To say that 2017 was a landmark year for gaming would be an understatement. We not only saw the release of a brand new, industry-changing console in the form of the Nintendo Switch (now officially the fastest-selling console of all time) but more importantly, there was simply a ton of incredible games to play. From January pretty much right up until the end of the year, it felt like not a week would go by without a new, must-play title coming out, making it very difficult (read: impossible) to keep up with everything. The first three months of 2017 in particular may have been the strongest first quarter ever, with legitimate game of the year caliber titles such as Resident Evil 7, Nioh, Horizon Zero Dawn, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild all releasing during that period.

Looking ahead to 2018, it’s looking like we may not be quite as inundated with must-play games as we were last year but there are some definite heavy-hitters coming our way. The PlayStation 4 in particular is set to deliver a handful of highly anticipated exclusives and we’re also only a few months away from the release of a new Rockstar game (you know which one). That being said, there are still a ton of games that will hit later this year that we don’t even know about yet and even if we were only getting the following 18 games in 2018, it would still be a strong year. There is no guarantee that all of these games will make it out this year, of course, but as of right now, these are the ones that we’re most looking forward to getting our hands on.

18. Mega Man 11

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One

Capcom has given the Mega Man franchise some love in recent years with the release of the Mega Man Legacy Collections but when it comes to new games, fans haven’t had a proper sequel since the release of Mega Man 10 in 2010. It came as something of a pleasant surprise then to hear the publisher announce a brand new Mega Man game as part of the franchise’s 30th anniversary celebration this past December. Simply titled Mega Man 11, the game is another side-scrolling action platformer much like previous Mega Man titles, only with 3D visuals this time rather than the 8-bit aesthetic adopted by Mega Man 9 and 10.

Little is known about the game right now but Capcom is aiming for a late 2018 release on multiple platforms and even though there have been a ton of Mega Man copycats released in recent years to help fill the void left by the series’ absence, it’s hard not to be excited by Mega Man 11 considering veteran producer Kazuhiro Tsuchiya and director Koji Oda are both involved.

Capcom

17. Yoshi

Platform: Nintendo Switch

It’s hard to know what kind of year 2018 will be for Nintendo Switch owners given that Nintendo hasn’t announced very many big upcoming games as of yet. It’s unlikely that the company will be able to deliver a one-two Zelda and Mario punch like they did in 2017 again but it’s safe to assume that Nintendo is prepping at least one or two must-have exclusives for the latter half of the year. Fortunately, we know of at least one significant first party game in the form of the side-scroller Yoshi.

At first glance, Yoshi looks to be a pretty standard platformer featuring 3D characters moving on a 2D plane, but the game features a nifty mechanic that allows players to “flip” viewpoints in order to see behind objects, which is sure to lead to some clever puzzle designs. Yoshi probably isn’t going to be on par with the Switch’s best games but it looks like a fun platformer in its own right and a great multiplayer addition to the console’s library, with a two-player co-op mode that looks very entertaining.

Nintendo

16. Detroit: Become Human

Platform: PlayStation 4

Visionary game director David Cage and his team at Quantic Dream have quite a bit to prove with their latest game, the neo-noir thriller Detroit: Become Human. After delivering the critically-acclaimed Heavy Rain on PS3, Quantic floundered with the disappointing Beyond: Two Souls, a game that unfortunately lessened some people’s estimation of the studio and Cage’s ability to tell movie-quality stories in his games. Fortunately, what we’ve seen of Detroit: Become Human so far has been very impressive, from its beautiful graphics to its interesting player choice structure.

Like past Quantic Dream games, Detroit’s actual story is sure to go off the rails at some point into totally bonkers territory but if Cage and co. wraps it all up in a package with interesting characters and thought-provoking themes, this could be one of the best narrative-driven games of the year.

Quantic Dream

15. Crackdown 3

Platforms: Xbox One, Windows PC

Crackdown 3 has had a long and tumultuous road to release, with numerous delays pushing this Xbox exclusive nearly two years behind schedule. It looks like we can finally expect Crackdown 3 this spring and while it’s still one of the Xbox One’s most anticipated releases, it’s hard to know at this stage if the game will live up to its once lofty expectations. Like past Crackdown titles, the game will retain the addictive parkour-based city exploration, third-person shooting, and orb hunting that made the original so successful but the jury is still out on how much of a role Microsoft’s ambitious cloud-powered environmental destruction will play in the moment-to-moment gameplay.

There’s also the issue of there already being a ton of other successful open-world games on the market, making it increasingly difficult for Crackdown 3 to stand out from the pack. Still, those delays can only have helped Crackdown 3 become an even better game and considering there’s not much else to get excited about on the Xbox One this year, there’s a good chance this one might actually deliver on its promise after suffering so many setbacks.

Microsoft

14. A Way Out

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One

This list is primarily meant to highlight the “big” games of 2018, which is why there’s a lack of indie titles included but one smaller game that needs to be highlighted is A Way Out, the much-anticipated new game from the studio that brought us arguably one of the best indie games of the last decade, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Much like with Brothers, A Way Out is designed from the ground up with duality in mind but whereas Brothers required players to control two characters at the same time, A Way Out is played entirely in co-op, meaning that you’ll need to recruit a friend either online or through split-screen to see it through to completion.

The game follows two convicted prisoners named Leo and Vincent as they work together to break out of prison and stay one step ahead of the law, which will surely lead to players having to work closely together to get through a variety of puzzles. It’s always tough for a developer to followup their breakthrough hit but if A Way Out can deliver on its lofty ambitions, we could be in store for one of the year’s best indie experiences.

Source: Digital Trends

13. Monster Hunter: World

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One

Monster Hunter has been a fan favorite Capcom franchise for years now but for whatever reason, the publisher has kept it tied down to handheld platforms. Monster Hunter: World marks the franchise’s first console and PC release and is shaping up to be the title that pushes Monster Hunter from niche RPG status to mainstream obsession. Due to the jump to current-gen platforms, Monster Hunter is finally able to live up to its potential as an open-world RPG based around exploration, leveling up and cooperative gameplay.

The story mode is said to last well over 50 hours but even if the narrative ends up not being all that satisfying, going out and slaying giant monsters with your friends looks like an addictive enough gameplay loop to keep players hooked for months or potentially years to come. The best part is that we won’t have to wait long to see if Monster Hunter: World can deliver on its promise, as it’s scheduled to drop at the end of January and is set to be the first big game of 2018.

Capcom

12. Darksiders 3

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One

The Darksiders series has never been a sales juggernaut but ever since Vigil Games put out the original in 2010, it’s gained a loyal cult following thanks to its interesting lore and genre-mashing action-adventure gameplay. Each new Darksiders title has featured a different Horseman of the Apocalypse in the lead role and this time out it’s Fury, a mage who relies on whips and magic in combat. Much like in past games, Darksiders 3 will retain the series’ Zelda-inspired gameplay but with a new twist, as levels and puzzles will be themed around each of the Seven Deadly Sins, which are being framed as the game’s main antagonists.

It’s still not clear when in 2018 we can expect Darksiders 3 to arrive but hopefully THQ Nordic is smart about it and doesn’t release the game too close to another major release in order to give it the best chance at moving copies. If you’ve somehow made it to this point without playing through the two previous entries in the series, both can be picked up for cheap in their original forms on PS3 and Xbox 360, or remastered on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

THQ Nordic

11. Metro Exodus

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One

Despite delivering some of the best first-person shooter horror experiences of the past decade, 4A Games’ Metro series still feels underrated — or at least underappreciated — in comparison to other games in its respective genre. While it’s hard to see that changing with the upcoming release of Metro Exodus, there’s a very good chance that this will be 4A’s best entry yet. The most striking change is a visual one, as Exodus is introducing open sandbox environments to be explored in addition to the drab Moscow subway tunnels that permeated the previous games.

Exodus probably won’t be a commercial powerhouse but fortunately, it’s very easy to catch up on the Metro games if you’ve overlooked them up to this point, as Deep Silver released Metro 2033 and its sequel Metro: Last Light together in a remastered collection a few years ago and it’s readily available on PS4 and Xbox One for a low price.

Deep Silver

10. Sea of Thieves

Platforms: Xbox One, Windows PC

Even if Sea of Thieves wasn’t one of Microsoft’s only upcoming Xbox exclusives, it would be an important game. Developed by Rare, once one of the world’s most celebrated and talented video game development studios, Sea of Thieves is Rare’s first real opportunity in years to prove that they can still make top tier games after years of being forced to churn out forgettable Kinect software. Thankfully, Sea of Thieves already has a ton of positive buzz thanks to a recent beta release and continues to look better each time Microsoft shows it off at trade shows.

A naval exploration game involving sailing the high seas and searching for treasure with friends, Sea of Thieves could end up becoming an obsession for many gamers thanks to its focus on cooperative gameplay. Whether or not the game will hold up to continued play in the weeks and months following its release is another matter but considering how few good pirate-themed games there are out there, Sea of Thieves could successfully fill a niche and emerge as one of 2018’s biggest (and best) releases.

Microsoft

9. Days Gone

Platform: PlayStation 4

Sony’s lineup of upcoming exclusives is so strong that it’s easy to overlook Days Gone, the open world zombie shooter that the Sony Bend studio has been working on for years. While it’s true that the game bears more than a passing resemblance to another PS4 exclusive, the critically-acclaimed The Last of Us, Days Gone is set to be a considerably different kind of post-apocalyptic survival game. In some ways, one could view Days Gone as a Walking Dead game done right, as the focus is primarily on the game’s core group of survivors and their interactions with other groups, with the undead hordes treated more as an environmental puzzle to be overcome.

Players can even pit them against other survivor groups, a tactic that viewers of The Walking Dead will be quite familiar with at this point. Sure, Days Gone isn’t likely to match the narrative heights of The Last of Us or its highly-anticipated sequel but when it comes to open world zombie fare, Sony Bend may very well have the definitive experience on their hands.

Source: PlayStation.com

8. Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC (predicted)

Even though all we really have to go on right now is a Twitter post confirming that a new Tomb Raider game is currently in development, it’s hard not to be hyped up for Square Enix’s third entry in its critically-acclaimed rebooted Lara Croft series. Both 2013’s Tomb Raider and its superior sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider stand alongside the Uncharted series as some of the best action-adventure games ever made, so right off the bat we already know we can expect great things from whatever Crystal Dynamics is working on. I

n terms of actual content, we haven’t had any official details about what the next Tomb Raider will be about or how it will play; in fact, we haven’t even had confirmation that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is the title! And while it’s possible that the game won’t make it out in 2018, Square Enix did promise in its initial announcement that fans won’t have to wait long after the official reveal to get their hands on the game. The expectation is that the game will be revealed sometime around the release of the Tomb Raider movie in March, meaning that if Square Enix holds true to its promise, we can expect the game to come out sometime in late 2018.

Square Enix

7. Far Cry 5

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One

Following an interesting but forgettable detour into the ancient past with 2016’s Primal, the Far Cry series is looking to make a big statement with its fifth mainline release, which will be set in the United States for the first time. Specifically, Far Cry 5 is set in a fictional town in rural Montana that has been taken over by a violent religious cult.

While it remains to be seen whether or not Ubisoft will inject the game with meaningful commentary on homegrown terrorism or the rise of white supremacy in America, the sandbox gameplay Far Cry is known for appears to be in top form, with all sorts of vehicles, animals, weapons, and other elements giving players the tools to go wild in a breathtaking open world environment. In other words, even if the story ends up being craven and gutless, at least the end product is guaranteed to be a lot of fun judging by the standard set by previous Far Cry games.

Ubisoft

6. Anthem

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox One

The game that stole the show at E3 2017, Bioware’s Anthem represents an ambitious new direction for the storied developer, as they transition away from single-player RPGs in favor of an open-world online shooter. Right now, it’s hard not to bring up comparisons to Destiny, as Anthem is being framed in many ways as EA’s answer to Activision’s massively popular first-person shooter/RPG hybrid but there are reasons to be optimistic about Anthem’s chances of outdoing its main rival.

For one thing, Bioware games are renowned for their strong storytelling, something that the Destiny series has sorely lacked up until this point. While there’s still a good chance that Anthem will be pushed out of 2018, if it does release this year it’s sure to be one of the most talked about new blockbuster games in years and a return to form for Bioware after the disappointment of Mass Effect: Andromeda.

EA Bioware

5. Kingdom Hearts 3

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Is Kingdom Hearts 3 even going to make it out in 2018? Maybe? Square Enix has delayed this game so often over the last five years or so that it’s hard to believe it will ever come out but the publisher seems adamant that it will be ready to go this year … even if they have yet to commit to a firm release date. The delays can mostly be attributed to a switch in engines midway through development but now that things are back on track, it’s easier to be optimistic about Kingdom Hearts 3 actually shipping this year.

The big addition this time is the introduction of characters from the Pixar universe, with Toy Story in particular set to be a prominent part of the game. Of course, with almost 12 years having now passed since the release of Kingdom Hearts 2, it’s hard to imagine the new game being able to live up to so much hype but at this point, it will just be nice to finally have it in our hands (hopefully).

Square Enix

4. Spider-Man

Platform: PlayStation 4

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Spider-Man game worth getting excited about but leave it to Insomniac Games to create one that not only looks like it may dethrone the legendary Spider-Man 2 but give Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series a run for its money as the greatest achievement in superhero video games. The most important feature is the return of the open-world web-slinging that made the aforementioned Spider-Man 2 so innovative when it released back in 2004 but it looks like Insomniac is applying that same level of quality to everything in their Spider-Man game.

Combat and cameras have always been the bane of Spider-Man games but both of these systems appear to be in top form in this latest iteration. Throw in a an original story that has nothing to do with the current movies and we may just have the definitive Spider-Man game on our hands. Too bad only PS4 owners will get to experience it, though.

Insomniac Games

3. God of War

Platform: PlayStation 4

Rebooting a series with a tried and true formula is always a risky proposition but based on what’s been shown of it so far, Sony Santa Monica’s re-imagined God of War may single-handedly revitalize a series that was previously in danger of becoming a parody of itself. Trading in Greek for a Norse mythology backdrop was daring enough but that’s practically window dressing compared to the other substantial changes SSM has made with God of War. Gone are the top-down perspective and combo-heavy combat system, replaced here by a behind-the-shoulder camera and third-person shooter-like combat that mixes in melee and projectile weaponry.

That being said, the most important chance is arguably one of maturity, as this God of War is actually trying to humanize series protagonist Kratos for once thanks to the inclusion of a touching father-son story. As much as the old God of War games are to be commended for their cinematic design, it’s nice to see Sony taking things in a new direction that could see it return to being a top tier franchise.

Source: PlayStation.com

2. The Last of Us Part II

Platform: PlayStation 4

There was some debate about including this game on the list as it’s unclear if Naughty Dog will be able to finish and release The Last of Us Part II in 2018 but if there’s even a chance of it coming out this year, it needs to be mentioned. The Last of Us is arguably one of the greatest games ever made and considering Naughty Dog has been hitting it out of the park recently with the last few Uncharted games, there’s little reason to think the sequel won’t deliver another jaw-dropping experience. So little is known about The Last of Us Part II right now that it’s difficult to talk about specifics but narrative is the area we’re most looking forward to.

The Last of Us delivered an emotional, mature story that remains one of gaming’s best and much of that is thanks to the central relationship between protagonists Joel and Ellie, who are set to return in the sequel, albeit a few years older and (at least in Ellie’s case) more jaded about the post-apocalyptic world they inhabit. At PlayStation Experience this past December, game director Neil Druckmann said the game was about “50 to 60% done” so if it does make it out in 2018, it will definitely be released late in the year. Again, it’s a little more likely that The Last of Us Part II will be out in 2019 but we’re still hopeful that Naughty Dog can get it out this year.

Sony

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Unless some huge surprise announcement comes, there is no bigger game coming in 2018 than Red Dead Redemption 2. The long-awaited sequel to 2010’s incredible open-world western from Rockstar Games, Red Dead Redemption 2 represents the developer’s first new release in almost five years, so there is a ton of expectation for Rockstar to deliver something truly memorable. Fortunately, Rockstar is a company not prone to disappoint and even though we’ve only seen a couple of trailers thus far, it’s clear that Red Dead Redemption 2 is aiming to deliver the same kind of cinematic storytelling that made the original game turn so many heads.

One big question on everyone’s mind though is whether Red Dead will be able to match the success of Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode, which continues to be one of the most successful of its kind nearly five years after release. Whether you’re just in it for the story or are looking to get deeply involved in Red Dead Online, Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most anticipated sequels in all of gaming and that’s why it tops our list.

Rockstar Games