Year in Pixels: The most anticipated games of 2018
With stand-outs like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn, 2017 will be remembered as one of the best years of gaming in a long time. Although we could spend another whole year working through the backlog, it's time to take a look at what's coming up in 2018.
Shadow of the Colossus
Release: Feb 6
The PS2 original is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time, so it's no surprise that Shadow of the Colossus is being remade for PS4.
It's a refreshingly straightforward game, with no convoluted story or mechanics to trip over. Instead it plays out as a series of boss battles, where the player clambers all over 16 gigantic creatures to figure out their weakness and bring them down. It may sound simple, but Team Ico manages to invoke plenty of emotion with a minimal canvas.
The assets have reportedly been rebuilt from the ground up, and while the core gameplay stays the same, the option for a more modern control scheme could fix arguably the only issue with the original.
A Way Out
Release: March 23
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Co-op doesn't get as much attention these days, but EA has gone all in on the idea with A Way Out. With no single player mode and no multiplayer battle modes, the new title is designed entirely to be played with a friend, either online or on the couch with you. Interestingly, that friend doesn't need to own the game themselves to jump in and give you a hand.
Players take the roles of Leo and Vincent, two prison inmates who need to team up to pull off a jailbreak – and then go through a bunch of shootouts and car chases to stay out.
Detroit: Become Human
Release: First half
The third game from the divisive David Cage looks set to follow the same cinematic structure as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. That means it's more of an "interactive movie" than a traditional game, but judging by how good the previous titles were, we aren't complaining.
Detroit: Become Human is set in a near-future world full of androids, whose sudden self-awareness triggers a new kind of class struggle. Players step into the shoes of three of those androids, and the fate of the uprising will change depending on your choices – so if a character dies, no Game Over screen will bring them back. The branching story will plod along without them.
Frozen Synapse 2
Release: First half
This sequel to 2011's "cyberpunk chess" game is one that might sneak under a lot of people's radar, but this is some of the most tense turn-based tactics you'll find anywhere.
Like the first game, Frozen Synapse 2 pits two teams against each other, with different units armed with pistols, shotguns, rifles and rockets. Death is always just one shot away, so you'll need to position your team very carefully, making good use of stealth, line-of-sight, and cover. The twist is that both players submit their turns at the same time, then watch how their choices play out. That means that it's not good enough to move your units based on where your opponent is right now – you have to plan each turn according to what you think they'll do next.
The developers say that the basics of the game will be preserved, but this time around the Tron-styled world is completely open and procedurally generated. The city is also full of explorable buildings, populated by warring gangs you can work with or against.
Frozen Synapse 2 sounds ambitious, and after repeated delays (it was originally slated for a late 2016 release) we're now hopeful it'll make its new window of the first half of 2018.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Release: Spring (Northern Hemisphere)
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Despite the "2" in the title, the next Red Dead Redemption is a prequel to the 2010 classic. The size of the previous game's Wild West world was nothing to sneeze at, but apparently this one is even bigger and more dense. The trailers so far agree, showing a wilderness that's just teeming with wildlife and bustling towns full of people.
If the first game was all about John Marston's… well, redemption for past crimes, this one seems to focus on said past crimes, during his time in Dutch's gang. Expect rustlers and shootouts galore – which incidentally lays the groundwork well for a lawless multiplayer mode in the vein of Grand Theft Auto Online.
State of Decay 2
Release: Quarter 2
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Part-action RPG, part-management sim, State of Decay took a new approach to the zombie cliche by focusing the gameplay on building and running a base, which makes your dangerous scavenging runs all the more rewarding – or devastating.
The sequel takes all that and adds co-op multiplayer to the mix. Up to four players can jump into the same world and work together to explore, scavenge, clear out the undead, and build up the base. There's no specific "hero," either. Players control a living, breathing community, which can be improved or weakened as individual characters learn new skills, become leaders or die.
Jurassic World Evolution
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
The Jurassic Park franchise has a bumpy history with video games, but one of the best was 2003's park-building sim, Operation Genesis. This new game looks set to follow the same Rollercoaster Tycoon framework, updated with the near-futuristic buildings and vehicles of the 2015 movie.
That means the gameplay of Evolution will center on building your own version of the eternally-ill-fated dinosaur zoo, balancing the cool factor of a park full of prehistoric predators with the inevitable OH&S issues that brings up. Of course, if it's anything like Operation Genesis, we'll probably get bored when things run too smoothly and pull down all the fences, just to watch the chaos.
Jurassic World Evolution is due out in June, just in time for the latest movie, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
Release: TBA 2018
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
It's funny that a series about the apocalypse would survive its own apocalypse, but five years after the collapse of its original publisher, a new Darksiders game is about to ride out. Following in the footsteps of War and Death, this time around players take the role of Fury, the third Horse(wo)man of the Apocalypse.
Darksiders III continues the interesting story structure of the previous games, meaning it takes place at the same time as Darksiders 1 and 2. While War is on trial for triggering the end of days too early and Death is out trying to clear his brother's name, Fury is busy cleaning up the mess on Earth, tasked with hunting down personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins which are running rampant.
While the game will still have the same action-RPG flavor as its predecessors, Fury is set to be a more nimble character than her brothers, dispatching demons and whatnot with her whip and an arsenal of magical attacks.
The Last of Us Part II
Release: TBA 2018 (hopefully)
Although it tops pretty much everybody's Most Anticipated list, we still don't know a whole lot about The Last of Us Part II. It's set five years after the events of the first game, and Ellie has now been promoted to primary playable character. Joel is still around too, but it remains to be seen just how the relationship between them is holding up.
Gameplay will likely focus on the same survival and stealth elements as the original, and story-wise it's said to be darker and more intense. And considering the first was no walk in the park, that's saying a lot.
We're hopeful this one will make it out by the end of this year, but we wouldn't be surprised if it slips into 2019, which feels depressingly far away. Expect more details at E3 in June.
Nintendo Switch roundup
The Nintendo Switch had a great first year, bookended between Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey – possibly the best games in their franchises. Although there's no one title with that much clout on the horizon, 2018 has enough coming to make it worth jumping in, if you haven't already.
Kirby and Yoshi are getting new 2D platformers, Mario Tennis is back on the court, there's a Fire Emblem RPG on the way, Bayonetta 3 has been briefly teased, the long-awaited Metroid Prime 4 has been confirmed and there's even a mainline Pokémon game in the works.
The Wii U's stellar platformer Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is being ported across to the Switch in May, and on the third-party front, franchises we never thought we'd see on a Nintendo console are cropping up, like Dark Souls and Wolfenstein. To cap it all off, the Switch's stable of indie gems is constantly growing too.
And that's just what we know about so far. Nintendo has been dropping new titles on us fairly regularly since launch, so there will no doubt be some surprises throughout the year.
As with any list like this, it's all subjective. What are you most looking forward to in 2018 and beyond?