Stephan’s Most Anticipated Games of 2018

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Last year was monumental for games with stellar releases from both indie and AAA studios leading to so many interesting experiences and stories I couldn’t even play half of them. Fortunately (unfortunately?), developers are continuing full steam ahead into 2018 with many incredible releases I cannot wait to buy and never have time to play!

2017 was undisputedly the year of Nintendo. With the massively successful launch of Nintendo Switch and beloved releases Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey outperforming predecessors critically and financially, all the attention was on the big N. But it looks like Nintendo blew their load in 2017, releasing 4 big first-party titles. Sure there are untitled Kirby and Yoshi games coming, along with Bayonetta 1 & 2 ports and continued indie support, but I think the Switch hype will begin to calm down this year.

2018, on the other hand, is shaping up to be the year of PlayStation. With PSVR smashing all of Sony’s expectations and over 180 PSVR games expected in 2018, Sony is ramping up PSVR production. PlayStation 4 is also getting an unprecedented run of AAA exclusives this year from the eagerly anticipated Spider-Man to other first-party blockbusters like Detroit: Become HumanDays GoneDreamsShadow of the Colossus Remake and the reboot of Sony Santa Monica’s massively successful God of War series. Where Nintendo unloaded a lot of games they had been sitting on in 2017, it seems PlayStation is unloading everything they’ve been sitting on in 2018 (with the exception of The Last of Us Part II, god knows when that’s coming).

Some games this year I’m excited to play, but others I’m interested in following the developing stories and different controversies that have developed in the gaming community and industry around them. I’m sure some will get delayed, and I’m sure there will be games that are announced and released this year which I could’ve never anticipated. So here are my most anticipated games of 2018 in roughly chronological order, enjoy!

The Inpatient

1- Inpatient

Developed by Supermassive Games (@SuperMGames). Releasing January 21st, 2018 on PSVR.

A prequel to 2015’s interesting interactive-drama, survival-horror adventure game Until DawnThe Inpatient puts players in the role of a patient in the infamous Blackwood Sanitorium from the first game but while it was operational in the 1950s. Making full use of the immersive potential of VR, players awaken in the sanatorium with no memory and must piece together who they are and why they’re here. The “butterfly effect” mechanic is back, meaning player choices lead to different outcomes and stories. Supermassive Games says on the game’s site “in a world where you can barely trust your own memories… how can you truly trust anyone else?”

Railway Empire

2- railway

Developed by Gaming Minds Studios. Releasing January 26th, 2018 on Win, Linux, PS4 & Xbox.

As the publisher Kalypso says on their site, “step into the shoes of an aspiring railroad magnate in the era of the American industrial revolution.” I’m a sucker for good tycoon/simulation games, often leaning more towards the tycoon version of these games rather than the hardcore simulation. But given Gaming Mind Studio’s previous work with sim games like Port Royale 3, I’m excited to see their take on the fascinating railroad expansion of that time period.

Kirby Battle Royale

3- kirby BR

Developed by Nintendo EPD (@NintendoAmerica). Releasing January 29th on 3DS.

I loved Kirby games as a kid but the series never really evolved as I grew up, and as such, I’ve fallen out of love with these basic as heck platformers. Kirby: Battle Royale isn’t a platformer though, it’s a 1-4 player brawler playable online and locally. The series main staple abilities like the sword and karate bandana are back, along with new abilities like hockey slapshot for players to fight against each other in the cake tournament. The game will feature 2v2 and free-for-all modes, as well as a ranked online mode!

Shadow of the Colussus Remake

4- SOC

Developed by Team Ico, SIE, SIE Japan Studio (@SonyJapanStudio) and ported by Bluepoint Games (@bluepointgames). Releasing February 8th, 2018.

This isn’t a simple port, this is a full-on remake of Team Ico’s classic PS2 action-adventure hit. Bluepoint Games (the studio who ported the game to PS3) have remade all of the game’s assets from the ground up and even went so far as to add a new control scheme option to make up for the dated controls that have held me back from trying to get into it before. This might be the version of the game I actually finish. Or it might be another port I wander around for a bit and quickly forget.

Owlboy comes to PS4, Switch and Xbox One

5- owlboy

Developed by Dpad Studios (@DPadStudio). Originally released on November 1st, 2016 for Win, the new ports coming February 15th, 2018.

I raved about Owlboy back in 2016 when it launched on PC. The delightful writing, tight platforming and jaw-dropping pixel art described by the studio as “Hi-bit” captured me for hours. I’m personally most excited for this game to release on Switch, as it’s a perfect fit for play-on-the-go and, much like Shovel Knight, was inspired by classic Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Kid Icarus. Regardless of where you play this gem, I think you’re in for a treat.

Bayonetta & Bayonetta 2 come to Switch

6- bayonetta

Developed by Platinum Games (@platinumgames). Releasing February 16th, 2018 exclusively on Nintendo Switch.

I’m always super critical of Bayonetta as its heroine’s power is directly related to undressing her, and if you don’t know why that’s fucked up please give this a watch. As an action-adventure, hack and slash game I’ve always been interested in checking it out as a huge fan of comparable games like God of War. I think this port is the one I’ll check out, 2 games for the price of one and it will give me a good indication of whether I want to check out Bayonetta 3 whenever that finally comes out.

Metal Gear Survive

7- MGSS

Developed by Konami Digital Entertainment (@Konami). Releasing February 20th, 2018.

Here’s one where I’m less interested in playing and more interested in seeing how the public receives it. Metal Gear Solid Survive is the first Metal Gear Solid game since Kojima’s less than amicable departure from Konami led to calls to boycott and had #FucKonami trending on Twitter. I personally think that the game will sell off the Metal Gear brand regardless, and as we’ve seen with countless boycotts in the past, they rarely succeed.

Dandara

Dandara.gif

Developed by Long Hat House (@longhathouse). Releasing February 2018 on PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, iOS, and Android.

Dandara first caught my attention by being the only Switch game at Unity’s booth during Gamescom 2017. Picking up a pro-controller I immediately got into the dash, shoot, dash platforming combat that made Dandara feel so good. Zipping around the stage like a bullet felt amazing.

Golem

8- golem

Developed by Highwire Games (@highwire_games). Releasing March 13th, 2018 on PSVR.

Golem is the next project from Halo and Destiny composer Marty O’Donnell. After being forced out of Bungie in 2014, O’Donnell sued Bungie who settled out of court. I’m assuming being quite well off, O’Donnell founded his next studio, and as music was his expertise he set out to design an immersive VR experience where music and sound were key to the worldbuilding and storytelling. Golem is that game and based on my love of Halo music alone I’m excited to check it out. To read more about the story check out the game’s site.

Sea of Thieves

9- sea of thieves

Developed by Rare Ltd. (@RareLtd). Releasing March 20th, 2018 on Xbox One & Win.

This is one of those games that’s been talked about and shown so many times I’m sick of hearing and seeing it and just want to finally play it. I’m planning on picking this up on my Xbox and pillaging the high seas with my friend Sean on his PC, this cross-platform support a big plus in my books. If you somehow haven’t heard of this one yet, Sea of Thieves is a first-person, pirate-themed action-adventure cooperative multiplayer game featuring a cartoonish art style and outlandish mechanics, such as the ability to fire crewmates onto the enemy’s ship via canon.

A Way Out

10- a way out

Developed by Hazelight Studios. Releasing March 23rd, 2018 on Win, PS4 & Xbox One.

I want to check out this game just because of the drunk developer at The Game Awards who grabbed the mic and swore his face off about EA, then quickly backtracked when he remembered who was publishing his game. I’m also interested in this game as it’s from the same team behind Brothers: A Tale of Two SonsA Way Out seems like the next logical progression from a single-player game where you control two characters in tandem to a split-screen co-op game where two players control two different characters working to break out of prison. The other great selling point for this game is if you buy it, you can play it with anyone on your friends’ list and they don’t have to buy it.

Far Cry 5

11- far cry 5

Developed by Ubisoft (@Ubisoft). Releasing March 27th, 2018 on Win, PS4 & Xbox One.

Unfortunately, this is another one I’m less interested in playing and more interested in seeing how badly this game can fuck up its depiction of white nationalism in the US. As many much smarter people have pointed out, “this feels like a useful way to exploit hate-politics without facing tricky ethical questions.” Despite using real-life white supremacy symbols and imagery, Far Cry 5 shies away from actually showing the players what racist hate groups they actually are. Time will tell how badly they can fudge this one…

We Happy Few

12- we happy few

Developed by Compulsion Games (@CompulsionGames). Releasing April 13th, 2018 on Win, PS4 & Xbox One.

I played We Happy Few way back in 2016 when it debuted in Xbox Game Preview. As I wrote in my preview,  “There is something quite beautiful and at the same time terrifyingly disturbing about the world built in We Happy Few and something that begs exploration. So I explored and what I found left me hungry for more.”

Bring to Light

BTL Logo.png

Developed by Red Meat Games (@RedMeatGames) ❤ . Releasing June on PC, August on PS4 & Xbox One.

For those who know me you’re probably aware I had the awesome opportunity to work at Red Meat Games in the Summer of 2016. I have a lot of amazing connections and experiences to thank Red Meat Games for and that’s why I’m excited to see where their next project takes them. Red Meat Games CEO Keith Makse described Bring to Light to me in an email as such:

“In Bring to Light, you are the sole survivor of a horrific train crash, with only a small light to provide you with guidance and safety. Set in a Lovecraftian world, you must uncover the mystery behind the Avatar of Darkness and the shadowy creatures at his command.”

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I got to see Bring to Light develop at the early stages. As a horror game fan myself I was super excited to see what the team was doing with sound design and the immersion of VR. The passionate team over at Red Meat Games is hard at work from their new Halifax studio to bring this game to players later this year.

Red Dead Redemption 2

13- RDR2

Developed by Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames). Releasing Spring 2018 on PS4 & Xbox One.

Announced to much fanfare, the sequel to 2010’s incredibly successful Red Dead Redemption is going to be one of the biggest releases of the year. With the marketing power of Rockstar backing this monster, there’s no doubt in my mind this will be one of the best selling, most critically acclaimed games of the year. And knowing Rockstar’s previous success with designing incredible open-world experiences I know I’ll be spending a long, long time in Red Dead Redemption 2.

Crackdown 3

14- CD3

Developed by Reagent Games (@OfficialReagent) & Sumo Digital (@SumoDigitalLtd). Releasing in Spring 2018 on Win & Xbox One.

I bought Old Spice as a teenager because Terry Crews yelled at me to, and I’ll buy Crackdown 3 because Terry Crews yelled at me to. Moving on.

Knights and Bikes

15- KB

Developed by Foam Sword Games (@foamswordgames). Releasing Spring 2018 on Win & PS4.

This is the first game I ever crowdfunded. Knights and Bikes is a co-op or single player action adventure game. It was on my list last year but, well, they needed more time. I was sold on the style and childlike innocence of Knights and Bikes and the openness of developers Rex Crowle and Moo Yu. They’re awesome, I’ve had a couple conversations with Moo via email and Twitter and he’s such a genuine guy just pouring his soul into this project. I can’t wait to pedal around the town of Penfurzy later this year.

Vampyr

16- vampyr

Developed by Dontnod Entertainment. Releasing Spring 2018 on Win, PS4 & Xbox One.

This game feels like if Dishonored starred a vampire in post World War 1 England. Players take control of Dr Jonathan Reid. The game’s site establishes the ethically dubious premise: “as a doctor, you must find a cure to save the city’s flu-ravaged citizens. As a Vampyr, you are cursed to feed on those you vowed to heal.” Players will be abe to complete the whole game without hurting a soul, and that challenge (just like Dishonored) I am positive will have me restarting my saves over and over to get that true pacifist ending.

System Shock

17- System shock remake

Comparison courtesy of Candyland on YouTube.

Developed by Night Dive Studios. Releasing Spring 2018 on Win, Mac, Lin, PS4 & Xbox One.

I never played System Shock. I’m aware of its profound affect on the games industry and how it inspired incredible developers to branch off and create historic games like ThiefDeus Ex and a most obvious inspiration in the form of BioShock. Knowing this I really want to go back and play the game that started it all. And I won’t have to put up with those dated controls and underwhelming graphics.

Wargroove

18- Wargroove

Developed by Chucklefish (@ChucklefishLTD). Releasing early 2018 on Win, Switch & Xbox One.

I’ve never been a big fan of turn-based strategy games but Wargroove might be a gamechanger for me. Playing up to 4 players competitively online or local, each person takes control of a commander with a distinct personality, style and goal. Then they all duke it out on a series of maps but also the option to play on player created maps through the in-game editor. I think Wargroove will be most at home on Switch and I hope I can convince some other people to get on board.

God of War

19- god of war

Developed by SIE Sony Santa Monica (@SonySantaMonica). Releasing early 2018 on PS4.

I love God of War for its combat and hate it for its story. What’s Sony Santa Monica doing with the reboot? Putting a huge focus on writing a compelling story with actually interesting characters, while maintaining that hack and slash combat that’s come to define the series. I’m sold.

Frostpunk

20- frostpunk

Developed by 11 bit studios (@11bitstudios). Releasing early 2018 on Win.

Frostpunk is absolutely brutal. It’s the next game from the creators of This War of Mine, and is an equally bleak and depressing game although now in a post-apocalyptic future where a permanent Ice Age has set in. Humanity’s last hope is harnessing the steam power engines to combat the cold and establish a livable centre for the remaining humans. This city is managed by you, the unfortunate ruler who will be forced to make the tough decisions for the survival. I played this one at Gamescom 2017 and don’t think I’ve failed a demo harder, but you can read more about that here.

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition

21- AOE

Comparison courtesy of Candyland on YouTube.

Developed by Microsoft Studios (@MSStudiosBlog). Releasing early 2018 on Win.

Civilization meets Warcraft in the classic real-time strategy game that spawned the modern RTS genre, inspiring the designers of games like Rise of Nations, Empire Earth, CossacksStar Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds and Halo Wars. Another remake where all the assets are being rebuilt from the ground up, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition will feature 4K resolution, a remastered soundtrack, and other gameplay improvements that make me excited to check out a game I haven’t played in a long time.

Where the Water Tastes like Wine

22- WTWTLW

Developed by Dim Bulb Games (@dimbulbgames) & Serenity Forge (@SerenityForge). Releasing Early 2018 on PC.

Where the Water Tastes like Wine is a “bleak American folk tale about travelling, sharing stories, and surviving manifest destiny” (Source). This game interests me as someone who doesn’t know a lot about American folklore. It’s an anthology of different stories told by different writers who bring their experiences and beliefs into the characters they write. It features a vivid art style that paired with the dark music gives me chills from the trailer alone.

Wandersong

23- Wandersong

Developed by Greg Lobanov (@theBanov), A Shell in the Pit (@AShellinthePit) and Em Halberstadt (@emaudible). Releasing early 2018 release on PC, Mac and Switch.

I’ve been following Wandersong on Twitter for a while now. Every gif I see fills me with delight, it’s a whimsical game starring a bard who must sing to save the world! Players use a colour wheel of different notes to solve puzzles and defeat foes. It’s a platforming adventure game releasing on PC and Switch first but coming to other consoles in the future.

sU

Developed by Guillaume Bouckaert (@g_Bouckaert). Releasing Early 2018 on PC, Mac & Consoles.

I got a chance to play sU at both Montreal Comic Con in 2016 and Gamescom this past summer. Both times I thoroughly enjoyed my short demo and noticed the improvements in control and visuals when I played again this past summer. The premise is simple and intriguing, it’s an arcade platformer where the puzzle is in the collectables. It’s a tight, fast-paced game that Guillaume told me will have over 40 levels at launch.

The Gardens Between

24- TGB

Developed by The Voxel Agents (@TheVoxelAgents). Releasing Summer 2018 on Win, Mac & PS4.

The first non-mobile game from successful mobile development team The Voxel Agents, The Gardens Between is a trippy platforming-puzzle game starring two friends who can control time. Levels are broken up into these rotating tower levels where characters move up and down interacting with various objects as well as moving backwards and forwards in time to progress. The two-character mechanic reminds of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons with an abstract, dream-like twist.

Lonely Mountains: Downhill

Developed by Megagon Industries. Releasing Summer 2018 on Win, Mac & Linux.

Another game I got to play at Gamescom 2017Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a Kickstarter success from German developers Megagon Industries. I had a blast with this arcade downhill biking game. It’s a joy to play and the low-poly visuals keep the fast-paced action from becoming too confusing. With multiple ways down the mountain, it’s a game meant to be replayed to find the best route, for the player to learn the tightest drifts and longest jumps.

Jurassic World Evolution

25- JWE

Developed by Frontier Developments (@frontierdev). Releasing Spring/Summer 2018 (likely to align with the release of the film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) on Win, PS4 & Xbox One.

Roller Coaster Tycoon was one of my favourite games as a kid. While Frontier has fallen out of grace since those days with the disappointing Roller Coaster Tycoon World being outdone by indie hits Planet Coaster and Parkitect, I think there’s still potential for a good park tycoon game from this team. While I wouldn’t have thought about it being a Jurassic Park, I think this game has the potential to overcome the usual disappointment of licensed games to become a compelling tycoon experience like I loved as a child, but now with dinosaurs!

State of Decay 2

State of Decay 2 Four Player Gameplay

Developed by Undead Labs (@undeadlabs). Releasing the first half of 2018 on Win & Xbox One.

The first State of Decay was a shining success in the oversaturated zombie game onslaught. A melting pot of resource management, base building and survival horror game has players establishing a home base from which to collect resources, find other survivors all while worrying about the zombies roaming everywhere. The sequel builds off all the success of the original while adding 4-player cooperative gameplay, bigger maps, larger swarms of zombies and loads more constructible buildings (Source).

Spider-Man

27- Spider-Man

Developed by Insomniac Games (@insomniacgames). Releasing first half of 2018 on PS4.

Spider-Man games haven’t been good in a while… from the terrible licensed Amazing Spider-Man tying into the less than amazing Andrew Garfield film to several lacklustre attempts like Spider-Man: Shattered DimensionsSpider-Man: Web of Shadows and the unfortunate Spider-Man: Edge of Time. But now with prolific third-person action developer Insomniac Games at the helm this game is shaping up to be one of the best attempts capturing the friendly neighbourhood superhero in a compelling game yet.

Continued on Page 2

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3 thoughts on “Stephan’s Most Anticipated Games of 2018

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