Gaming preview 2018: Monsters, crime, cults and androids

With the start of a new year comes the realization that there’s a growing list of video games that are slated for release. (As if anyone finished all the games they wanted to during 2017.) But as you look ahead to what you may want to spend your hard-earned money on, let me offer my list (listed alphabetically by anticipated release date) of 15 games that I’m looking forward to playing in 2018. (Because why not make the list bigger, right?)

A scene from “Monster Hunter: World.” (Photo credit: Capcom)

“Monster Hunter: World”

  • Anticipated release date: Jan. 26
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • I’ve never played a “Monster Hunter” game. So why, do you ask, am I excited about diving into the latest iteration of the popular beast-slaying game? Well, after watching some streams and taking a crack at the open beta recently, the better question you should be asking is why I’ve never played one before. Fantastic creatures, massive environments and pleasingly complex game mechanics all look like they’ll up to something great; if the game sticks the landing, then the Capcom series will have a new fan.

A scene from “Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.” (Photo credit: Sega)

“Yakuza 6: The Song of Life”

  • Anticipated release date: March 20
  • Systems: PlayStation 4
  • No surprise, right? I mean, I named “Yakuza 0” as my 2017 game of the year, so it’s only natural that I’d want to dive head first into the game’s latest (chronologically) entry. For the rest of the gamers out there, how could you not be excited about amazing combat, wacky side quests, an intriguing main story line and Kiryu Kazama — the most yakuza of the yakuza — getting to play baby-sitter. Again. Plus, the game runs on Sega’s much-talked about Dragon Engine.

A scene from “Far Cry 5.” (Photo credit: Ubisoft)

“Far Cry 5”

  • Anticipated release date: March 27
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Ubisoft’s “Far Cry” series almost always impresses with its attention to detail, enormous environments and interesting themes. “Far Cry 5” seems to fit right into that mold, though his time the theme hits a bit closer to home. The game centers itself in a modern-day United States, one with cults and armed militias and racial overtones. I’m curious to see how those heavy topics intersect with what’s normally over-the-top action mechanics, but I’m sure the game will stick its landing.

A scene from “Detroit: Become Human.” (Photo credit: Quantic Dream)

“Detroit: Become Human”

  • Anticipated release date: Early 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4
  • I don’t hold director/writer David Cage with high esteem. However, I can’t seem to stop playing his “games.” Perhaps it’s because I’m a sucker for interesting stories, even when they jump the shark (“Beyond: Two Souls”) or make me want to scream from a lack of internal consistency (“Heavy Rain”). Still, I’m excited for his latest creation, “Detroit,” a story about an android, Kara, facing questions of life. The latest trailer has me intrigued, and while I’m not sure how Cage will treat the fascinating subject or its female lead (his previous work leaves me worried), I’m going to be playing it anyway.

A scene from “God of War 4.” (Photo credit: Sony Santa Monica)

“God of War 4”

  • Anticipated release date: Early 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4
  • And here I thought “God of War III” summed up the extent of Kratos’ murderous rampage across ancient Greece, what with him having felled the gods of Olympus and leaving the world a much different place then we started the first game in 2005. But hey, that’s what reboots are for, right? “God of War 4” ditches the Grecian gods for those within Norse mythology. Also, the game seems to be a bit more open-ended, a change of pace for developer Sony Santa Monica. Oh, and Kratos has a son now. Things change so quickly.

A scene from “Red Dead Redemption 2.” (Photo credit: Rockstar Games)

“Red Dead Redemption 2”

  • Anticipated release date: Spring 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • I’m not sure this game needs introduction, but if you for some reason never played Rockstar’s brilliant action-adventure Western shooter since its release in 2010, you missed out on one of the best games out there. Rockstar hasn’t exactly been generous with details about the new release, but recent trailers showcase yet another open-world environment, superb graphics and what may be another fantastic story, this one about an outlaw fighting his way across the American heartland.

A scene from “Vampyr.” (Photo credit: Dontnod)

“Vampyr”

  • Anticipated release date: Spring 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • The developer behind “Life Is Strange,” Dontnod, is entering the world of monsters with its open-world, role-playing “Vampyr.” You control a doctor in 1918 London who, of course, finds himself turned into a blood-sucking denizen of the night. Choice matters here: Will you drink the blood of your patients? Who will you kill? Will you let your inner monster loose, or will you restrain yourself? Regardless, your decisions will affect London — for better or for worse.

A scene from “Skull & Bones.” (Photo credit: Ubisoft)

“Skull & Bones”

  • Anticipated release date: Fall 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Did you have fun playing “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag”? More specifically, how did you feel about the celebrated naval combat sequences? What, you loved them? Then you’re (and me) are in for a treat with Ubisoft’s “Skull & Bones.” It’s clearly the next logical step for the company behind the pirating adventures in “Black Flag,” which is completely fine by me, as that’s been one of the best features in an “Assassin’s Creed” game in years. Plus, there’s supposed to be both a single-play campaign and some type of online multiplayer component, so the story lover part of me and the treasure-plundering pirate part of me should have something to love.

A scene from “Anthem.” (Photo credit: BioWare)

“Anthem”

  • Anticipated release date: 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
  • To be honest, I was sorely disappointed with BioWare’s “Mass Effect: Andromeda.” (It wasn’t just me; check out the reviews.) But the Canadian developer’s latest creation, “Anthem,” seems destined to make up for the disaster that was “Andromeda.” It’s a space odyssey not unlike “Destiny,” but it has rockets pack and dinosaur-like creatures to contend with. What more could you want?

A scene from “Days Gone.” (Photo credit: Sony Bend)

“Days Gone”

  • Anticipated release date: 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4
  • More zombies, you say? Count me in. (No, I haven’t gotten sick of that particular genre yet.) Yet another game that’s running with “bigger is better,” the PlayStation 4 exclusive impresses with its massive scale. Forget the intimacy of “The Walking Dead”: Instead, hordes will descend on you from every direction, forcing you to figure out how to survive in a world that’s doing its best to kill you. And yes, the trailer shows you riding a motorcycle, a necessity in a zombie-filled apocalypse if I’ve ever saw one.

A scene from “Kingdom Hearts III.” (Photo credit: Square Enix)

“Kingdom Hearts III”

  • Anticipated release date: 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • I’m told “Kingdom Hearts III” is real. I even remember seeing a trailer for it at E3 — in 2013. But much like the fabled “Final Fantasy VII” remake, I won’t believe such news about a release until I have the physical disc in my hands. Still, I dream about the day that I get to experience the conclusion of the long-running, multi-game and -platform series. Plus, there will be new worlds to explore, always one of the highlights of the franchise.

A scene from “Spider-Man.” (Photo credit: Insomniac Games)

“Spider-Man”

  • Anticipated release date: 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4
  • Insomniac Games, the studio behind the enjoyable Xbox One exclusive “Sunset Overdrive,” is at it again — but this time with a title that has some star power behind it. “Spider-Man” looks fantastic, and if the studio brings the same care and creativity that it did to “Sunset,” then the PS4-exclusive should be a winner right out the gate. Plus, I’m curious to see how they treat the story here (which reportedly is massive and full to twists and turns), since the studio isn’t tying the game to the webslinger’s existing continuity.

A scene from “System Shock.” (Photo credit: Nightdive Studios)

“System Shock”

  • Anticipated release date: 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Talk about an influential game. The original “System Shock,” released in 1994, paved the way for acclaimed games such as “Dishonored” and the “Bioshock” series, games I absolutely adore. So to get the chance to play a reboot of that game is a treat. The reboot of the science fiction classic will remain mostly the same as it was 14 years ago, but it is set to come with impressive new graphics, much like the “Yakuza” remakes.

“The Walking Dead: The Final Season”

  • Anticipated release date: 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, mobile devices
  • Telltale Games’ most well-known game series has had its ups and downs, and the lack of interactive game play mechanics isn’t for all gamers. But with this being the final season, and players once again in control of series favorite Clementine (again voiced by Melissa Hutchinson), I feel almost obligated to play it. (That’s not the best reason, admittedly.) It’s unclear what Clem will accomplish in her final outing, but you can bet on Telltale’s writing, even if your choices won’t matter as much as the game would like you to think.

“The Wolf Among Us: Season 2”

  • Anticipated release date: 2018
  • Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, mobile devices
  • Speaking of Telltale games, I’m much more excited for another release by the developer: the second season of “The Wolf Among Us.” The gritty, noir-esque take on the graphic comic of the same was intense and utterly engrossing. And while it sounds like Season Two may not focus on the same characters and/or story line, I’m interested nonetheless.

Other games that I’m interested but have no idea when they’ll be released (publishers have been known to get that wrong):

  • “The Last of Us Part II”
  • “Left Alive”
  • “Metro: Exodus”
  • “State of Decay 2”
  • New “Tomb Raider” game (whatever it’s called)
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