2017 was one of the best years for video games in recent memory, with bona fide classics like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Nier: Automata giving players breathtaking experiences on multiple systems. It will be almost impossible for 2018 to top that, but there are still quite a few upcoming games that have us excited. From first-person shooters set in our own backyard to the visually striking fighting games, here are the titles we can’t wait to play in 2018.
Dragon Ball FighterZ – January 26
The Dragon Ball series has a spotty track record with video games. The Budokai titles were surprisingly solid fighting games and several of the Game Boy Advance releases were worth playing, but they rarely captured the look and atmosphere of the show. That changes with Dragon Ball FighterZ, a tag-team fighting game with a visual style almost identical to the Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super anime series. Its roster of characters includes famous staples like Goku and Trunks, but also offers more minor fighters such as Nappa and Yamcha.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is being developed by Arc System Works, a studio known for the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series. Director Junya Motomura has experience not just with other fighting games, but also with the Dragon Ball series, and he was even the director of 2004’s Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors. Early gameplay demonstrations have us extremely excited as both competitive fighting game fans and Dragon Ball fans, and it could easily become the next game to dominate Evo.
Sea of Thieves – March 20
First-party Microsoft studio Rare hasn’t really made anything particularly interesting in the last decade – the chronological decline in quality in the Rare Replay lineup is evidence of that – but that appears to no longer be the case. Sea of Thieves is an open-world multiplayer pirate adventure that gives players full control over where they go and how they explore the world, and features sword fights, naval combat, exploring for treasure and fantastical monsters.
Unlike Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones, Sea of Thieves isn’t a serious affair. Its art style is classic Rare, with bright colors and exaggerated designs on weapons to make them look more cute than menacing. The game also supports cross-play, so those playing on Xbox One and those on PC will be able to enjoy the entire game together, and non-vocal communication options will let those without headsets to still provide input during tricky encounters.
A Way Out – March 23
The third-person action-adventure genre doesn’t exactly give developers much wiggle room in terms of creativity, but Hazelight and director Josef Fares – known for Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – look to inject it with some much-needed life in A Way Out. Starring two prisoners and playable only in two-player cooperative mode, the game is part of Electronic Arts’ “EA Originals” program and blurs the line between full-scale AAA gaming and the smaller arthouse titles we’ve seen push the creative envelope over the last decade. The game is played in a unique split-screen perspective that never pauses the action, even when one protagonist is in the middle of a cut scene, and this allows players to have a level of situational and environmental awareness that isn’t seen in other titles. Only one player needs to own the game, as well, so you can quickly find a buddy when you’re ready to play.
A Way Out made the news recently more for the impassioned speech given by Fares at The Game Awards than for the game itself, but the footage we’ve seen so far leads us to believe it’s the real deal. With linear, story-focused games become increasingly rare, we’re hoping its success will persuade EA to reconsider its business strategy.
Far Cry 5 – March 27
With Far Cry 3, Ubisoft managed to reinvent the long-running shooter series as a morally dubious open-world adventure filled with activities to complete and a villain to fear. Its sequel, released just two years later, built on these concepts, but at times felt like it was playing it safe mechanically. Far Cry 5 looks to change that, ditching the tower-climbing and fish-out-of-water story for a tale set in rural Montana. The enemy is no longer foreign to North American players – we could know these people.
Ubisoft is entering sensitive territory with Far Cry 5, focusing on religious extremism and, according to some critics, white supremacism, but it’s unclear if these issues will be tackled with any sort of finesse. Previous attempts by the company to comment on global political issues haven’t gone well, but at least we’ll be left with a bombastic and engaging open-world shooter.
Biomutant – Undated
In an era of sequels and “spiritual successors,” publisher THQ Nordic has shown a commitment to originality, and that is particularly evident in its open-world martial arts game Biomutant. Playing as an anthropomorphic animal, you’re free to explore beautiful environments as you develop your fighting skills and craft new customized weapons.
The entire adventure is narrated by an enthusiastic disembodied voice, and the game makes use of snappy melee combat and comic-inspired onomatopoeia pop-ups to give the game a decidedly less-serious feel than some other action-heavy open-world games. It’s being created by former Just Cause developers, so we should expect a sufficient amount of insanity.
Darksiders III – Undated
The second game from THQ Nordic to grace our list, it’s a wonder Darksiders III is even being made. Its predecessor was one of the last AAA games published by THQ prior to the company’s bankruptcy (The “THQ” in THQ Nordic’s name is meant to establish brand recognition) and the franchise sat in limbo for several years before Gunfire Games took the helm. Staffed with former Darksiders II developers, the studio has its work cut out for it if it wants to match the previous game’s quality.
Early gameplay videos didn’t leave us optimistic, as protagonist Fury’s whip and movement seemed less fluid and impactful than Death’s moves in the second game, but recent demonstrations have shown significant improvements. The universe and atmosphere of the Darksiders series is fantastic, and we’re hoping the third game can finally give it the recognition it deserves.
Mega Man 11 – Q4
The Mega Man series seemed to be dead. Mega Man Legends 3 on 3DS had been canceled, there was no news of any new entries in the main series, and the Blue Bomber was mostly relegated to cameo appearances in other games. Former Capcom developer Keiji Inafune took it upon himself to create a successor in Mighty No. 9, but the came was a colossal failure that wasted its enormous crowdfunded budget.
But it won’t be an outsider that saves Mega Man. Instead, it’s Capcom itself. The recently announced Mega Man 11 builds on the action-platforming the series is known for, but with a gorgeous and contemporary 2.5D makeover and crisp animations. It isn’t expected to release until late 2018, but with awesome new enemy designs and powers, a rocking soundtrack, and the classic gameplay longtime fans have been waiting for, a few extra months won’t hurt.
Metro Exodus – Q4
The vastly underappreciated Metro series, based on novels by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, eschews the “fun in the apocalypse” tone of similar games like Fallout for a somber and more plausible look at nuclear winter. Set in a depressing world littered with mutant animals and humans forced to survive in subway stations underneath Moscow, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for humanity, and the return of both communists and Nazis to fill the void left by the government hits particularly close to home right now.
Metro Exodus, the third installment, once again follows the soft-spoken Artyom, whose mission to keep society from fully collapsing – and murdering a mysterious race of spectral creatures – has consistently shown him the worst in humanity. With a blend of stealth and full-on action as well as a unique ammunition system, Metro is truly one of a kind. And in this one, you’ll get to fight a giant bear monster.
Project Octopath Traveler – Undated
Japanese role-playing games have become victim to bloating and excess in recent years, making them increasingly inaccessible to those looking to get their feet wet. Square Enix’ Project Octopath Traveler is immediately appealing to anyone with an appreciation for art, using 16-bit character sprites and heavily detailed environments to create something that feels simultaneously old and new. With eight different characters to choose from – hence the working title -- and a turn-based combat system that should be familiar to ‘90s role-playing fans, it feels like how we remember older Final Fantasy games, rather than what they actually were. A “boost” system also adds another wrinkle to fights, allowing you to momentarily increase your abilities to unleash massive damage.
If you’re curious, you can actually play a free demo of the game on the Nintendo eShop right now. It will be exclusive to Nintendo Switch when it launches in 2018 and given Square’s golden era on the Super Nintendo with Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, that seems particularly fitting.
Disclaimer: The following article was written freely based on the author's opinion, and it may not necessarily represent Inven Global's editorial stance.