to play 2018 in general.
If you want to see our choices for the best games this year, check out our Game of the Year 2017 Top 10 List. And for more on our picks of the best games of the year across various categories, as well as features focusing on the year's performance for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch, check out our Best of 2017 hub.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Matching the style and over-the-top action of the Dragon Ball Z series has been a constant challenge for past games. The upcoming Dragon Ball FighterZ however looks to be the exception, pushing the trend of average DBZ fighters aside for a game that brings the series to new heights. Coming from Arc Systems Works--the same developers behind Guilty Gear Xrd, BlazBlue, and Persona 4 Arena--their next game is not only looking to be a faithful adaptation of the series, but also one of the most exciting fighting games of 2018.
Featuring characters from across the entire Dragon Ball Z series, and even some references from Dragon Ball Super, FighterZ is a mashup that pits characters in intense 3v3 battles that will level environments and push the fighters to their limits of power. Moving away from the 3D arenas of Raging Blast and Xenoverse, FighterZ brings the action to the traditional 2D plane--and it looks all the better for it. With characters pulling off high-powered, screen filling moves, and performing split-second dodges to get the upper hand against their enemy--no frame of animation feels wasted in Dragon Ball FighterZ, giving a greater level of detail that the past games weren't close to replicating from the TV show.
Anyone who's watched Dragon Ball Z knows that it's got a style all its own, and FighterZ lovingly recreates many of the series' most iconic moments in its core mechanics. With more characters that have yet to be revealed, along with a surprisingly robust Story Mode, there's definitely more to this fighter that remains to be seen. But what's been shown thus far looks to be everything a DBZ fan could hope for in a game.
The Inpatient looks to be an enjoyable experience in two areas. First, as a PlayStation VR title, it aims to scare you on a subconscious level, using psychological horror and binaural audio to worm its way into your deepest fears.
Second, it serves as a prequel to 2015’s choice-driven horror game Until Dawn, with the same writers and director at the helm. Set 60 years before the events of that game, you’ll take control of a sanitarium patient out to reclaim their missing memories. Voice recognition and player choices affect how you interact with the other residents of the asylum, changing how the story ends. January isn’t known as a scary month, but The Inpatient is still staking a creepy claim.
God Of War
The upcoming God of War is a drastic departure from the style and tone of previous games in the series. Its somber, more deeply personal narrative, new combat mechanics, and aged version of series protagonist Kratos each contribute towards what look to be an exciting new direction for the series.
Taking place many years after the destruction of the Olympian gods, Kratos now lives with his son Atreus in a hostile world ruled by Norse gods. He lives in peace, but when his role in the destruction of Olympus becomes known, the Norse gods plot to kill him, forcing Kratos and Atreus to embark on an adventure for survival.
While only a few trailers have been shown of God of War so far, it's already shaping up to one of the most exciting games in Sony's lineup for 2018. And with God of War II director Cory Barlog at the helm, the game could also be one of the finest in the series.
Kingdom Hearts III
It’s hard to count the number of reasons to be excited for Kingdom Hearts 3. Maybe it’s the 13-year gap between Kingdom Hearts 2 and the next numbered sequel. Maybe it’s the most recent trailer for a Toy Story world, the first in the series to be based on a Pixar movie. Maybe it’s because the series will be coming to Xbox for the first time, letting a whole new player base experience the Disney/Final Fantasy crossover magic.
No matter the reasoning, Kingdom Hearts 3 is going to drop you into the climactic battle of the game’s Dark Seeker saga, bringing together plots and characters from the many spinoffs the series has had in the interim. Along the way you’ll get to explore a batch of brand-new worlds--Rapunzel and Big Hero 6 stages have already been teased--and battle Heartless with an array of powers seemingly based on real-world Disney theme park attractions. It’s hard for any game to live up to more than a decade of hype, but Kingdom Hearts 3 aims to deliver a satisfying conclusion to war between darkness and light.
Metal Gear Survive
Since Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima left Konami, the status of the franchise was thrown into question. Konami reassured that it would create a new entry in the series; however, given the drama that resulted from Kojima's departure, fans began to question if they wanted a new sequel. During Gamescom 2016, the publisher announced Metal Gear Survive, a cooperative multiplayer survival-focused open-world adventure.
Rather than being a new canonical entry in the series, Metal Gear Survive is instead an alternate universe spin-off. Following the evacuation of Big Boss and Kazuhira Miller from the besieged Mother Base at the end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the soldiers of Big Boss' Militaries Sans Frontiers are transported to a world full of hostile zombie-like entities. With little resources left to survive, those who remain must work together to quell the otherworldly threat and find a way back home.
From early footage, fans have greatly doubted the quality of the upcoming adventure. But for what it's worth, what's on display does display does seem compelling; after all, the game is essentially a cooperative multiplayer take on the mechanics from the critically acclaimed Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Supporting up to four players, you're free to explore the game's open world and work together to complete missions. Much of what the game expands upon sounds promising, but it remains to be seen whether or not Konami can truly create a substantial Metal Gear experience on their own. In the face of these reservations, Metal Gear Survive still has the makings of being a fun and engaging game, even if it's far from what fans have wanted.
The critically acclaimed PC-exclusive Owlboy is finally making its way onto consoles. While the console ports are receiving no major changes from the original, the Switch version bares notable mention given its portability. The game's endearing 2D twin-stick shooter action seems a perfect fit to bring on the go. Given the high praise it received when it released (GameSpot gave it a 9), it's certainly one of the more highly anticipated indie re-releases in 2018.
For the uninitiated, Owlboy is an action-adventure game set in a sky world where the lands below were torn apart by a catastrophic event many years prior. You play Otus, an owl-human hybrid who sets out on a journey to save his village from band of pirates. A charming and heartfelt adventure in its own right, Owlboy's upcoming console ports are well worth keeping an eye on, especially if you missed out on the original back in 2016.
System Shock Remastered
As one of the early games of the immersive sim sub-genre, influencing the likes of Bioshock and Dishonored, the original System Shock from Looking Glass Studios would go on to lay the foundations of a new type of FPS experience. Putting players in the shoes of a hacker that must contend with an evil AI known as SHODAN, you would acquire new skills and weapons while exploring a derelict space station filled with hideous creatures. While an enhanced port was released in 2015 from Night Dive Studios, the same team later launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a full remake of the original game.
While the 1994 game featured a number of impressive systems and mechanics at the time, channeling the same design from Ultima Underworld and other first-person RPG games, much of its gameplay feels a bit outdated in today's age. The upcoming remaster will largely be the same game, but with updated narrative and gameplay to fit a more modern design. In addition to some returning members from System Shock 2, veteran RPG writer Chris Avellone will be writing an updated take of the main story, which includes more background info side-characters and crew logs.
While the immersive sim sub-genre has evolved in some clever ways over the years, System Shock has left an immense impression on gamers to this day. And with the full remake coming in 2018, fans of the genre will be able to dive into a fresh take on the Hacker's confrontation with SHODAN on Citadel Station.
Vampyr looks to pair Dontnod Entertainment's knack for third person close quarters combat from Remember Me with the narrative-affecting dialogue options from Life Is Strange. Complementing these features is a strong emphasis on investigative exploration, making Vampyr a curious detective tale with a twist. Instead of a Parisian cyberpunk setting or a high school in the Pacific Northwest, Vampyr is set in post-Victorian London inhabited by vampires.
There's an intriguing sense of normalcy where survivors of the Spanish flu live among vampires, but there's conflict nonetheless. This is exemplified in the playable protagonist, Jonathan Reid, a doctor who recently turned into a vampire. Dontnod capitalizes on his personal struggle to do no harm while satisfying his bloodlust by offering the option to complete the game without taking a life. It's a tall order when many of Reid's enemies are the more malevolent types of vampires. Moreover, taking the pacifist route will severely limit Reid's skills growth.
It should be noted that after two games that could have pigeonholed Dontnod as the "time-rewinding" studio, Vampyr appears to be devoid of any past event-altering mechanic. Yet given Reid's powers of coercion and his talents for ranged and melee weapons, who knows what other supernatural abilities he might have up his sleeve?
Far Cry 5
When reflecting on the past locales Far Cry, Far Cry 5's rural America is one of the few regions the franchise could have gone to keep Ubisoft's first person shooter series fresh. Between the sprawling farm lands and dense forests of the fictional region known as Hope County, Montana, the place is primed to make the most of Far Cry's open world and emergent gameplay. Far Cry 5 also promises to continue the series' tradition of featuring memorable antagonists. As the leader of a doomsday cult known as Eden's Gate, Joseph Seed looks to be as calculating as Pagan Min and as fanatical as Vaas.
What makes Far Cry 5 all the more promising is how it adapts fan favorite features like Far Cry 4's cooperative play and Far Cry Primal's animal companionship. Along with a wealth of vehicles and weapons plus untamed animals you can turn against enemies, there shouldn't be a shortage of creative ways to take down Eden's Gate.
While From Software is silent on follow up to Dark Souls III or Bloodborne, Dark Souls publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment is due to release Code Vein in 2018, an action RPG that is heavily inspired by the demanding and distinct gameplay From Software has been known for this decade. Equally significant is that Code Vein is being developed by the division of Bandai Namco Studios responsible for the God Eater series. Like Dark Souls, God Eater is also a third person action RPG series that features ranged and melee combat so it's exciting to see this studio go in this direction.
From the futuristic wastelands of The Surge to the Sengoku era state of unrest in Nioh, the 'Soulsborne' genre has already seen its share of settings in releases looking to stand out from the shadow of the From Software games that influenced them. For Code Vein, the simple hook is in preserving God Eater's anime aesthetic and depressingly desolate urban settings. Even if it doesn't meet the standards of Dark Souls, one can't help but think it will convert some anime fans to this genre.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
After the generally positive reception of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, it was not surprising that its sequel, Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom earned the rare spot as a "One more thing..." reveal to close out a PlayStation Experience keynote. Between the original game's heartfelt story, involving combat, and Studio Ghibli-crafted cinematics, there was a lot to love, enough to warrant a sequel.
Revenant Kingdom looks to recapture the first game's charm and engrossing gameplay, despite the array of changes in this sequel. The shift to a more active battle system looks to address the arguably complicated and cumbersome combat from the first game. Add to that a Pikmin inspired minion system that buffs your hero for added advantages. Furthermore, Studio Ghibli is uninvolved this time around, although former Ghibli character designer Yoshiyuki Momose returns. More significantly, Joe Hisaishi returns as music composer. Given how he's provided the music to all of Hayao Miyazaki's films (save for The Castle of Cagliostro), it's hard to doubt that Revenant Kingdom will feel like an unofficial Ghibli production.
Yakuza 6: The Song Of Life
Throughout the years, the cult favorite Yakuza series has often struggled to make it westward, causing many of its latter entries to launch years after their Japanese release. But after the quick localization turnaround of its most recent games, we've finally caught up with the series' latest sequel, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. Touted as the conclusion to protagonist Kazuma Kiryu's story, it sees the ex-gangster fighting to protect his surrogate daughter, Haruka, and her infantile son from a dangerous organization hunting them.
The first thing you're likely to notice about Yakuza 6 are its visuals, which are massive a step up from its predecessors. Built from the ground up with a new graphical engine, the series' major underpinnings, like storytelling, battles, and mini-games all flow seamlessly together without incessant load screens. There's also more of a rhythm to the world that responds to your actions, allowing organic and spontaneous moments to occur. Throw a thug through a restaurant window, and its owner might completely refuse you service for the next few days as repairs are made to fix the property.
If you only started playing the series with Yakuza 0, it might take some time for you to ready yourself for Yakuza 6. Thankfully, given the episodic nature of Yakuza games, it's possible to jump into a new entry without too much issue; though, it never hurts to get some context from previous games. Regardless of which route you take, Yakuza 6 should definitely be on your radar, especially if you're the type who likes to beat up street thugs with bicycles and street signs.
Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night
The most exciting part of the Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night reveal trailer was seeing our old friends Yukari, Junpei, Aigis, and Minato (canonical MC name) modeled and fully animated in the modern 3D engine. Persona 3, originally released in 2006, sowed the seeds for the series' crazed fandom because of its strong social simulation elements and incredible cast of characters. To see them come back in 2018 is going to put long-time Persona fans on a feel trip, but this is a rhythm game after all.
That also means remasters and remixes of songs that defined Persona 3 and completely new tracks, which is equally exciting. "When the Moon Reaches for the Stars" with Yukari or Akihiko at Paulownia Mall could bring a tear to a fan's eye. Or getting down to a "Burn My Dread" remix with Aigis or Mitsuru would call back to memories of dire moments of the original game. Atlus would be remiss if P3 Portable exclusive tracks weren't part of the playlist, like the gleeful song "Sun" that plays during Summer school days. We'd also be disappointed if the P3 female main character wasn't in the mix, given her more cheery demeanor.
Some hardcore fans might find that there's a dissonance between the silly, carefree nature of a dancing game and the dark, somber tone of Persona 3's narrative. Admittedly, it is a bit odd to see the main character rocking a pair of multicolored hi-tops and Aigis do a cartwheel, but there won't be a canonical story mode (an unannounced mode will take its place). Regardless, a return to Tatsumi Port Island is more than welcome, especially with refined versions of songs we know and love.
Persona 5: Dancing Star Night
Persona 5's soundtrack is integral to its narrative; every story beat, turning point, empowering action was propelled by the songs that played at those moments. Series composer Shoji Meguro changed things up by incorporating Acid Jazz-fusion with an upbeat funk twist, chill downtempo, and fiery songwriting of rebellion without abandoning its J-rock/J-pop roots. It's difficult to pin down the game's music genre because of its range and diversity. So, why would we go to the lengths of defining it? Imagine a rhythm game with the Persona 5 cast, dancing to the tune of a truly unique, expressive soundtrack to a backdrop of the game's styled art direction.
Remixes, remasters, and original songs are expected to fill up Dancing Star Night's playlist. And if the incredible composition in Persona 4: Dancing All Night is any indication, we can expect this new game to provide some of 2018's greatest tunes. This Persona 5 spinoff (along with Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night) will feature rhythm gameplay similar to the previous Dancing All Night. However, there won't be a canonical story mode this time around and it will be replaced by mystery mode that hasn't been detailed.
We imagine the eccentricity of the Phantom Thieves and art-style to play well into the hands of an upbeat, light-hearted game about dancing. Seeing Makoto or Ann get down to a mix of "Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There" at the Shibuya Crossing would be something special, but we're a little concerned about Morgana's stumpy figure nailing down dance moves. Well, if Persona 4's Teddie can do it, Morgana probably can, too.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Super-realistic clouds. Intense dogfighting action. A melodramatic military soap-opera that only Metal Gear Solid could top. These are the things that make Ace Combat great. But if you’ve been a long-term fan of the series you’ll likely agree that the most recent entries have been a letdown, because of attempts to mimic Western-style military blockbuster games.
That’s all set to change with Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the first numbered entry for the series in ten years. That number is a purposeful decision, too. The Project Aces team, led by Kazutoki Kono, are attempting to bring the series' original flavour back, refocusing on their hypothetical world where they can take more liberties with their stories of political intrigue, and emotional character moments. That's backed by a years-long refinement of the game's accessible jet-fighting controls, and intense combat scenarios to go with it. Here's hoping that the return of one of Namco's formerly beloved franchises one sticks the landing well enough to reclaim its glory.
This sidescrolling action/rpg is from the same team that brought us the insane fighter that was Skullgirls in 2012. Indivisible follows the story of the rebellious Ajna. She and her father live just outside a quiet little town, but things eventually take a turn for the worst and a mysterious power awakens within her. She gains the ability of "incarnations" to recruit different people to help her along her journey.
After an Indiegogo campaign that netted over $2 million, Indivisible is a refreshing case for crowdfunded video games. It finished its campaign in 2015 so its 2018 release date has been a good minute. Thankfully, it does have a prototype build on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux out now for those itching to get a taste.
Indivisible is largely inspired by a number of different cultures and mythologies, which hopefully opens the doors to positive and meaningful representation. This also means that many of the cultures and tales the title pulls from could be represented incorrectly, but it's worth having a little faith and hope for a game that's trying to pull from sources we don't see often. Everyone likes to have something they can see themselves in, and Indivisible may be one of those titles where its representation could make it or break it.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT isn't the first time we've ever seen a fighter with all of our favorite Final Fantasy heroes and foes. The original Dissidia title released in 2008 on the PSP in celebration of Final Fantasy's 20th anniversary. NT, however, doesn't quite follow that same notion. It's the console port of the Japanese arcade title Dissidia Final Fantasy, and is a follow up to the original PSP title, as well as its prequel and remake Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy.
The combat in this iteration of Dissidia was remade from the ground up, but does include some elements from the original titles. But unlike the originals which focused on 1v1 battles, NT shifts to 3v3 battles. Players will control one character (and can switch between those in their party) while AI controls the other two.
We're excited to see even more heroes from more recent Final Fantasy games make it into the roster such as Y'shtola Rhul, Noctis Lucis Caelum, Ramza Beoulve, and Ace. The developers are aiming to fill the roster up to 50 characters, but updates to the roster will be made in the arcade version before they come to the PS4 version. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is due out on PS4 globally on January 30, 2018.
If you’re not watching E3 for the weird on stage stuff, you’re missing out. One of the highlights this year were the single use acrobats hanging from the ceiling during the Days Gone trailer. Truly a masterpiece.
Aside from that, Sony Bend Studios showed off more of their post apocalyptic action game by way of Sons of Anarchy. The game’s biggest feature is the huge, dynamic hordes of enemies, called freakers, and they were shown to be crudely controllable. The protagonist Deacon St John destroyed a wall of an enemy camp, allowing the mindless eating machines to take out his enemies as he watched from across a river.
The dev also showcased the dynamic mission system with two playthroughs of the same area. One took place at night time, the other during a daytime snow storm, with the difference in weather affecting the handling of Deacon’s motorbike as well as the strength of the game’s enemies. Missions can also be completed by going in guns blazing or sneakin’ through the bushes, stealth style.
At a time when it feels like single player, narrative driven games are on their way out, Days Gone is a bright light shining in the dark of an uncertain videogame future. I can’t wait to get my hands on it, fingers crossed, sometime in 2018.
Shenmue is a divisive franchise, but one thing that everyone who’s played through the games can agree on is that the story is incomplete. The second game ends on a massive cliffhanger and rabid fans want the series to return so much that they raised well over $6 million on Kickstarter for Shenmue III.
Considering the first two games are among the most expensive of all time, Shenmue III is going to need every penny. The original released on the Dreamcast and pioneered open-world games. Not only did it and its sequel allow you to explore large cities in Japan and China, but the games were meticulously detailed.
The series is predominately about its story, however. You play as Ryo Hazuki, and in the original game, villain Lan Di beats you up and kills your father in front of you. On a quest for revenge, Ryo learns martial arts and becomes stronger along the way.
The 2017 teaser trailer looks like it picks up where the last game left off. In it, you see Ryo training and getting into fights surrounded by stunning vistas produced by Epic's Unreal Engine. The world of Shenmue has never looked better. The faces in the video do leave a lot to be desired, however, but famed director Yu Suzuki assures fans that they're just placemarks for now.
What fans can't wait to find out is if Ryo becomes strong enough in Shenmue III to enact revenge on Lan Di. Hopefully we won't have to wait much longer to find out.
Detroit: Become Human
Detroit: Become Human is the next immersive story-driven game from director David Cage and developer Quantic Dream, who helped bring fans cult classics like Heavy Rain, Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in North America), and Beyond: Two Souls.
The script supposedly took Cage over two years to write and as the name suggests, the game takes place in a futuristic version of Detroit. It follows the journey of three androids. Kara is an android who gains sentience and escapes the factory she was built in. Meanwhile Connor is an android who is designed to hunt down rogue androids like Kara. Finally, the third protagonist Markus is a freedom fighter who is devoted to freeing other androids.
Like Heavy Rain before it, many major characters will live and die based on player decisions, and the story will continue to progress accordingly. Those who enjoy strong performance-driven characters in their video game stories should definitely keep their eyes on Detroit: Become Human.
Announced at E3 this year, Anthem is the next game from veteran and esteemed role-playing game studio BioWare; specifically, BioWare Edmonton (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) is making the game. A multiplayer action RPG, Anthem puts players into the role of a Freelancer on a journey through a "vast open world" to explore unknown planets and protect humanity. All that fun stuff. A key element of the game are the exosuits, called Javelins. You can customise these, equipping them with a range of new gear that you either craft or acquire. Anthem absolutely has our attention. BioWare are masters of world-building and storytelling. While it remains to be seen how these elements will play out in an open-world setting with what looks like more shooting than past BioWare games, we wouldn't bet against BioWare.
Publisher Electronic Arts has said Anthem will have some form of a "live service" model, and given everything that happened with Star Wars: Battlefront II, it's understandable if players are feeling a little uneasy about this. But with Anthem not due out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC until Fall 2018, EA has the time to get things right. From the first trailer and what we've heard, it looks like BioWare was influenced and inspired by games like Destiny and The Division, and it's exciting to think about what BioWare's spin on the online multiplayer shooter might look like.
Ghost Of Tsushima
With the superhero-inspired InFamous series, Sucker Punch Productions proved itself capable of creating beautiful, vast open-worlds packed with gameplay opportunities. Its next title, Ghost of Tsushima, looks set to leverage the experience it has accumulated while developing those games for something entirely different from the studio.
Set in 1274, Ghost of Tsushima casts players as one of the last remaining samurai as he faces the ruthless Mongol Empire. What makes Ghost of Tsushima interesting is the idea that, to succeed, the main character--and by extension the player--will have to cast aside traditional samurai methods, and the codes that govern them, in favour of stealth and subterfuge. This means Ghost of Tsushima is essentially a story about the birth of the ninja, and the idea of an open-world stealth game is a very exciting prospect, especially for fans of Metal Gear Solid V and those begging for a new Tenchu.
Although Sony and Sucker Punch haven't outright said Ghost of Tsushima will be released in 2018, it's believe the game has been in development since 2014, when InFamous: Second Son and Last Light launched. That means it's been in development for around three years, so there's a good chance the game will launch in 2018.
Square Enix caught many people off-guard with the surprise announcement of Left Alive at Tokyo Game Show 2017, and while details remain scarce, an eye-catching trailer and list of notable developers was all it took to grab our attention.
Both the teaser trailer and gameplay trailer released at the show set the stage for a sci-fi epic with war as a central theme. With Metal Gear artist Yoji Shinkawa on board, it's no surprise that Left Alive bears some resemblance to Hideo Kojima's iconic stealth series. But don't confuse it for a spiritual successor, as the brief glimpse of gameplay we've seen so far is solely focused on gunplay, and there's another series known for examining the realities of war that's confirmed to be the basis for Left Alive's setting.
According to producer Shinji Hashimoto, a longtime Square Enix employee with a long list of beloved games under his belt, Left Alive is connected to Square Enix's Front Mission series. The typical grid-based mechanics are out, obviously, but the series' iconic Wanzer mechs are back. Chances are you will eventually get to pilot one (we hope) but in an interesting twist, we know for sure that at some point in the game you will have to face towering mechs as a soldier on the ground. The odds aren't in your favor, but this is part of the appeal thus far: what will it take to come out on top? We can't wait to find out.
Shadow of the Colossus
Fumito Ueda's Shadow of the Colossus is a modern classic that took PlayStation 2 owners by storm when it debuted back in 2005. It's a fascinating adventure game where isolation and solemn exploration dominate your time, but its often poignant atmosphere is disrupted by the appearance of giant creatures--so large that they are platforming/climbing levels in and of themselves. These are the only enemies in the game, but they are some of the most inventive ever seen, and feel unmatched even 12 years after their arrival.
Though Shadow of the Colossus and Ico (creator Fumito Ueda's first PlayStation 2 game) received a minor facelift when ported to PlayStation 3, Sony has contracted Bluepoint Games to completely overhaul Shadow of the Colossus for PlayStation 4, and the results already look stunning. The game not only looks more detailed, with stronger lighting and a better frame rate, but it seems to deliver these improvements while maintaining the gameplay, eccentricities and all. Anything less would frankly be a disappointment.
It's game that deserves to be preserved, flaws and all, as they are part and parcel of what made Shadow of the Colossus such an odd and endearing experience to begin with. You could say that about every game Ueda's made, but this one in particular remains his standout work. Thankfully, early footage of the game has given us confidence that Shadow of the Colossus is in great hands.
Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night
Castlevania has changed a lot over the years, but there was a point in time when game after game followed a familiar formula to great results. The developer largely credited for the series' past greatness is Koji Igarashi, who is presently working on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a spiritual successor to Castlevania games of yore.
Early impressions of the game from events like E3 and Tokyo Game Show are positive. Igarashi's handiwork is on full display, meaning that you will explore 2D, gothic environments while fending off demonic enemies, and gather new abilities to extend your reach and open new pathways.
It's the familiar "Metroidvania" (or "Castleroid," if you prefer) formula, but the fact that it's coming from the person responsible for popularizing it in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (after Super Metroid laid the foundation) eases the concerns that Bloodstained is just a simple nostalgia trip. Igarashi has been out of the game for quite awhile after leaving Konami, and our hope is that all that time away from 2D action games has given him a chance to come up with improvements and innovations. The sub-genre has been approached by many developers in his absence, and we can't wait to see if Igarashi is able to rekindle his old flame in the light of the many great games his earlier works inspired.
There are few games that create a post-apocalyptic atmosphere as detailed as the Metro franchise. Based on a series of books, Metro 2033 and Last Light take place after the atomic bomb has destroyed the world. The survivors find refuge under the streets in a vast and sprawling metro system where irradiated monsters and bandits roam.
Survival has always been at the forefront, and based on what we’ve seen, Metro Exodus is no different. You must conserve ammo, not only because one more bullet can be the difference between life and death, but because they are the common currency underground. And if you decide to venture above ground, you must pay attention to your oxygen levels.
The Metro games are brutal, haunting experiences that feel almost too real. Metro Exodus looks to follow and expand on the ideas of the first. If you have any interest in horror or first person shooter games, this is one you won’t want to miss.
Skull & Bones
Ever since the release of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag in 2014, there existed an audience of fans who yearned for the series to return or iterate upon the fantastic naval combat from that game. While Assassin's Creed Rogue expanded on those mechanics to some degree, it wasn't the true successor everyone craved.
Enter Skull & Bones, Ubisoft's direct successor to Black Flag. Aside from offering a traditional single-player-focused campaign, the game also offers 5v5 multiplayer modes where you and four others fight other player-controlled ships for loot.
While the reveal of Skull & Bones is an exciting step towards a new series that follows in the tradition of Black Flag, it also represents a divorce of naval combat from the expectations of future Assassin's titles. Seeing Ubisoft deliberately decide to split the two into separate franchises is certainly one the most exciting aspects about Skull & Bones.
Dynasty Warriors 9
Not sure if you've noticed, but musuo games--those large-scale beat-em-ups most commonly associated with Koei Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors series--are finally becoming respectable. After years of being dismissed as brainless bashers whose appeal was limited to a core group of die-hard fans, the recent success of popular musuo crossovers such as Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors has given this sub-genre new life.
Who would have thought that next year's upcoming Dynasty Warriors 9 (almost 18 years after the release of first true musou game in Dynasty Warriors 2 way back in the PlayStation 2 era) would be a cause for anticipation? It helps, of course, that Dynasty Warriors 9 seems to be taking a huge leap forward for the series in introducing a true, huge open-world for players to traverse. Of course, the core gameplay will likely be the same--one general against thousands of easily-dispatched soldiers--but that old formula has never seemed so sweet as it does now.
While Marvel is currently trouncing long-time rival DC when it comes to their respective film universes, it's an altogether different story when it comes to games. DC characters have had an impressive run of good to great games in recent years, with highlights including Arkane's hugely impressive Batman Arkham series and the well-received Injustice fighters. In contrast, poor Marvel fans have had little to crow about when it came to high-quality, big-budget games on PC/consoles (outside of Capcom's MvC series).
But Insomniac Game's upcoming Spider-Man exclusive for the PlayStation 4 might finally end the long drought. Though it's not specifically tied to Marvel's popular film universe, Spider-Man for the PS4 still looks like its getting the core of the character right: spectacularly athletic, remarkably swift, and unbelievably high-flying, Insomniac's take on Spider-Man looks to be, well, Amazing. It's about time for another great Spider-Man game, and we're hoping this PS4 2018 exclusive fits the bill.
A Way Out
A Way Out is the next game written and directed by Josef Fares, one of the creative forces behind the excellent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. For those that may have missed it, Brothers gave players control of two characters, both controlled simultaneously by the analogue sticks on a controller. Since the two characters could move and interact with their environments independently, Brothers featured challenging, but rewarding, platforming and puzzles. But more than that, Brothers was a heartfelt, emotionally impactful tale of two kids on a journey to acquire the antidote to their father's deadly illness.
Like Brothers, A Way Out leans in to the idea of telling the story of two characters, and allowing the player to experience them concurrently. This time, however, the two characters are prisoners trying to escape their jail. To successfully put their escape plan into action, both characters will need to work together to, for example, distract a guard while the other scopes out a route or acquires a tool that will aid them. Developer Hazelight Studios has said A Way Out will feature multiple characters that players can interact with and the solutions to their problems aren't obviously prescribed. This encourages communication between the two players, who can be playing together on a couch or over the internet. From a gameplay standpoint, A Way Out is an intriguing prospect, but what we're interested in seeing is its handling of storytelling. We could see the two characters--and by extension players--perhaps pitted against each other at some point, forcing what is pitched as a coop game to become decidedly uncooperative experience.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age
Unlike Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest games never quite reach the same fevered level of excitement in the West as they do in Japan. But that's unfortunate, because that means there are a lot of people missing out on one of the most iconic and fun RPG experiences out there. And the upcoming Dragon Quest XI is set to continue the previous games' traditions of sweeping musical scores, epic stories, and turn-based combat against colorful (sometimes wacky) enemies.
DQXI already released in Japan back in July 2017 on PS4 and 3DS, but the upcoming international release is notable because it should bring the series to a new platform: Nintendo Switch. That doesn't mean you should rule out the other versions completely, though. On 3DS, the game introduces a unique twist where the lower screen is an exact representation of the regular 3D gameplay, but redone in a classic, pixelated style.
And if this entry in the mainline series does well abroad, that raises the (very, very slim) possibility that the Dragon Quest MMO could also get a release in the US! Ok, now that might be too much Dragon Quest to ask for at one time.
Monster Hunter World
The last few Monster Hunter games on 3DS have been terrific, and they've introduced a whole new cross-section of players to one Japan's biggest franchises. But Monster Hunter World is poised to take the series even further. On PS4, Xbox One, and PC, the game will obviously look better than any previous version of the game, but it's the refinements in gameplay and online multiplayer that have a chance of finally pushing it into the mainstream.
For the first time, you'll be able to jump into other players' hunts mid-game, meaning you can help out friends (or receive help when you need it most), without going through a lot of complicated preparation. There's a more convenient training hall that lets you easily experiment with weapons and that lays out various combos and strategies. And best-of-all, the game will have worldwide (although not cross-platform) multiplayer. Given how helpful and supportive the Monster Hunter community is as a whole, jumping into a game and finding fellow adventurers to take down monsters with should be easy.
Make no mistake, Monster Hunter World still seems like it's going to be a complicated, complex game. But as titles like Dark Souls and Bloodborne have shown, there are plenty of players who are looking for a challenging experience as long as it's equally rewarding. And with this iteration of Monster Hunter, newcomers will have a better chance than ever before to understand what makes fans so passionate for hunting.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Out of all the games coming in 2018, Rockstar's follow-up to Red Dead Redemption is arguably the most significant. The developer's other major franchise, Grand Theft Auto, is a cultural phenomenon, and even in 2017, over four years since it was first released, Grand Theft Auto V continues to be one of the best-selling games in the US every month.
The first Red Dead Redemption was a critical success, driven by a powerful story and an inviting open-world. But what's most intriguing is finding out how Rockstar will integrate the elements that have made GTA Online so pervasive. Owning a garage full of crazy vehicles and high-tech weapons make sense in GTA's city environment, but where is there to spend so much money on in the Old West? Or will Red Dead Redemption 2 just be a standalone single-player story that tries to one-up the emotional impact of the previous game?
This sequel has a lot to live up to, and succeed or fail, the story of Red Dead Redemption will be one worth following closely in 2018.
The Crew 2
Blasting down the freeway, roof down, hair blowing in the wind, leaving enemy racers in your wake... Is there anything cooler than fast cars?
Turns out there are things cooler than fast cars: fast boats and fast planes, and The Crew 2 includes all three of the vehicle types. Not only that, but it allows you to seamlessly switch between each one--meaning it's very easy to spawn as a speedboat on top of a skyscraper, which is pretty hilarious.
All this feeds into The Crew 2's greater sense of freedom. The original game's open-world was liberating enough, but now you're afforded more flexibility in how you approach missions, with more routes available in each race. The world feels more open now.
Which makes it all the more upsetting that The Crew 2 was recently delayed. It will now launch in the first half of Ubisoft's 2018-19 fiscal year, which means it will come out between April 2018 and September 2018. The delay can only benefit the game though, so let's hope Ubisoft puts the extra development time to good use.
Jurassic World Evolution
Planet Coaster by Frontier Developments is without a doubt, one of the best construction and management games in recent years. It's the gold standard of the genre, with accessible but powerful building tools, great art direction, and a strong emphasis on community development. At Gamescom 2017, it was revealed that Frontier were working on another construction and management sim, and it had the Jurassic World license attached to it. This was big.
The Jurassic franchise hasn't had a great run when it comes to video game adaptations (Lego Jurassic World was probably the best attempt in the past decade), but Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, released in 2003, arguably had the most critical success, and it too, was a construction and management sim. That's why we're excited that Jurassic World Evolution is going to provide us with a modern-day interpretation of this combination.
You can expect to build your own custom dinosaur theme park filled with fun attractions ala Planet Coaster, but you'll also be dealing with the research and dinosaur breeding aspect as well. Biological experiments right next to innocent, happy families on vacation? What could possibly go wrong? Hopefully the answer is "not a lot", because our expectations for this one are high with Frontier at the helm.
After the dissolution of publisher THQ in 2012, the future of the cult favorite Darksiders series was left uncertain. Swedish publisher THQ Nordic acquired the rights to create more games in the series, but given how relatively unknown the company was at the time, longtime fans began to question if a new game was really coming. In the subsequent years, THQ Nordic released remasters of the first two Darksiders games, continually reassuring that a new entry was in the works. However, it wasn't until this year that the publisher finally unveiled Darksiders III.
The game takes place parallel to the events of the previous entries. It follows Fury, a Horseman of the Apocalypse, as she embarks on a quest to destroy physical manifestations of the Seven Deadly Sins, who are wreaking havoc on planet Earth. It's reassuring to hear that Darksiders III is being developed by Gunfire Games, a studio comprised of several key members from Vigil Games, the original studio that worked on the first two games. With a tentative release date of sometime in 2018, we're eager to hear more about what Gunfire Games has in store for us for the much awaited sequel.