Gunslingers and web-swingers: The best games still to come in 2018
This year in games, we've led the android rebellion in Detroit: Become Human, pillaged and plundered the Sea of Thieves, and gotten a Norse crash course in fatherhood through God of War. But the best could be yet to come, with the second half of 2018 holding some of the most highly-anticipated titles of the last few years.
Of course, this list is far from complete, and while the absence of games like Halo Infinite or The Last of Us Part II might seem like huge oversights, it's likely that those won't release till 2019. For now, we've focused on what we do know is coming this year – and that's more than enough to sink your teeth into.
Date: September 7
The more we see of Insomniac Games' upcoming Spider-Man adventure, the more we love it. When just moving around the game world is half the fun, you know you're onto something strong, and that's only bolstered by a deep combat system and an interesting standalone story.
In this telling, Peter Parker's been playing dress-ups for a few years now, letting us do away with the well-trodden origin story and get straight to a more experienced Spider-Man. Slinging webs and swinging through New York looks like an utter delight, and the ability to crawl up walls opens up the city into a fully three-dimensional playground.
Combat isn't just about punching goons, either. Webs can be used to trip, trap, and wrap up bad guys like flies, and the versatility of that system looks like it won't get old too quickly.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Date: September 14
The 2013 reboot has done wonders for the Tomb Raider series, with the last two games outshining other adventuring franchises like Uncharted. So it's a little bittersweet to see the trilogy come to an end with Shadow of the Tomb Raider – although given the critical and commercial success, we doubt we've seen the last of Lara Croft.
The new game looks set to follow the formula pretty tightly, with Lara journeying to South America and accidentally triggering some kind of Mayan apocalypse that she'll need to stop. That involves traipsing through the jungle, stealth-killing bad guys, exploring ruins and of course, raiding tombs.
Shadow apparently boasts the biggest hub world of any previous game, as well as more tombs and a bigger emphasis on stealth.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Date: October 26
Given the legacy of the classic 2010 game, Red Dead Redemption 2 is set to be the biggest release of the year – hell, maybe even the last few years.
Despite the "2" in the title, the game is a prequel, set 12 years earlier in a Wild West world where outlaws are just starting to fade away. We're also not sure why "Redemption" is in there again: the previous game was all about John Marston redeeming himself for his past crimes as a member of Dutch's Gang, but said crimes are now the setting for this game. We'll chalk it up to a business decision by Rockstar to keep the game recognizably related to the past hit.
Early assumptions that you'd play as Marston again have turned out to be wrong. The original antihero will still be a main character in the story, but now you'll step into the boots of fellow gang member Arthur Morgan. RDR2 will still be full of the usual shootouts, robberies and horseback antics, but there's also hints that the game will include deeper RPG systems, like outfits that boost certain skills, and camp management mechanics where players assign tasks to gang members and make sure there's enough food and shelter for everybody.
The other big addition is a multiplayer mode in the vein of Grand Theft Auto Online, and the lawlessness of an online community of gamers is a perfect fit for the Wild West setting.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Date: November 14
It's hard to keep a big game a secret nowadays, which is why Bethesda's out-of-the-blue announcement of a new Fallout landed like a nuke just before E3. The traditionally story-driven, single-player series is going multiplayer for the first time, and we're intrigued for how exactly that will work.
All previous Fallout games take place a century or two after the nuclear war that devastated the planet, but Fallout 76 is the earliest yet. Just 25 years after the bombs fell, players emerge from the safety of Vault 76 into the West Virginian wasteland, with the goal of starting civilization over fresh. It seems to play like Destiny or The Division, with players joining forces to take on quests and raids in the eternal pursuit of better loot and gear. Fallout 4's base-building bits carry across, but now players can set up shop anywhere they like and defend it from other players and the new menagerie of mutant creatures.
Oh, and you can launch nuclear warheads at other bases. Luckily those launch codes aren't easy to come by, but wiping all traces of those who've wronged you off the face of the earth is worth the effort. Plus, you can then venture into the highly-irradiated blast zone you just created to find much more powerful weapons and gear – which you'll need to fight off the much more powerful monsters there.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu/Eevee
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Date: November 16
It may not be the "core" RPG that fans wanted – that's apparently coming to Switch in late 2019 – but Pokémon: Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee might be enough to tide us over until then.
The games seem like strange franchise Frankenstein creations. They're billed as remakes of 1998's Pokémon Yellow, with the simplified catching mechanics of Pokémon Go, 2016's ludicrously successful mobile spinoff. Thankfully, the battle system from the main games has remained intact, and some of the refinements from Pokémon Sun/Moon have been carried across. And on top of everything, there are a few series firsts, like seeing the critters running around in the wild so you can catch or avoid them.
Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee are leveled squarely at the Pokémon Go crowd, carefully crafted to ease them into the more detailed core games. And what an entry point that could be: Pokémon Yellow is a pretty strong foundation, and the Kanto region in glorious Technicolor HD will be a sight to behold.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Date: December 7
Nintendo's beat-'em-up mash-up Super Smash Bros. series has a passionate fanbase, but the developers seem to have made it their mission to satisfy a thousand competing demands at once, and wrapped it all up in a package worthy of the Ultimate moniker.
For starters, every single character from every previous game is returning as a playable fighter. That means long-lost fan favorites like Snake and the Ice Climbers are back, along with more forgettable inclusions like Pichu. Newcomers are pretty thin on the ground, but Splatoon's Inklings are worthy additions, and after years of internet pleas and petitions, Metroid villain Ridley has finally made the cut.
Along with the bursting roster of 68 characters, many of the classic items, stages, supporting characters and music tracks are back, and the whole game has apparently been tweaked to make it feel faster and tighter. And yes, it's playable with the GameCube controller.