Games that will blow everyone away in 2018

Pre-planning is the name of the game in the entertainment industry. Take Marvel's film calendar, for example: it's jam-packed until 2020, and we'd be naïve to think that action-adventure titles, side-scrolling shooters, and open-world RPGs are immune from getting stamped with deadlines and release dates long before they're done cooking in the development oven. Though we've only just made a dent in 2017, next year is already sizzling with sensational new titles. Here are the games we suspect will be smash hits in 2018.

Indivisible — January 2018

With a title that literally means it'll be impossible to divide, we've got a strong feeling you and the upcoming action platformer from Lab Zero and 505 Games will be absolutely inseparable. Indivisible made a stunning debut at Anime Expo 2015 during Lab Zero's exclusive panel for another of their spunky titles, Skullgirls. Following that tease, an official Indiegogo campaign kicked off in October 2015, and in just two months, the game had reached its impressive $1.5 million goal. That cold, hard cash has gone into crafting a headstrong protagonist, Ajna, on her winding journey through eccentric environments as she battles equally eerie enemies. It all plays out in the studio's signature hand-drawn-style animation.

Blending together a Metroidvania-esque mode of world exploration with sly combat reminiscent of 1999's Valkyrie Profile, featuring southeast Asian mythology-inspired plot points and a gorgeous soundtrack by renowned Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta, Indivisible isn't one to miss in the coming year.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance — February 13, 2018

You don't need elves, dwarves, or dragons to have a good time. Sometimes, a simple axe or sword gets the job done just fine. Kingdom Come: Deliverance isn't a true story, but it draws on one, casting players as a soldier in the real-life Kingdom of Bohemia (better known in present day as the Czech Republic) circa 1403, when a power struggle between two royal brothers throws nearby lands into chaos. Outlaws roam the fields, preying on the weak and defenseless. Rival armies vie for power. You, however, simply try to avenge your parents' death—although you're going to get caught up in other conflicts along the way.

As in a standard role-playing game, Kingdom Come: Deliverance characters choose a class—you can be a warrior, a bard, or a thief, among others—but don't expect to cast any spells or wield magic weapons; this game aims to be both as open-ended and realistic as possible. Combat requires careful tactics in addition to razor-sharp skills, and every NPC has a life of its own. Historical accuracy plays a bigger role here than epic adventure, and while your character can affect the story in a myriad of ways, the overall conflict's resolution is already set in stone. After all, this is history. You can't change that.

Long Gone Days - February 18, 2018

Take one glance at Long Gone Days, and you'll hardly believe just a handful of people brought it to life. From indie publisher BURA and designer/programmer/artist/writer/etc. Camila Gormaz, this 2D military RPG swirls up dystopian fiction elements, visual novel aesthetics, and classic JRPG vibes to make one of the most unique pixelated playables in the current gaming market.

Long Gone Days follows a 22-year-old sniper soldier named Rourke who discovers the sinister secrets behind the Kaliningrad operation in which he'd been immersed. Abandoning his war post, deserting the Polish forces he once aided, and banding together with fellow military man Adair, Rourke is quickly made an enemy of his mother country, the Core. Players will trek through the battle-ravaged landscape, unravel the many knots of the game's central narrative, and overcome language barriers (oh yeah, there's plenty of non-English-speaking characters) as Long Gone Days winds on, leading you to the ultimate question: Can you ever really escape war?

Far Cry 5 - February 27, 2018

If eerily topical, politically-charged games are your jam, you'll want to snatch up Far Cry 5 as soon as it's released. The latest installment in Ubisoft's (formerly Crytek's) first-person shooter franchise, Far Cry 5 is set in fictional Hope County, Montana—a small town that's superficially idyllic, with its rolling hills of thigh-high grass, thick forests, and dazzling natural lakes. Stare a little longer and unwarranted violence, religious and sociopolitical warfare, racial tensions, and faith-obsessed sect emerge from the shadows.

At the bloody heart of Far Cry 5 is that very band of believers, hell bent on seizing a chunk of the American midwest and transforming its residents into god-loving (and perhaps even god-fearing) faithfuls. Players will meet Joseph, the head of the cult called Project at Eden's Gate; Pastor Jerome, a man on the brink of destruction; Nick, a Montanan through and through just hoping to protect his unborn child; and Mary, a former bartender who's seriously talented at whipping up makeshift weapons.

Early reactions to Far Cry 5 have all seemed to echo the same sentiment: from the game's captivating landscape—"a rural sprawl that is equally gorgeous and enormous"—to its "uncanny ability to anticipate modern cultural and political trends," it simply doesn't get more raw than Far Cry 5. Mark us down as totally eager to play (and only slightly spooked by its concept).

Dragon Ball FighterZ — February 2018

Dragon Ball FighterZ is more than just fan service. It's a legitimate, visually stunning fighting game all its own. You don't need to know your Gokus from your Gohans or your Saiyans from your Shinjins to appreciate its Marvel vs. Capcom-like three-man tag team structure, its Guilty Gear Xrd's-like cancels, or its Arcana Heart-esque homing system (of course, if you're a fan of Dragon Ball or its numerous spinoffs, you'll likely find at least one of your favorite characters lurking in the game's ever-expanding roster).

You do, however, need to be a fan of the kind of wild, over-the-top special moves that made Dragon Ball Z famous. Dragon Ball FighterZ is full of 'em. Characters teleport around the screen using Goku's trademark "instant transmission" powers. You can pause to power up your special meter as the air flows around you (just watch out for incoming attacks). And, of course, you can unleash crazy, screen-filling super moves that decimate the environment and wreak havoc on your opponents. In other words, it's the the most faithful Dragon Ball game ever made. We wouldn't have it any other way.

The Crew 2 — March 16, 2018

The Crew was an "almost" game. It almost provided a seamless, compelling open-world racing experience, but ruined it with poor artificial intelligence, lackluster environments, and not quite enough to do in the game's vast spaces. It almost delivered on the promise of a co-op racing game in which you could build your own gang of vehicular criminals to take on others, but the always-online functionality didn't work, and the overwhelming number of microtransactions made the game feel like you had to pay to win. The story almost told a compelling yarn about a former cop searching for redemption, but was tanked by clichéd plot twists and mediocre voice acting.

To put it another way, The Crew is the kind of game that desperately needs a sequel to sand off some of those rough edges. Thankfully, we're getting one. Instead of a convoluted revenge story, The Crew 2 looks like it's simply asking players to be the best driver they can be. Instead of cruising across the country in cars, players can take to the sky with jets, helicopters, motorcycles, and boats. Even better, you'll be able to switch between vehicles instantly and seamlessly. Hit a button, and your ride transforms, preserving your speed and orientation. If you get a lot of speed on a jump, keep the ride going by switching to a stunt plane. Fly high into the sky, and then see how a motorboat fares when you drop it thousands of feet into downtown Los Angeles.

It's ridiculous in all the best ways, and should keep The Crew 2 fresh after hours of playtime. If you suffered through the first edition of The Crew, Ubisoft is looking out for you, too: by playing the original, you can unlock up to 18 cars in the sequel. That's a nice bonus for longtime fans, and proves Ubisoft is dedicated to getting things right the second time around.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life — March 20, 2018

Though the seventh main installment to the beat-'em-up Yakuza collection has already been met in Japan with rabid hype, fans in the States and beyond can call Yakuza 6: The Song of Life their own soon—by which we mean the first few months of next year. (Hey, we'll take what we can get.) Picking up right where the previous game left off, Yakuza 6 sees series not-so-sweetheart Kazuma Kiryu healing from some gnarly injuries and deciding whether time in the slammer is something he's willing to endure so he can finally live a peaceful life. Of course, once the decision has been made, fallout is inevitable and exhilarating. If the near-unanimous praise from international critics is anything to go by, this PlayStation 4 exclusive can't get here fast enough.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night — March 2018

Another crowdfunding baby and Metroid-style title, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is currently in development with former Castlevania head honcho Koji Igarashi. Unsurprisingly, this trippy side-scrolling platformer has been marketed as a spiritual successor to the dark-fantasy-themed game series, but will feature gameplay that post-dates 1997's Symphony of the Night. Traverse monster-mucked ruins, climb through crumbling castles, and hunt down one sinister summoner (who was once your friend) as Miriam, a young orphan plagued by an alchemist's curse that slowly turns her skin to crystal.

Surpassing its initial goal with flying colors, and receiving a wave of well-deserved pre-launch excitement, Igarashi's return to form with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night looks like it'll shine in its two-and-a-half dimensions—and knock your (metaphorical) socks off in the process. Be prepared to buy the game (which will feature the musical stylings of ex-Konami composer Michiru Yamane) in early 2018 on a variety of system platforms: Steam and GOG for PC, Mac, and Linux; as well as Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita consoles.

But wait, there's more. The Wii U version of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has been given the ax in favor of a Nintendo Switch-compatible edition, a move that's more than enough to catapult it into blow-you-away territory. (And talk about an upgrade!)

Monster Hunter: World — Early 2018

Monster Hunter is a minor sensation in the gaming world, selling over 40 million games since the franchise's debut in 2004. And yet the series still struggles to gain traction outside of Japan, where it doesn't have much of an audience.

Monster Hunter: World aims to fix that. It says as much right in the title. Like before, hunters prepare in town before embarking on excursions into the wilderness, where they'll need to adhere to carefully planned strategies in order to take down the game's massive beasts. But Capcom is making some changes, too. Instead of tromping through a series of smaller, walled-off areas, Monster Hunter: World takes place in an open and dynamic environment. That's right: no loading screens. The series' notoriously deep learning curve has been softened, and the interface has been streamlined to accommodate new players. "The grammar of games in the West is evolving," executive director Kaname Fujioka says. "And being able to say 'We speak your language' is a great chance to get more people on board."

A Way Out — Early 2018

If you haven't played Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, drop everything and do it. Don't worry. We'll wait.

Great game, right? A Way Out is nothing like it. While Brothers is a melancholy fairy tale, A Way Out is a tense crime thriller that tells the story of two inmates, Leo and Vincent, who team up to break out of prison. Brothers is a solo game in which the player controls two characters at once. A Way Out, by contrast, is co-op only: if you want to play, you need to find a friend (one who lives nearby, too—A Way Out only supports local, couch-based multiplayer).

But both Brothers and A Way Out are designed by Josef Fares, and just like Brothers challenged and changed players' relationships with their controllers, A Way Out offers a fresh perspective on split-screen multiplayer. As Leo and Vincent's journey goes on, the split screens change size, shape, and orientation, using different camera layouts to fundamentally change the story.

For example, in A Way Out's hands-on E3 demo, decisions made during an in-progress robbery changed the size of the players' individual windows, making it easier for the duo to execute mission-critical tasks and highlighting the character playing a more central role. A Way Out's flexibility isn't limited to the display, either—every small adventure has multiple endings, and if you want to get the best outcome for your virtual jailbirds, you'll need to communicate and plan with your partner. A Way Out might be grittier than Brothers, but it looks just as unique, and we're eager to play more.

Consortium: The Tower — Early 2018

Put up your dukes for this one, folks. This FPS, a futuristic follow-up to 2014's Consortium, begs the question, "Can you survive the Tower?"

From developer iDGi, Consortium: The Tower nestles (or, more fittingly, shoulder-shoves) players into the year 2024 to embark on a full-throttle, wide-scope rescue mission, attempting to save hostages from nefarious space terrorists. As agent Bishop Six, gamers become entangled in a conspiracy that spans time, morality, existence…and, well, space, of course.

What the original title did well, the sequel promises to build upon and blaze through—no easy feat, as the game that started it all has been deliciously described as a mix of "Deus Ex chocolate [and] Stanley Parable peanut butter," a potent combo of two killer titles. The upcoming game also allows anyone who takes it for a spin to play it their way, meaning you can totally go sans shooting if you'd like, a unique option for an installment in a classically bullet-blasting franchise.

Collecting the bits and bobs that made Consortium great, like the core mechanics and that oh-so-scintillating tendency to shatter the fourth wall, this 2018 addition will have players questioning everything from fate to fortune to just how freaky and fascinating life beyond Earth can really be.

God of War — Early 2018

Kratos is back, but this isn't your father's God of War. Yes, 2018's installment in the signature PlayStation franchise will be just as gloriously violent as ever, and the demigod in the face paint once again plays God of War's hero, but that's about it. Instead of the sun-drenched Mediterranean, God of War takes the action to snowy Scandinavia. Instead of fighting the Greek pantheon, Kratos will face off with characters from Norse mythology. Instead of the over-the-top, orgy-tastic pulp vibe that characterized the original games, God of War has a slower, more somber tone.

See, this time, the titular God of War is joined on his quest by his son, Atreus. That changes everything. Not only does Atreus help his old man during combat, but God of War devotees know Kratos' need for vengeance began when Ares tricked the warrior into killing his first family. Atreus is "the humanity that Kratos has lost," director Cory Barlog says. "He's that mirror that is reminding him that there's a different way—a way he might have forgotten long ago."

But before you start worrying that God of War trades action for introspection, rest assured that underneath the mature storyline is a brutal and exciting adventure in the classic God of War style, albeit with a more modern flavor. Instead of fixed camera angles and linear solutions to problems, God of War gives players the tools they need to proceed, then lets them find the best solution to the game's obstacles. The tone might be new, but at its core God of War will still be the god-murdering simulator we've all come to know and love—like its hero, it's just grown up a little.

Sea of Thieves — Early 2018

A couple pirate games are coming in 2018, but other than the theme and an emphasis on co-op gameplay, they have little in common. Sea of Thieves doesn't have realistic graphics or physics, or take itself particularly seriously. It does, however, look like it'll accomplish something very few games manage to do: provide an experience that's not just fun, but actually intentionally funny.

Ostensibly, Sea of Thieves is about teaming up with other players to man a ship and hunt for treasure. Players need to work together to raise the sails, steer the boat, and navigate, communicating via headset to make sure everything proceeds smoothly. Once you reach your destination, you'll drop anchor and head to land, digging up treasure while avoiding monsters. Once the goods are on your vessel, other crews can come along at any time, raiding your ship and stealing your hard-earned gold.

If this sounds like a recipe for disaster, it is—and that's the point. Hands-on reports from trade shows like E3 are full of stories of players getting drunk on grog and vomiting all over the ship, shooting themselves out of cannons into shark-infested waters, and unpredictable, cursed treasure chests. In other words, Sea of Thieves is an engine that constantly cranks out carefully-cultivated chaos. That's a fine premise for a multiplayer game, and should keep players busy—and laughing—when it arrives in early 2018.

Pixel Noir — Early 2018

Film noir, meet Japanese role-playing game. The two concepts hit it off, get hitched, and mash together to make Pixel Noir, the deep-and-dark detective game that's quite possibly the love child of Earth Bound and Sin City, but with a more mind-melting main moral. Developed by SWD Tech Games, the forthcoming title tells the tale of a stone-cold and all-too-proud protagonist who lost their partner and was locked up for the unthinkable crime. Fast-forward a decade, and there's a chance for redemption, but it comes at a high cost. Sanity, safety, and sense of purpose are all on the line as players claw to clear their name in Pixel Noir, but the game casts long shadows of doubt that the biggest obstacle in their way is themselves. Prep your wallets (and sleuth skills) for an early 2018 debut.

System Shock - Q2 2018

Completely revamped from Looking Glass Technologies and Origin Systems' 1994 original, the System Shock remake holds no bars and takes no prisoners. Portland-based developer Night Dive Studios has grabbed the baton from the old-school companies and enlisted a dazzling team of industry vets (including those who've worked on likes of Fallout: New Vegas, Mass Effect, and BioShock) to craft a high-powered new title that centers around a keenly resourceful hacker, the "most notorious cyberspace thief in the corporate world," who's taken prisoner by a money-hungry TriOptimum executive (basically a scarier, cyberpunk version of a Wall Street Banker).

2018's System Shock grips players tight, catapulting them into the post-apocalyptic landscape of Citadel Station—which is now inhabited by brainless robots, corrupt cyborgs, and grotesquely mutilated creatures, all of which are engineered to obey the merciless A.I. known as SHODAN. And if that wasn't enough to widen your eyes to moon-size circles, Night Dive Studios promises the world of System Shock has "never been more immersive or terrifying" than in the upcoming reboot.

Crackdown 3 — Spring 2018

Crackdown 3 was supposed to come out in 2016. And then November 7, 2017. And then, less than three months before launch, Microsoft delayed the game again. Now the open-world adventure is set for spring 2018. Will the third time be the charm? We'll see.

Microsoft regrets the delays, and admits it revealed Crackdown 3 a few years too early. Hopefully, it'll be worth the wait. As in previous installments, Crackdown 3 lets you control a super-powered agent who hunts down criminals, but the game's real draw is that you can destroy anything and everything. Literally. By offloading some of the game's processing into the cloud, Crackdown 3 features fully destructible environments (at least in multiplayer), setting the stage for some truly epic battles. If you can see it, you can wreck it.

Now that Sumo Digital has the the extra time it needs to make sure Crackdown 3 shines (not to mention the performance boost enjoyed by Xbox One X players), the game could represent a major breakthrough in terms of technology as well as open-world warfare. Besides, blowing stuff up is fun, and Crackdown 3 explodes things real good. That's good enough for us.

State of Decay 2 — Spring 2018

Unlike the typical zombie game, State of Decay takes a much more measured approach to the undead apocalypse. Instead of delivering headshots to anything that moves, you're charged with protecting a small group of survivors by slowly building up their stronghold, scavenging for enough food, water, and ammunition to keep everyone healthy and safe, and recruiting new members of the community—after figuring out if you can trust them. In other words, it's like the prison seasons of The Walking Dead, except, y'know, not boring.

It's a compelling premise, especially considering how popular survival-oriented titles are these days, and developer Undead Games hasn't strayed far from the original for State of Decay 2. That's okay—it has a vastly improved user interface, better animations, more varied characters, and a world that's three times larger than the original's. You'll have more options than ever for building the zombie-proof base of your dreams.

Most importantly, State of Decay 2 will have four player co-op. If you need help, fire a flare into the sky, and everyone on your Xbox Live friends list who's opted in will get an alert. Hopefully, they'll come to your rescue before the zombie hordes have eaten your brains—and hopefully, if they stick around, they won't cause havoc in your carefully constructed stronghold. After all, if zombie fiction has taught us anything, it's that the undead aren't the real monsters—other humans are.

Red Dead Redemption 2 - Spring 2018

The words "red," "dead," and "redemption" might strike a nerve with many avid gamers, as the Rockstar Games-developed Red Dead Redemption 2 was originally promised for release in fall 2017. The studio recently (and regrettably) announced that the upcoming sequel to its open-world western game will be available for play in spring 2018—for real this time.

Though it's tacked with a two at the end of its title, Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually the third installment in the action-adventure franchise, and the first built from the ground up, eight years after Red Dead Redemption and 12 years after the original Red Dead Revolver. The follow-up takes vintage Americana vibes and atmospheric inspiration from its predecessors to bring forth an "outlaw epic" that reaches across the harsh and expansive heartland, featuring plenty of gun-slinging cowboys and roughed-up rebels to boot. Though players will have to hold out a bit longer to get their hands on Red Dead Redemption and its cast of scruffy characters, once they consider the game's near-limitless landscape and fierce narrative, the days spent waiting become well worth it.

Sunless Skies - May 2018

From Failbetter Games comes the shrouded Sunless Skies, the follow-up to 2015's dimly lit aquatic adventure Sunless Sea. A game of corruption, chance, jeopardy, and, of course, immersive exploration, Sunless Skies rolls out a top-down world in two dark, marvelous dimensions.

The upcoming game is more a spiritual successor to its underwater counterpart, as it's set above the surface in the Fallen London Universe at the turn of 19th century. It's now ten years after the events of Sunless Sea, and Queen Victoria has ushered a mass departure of Londoners to the heavens where a new British Empire begins its reign. Cosmic atrocities beyond compare and spaced-out wonders only seen in dreams await Sunless Skies players as they stand their ground, battle to survive, chat it up with lightning storms, and even "murder a sun" before facing an ultimate judgement.

Failbetter Games found buried treasure with Sunless Sea, with one critic admiring the game's "wonderful world to explore" and "memorable written vignettes," and by the looks of it, the studio will do the same with Sunless Skies.

Spider-Man — First half of 2018

Look, it's Spider-Man. That's all you really need to know. In Insomniac's upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive, players will slip into Peter Parker's iconic red and blue suit and guide the wallcrawler through the island of Manhattan (on a map that's four times bigger than the one in the developer's last open-world game, Sunset Overdrive), swinging between buildings, taking on Spidey's foes, and using all the tricks and tools at Peter's disposal to rescue civilians and save the day.

With Insomniac at the helm, that would've been enough to get webheads riled up, but it's more than just the license that makes Spider-Man look so good. Judging by the game's extended E3 2017 demo, Insomniac has lifted the best parts of recent superhero games and combined them into something both new and familiar. Combat looks like it's inspired by Arkham City, allowing players to sneak and swing among the rafters and take down thugs with various web-related attacks, or drop down to street level to engage in some rhythm-driven fisticuffs.

It's not all a retread, of course—it looks like Insomniac is including some of the newest additions to the Spider-Man universe. Mr. Negative, a modern take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, plays a prominent role. Miles Morales, the newest Spider-Man, makes an appearance, too. Insomniac confirms that classic Spidey villains will surface—the Kingpin briefly appeared in Sony's demo—but this is a Spider-Man that embraces everything that makes the franchise great, retro, modern, or in between.

Shenmue 3 — second half of 2018

If you long for the games of the late '90s, Shenmue 3 will make you feel right at home. "One of the themes, the main feelings that you get from the game is a feeling of nostalgia," director Yu Suzuki says. "That's one of the special qualities of Shenmue, and the fact it was one of the first open world games." True to Yu's word, Shenmue 3 looks like more of the same: the relaxed pace, the dynamic open world that operates on its own schedule whether players intervene or not, fighting-game-inspired combat, and series protagonist all Ryo Hazuki all return. Even the character models, which are hilariously stiff and unexpressive, feel like something taken from a Dreamcast game (to be fair, the environments look much, much better).

That's all by design. "If we perhaps compromise on the graphics and put more into the story, we can make a good game," Suzuki says. Shenmue 3, which earned six million dollars on Kickstarter in addition to other investments, may not have the original's record-breaking budget (at the time, it was one of the most expensive games ever made), but Suzuki promises he "can make the whole game you imagined!" The graphics may look dated—although, arguably, that's part of the charm—but Shenmue 3's complex and interesting open world looks like the series' best so far. The story, which takes Ryo to China, should be a hoot too. After all, Suzuki's had 16 years to think about the Shenmue saga's future. We're confident that he won't disappoint.

Anthem — Fall 2018

BioWare isn't the first company you'd expect to make an open-world multiplayer shooter—until now, the studio has stuck almost exclusively to role-playing games, cranking out classics like Balder's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age—but if the game's E3 trailer is anything like the final product, the veteran studio knows what it's doing. In short, Anthem looks like it'll be worth seeking out for the jetpack-driven gameplay alone.

Players join the ranks of the Freelancers, intrepid explorers who journey into the wilderness to fight vicious beasts and gather ever-precious loot. Players can team up to tackle particularly tough challenges in Anthem's sprawling shared world, assuming different classes like the all-purpose Ranger or the tank-like Colossus, each of which plays a different role in battle. Massive "Shaper Storms" promise to shake up Anthem with their "world-altering" consequences, while players can zoom using the jetpacks built into their Javelin exosuits, flying across the map or taking to the air to snipe opponents on the ground.

Maybe a little of BioWare's storytelling magic will rub off on Anthem, too. Drew Karpyshyn, lead writer on the first two (i.e. best) Mass Effect games is penning Anthem's story. Hunting for loot is great, but having a good reason to hunt for it is even better. If BioWare can fuse a strong narrative with Destiny's addictive gameplay loop, Anthem might ending up being very, very hard to put down. Here's hoping.

Skull and Bones — Fall 2018

Skull and Bones isn't exactly a spinoff, although it owes its existence to an entirely different game. In 2013, Ubisoft published Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, a pirate-themed adventure that included ship-to-ship combat alongside the series' standard wall-climbing, roof-hopping, stabbing action.

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag's naval sections were so well-received that the game received a follow-up (the woefully underrated Assassin's Creed Rogue) and, eventually, a title all their own: Skull and Bones. Either alone or a with a fleet of up to five companions, each controlling their own vessel, you'll scour the seas for buried treasure while facing off against rival pirates out to steal your plunder. Different types of ships play different roles in combat—the frigate is a tank-like beast that can survive multiple attacks, the brigandine and its battering ram can tear ships apart at close range, while the Sluperwar bombards enemies from afar—and you'll need to pay attention to the weather and the direction of the wind in order to get the most out of your ship, just like a real sailor.

Oh, and that's not all: at the end of Skull and Bones' E3 trailer, Ubisoft gave players a small glimpse of the legendary kraken, one of the most feared sea monsters around. There's much more to Skull and Bones than meets the eye, and we can't wait to learn more before the game's fall 2018 release.

Blackroom — Winter 2018

Bloody, brutal, and banded together with everything but the kitchen sink: that's DOOM and Quake co-creator John Romero and Adrian Carmack's latest endeavor, Blackroom. Presenting a deliberately less-than-neatly packaged bundle of modernized movements, trademark shoot-'em-up series tactics that'll leave gamers nostalgic, and unique combat, this indie title from Night Work Games gives gamers the gift of the "fast, violent, and masterful play on the PC" that they used to know and have always loved. Blackroom features a parallel universe and a snag in a highly-advanced simulation system, both of which the protagonist, Dr. Santiago Sonora, must navigate if he wishes to survive. The only problem is, as troubles begin to mount, it becomes more and more difficult to tell what's real and what's all inside your head. Cool gameplay, and a concept creepy enough to keep us awake at night? Yes please.

Dual Universe — Late 2018

Anything No Man's Sky can do (or at least intend to do; we all remember that legal/PR blunder), Dual Universe promises it can do better. A space-sim/sci-fi sandbox MMO, the latest from start-up studio Novaquark and director Jean-Christophe Baillie cracks open the world of procedural generation and universe building, allowing players to do what they want—how, when, and where they want to do it. What's more is that they can do it all together, too. Dual Universe is set to use a newly-coined server technology called CSSC (Continuous Single-Shard Cluster) and a single-shard universe structure to make simultaneous play a breeze, without ever needing to instance zones or load screens. It also shows off a "voxel-based planetary engine" and "server-synchronized building and mining," which are just fancy, roundabout ways of saying that Dual Universe will totally be at the top of your 2018 wish list. With seemingly endless possibilities, Dual Universe could easily become more like triple, quad, or quint universe as more gamers dive into the vastness of its galaxies.

Kirby — TBD 2018

Most Nintendo franchises evolve over time, but not Kirby—the little pink puffball is where Nintendo goes when it wants to get weird. Since his 1992 Game Boy debut, Kirby has headlined pinball games, miniature golf simulators, and airborne racing games. He's teamed up with 10 copies of himself for touch-screen based platforming, and jumped into giant mechs to take out particularly large obstacles. Sometimes, he's made out of yarn or clay.

But in his latest adventure, Kirby is going back to basics. So far, there's nothing unusual about his upcoming platformer for the Nintendo Switch, the aptly-named Kirby (probably not its final title). As in Kirby's earliest games, the intrepid little blob hops and sucks his way through brightly colored levels, eating enemies to steal their powers while navigating a maze-like collection of doors and platforms. The reveal trailer features a jazzed-up version of Kirby's main theme, a tune that's just as old as he is. The Whispy Woods tree, a classic Kirby villain, returns for yet another appearance.

It's the little things that make Kirby look like more than a retread of the character's past hits. For the first time ever, Kirby can possess his enemies, chucking a heart at them to bring them over to his side. Kirby's new allies can be controlled by other players or the Switch's CPU, too, meaning that whether you're playing with a group or by your lonesome, you'll always have help. Nintendo knows that small tweaks to an established formula are all a game needs to feel fresh and fun, and Kirby looks like yet another solid platformer from the company that does them best.

Detroit: Become Human — TBD 2018

David Cage's games, which skirt the line between point-and-click adventure and interactive movie, aren't for everyone. Heavy Rain received positive reviews on release, but some of the game's odder features—including a fairly ludicrous plot twist—haven't aged quite as well. Beyond: Two Souls looked and sounded great, but didn't include much in the way of interactivity (tellingly, the game made its big debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, not a gaming event). But every time Cage and Quantic Dream put out a new title, the formula gets a little more complex—and Detroit: Become Human might be where they get the balance between story and action just right.

Like Cage's other games, Detroit: Become Human lets players guide multiple characters through a branching storyline that changes based on the user's decisions. As in Heavy Rain, death isn't the end, either. If one character dies, the story continues, and adapts to that person's absence. Don't get too comfortable, though: Detroit: Become Human's world is all new (although the Blade Runner influence comes through pretty strong). Three androids—Kara, Connor and Markus—serve as our guides into a near-future setting where artificial lifeforms struggle to find their place in the world. With the player's help, they'll find a way to settle peacefully alongside humanity, take to the streets in a full-fledged revolution, or something in between.

Just don't expect any easy answers. "There is no big message to humanity in this game," Cage warns. "It's just interesting questions that may resonate with your own personal values and just confront you with the consequences [of your] actions."

Kingdom Hearts 3 — TBD 2018

At long last, it's coming. Kingdom Hearts 2, the last numbered entry in Square Enix's Final Fantasy and Disney mashup, came out way back in 2005, and fans have been waiting for a proper follow-up ever since. Oh, sure, Square Enix kept fans busy for years with mobile titles like Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, but enough is enough. We're ready for the real thing.

And we're finally getting it, at least according to director Tetsuya Nomura and Kingdom Hearts 3's D23 2017 trailer. As before, series hero Sora, Goofy, Donald, and other pals will travel to lands based on popular Disney properties while fighting the evil Heartless. Kingdom Hearts 3 doubles down on the Disney, too. Sora can unleash powerful summon attacks based on Disneyland and Disney World attractions, while the new settings take full advantage of Disney's expanded corporate portfolio. That's right: both Pixar (via Toy Story) and Marvel ( Big Hero Six) are set to make their Kingdom Hearts debut.

Metro Exodus — TBD 2018

Post-apocalyptic shooters are a dime a dozen, yet the Metro series feels never feels like a ripoff or retread. Maybe it's because Metro's world, based on a series of novels by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky, is detailed and fully realized in a way that many other video game settings aren't. Maybe it's because Metro 2033 and its sequel, Metro: Last Light, aren't strictly first-person shooters. Developer 4A Games deftly blends elements lifted from survival horror and stealth titles with its gunplay, dropping players into finely crafted, mostly linear levels that deliver scares, shocks, and surprisingly sophisticated storytelling.

Whatever the answer, expect more of the same from Metro Exodus, which was officially announced at E3 2017. Despite early impressions, it isn't an open-world title. "There's large levels that offer a lot more freedom" than the the typical Metro fare, executive producer Jon Bloch says, "but we will have a story wrapped into them." That's probably for the best. The Metro games thrive on their tense, horror film-like set pieces, and letting 4A control the experience worked in the past. Why ruin a good thing?

Shadow of the Colossus — TBD 2018

No, you're not going crazy: you've played Shadow of the Colossus in high definition before. In 2011, Sony released The Ico & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, which packaged Fumito Ueda's two artsy PlayStation 2 games on a single disc, giving both a graphical overhaul, a better and more consistent frame rate, and support for 3D televisions (remember those?).

2018's Shadow of the Colossus remaster is much more in-depth. Unlike the 2011 edition, the new Shadow of the Colossus is a complete remaster. The entire game, including every single graphical asset, has been rebuilt from scratch in order to take full advantage of the PlayStation 4's technology. The game is getting a new and modern control scheme, too, although purists will be able to play with the original setup if they prefer.

What isn't changing is Shadow of the Colossus' level structure, combat, and story—for the most part, this is still the game that you fell in love with in 2005. If you've already mastered Shadow of the Colossus, you might get limited mileage out of the upcoming remake. If you haven't, wait for this version: it'll look and play better than ever.

The Last Night — TBD 2018

It's not often that an indie game threatens to steal an entire E3 press conference, but in 2017, The Last Night almost did just that. By fusing a Blade Runner-esque environment with modern cinematic effects, bright neon lights, and fluid Sword & Sworcery EP-like pixel art, The Last Night oozes style, and almost brought Microsoft's presentation to a standstill. People demanded to know more.

That's pretty easy. The Last Night started as small prototype developed during 2014's Cyberpunk Jam, and designer Tim Soret only decided to flesh out the game into a fully-fledged title after it won the event's top prize. As far as the actual gameplay goes, Soret describes The Last World as a "cinematic adventure game"—think more along the lines of Another World than Super Mario Bros.—while publisher Raw Fury says it'll feature a "diverse cast" and branching, choice-driven dialogue.

There's reason to be concerned about The Last World's story. Soret has a history of posting anti-feminist, pro-Gamergate rhetoric on social media, and at one point promised the game would depict a feminist-ruled dystopia, but both the designer and the publisher have disavowed Soret's past statements. Hopefully The Last World will be a game everyone can enjoy when it arrives on the Xbox One and Windows PCs.

Yoshi — TBD 2018

From the crayon-colored illustrations of Yoshi's Island to the yarn-filled environments in Yoshi's Wooly World, Yoshi's best games have a handmade aesthetic. Yoshi, the plucky green dinosaur's first solo outing on the Nintendo Switch, takes that concept to its extreme. At first glance, you'd be forgiven for mistaking Yoshi for the next installment in Sony's LittleBigPlanet franchise: like those games, Yoshi's environments are built out of everyday objects, which have been assembled in ways that make the entire game look like it's been created by hand.

It goes even further. In Yoshi, players can a hit a button to jump behind the scenes. Suddenly, you see that those carefully constructed buildings are made out of old cardboard boxes held together by scotch tape. It's a neat effect, and it'll improve the gameplay, too: each side of every level is packed with secrets, and if you want to find everything hidden in Yoshi's various nooks and crannies, you'll have to play both. To aid in your search, a number of Yoshi staples return, including eating enemies, throwing eggs at bad guys and obstacles (this time, in three dimensions), and some light platforming challenges.

Yoshi already has the style down, so hopefully, the game will be just as compelling as its art design. After all, Yoshi's Island is one of the best platformers ever made. If Yoshi is even half as good as the dino's inaugural outing, we're in for quite a treat.

Project Phoenix — TBD 2018

East meets West in "Kickstarter's first Japan-based video game project," Project Phoenix. This real-time role-playing game boasts not only boasts inspired gameplay elements, but also an impressive band of backers. Tacking on "triple-A talent" in Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu for the title's soundtrack and violin virtuoso Hiroaki Yura for its direction and production, it's little wonder Project Phoenix managed to pull in a cool $1 million in Kickstarter crowdfunding efforts. Round up your friends for this squad-based game, joining efforts to uncover hidden truths and a wounded angel in the mystical world of Azuregard. We know we will.

Psychonauts 2 — TBD 2018

Lovably oddball game studio Double Fine Productions captured hearts with Psychonauts in 2005, and fans have endured a grueling 10-plus-year wait for an official follow-up title. Fortunately, there's only a bit more patience required, as Psychonauts 2 is slated to hit sometime in 2018.

The sequel to the cult classic was announced during the Game Awards in December 2015, and the creatives (including LucasArts alum and series creator Tim Schafer) launched a Fig crowdfunding campaign the same day. By the end of January 2016, after a 33-day initiative, the title had amassed over $3.8 million in backer pledges.

Psychonauts 2 picks up where Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, the 2017 title that bridges the original to the upcoming second installment, left off. Recently-minted Psychonaut Raz returns, as do his slew of special powers like telekinesis, mind-reading abilities, and levitation. Additionally, a smattering of standard platform gameplay aspects will be incorporated. Seems like the Psychonauts sequel will strike a nice balance.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries — TBD 2018

Piranha Games is at it again with MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, the offshoot of an offshoot game that zeroes in on the single-player experience. The studio made the official announcement during MechCon 2016, where Piranha president Russ Bullock unveiled pre-alpha footage rendered on the Unreal Engine 4. As part of the MechWarrior franchise, which is an FPS side-branch of BattleTech, MechWarrior 5 is set to feature "intense PvE 'Mech combat in an immersive, career-based Mercenary campaign driven by player choice." It will also allow players choice and open discovery as they trek factions as (mostly) free agents. Harkening back to what made the original so distinct, this release appears poised to bring futuristic settings, high-stakes conflict, and plenty of boss battles to the table come next year.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire — TBD 2018

Intimidating name, intense premise. Another sequel title for 2018 comes in the form of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, the follow-up to Obsidian Entertainment's 2015 original. Bouncing off a critically acclaimed base title, this crowdfunded darling is set to grab players by the wrists and pull them into yet another journey through the wide world of Eora. However, things look and feel a bit different this time around, as you'll encounter the Deadfire Archipelago and track down the all-powerful god of light and rebirth. Riding the line between life and death, your soul is in the crossfire, and the only way to survive is to find the wayward entity and finally get answers. New companions and new decisions join the spruced-up setting and stakes, making for a promising game we can't wait to get our hands on. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire hasn't yet snagged a solid release date, but we do know it'll be available on Mac, PC, and Linux-based computers.

Greedfall — TBD 2018

French indie publisher Focus Home Interactive reels things back—way, way back—the 17th century, crafting a tale that's one part action-RPG and two parts fantastical adventure. Traveling alongside treasure hunters, settlers, and mercenaries on an island drenched in magic and mystery, you'll play as a plucky protagonist in search of riches as far as the eye can see… and as wondrous as the mind can imagine. Greedfall gets its name from the island itself, the "living, ever-evolving world" that lures you into making important choices, dissolving tensions among invaders and supernatural entities, building homes and mini-universes in various factions, and charting through the political landscape that surrounds every last island-dweller. According to Cédric Lagarrigue, president of developer Spiders, Greedfall is soaked in possibility: "Thanks to its theme, its universe, and its promise, Spiders' Greedfall will be a game to follow closely for RPG lovers."

The Avengers Project — TBD 2018

Looks like the Avengers are reassembling. Two industry giants join forces for The Avengers Project, the upcoming game that marks a "multi-year, multi-game partnership" between Marvel Entertainment and Square Enix. The dynamic duo promise the Marvel hero-based game will be full-to-bursting with familiar faces from the franchise, an all-new story that will leave fans cheering, and a universe that spans generational confines and transcends boundaries of time. The Avengers Project is another title without a set-in-stone release date, but with a couple of massive interactive entertainment companies behind it—along with Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics—we've got Tony Stark-level confidence you'll love this game.

Star Wars game from Visceral — Title and release date TBD

A handful of Star Wars flicks are lingering on the horizon, and fans can also expect a brand-new spacefaring game to hit their systems and consoles in 2018. Details are pretty scarce as of yet, but we do know that ex-Naughty Dog employee and Uncharted series lead Amy Henning climbed aboard the Visceral Games team to helm the project, and a concept trailer unveiled during 2016's E3 conference showed a painfully short eight seconds of game footage. The yet-to-be-named title is the brainchild of Dead Space, Uncharted, and Assassin's Creed creators and developers, is a third-person action game, and will follow a mysterious protagonist in what appears to be the Palpatine Empire era of Star Wars. Fingers crossed for a release window and some character names soon!

Fire Emblem game for the Nintendo Switch — Title and release date TBD

Gaming's latest hot commodity is, of course, the Nintendo Switch. But before the hype reached astronomical proportions, the Big N announced that a mainline Fire Emblem title would be hitting the handheld console in 2018. Different from Fire Emblem Warriors, which will be making its Switch debut during the holiday 2017 quarter, the unnamed game also varies from the Fire Emblem series as a whole, as it marks the first of the franchise in over 10 years (since 2007's Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn for the Wii) to be released for home consoles. Considering how magnetic the versatile Nintendo system is, and how dedicated the Fire Emblem fanbase is, we're sure that the marriage between the two in 2018 will be magical.

Death Stranding — TBD

The infamously ambiguous Death Stranding is a definite possibility for release in 2018, as its creator Hideo Kojima has given more than a few hints that point to a debut sometime next year. During the 2016 Tokyo Game Show, Kojima stated, "It will be out before the Olympics. To go a little further, there is a movie called Akira, and it will be out before the year in which Akira is set." The former references the 2020 Tokyo Games, the latter the year 2019.

Whether or not it actually arrives in 2018, Death Stranding has already piqued many gamers' interest. From the minute we saw a (likely fully nude) CGI Norman Reedus cradling a baby on a deserted beach in the middle of nowhere, we were hooked. Since then, it's been revealed that Hannibal actor Mads Mikkelsen (who has become quite chummy with Kojima himself) and lauded director Guillermo del Toro have joined the project, which blends open-world gameplay with supernatural elements and a deeply-rooted psychological throughline that carries the game's presumed intricate plot. Color us excited (and counting down the days).

Darksiders III - TBD 2018

Third time's the charm for this series. Gunfire Games and THQ Nordic's Darksiders III is set to hack and slash its way onto consoles sometime next year, leaving a trail of blazing coals, burnt-down buildings, and wounded men and women in its path.

Dive back into a dilapidated, war-blown Earth as Fury, a female Horseman of the Apocalypse marked as "Rider of the Black," whose sole desire is to chase down the Seven Deadly Sins and their servants to dispose of them in a final, bloody eradication. And though Fury has an arsenal of wicked weaponry—an air-splitting whip, the ability to rebalance fate through magic, and much more—she's also the most temperamental and puzzling of the Horsemen, making the adventure in Darksiders III infinitely more exhilarating.

Wrapped in the series' signature art style, which features sprawling post-war environments in gorgeous, de-saturated jewel tones, Darksiders III sits in limbo between heaven and hell, war and peace, truth and secrecy—and if it were up to us, we'd have this game booted up yesterday.

Code Vein - TBD 2018

When Bandai Namco gifted gamers with a glimpse at Code Vein, few knew what to make of it. What are these "fangs that steal the souls of the dead" the game references? Who is the half-masked, red-eyed protagonist seemingly at the heart of it all? And, most importantly, when can we dole out our cash to get it?

From the team behind the sci-fi action-adventure series God Eater, Code Vein packs some serious vampire heat, throwing players into the dank pits of a dystopian dungeon to play as a blood-sucking Revenant with a network of supernatural powers laid out just beneath his thumb. Or, rather, behind his teeth, as baring down on some fresh flesh grants him new unique abilities—ones players can put to the test along Code Vein's labyrinthine, interconnected world as they bring to light the enigmas of the hidden society of Revenants called "the Vein."

Of course, this third-person action RPG isn't without its gargantuan, ghoulish bosses and sadistic enemies, all of which can be taken down with a deft hand and a sharp mind. Thankfully, Code Vein hopefuls have plenty of time to fine-tune their gaming finesse in preparation to face off against the otherworldly beasts that lie within.

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown - TBD 2018

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a… wait, yep, it's definitely a plane. Dozens of them, all launched into the stratosphere to eliminate enemies above. Another 2018 effort from Bandai Namco, the PlayStation VR-exclusive title Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown sends gamers to fly the skies of militaristic action, placing them at the helm of the most tech-complex, architecturally advanced war planes ever constructed.

Sound intense? That's hardly the half of it. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown retains what meshed well in 2007's Fires of Liberation and turns it on a sharper, more epic angle. Blending photorealistic gameplay graphics crafted with the Unreal Engine 4, true-to-life and futuristic aircraft, and aerial dogfight realness, the latest entry into the long-running combat flight simulator series is guaranteed to squash any fear of flying and leave you yearning for another trip.