Say what you will about 2017 as a whole, but it’s definitely been a fantastic year for videogames. Sure, it’s not been perfect – Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite failed to live up to its legacy and suffered in sales as a result, Platinum’s newest darling, Scalebound, got cancelled, killing one of the few exclusives the Xbox One had, and the lootbox craze has only worsened thanks to the likes of Middle-earth: Shadow of War and Star Wars Battlefront II.
On the plus side, though, Persona 5 finally launched and met all of our expectations, Sonic Mania was a successful return to form for the Blue Blur (in terms of his 2D games, at least) and the Nintendo Switch has pretty much killed it since its release with the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Super Mario Odyssey.
It’s going to be a tough year to top, but 2018 looks set to have some pretty kick-ass games too. But which ones am I looking forward to the most (and most likely won’t have time to play because, God damn, 2017 had too many good games I still need to play through)? Well, let me share them with you and, hopefully, they’ll turn out to be as fantastic as I think they will be.
1. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (PS4)
No, I’ve still not completed any of the Yakuza games and I probably won’t get around to playing this one for a while because of that but, damn it, I want this franchise to do well, and it looks like it is. Yakuza 0 apparently exceeded expectations in terms of sales and Kiwami must’ve done well enough for Sega to actually do a remake of the second game. It feels like more and more people are beginning to get sucked into the adventures of former yakuza Kazuma Kiryu. So I wonder how all these newcomers will feel about this game being his swan song.
Yakuza 6 sees Kiryu being released from prison (again), only to learn that his adopted daughter, Haruka, has been hospitalised and left in a coma. Naturally, Kiryu sets on a mission to find out what happened to her whilst also looking after her newborn son. Yeah, Kiryu’s got to look after a baby throughout the game. This sounds so dumb; the kind of dumb you’d see in a sequel to some third-rate comedy film that wasn’t funny to begin with. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a casual fan is that this series runs on dumb shit and revels in it, so I’m weirdly looking forward to seeing how they make the concept of taking care of a baby actually fun.
And like I said, this is set to be the last game with Kiryu as the star. While he’s been in every entry, the recent games began to focus more on other, newer characters. With Yakuza 6, Kiryu is once again solely in the spotlight and I have a feeling that his ending might be more tragic than we all want it to be. If this is the last we’ll see of him, I hope he at least goes out with a bang.
2. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (PS4)
I’ve mentioned before that I struggle to get into fighting games, and the genre has only become even more tempting with all the cool looking titles released this year and to come in the future. Fortunately, there is one that I’m relatively sure I’ll actually be able to pick up and enjoy and that’s the long awaited port of this arcade game.
While I never played them myself, I at least loved the idea of the previous Dissidia games, especially since they had actual plot-lines and took advantage of having all these different heroes and villains from Final Fantasy‘s history. Sure, the story is awfully convoluted but that’s to be expected and they at least offered cool interactions between the characters. So with a follow-up now coming to home consoles, this seems like the perfect opportunity to jump in myself.
I was initially put off by how confusing the gameplay looked (even if it did look awesome) but after watching some official tutorial videos, it looks like it’s been designed to be relatively accessible while still having enough complexity to differentiate it from other fighting games and requires a certain level of skill to actually play well. The lack of a traditional story mode like the last two game’s had is a little disappointing but there does seem to be some kind of plot going on; as long as we get a bunch more cutscenes like this one, it may be enough to satisfy me.
With an already sizable roster, a tonne of DLC potential and all manner of fan-service, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT looks set to at least be a blast to play as a solo experience or with friends.
3. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PS4, Vita, XBO, Switch, PC)
A part of me regrets not backing this game on Kickstarter when I had chance; I was never into Castlevania so seeing a successor to this more-or-less dead franchise didn’t grab me like it did with other people but, after seeing some actual gameplay, I was kind of won over.
The Metroidvania style of game is one I’ve never had much experience with but, as someone who loves 3D platformers that offer tonnes of exploration and the like, it feels like this game could perfectly scratch those specific itches – the only difference is that it’s in 2D. Not to mention there are RPG mechanics where main character Miriam can get stronger by leveling up, gaining new magical powers and weapons to offer a myriad of ways in defeating enemies.
Plus the game just looks good. I really dig the art style they’re going for; this weird mesh of anime-esque character designs and Gothic settings, as well as cool but creepy looking enemies. Actually, I think the game’s aesthetic alone was enough to sell me on it.
Let’s just hope this doesn’t go the same way as Mighty No. 9 and turn out to be a lacklustre, borderline atrocious mess that fails to deliver what it promised. Though considering director Koji Igarashi hasn’t attempted to turn the thing into a franchise from the get-go, I think it’s safe to say it’s in good hands.
4. Kirby Star Allies (Switch)
You can never go wrong with Kirby. Seriously, I don’t think the pink blob has ever had a bad game. And while his Switch debut may not be groundbreaking or epic, it at least looks set to offer all we need from a Kirby game – bright and cute visuals, enjoyable gameplay, some new powers and most likely a dose of nightmare fuel.
And much like Kirby’s Adventure Wii, there’ll even be co-op features in case you’ve got some friends who you want to experience the adventure with. No playable Meta Knight, King Dedede or Waddle Dee unfortunately but playing as iconic enemies like Sir Kibble or Blade Knight is still nice.
I’m most looking forward to what kind of crazy set-pieces the game might offer. The incredibly buff Dedede already sets an insane precedent and after some of the stuff I’ve seen in the likes of Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot, I can’t help but wonder what they’re capable of pulling off on a more powerful system.
5. The Walking Dead: The Final Season / The Wolf Among Us Season 2
Kind of cheating here since it’s technically two seperate games but I figured I’d put them together on the same spot since, at their core, they are very similar games. And while I have grown somewhat disillusioned with Telltale recently, I can’t help but still be excited for these two projects.
After the second season of The Walking Dead, I was quickly growing tired of the series and was initially planning to skip the third season until they confirmed Clementine was coming back for it. And while A New Frontier was very… problematic, to say the least, the fact that Telltale seem set on actually ending this series has renewed my interest.
OK, maybe it’s unlikely they’ll stop making other Walking Dead games but they are apparently going to end Clementine’s story, which I’m all for seeing. Considering how A New Frontier ended for her, it’s going to be interesting seeing what new adventures await her in her quest and how things will wrap up for her. True, it could turn out massively disappointing and ultimately require no real input from the player but I’ve been with Clem since the beginning; I want to see where her story ends, whether it’s uplifting or tragic.
As for The Wolf Among Us Season 2, well, I’m a little more excited for that, if only because I’ve been waiting for it for so long. I wrote a review for the first one a couple of years ago and it was a surprise favourite of mine thanks to its concept, setting and characters. So of course I want to return to this world and solve new mysteries, meet new faces and hang out with Bigby again. Hopefully it won’t suffer from Telltale’s recent “choices don’t really matter” bullshit but if the writing is as strong as the first one, I can live with that (or I could go read the actual Fables comics).
6. Spider-Man (PS4)
I feel like under any other circumstances, I wouldn’t be this excited for a Spider-Man game in this day and age. Probably because you’d expect it to be some quick, little mobile game to tie in with a new movie or cartoon. But when this was announced at E3 2016 as it’s own unique title with no ties to the films, with developer Insomniac Games (the people behind Ratchet & Clank and Spyro) at the helm, I was instantly invested. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Marvel movies as much as the next guy but, sometimes, you need a break from that, and this game seems to be checking off all the right boxes.
We’re playing as an older, more mature Spidey for a change, we have a large, open world to explore, several gameplay styles to enjoy and even a different kind of villain to fight. While maybe not as recognisable as the likes of Green Goblin or Venom, I’m actually looking forward to battling this Mr. Negative if only because I’ve never seen him before (though that’s not to say I wouldn’t want to see some of Spidey’s other foes show up).
This could very well be Marvel’s equivalent to Batman: Arkham Asylum; a licensed title that focuses on delivering a solid gameplay experience that anybody can pick up and enjoy. And from what I’ve seen, they’re doing a good job. Combat seems fluid, stealth looks like it could be a lot of fun, though there do seem to be too many QTEs and not enough quips – you know, one of Spidey’s most defining traits.
Regardless, I’m confidant that Marvel and Insomniac will pull this off, and if they do, this could lead to a whole slew of awesome licensed games featuring our favourite superheroes.
7. Project Octopath Traveler (Switch)
This was one was certainly a surprise. Out of nowhere, Nintendo and Square Enix announced a Switch exclusive RPG and released a demo of the thing within the same day. Despite not having any experience or nostalgia for the original Final Fantasy‘s (which this game is clearly trying to ape with its art direction), curiosity got the better of me and I decided to check it out. And boy, am I glad I did.
So, my excitement for this game is threefold. Firstly, I adore the concept alone. Rather than a single narrative with a single main character and their supporting cast, there are eight different characters to pick from the start and each has their own journey to go through and unique abilities they can use. For example, the warrior Olberic is a former soldier who seeks revenge against a friend-turned-traitor and can challenge nearly every NPC he meets to a one-on-one duel (which can be hilarious depending on who you fight).
I’ve always loved having multiple stories to explore in these kinds of games so this one’s already won me over, especially since it looks like the stories cross over and characters briefly team up with one another. It makes me wonder how all these stories link and what the end result could be.
Secondly, the game’s visuals are astounding. While it would’ve been easy to just stick to classic 2D sprites to grab people’s nostalgia, SE have actually tried something pretty novel; all the characters have 16-bit sprites but the environments use high-definition polygons, making them look incredibly detailed. It’s a weird juxtaposition that manages to work in its favour. On top of that, there’s even professional voice acting; this game combines the best of classic and modern RPGs and it’s wonderful.
Thirdly, it’s just nice to play a turn-based RPG nowadays that isn’t Pokémon. Though the party will most likely consist of only one character (for the most part, anyway), it never felt like I was overwhelmed by enemies when I played the demo. Learning how to take advantage of stunning enemies and the Boost system (where you can spend points you earn in battle to boost your attacks, defense etc.) was a thrill; it offered a fair challenge where even if it felt like the odds were stacked against you, you had the means to hold your own and come out on top.
The demo may have been relatively short, but it did what it needed to do in the little time it had. I’m fully invested in this game now and can’t wait to see what the final product looks like later in the new year.
8. Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night / Persona 5: Dancing Star Night (PS4, Vita)
OK, I’m cheating again here but these two games are borderline exactly the same. Not that that’s a complaint because I was as giddy as a child on Christmas Day when these titles were announced. I was a big fan of Persona 4: Dancing All Night (which you can my review of here), so I was always hoping we’d get more dumb, dancing spin-offs but I didn’t expect them to make another one, let alone two of them.
While the confirmation of neither title having a story mode is a bit of a shame, it is completely understandable. Unlike Persona 4, there is borderline no way you could incorporate an actual plot revolving around dancing into either Persona 3 or 5 without it coming across as forced. That being said, they have promised a replacement of sorts which has left me very curious. Hopefully, it’s more substantial than some score attack mode or something.
Regardless, I just want to be able to bust a groove to new remixes and old favourites from these two games’ soundtracks and witness these beloved characters breaking out some sick dance moves. Fingers crossed that Koromaru is somehow playable. I want my dancing dog, damn it!
9. Indivisible (PS4, XBO, Switch, PC)
Unlike Bloodstained, I actually found myself suckered into this crowd-funded project, especially after I was able to get my hands on the demo. Considering how this game very nearly didn’t meet its target, the fact that it’s now set to come out next year brings a smile to my face (and probably to the development team too).
I already wrote an article two years ago all about the game and why I was excited for it, so I won’t repeat myself too much here. In short, it has a great battle system that offers complex strategies but is simple to grasp, amazing visuals and music, a tonne of exploration and a massive and diverse cast of characters.
I was always bummed out that I could never get into Lab Zero’s fighting game Skullgirls, if only because its aesthetic was fantastic and so appealing. So I’m more than happy to see them tackle the RPG genre and I can’t wait to finally jump into this world and see what’s in store.
10. Kingdom Hearts III (PS4, XBO)
I know some of you reading this are probably rolling your eyes, thinking “There’s no way it’s coming out next year.” Well, maybe you’re right but I choose to believe; believe that that after so many years, we’ll finally get our hands on this game.
I’m not sure what I can really write about it without it turning into a crazy, garbled mess. I’m just so hyped for this game. While news has been scarce, every trailer has managed to excite me. Between Sora’s crazy athleticism, new Keyblade skills and weapons, the improved graphics, five-man parties, new worlds based on the likes of Tangled and Toy Story – even if the story continues to be a load of old bollocks, it looks like there’ll be enough awesome gameplay and fan-service to make up for it.
If Kingdom Hearts III is delayed, I’d be annoyed and disappointed, but at least we have a date at all. That shows that Square Enix have confidence that this game is close to completion. Even if it does take another year, my hype won’t dwindle. Hell, I’ve waited this long, I’m sure one more year won’t hurt. And besides, if this list is anything to go by, 2018 will be a pretty great year regardless, with or without KH III.
Plus, at least it’s closer to coming out than the Final Fantasy VII remake.