Even casual gamers have plenty to be excited for this year, with releases from big developers and indie outfits that’ll keep you entertained for hours. Where we could, we’ve included specific dates or seasons, but as anyone who spends any time following gaming can tell you, release dates in the industry can be harder to nail down. Whatever part of the year these get released, here are the games we’re definitely going to be playing this year.
Far Cry 5
Recent Far Cry releases have been focused mostly on exotic locales. There were African jungles, tropical islands, Himalayan nations, and dense caveman forests, with a short departure into a weird and entertaining ‘80s arcade cabinet/action movie hybrid. With Far Cry 5, we’re staying domestic, in Hope County, Montana, where the The Project at Eden’s Gate, a doomsday cult, has violently taken control.
We won’t weigh in on the controversy surrounding the game much, beyond pointing out that there are huge similarities in tone between Far Cry 5 and Bioshock: Infinite, and the latter wasn’t being touted as an enormous indictment of American culture. What we will say is how impressive it is that a series known for its beautiful, exotic locales is coming to America. Maybe playing this will remind people just how beautiful their home country is and get everyone to start appreciating what we already have instead of traipsing all around Europe in an attempt to seem worldly.
Also, as a side note, Pastor Jerome Jefferies got one of the most badass character videos we’ve ever seen, so our first playthrough is going to be following him extremely closely. And not badass in the cheap way modernity uses it. Badass in the traditional, going to tear through a few dozen bad guys way.
We Happy Few
Be wary of an actual release date for We Happy Few, because it feels like this game’s been being teased for a decade. It hasn’t been, but there are at least three “announcement” trailers floating around out there, the first one from early 2015. Apparently it’s been in early access since 2016, but since there are some dubious claims around early access games, where people will release broken, unfinished games, take all your money, then not bother completing the thing you bought. So it’s totally possible we heard We Happy Few was early access and promptly blocked it out of our minds.
But if it’s getting an actual release, we’re back to paying attention. We’re always up for a creepy romp through a cartoonish, dystopian society. There’s not a lot to unpack about the plot of the game, but the plot isn’t the most attractive part of the game. What’s really drawing people in is the aforementioned cartoon dystopia. Everything about the trailers showcases a foreboding, masked weirdness, which is perfect for a few nights of stressed out gaming. In a good way.
Now that we’re past the glut of zombie games, movies, and shows we had for the past decade or two, we’re comfortable venturing back into the genre. Days Gone might be our first foray back, since it offers something no other game captures. That is, you get chased across huge maps by giant hordes of zombies. Gameplay we’ve seen stresses stealth, patience, and horde manipulation, and the last part means the game doesn’t only have you running away from huge groups of undead. You also get to use them for your own personal problem solving.
These hordes are intimidating, too. They flow like water, spilling out of and over every obstacle in their path. You can pump bullets into the leading zombies and it’ll put them down, but the ones right behind them will take their place and keep gaining on you. It doesn’t really seem to get smaller either, so you might feel like you’re chipping away at the group, but they prove overwhelming almost no matter what, so you might as well run and conserve ammo.
Red Dead Redemption 2
It can be hard to get a complete picture of what the gaming community collectively thinks, but the closest they’ve ever been to unanimous is in the anticipation for Red Dead Redemption 2. A trailer released back in October of 2016 has more than 15 million views and was covered by every single major and minor gaming publication this side of the evolution of complex life forms.
For good reason. Red Dead Redemption was one of the most positively received games in history, so it’s natural a sequel would be expected to be as good. If not better. Rockstar certainly didn’t rush the sequel either, so if they took their time, put in solid work days, and followed through on ideas they liked instead of ideas that’ll just get the game done, there’s no reason Red Dead Redemption 2 wouldn’t be as good as the first one.
It can be difficult to get excited for rereleases, but System Shock is one of the exceptions that makes us believe in updating older games. The original release helped demonstrate there was a place for complex narratives in gaming, something beyond the generic baddies we’d had before. But the original is getting old and the cracks are starting to show. An update will bring modern controls and graphics to the experience, making it a lot more palatable for new audiences and bringing old players back for at least one more replay.
Skull & Bones
The best parts of Assassin’s Creed III and IV were the sailing sequences. In fact, they’re really the only parts of those games we remember. What stuck out to us most was how free and open the sea felt, right until you got in a fight. Then we’re never felt more cramped, and there wasn’t enough space on the water. Everywhere we turned, some government ship coming to take our treasure. We’ve never felt more libertarian.
Skull & Bones looks like the developer took all the great parts of seaborne battles from the AC games and refined them. The majority of the game, if not the whole thing, takes place on the ocean, battling for pirate supremacy. This is another game where we don’t know a ton about the specifics, beyond you’re a pirate and you do pirate things.
What we’re looking forward to most is the multiplayer potential. Full on pirate warfare on the high seas against friends and strangers is all we really want from Skull & Bones, though we wouldn’t be opposed to a Pirates of the Indian Ocean single player experience either.
The Metro series is one of the best indie productions out there. Admittedly, as it’s gone more mainstream, gameplay’s grown to resemble some of the more streamlined aspects of triple A releases, but we’d say that’s one of the strengths of the series. The developers have picked through major games’ features and taken what they liked, but kept the core elements of their first game. Expect more of those tweaks in Metro: Exodus. Some changes will get it to run smoother, but the core Metro experience will be intact.
Which is good, because that’s why we’re excited in the first place. Few series have constructed such well realized worlds as Metro’s post nuclear Moscow. Everywhere is claustrophobic, in the tunnels and on the surface. Something’s always waiting to kill and eat you, and that something may or may not be human. There’s also a great sprinkling of the supernatural to the games too, which amplifies the already menacing atmosphere.
Exodus also looks like we’re going to get a much bigger world, where we get to see what’s happened to the more rural areas surrounding Moscow. Where expanding the world has been the downfall of other games, this expansion is encouraging. The series has taken its time building a bigger world, so this doesn’t seem like a misstep so much as a natural progression.
We’ve talked a lot about this upcoming Spider-Man game and we’re not really sure what’s left to say. It’s made by a developer known for its ability to nail these types of pseudo family friendly games, the gameplay looks like a ton of web-slinging fun, and the visuals are bright and bold. The demo we saw was a little quicktime heavy for our taste, but the parts with full control looked like a Spider-Man does Arkham kind of combat and movement system, with great flow, smooth transitions, and satisfying fights. They’ve been stringing us along for a little while, but 2018 looks like it’s finally the year we’ll get this game.
The Last of Us Part II
If a The Last of Us sequel is in the works, you can bet we’re paying attention. In our never ending quest to play as many narrative driven games as possible, The Last of Us was the game that set an incredibly high bar for all other narrative games and easily qualified as a top PS3/PS4 game ever made. A few have cleared it, but the real test of how good The Last of Us was is how well its sequel measures up to the same bar. Replay the first one in whatever format you have it, original or remastered, then set aside a week or so for your playthrough of the sequel.
Though, a word of warning. Expect this game to get delayed. Every reliable source is reporting 2018, but composer Gustavo Santolalla said something about the game not coming out until 2019. Games like this are being constantly delayed, so this wouldn’t be a surprise.
Including Greedfall on this list is, at least partially, an optimistic move. There’s a lot of room for this idea to fail. It could come off as a cheesy, weird, flawed, misinformed game. But we’re going to go with the insanely cool possibility of it succeeding. Fantasy hunters in an 18th century, American Frontier setting could be the most memorable game of 2018. The trailer’s an interesting proof of concept, with a minuteman type chasing some kind of tree person through the forest. It comes off well. Nothing’s cheesy, the action works, characters are interesting to look at.
That’s why we’re optimistic. This could end up being a better executed The Order: 1886, which was a good game on its own, just had some weird choices with display format and game length.
The cast is the main reason we’re excited for this game, since details about anything else are few and far between. From what we can tell, Norman Reedus is the protagonist, with Mads Mikkelsen as the antagonist. It’s not a match we’d have thought of on our own, but seeing it in the trailer, it makes sense.
The other reason the game’s plot might be indecipherable is that it’s made by Hideo Kojima, creator of Metal Gear Solid, a series where you need a master’s degree from Kojima himself to fully understand everything that’s happening. Death Stranding looks great, and we’ll play it. But we’re not promising we’ll follow anything that happens.
And, again, this is another game where delays are expected. Realistically, this game could also just never be made. That wouldn’t be out of the question.