THIS year isn’t even finished, and we’re already looking at the loading screen for 2018. We were busy enjoying turkey and Die Hard, while next year was quietly installing in the background. So what can we expect from the year to come?
Rolling into town on horseback is the year’s biggest game by far, Red Dead Redemption 2. Coming from the creators of Grand Theft Auto, this is the western equivalent of Rockstar’s world-conquering crime series.
The first game was a masterpiece of western mythology and gun-slinging action. It combined the wonder of roaming the open plains with one of gaming’s best stories. Like a trusty horse, it’s saddled with expectation.
‘The Ecstasy of Gold’ is one of Ennio Morricone’s most famous tracks, and Bioware will be hoping they strike gold with their own Anthem too. Anthem is the company’s brand new IP, an online co-operative sci-fi shooter that appears to be Destiny crossed with Mass Effect.
Like anything that EA produces these days, there are question marks over micro-transactions and structure, but Anthem has the budget and pedigree to be a great online
From Bioware, to Biomutant. This action RPG looks like it could be a breath of fresh, if mutated air for the genre, featuring a vibrant, cartoonish world in which the player can customise their animal avatar to be different shapes and sizes, impacting on how their character plays. In addition, players can pick up robotic enhancement in the world that affect their abilities. Biomutant looks like a really fun take on the open-world genre.
For most of us, ‘hitting’ the open sea means skimming a rock on the Atlantic, but there’s always Sea of Thieves to anticipate. Sea of Thieves is a pirate game from Rare Studios, who were (many moons ago) responsible for some of the best games around. Their goal is to create a persistent online world where you can roam the open seas with your friends, pirating and doing quests together. We’ll see if the final product can live up to the promise – we certainly hope so.
Another route to hidden treasure might be Project Octopath Traveller. This low-key Nintendo Switch release looks like a cross between Final Fantasy VI and a hand-drawn painting. The beautiful art style and old-school JRPG gameplay has a lot of people excited. For those who want a more certain bet for Japanese RPGS, Dragon Quest XI and Ni No Kuni II are both coming out next year too.
Another thing you can bet on - Kratos is angry. The seething anti-hero of God of War returns, long after laying waste to the Roman gods and taking his revenge on Olympus in the previous games.
Not content to have murdered Zeus himself, Kratos is now after the Norse gods too. We still don’t know why — but we suspect the fate of his young son will play a part. Also, he’s just plain angry, all the time.
Meanwhile, developer David Cage is trying to join a pantheon of greats himself. Cage has spent his career making ambitious, but flawed adventure games that always fall just short of brilliance. In Detroit: Become Human, Cage is trying his hand at sci-fi, with a game that evokes the spirit of Minority Report and Blade Runner. In a world where androids are used like slaves, where does morality begin and end? Like his previous games, Cage give the player elements of choice in Become Human, meaning you dictate the outcome of the story.
Meanwhile, we’ll dictate the end of this particular story by looking for A Way Out. In one of the bravest moves by a developer in recent history, Hazelight have designed a story-based action game that can only be played with two players. A Way Out will tell the tale of Leo and Vincent, as they break out of prison and stay on the run. Ordinarily, a game like this would include a single-player mode or the option of an AI companion, but Hazelight decided to make co-operative gameplay compulsory. Will both Leo and Vincent survive their prison escape, or will players be forced to make choice? A Way Out could be one of next year’s, well, break-out hits.