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.

State of Decay 2 — May 22, 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.

Detroit: Become Human — May 25, 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."

Jurassic World Evolution — June 12, 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.

The Crew 2 — June 29, 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.

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.

Spider-Man — September 7, 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.

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.

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.

Shenmue 3 — Late 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.

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.

Indivisible — TBD 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 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.

Consortium: The Tower — TBD 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. It's in Early Access now if you want to check it out for yourself.

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.

Pixel Noir — TBD 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.

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.

System Shock — TBD 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.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night — TBD 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 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!)

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."

Crackdown 3 — TBD 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. Then the open-world adventure was set for Spring 2018. Yet Spring has come and gone, and Crackdown 3 is not in our hands.

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.

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.

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 later this year.

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.