Welcome to 2018! The next 365-ish days might be great, they might be bad, or they might be entirely nondescript, but one thing’s for certain: that’s a lot of days, and games will be coming out on most of them.
Keeping track will be difficult, and I’m bound to miss some here and there. But there are a few I really cannot wait for…
We Happy Few – April 13 – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
We Happy Few really grabbed me when it first hit early access in 2016. Taking the survival genre from Nondescript Russian Landscape #3612 and pushing into the a horrifically wrong Swinging ‘60s was a stroke of genius on Compulsion Games’ part, and we’ll finally be able to explore the history of Wellington Wells when the full story mode hits in April.
I haven’t touched We Happy Few since its early access launch, as I didn’t want to tire of the systems before the final game dropped. Even two years ago, We Happy Few was a fantastically realised world built on a complex set of social systems that made surviving about more than just finding food and drink. I’m excited to see how things have changed and improved since then, and also visit some of the previously unfinished areas and see what they were actually supposed to be
Plus I know it’s wrong, but I kinda fancy the Bobbies. Sorry.
Kingdom Hearts III – TBC 2018
Do I think it’s actually coming out this year? Not really, but that’s what Square Enix is saying, and so I’m going to hold it to it.
There’s a lot of reasons to be excited for Kingdom Hearts 3. The conclusion to a story we’ve been following for over 15 years now, for starters. Then there’s what we’ve already seen of the engine in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-, a gorgeously chaotic take on heartless bashing. Then, of course, there’s the base excitement of having a new, numbered Kingdom Hearts game coming out at long last. Dream Drop Distance may well have continued the story on from KH2, but that shiny ‘III’ on the box is what makes KH3 a big deal.
All of that is just ignoring the most obvious reason to be excited, though: there might well be a Monsters Inc-themed world that has Sulley as a companion.
James P. Sullivan. As a party member. In a Kingdom Hearts game.
Extinction – March 31 – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
This year’s going to be great if you like games where you beat down ludicrously big enemies. There’s the remake of Shadow of the Colossus in February, and then Attack on Titan 2 not long after that. Rounding up the giant-slaying fest is Iron Galaxy’s Extinction.
At first playing out like a standard hack and slash against smaller minions, the really exciting bit of Extinction begins when the skyscraper-tall Ravenni join the fray. Everything from the surrounding buildings to the Ravenni’s limbs is fully destructible, and making use of the player character’s numerous traversal abilities to avoid the instant-death attacks of the giants looks like it turns the game into something much more challenging.
Iron Galaxy have more than enough experience in making deep combat systems, being involved in many of the best fighting games in some capacity, so seeing them take on something different is a very exciting prospect. While I’m not sure it’ll beat cult legend Shadow of the Colossus, and it certainly doesn’t have the weight of a property as big as Attack on Titan behind it, Extinction is still looking like it’ll be a huge contender this year. Especially for the Biggest of Boys award.
Underworld Ascendant – TBC 2018 – PC
Chances are you’ve never played either Ultima Underworld or its spiritual successor, Arx Fatalis. They’re old, finickity to run on modern systems without mods, and even then aren’t the most intuitive of experiences. Oh my lord, though, are they good. Sprawling, underground fantasy worlds full of cults and secrets lurking in the tunnels, Arx Fatalis, in particular, could easily stand up against its contemporary Morrowind in terms of quality.
That’s why Underworld Ascendant is so exciting. Successfully kickstarted back in 2015, it is the third official Ultima Underworld game, with the rights finally returning to Looking Glass alumni at OtherSide Entertainment. Both Paul Neurath and Warren Spector are both heading up the project, making it easily one of the most pedigreed games that might not have been on your radar.
We’ve already seen a semi-decent amount of Underworld Ascendant, and it’s looking very good. Even beyond its art style, which is much more stylised than Arx Fatalis’ was, the game is borrowing the emergent, AI-driven systems Looking Glass, and particularly Spector, became known for. Solving missions with a variety of tools and skills and improvising with what you have are more Thief and Deus Ex hallmarks, but transposing that into the Underworld is a sure-fire recipe for success.
Spider-man – TBC 2018 – PlayStation 4
I’m not all that big on the whole superhero thing. There are a few I love, like the X-men, but I get so bored of every major film release being a comic adaptation, and I despise the concept of a “cinematic universe”. There’s far too much superhero crap to follow, and, let’s be honest, most of it is only okay.
I do love me some Spider-man though. He’s the perfect character to watch in motion – a highly agile, wise cracking flash of red and blue on a sunny New York skyline, taking down the bad guys and looking amazing doing it. Despite that, he’s not had many good games; Spider-man 2 on the PS2 is renowned for its swinging physics, and I still maintain that The Amazing Spider-man last-gen was a lot of fun, if not perfect, but Spidey deserves so, so much more.
That’s why I’m so excited for Insomniac’s Spider-man. It’s disconnected from the current Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnation of Peter Parker, but retains the visual flair and chaos his abilities provide. Everything we’ve seen of it so far astounds me with how well it captures the essence of Spider-man no matter the medium, from his comic book character (thanks in part to writers of the Spider-man comics being involved in the gamed) and the scale of his on-screen action sequences being translated to gaming set pieces.
I’ve needed a new open-world superpowered game to sink my teeth into since infamous: Second Son, and a good ol’ dose of radioactive spider venom sounds just perfect.
There are so many games coming out this year to be excited for. Anthem, Red Dead Redemption 2, Detroit: Become Human, The Last of Us Part II, Far Cry 5, Ni No Kuni 2, Metro: Exodus, Biomutant, Code Vein, Project Octopath Traveller, System Shock, Fe, Left Alive, Vermintide 2, The Walking Dead, A Way Out, Dreams… the list goes on and on.
And, as a games writer, I’m going to spend precisely five minutes with each of them before having to move on to the next new thing, lest I be left behind and fade away into obscurity. Happy New Year.