Games that will blow everyone away in 2018

While 2017 was a banner year for video games, 2018 could be even better. From new spins on fan-favorite franchises to a whole bunch of brand new properties, game developers and publishers have all kinds of exciting projects ready to make their big debuts in 2018, and we can't wait to get our hands on every one of them.

But don't just take our word for it. Take a look at the list below. Unless you're an absolute curmudgeon, you're sure to find a game or two—or ten—to add to your pre-order list. Sure, 2017 might've been great. But if 2018 lives up to its potential, it'll be the year that proves that there's a game out there for just about everyone.

Dragon Ball FighterZ — January 26, 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.

Monster Hunter: World — January 26, 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."

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.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT — January 30, 2018

It has Final Fantasy in the title, but Dissidia Final Fantasy NT isn't a role-playing game. It's more like Square Enix's answer to Super Smash Bros.: a chance to throw a bunch of fan-favorite Final Fantasy characters together, sort them into teams of three, and let them beat the stuffing out of each other.

Of course, it's not Final Fantasy if it's not at least a little complicated. True to form, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is slightly more complex than your standard brawler. Characters are sorted into four classes—Vanguards, Assassins, Marksmen, and Specialists—that determine the type of attacks that they can use. They also have Brave Attacks, which fill up special meters, and HP Attacks, which deplete them. You can enlist powerful creatures to fight by your side using the Summon meter, and you'll lose if your Party HP meter (which is different from characters' individual HP meters) reaches zero. In short, there's a lot of different meters to pay attention to.

Good thing the internet's full of guides to help you wrap your mind around Dissidia NT's unique battle system. While 2018 marks Dissidia Final Fantasy NT's home debut (and the first time the Dissidia series has ever appeared on non-portable consoles), the game's been out in Japanese arcades since 2015. That means that there's plenty of info already out there, so read up before Dissidia Final Fantasy NT's January release. You'll probably need the help.

Shadow of the Colossus — February 6, 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.

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.

Dynasty Warriors 9 — February 13, 2018

After eight titles in the main series, not to mention multiple spin-offs featuring characters from franchises like The Legend of Zelda, Fire Emblem, Dragon Quest, One Piece, and many others, the Dynasty Warriors formula is starting to feel kinda thin. Diving into ancient China (or popular fantasy kingdoms in the spin-offs) and decimating thousands of foes won't ever truly get old, but we've been there and done that. It's time for something new.

Good thing Dynasty Warriors 9 is bringing a fully-explorable open world to life for the first time in the series' history. Now, if you don't want to storm a castle and slaughter everyone inside, you don't have to. Just walk around it. Terrain plays a bigger role in combat than ever before, and things like the weather and the time of day will make it harder for enemies to see you when the conditions are right.

Naturally, Dynasty Warriors 9's big draw is still its massive battles, but the folks over at Koei Tecmo are taking time to ramp up the game's historical accuracy, too. Dynasty Warriors 9 features multiple warlords (i.e. time eras), and the map will change accordingly to suit each. Meanwhile, characters' costumes are going to be less flashy and more realistic than before. Nobody's ever going to confuse Dynasty Warriors with a documentary, but all these changes speak well for the franchise's future. Koei Tecmo knows it's got to shake things up if Dynasty Warriors will survive. Entry number nine looks poised to do exactly that.

Secret of Mana Remake — February 15, 2018

If you managed to score a Super NES Classic, then congratulations: you can enjoy Secret of Mana, Squaresoft's beloved action-RPG, right now in all of its colorful, quirky, 16-bit glory. If you didn't, however, don't panic. In early winter 2018, Square Enix is releasing a fully-fledged remake of the SNES favorite that brings Secret of Mana's whimsical world into 3D while correcting some of the game's well-documented flaws.

See, while Secret of Mana is a nostalgic favorite for many, it's also fundamentally broken. Hit detection is way, way off, meaning that some attacks won't register until after enemies' damage animations stop, and others won't land at all. The menu-based magic system is unwieldy and forces players to grind their time away in order to make sure spells are powerful enough to topple the massive bosses.

Thankfully, hands-on impressions from critics indicate that Secret of Mana's biggest issues have been fixed without sacrificing the game's inherent charm. The remake's music sounds exactly like it did in the SNES original—and given that it had one of the best soundtracks of the 16-bit era, that's a good thing. The new 3D engine makes cutscenes more cinematic and enemies more dynamic without fundamentally changing combat—you'll still be slashing at foes and exploring dungeons from a top-down view. The new character models may not be to everyone's tastes, but otherwise, Secret of Mana looks poised to delight both newcomers and returning fans in February.

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?

Metal Gear Survive — February 20, 2018

Is it really Metal Gear Solid without series creator Hideo Kojima at the helm? We're about to find out. Metal Gear Survive is the first game in the beloved series since Kojima and Metal Gear's publisher, Konami, had their messy break-up. As such, it's the first that doesn't have Kojima's personal stamp of approval. 

It also has zombies. Take that as you will.

The multiplayer-focused Survive is set between Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid V proper, and it fuses the series' signature stealth-based challenges with elements lifted from survival games—stuff like resource gathering, weapon crafting, and base fortification. While there's a single-player mode, it sounds like Metal Gear Survive's bread and butter is going to be the cooperative multiplayer, which puts players in teams and asks them to fight off increasingly tough zombie hordes. 

If you've played Metal Gear Solid 5, you should feel right at home. Metal Gear Survive uses the same engine and the same control scheme. However, if you're not caught up on Metal Gear Solid, especially the franchise's twisty, borderline-impenetrable storyline, don't worry. Metal Gear Survive conveniently takes place in an alternate universe. Its story may not "count" as part of Metal Gear lore, but if it delivers enough solid zombie-killing action, that probably won't matter much one way or the other.

Moss — February 2018

Maybe all virtual reality needs to make the jump from technological curiosity to mainstream entertainment medium is a cute mascot. If so, Moss could get the job done. In the upcoming PlayStation VR game, players befriend Quill, a puzzle-solving mouse who goes on an adventure that recalls fantasy stories like Redwall, Mouse Guard, and The Legend of Zelda.

As Moss' developers tell GamesBeat, Quill isn't just the player's in-game representative. She doesn't speak, but she can "see" players, and will react to their actions accordingly. The idea is to make Quill feel more like a personal friend than an in-game avatar, making her emotional arc much more powerful.

Moss is ambitious, but developer Polyarc has assembled a team that includes former Halo and Destiny devs, so the company knows what it's doing. At the very least, the gaming community is already falling in love with Quill. A short clip of the fuzzy hero communicating via American Sign Language went viral over the summer, which convinced Polyarc's designers that ASL should be a major part of the game.

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

Pretty much everything you need to know about Yakuza 6 is out there, if you're willing to look. The game came out in 2016 in Japan. By the time Yakuza 6: The Song of Life hits Western shores, it'll be well over a year old. We'd be surprised if it has any secrets left to uncover.

Thankfully, it shouldn't matter. While Yakuza's labyrinthian plot, which fuses soap operatics with crime drama and continues from game to game, is one of the series' big selling points, it's not the only one. At its best, Yakuza functions as one part crime simulator and one part digital sight-seeing tour, and Yakuza 6's virtual Tokyo is jam-packed full of the side attractions that make Yakuza so memorable. You'll be able to play real-life arcade games like Virtua Fighter 5, chat up webgirls, go on a fully-fledged "date" framed as a sort of card game, hang out with the real-life roster of pro wrestling juggernaut New Japan Pro Wrestling, take selfies, hold babies, and more.

All this, and a plot that—finally!—promises to bring series lead Kazuma Kiryu's story to a definitive close. Yakuza may not have the rabid following in the United States that it does in Japan, but in 2017, Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami (a remake of the first Yakuza game) finally caught the attention of western players. With its dramatic plot and seemingly endless list of things to do, Yakuza 6: The Song of Life might be the game that pushes Yakuza into the American mainstream. Better late than never.

Sea of Thieves — March 20, 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.

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom — March 23, 2018

If you need a Japanese role-playing game to fill the gap between 2017's unbearably stylish Persona 5 and 2018's long-awaited Kingdom Hearts 3Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom might do the trick. Like the first game, Revenant Kingdom features dungeon crawling, open-world exploration, and a combat system featuring wide-open battlegrounds that players can roam around at will. While Studio Ghibli—the people behind Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor TotoroSpirited Away, to name a few—provided art and design assistance for the first game, they're not returning for the second outing. However, former Ghibli designer Yoshiyuki Momose and composer Joe Hisaishi are. If you liked the first game's style, you can expect more of the same.

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom isn't a simple rehash, of course. Developer Level-5 introduces a brand new race of creatures called Higgledies, which will let you access out-of-reach items and will give you a hand during battle. If Ni No Kuni felt too kid-like to you the first time around, you're in luck. Director Akihiro Hino tells IGN that the game will have a "more mature perspective," and that the character Roland was specifically created to court an older audience.

Far Cry 5 - March 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.

Far Cry 5 is deeply unsettling in all the right ways—critics point out that it seems to be building its horror through an "uncanny ability to anticipate modern cultural and political trends"—but if the whole rural gothic vibe gives you the heebie-jeebies, you can bring a friend along to keep you sane. For the first time in franchise history, the entire campaign is playable via cooperative multiplayer from the very beginning. Driving, flying, and story missions are now all group activities (if you don't have any real friends ready to play, you can also hire computer-controlled allies to take their place). There's strength in numbers, and Far Cry 5's doomsday cult has plenty of members. Even the odds by bringing along some teammates of your own.

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!)

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.

Jurassic World Evolution — June 2018

While most Jurassic Park games focus on human-versus-dinosaur combat—we still have fond memories of tearing through scientists as a velociraptor in the Sega Genesis' first Jurassic Park adaptation—Jurassic World Evolution forgoes the franchise's action-packed thrills for something a little slower paced, asking you to plan, design, and manage your very own dinosaur-populated theme parks. It'll be up to you to make sure that your personal Jurassic World is both profitable and safe, and to keep audiences coming back for more by researching brand new species of dinosaurs to consume—we're sorry, delight—your guests.

With gameplay that takes cues from titles like RollerCoaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, SimCity, and Planet Coaster, a Jurassic World-inspired management sim is pretty much the most obvious type of Jurassic World spinoff ever—which is probably why a couple of teams have tried to do this sort of thing before. But Jurassic World Evolution has two advantages over similar attempts. For one, the developers at Frontier Developments, the company behind RollerCoaster Tycoon and Planet Coaster, are guiding development. If anyone knows how to make a compelling amusement park simulator, it's them.

Secondly, unlike the mobile title Jurassic Park Builder, Jurassic World Evolution is a fully-fledged console and PC game. That doesn't necessarily mean that the game won't have microtransactions—this is 2018, after all—but it should deliver a compelling and immersive simulation out of the box, with grinding and extra purchases kept to an absolute minimum. At the very least, you won't have to watch videos in order to raise cash for that shiny new T-rex. We'll call that a win.

God of War — June 30, 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.

Red Dead Redemption 2 — October 26, 2018

Red Dead Redemption 2 might've missed its initial fall 2017 release date, but honestly, maybe that's for the best. 2017 was crammed full of promising games, and an adventure the size of Red Dead Redemption deserves a spotlight all of its own. This new installment follows in its predecessor's dusty footsteps by returning players to a grimy, crime-ridden version of the American west, giving them a horse, and letting them do whatever they damn well please.

If that sounds like it could get very messy very fast, rest assured that it almost absolutely will. Instead of playing as the noble outlaw John Marston, players will assume control of the out-and-out criminal Arthur Morgan, a member of the notorious Van der Linde gang (you might remember the group from the original game, in which you hunted down the gang members and killed them one by one). While Marston had his own rugged moral code, Morgan looks like he's a bit more ethically flexible—at one point in the game's story trailer, he threatens a teenager who just lost his father, and notes that he's wanted in three different states.

As such, Morgan's appearance in the western territories probably isn't great news for homesteaders, but should be a lot of fun for players, who can expect to get in bar fights, jack trains, rob banks, and more as the notorious outlaw. And while Red Dead Redemption 2 is technically a prequel, expect its story to be just as compelling as the original's. Arthur Morgan doesn't appear in Red Dead Redemption, after all, leaving his ultimate fate a mystery—for now, at any rate.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries — December 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.

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.

Pixel Noir — Early 2018

At first glance, Pixel Noir looks like the mutant offspring of Sin City and EarthBound. Like the former, it's a pitch-black crime story that isn't afraid to get down and dirty. Like the latter, it's a 16-bit-style role-playing game, complete with turn-based battles and a self-aware sense of humor (the game's official marketing copy promises you'll get to play as "Pinnacle City's cheapest Private Eye!").

But Pixel Noir is set to be more than the sum of its parts. If new developer SWD Tech can pull everything off, this might be the next great crime game, simple graphics or no. Ten years before the game starts, your character lost his partner during an investigation, was kicked off the force, and was sent to prison. Now, he takes odd jobs around Pinnacle City while fighting off PTSD and hoping for a chance at redemption. As you play, you'll take cases from Pinnacle City's citizens—everything from missing pets to murder investigations—and try to unravel the mystery behind the events that changed your life a decade before.

Pixel Noir's combat borrows heavily from games like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, complete with weapon customization and devastating team attacks, while the "investigation mode" lets you hunt for clues and solve crimes, just like a real detective. Expect a gripping, atmospheric murder mystery when Pixel Noir finally arrives, and prepare to get punched in the face…a lot.

Spider-Man — First half of 2018

Does the world need Spider-Man? That seems to be the central question behind Insomniac Games' upcoming PlayStation adventure. With Wilson Fisk (you probably know him better as the Kingpin) behind bars and New York's crime rate at an all-time low, it might just be time for Peter Parker to scale back his web-based activities and enjoy life.

Unfortunately for Peter—but thankfully for us—Spidey's not getting off quite that easy. Fisk's arrest creates a power vacuum, and the villainous Mr. Negative is eager to step in and take charge. Meanwhile, Norman Osborn is hitting the campaign trail in hopes of being re-elected as New York City's mayor, Aunt May is as nosy as ever, and other Spider-Man villains, including the Shocker, are running rampant. At least Peter has his longtime flame Mary Jane Watson and young Miles Morales to help him out.

Well, Mary Jane, Miles, and a whole host of cool spider-themed powers, of course. As revealed during Spider-Man's E3 2017 trailer, Spider-Man borrows quite a few moves from Batman's Arkham City arsenal and augments them with some tricks of his own. The webslinger's going to need all the help he can get, too—allegedly, Spider-Man's New York is four times bigger than Insomniac's last open world, which appeared in Sunset Overdrive. That leaves a lot of room for bad guys to cause havoc. Sorry, Pete—it looks like you're not getting that vacation quite yet. The city still needs you.

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.

We Happy Few — Summer 2018

Technically, you can already play We Happy Few. Compulsion Games' dystopian take on 1960s England has been on Steam Early Access since July 26, 2016, where roughly 120,000 players have already succumbed to its drug-fueled charms. In April 2018, however, Compulsion and Gearbox will unleash We Happy Few's final edition on the masses, expanding the survival horror game by adding new characters and a fully-fleshed out plot (in addition to a much heftier price tag).

At its core, We Happy Few will remain a survival-oriented horror game. Players are trapped in a city called Wellington Wells, where most residents keep themselves in a haze with the help a drug known as Joy. Your goal is to escape the village. To do so you'll also need to keep your character fed and rested, complete subquests, make sure you blend in with your ultra-stoned neighbors to escape their attention, and stave off withdrawal symptoms.

In another interesting twist, Wellington Wells itself is procedurally generated, meaning it'll be different every time that you play. If that's not enough to make you paranoid, We Happy Few's creepily stunning art will finish the job. Sprinkle a bit of social commentary on top, and you've got one of 2018's most potentially interesting titles.

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.

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: Star Allies — 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: Star Allies. 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: Star Allies 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?

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.

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.

Fire Emblem for Nintendo Switch — TBD 2018

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.

Ghost of Tsuhima — TBD 2018

In an industry dominated by sequels and remakes, a new intellectual property is always a welcome sight—and, for publishers, a very risky move. Why should players gamble on something unknown when there are all kinds of known quantities just sitting there, ready to be played?

Thankfully, Ghost of Tsushima looks too good to ignore. Set all the way back in 1274, Ghost of Tsushima tells the story of a formerly dead samurai who rises to take on invading Mongol hordes. As the titular ghost, you'll explore a wide-open world based on actual Japanese history–although the developers say they're not beholden to real events, if the whole resurrection thing didn't already tip you off. Along the way, you'll learn new skills "to forge a new way of fighting" that combines both stealth and and straightforward action.

It's cool, very different, and far from a sure thing. At 2017's PlayStation Experience event, one member of the development team said, "It's creatively satisfying to be freaked out." Still, they probably don't need to worry. Before Ghost of Tsushima, Sucker Punch Productions made the Sly Cooper and Infamous series. Those are two of the PlayStation's signature franchises, and should go a long way towards assuring fans that Ghost of Tsushima is in good hands.

The Hong Kong Massacre — TBD 2018

Hotline Miami is very, very gory. So is Max Payne. And if somehow those aren't bloody enough for you, you're going to go bonkers for The Hong Kong Massacre, which mashes those games together and drizzles another helping of ultra-violence on top for good measure.

The Hong Kong Massacre details a one-man war against a Japanese crime syndicate, pitting players against all kinds of gangsters as they slaughter their way through the Hong Kong underworld. Like Hotline Miami, this is a top-down twin-stick shooter that's heavy on the blood and twitchy combat. Like Max Payne, it's so dark that it's pitch black—not to mention The Hong Kong Massacre's revamped version of Max Payne's time-slowing bullet time mechanic.

The end result is bullet-soaked chaos that's both terrifying and oddly beautiful. In fact, The Hong Kong Massacre looks so good that it's easy to forget it's the work of only a couple of people. Vreski, a two-man game developer based in Sweden, has been working on this game since 2014. In 2018, the world will finally get to see their work. Hopefully, it'll be worth the wait.

Blood and Truth — TBD 2018

Virtual reality may not have conquered the video game industry in 2016 like some pundits predicted, but don't count it out quite yet. While VR rigs have yet to make their way into most American homes, there are a number of compelling and entertaining virtual reality games out there, and Blood and Truth looks like it'll join them. By strapping on a PlayStation VR headset and firing up Blood and Truth, players transform into a British special forces operative who seems like he's one-half James Bond, one-half Liam Neeson from Taken, and 100 percent badass.

There's lots of shooting, but you'll also engage in more subtle, spy-like activities like sneaking into casinos, planting C4 charges, explosively-charged chase scenes, and and interrogating suspects. Blood and Truth is a unique blend of stealth and action, and could be Sony's breakout VR hit if the company plays its cards right.

If the game looks a little familiar, there's a reason for that: development-wise, it spun off from a brief PS VR demo called The Getaway, which challenged players to rob a bank and escape before the authorities tracked them down. Like The Getaway, Blood and Truth is a fully immersive crime story akin to what you'd see in a Hollywood action flick. Unlike The Getaway, it's a full game. Thankfully, it'll take more than a couple of minutes to complete.

Concrete Genie — TBD 2018

Ash's life isn't easy. He lives in a town that's mostly abandoned and drowning in pollution. He's tormented by bullies. And all he really wants to do is make art.

So begins Concrete Genie, a third-person adventure game from Pixelopus, the small Sony-owned studio behind the artsy indie game Entwined. But this is much more than a simple coming-of-age story. See, when Ash paints on the side of a building, not only does the filth go away, but his artwork comes to life. As Pixelopus' creative director Dominic Robilliard explains, "the creatures in particular become really important to [Ash]: they're the friends he wished he had in real life."

Appropriately, that means anything you draw—Concrete Genie has user-friendly art creation tools, including motion-assisted painting—can take on a life of its own. As you solve puzzles, improve Ash's life, and free the town of Denska from its filth, you'll also be creating your own artistic masterpieces, which then play a role in Concrete Genie's fairy tale-esque story. This is a game that celebrates art by encouraging players to make their own. That makes a lot of sense, and yet we can't recall ever seeing it done before—at least, not quite like this—and should go a long way towards making Concrete Genie one of the most innovative games of 2018.

Days Gone — TBD 2018

Sony Interactive Entertainment hopes you're not tired of post-apocalyptic zombie brawls quite yet. Days Gone, the upcoming open-world action game, is absolutely full of 'em. Sure: in the Days Gone world, the rabid, swarming creatures are called "Freakers," but let's be real. Those are zombies. You're not fooling anybody, Sony.

Still, there's enough new stuff going on in Days Gone to make it worth your time. Days Gone's official website claims you'll have tons of freedom in how you take down the game's villains, which include other survivors and zombie bears in addition to regular undead foes. Enemies react differently depending on whether it's day or night, making the time of day more important than it is in most games.

Days Gone's plot looks a fusion of The Last of Us and Sons of Anarchy. That's not an obvious combination, but it should work just fine. At the very least, Days Gone will let us mow down zombies while riding on a motorcycle, and that's just cool. As everyone knows, motorcycles improve everything.

Well, okay, not everything.

Soulcalibur VI — TBD 2018

If you're a long-time Soulcalibur fan, the newest entry should make you very happy. Soulcalibur VI was officially unveiled at the 2017 Game Awards, and marks an intentional return to the series' roots. The game will revisit the story from very first Soulcalibur game, shedding new light on events and revealing "hidden truths" about what went down. Soulcalibur VI is codenamed Luxor specifically because it's going to be bright and colorful, just like the original. Classic characters like Sophitia and Mitsurugi will get a major spotlight.

It's not all nostalgia, though. A brand new system called Reversal Edge mimics the feeling of parrying and retaliating against opponents in a real-life sword fight, and will let savvy fighters reverse the flow of battle in an instant. Bandai Namco's team is taking great pains to ensure that Soulcalibur VI remains accessible even if you're not fixated on hitboxes, frame cancels, and footsies, too. All in all, we can't think of a better way to celebrate the Soulcalibur's 20th anniversary than with a game that satisfies old fans while bringing new players into the fold. If early playtests are any indication, Soulcalibur VI does just that.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps — TBD 2018

In 2015, Ori and the Blind Forest felt like a once-in-a-lifetime game. Yes, there are other Metroidvania-style platformers out there, but none are quite like Ori. The story, which focuses on a lost spirit on a quest to rescue his forest home, is sweet without being cloying, classic without being contrived, and surprising without feeling forced. Its animation and art resemble Rayman's, but surpass that series' aesthetics in almost every way. Ori and the Blind Forest has a forgiving but not-too-forgiving difficulty curve and perfect controls. It's not a flawless game, but it's awfully close.

It seems foolish to try and recapture that magic, but Moon Studios is trying anyway. Visually, Ori and the Will of the Wisps resembles its predecessor, but given The Blind Forest's pedigree that's hardly a criticism. New gameplay additions remain a mystery, but on internet forums Ori co-creator Thomas Mahler claims that "that Will of the Wisps should be to Blind Forest what Super Mario Bros. 3 was to the original Super Mario Bros." That is, of course, a huge promise. But Mahler says that his team is committed to "blowing the gates wide open" and delivering the ultimate Ori experience.

Even if Ori and the Will of the Wisps is simply as good as the original game, gamers should be happy with the sequel. By almost every measure, the first one was good enough.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 — TBD 2018

Minecraft is one of the biggest and most popular games ever made, but it's not for everyone. While building houses, castles, farms, or whatever you can think up can be a thrilling and freeing experience, too much freedom can be a turn-off for some. If you're not building things for a reason, what's the point?

Dragon Quest Builders from 2016 solves that problem by fusing Minecraft's blocky construction mechanics with a world bursting with personality. You still have to scour for materials and then use them to craft various structures, but there's a story, too. You build things for a reason.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 looks to be more of the same. In the sequel, fast-travel options will make exploration less tedious, and your creations will be more beautiful than ever thanks to craftable waterfalls and sloped surfaces. If you've got handy friends, you can recruit up to three others to join you, fighting and building your way across Alefgard as a team. Dragon Quest Builders 2 doesn't radically change the formula, but it doesn't need to. The foundation is strong.

Super Meat Boy Forever — TBD 2018

Super Meat Boy wasn't supposed to get a sequel. The first game was a massive success—it basically single-handedly reinvigorated the flagging 2D platformer genre, showing modern players just how compelling a game with responsive controls, simple graphics, and a brutal difficulty curve could be. But while Meat Boy quickly became an indie gaming icon, co-creator Edmund McMillen left Team Meat shortly after production to work on The Binding of Isaac, and it looked like Super Meat Boy would be destined to stand alone.

Team Meat announced that a mobile edition of Super Meat Boy was in the works way back in 2014. After that, information stopped flowing—but work didn't. In 2017, the portable edition of Super Meat Boy returned as a fully-fledged sequelSuper Meat Boy Forever is still an auto-runner like Super Mario RunCanabalt, and Jetpack Joyride, but don't assume that it's a simple port. This is a brand new game.

Team Meat says that Meat Boy and Bandage Girl will be able to attack foes, beat bosses, and discover secrets just like before. While Super Meat Boy had hand-made levels designed specifically drive you nuts, Super Meat Boy Forever pieces stages together based on how well you do (or don't) fare. If the system works, that'll ensure that Super Meat Boy Forever is harder than ever. After all, humans have empathy. Algorithms don't.