Last year was stellar for gaming, as our round-up of the best console games of 2018 will attest. This year shows all the signs of another bumper year for gaming, so with this in mind, let's take a look forward to some of the most hotly-anticipated games of the year. With any luck, some of them will even turn out to be good. Though there are many lower-budget games to look forward to, this list is skewed towards blockbuster titles because, let's face it, that's what we (gamers) are (as a shallow consumerist amorphous mass) most interested in. Onwards!
5. Skull and Bones (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Let's kick this off with two undeniable facts: The best Assassin's Creed game ever is Black Flag. The best thing about Black Flag was its naval combat. What could be more exciting, then, than a game developed by Assassin's Creed stalwart Ubisoft Singapore (which contributed to Black Flag), focused entirely on pirates, sea combat and all things maritime? An open-world game combining single-player campaign missions and online team-based fighty shenanigans, Skull and Bones will hopefully kick on from what made Black Flag so great, and deliver a title to truly establish the pirate sim as a fully-fledged genr-arrrrrr.
Skull and Bones is due for release this year, obviously. We can't be more specific.
4. Necrobarista (PC)
The only indie game on this list, Route 59's Necrobarista looks and sounds like a thing of pure joy. Described as a "cinematic visual novel," the game is set in a Melbourne café where the clientele of hipsters is complemented by, er, necromancers who summon up the dead for a night of wanton flat white-sipping alongside their living overpriced coffee-obsessed counterparts. Comparisons have been drawn to the work of Atlus, the Japanese developer behind the noirish anime-styled Persona series. Those comparisons are fair, but Necrobarista is undeniably beautiful, with an offbeat vibe of its own.
Necrobarista is due on Steam early 2019 – so soon, hopefully.
3. Yoshi's Crafted World (Switch)
With Metroid Prime 4, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Luigi's Mansion 3 also due this year, it's looking like another bumper year for Nintendo Switch. But the sheer joy of a 2D Yoshi-dedicated platformer makes this our most anticipated Switch game of the year. The original Yoshi's Island was a 2D masterpiece. Actually a direct sequel to the unparalleled Super Mario World, it deviated from that blueprint with a crayon-drawn world that oozed charm.
Yoshi platformers since have largely failed to do Yoshi's original outing justice – which is perhaps why Nintendo is forging on with Crafted World rather than repackaging the Wii U's Woolly World for Switch. Being honest, there's every chance that Metroid, Fire Emblem or Luigi's Mansion will prove better games, but if Crafted World can bottle just a little of that Yoshi's Island ether, we could be in for something very special indeed.
Yoshi's Crafted World has a firm release date of March 29.
2. Days Gone (PS4)
Get this: Days Gone is a game about – would you believe it – a zombie apocalypse. I know, right?! Okay, so survival games set in a dystopian world infested with zombies are about as original as breathing air, but this one looks really rather good, actually. To wit: zombies (or "freakers," as this game would have it) in serious numbers, vehicle sections, madcap running and gunning and the option of stealth: nothing we haven't seen before, but combined with dynamic weather and a day-night cycle, Days Gone will hopefully prove a varied sandbox offering a number of ways to play. Last of Us nailed the zombie genre as a claustrophobic, on-rails narrative-led experience. Can Days Gone prove zombies can provide something more expansive? Fingers crossed …
Days Gone is coming April 26.
1. Anthem (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
With the news that Bungie, developer of the Destiny franchise, has split from publisher Activision, fans will be hopeful that Destiny 2 (and, when it comes, 3) will offer something new to gamers tiring of the relentless grind for those last bits of elusive gear. That's unless the BioWare-developed Anthem, published by EA, doesn't knock it out of the park in the meantime. Anthem has much in common with the Destiny series, being an online cooperative sci-fi shooter with the business of acquiring newer and better loot firmly at its core. But there are differences too. It's a third-person rather than a first-person game. Player characters wear mechanized armor (called a javelin) affording different class abilities. And it promises a "contiguous open world" which sounds rather more expansive than Destiny's series of discrete open but constrained play spaces. There's no knowing how good it will be, but if Anthem turns out to be a dud, it'll be a disaster for BioWare and EA.
Anthem is due for release February 22.
This is but a smattering of the gameplay delights coming in 2019. Alright, the majority will inevitably disappoint to some degree, but chins up – it's still January. What are you looking forward to playing in 2019? Let us know in the comments. I'll bet you 30 quid Death Stranding isn't out this year, though.
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