Can it top 2017?
Looking at the history of video games there are certain years that stand out. 1997, 2010, 1994 are three of the best years ever for the medium, and now that we’ve moved into 2018, I feel confident adding 2017 to that list. It was almost too good, from beginning to end with some amazing titles showing up so late in the year they’ll have to be included on next year’s GOTY nominations *cough* Gorogoa *cough*. The Switch had its meteoric rise, Japanese titles dominated, PUBG ignited a battle-royale frenzy and Cuphead proved some games are more than worth the excruciating wait.
So how the hell is 2018 going to top this? By giving us those titles developers and publishers have been teasing for years! 2017 may have been the year of the Switch but 2018 looks like it just might belong to Sony and its PS4. That system has so many highly anticipated titles coming from eastern and western developers that wallets around the world will be crying this year.
But in reality, the wallets of all console and PC owners will be tearing up in 2018 because, as you’ll see below, there are so many (hopefully) good damn games hitting the market over the next 12 months.
Peter Glagowski: Witchfire
While I have no doubt that 2018 will be a stellar year for gaming, looking over the list of currently known launches just makes me shrug. Yeah, Shadow of the Colossus is great, but I can already play that game on two different systems. Yakuza 6 is also a game originally from 2016 and I know a fair bit about it, so I’m not as excited as if it were a totally unknown project.
How am I supposed to get pumped for Nintendo’s offerings when most of them are probably not going to release in the next 12 months (apart from Kirby)? That being said, I’m going to pick something that is more than likely and say Witchfire.
I’m such a sucker for old-school styled FPS games that the incredibly sneaky reveal trailer at the Game Awards got me excited as hell. It doesn’t even show off anything, but just the idea of the creators of Painkiller making another shooter is just what I want out of a game. Hopefully, it can live up to the legacy of the original and not the various terrible sequels.
Chris Carter: Mega Man 11
I initially thought of carving Kingdom Hearts III into this eternal tome of what I want to play in 2018, but I quickly realized my folly. Will Kingdom Hearts III make 2018? Does “December 31” count if that’s what it comes down to, with a possible messy day-one patch? Maybe not, so I’d rather go with another pick.
That pick is Mega Man 11.
I’ve been waiting a long time for this. While the whole retro thing really worked for Mega Man 9, I think Capcom should have taken a beat before they cranked out 10. It was…fine, I guess? But it now has the “partially killed the series for seven years” monkey on its back, which led to nonstop merch and compilations for the better part of a decade.
It’s a risky pick. Some of what Capcom seems to be doing is incredible, but there’s a chance that other bits won’t follow through. I’d be inclined to believe that Capcom wants to get one of their most beloved franchises right after all this time, especially given how they’re turning around a lot of their old properties like Resident Evil while bolstering them with re-releases and remasters to ensure that they don’t put all their eggs in one basket; but you never know.
I’m putting my faith in the Blue Bomber, director Koji Oda, and his team. Good luck, Mega Man!
CJ Andriessen: Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
It’s crazy how long we’ve been waiting for the next proper entry in the Dragon Quest series to reach our shores. I love the franchise. I’m not a lifelong fan, but I dove in deep during the DS/Wii era. If you remember those years like I do, you’ll recall just how many games in the series were brought over from Japan. Square-Enix wanted it to be as big in the west as it is in Japan and it very much seemed like Nintendo was up to the task of making that happen. So we got Joker, Joker 2, the superb Rocket Slime, the hit-or-miss Swords, Dragon Quest Wars, amazing remakes for IV, V, & VI, and the absorbing Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky. We even got a Fortune Street out of it, how crazy is that?
I love IX so much when it first hit, I took myself out of my apartment and traveled to events to meet up with other fans, exchange maps and just talk about our love for Dragon Quest. I still find myself returning to it every few weeks to track down another treasure map.
So imagine my surprise when we entered the next generation of consoles and the support in the west for Dragon Quest would turn from a raging river into a babbling brook. I’m not going to ignore the great games we have received because it would make me sound like the worst type of fan. The remake of Dragon Quest VII and the excellent port of VIII have dozens of hours between them on my 2DS. Dragon Quest Builders made me a fan of the Minecraft formula and I will no doubt pick it up next month when it hits the Switch. I’m not too big on the Heroes games, but I like that they tried them nonetheless. But we missed out on a lot as neither Nintendo nor Square-Enix found it prudent to localize roughly six or seven games that saw release in Japan.
Thank God that will be changing with Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age. Since I saw the first trailer I had to have it. Deciding between the Switch, 3DS, and PlayStation 4 versions isn’t a question of which one do I want more but rather which one will get here first. I want them all: the PS4 for its amazing graphics, the 3DS for its retro charm, and the Switch for the fact I just want everything on my Switch now. I’ll play whatever version they give me, hell I might even play them all. I just want this game anyway I can get it.
Runner-up for me is the game featured in the headline image for this article. Spider-Man looks like it will be the first superhero game in years that I’ll actually enjoy. Here’s to hoping it runs well on a standard PlayStation 4.
Josh Tolentino: Valkyria Chronicles 4
Was there ever any doubt? There are few things I’d stan for harder than Valkyria Chronicles. And despite my liking it more than most folks, even I thought Valkyria Revolution was a mess unworthy of the brand. It seems like Sega got the message, and is doing everything it can to convince the world (and possibly itself) that Valkyria Chronicles 4 will do pretty much everything just the way the original Valkyria Chronicles did it. At this point simply returning to form would be enough for most folks, since the aesthetic and narrative hooked people more than the tactical systems and class progression (which I’ll argue were even improved in the PSP sequels), and a good sequel that remembers what made the original such a sleeper hit on the PS3 will be a positive sign that the franchise is back on its feet.
Bass: Kingdom Hearts III
People who watched the Bass Awards know that Kingdom Hearts III and Dragon Ball FighterZ are my two most anticipated titles of the year, so I won’t go into detail as to why. Besides, it should be pretty obvious to anyone who watched these games’ trailers.
Instead, I’ll talk about the amazing turkey I had over the holidays. My parents seriously outdid themselves this year. It was tender, yet held itself nicely. And the sauce, the sauce! It’s hard to describe into words. I’m positive I’ve never had turkey this good before… Certainly not in my daily submarines at work, I’ll tell you that. I’ll have to make mom teach me the recipe some way or another…
My sister’s vegetarian, so she, unfortunately, passed up on the turkey. She made herself some sort of shepherd’s pie with vegetables instead of the meat… To support her endeavors, I taste tested it. It wasn’t bad, per se, but man that turkey blew it out of the water. She doesn’t know what she’s missing.
I wonder how long it’ll be until cultured meat is available to the general public. Recreating meat at the molecular level without having to raise the animals beforehand… I’m sure that would make everyone happy, it wouldn’t be murder and you also take out the ecological issues associated with farting animals. And then my sister could enjoy our family turkey.
So yeah. Kingdom Hearts III. We can joke about possible delays, but I couldn’t stop smiling when I first saw the release window announcement.
Stephen Turner: No Truce With The Furies
Trying to describe No Truce With The Furies to an audience is probably the hardest thing I’ve done in a while, not counting the last 3 months when I was training to be an English teacher for foreign students (trust me, the Past Perfect Simple is not that simple in practice). That said, I love a good challenge, so here goes nothing!
NTWTF is an isometric CRPG set in a hyper-realized/fantasy world, where you take the role of a cop who battles his foes with conversational skills and his inventory is a memory palace comprised of itemised thoughts. And as long-time readers know, I do love a good detective story in my games.
There’s something hugely ambitious No Truce With The Furies, taking familiar gaming mechanics and dressing them up in something unexpected. It sounds bizarre on paper, but once you see how it’s all put together, it’s actually far more accessible than you’d think. Hopefully, this one finds an audience beyond the niche crowd because everything about the game, from concept to artwork, is clearly a winner.
Oh, I’m also super excited about The Silver Case sequel The 25th Ward: The Silver Case. Maybe now, with this missing piece of the puzzle, Goichi Suda’s Kill the Past series will finally make sense. Whatever happens, I think our foul-mouthed hero, Kusabi Tetsugoro, sums it all up nicely.
Occams Electric Toothbrush: Scorn
I’m a visual creature. My memory is just an infinite slideshow of pictures and videos. Makes me great at remembering art but terrible with details like names and dates. A lot of times, the first thing that will draw me in with a game is the visuals. Even something like platformers, which I don’t really care for, can draw me in with the right art style. So, when Scorn started making the rounds, I knew immediately that this was something I needed to experience.
A game rooted firmly in the styles of artists like H.R. Giger and Zdzislaw Beksinski, with touches of early David Cronenberg and H.P. Lovecraft mixed in is pretty much catnip for me. Just look at that gun! It’s like Videodrome and Existenz had a harlequin baby. Hell, it even reminds me of the organic weaponry the Tyranid use in Warhammer 40K. As a devourer of all things body horror, this game couldn’t be more exciting to me. I don’t know the plot yet but I’m not sure it really matters to me. If I get to explore this cancer universe and shoot tumors out of a gun that throbs, I’ll be as happy as fetal pig thrashing around in an ovum pod suspended in the ossified remains of a forgotten saint.
Dan Roemer: Red Dead Redemption 2
Like many people, I grew up watching a lot of western films. But pilgrim, I tell you what, it seems plenty of folks over at Rockstar San Diego could say the same. The original Red Dead Redemption came off feeling like a passion project and a love letter to western films of years past. Red Dead Redemption is without a doubt my favorite game from the previous generation thanks to a mix of Dan Houser’s incredibly smart writing and Rockstar’s formula for open world game design.
Red Dead Redemption’s writing wasn’t trying to sell you on the history of the wild west. Instead, Houser’s primary focus was a good revenge story while exploring the complexities of the romanticized wild west and political nature of the American frontier. Throw all this in with a vast and extremely detailed open world (the horses in that game still blow my mind), with the setting of the game feeling fresh due to a lack of western games in the marketplace to begin with (outside of GUN and Red Dead Revolver), it was no surprise Red Dead Redemption became an instant classic and arguably the best western gaming has to offer.
So, making a follow-up is not a task I envy. But, considering Rockstar’s track record over the past decade on top of what will be an eight-year development cycle since the original game and Red Dead Redemption 2 still has me plenty interested. The concept alone of exploring the Van der Linde Gang in a prequel to John Marston’s story through Arthur Morgan (the game’s new protagonist) — has me very excited. Dutch himself also seemed complex enough as a character in the previous game, despite his lack of screen time, to still deeply explore with another game (and all the more reason to do so).
I’m also interested in what Rockstar San Diego can pull off on current hardware with the RAGE engine, given how well Grand Theft Auto V transitioned to the new consoles and the PC (here’s hoping they don’t bungle the source code again though). However, all my excitement for the single player content aside, I am cautiously optimistic with how they approach multiplayer. Take-Two Interactive (Rockstar’s parent company) have fallen in love with what they call “recurrent consumer spending” — which is basically just a bloated name for micro-transactions.
With how popular (and profitable) Grand Theft Auto Online is, it’s almost expected that they’ll approach Red Dead Redemption 2‘s multiplayer the same way. In a perfect outcome, they’ll listen to the mountains of feedback and recent outcry regarding these systems and hopefully create a smart solution that still works (whatever that could even be). Given the nature of how Take-Two Interactive is approaching the situation though, claiming that all future titles from them will have micro-transactions — then sadly — to borrow a quote from Dutch himself: “We can’t always fight nature, John. We can’t fight change, we can’t fight gravity, we can’t fight nothin.”
Thankfully, if it’s the worst case scenario, we can at least fight back with our wallets.
Nick Valdez: Dragon Ball FighterZ
Rock the dragon.
Mike Sounders: Super Robot Wars X
Mech guy excited for mech game, who would’ve seen this one coming!
I was already excited about this game, due to how Super Robot Wars V turned out and due to multiple series I like returning for this game. It’s up there with FighterZ and Yakuza 6 for my most anticipated.
The reason I’m putting this over them is because Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was one of the first anime I ever watched. In addition, the artwork fully confirmed that titular and final mecha of the show is going to be playable again, and with the movie content confirmed from the trailer, that means this grand moment is likely back. Hell yes, I am excited to use the drill that creates the heavens once again.
Marcel Hoang: Monster Hunter: World
We were advised that if this game were to come up, we’d put our own spin on our anticipation for this game because Monster Hunter: World was expected to be called on by many people. Well, here we are, balls deep in the list and only slight mentions of the game, to be edged out by other choices. So here I am to say my Monster Fucking Hunter: World.
To be fair, I’ve spent the better part of 2017 anticipating this game. I watched the reveal together with Dtoiders on Discord and it was a blast flipping out together with everyone that not only was it a new Monster Hunter, it was a bold looking new take on the series. Gone are 3DS nubs and 240p polygons. Now is the time for full control analog sticks and completely 3D rendered glory.
So I’ve already spent 2017 waiting for this game and this is already coming out this month, so what’s to anticipate? Well, we have our first sign of Capcom’s usual post-launch support shenanigans with the announcement of World‘s first major title update in spring with the return of Deviljho. By far one of the hardest monsters to fight, rivaling even proper elder dragons of calamity. That means I have the rest of the year to look forward to potentially new monsters to challenge, crafting new gear, and even more returning favorites. Zinogre would be boss to see in full HD render. Kirin has always been a personal favorite of mine and seeing a thunder unicorn bound through the ancient forest would be surreal. But most of all, if Deviljho is coming back, that means there’s a chance to relive one of the most brutal quests in the entire series, Bet Your Life. That’s two Deviljhos spewing dragon garbage breath and a Rajang, also known as the angry super saiyan.
Chris Moyse: Indivisible
I was such a mark for Lab Zero Games’ animated fighter, Skullgirls. I loved the imaginative characters, the amazing soundtrack, the twisting story and, of course, the excellent gameplay. It has been a fidget-inducing wait for Lab Zero to return, with their upcoming action-RPG, Indivisible, having been in production for some time.
But now, with the crowdfunding closed and the new title way underway, I’m almost giddy with excitement. With its adorable art style, fun-looking characters and a great blend of Shantae-style action and classic RPG strategy, I think it’s going to be a real winner. I’ve been checking out live streams of the animators at work on bringing protagonist Anja and co. to life, which is fascinating. I have faith in the Lab Zero crew and I think Indivisible is gonna be a real sleeper hit of 2018.
Then they can get to work on Skullgirls 2… of course…
Jonathan Holmes: Shovel Knight: Battle Mode
I agree with CJ that 2017 was a banner year for gaming, but I think 2018 could potentially be bigger and better, though it’s definitely too soon to say either way as of now. If we get that Resident Evil 2 remake, a port of Smash Bros. for Wii U on Switch with new characters, a new mainline Pokemon RPG, Bayonetta 3, Super Meat Boy Forever, The Legend of Bum-bo, Travis Strikes Again, Celeste, Metroid Prime 4, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Pocket Rumble, Iconoclasts, Cat Girl Without Salad 2, Streets of Red, and a new Animal Crossing, I’ll be ready to call 2018 the better year.
That said, the only two games I’m 100% confident will be released in 2018 that will be all-time classics for me are… the same two games I named for my most anticipated for 2017. Shovel Knight is set to receive its last updates this year, first the excellent King of Cards campaign mode, then the currently unnamed multi-player battle mode. I’ve played the demo for King of Cards and it’s miraculously different than the three previous Shovel Knight campaigns, with traditional action-platformer bits mixed with a new strategic card game dynamic. Both the card game and the platformer parts reward players who are able to plan two or even three moves ahead, which is a perfect reflection for the capacity for long-term strategy that Yacht Club Games has gained over the years.
That said, I’m even more excited about the final Shovel Knight update, which will allow multiple players to choose from a huge cast of characters in an end-all battle royale. In our interview for A Profound Waste of Time magazine, Yacht Club told me that this battle mode will be their true final farewell to their first game as a studio, giving fans the power to play as any of their favorite characters one last time.
So while Shovel Knight is a sure thing, I also have to mention 2064: Read Only Memories for Switch, a game that I’m anticipating out of pure vanity. It’s actually the second game that I’m in that’s planned for release on the Switch this year, with all new content to boot. 2018 may be the year we all die in a nuclear fire, but my spirit will live on through ten years of writing for this game blob and a few cameos in video games that can be played on an actual Nintendo console. It’s no Lazarus Pit, but I’ll take what I can get.
Rich Meister: God of War
As everyone seems to agree, 2017 was a tremendous year for games, but like Holmes said 2018 could prove to be even bigger. While new major titles like PS4’s Spider-man are coming, we’re seeing a westernized Monster Hunter for modern consoles and a sequel to Red Dead, but the game I’m most excited for is the return of God of War.
As a youngin during the PS2 era, Kratos was one of my favorite characters. He was angry, brutal, and a supreme badass, but I’m looking forward to his return because he seems like more than that now.
Kratos’ return sees him as a father, hinting at a deeper version of our favorite God killer as he attempts to restrain his rage in front of his kid. On top of that, the game looks gorgeous and the combat seems to be taking some influences from more modern titles.
I could easily see God of War getting pushed into 2019, but for now, I’ll hope we’ll be murdering our way through the Norse pantheon this year.
Kevin Mersereau: Necrobarista
The Nintendo Switch is sorely lacking in the visual novel genre, but Necrobarista aims to finally start doing something about that. I got a chance to get my hands on the PAX demo this past Summer, and it absolutely floored me. There’s a kinetic energy about it which makes you feel so much more involved than simply reading words on a screen. The scenes and characters rarely ever stop moving, and it feels like you’re right up in the action. I don’t want to go into spoiler territory, but the story has a ton of potential too. There’s a trailer they released a while back, but it doesn’t even come close to capturing the actual feel of the game. For now, you’re just going to have to take my word for it. This game is going to be dope.
I’m not done just yet!
There’s one other game I am obsessively waiting for in 2018. Flipping Death, the “spiritual successor” to Stick it to The Man, is pretty much guaranteed to make me laugh. Why you ask? It’s because these people have a proven track record of doing so. It’s the same core team as the first game, and Ryan North, the writer, is one of the funniest human beings on planet Earth. Sure, it looks to be more of the same, with a slightly different twist, but it’s a proven formula that works. I’ve been waiting years for this, and we should finally be getting a release date sometime in the next few months!
Pixie The Fairy; Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
I’m almost ten years overdue to explore a large, enchanted castle full of creatures of the night in a 2D perspective like Simon Belmont intended. Last time I got one of those you got to play a tattooed nun who could summon hammers and fire at will to kill Dracula
So for me, it’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a game in which a cursed young woman that explores an enchanted evil castle full of the undead and vampires and other movie monsters that became public domain long before Disney could buy them out.
Hopefully, it won’t be too long until we once again get to slay werewolves and eat roasted turkey that we found hidden inside a wall.
Patrick Hancock: Kentucky Route Zero
This is it. The year that Kentucky Route Zero finishes. An episodic title that originally debuted in February of 2013, it has been a long, long wait for this final act. While there have been plenty of steadily released episodic games, this is the one people point to and say “I’ll wait for everything to be done before purchasing.”
But it doesn’t matter. Every episode has been amazing. Cardboard Computer may take way too long between episodes, but somehow it is worth it. I never have any idea of what to expect when going into these episodes, which is a big part of what makes Kentucky Route Zero so special. It’s also hitting consoles this year, and I envy those people who will be able to play it straight through for the first time, some of which who have likely never even heard of the game before.
Wes Tacos: Shadow of the Colossus/Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes
Right before last year’s E3, I found myself musing on upcoming reveals and announcements with a friend. I thought about it and decided while there were plenty of games I was looking forward to playing, none were really getting me all hot and bothered. I did mention how a sequel to Shadow of the Colossus or perhaps even a ground-up remake would really get my A.L.F. Underoos in a bunch. Then they announced a ground-up remaster of SotC. So I had to buy new Underoos.
Tied with that, since it’s kind of cheating being a remake and all, is the upcoming No More Heroes sequel that we really know very little about. Something about traipsing around through some other company’s games and some dude with a Hannibal Lecter mask trying to kiss you and getting sucked into a Nintendo. Whatever it is, it actually sounds pretty on-brand for the NMH formula. Whatever winds up happening with the game, I’m just super excited to summon the power of the CRANBERRY CHOCOLATE SUNDAE once again.