2017, what did we ever do to you? You stunk. Bad year. 2018 might be worse! But if we’re hedging on consistency then there’s at least one trend it’d be neat to see continue: video games are generally getting better.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Blam. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Blam. Super Mario Odyssey. Blam! PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Blam!! Nier: Automata. BLAM!!! The hits kept on coming in 2017, from the big blockbusters to the indie gems, we’re all leaving 2017 with a slush pile of good playable game things. So what’s in store for the year ahead? Here’s a peek at 18 games to look forward to in 2018 in case the rest of the world offers us nothing.
Far Cry 5
Wolfenstein II gave us the dignity of turning American Nazis into a crimson mist. In case you’ve still got some feelings to sort out, another opportunity arrives in the latest entry in Ubisoft’s madcap shooter. Seemingly in response to criticism on colonialist tones from the series, the latest Far Cry goes domestic. You’ll be dropped in a fight for Montana against a bible-thumping menace who’s part Ammon Bundy, part Jim Jones, and part Father John Misty.
God of War
Having killed all of the Greek gods and myths just short of Narcissus, Kratos has moved on. Emigrating to the world of Nordic beasts, fans of the series were expecting another rinse, wash, and repeat in the murder machine against the likes of Loki and Odin. Santa Monica Studios seems to have different plans, revealing that Kratos is no longer avenging a family but raising one. Now Kratos and his failson will navigate the lands of the ice and snow, until some deity pushes ol’ cranky pants over the edge again.
The long awaited adventure from Arcane Kid and video game prankster Ben Esposito, Donut County doesn’t have you playing as a donut as much as the hole within it. A kind of reverse- Katamari Damacy, you’re a hole in the ground sucking up all the creatures and knick knacks of the surface world, solving puzzles and growing larger. Inspired by Los Angeles donut dives and Springsteen songs, a story runs parallel to your mayhem as a donut shop owner struggles with some good ol’ late capitalism.
Speaking of Katamari Damacy, its creator Keita Takahashi is back for his most commercial project in nearly 10 years, since Noby Noby Boy. Wattam is a puzzle game about friends and the best ways to make them. In Takahashi’s new colorful dreamscape, you play as a mayor trying to rebuild the community of living shapes, fruits, giant mouths and poops by stacking them. It looks like a microdosing Emoji Movie, and will surely be more fun than the time I microdosed and watched The Emoji Movie.
In 1994, Warren Spector changed PC gaming by combining two genres—violent shooters and menu-intensive role-playing games—into a cyberpunk horror story. It’s sad to think that players enjoying System Shock’s descendents like BioShock and Deus Ex never experienced the original. With Spector’s blessing, Night Dive Studios and some of the folks behind Fallout: New Vegas are remaking the original with the Unreal Engine. Now the only excuse you’ll have for missing out is having a life! And I’d like to see you pull that off!
How many video games do you want? You want two video games? 10? 20? 100? No, 100 is too much. 100 is an illegal amount of games. 50, that’s a good number. Derek Yu, creator of one of the greatest games of all time (Spelunky) is putting together a unique bundle called UFO 50. The 50 games are meant to be an anthology of 80s retro games published by a long forgotten, make believe company. They aren’t minigames like the WarioWare sort, but full time eating titles. I hope they’re tied together like Retro Game Challenge, and a giant Shinya Arino head yells at you a bunch.
Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition
When Nintendo began stocking its coffers with third-party games, the last one I expected to see is the finale of Kentucky Route Zero. A series of atmospheric, episodic adventure games, KRZ is a Mountain Goats-y gothic tale of roadside American mystery, and so far completely captivating. It’s cool to see it not only coming to the Switch, but arriving with every episode so far and the closing fifth act.
2017 didn’t have a Dark Souls or a Bloodborne, but it did have a Nioh and a Surge. The Souls formula of white-knuckle hard combat, gear juggling, and precision controls is stretchy like taffy, and can seemingly accommodate more than just the brooding and the Romanesque. Can the formula fit some of Namco’s real deal anime bullshit about vampire demons and oxygen masks? I, for one, can’t wait to find out.
Kingdom Hearts III
You serious? This is coming out this year? I mean, I’ll believe it when I see it. If we do get the long awaited entry in Square Enix’s continuously burdensome crossover between Final Fantasy and 101 Dalmations, yeah, I’ll play. We’ve been told by Square Enix that this new adventures will visit levels based on Big Hero 6 and Toy Story. Since Disney just acquired Fox’s entire entertainment catalogue, it’d be laughable to think Square Enix won’t push the release date back another year or two to add a world based on Married With Children.
When TowerFall debuted on the Ouya (lol) in 2013, it was a tight, fun, four-player archery brawl where friends got to blame each other for their video game failures. In Matt Thorson’s newest game, it will be a tough single-player adventure about using some platform mastery to scale a mountain. So go ahead and blame that mountain. That’ll make you feel much better about how much you suck at video games.
Sure, Hideo Kojima’s moved on to wilder things like Death Stranding. And Konami’s moved on to pachinko. But it’d be nice to get more Metal Gear in our lives that isn’t just a zombie mode grift. Thankfully, Square Enix is here with the sugar pills. Yoji Shinkawa, the artist behind the look of the Metal Gear games, is now working on a game set in the world of Front Mission. They’re typically tactical RPGs about giant robots, but Shinkawa’s adding a Metal Gear’s amount of tactical body armour and Dostoevsky quotes. It’ll be like when Alan Moore wanted to use Blue Beetle and The Question for the Watchmen but DC Comics wouldn’t let him so he just changed their names to Nite Owl and Mister Asker or whatever.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
If Left Alive isn’t quite anime enough for you, extremely anime studio Vanillaware has you covered. The creators of gorgeous 2D fantasy games like Dragon’s Crown and Odin Sphere are turning their attention to science-fiction, a story about students and their high school affairs in the wake of a giant mech war. This being a Vanillaware game, these youths operate their machines in the nude, a very normal, commonplace practice and why I don’t let anyone borrow my PlayStation controllers.
Making a ton of money off their supernatural teenager Life is Strange games, Dontnod Entertainment have made a game about the non-supernatural teenager’s favourite supernatural thing: moody vampires. Set in London during the ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic of 1918, you play as a doctor-turned-vampire who is trying to save lives while also killing people for their blood, a task doctors usually leave to insurance agents.
Red Dead Redemption 2
For the sake of being transparent, Red Dead Redemption 2 was in last year’s list and I was going to give this slot to Mineko’s Night Market, a game about a cat island that looks cute. But the longer I stared at Mineko the more it looked cute in that growingly ubiquitous ‘holiday card from a record shop’ way. Plus I’m a dog person. Meanwhile the more I look at Red Dead Redemption 2, an open world western about unshaven men paying their dues, the more it looks McCabe & Mrs. Miller. And that rules.
Memory of a Broken Dimension
If you somehow left SB Nation’s 17776 thinking, “Wait, I would love to be a satellite floating in the void trying to piece together a world I’ve never been to” then buddy do I have a video game for you. Memory of a Broken Dimension has you exploring crackly, corrupted footage from a mysterious source. Navigating using your perspective and ability to piece together fractured imagery, this game should be a breeze for anyone who mastered Magic Eye puzzles or watching scrambled pay-per-view pornography.
In 2008, Media Molecule released LittleBigPlanet, an adorable DIY game about making and playing a stranger’s version of the first two Super Mario Bros. levels. Ten years later, Media Molecule is hoping to blow up its own innovations with an even grander set of tools. In Dreams, players can create entire explorable worlds, with puppet-like characters to possess. With this digital clay, this limitless Prometheus, those same strangers can recreate the first two Super Mario Bros. levels in new and adventurous ways.
Again, this spot once belonged to another game, Psychonauts 2, which I joked about getting pushed back and then ultimately was. But the folks at Double Fine Productions have their hands in all kinds of non-Psychonauts related jars. In Ooblets, you grow monster combatants in the soil, cultivating them in this brightly-colored world. It seems to culminate all the surprisingly popular games of late, meshing a charming farming simulator like Stardew Valley with a dog fighting simulator like Pokémon.
Baba is You
Earlier in 2017, Hempuli Oy (creators of Environmental Station Alpha) won the Nordic Game Jam Winner with a brain pretzelling puzzler, which is being turned into a full game for 2018. In Baba is You, you are Baba, as long as the words on the screen say ‘Baba is You.’ You must unlock doors and reach flags, but those conditions are based on the words on the screen, which can be pushed around like fridge magnets. Much like Double Fine's Hack N Slash, to play this game you’ll distill its programming into a Mad Libs page, though unlike Mad Libs none of the nouns are “boob fart.”