Mine was grrrrrrrreat
You can’t always win. That’s a lesson I learned early in life when my parents taught me how to bet on the ponies. I was never good at picking which horse would finish first, but I was basically a savant at picking which one would end up last. Our lives are dotted with choices that didn’t necessarily turn out the way we expected them to. That movie we were excited to see turned out to be a goose or that TV show returning for a new season ended up far more disappointing than we expected. It’s no different with gaming. As an industry built on the hype of what’s next, “what’s next” may not end up being what you want. Anyone who was looking forward to Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn can attest to that.
Last year, the Destructoid staff wrote down what our most anticipated games of 2018 were. Some ended up meeting expectations while others couldn’t even meet a 2018 release date. Join us as we take a look to see how our most wanted games of last year turned out.
At 2017’s Game Awards, we got a teaser trailer for an upcoming first-person shooter called Witchfire. Being developed by The Astronauts, famous for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and for having worked on Painkiller, I was super excited to see another twitch based shooter come out. I love shooters that don’t take themselves seriously and have crazy character designs with even more ludicrous guns.
So how did that go? Well, between the time I wrote about it last year and now, we’ve heard exactly one thing about Witchfire: it is now entering full-scale development. From the looks of it, Witchfire might not even make a 2019 release window, but I’ve always been one to let developers take the time they need to craft the best experience possible.
Maybe I was a bit presumptuous in expecting the game for 2018, but can you blame me? That teaser trailer was awesome.
Monster Hunter: World did deliver on everything I expected, going above and beyond in often unexpected ways. It was difficult not to be completely captivated by the game in the immediate aftermath of its launch with everything new it brought to the table, but the true test of its quality lied in its ability to keep hands on controls long after it fell off the NPD charts. Monster Hunter games are, after all, judged in the long term for their post-game content. Everybody will play the game for what it presents to you over the course of a normal playthrough, but the hardcore fans who spend hundreds of hours replaying the game will remember an entry based on what’s available after the normal game is complete.
In that sense, World failed. There are far fewer quests and monsters to hunt in World compared to prior games and that is fact, even if we acknowledge that rigging up brand new monster skeletons and animations is a lot of work compared to reusing assets from over 20 years of polygonal history. It attempts to replace this content with tempered monsters, monsters that hit harder but have no new moves or behaviors. Over time, new event quests were introduced for arch-tempered elder dragons, monsters that go beyond the tempered tier of difficulty. There were only a handful of true game updates, introducing Deviljho, Lunastra, Kulve Taroth, and Behemoth from Final Fantasy. Outside of a few new monsters, new variations on previous armor and new layer armor cosmetics were introduced with new event quests that offered the same monsters in new situations, but nothing dramatically new came after a few updates from September.
These are all things to talk about after the game released and we all enjoyed it mind you. I still clawed my way up from low rank to high rank, got several new people hooked on the series, and have almost platinumed the game, which is a big deal since a few trophies involve RNG for monster size. There are almost 600 hours on my save file. I’ve played this game to hell and back. Whatever I have to complain about post-game is after easily getting my money’s worth and praising this game all the way to my GOTY twice over.
And even then, I may not shut up about this game yet with the last bit of update content left for Spring, and then a whole new massive content expansion with Iceborne in Fall 2019. This game is a rousing success and I suspect anytime producer Ryuji Tsujimoto has an idea, Capcom will not say no to the man responsible for the greatest thing Capcom has released for 2018.
Well, my review pretty much sums up my thoughts on how I felt about Mega Man 11. Goodnight everybody!
But seriously, although there’s room for improvement, it’s great to see the Blue Bomber back in action like this. The new Robot Masters are great and full of life as the team carried on the spirit of one of my favorite Mega Man games to date: 8. 11‘s Double Gear system is brilliant and worked far better than I thought it would. Oh, and there’s a decent amount of extras packed in, even if most of them are skewed toward time trial modes.
Maybe we’ll see Bass and Proto Man in Mega Man 12 alongside the aforementioned requested improvements? I can’t wait.
I cheated last year and gave Shadow of the Colossus and Travis Strikes Again my joint pick for most anticipated of 2018. For the former, you’d better believe I bought the fancy special edition and promptly never opened it! I was half tempted to break it open on release day, pore through all the cool stuff within, and fire up this gorgeous monstrosity of a game. But I didn’t. In fact, I later bought the digital version when it went on sale, just so I could play it without having to break open my boxed edition! I then promptly never even downloaded it. It’s, uh, kind of a running theme for me.
But hey, it won Dtoid’s Remakester of the Year award, did extremely well with its critical acclaim, and managed to get me to buy two copies of it…in addition to my PS2 original, boxed copy of the PS3 remaster, and a digital copy of the PS3 remaster. I’d say it did pretty well for a game I’ve bought five times but haven’t actually played since initial release.
Travis wound up having to wait until 2019 to strike again, but a little extra polish goes a long way. The new trailer makes it look as dumb and weird and WTF as I’d expect from Suda (I literally lol’d at Brian Buster, Jr.), so I think I’m definitely going to reuse this one for the second year in a row for my most anticipated title. And hell, it launches the day after my birthday! Happy birthday to me.
2018 was the year it finally dawned on me how bad I am at time management. Between all of my responsibilities in life, I don’t have much “me time.” Maybe an hour or two a night and probably 12 free hours total on the weekend if I’m not reviewing a particularly lengthy game (something I did quite a bit last year). Very recently, I discovered how exactly I filled most of that free time: playing Overwatch. That game has a hold on me the same way Fortnite does on tweens and streamers, eating up 181 hours of my life over the course of six months. That may not seem like a lot of time to you, but that’s a staggering amount for me.
In fact, I’m pretty positive that many hours makes Overwatch my most played game ever. More than Rock Band 2, more than Animal Crossing: New Leaf, more than World of Warcraft. And when I stared with my cold dead eyes at that preposterous number, it dawned on me just how many partially completed games I have lined up on my shelf just waiting for the day I finally break free of Symmetra’s fine, Indian grasp.
Dragon Quest XI is one such game. This is a title I’ve been waiting years for. And yet, it sits there on my shelf with probably 12 hours of it complete. That’s a fraction of what’s needed to actually see the game through to the end. I greatly enjoyed those 12 hours, but now I wonder, with the Switch port possibly coming this year, will I get back to this game I do enjoy so much or just wait until I can take it on the road? In truth, I already know the answer to that question, but I like to imagine there is a world where I don’t always do what’s predictable.
Genma Saotome once said the course of true love never did run smooth. The same is true for making video games. For two or three years running now, my most anticipated game of the year didn’t come out in the year that I anticipated that it would, but I’m sure it’s all for the greater good.
But I do have a pretty good idea of how the game will turn out, as I did get to play hours of Shovel Knight: King of Cards at PAX East last year. Despite my high expectations, it did not disappoint. The 2D platforming parts have some of the most smartly designed in Shovel Knight history, requiring multi-part strategies unlike anything Yacht Club has done before. That goes triple for the optional virtual card game mode that’s layered beneath. If table-top gaming isn’t your thing, don’t worry. It’s more like Tic Tac Toe than Magic the Gathering, except with over a 100 different kinds of X’s and O’s to acquire and trade. If you’ve been enjoying the non-stop spirit hoarding of Smash Ultimate, I think you’ll have a similarly good time collecting cards in King Knight’s new solo adventure.
I’m similarly optimistic about Shovel Knight: Showdown, the 4-played competitive mode that’s also coming this year. Unlike Smash, its story mode in Showdown is unique to each playable character, with its own specific rival battles and related dialogue for whoever you selected. This is Yacht Clubs chance to give all of the major characters in the Shovel Knight mythos a fond farewell before they finally wrap on the game, and I know they’re going to give it everything they’ve got. After over five years of having some form or another of Shovel Knight to look forward to, it’s sad to see it go, but I love to watch it leave.
Last year I was most looking forward to finally playing Valkyria Chronicles 4, and thankfully, the thing turned out great! While I was always confident the game would be just fine, even I, a hardcore Valkyria fan, was surprised to note how well the relatively back-to-basics approach worked out. Even with a comparatively barebones progression system and even some of the core narrative ideas pared back from Valkyria Chronicles 3, Sega proved that there’s a strong foundation at the center of the franchise.
That said, some stuff just didn’t hold up as well as it did ten years ago, particularly the series’ approach to mission design (i.e. missions so gimmicky they’re really only interesting once), and some of the characterization, where despite steps forward in the margins, a lot of name characters with otherwise interesting arcs fell victim to tropey anime grabass that could’ve been handled better, even without being cut out entirely.
Here’s to hoping whatever they do next will be able to move forward, now that it’s proven there’s something there worth keeping around for the long-term.
Occams Electric Toothbrush
Scorn immediately intrigued me. An FPS adventure game set in a world that appears to be the conjoined Death Dream of Zdzisław Beksińsk and H.R. Giger, it tics all the boxes for fans of the weird and disturbing. Well, 2018 wound down and there was very little info about it out in the wild. Fortunately, Ebb Software provided an update on December 28. They partnered with Kowloon Nights and the game has grown in scope, with it becoming a full game versus the originally planned part 1 of 2. With that growth comes reworking, fine-tuning and the such. So, there we have it. I’m hopeful for a 2019 release but, like all good things, it takes as long as it takes. As my dearly departed grandfather would whisper upon donning his wicker crown, Let the Tumor Grow.
Unfortunately, the game I listed as my “most anticipated for 2018” ended up getting shoved back to 2019. Still in development at Skullgirls-helmer Lab Zero Games, Indivisible is a mystical action-RPG starring Ajna, a young girl with special powers who embarks on a pilgrimage to understand herself and her magical origins, while meeting many allies and enemies along the way.
But it looks like Indivisible has proven a bigger undertaking than expected, so we’re still waiting on it, although we did get a clip from its lovely animated intro in July. Fully playable builds were featured at numerous trade shows across 2018, so hopefully, this year will be Ajna’s year and Indivisible will prove itself worth the wait.
God of War seemed like a sure success to me going into 2018. It was a safe bet and delivered in just about every way I expected. The return of Kratos felt less like a return to form and more like a much-needed evolution on a pretty one-note character, though, God of War certainly didn’t forget its roots.
Combat felt satisfying as hell (throwing that axe is oh so sweet) and the Ghost of Sparta actually managed to evolve as a person through the intervention of his son. It’s nice to see a favorite franchise return and dare to do something different. I’m sure a sequel is in the cards, so I’m looking forward to seeing what gods Kratos and son will be beheading next.
That’s our list. How did your most anticipated game of last year turn out?