Every now and then we look forward, to the tune of a few months, and try to discern the best of the bunch. This will naturally be an extra special edition of this staple. Not only are we getting into the typical holiday madness, but this seems to be an extra busy year, full of quality.
OK, it kind of feels like we say that every year, but 2018 marks the return of two franchises that are far from annual appearances: Red Dead and Fallout. Those, on top of the already released Monster Hunter World, Marvel’s Spider-Man and God of War, make this a stellar year already.
And that’s before we even take into account the reliable regulars we’ll see soon. Even familiar faces like FIFA can put up a surprisingly thoughtful entry, raising the quality of the year as a whole. We’re yet to see how Call of Duty and Battlefield will fare, but we’ll definitely be playing to find out.
Red Dead Redemption 2
The biggest no-brainer in a list populated mostly with no-brainers. Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually Rockstar’s first game on this generation of hardware. That’s how long it’s been, and fans are all kinds of keen.
We’ve played a couple of hours, and walked away with some thoughts about the tiny, conversation-worthy moments the game is full of, as well as seeing how the new horse system works, and why maintaining your guns is a lot more important this time around.
It almost feels as if the franchise itself has been locked underground for ages, about to step into the light again. This is hallowed ground though, because Fallout 76 is going back to the very first vault that opened on Reclamation Day.
As for the new features, though? It’s not exactly classic Fallout. This newer game is an online experience, in which everyone you encounter is a real player. You’ll be able to turn this off, but the game is designed with cooperation and PvP in mind.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
After a hiatus of a few years, the Assassin’s Creed franchise was back with a bang last year in Origins. Now, Odyssey is a game that very much follows suit. It’ll use the same combat system that doesn’t choreograph the whole fight for you. If you miss, it’ll let you miss.
That said, we’ve been looking at the skills present in Odyssey, and they look a lot more inventive and outside-the-box. You have Ghost Arrows that can go through walls, and certain shots that do +800% Hunter Damage.
We’re not sure what we can do with all that yet, but we’re keen to find out what interesting assassinations we can pull off.
Consider the size of Darksiders III, there are some very big shoes to fill here. The action franchise follows various horsepeople of the apocalypse, making it as if each game features a different RPG class. Now that we’ve seen the tanky War, and the roguey Death, it’s on to Fury — a chain-wielding warrior capable of Devil May Cry-esque air combos.
You can check out what it’s like to fight the first boss in the above video, or in our preview. Here’s hoping there’s a similar variety in the gameplay, such as the Shadow of the Colossus moments from the last game.
Also known as “The Geralt one,” this fighting game is bringing in the star of such games as The Witcher and The Witcher 2, and believe it or not, The Witcher 3. The White Wolf will face off against series regulars like Kilik and Mitsurugi on cramped platforms where falling off is absolutely possible. All done with an epic voiceover to remind you how epicly epic your fights are.
We’ve previously written about how we’re not the biggest fan of the Critical Edge system the game brings in, but it shouldn’t affect serious play too much. It’s moreso an unnecessary nod to newer players that oversimplifies the Soulcalibur system. It sure looks purdy, but it’s not a great fit.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the Soulcalibur 6 fighting system will be fantastic. We can’t wait to engage in footsies and distance management with Kilik’s staff. Not to mention this one comes out a few months ahead of Dead or Alive 6.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
You knew it was coming, and it finally happened. Battle royale has made its way into both Call of Duty and Battlefield. Call of Duty will always be Call of Duty, and it’s not known as the most innovative FPS game. But Black Ops 4 does take place in our favourite setting: Not World War II.
Early impressions of the new Blackout mode (see: battle royale) have been positive, and it features several older CoD maps stitched into one expanse of high-pitched VOIP and teenage teabaggers. The subseries has come a long way from asking Mason what the numbers mean, but there are always some highly polished campaigns to experience here, and we’ll be doing just that.
As the perfect segue, Battlefield V won’t feature a traditional campaign — instead, it’s continuing its popular war stories mode, exploring the lesser known tales of World War II. This shooter will focus on areas like Norway or Northern Africa, as opposed to retreading the D-Day landing and conflicts over Paris.
We should re-emphasise how bored we are of World War II, if only to give our next point more weight. When playing Battlefield V, we were completely sold. Hate the setting, but loved the game. It was a lot of fun, and it didn’t take long to realise it.
Building fortifications was somewhat akin to Enemy Territory. You can only build them in pre-approved spots, but the maps are much more open than Enemy Territory‘s ever were. That makes us pretty excited about what routes and lines of sight you can gain or obstruct when trying to get the advantage. There’ll be a lot to learn about any given capture point.
Valve’s card game based on DOTA 2 is slated for late November, which doesn’t necessarily mean Artifact will actually come out then, but probably. The highly anticipated collectible card game is being designed by the original creator of Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield — lending some impressive weight to a project that’ll be entering an already crowded and competitive space.
While Magic remains the least random of all the major CCGs out there, Garfield has defended randomness in videogames and will be incorporating some Random Number Generation (RNG). Much less than the norm established by Hearthstone, mind you. But there’s an inherent randomness after each round, when creeps will spawn in two of the three lanes.
Its three-lane system is an extension of Legends‘ two-lane system, and fits the idea of being based on a MOBA quite well. We’re expecting good things, and hope the RNG is kept to a minimum to keep it competition-worthy.
There are a lot of X-COM-likes coming up. We’ve already had Phantom Doctrine to enjoy, and Phoenix Point together with Mutant Year Zero will well and truly scratch that itch. Phoenix Point involves Julian Gallop, designer of the original X-COM, and we were fortunate to catch up with them to talk about the game’s direction.
Thanks to the wonders of crowdfunding, it’s already wildly successful. There’ll be a more involved and strategic metagame on the world map, and you’ll be able to target specific body parts, Fallout style.
This one was pretty hard when we played it earlier this year. Player after player would try and fail the demo mission at the Game Developer’s Conference. They may have tweaked that by now, and expect difficulty settings — but either way, it’s going to be an incredible timesink.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Another game offering top-down, turn-based tactics, Mutant Year Zero is based on a European board game. Former Hitman developers have joined the project to really nail the stealth portions, and the result is very interesting.
Mutant Year Zero seamlessly switches between real-time stealth and turn-based combat. As soon as you’re “discovered,” the game transitions to turns. Anything you can do beforehand to give yourself an advantage is fair game, but it’ll be a stealth challenge — and you won’t want to get caught out in the wrong spot.
This one also has an interesting way of dealing with RNG. Die rolls still affect whether or not you’ll hit your enemy, but modifiers have drastic effects. The extreme degree of this means you’ll likely see a lot of 0% and 100% indicators. If the shot is 40-60%, you know it must be seriously close. Anything you can do to help yourself first, like destroying the target’s cover, can bump you back up to that 100%.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Oh don’t you worry, we didn’t forget. The series that dominates every fighting game tournament, numbers-wise, is getting its Switch version. We’ve had a play of this one too, and had a lot of fun with the Splatoon character.
You can expect a steady trickle of character and stage announcements until December. After which, every videogame bar and event will have Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the projector, because hey, give the people what they want.