For obvious reasons, the second half of the year is still shrouded in mystery. It's simply too soon to settle on firm release dates for most titles, even if publishers are likely toying with some potential dates as they try and set their releases up for success. As such some of these games may get an earlier than expected release this spring, whereas it's sadly more likely that some of them won't even make it out this year.
What we know and some speculation
Let's start with the big first-parties, and it should be noted that we expect all three to reveal big titles in the first half of the year that will see release later on (more of that speculation below). Sony will be banking on Insomniac's Spider-Man to do some heavy lifting during the second part of the year, and honestly, we're not sure what else they'll bring, as they've been relying largely on third-party hitters for the Q4 madness in recent years. Media Molecule's Dreams is just as likely to land this spring as during the summer or autumn, perhaps preceded by some beta testing, and then there's Sony Bend's Days Gone that should see release at some point during the year too.
With Microsoft we naturally expect Forza Horizon 4 to drop and there are currently rumours of Japan being the location this time around; a brilliant choice if you ask us. We hate to say it but we wouldn't be surprised if Crackdown 3 ends up slipping to the latter part of the year too. Nintendo will likely have plenty as they tend to spread out their big releases as well, as there's speculation Bayonetta 3 may be ready for a summer release and we'll likely see the new Fire Emblem towards the end of the year. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes from the twisted mind of Suda51 is also expected to arrive this year, and for more on what we think Nintendo has in store for us, see the speculation section below.
EA is coming off a somewhat humbling 2017, where Mass Effect Andromeda was met with anger and then we had the whole loot box fiasco of Star Wars Battlefront II. FIFA was in great shape, however, and for 2018 the football title will naturally be one EA is banking on. They'll also have a riskier proposition in Anthem, Bioware's new co-op RPG that's expected to launch towards the end of the year. Bioware's reputation took a hit with Andromeda, but it should be underlined that this is a game from the Edmonton studio that has almost without exception delivered brilliant games over the last couple of decades. That and the fact that Casey Hudson is back and in charge is enough to instil us with confidence. There are concerns (it remains to be seen if they're unfounded or not) that Bioware has been looking too much at Destiny and strayed from their core strengths of narrative and RPG systems, but we're still optimistic nonetheless.
One game that has blown us away with the release of each trailer is 4A Games' Metro Exodus. The Metro titles were great, but this looks like it's on a whole new level (literally. as much appears to be on the surface). Hopefully, it'll make it out before the end of the year, as this looks like the single-player first-person shooter to keep your eyes on in 2018.
A publisher that's looking strong in 2018 is THQ Nordic, who've got what's arguably their biggest property lined up for release in Darksiders III and the promising open-world action-RPG Biomutant. Another more humble publisher that slowly grown over the last few years is Focus Home Interactive and we're very excited about some of the games they've got slated for 2018. Call of Cthulhu and Greedfall stand out, with the latter perhaps not being a certainty for this year, but we're nonetheless excited to see where Spiders go next.
Telltale Games will be closing the book on their Walking Dead series starring Clementine in 2018 and we expect the first episode somewhere towards the end of the year. There's also the promise of a second season of The Wolf Among Us, though to be honest we're not sure when to expect that one. Could be earlier, could be later in the year.
Paradox Interactive has a couple of third-party developed titles we're excited about in BattleTech and Surviving Mars, and we also expect the developer/publisher to reveal something big from their internal dev studio for 2018. Is it time for Victoria 3? Could a Crusader Kings III be on the cards? Something brand new? A grand-strategy fantasy title after Stellaris? Perhaps a grand-strategy World of Darkness title (Paradox now owns the license)?
Ubisoft will likely add something big to their late 2018 slate come E3, but for now, they've got titles like Skull & Bones and Transference. Capcom has Mega Man 11 coming up among a slew of remasters and re-releases, and while little is known about it, we have high hopes that Overkill's The Walking Dead will put a different spin on the familiar premise of co-operative zombie action. Square Enix has announced that a new Tomb Raider title is in the works for 2018, and it would appear this one will be called Shadow of the Tomb Raider. We don't expect an exclusive deal this time around (it didn't really pan out for either Microsoft or Square Enix the last time), and this should be one of the big releases come autumn (or perhaps Q3 if they want to avoid the biggest releases). Square-Enix also has the promising Front Mission-spinoff Left Alive, let's not forget.
Bandai Namco has the very promising Souls-like title Code Vein lined up to ease the withdrawals from the lack of a new Dark Souls. We're not saying Dark Souls IV (or some sort of Souls) won't happen, but we don't expect it in 2018. Bandai Namco are also returning to the stage of history with Soul Calibur VI, and that naturally has us excited, as it's been a few years since we've had a new entry in the series.
There's plenty to be excited about on the indie scene as well, as there's the promise of a spiritual successor to the original Xcom games with Phoenix Point and the gorgeous adventure that is The Last Night, not to mention the return of ToeJam & Earl (hopefully it'll make it out sooner rather than later), Spelunky 2, Super Meat Boy Forever, the incredibly cute Ooblets, Dauntless, the extremely promising Frostpunk, as well as throwbacks like the System Shock remake, The Bard's Tale IV, and Underworld Ascendant. Oh, and there's the space dwarf mining action of Deep Rock Galactic. Speaking of co-op, there's the alien/mutant horror experience of GTFO from some of the creatives behind Payday, and probably dozens more that slip our minds at the moment.
A couple of titles that are slated for release in 2018, but that we would honestly be a bit surprised if they came out are Shenmue III and Kingdom Hearts III. With the former, it sort of comes with the territory of a Shenmue title, especially since Shenmue III has been on a long road anyway, and as for Kingdom Hearts, it's just hard to believe we'll ever see the game.
What we know less about and more speculation
We fully expect to see new entries in the Battlefield (Bad Company 3?) and Call of Duty (Black Ops 4?) franchises this fall, dropping late October and early November respectively, and speaking of long-running series we're curious to see whether Ubisoft opts to return to the annual releases with Assassin's Creed or not, as it's pretty much a 50/50 situation.
The big unknown, at least until the rumoured Nintendo Direct, is what Nintendo has in store for us this year. Speculation is that Metroid Prime 4 may be ready (the short "in development" tease at E3 didn't exactly send that message) but at this point last year we knew very little about most of the games Nintendo released in 2017. The all-new major Pokémon RPG would be a massive boost to Nintendo's prospects, but there's little to go on. We also suspect Nintendo wants to launch a Smash Bros. title (new or Deluxe-ified) within the first two years of Switch, as it just makes all the sense in the world (the window of a Deluxe-ified game should be closing at least). More re-releases of overlooked Wii U and or 3DS titles are also likely, and there's that Yoshi title in the pipeline. It would also be surprising if there's no 2D Mario coming this year either.
Microsoft needs to pick up their game after a very soft 2017, only saved towards the end by Xbox One X. Could Halo 6 be ready for deployment in September or October? At that point it will have been three years since the launch of Halo 5: Guardians, and if it's not ready that'd speak volumes of the state of 343 industries. What Microsoft needs more than anything is fresh IPs and ideas that excite players who aren't that into Halo, Forza, and Gears (presumably those players already own an Xbox One), and it remains to be seen if there's any of that coming.
Sony on the other hand already have a strong 2018 by the looks of things, but there are a couple of titles on the horizon that could make it even better, including Death Stranding and The Last of Us: Part II. Now, these are, of course, longshots, but Hideo Kojima has teased a surprise announcement (what would be more surprising than a release in 2018?) and you never know with Naughty Dog. It would appear likely that we're getting a big reveal of The Last of Us: Part II at E3 this summer with a potential release in early 2019, but again, you never know, unless reactions to that PGW trailer derailed things completely. And what about Wild from Michel Ancel? Could it possibly resurface and see release in 2018? It's hard to tell. Ancel says he splits his days between development on Wild and Beyond Good & Evil 2 (which is far away from launch, even if it's not impossible that we'll start to see invite only alphas sooner rather than later), and who knows if Wild could be close to release.
One thing that we expect Sony to have realised is the need for platformers. Crash Bandicoot: Nsane Trilogy and the Ratchet & Clank remake proved that PS4 is a great home to mascot platformers and that there is a big audience. A new Ratchet & Clank seems like a pretty decent bet now that Insomniac Games and Sony are best friends again. And what about Bloodborne 2? Could that be Sony's E3 surprise with a launch later in the year? Given Sony's tendency to announce games far out from release, maybe we shouldn't get our hopes up, but it's within the realms of possibility. And what about Final Fantasy VII: Remake? Well, we know as little as you do, but given it was announced in 2015 it would be nice to hear something more in 2018.
A publisher that's been holding onto their announcements a bit longer than before in recent times is Warner Bros. We don't really know all that much about their line-up in 2018, but Rocksteady has been rumoured to be working on a Superman title for some time, so perhaps 2018 is the year when the Man of Steel finally gets a decent video game outing. Or is it another studio working on Superman with Rocksteady doing something else? We don't expect a new Mortal Kombat in 2018 as Netherrealm seem to be on a two-year cycle these days.
Blizzard has a new expansion for World of Warcraft, Battle for Azeroth, lined up for 2018, but even without announcements at BlizzCon we feel they may well have something else lined up for release in 2018 (or at least to be unveiled). A new Diablo? The long rumoured Warcraft IV? We'll have to wait and see.
With Rockstar readying to release their first new game in five years with Red Dead Redemption 2 it might sound strange that they'd have another big release in 2018, but Rockstar has plenty of development capacity and could well have something else up their sleeves. Will we finally see Agent? A new Max Payne? Only Rockstar knows...
Could we see Respawn's Star Wars title in 2018? It's possible, though we're not sure EA wants to have a new Battlefield, Anthem and Respawn's Star Wars all arrive in Q4. One is likely to be slated for early 2019.
It's become a bit of a trend with publishers not divulging information about their games until fairly close to release, and Bethesda and Take-Two are both in a situation where little is known about their 2018 efforts. 2K Games has been teasing the return of a big franchise, and we suspect this may be Borderlands 3. Bioshock is another franchise that's begging for a return, and it could also be slated in for 2018. Most likely even if both will be revealed this year we'd only see one of them release in 2018, and there's also reason to believe Firaxis may have a new big title slated for release late in 2018 after supplying us with expansions for Civ VI (this February) and Xcom 2 (last August). And Bethesda, well, we're not alone in feeling it's about time to unveil the sixth entry in the main Elder Scrolls series. Given that they announced both Wolfenstein II and The Evil Within 2 at E3 and released them in October, there's every reason to think they could have something big in store for us come their expected presser in June. We don't expect to see something new from Arkane this year, but we do have the feeling that Bethesda could be preparing for something new and unexpected as many of their key franchises have gotten releases in recent years.
A game that's been missing in action for a while now is Dead Island 2. Unless it's undergone another switch of developer and development reset, it could make it out this year. After all, Sumo Digital has a reputation for delivering games on time.
(This is how Dead Island 2 was announced back in 2014)
There's a lot of speculation in this piece, and we doubt we'll see all of what's mentioned here, but we're also sure there will be one or two surprises that have snuck under our radar. At any rate, 2018 looks like a solid year for video games, at least in January. For our less speculative look at the first half of 2018 head over here.