2017 was such an incredible year for video games that chances are, most gamers will be playing catch up with all the great titles they didn’t have a chance to play well into 2018. And if you are one of those gamers and you have a large backlog of games, you best get started soon because 2018 looks to be another banner year for the industry.
We here at Goomba Stomp have gone ahead with our yearly tradition of providing you with a list of our most anticipated games. Last year, almost every game we chose wound up somewhere in our list of the best games of the year. Hopefully, the majority of these picks will equally impress us, if not, exceed our expectations. Here is the second part of our list.
The Last of Us Part II
It’s a testament to the brilliance of the 2013 original that, despite having released only two inscrutable if tantalising trailers to date (trailers which ask far more questions than they answer), The Last of Us Part II won the award for most anticipated forthcoming title at the 2017 Video Game Awards just a couple of short weeks ago.
I mean, aside from creator Neil Druckmann’s declaration at the 2016 PlayStation Experience that an older, wiser, more bitter Ellie will be taking over protagonist duties from Joel, the only specific information we have regarding the highly-anticipated sequel is that the game will focus on hate, rather than love, and will feature a mysterious cult characterised by its penchant for disembowelment and disarming people (almost literally) with household tools.
But, for fans like myself, that’s more than enough to be going on with. We know inimitable developer Naughty Dog is at the helm, after all, which in turn means we can reasonably expect to be enjoying another rich and engrossing narrative when we finally get our hands on the game, filled to bursting with incredible characters, high-octane action set-pieces, and zombified fungus mutants inspired by a BBC nature documentary; set within a post-apocalypse that never feels tired and derivative.
With no release window provided as yet, let alone a definitive date, however, I’d say there’s a better than even chance we won’t see The Last of Us Part II until 2019 at the earliest. Still, we can dream.
Mega Man 11
The last few years have been rough for retro-style game fans. Kickstarter has been a rough place to be if you’re a fan of a particular developer, as dev teams and directors behind titles like Banjo-Kazooie and the original Mega Man floundered to recapture what made those games special (even if other people have already done that for them). It seemed like there was no hope for a new “blue bomber” following the disappointment of Mighty No. 9. Capcom had been quiet and resting and their laurels, and maybe throwing a bone to fans every once in a while with Mega Man cameos in fighting games or HD repackagings… at least until the past winter when we got our first look at Mega Man 11.
I am of the mindset that I never want to go in getting too excited about things until I’ve had a chance to play them, but Mega Man 11 is one of those few rule breakers. The visual style in the trailer feels like a natural evolution of the franchise. I know there are plenty of people who would want to see a continuation of the pixel style seen in 9 and 10, but Capcom has done the franchise some visual justice that no other fan-game or “creator revival” has ever done. Sleek, stylish, and back on track, Mega Man is looking to make an amazing return in 2018. (Taylor Smith)
Metroid Prime 4
No, it hasn’t been officially confirmed for release in 2018, but a sequel to one of the greatest series of all time bears exception. Announced back at E3 2017 during one of Nintendo’s greatest E3 presentations in recent memory, Metroid Prime 4 looks to build upon an impressive resume set by the previous three games and bring yet another heavy hitter to Nintendo’s hottest selling console. While we’ve seen nary a hair of Metroid Prime 4, the game remains Nintendo’s largest on the horizon and one that, if it lives up to expectations, is sure to bring about a new era of excellence for the Switch and fans of the Metroid series alike. (Iszak Barnette)
Despite the industry move to largely online experiences, we are somewhat spoiled for great single-player shooters. The recent Doom and Wolfenstein games from Machine Games, the Far Cry and Shadow Warrior series, and indie titles like Dusk or Immortal Redneck have all kept the torch lit in the early days of gaming alight. One series that’s done extremely well was the Metro series, based on the post-apocalyptic novels by Dmitry Glukhovsky, and after an extended gap, we’re finally returning to the beautiful hell of the Moscow underground.
Or rather, partially returning, as from the two explosive trailers reveal that much of this game is going to take place topside, and the name itself alludes to leaving Moscow in search of something better. Once again players will be filling the radiated shoes of Artyom, a young but skilled ranger who seems adept at surviving everything the Metro can throw at him. There are monsters of both the beast and man variety, cobbled together weapons, and new to Exodus is the inclusion of large, non-linear levels that you’ll explore with your punk-as-hell Russian steam engine. Overall it looks like what fans loved from the series is still going to be there, but this time it’s bringing a lot more to the table, and that’s more than enough to get excited about. (Andrew Vandersteen)
Mulaka is an action-adventure game created by Mexican developer Lienzo, due to be released early this year. Inspired by the ancient culture and mythology of the Tarahumara tribe, Mulaka looks absolutely stunning, bringing a curious Ōkami vibe entangled with the animatic charm of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
The setting of ancient America is unique in itself, with the beautiful spirit of nature residing across the map and in the people you meet; the ability to transform into some of Mexico’s and ancient America’s most spiritual animals, such as a bear or an eagle, appears to be part of solving some of the puzzles. The adventure confronts you with many challenges, particularly some gorgeously animated creatures that each require different techniques to defeat. From the Nintendo Direct last year, some appear to be based on the Native American myth of the Chenoo, a kind of elemental golem from the region.
The emphasis on ancient American cultures, combined with gameplay inspired by The Legend of Zelda, places Mulaka as one of the games to watch for this year. It’s already won the award for the best game in the National Games MX Contest, and with its release imminent, we will all soon find out why. (James Baker)
Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter finally makes the leap back to home consoles this month, and fans are simply foaming at the mouth to get back into the hunt. Luckily, Capcom has provided players with a couple betas to whet their appetites, and the impressions are very promising. The basic Monster Hunter feel is alive and well in World, with weapons feeling fairly similar to how they felt in previous entries. The maps themselves feel dense and convoluted, with tons of secret paths and an opening connecting one area to the next. The loading times have also been completely removed thanks to the more powerful hardware, which is a blessing to longtime fans of the series.
If you’re like me, you probably didn’t realize that Melbourne has a unique coffee-house culture; but it does. Route 59 is delving deep into that world with their upcoming game, Necrobarista. In the demo previewed at PAX West, players got a chance to peek into the game’s stylishly supernatural world. With its mix of anime-inspired character designs (somewhere between FLCL and Cowboy Bebop) and somber magical-realist environments, Necrobarista is nothing if not visually striking.
Although people have described it as a 3D visual novel, Necrobarista pushes the boundaries of what most may expect from the genre. In lieu of static backgrounds and stiff character sprites, Necrobarista uses a highly stylized and cinematic presentation to place the reader into its world. Through a mix of kinetic typography, interactive environments, and dynamic camera movements, the game feels detailed, deliberate, and alive.
Blocks of dreamy prose float amidst the half-shadowed dusty air of a coffee-house cellar. The world seems to hold its breath as focus shift onto two figures opposite each other at a table. One beat. Two. Electric pulses that jolt back and forth, the camera moving and swaying to the rhythm. A necromancing barista and a ghost who wants to fight for time.
While Necrobarista’s PAX demo only gave me a sip of the game, it was enough to have me eagerly awaiting its release. (Kyle Rogacion)
Ooblets is the mishmash of Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Pokemon that you never knew you wanted. Developed solely by two-person team Glumberland and published by Double-Fine, Ooblets’ greatest asset is its overly abundant cuteness and charm. The game is aesthetically similar to both Slime Rancher and Adventure Time—not necessarily in art style, but in overall tone and atmosphere. It’s evident even in its early stages that Glumberland has done a splendid job of creating a world that feels supremely inviting, silly and comforting.
Aside from just feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, there seems like there’ll be a ton to do in the world of Oob. Players start out in a small town where they can decorate and furnish their own little homes and fully customize their characters. Everyone gets a little farm to both grow ooblets and food for them, though the exact number of attainable ooblets has yet to be revealed. Once you have a decent party of ooblets you’ll be able to go out and explore the land complete with location-specific ooblets and characters. Many questions remain about the finer details of the game (i.e. can you have a home in every location? What’s the game’s endgoal? Are there gyms or competitions like in Pokemon?), but the groundwork is already laid for what could be a magical experience later this year. (Brent Middleton)
Project Octopath Traveler
Not to be its release title, Project Octopath Traveler is an upcoming RPG by Square Enix and Acquire with no official release date other than this year. The game puts players in the roles of eight different characters, all who start the game in very different ways. Each character has a unique ability that can be used when interacting with NPCs, for example; Primrose can allure characters to follow her, while Olberic can challenge characters to battle him. These unique abilities ensure every game of Project Octopath Traveler is different.
The game features turn-based battles, with a variety of weapons and elemental magic used to defeat your foes. Playable characters receive boost points, which can be stored up five at a time. During their turn, a player can use three boost points to boost a command, allowing the player to increase an ability.
The games unique animation style, coined as ‘HD-2D’ by the developers, is quite the beautiful feat. It combines 16-bit style character sprites and textures with polygonal environments and high definition effects. The gorgeous art-style is enough to put this as a game to watch out for in 2018, and hopefully, it’ll release sooner rather than later. (James Baker)
Red Dead Redemption 2
It’s probably safe to say that Red Dead Redemption 2 is the most anticipated game of 2018.Red Dead Redemption was an astounding game set in the American West. 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 narrative stories. Like a trusty horse, Red Dead Redemption 2 is saddled with heavy expectation. Even today, Red Dead Redemption holds up amazingly well, and Rockstar announced a sequel, well a prequel, back in late 2016, and fans are chomping at the bit to immerse themselves again in the well-defined world of the unforgiving American heartland. There’s not too terribly much to know about the game, Rockstar studios are very good at keeping the lid on whatever project they’re working on. What we do know is the possible foundation- our main character is Arthur Morgan, a troubled cowboy who has riled band of people across the Wild West intent on pursuing him. There’s a possibility of seven playable characters, with the possibility of John Marston being one of them, along with the open world will lead to a mass online multiplayer experience. Red Dead Redemption 2 is set to release in the 2nd quarter or late spring of 2018. (Katrina Lind)
Sea of Thieves
Titles like Assassins’ Creed: Black Flag and Blackwake have both proven there’s a market for pirate-themed games, a market that gaming legends Rare are looking to step into with their coop pirate-sim Sea of Thieves, releasing on PC and X1 on March 20. The feature list is exhaustive, and it’s clear that this definitely needs to be on the map of anyone looking for a new coop game for their group.
Everything’s better with friends, and in Sea of Thieves that everything seems to be all-encompassing, as every action can and should be done with a group. Be that sailing across the seas, battling other ships, searching for treasure, and taking down the undead hordes that guard the riches. Even better is the promised connectivity, allowing groups to work together, or more likely duke it out both at sea and on land.
Finally, the entire thing is covered in that Rare sheen, a mix of serious craftsmanship coupled with a great sense of humour. You can fire yourself out of a cannon, eat bananas to stay healthy, and the game never seems to take itself too seriously. Everything shown about the game seems to point to a great experience, and this is certainly one to watch in the spring release window. (Andrew Vandersteen)
Shin Megami Tensei V
Hoping for a 2018 release on this one is probably a long-shot, especially since we only just recently had the official announcement that the upcoming Switch game is Shin Megami Tensei V. ATLUS has an amazing track record when it comes to their flagship series, and SMTV looks like the console-based SMT game fans wanted out of IV. There’s nothing wrong SMTIV, it’s a beautiful game, and I think being on the 3DS did it wonders in terms of sales and tolerability, but I’m happy to be back on a console with high-end graphics. The painterly style MegaTen games adopted in the PS2-era is one of my favorites, I love dramatic cel-shading. Shin Megami Tensei V’s trailer shows off a lot of the game’s visuals, and they look awesome in HD. (Taylor Smith)
The idea of a 3D Spider-Man video game sounds like heaven, but it’s not something that has been executed all that well more than perhaps once.
Many hold 2004’s Spider-Man 2 (a loose adaptation of the Sam Raimi-directed movie of the same name) in the highest esteem, touting it as the best Spider-Man game to ever exist. There’s ample reason for that, as the game was able to successfully transfer the feeling of freedom that comes with being Spider-Man, swinging around NYC all fluid and parkour-ish, like never before. There was an emphasis on movement and, frankly, style, that Spider-Man games since have foregone.
Instead, in recent years, there has been a push to linear, controlled experiences in video game outings with Spidey. While there’s nothing wrong with that idea (outside of the games being poorly received, critically), the prospect of a modern Spider-Man game that could potentially bring back the skyscraper-swinging adventures which we’ve been missing for over a decade is, well, pretty amazing.
Translating “being Spider-Man” into a believable video game is not an easy task, as there might be a bigger demand for believability and (somewhat) realism from mainstream gamers today. But, as Rocksteady did with Batman in Arkham Asylum (a game Insomniac’s Spider-Man is taking very obvious gameplay cues from, with its sneaking and combat elements), it’s all within the realm of possibility in the hands of the right team. If Sunset Overdrive is anything to go by, though, then this might indeed be the right team over at Insomniac.
While what we’ve seen so far does show some worrying signs of shoe-horned fan service within the weak-looking story (lol Miles get it?) and hand-holding quick-time event scenarios where the player simply, passively, watches Spider-Man do cool stuff (like in the Uncharted series), we’ve also seen enough of the combat and movement mechanics that should give us hope that Insomniac will let us, once again, “be” Spider-Man. (Maxwell N)
Since making its E3 debut in 2016, DONTNOD Entertainment have been crafting a cutting-edge, RPG experience that takes players back to 1918 London at the height of the Spanish-flu pandemic. As newly-turned vampire Dr. Jonathan Reid, players will find themselves constantly at battle with other creatures of the night—vampire hunters, undead Skal—and the monster within themselves. Choose between honoring the doctor’s hippocratic oath to save London’s citizens from death, or choose to satiate the doctor’s blood lust?
It’s a huge, messy conundrum the Life is Strange developers have created—a winding, interconnected web of consequences that give players the potential to destroy entire districts should they become too thirsty or too hell-bent on destruction. And making decisions between life and death will not always be easy, but this system is at the heart of Vampyr’s gameplay. Players will have to decide who to feed on, and who to spare, conscious of their need to increase their strength to prevail in combat. Jonathan’s vampire impulses will always be working against his human side, however.
Combat difficulty can be affected by player actions out of combat. Feeding, for example, provides massive XP boosts that make combat easier but can come with narrative consequences. Combat also allows Johnathan to fill his Blood Gauge; the fuller it gets, the more destructive spells and abilities he can unleash on his enemies. As players gain XP, new items on their non-linear skill tree unlock. The items can be unlocked in any order, which allows players to create their own archetypes to match their play styles.
Oh, and one other caveat—all decisions are final, so there’s no piecing back together a completely demolished London. Vampyr is slated for release Spring 2018. (Joanna Nelius)
The Walking Dead: The Final Season
While many people seem to have become somewhat bored by the repetitive nature of The Walking Dead television series – Rick’s group of resolute, at times morally questionable but ultimately good band of survivors encounter an unscrupulous rival gang, more often than not led by a charismatic leader, who they then proceed to wage war against for a season or two before triumphing – it’s fair to say that same sense of déjà vu hasn’t affected Telltale Games’ superb interactive drama series of the same name.
Over the course of four seasons, not counting the stand-alone Michonne mini-series that released in 2016, Telltale’s The Walking Dead has treated us to some truly compelling stories, changing cast and setting on a routine basis to ensure fans of the zombie apocalypse sub-genre always have something new and interesting to sink their teeth into. However, though this formula has been invaluable, the key to its success has been Clementine: an unlikely heroine who holds these disparate narratives together. And it’s the opportunity to conclude her arduous tale of seemingly endless suffering, punctuated with the occasional ray of sunshine, that has me and many others excited for next year’s finale.
Story details are thin on the ground at this stage, but it seems safe to assume the first episode at the very least will follow Clem’s attempts to locate and reunite with her adopted son AJ. What happens thereafter is harder to pin down, though, given that The Walking Dead is hardly known for its happily ever after’s, we can be similarly confident that it won’t be plain sailing for the young survivors.
Nevertheless, despite my innate pessimism, I hope The Walking Dead: The Final Season bucks the trend and gives Clementine a much-deserved break. A quiet settlement somewhere far away from the monsters (both human and undead), where she can live in peace and try to process the shocking events she’s experienced over the course of her short life (which, on my file, includes eating human flesh. Oops).
The world has been devoid of the oddly care-free, experimentally entertaining, brain bursts brought to life by visionary game director Keita Takahashi for far too long. His previous creations like Noby Noby Boy and, more famously, Katamari Damacy and We Love Katamari have lodged themselves hard into the creative consciousness of video games by this point in time and space.
Officially revealed back in 2014, Wattam seems like yet another entry in Takahashi’s catalog of positive destruction. It’s hard to discern exactly what is going around in this particular virtual playground that Wattam takes place in, outside of the fact that we (at least initially) assume the role of a mustached cube man known as “The Mayor” on our journey to “create joyful explosions” (as per the publisher’s description) and learn about the citizens in the world of Wattam (including 3D poop dudes), which seems to serve as a primary puzzle-solving mechanic. Maybe?
One thing is for sure: You’re better off expecting a fun, silly time and leaving any preconceived notions of a “video game” behind. Takahashi’s worlds don’t exactly share the stage with conventional gaming, and are better off for that. Wattam, it seems, is set to fill out that niche just as well as its predecessors. And that’s an exciting prospect.(Maxwell N)
We Happy Few
What do you get when you mix 60s psychedelia with George Orwell’s 1984? We Happy Few stood out last year, introducing a retrofuture post-war England where citizens are dependent on a hallucinogenic drug called Joy, and the streets are filled with deliriously happy and murderous neighbours. As a ‘downer’ who refuses the happy pills, you are hunted down by drug-addled citizens, forced to find places to hide and craft items for survival all while the regime’s reality is torn down around you. We Happy Few has been one to watch ever since its impressive first E3 trailer, but the game has since struggled with the misconception that it would be a heavily narrative-focused RPG, and suffered further outcry with the announcement of a price rise from the game’s original $29.99 to $50.99. However, the game price hike and partnership with Gearbox Software suggests a much better chance of the game delivering on a true open world narrative, one which makes each run through the game feel fresh and shocking, and with as many stories and hidden paths to follow as any Bioshock title. We Happy Few has certainly been the victim of its own high expectations, but with the main story still under wraps, it is perhaps time to be tentatively excited once more for the full release coming this year. We Happy Few has thus far shown creative talent that makes it undeniably original amongst other titles and if the team can deliver on a story to back up the world they’ve created we’ll certainly be in for a treat. You can currently check out We Happy Few in early access, but the game and main story mode will be released on the 13th of April. Compulsion Games have struck on a brilliant concept with We Happy Few, so with a little Joy, we hope to see them do justice to an exceptional survival horror for the spring of 2018. (Helen Jones)
Where the Water Tastes like Wine
No matter what your take on contemporary America and its role on the geopolitical stage, as a country it’s beyond remarkable. It is one of the most populous and powerful nations in history, with a rich and diverse cultural heritage that scarcely seems possible for a country that’s not even three hundred years old. From its beginnings as a colonial melting pot to its undeniable present day pre-eminence as a self-contained empire, with all the associated sorrows and triumphs in between, America has always been a treasure trove of stories. It’s these stories that serve as the conceptual inspiration for and gameplay foundation of Where the Water Tastes like Wine. An intriguing blend of “walking simulator” and interactive narrative this title promises to offer something unique in the modern gaming market.
By weaving together stories that range from the comic to the tragic, this flagship title from Dim Bulb Games presents players with the opportunity to travel across a living tapestry of gloriously grim Americana. Each tale offers its own take on the development of modern America, not from a dispassionate historical perspective but rather from a deeply personal point of view that goes beneath the States’ glamorous facade to get at the bizarre and beautiful truth. With a soundtrack that is a melancholy fusion of Bluegrass and classic Folk accompanying tales penned by an eclectic group of writers, this game uses small-scale stories to build an overall narrative that is as epic as the factual history of America as a whole. It may not be the most bombastic titles scheduled for release in 2018, but if what we’ve seen from trailers and industry expos thus far is to be believed then it is unquestionably going to be one of the most captivating and innovative games of the year. (Christopher Underwood)