Games we're waiting for in 2018 (and beyond)
We're one month into 2018, and though we've seen a few game releases so far, most are still on the horizon. From shooters to narrative games to JRPGs, the months to come will have a lot to offer no matter your genre of choice.
Here are some of the games we on the GameCrate team have on our radar this year (and on into the future).
Detroit: Become Human
Way back in 2012, during the PS3 generation, Quantic Dream released the moving, powerful Kara trailer, insisting that it reflected no game currently in development. Fans cried out for a Kara game, but instead we received 2013’s ambitious but flawed BEYOND: Two Souls featuring Ellen Page in a non-linear narrative that made it feel like none of your choices mattered much.
In 2015, Quantic Dream released a new Kara teaser trailer to enormous fan response. They’ve followed up with additional trailers for Detroit: Become Human featuring the branching gameplay that QD is known for. All of them focus on core themes of independence, freedom, and choice, explored through the metaphor of sentient androids. Unlike BEYOND, Detroit’s core narrative themes look to integrate very well with this branching mechanic. And since the visuals are so striking, this PS4-exclusive game makes a strong argument for upgrading to the latest generation of 4K-capable consoles.
The third installment of the popular Metro franchise will be out in late 2018 for PC, PS4, and XBOX One. Based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s best-selling novel, 4A’s dystopian, post-apocalyptic thriller is leaving the (relative) safety of the metro tunnels of Moscow and hopping a train to the East, searching for a new life in an adventure that spans an entire calendar year, complete with changing seasons.
While highly scripted, the story-driven first person action on display here gives us hope that there’s life for the FPS genre after Overwatch and PUBG, even if that hope is highly irradiated and super grimdark. In a world of me-too shooters, it’s great to see the Metro series doing its own thing, combining action, stealth, and survival horror.
The JRPG Avalanche
With Persona 5 topping many “best of” 2017 lists and a fantastic 2018 release schedule ahead, the JRPG genre has come roaring back, ready to snatch the RPG crown from American RPGs like Pillars of Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera, and Tyranny. Even some American-made RPGs like Indivisible are drawing on JRPG influences.
Fans of big eyes and small mouths can look forward to Kingdom Hearts III, Lost Sphear, Heartbound, Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass, Ni No Kuni II: The Revenant Kingdom, Project Octopath Traveler, Dragon Quest XI, Radiant Historia, Perfect Chronology, and even a full 3D remake of JRPG classic Secret of Mana.
Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: The Final Chapter and The Wolf Among Us: Season 2
Telltale was the game company that got me into indie story gaming, with their particular incarnation of The Walking Dead, and I’m hoping that recent massive layoffs don’t imperil the promised final chapter of their excellent Walking Dead franchise. I can’t remember the last time a game company ended a popular game series willingly; it usually takes a catastrophic occurrence to end a successful franchise series.
I think it’s creatively courageous to quit while you’re ahead, and it seems like Telltale is doing exactly that. Walking Dead Season 3 took some interesting narrative risks and told a great story refocusing the series around a family theme, as a warmup for Clementine’s quest to rescue AJ this year. From scared child to adoptive mother, I believe Clementine’s journey will be remembered as a tremendous achievement in the art of games.
Meanwhile, fans have been clamoring for another installment of The Wolf Among Us since the first season ended back in early 2014. As a huge noir fan and a “70s/80s-era New York” enthusiast, I loved The Wolf Among Us Season 1, even without doing the requisite Fables reading. Telltale wove a morally fraught detective story featuring Bigby Wolf where players could give in to their base impulses or struggle with problems non-violently. The game explored systems of oppression, poverty, and marginalization and managed to make me take an anthropomorphic frog seriously. It took years, but we’re finally going to see season 2 in 2018.
Fighting games represent one of the densest, most unapproachable mainstream game genres. Mainstream favorites like Tekken and Street Fighter require, at the bare minimum for competent play, the memorization of at least one extensive move list, as well as wacky thumb acrobatics to achieve those special moves. High level strategy requires a Wikipedia’s worth of jargon - DP, OTG, OCV, SPD, DHC - the list goes on and on.
Sirlin Games’ Fantasy Strike seeks to address some of these issues with a simplified control scheme that allows for one button combos and super moves, removing one of the biggest boundaries to higher level play, and getting people to the meat of gameplay and strategy, like rushing down your enemy or zoning them out with projectiles.
One of Fantasy Strike’s key features is the Yomi Counter. Yomi is Japanese for “mind games” - in fighting games, it represents the act of anticipating and responding to your opponents actions. If your opponent is about to throw you, you simply release all controls - literally doing nothing - and your character automatically counters the throw.
Fantasy Strike is already on Steam Early Access and is a blast to play. We’re hoping to see it reach its final release in 2018!
Here on the staff, we are looking forward to this game with equal parts excitement and dread. BioWare’s last release, Mass Effect: Andromeda was rushed out the door before it was properly finished, and suffered from numerous issues because of it. Given EA’s tendency to shut down underperforming studios, if Anthem doesn’t absolutely blow the doors off the market, then BioWare’s shuttering might not be far behind. It's no surprise, then, to see the studio delaying Anthem and looking to do everything they can to make sure the game is a hit.
And the seven-minute gameplay trailer released last summer didn't reassure me at all. Gameplay looks like the third-person Mass Effect style that we’ve seen before. And while BioWare has improved its combat mechanics in each successive game, there’s nothing in its ouevre that makes me believe that they have the capability to pull off a massive, open-world, 150+ hour cooperative shooter. You play BioWare games for the plot, the characters, and the world, not the fights.
In the world of cooperative sci-fi shooters, Destiny feels like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It got a strong head start and, despite occasional bumps in the road, is the standard bearer of its genre. Anthem feels like the DC Cinematic Universe - a late start into already-established territory with a team that seems ill-equipped to make the most of it (Wonder Woman aside).
That being said, Dragon Age: Inquisition was a very solid open world RPG even if Mass Effect: Andromeda was not. Combat involved a lot of button mashing, but it still kept me entertained for over 100 hours, so maybe Anthem will do the same (and it’s easier to make shooter combat non-mashy). Anthem’s earliest teaser trailer seemed to promise a story with meaningful choices, and with Mass Effect 1 & 2 and Knights of the Old Republic veteran writer Drew Karpyshyn at the helm, there’s some real hope for that.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar Games is releasing the long-awaited Red Dead Redemption sequel in 2018 and it looks gorgeous. Red Dead 2 follows the exploits of Arthur Morgan and his outlaw Van der Linde gang across beautiful western vistas, bank jobs, and train robberies. Dutch Van der Linde has returned as one of Arthur Morgan’s allies. He also looks a good bit younger in this trailer, giving credence to the rumor that Red Dead 2 may be a prequel.
The trailer also shows Morgan using a bow and arrow, which seems to be a required inclusion for action games since the Tomb Raider remake.
Unlike Marston, Morgan seems to be a full-on outlaw without much pretense of sympathetic motivation (he threatens a guy’s life at his dad’s funeral! Harsh!) so it’ll be interesting to see if Red Dead 1’s honor system makes an appearance, and if so, how it’ll intersect with the main plotline.
Rockstar has also promised us a multiplayer mode, so even after you’re done rampaging across the West, you’ll be able to share some adventures with your friends. Details are a bit thin on the ground, but given that the release date is rumored to be June 2018, we should be seeing more information leaking out in the coming months.
As a lifelong New York City metro area resident, this one strikes a particular chord for me. From the brick-throwing onlookers in the bridge scene in the original Sam Raimi Spider-man to the crane-turning scene in The Amazing Spider-man to the wacky “running through Queens backyards” scene in Homecoming, the best moments in the Spider-man movies often feel like love letters to New York.
And in Marvel’s Spider-man, the collapsing crane section of the debut trailer felt like something written for us and by us. Crane collapses are a very real, very terrifying thing that occasionally happen here in New York, and being able to stop one as Spider-man feels not just heroic but personal for me.
Cinematics and gameplay look like they seamlessly intertwine, but the abundance of Quicktime events in this trailer made me a bit wary. I’m hoping that Insomniac is smart enough to keep these minimal, or find a way to incorporate them into gameplay that doesn’t feel like “press X to not die.”
The gameplay itself looks like a remix of the hand-to-hand combat and stealth gameplay from Rocksteady’s Arkham series with a distinct Spider-man flavor. Your web shooters play a prominent role in combat, allowing you to grab, yank, restrain, and suspend enemy henchmen, and combat also seems to rely heavily on making the most of your environment.
City traversal bears a surprising resemblance to Saints Row IV, with its superheroic, wall-running exploits combined with Spider-man’s usual web-slinging. I hope that Insomniac’s open world takes place on a real New York City map. I’d love to web swing into my beloved St. Mark’s Place, Central Park, and Chinatown. Bonus points if they render Washington Square Park to include Colin Huggins, the Crazy Piano Guy, a team of break dancers, or those street performers who drum on an array of pots and pans.
Look for Marvel's Spider-man to come swinging onto PS4s later this year.
What upcoming games did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.