With a truly impressive 2017 on the books, the gaming world now looks forward to a 2018 with an even tighter slate of giant titles to keep us entertained through whatever it is this increasingly stressful world looks ready to throw at us. The console ...
Dave Thier , Contributor I write about video games and technology. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
With a truly impressive 2017 on the books, the gaming world now looks forward to a 2018 with an even tighter slate of giant titles to keep us entertained through whatever it is this increasingly stressful world looks ready to throw at us. The console space is strong with an ascendant Nintendo Switch joining the fully mature Xbox One and PS4, and and the worlds of both PC and mobile gaming aren't looking to shabby either. There are a number of massive titles coming down the pike no matter what you're interested in, and so what follows is a completely arbitrary listing of what I'm calling the biggest titles of 2018. Feel free to disagree:
Sea of Thieves.
#7 -- Sea of Thieves: This might be a bit of a dark horse listing, but I've loved this game every time I've seen it. It's a wacky cooperative pirate MMO meant to serve as a kind of soft reboot for Rare, and in my estimation it serves as Microsoft's best chance at getting a truly successful exclusive in 2018 (I'm nervous about Crackdown 3). Microsoft's stable of exclusives has been looking a little wispy as of late, especially when you put it up next to the successful libraries of the PlayStation 4 and now the Nintendo Switch. Sea of Thieves is a great way to circumvent one aspect of that problem: I don't expect Microsoft to be able to go up against Naughty Dog or Nintendo when it comes to involved single player games, but it could still yet carve its own identity with unique cross-play online titles.
#6 -- Anthem: Bioware is in a tight spot right now, particularly after the mess that was Mass Effect: Andromeda. And publisher EA is in an even tighter spot after the mess that was Star Wars Battlefront 2. Anthem represents a potential salvation moment for both, but it's going to be tricky. It's a Destiny-style third-person loot shooter and a continuing games-as-service title, with all the risk and reward that entails. If EA messes up the micro-transaction system again it will be two major strikes against it in a row, and the first already caused a major stock headache for the company. And while Bioware made some beloved games in the past, the developer hasn't made a persistent title like this before. That doesn't mean it isn't easy to see how this game goes right: what we've seen so far looks beautiful and is built on what looks like a solid concept. But there are pitfalls here, as well.
God of War.
#5 -- God of War: Having successfully massacred the entire pantheon of Greek Gods, everybody's favorite Spartan has moved up to Northern climes to start a (new) family and get a little more emotionally involved in his typically brutal adventures. There's a lot that's different about this new game, and not just the setting. The camera is pulled down, the action is a little slower, and Kratos now has a kid that follows him around wherever he goes. It's a departure, to be sure, but Sony Santa Monica's new outing is sure to be one of the biggest titles of the year.
Credit: Naughty Dog
The Last of Us Part 2
#4 -- The Last of Us Part 2: You can't beat Naughty Dog when it comes to linear, single-player titles, and they're back in 2018 with The Last of Us Part 2, fresh off the success of Uncharted 4. What we've seen from The Last of Us Part 2 so far has been almost shockingly brutal, and so it will be interesting to see how the developer handles a darker turn from a series that wasn't exactly sunshine and lollipops to begin with. Still, I've doubted Naughty Dog before, but the developer never fails to deliver involved, engrossing experiences that are as impressive from a technical perspective as they are from a storytelling perspective.
Player Unknown's Battlegrounds.
#3 -- PUBG: Technically, Player Unknown's Battlegrounds came out in late 2017, or maybe it came months before that when then-developer Bluehole started charging $29.99 for it in Early Access, or maybe nobody really knows what's going on. Regardless, PUBG emerged as one of the most dominant players in PC gaming in 2017, and it shows no sign of slowing down in 2018. The buggy, bizarre and powerfully addictive battle royale game has already begun to spawn a wave of imitators, but I don't see the game's dominance going anywhere for a while at least.
Red Dead Redemption 2.
#2 -- Red Dead Redemption 2: If there's a crown for biggest AAA console release of 2018, surely it will go to Red Dead Redemption 2. GTA Developer Rockstar is known for scale, for scope, and for absurdly detailed, bespoke open worlds that can really only be made by a developer possessed of this unusual level of swagger. Red Dead Redemption was one of the most beloved games of the Xbox 360/PS3 era, and GTA 5 remains a force to be reckoned with even years after its initial release. Red Dead Redemption 2 could theoretically mess things up, particularly with its online mode. But this feels as close to a sure bet as you get in the gaming world.
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
#1 -- Harry Potter: Wizard's Unite: It feels difficult to argue that Pokémon GO was anything but the biggest game of all time, capturing the world's attention and filling the streets with millions upon millions of people enthralled with the idea of finding Pokémon hiding in the real world. That didn't last long, and a lack of gameplay combined with weak progression and combat systems drove most casual players away from the game, though a sizeable committed base remains. Developer Niantic Labs' next game will be Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, a new game that adapts the AR concept to the legendary wizarding property. Will lightning strike twice? Harry Potter: Wizards Unite may not have the novelty that enticed so many Pokémon GO players, but the property has a wider fanbase and the developer will have had two years of experience under its belt, hopefully making for a better game at launch. Something half as big as Pokémon GO would still handily qualify as the biggest game of the year.
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