GameAxis Top 30: Games to look out for in 2018

With 2017 behind us, it’s time to awkwardly avoid your backlog and look to the dawning horizon. It’s going to be an interesting year for games: After a phenomenal launch, can the Nintendo Switch maintain its momentum with well-paced releases? Will Microsoft’s Xbox One X finally flex all that tech muscle? And does the PlayStation 4 have more ace titles up their sleeve?

We’ve picked out 30 games that the team is most looking forward to this year. It’s a rough guide of what to expect in the months to come, comprising of both high-budget productions and indie love letters across multiple genres.

Keep an eye out for our monthly release highlights for games that release sooner rather than later.

Note: Sorted by release date followed by alphabetical order.

The Inpatient

[PSVR]
Tags: VR, Horror
Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release: 24 Jan

You may remember Supermassive’s Until Dawn, a great looking PS4 exclusive that faithfully captured the tone, atmosphere, and terrible plot of teen horror flicks. It’s an age-old guilty pleasure given new life through interactivity, and its a universe we’ll revisit with The Inpatient. Only this time it’s a first-person ordeal rendered in VR, creeping through the halls of the Blackwood Sanatorium sixty years prior. Let’s hope everyone’s family members will be tolerant of all that screaming.

Monster Hunter: World

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: Action RPG, Co-Op
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release: 26 Jan (Consoles), Autumn (PC)

Capcom are taking a huge leap of faith with Monster Hunter: World, building an ambitious AAA project away from their predominantly handheld fan-base. Still, the move to capture new audiences will likely prove rewarding, given the game’s beautiful open world and addictive monster-hunting cycle. There aren’t any other games like it on consoles and, somewhat fortuitously, no other major action title in late-Jan to compete with.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: Fighting
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release: 26 Jan

One look is all it takes for Dragon Ball FighterZ to be convincing. Capturing the visual style and power of the TV shows, Arc System Works have produced a gorgeous love letter to the Dragon Ball franchise. While it may be a new series, it adopts a familiar 3v3 system and combo-stringing focus so as to remain in safe territory, exhibiting enough fighting game chops to appease veterans and ease in new players.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

[PS4]
Tags: Fighting, RPG
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: 30 Jan

Through the strength of its IP and unique combat systems, the Dissidia series has managed to carve a spot among the many traditional fighting games out there. Recognizing its potential, Square Enix handed the license to combat extraordinaire Team Ninja, who have reshaped Dissidia NT into a 3v3 team brawler while retaining the Bravery system. Following a successful arcade run, the series is now ready to head into our homes and, potentially, the esports arena.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: RPG
Developer: Warhorse Studios
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release: 13 Feb

Picture the medieval era and the genres that often crop up are strategy and RPG. Of the second, you’ll almost always find some form of magic in it. Not inWarhorse’s Kingdom Come: Deliverance, though, billed as an authentic, armored trudge through Bohemia in the 1400s. It’s based on real events, with branching quest lines, a human needs system, and historically accurate equipment, tactics, architecture, and even music. 35,000 backers wanted it, and plenty more are just waiting for its release.

Dynasty Warriors 9

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: Hack-and-Slash, Open World
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release: 13 Feb

As Omega Force churns out Warriors spin-offs for other franchises, it was only proper for the studio’s own series to get an overhaul. Dynasty Warriors 9 transplants the hack-and-slash formula to a massive open world, which in turns grants players strategic options. Where missions used to be highly scripted, we can now choose our direction of attack, whether to do so under the cover of night, or to simply attend to pressing matters elsewhere. But don’t worry: we’ll still use familiar Chinese legends to defeat scores of enemy officers.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

[PS4]
Tags: Action-Adventure, Open World
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Release: 20 Mar

Yakuza Kiwami catapulted Japan’s Grand Theft Auto into the laps of Western audiences, its blend of action, humor, and drama captivating a new generation of fans. While the combat may be a little uninspired in execution, it more than makes up for it with its zany, slapstick approach. There’s plenty to do with the avalanche of mini-games too, some of which are deeper than they appear. The only speed bump is that Kiwami was a remake of the first game, leaving newcomers with plenty to catch up on.

Sea of Thieves

[XB1] [PC]
Tags: Action-Adventure, Co-Op, Open World
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release: 20 Mar

Sailing the high seas with friends, going on treasure hunts and swashbuckling adventures? What’s not to love? Sea of Thieves has had our attention for years, and while Rare has better outlined what it is that players do, there’s still that sense of freedom and whimsy typically reserved for sandbox crafting games. Grafting that experience into a new setting, steeped in piracy, ale, and gold, may turn this into the most entertaining co-op title of 2018.

A Way Out

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: Narrative Adventure, Co-Op
Developer: Hazelight Studios
Publisher: EA
Release: 23 Mar

Some may associate the game with the director’s famous rant at The Game Awards,  but A Way Out has little need for sideline attention. Hazelight exhibited a brilliant approach to game design with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, a heartwarming puzzle-platformer where players directed two characters using a single controller. While their next game is a little more traditional, requiring a second person for proper co-op, there’s plenty of expectation riding on the narrative and presentation.

Battletech

[PC]
Tags: Tactics RPG
Developer: Harebrained Schemes
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release: Early 2018

It’s a huge year for giant robots, and fans who prefer theirs heavy and stompy have the crowdfunded Battletech to look forward to. While aspiring pilots get a new MechWarrior, Harebrained Schemes gives would-be commanders a direct adaptation of the tabletop game, where scouting, line-of-sight, and targeted fire all play a vital role. In a sprawling campaign where defeat and losses are expected, players need to weigh risks and finances as they lead a mercenary unit through the 3025 Succession Wars era.

Detroit: Become Human

[PS4]
Tags: Narrative Adventure
Developer: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release: Early 2018

The industry would be far less richer without David Cage around. Doggedly attempting to bridge cinema and gaming, his efforts haven’t exactly been consistent or groundbreaking. They are, however, different, especially in our highly iterative medium. Detroit looks to fall back on the strengths of Heavy Rain with its multiple narratives and family drama, all the while seeking to address segregation through the lens of humans and androids. Perhaps it’ll miss by a mile, or perhaps it’ll have its resonant moments; either way, this is one adventure that will leave plenty of folks talking.

NEO Impossible Bosses

[PC]
Tags: MOBA, Boss-Rush, Co-Op
Developer: x0to1
Publisher: x0to1
Release: Early 2018

In the primordial Warcraft 3 modding years, before Defense of the Ancients grew into the beast we know today, there existed an entire category of custom maps built around boss rushes. Imagine: teams of players banding together, dodging and weaving across the screen as if it were an MMORPG or bullet hell. Impossible Bosses was one such take, inspiring one-man indie “x0to1” to give his own, modern take on it. Conceptualizing and designing those encounters is a monstrous feat, but what we’ve played at conventions so far has been promising.

Red Dead Redemption 2

[PS4] [XB1]
Tags: Action-Adventure
Developer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Release: Q2 2018

Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption is, simply put, legendary in the eyes of many. It’s well-executed components, from story to gameplay and production, came together to leave an experience one never forgets, further cherished by the fact that no PC port or remaster exists (unless a current rumor proves otherwise). Since it’s a self-contained Western, nobody really expected a prequel – yet here we are, and its single trailer has our imaginations running wild.

Vampyr

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: Action RPG
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release: Spring 2018

After exploring cyberpunk with Remember Me and the contemporary with Life is Strange, developers Dontnod are trying their hand at fantasy with Vampyr. No prizes for guessing what it involves, though the premise is fascinating; while we do play a vampire, preying on hapless and charmed citizens, our protagonist is also a doctor struggling to combat an epidemic. Its an intriguing balancing act, one that acutely puts your actions into question. For the action-inclined, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to fend off hunters and the supernatural through gunpowder and steel.

Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner – MARS

[PS4] [PSVR] [PC]
Tags: Third-Person Shooter, VR (Optional)
Developer: Cygames
Publisher: Konami
Release: Spring 2018

A second remaster isn’t far-fetched these days but, in this case, they’re doing more than the standard touch-up. Through the curious use of developer Cygames, Zone of the Enders will be enhanced with 4K textures and full VR integration – that is, playable from start to finish. To enhance immersion they’re employing “surround sound techniques” too. That said, we don’t expect the VR to be a good match the entire time, considering how tight the mecha combat gets in some places. Nonetheless, the game coming to PC is a boon for both longevity and for winning over new players.

Skull and Bones

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: Action, Multiplayer
Developer: Ubisoft Singapore, Ubisoft Blue Byte, Ubisoft Chengdu
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release: Fall 2018

Two pirate games in the same year may possibly be one too many, but Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones are taking a vastly different approach from Sea of Thieves. Emphasizing team tactics, naval combat, and some gorgeous-looking waters, captains here will be far more confrontational and deadly in their hunt for loot. Through cannon, wit, and wind, captains must use all at their disposal to round up gold, before pirate hunters, or worse, decide to pay a visit. And before anyone thinks it’s multiplayer-only, there’s a campaign to explore too.

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

[PS4] [PSVR] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: Combat Flight Sim, VR (Optional)
Developer: Project Aces
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release: 2018

Ace Combat has been in a particularly strange position this past decade, producing a string of spin-offs and one poorly received foray into free-to-play. After a full ten years, fans can finally jump into a new numbered entry in the series, starring the fan-favorite Strangereal alternate universe to boot. While we can probably expect the same character and political drama, as well as sci-fi-esque boss battles, PS VR owners can look forward to donning their headsets for a few exclusive missions.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

[PS4] [XB1] [PC] [Switch]
Tags: Side-Scrolling, Platformer
Developer: Artplay, DICO
Publisher: 505 Games
Release: 2018

Castlevania may be slumbering within Konami’s catacombs but, thanks to crowdfunding, former series producer Koji Igarashi has been free to pursue a spiritual successor. Hitting its funding goal ten times over, Bloodstained leads a cursed orphan, Miriam, into a castle’s depths as she seeks out a similarly-afflicted soul. The game adopts the familiar 2.5D visual style, along with a progression system involving powers, weapons, and armor.

Crackdown 3

[XB1] [PC]
Tags: Action-Adventure, Multiplayer
Developer: Reagent Games, Sumo Digital, Ruffian Games, Cloudgine
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release: 2018

Crackdown’s open world destruction was supposed to release last year but, rather than rush an ambitious and admittedly key title, Microsoft wisely decided to extend it’s time in the oven. While there is some concern over the number of studios involved, there’s plenty of curiosity over how cloud computing – a huge point in early Xbox One marketing – will add to the visual spectacle. Hopefully it’ll get to demonstrate the full power of the new Xbox One X too.

Darksiders III

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: Action-Adventure
Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release: 2018

Having clawed its’ way out of THQ’s wreckage, the Darksiders franchise is raring to get back on the road. Steering its revival are the many team leads who created the series in the first place, now free to continue the Four Horsemen’s story and with a publisher’s blessing. This time, we’re hanging up War’s sword and Death’s scythes to unleash living hell with Fury’s whips and magic.

God of War

[PS4]
Tags: Action-Adventure
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release: 2018

The lauded God of War games were very much a product of their times, and while there are fans who still long for its brand of visceral hack-and-slash, developers Santa Monica have a new story and direction in mind. It’s a bold move, for unlike a franchise reboot they’re choosing to accept the hyperviolent past as a narrative on growth, and they’re bringing that image change to an iconic PlayStation character. If nothing else, romping through Norse mythology with Kratos and son should provide plenty of set-piece moments.

Insurgency: Sandstorm

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: First-Person Shooter, Tactical, Multiplayer
Developer: New World Interactive
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release: 2018

Insurgency addresses a niche within the FPS market, injecting a weighty dose of tactical realism to Counter-Strike’s infantry-focused combat. By not competing against combined arms games such as Arma and Squad, the developers have built a community that’s active and ready for more. Sandstorm makes the jump to Unreal Engine 4 and consoles, with plans for esports; certainly huge progress for what essentially started as a Source mod.

Kingdom Hearts III

[PS4] [XB1]
Tags: Action RPG
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: 2018

As Final Fantasy XV players relish in new content, Kingdom Hearts III fans are still hanging on for their dearly beloved. With the former mostly out of the way, many are hoping that development on the long-awaited action RPG has picked up enough steam for a release sooner rather than later. There are still doubts over the 2018 release date promised last year, but one way or another the story (needlessly complicated presentation aside) needs to move on. Besides, we imagine Disney is breathing down their neck about it.

Left Alive

[PS4] [PC]
Tags: Shooter
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release: 2018

The revival of a fan-loved universe is often grounds for celebration, yet not many choose to explore those universes from an alternate perspective. Where spin-offs often diverge wildly from their source material, Left Alive simply plucks the player out of their mechs and onto the ground, relying on traps and stealth to win the day. Other than there being survival mechanics and three different protagonists, there’s still plenty left for Square Enix to reveal this year, presumably at E3.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

[PS4]
Tags: Action-Adventure
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release: 2018

Our friendly neighborhood hero hasn’t had a decent standalone game since 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Considering Marvel’s current reign in theatres, we’re definitely overdue for a new one. Enter Insomniac Games, who know a thing or two about stylishly navigating cities after Sunset Overdrive. Add to that their long track record with technical performance, plus the impressive gameplay teaser last year, and it seems that hopefuls are in for a swinging good time.

Metro Exodus

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: First-Person Shooter, Survival Horror
Developer: 4A Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release: 2018

Return to post-apocalyptic Moscow in the third installment of Metro, a series that has seen excellent FPS gameplay married to a wonderfully immersive world. Instead of gingerly slinking through even more derelict subway tunnels, Exodus takes players to the irradiated surface – right into the throes of a deadly Russian winter. If the cold doesn’t kill then maybe that empty air canister will. Naturally, the mutant horrors will be up there with you too.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

[PC]
Tags: RPG
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Versus Evil
Release: 2018

As the spiritual successor to the influential Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale RPGs, the crowdfunded Pillars of Eternity stands not only as a worthy peer but a modern-day example of the genre’s strengths: deep tactical combat, grand storytelling, and an epic sense of adventure. Deadfire (also crowdfunded) promises to continue that journey, inheriting choices made in the first game as players pursue a newly awakened god.

Soulcalibur VI

[PS4] [XB1] [PC]
Tags: Fighting
Developer: Project Soul
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release: 2018

The fighting games market is ripe for the return of Soulcalibur, an iconic franchise that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year (ignoring 1995’s Soul Edge, that is). One of the few titles to revolve around weapons combat and a 3D arena, the main series has seen tremendous positive response up until the fifth game, where it has since languished in silence for six long years. Soulcalibur VI adds a new counter-attack called Reversal Edge in a bid to keep up with trends.

State of Decay 2

[XB1] [PC]
Tags: Survival Horror, Zombies, Third-Person, Co-Op, Open World
Developer: Undead Labs
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release: 2018

Many were the games that embraced the undead, yet few managed to pull it off well. State of Decay emphasized group survival over the individual, with a compelling mix of base building, NPC management, open world scavenging, and good old gunplay to see the dawning light of next day. This sequel expands on that experience and adds online co-op, where each player leads their own community of survivors.

Valkyria Chronicles 4

[PS4] [XB1] [Switch]
Tags: Tactics RPG
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Release: 2018

Valkyria Chronicles expertly blends overhead planning with on-the-ground tactics for a unique take on the strategy RPG genre. Its wide cast of characters boast individual strengths, preferred pairings, and personalities to truly bring your squad to life, leaving players invested in each one. After detouring with portables and a mediocre spin-off, the series is finally back on home consoles (and PC!) looking bigger and better than ever: a new class, new systems, and so much more.

Honorable Mention: “Fire Emblem Switch”

[Switch]
Tags: Tactics RPG
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Ninendo
Release: 2018

Nintendo couldn’t have asked for a better launch as the Switch swept up fans, praise, and accolades across the globe. As first-party franchises shift to the new flagship, we can’t help but wonder how the Fire Emblem series – a system-seller and staunch performer on the 3DS handheld – will adapt to more powerful hardware.


We’ve also shortlisted a few titles that may see a release in 2018:

  • Death Stranding
  • “Devil May Cry V”
  • Songbird Symphony
  • World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

And that’s it! What are you counting down to?

Comments

Ade Putra

Ade thinks there's nothing quite like a good game and a snug headcrab. He grew up with HIDEO KOJIMA's Metal Gear Solid, lives for RPGs, and is waiting for light guns to make their comeback.