I managed to play a hefty amount of video games in 2017, and I don’t think that 2018 is likely to be any different. In addition to my backlog, I’m looking forward to a few choice releases in 2018 that have piqued my interest during their pre-release cycles. Below you’ll find, in no particular order, five games set to release in 2018 that I’m personally looking forward to picking up.
Most Anticipated Games of 2018
Red Dead Redemption 2
John Marsden’s journey through the newly domesticated American west was not only a wonderful story of a wild man trying to make good on his misdeeds, but a lively and vibrant cowboy sandbox. Red Dead Redemption 2 looks to turn back the clock on the wild west to when it was much more wild than in John Marsden’s day. You play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw working for Dutch van der Linde (the main antagonist of the first game) and his gang. The story looks to be your typical Red Dead tale of outlaws trying to outrun the law, but instead of working on behalf of the law it looks like you’ll be working against it barring any twists in the story.
The story, however, seems like it will take a back seat to the gorgeous environments. Each trailer that has been released so far depicts the new open world rendered in the GTA V engine, and it is gorgeous. The game supposedly takes place over a large portion of the American west, and the trailers have so far depicted snowy mountain passes, dry desert settlements, and swamp-land filled with alligators. I’ve got high hopes for the Strangers and Freaks missions that will fill out these beautiful environments, as well. One of the defining features of the first Red Dead was the Strangers and Freaks missions and their inclusion in GTA V bodes well for their inclusion in Red Dead 2. Look for Red Dead 2 sometime in the second quarter of 2018.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Unlike Red Dead 2, Bloodstained isn’t on my list because of the narrative of its predecessor, but because of the pedigree of the director. Koji Igarashi, the producer of the Castlevania series at Konami from 2001 to 2010, has produced some of my favorite video games of all time. From Symphony of the Night’s smashing debut to Lament of Innocence’s cracking of the polygonal nut to the finely tuned and pitch-perfect Aria of Sorrow, there’s certainly no shortage of good games on Igarashi’s credits list.
Bloodstained, like most Castlevania titles, is a two-dimensional action-RPG with heavy exploration elements. The game’s story introduces an orphan named Miriam who is suffering from a curse that crystallizes her slowly. She travels to a castle filled with monsters and traps, and the only thing different from any other Castlevania setting is that Dracula isn’t the master of the castle. The game also looks to play almost identically to the Dawn of Sorrow era of Castlevania games, and that’s what has me so excited for this title. I’m not the only one who’s excited either, in 2015 Bloodstained raised $5.5 million of a $500k goal on Kickstarter. At the time, it was the most money pledged to a Kickstarter for a video game ever before being surpassed by Shenmue III shortly afterward. Regardless, I’m really hoping that this title turns out well and not like Mighty No. 9 did.
Kingdom Hearts III
I’m going to be honest, I fell of the Kingdom Hearts train early on. In fact, Kingdom Hearts II’s story was so confusing that I don’t think I’ve bothered with a Kingdom Hearts game since. Regardless, I’m excited to see how this one plays out. I’m certainly not super invested in what happens to the original characters, but there was always a strange appeal in fighting your way through the major conflicts of Disney films. That appeal, made possible by an easy-to-learn but hard-to-master combat system, is increased with Kingdom Hearts III due to the addition of more recent film settings like Tangled, Big Hero 6, and Toy Story. That’s not even mentioning the myriad Final Fantasy characters that have been created since the last game. Yes sir, there’s lots going on with this one and I can’t wait to try it out.
Wargroove comes from the developer behind recent indie game Starbound, and it looks to be a direct copy of the Advance Wars formula. Chuckle Fish, the developer in question, is so brazen about its “homage” that it even laments in its press kit for the game about a lack of games like Advance Wars on current generation platforms. Thankfully, my salt over their plagiarism is sated by the fact that there hasn’t been a proper Advance Wars game released in close to ten years now. Unlike Advance Wars, however, Wargroove’s setting is medieval fantasy instead of modern warfare. This means more for the art than it does for the gameplay, though, since Advance Wars has had very few truly ranged units in game anyway. The art in question takes a lot of cues from Advance Wars in terms of animation style, but it retains a style of its own that reminds me of Rogue Legacy. Like I said before, I’m really looking forward to this game filling the Advance Wars shaped hole in my backlog.
****Death’s Gambit is interesting. It’s been described as a two-dimensional Dark Souls, but videos show that it’s much more than just a me-too clone. The boss fights, in particular, look to require the skills and strategies necessary to kill bosses in games like the Legend of Zelda and even Super Mario World. However, the game does look to stick closely to the Dark Souls formula. The boss fights, despite now having environmental puzzles to expose weak points, still look really challenging and difficult. The enemies are still grotesque and monstrous, but the pixel art filters the usual Dark Souls look through a 16 bit lens that gives the game a unique look. Anyway, I’m looking forward to this one, but I’m not sure when in 2018 it will be released.