Predicting how video games will turn out is a tough job, it seems. Last year, I shared my five most-anticipated games of 2017, and guess what? I was mostly disappointed by all of them, with the exception of my number-one pick, Horizon: Zero Dawn. As it turns out, Horizon actually took my nod for game of the year. You win some, you lose some. So, it’s inevitable that at the end of 2018, some of the games I want to play the most right now will turn out to be just OK, or (hopefully not) bad even. But as it stands going into the new year, these are the games I think you should have on your radar for 2018 (in order of expected release date):
Lost Sphear, Jan. 23 (PC, NS, PS4)
From the I am Setsuna team, this modern take on the classic JRPG format is reminiscent of old-school Final Fantasy games from the SNES and Playstation era. The re-imagined turn-based battle system seems like it will add some excitement to an outdated, boring mechanic, and the story here is likely to be very well-written. I can’t imagine a better-suited platform for a game like this than the Nintendo Switch, which is where I’ll be playing it early in 2018.
Shadow of the Colossus, Feb. 6 (PS4)
One of the most-loved games of all time has been completely remade for the modern era. This is more than just an up-res port of this classic tale from Team Ico. I’m looking forward to seeing if the game’s core mechanics hold up. If so, those, combined with fresh graphics on what was an already stunning world, could serve to make Shadow of the Colossus’ remake feel like a current-gen game worthy of game of the year considerations.
Secret of Mana, Feb. 15 (PC, PS4, Vita)
It’s difficult to believe that it was 1993 when the original Secret of Mana released on SNES. For those of us older gamers, this game was an instant classic that we sunk tons of hours into. It’s right up there with Chrono Trigger as one of those great RPGs that offered something unique in how it handled story, combat and other elements that sometimes seem stale in eastern RPGs. There’s good reason for many gamers to include Secret of Mana on their top games of all time lists, and younger gamers who missed this one will want to jump on the remake for sure. The new version features 3-D art, voice acting and some other control and combat improvements. It’s sure to be one of the most-downloaded games of the year, especially on the mostly dead Playstation Vita.
God of War, Q1 (PS4)
Just like in 2017, Sony is bringing the heat yet again with first-party exclusives in 2018. Here, they’ve taken the well-worn God of War franchise and flipped the script to feature a new style of perspective, combat and storytelling never before seen in the previously isometric hack ‘n’ slash versions of God of War. All the previous games have been excellent, so there’s reason to believe the new installment will only continue to impress and will likely make its way onto many game of the year lists.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, March 23 (PC, PS4)
I’d had hopes this game would come out in 2017, but even after its original 2018 release was announced, it was pushed again — but only to March. It seems after dragging its feet for so long that surely we really will see Ni no Kuni II finally release on March 23. The first game garnered lots of critical acclaim and a cult following among the JRPG faithful. Its Studio Ghibli-collaborated art is just one reason the first game (which was actually an enhanced version of a DS game from years earlier) gained lots of visibility and love from gamers. 2018’s sequel should push the boundaries of game design even further, and although this isn’t a well-known series among the core gamer audience, it’s one to keep an eye on.
Far Cry 5, March 27 (PC, PS4, XO)
This one’s really a crapshoot. The Far Cry series has had its hits and misses, though they’ve all been quality games from a mechanical and artistic perspective. The developers are taking a bit of risk with the fifth installment, apparently setting the game in middle America and leveraging some modern-day political undertones for the story. This could succeed greatly (see: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus) or fail miserably. It’s really the fortress takedowns that make Far Cry what it is, so the game’s fun level will be determined by how much the Ubisoft studios working on the game can make that old formula feel fresh but familiar.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Q1/Q2 (all platforms)
Koji Igarashi, the namesake of “Igavania”-style games, is leading the project — that’s about all you need to know. This genre is one of my favorites, so I have very high hopes. However, I also have some tempered expectations after seeing what happened with Keiji Inafune’s independent take on his beloved Mega Man franchise with Mighty No. 9. Hopefully Igarashi is more successful at delivering a new experience but one that doesn’t disappoint fans of his previous work. To me, the difference here is that Mighty No. 9’s gameplay footage never looked quite right, while what I’ve seen of Bloodstained looks very true to form and fun.
Red Dead Redemption 2, Q2 (PS4, XO)
Typically, Rockstar’s formula for game design isn’t for me. But the original Red Dead Redemption took the open-world gameplay of Grand Theft Auto and put a storytelling layer over it that made it much more palatable. In light of other open-world action-adventure games that have come out since, I think the original game has aged less well than nostalgia wants gamers to think it has. However, a chance for a more modern take on Marston’s world is something I’m excited to try out.
Mega Man 11, Q4 (all platforms)
After the aforementioned Mighty No. 9’s complete failure, Mega Man fans (myself included) are thirsty for a new iteration on this classic formula. I do hope that Capcom applies lessons learned from games that were inspired by Mega Man but that have come out in recent years and done the genre better — I’m thinking of Shovel Knight in particular. I’m hopeful that the return of Mega Man will give us one of the best games in the franchise, even if it’s not the game I’d rather have — Mega Man X 9.
Darksiders III, TBA (PC, PS4, XO)
The Darksiders series is an underappreciated, underplayed franchise. I did think the first game was much stronger than the second, which tried to do way too much. But I’m excited that, despite the original studio’s demise, we’re still getting a third entry. This is basically Zelda with God of War-style combat, so I’ll never understand why more folks aren’t on board with it. But I know it’ll be a day-one purchase for me.
Fortnite, TBA (PC, PS4, XO)
Already in a paid early access in 2017, Fortnite will release completely free-to-play in its full 1.0 version sometime in 2018. Early reports are that everyone who got suckered into — I mean, decided to buy — the early access version is having a heckuva fun time, especially since the addition of a Battle Royale mode (much to Player Unknown’s chagrin). I wasn’t originally that enthusiastic about Fortnite, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about its beta form, and hey, it’s gonna be free!
Kingdom Hearts III, TBA (PS4, XO)
Look. I’ll be really shocked if this actually comes out in 2018 as rumored. And no, I don’t remember anything about what’s going on in the story after waiting 13 years. But I know I loved the first two games, and doing RPG stuff with Disney characters is a hoot.
Project Octopath Traveler, TBA (NS)
This has been one of my most-wanted Nintendo Switch games since it was shown in the early Switch press conferences. It looks like we’ll finally actually get to play it in 2018. Much like Lost Sphear and Secret of Mana, this seems to harken back to the retro days of SNES JRPGs, but with a modern flair and improved mechanics. That’s enough for me to know that I’m pretty dang interested and think you should be too.
Spider-Man, TBA (PS4)
Without a doubt, this is my most highly anticipated game of 2018. I still think there’s a chance that Insomniac pushes it out to early 2019, but all indications thus far are that they really are shooting for a 2018 drop. This isn’t just a licensed movie tie-in or just a random Spider-Man game some half-baked developer is putting out. It’s the studio behind amazing games such as Rachet & Clank, Sunset Overdrive and Resistance. Sony is putting a lot of eggs in this basket as a second-party Playstation exclusive, and every gameplay trailer so far shows that it’s a good bet.
Untitled Yoshi Game, TBA (NS)
After playing the highly underrated and extremely fun Yoshi’s Woolly World on Wii U with my wife a couple years ago, all I really needed to see to want to play the next Yoshi game was the fact that it’s in the works. But the few seconds we glimpsed from Nintendo’s E3 2017 video looked wonderful. It seems the yarn art has been abandoned in favor of a more Paper Mario-esque cardboard cutout art style. It’s still Yoshi. It’s still adorable. And it still looks like a quality old-school platformer. I can’t wait to find out more about this Yoshi game, and I’m even more excited to plug that game card into my Switch in 2018.
Kirby Star Allies, Q2 (NS)
Kirby games are hit or miss, so I’m hesitant to put this one on the official list of 2018 games you need to follow. However, the screens and video shown so far look colorful, whimsical and like a lot of fun that returns to some of the more retro-inspired roots of the Kirby franchise. Especially if you’re looking for a good local multiplayer game, it seems like Kirby Star Allies could be one of the year’s sleeper hits.
Shovel Knight: King of Cards campaign (all platforms)
Not officially its own separate game, the fourth and final campaign in the Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove package is going to be loaded with about 30 new stages and several new boss fights. Add that to a completely new story featuring King Knight, and you have a recipe for success. Shovel of Hope, Plague of Shadows and Specter of Torment were all three amazing campaigns in their own right, each with a unique twist to the main character’s gameplay style. Even though it’s not its own separate game, I’m just about as excited for King of Cards as I am anything else coming out in 2018 (especially because I’ll be playing it on that beautiful Switch screen).
Are there other games you expect to play in 2018 that didn’t make the list? Which ones from the list are your most-anticipated? Share your thoughts on Twitter by mentioning @worldmapcast, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook page!