2017’s done and dusted, and already we’re all looking toward the future to see what games await us there. This past year’s going to be hard to keep up with, as many gamers are proclaiming this as the greatest year gaming has ever had, while the rest are admitting it’s the best year we’ve had in a decade or more. Fortunately, 2018 doesn’t look like it’s going to disappoint, and so here’s a quick rundown of fifteen of my most anticipated titles for the new year.
From indie to AAA, from Japanese RPGs to loot shooters, the only rule keeping a title from being added is if there’s no confirmed 2018 date or if I simply don’t believe the title will make that date. (Looking at you, Shenmue 3!) If you didn’t see your most anticipated title, hit me up @SageShinigami on Twitter to tell me what I should’ve added, but keep in mind I’m also attempting to balance the list, so it won’t be all Western AAA or obscure Japanese titles.
15. Soulcalibur VI: This was easily the most exciting announcement to come out of the Game Awards. Bandai-Namco’s other major fighting game series, many fans of the series believed it was finally dead after the release of V to great reviews but mediocre sales, a lack of interest that seemed to come from an overdose of new characters and an otherwise stripped down, barebones fighting game that lacked in alternate modes and even a complete campaign. In an attempt to remedy that, the game is returning to its roots, ditching all the new characters of SCV in favor of going back to the setting of the initial Soulcalibur to tell some “hidden stories, lost by time”. And it’s been five years since the release of the previous game, and this game isn’t scheduled to hit until the middle or late 2018, so hopefully this installment will return the excess side content that made the older games so popular.
I’m completely trash at fighting games, but I’ve always had a place in my heart for 3D fighters, and Soulcalibur in particular for their accessibility. Plus what game has the customization levels that SC does? Hopefully BN’s crossover with New Japan Pro Wrestling continues and we can create our own members of the Bullet Club and Rainmaker or The Ace.
14. A Way Out: A Way Out was one of the few surprises at an EA conference that was otherwise filled with the expected last year. A smaller budget title from Hazelight Studios and film director and real-life meme Josef Fares, A Way Out is a third person action-adventure title focusing on Leo and Vincent, two convicts who must work together if they want to escape prison and stay one step ahead of the law so they don’t go back. The most unique part about A Way Out is that it’s a story-based game that must be played through co-op; you’re allowed to search for players or play with friends online, but there is no AI available for you to play it solo. Given Fares’ last game was the award-winning Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, I’ve got high hopes for this, and everyone should take note of it when it launches on March 23rd.
13. Starlink: Battle for Atlas: Say what you want about Ubisoft being a “safe” company, but no other AAA developer has launched nearly as many new IPs this generation, to say nothing of them all being largely successful smash hits, from The Crew and For Honor to Watch_Dogs and The Division. Last year Ubisoft had the absolute best show of E3, revealing several all-new titles that would be releasing over the next year and a half, including Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Something of a mix between No Man’s Sky and the Toys to Life genre, Starlink allows players to customize various in game ships by the real life toys they buy and connect to the game. As for the story, Starlink’s plot comes right out of a Saturday morning cartoon show in the best way possible: you and your crewmates on the mothership Equinox must work together to stop The Forgotten Legion from mastering ancient technology that will grant them ultimate control over the Atlas system.
Knowing how closely the Ubisoft teams tend to work together, there’s a good chance this game is a test run for their upcoming Beyond Good and Evil 2, but this title still looks like it’ll be a fun romp for those of us who love space opera and dogfighting games when it comes out Fall 2018.
12. Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Rumors surfaced of the third game in the Tomb Raider reboot in 2017 when some images leaked revealing the title of the next game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider. But things remained relatively silent until just before The Game Awards, when the Tomb Raider twitter account revealed that they intended to show the game off relatively close to the titles release date, hinting strongly that they would make an appearance at 2018’s E3 show. With this information, all signs are pointing to an E3 reveal for a release later that fall, which should honestly be how all games work.
11. Biomutant: A charming game with mechanics from our gen but an art style right out of the PS2 era, Biomutant was the biggest (and possibly only) surprise to come out of Gamescom weekend. Courtesy of new developer Experiment 101, Biomutant is set in a world besieged by a poisonous oil that’s killing the world’s Tree of Life. A narrative game with branching paths, your character (a customizable raccoon in a world full of other anthropomorphic animals) can choose to either save the Tree of Life or let it die. A title promising kung-fu action, pilotable vehicles as well as the ability to recruit allies in a world that finally isn’t jam-packed with humans, this game almost seems too good to be true. Fortunately the game will get to tell its own tale (Get it? You play an animal with a…ah, nevermind.) soon enough.
10. Indivisible: Indivisible is a title directly from the minds of some of the people who brought us all Skull Girls. An action-RPG with mechanics similar to classic J-RPG Valkyrie Profile, you play as Ajna, a young woman traveling the world to learn about her special powers. She recruits various heroes during her journey that will help the Metroidvania-like world open up to her, with exploration emphasized as a primary part of this title. This game’s had a long road since it’s Kickstarter back in 2015, but it’s still looking great and should be one of the biggest indie games of 2018.
9. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age: Fans have been waiting on Dragon Quest to make a return to consoles for years, and with Dragon Quest XI the king of J-RPGs has finally decided to make it’s come back. This game launched in the early part of 2017 to largely rave reviews from both importers and native Japanese players alike, but Square has curiously remained silent on the localization of this title. But with 2018 still it’s currently confirmed release date, there’s a strong chance they’ll be telling us more about it soon. My guess? Somehow Square is adding an English voice over to what was initially a voice-less game.
8. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life: After spending over eighty hours in the world of Kamurocho in 1980’s Japan, it’d be logical if I said I wasn’t really looking forward to yet another Yakuza game. And yet, what other title stands a chance of scratching that open-world kick that’s modern day? That’s not nearly as common as one might believe, and this game looks to be another classic in this dark world of gangs and bloody street fights. Yakuza 6 follows Kiryu after he gets out of jail (…again), trying to discover what happened to his adopted daughter Haruka after learning she was somehow injured in an accident. The first Yakuza title to be built on the brand-new Dragon Engine, this game not only looks better, but it boasts a number of quality of life changes the series was desperately needing. If you’re somehow not done playing Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza 0 yet, fear not–this game doesn’t launch until March 20th, 2018.
7. Fire Emblem Switch: I’m actually a huge Fire Emblem fan, but…there’s actually not much to talk about here. Currently the first Fire Emblem for Nintendo’s current-gen system is still lacking even a subtitle to separate it from older installments. Still, as the strategy RPG series has gradually made its way into being a decent money maker for Nintendo, there’s a fairly decent chance that Intelligent Designs will pull out all the stops for this game. But for now, we’re in the dark until at least the next major Nintendo Direct, which will most likely be in January.
6. Red Dead Redemption II: Easily the most anticipated game of 2018, it felt like a given when this title got pushed back from 2017 into 2018. We don’t know much about this world yet, other than that we’re playing an outlaw known as Arthur Morgan, and the game itself is a prequel to last gen’s game. A bit disappointing, but then the appeal of RDR1 was that it was essentially at the end of the cowboy era, so placing a game too much further into the future would ruin the whole point of the game.
Currently, RDR2 is still lacking a release date, but a rumor’s going around that it’s scheduled for June 8th.
5. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom: Level-5 first announced this game back in 2015 during Sony’s Playstation Experience. It dropped off the map for nearly a year before surfacing at 2016’s PSX, announcing a planned 2017 release date. Since then, the game has suffered two more delays that now place the game releasing on March 23rd, 2018.
In the meantime though, we’ve seen quite a bit regarding this game: set centuries after the original game, the main character is Evan Tildrum, a young king of the cat tribe who has his kingdom stolen from him in a coup. With the help of Roland, an adult from another world, and Tani, a young girl who’s father is the boss of an air pirate gang, he goes on a journey to get it back. We’ve seen tons of gameplay for this title, showing off its beautiful graphics, completely new art style, and it’s new “Kingdom Building” mode which is reminiscent of Level 5’s White Knight Chronicles.
4. Rain of Reflections: Let’s face it: CDProjekt’s Cyberpunk 2077 is not happening next year. We’ll be lucky to get a trailer at E3 with a release date of 2019, and my personal prediction is still that we won’t see it until 2020. But in the meantime, it’s probably best to avoid the cyberpunk game made by the creepy guy who thinks feminism’s success would lead to a dystopia, while we have Rain of Reflections available. Developed by Swedish studio Lionbite, players make their way through a dense, cyberpunk-inspired series where every choice matters. Though the title was scheduled to come out in 2017, it was pushed back into 2018 where hopefully it’ll be able to find a dedicated fanbase.
3. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night: While Castlevania was always a franchise people liked, it wasn’t until series producer and scenario writer Koji Igarashi took over with 1997’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that it received it’s first classic title. From there, Igarashi remained on as scenario writer and producer for the franchise’s transition to the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS systems, churning out games with beautiful, massive worlds that were a joy to unlock and explore. So when the creator finally left Konami a few years ago, fans were elated to see him launch a Kickstarter that featured him returning to what he was best at. To be certain, Bloodstained is absolutely a “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Castlevania” type of title, but it’s that with superior graphics to anything Igarashi’s ever been able to create before, yet completely retaining the style of gameplay fans fell in love with his style for in the first place.
There’s no solid date for this title yet beyond 2018, but given it was meant to release this year and got pushed back, it’s a good chance we see it fairly early on.
2. Spider-Man: Finally a potentially good superhero game emerges that isn’t about a certain Dark Knight. Easily one of the best surprises of 2016, Sony’s announcement of an exclusive Spider-Man title developed by masters of fun traversal systems Insomniac Games blew fanboys away. Promising an extensive trip into the world of the Wall-Crawler and Peter Parker, this game is already looking like it’ll easily surpass all the other Spider-games thus far. So far we know it’s a story following the crime war that arises when the Kingpin is finally put in jail when suddenly the terrifying Mr. Negative arrives to take his place, but there are a ton of questions remaining. How many other villains will make an appearance? Is Miles Morales just a guest star or will he be a playable character? Will we get a chance to use the Spider-Mobile? All of these things are still up in the air, as well as the game’s release date, which is still currently a nebulous 2018.
1. Anthem: I love Iron Man. I love giant robots and mecha. And I love space opera and soft science fiction like no one’s business. So really, from the moment EA revealed their own foray into the shared-world loot-shooter Anthem, I was automatically lost. Reminiscent of Nintendo’s Xenoblade Chronicles X, Anthem boasts an expansive world full of alien flora and fauna, one that players can explore in various types of specialized armor. Though we’re still in the dark on much of the specifics of this title, the core gameplay loop for this latest Bioware title, what we’re seeing so far looks good. You’re capable of literally flying through the sky as well as the ocean, as opposed to the boring “gliding” or short range boosts most games allow you, and raining down weaponized terror on anything threatening the settlement your people have established in this harsh land. I hated Destiny, but even for me at this point I’d argue that at this point it’s just a matter of not screwing up. If they can create a world that isn’t just about a quick jump to the end game grind, then this is almost a given to be a classic when it launches in Fall 2018.