2018 was a very mixed year in terms of videogames. It was a year of stellar highs and abysmal lows. On one hand, the PS4 exclusive Spider-Man game proved that not only were single-player titles still in demand but licensed games could also be incredible, Octopath Traveler was a perfect throwback to SNES-era RPGs and showed how beloved turn-based RPGs still are and only last month we got Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which very much lived up to its name considering it’s a game where Princess Peach can beat up Cloud Strife in the middle of Dracula’s Castle.
On the other hand, however, gross mismanagement led to the closure of TellTale Games, resulting in several highly anticipated titles getting cancelled and its employees suddenly jobless, the lootbox craze became so bad that some countries have made them illegal, which sets a worrying precedent for the possibility of games becoming regulated, and do I even need to bring up the utter fuster-cluck that was Fallout 76?
As always, I prefer to not dwell on the past but focus on the future. We all have high expectations for 2019 and while I’m sure there’s a myriad of bullshit headed our way, there’re gonna be some amazing things too. So let me share with you the ten games I’m most looking forward to this year.
Before we start, though, I want to give special mentions to three games that I originally put on last year’s list that were unfortunately delayed – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Indivisible and Kingdom Hearts III. Still super hyped for them (especially that last one – only 25 more days!) but I want to focus on some other titles since I’ve already explained my excitement for these three. Now, on to the actual list!
1. Jump Force (PC, PS4 XBO)
I’ll admit my interest in this one has dwindled somewhat since its announcement and I’d like to play a demo or something before I commit to buying it, but I’m still kind of excited for this weird-ass crossover fighting game starring a bunch of famous anime characters, if only for the hopefully bonkers story mode.
I know a lot of people weren’t thrilled with the more realistic art-style but I kind of love it purely for the surreal goofiness of it all. And it’s not like the characters are unrecognisable; they still look how they should (though the colours are considerably muted, making everything look a bit dull, I’ll admit). Plus, having iconic locations from the various anime series juxtapose with real world locations is the right kind of stupid that I adore. That image of the big Naruto statues overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge will always make me laugh.
And while I doubt the story will be some amazing, well-written masterpiece, there’s at least plenty of potential for some good character interactions and getting to include and customise your own OC will be very enjoyable for some. I’m not particularly thrilled with what appears to be the final roster (six Dragon Ball Z characters but not one JoJo character?) but any game where I can have Yugi and Kenshiro fight in the middle of Paris must be doing something right.
2. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (Switch)
Well, this was certainly unexpected. While it was overshadowed by some much bigger reveals at the Game Awards, (JOKER IN SMASH BROS., PEOPLE!), I was pleasantly surprised to see this get announced as a Switch exclusive, with Nintendo handling publishing.
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 was a childhood favourite of mine that I played so much of in my teenage years, where I could form a team of four heroes and rush through areas beating down bad-guys, pulling off cool team-attacks and taking on a whole host of villains. It was a big-ass crossover that was simple, mindless fun that probably introduced me to a bunch of Marvel characters I might never have known. So I’m curious to see what this follow-up will be like, especially considering the completely different development team.
Vicarious Visions are out and it’s Team Ninja (the Dead or Alive guys) of all teams handling it. It’s already got some nice comic book-like visuals and a big cast of fan-favourites (it’s already better than Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite‘s roster by actually having X-Men in it); I just hope it doesn’t rely solely on its clear influence from the modern movies and include characters like Psylocke and She-Hulk. Give us something that feels like a crossover event and not just another advertisement for the films.
3. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey (3DS)
After the success of remaking the first Mario & Luigi game for 3DS, it only makes sense for Nintendo to give the second game the same treatment… wait, this is the third game. They just skipped Partners in Time? Ouch. Honestly, out of the three DS titles, this is the one that probably didn’t even need to be remade. Bowser’s Inside Story is still a fantastic RPG nowadays so I don’t really know how it can be “improved” – aside from those giant boss fights where you had to turn the DS on its side; those were a bit awkward.
Well, regardless, I’m just going to use this as an excuse to experience what I consider to be the best Mario & Luigi game again on newer hardware. After all, this is the game where Bowser gets to be the hero, embarking on a one-Koopa quest to take back his castle from returning baddie Fawful and re-kidnap Peach whilst the Mario Bros. aid him from within his body. It’s a unique experience and getting to see how Bowser handles being a heroic figure is a joy considering how un-heroic he really is. Honestly, the remake doesn’t even need that extra mode with Bowser Jr. Just package us the same game, Nintendo, it’s fine.
That being said, this is hopefully just an appetiser to keep us satisfied until a brand new entry gets released on Switch. That’s going to be awesome. Either that or maybe a good Paper Mario game. Remember when we used to have those? Good times.
4. Team Sonic Racing (PC, Switch, PS4, XBO)
After Sonic Forces left a very bitter taste in my mouth in 2017, I wasn’t exactly optimistic for what Sega and Sonic Team had in store next. So when they began to tease a new racing game, I couldn’t muster any excitement. I didn’t feel they were in a position to only hint and expect good faith on our part. Fortunately, we’ve since seen footage of the game and, while others have complained that it looks like a weaker version of All-Stars Racing Transformed due to focusing purely on the Sonic cast, I’m pretty eager to play it myself.
After all, Sumo Digital did a fantastic job with the aforementioned ASRT, so I’m optimistic that Team Sonic Racing will at least play well. The character selection is nice, if bizarrely small, and the team concept where you work alongside other racers and all contribute in order to win is novel and helps separate it from the crowd (hopefully having AI allies won’t be a detriment and cost you victories), alongside an option for more traditional races where it’s every driver for themselves. Oh, and it’s set to have a banging soundtrack. Just check out some of the music tracks on the official YouTube account – yeah, they’re a bit reliant on remixing old tracks but, damn, do they sound good.
While I’m still hopeful that a new GOOD 3D game is in the works, Team Sonic Racing could be the game this rather jaded fan-boy needs at the moment. And something else besides Mario Kart I can play with friends.
5. Yoshi’s Crafted World (Switch)
Yoshi’s Woolly World was a decent enough 2D platformer. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking but it’s charming aesthetic was pleasing enough to make me want to check it out, and the same can very much be said for Yoshi’s Crafted World.
Now resembling a Paper Mario game, with the world comprised of paper-crafts and the like, and with Yoshi no longer locked to single plane, capable of moving between the background and foreground, there’s a lot of cool and imaginative ideas for level designs and set-pieces. And the gimmick of being able to play levels in reverse is kind of cool. Child-me would’ve loved that.
Not much else I can really write about this one, but not every game needs to be the new “best thing ever” or some triple-A masterpiece. Sometimes you just need something cute and simple to fill up an afternoon.
6. Final Fantasy on Switch
OK, this one’s a massive cheat since I’m not just talking about one game but they’re also not even remakes – they’re re-releases that have been available on a bunch of other systems already for years. At this point, my microwave can play Final Fantasy VII (probably). But here’s the thing – having these games available on Switch might just be the reason I needed to actually play them.
I have barely any experience with the Final Fantasy series despite it being the most recognisable RPG franchise in the world and, as I said, readily playable on a number of systems. So why would them being on the Switch change that? Well, I just find the idea of having these games on the system very appealing, and I think it’s all because of its status as a home-console/handheld hybrid. I can comfortably play these on my TV at home or on the train. Got some time to kill on a flight? I can just play a bit of FFVII for an hour.
Plus, while the series is no stranger to being on Nintendo consoles, it’s usually been spin-off titles. This is the first time the likes of VII, IX, X, X-2 and XII will appear on one, which to those of us who grew up in a time when these games were very much PlayStation sellers is simply amazing.
7. Devil May Cry 5 (PC, PS4, XBO)
Despite being a very casual fan of the series, I’ve never had much of a desire to play the Devil May Cry games. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. I did find a very cheap copy of Devil May Cry 4 and figured I’d give it a go, but I made the mistake of assuming it played like Bayonetta and slowly lost interest. Not because the game was bad; it just didn’t gel with me. But after that surprise E3 2018 announcement and that awesome first trailer, I really want to give the fifth game a shot.
It just seems to be doing everything that the fan-base wanted. Both Dante and Nero are back, sporting new designs that are both fresh yet familiar, alongside Trish and Lady who also look better than ever and the story is advancing past Devil May Cry 2. Oh, and the gameplay looks rad as hell too. Along with new character V, our heroes all have unique fight-styles and weapons that offer a lot of potential for sick and stylish combos. And despite the game having a much grimmer and darker art-style, there’s still the usual zaniness and cheesy dialogue that we’ve come to love and expect from the series.
I just hope a demo becomes available on the PS4 at some point because, as awesome as this game looks, I want to try before I buy. And believe me, I really want to buy if only to slay demons with this playing in the background. Seriously, this song alone sells the game.
8. Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch)
When a 3DS remake of the first Luigi’s Mansion was announced, I remember seeing a lot of people being either disappointed or uninterested. “We want Luigi’s Mansion 3 on Switch!” they cried. Well, Nintendo seemed to be prepared for this because, out of nowhere, they revealed that that’s exactly what they were doing.
At the moment, we know very little about the game but with the Switch still killing it with all of its great games, we can probably expect another spooky but humourous adventure with everyone’s favourite cowardly brother. With fancy HD graphics and the newer hardware, there’s a lot that can be done with whatever haunted locale Luigi will explore next in terms of the areas he’ll have to roam and the ghosts he’ll be forced to encounter.
Honestly, though, I’m just happy playing a game with Luigi as the star. Part of the reason why his games are enjoyable is because they let his personality shine through. We get to see him be silly, curious, self-congratulatory and, of course, overcome his fears to save the day.
9. Judgment (PS4)
For the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to get into the Yakuza series. While my Twitter feed was filled with people praising the likes of Yakuza 0 and 6, I was still struggling to find the time to play the PS2 original and failing. This year, I’m going to make a serious attempt to play through as much of the series as I can but, fortunately, there’s a modern-day Yakuza title I can actually look forward to playing this year because it’s… well, not a Yakuza game.
Judgment (or Judge Eyes as it’s called in Japan) is set in the same world as Yakuza but focuses on a completely different set of characters. Instead of playing as a former yakuza member, you’re a former prosecutor/private detective who is investigating a series of murders. It’s essentially Ace Attorney if Edgeworth wandered the streets whilst kicking thugs in the head and getting distracted by arcade machines, which is certainly enough to make me want to try it.
While obviously very similar to Yakuza, the change in character is enough to make things distinct and the story it’s offering is more of a legal thriller. I remember the announcement trailer being very dramatic and, while I don’t know how violent the Yakuza games got, Judgment‘s looking to be a rather grim title, but not without the expected silliness and over-the-top action that people loved in Yakuza.
I don’t know how much of the Yakuza series I’ll be able to complete this year but I’m glad I can finally enjoy this series in some way without needing to catch up on seven games’ worth of story to fully enjoy.
10. KILL la KILL IF (PC, Switch, PS4)
I keep forgetting that this game exists, which is shocking considering how unforgettable Kill la Kill is. It’s been over four years since the anime aired and it was one hell of a ride from start to finish (it was even the subject of one of my very first articles), and one that many wished to experience again as a videogame. But could something like Kill la Kill be suitably replicated in that form? Maybe in the right hands, and those hands seem to belong to Arc System Works.
This developer has become well known in recent years for their spectacle fighters with stunning anime visuals like Guilty Gear and Dragon Ball FighterZ, so giving them Kill la Kill is practically a perfect match. A 3D arena fighter, the game looks set to offer surprisingly simplistic gameplay that can still get intense thanks to its fast-pace and various extra elements, including a rock-paper-scissors mechanic that involves the characters screaming at each other (it makes sense in context).
The current roster’s already looking fantastic with all the usual suspects showing up and rather than condense the anime’s plot into a single-player campaign, we’ll instead be seeing some new content in the form of a story centered around Satsuki Kiryuin, the show’s initial antagonist/rival character.
I didn’t think this series would ever get a game adaptation simply because it seemed impossible. So I’m glad to see Arc System Works almost channelling the spirit of the show itself and proving that it isn’t. All I need now is for Mako to be playable and I’ll be more than satisfied.