2017 has been over for a couple months now. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how amazing it was for the world of video games. My year started off with Gravity Rush 2, a game that deserved far more attention than it got. We got the Nintendo Switch last year, which I don’t think anyone expected to do so well. But games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey made its first year an absolute success. The JRPG community also got some amazing titles like NieR: Automata and Persona 5.
All in all, last year had so many good games that it was a little unsettling. I’m beginning to wonder if it can ever be topped. We won’t get them all in 2018, but good games are going to keep coming out. Good luck trying to play catchup on your backlog, everybody, ‘cause you’ll never stop being behind.
Here are some games I’m looking forward to. Some of these are well known, and some of them need a lot more attention. With the overwhelming amount of video games coming out in a year, it was difficult to narrow it down to ten. Whether you’re looking to play big budget titles or smaller indie games, these releases should definitely be on your radar.
Granblue Fantasy: Project Relink
I won’t lie to you, I wasn’t sure what Granblue Fantasy was until a few days before writing this. I had seen some gorgeous artwork for the anime floating around, but that was about it. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered it was originally a mobile game. This turned me off since that’s isn’t an area of interest for me. I usually avoid the simplistic mobile games that suck the money out of your wallet like a vacuum.
It surprised me when I received a message from a friend telling me to check out the new gameplay video for Granblue Fantasy: Project Relink. I was immediately attracted to the visuals. The town that the video shows off is huge and detailed with a delightfully colorful anime style. The world feels very lived-in with people sitting outside enjoying a meal and children running around playing tag. That was the first instance of my mind changing. My hype levels began to rise.
It’s one thing to have great visuals and an expressive world, but what else does it have going for it? For starters, it’s developed by Platinum Games. This is a studio that I don’t have much familiarity with. The most recent game I’ve played by them is NieR: Automata, and that blew me away. The combat seems similar enough, but it has four player multiplayer, which could be a game changer.
I hope this game gets the attention it deserves—it would be a shame if it didn’t release in the west. It’s a great looking game with an excellent team behind it, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t sell well here.
Did I mention the music’s composed by Nobuo Uematsu?
If you know me, then you might know that I’m a fan of the Mother series. I’m particularly a fan of the way it presents itself. The colorful visuals, quirky characters, weird enemies, and the way that playfulness hides something much more sinister. So whenever I see something that resembles those games, I’m almost immediately interested. The indie gaming market is a little over-saturated with these types of games lately. So they need to do something interesting to grab my attention.
With Ikenfell, the inspiration is there, but it’s oozing with its own personality. Making a game where the setting is a magic school (think Harry Potter) is a genius idea. That type of setting is an excellent place to develop characters since they all share something in common.
I love turn-based combat, but it can get stale when you have to do it over and over again. Spicing it up is always welcome. Ikenfell‘s combat system rewards party positioning and accurate button-timing. This is such an effective way to keep combat engaging. Mix that up with a lot puzzles, a cute pixel art style, and great music, and you’ve got a great looking video game.
Horror games generally aren’t my thing. It’s not that they don’t have value, I just can’t seem to play them very often. Some would even say that I am easily frightened. If you throw a cute art style over top of it, and give it that surreal edge, though, I’m totally down.
Omori has been on my radar for a few years now. The project is helmed by artist Omocat. If you compare the game’s art style to the designs on her merchandise, you can tell. The game looks to be another Mother clone, but like any good inspired piece of art, it takes it in its own unique direction. A few clicks on their website shows a virtual notebook full of spooky crayon drawings.
Here’s hoping this game actually comes out in 2018.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
I’ve never finished a Dragon Quest game. Actually, while writing this, I’m in the middle of playing Dragon Quest VIII in preparation for the new one. It says something when I’m so sold on the eleventh game in a franchise that I’m willing to go back to play its older titles.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age looks fantastic. It’s like if you took the eighth game, which is great in its own right, and improved upon it in every way. That’s the impression I get from watching gameplay footage and trailers. The visuals are gorgeous. 3D models of Akira Toriyama’s art have never looked this good before. Dragon Ball FighterZ looks great, but this is on a whole other level.
I know they fixed this issue in the 3DS remakes of VII and VIII, but ditching random battles was a smart decision. Its an outdated mechanic that has become frustrating over the years.
Even though I’m not a longtime fan of the series, I’ll still be there day one. I am becoming a Dragon Quest fan.
How many mediocre Spider-Man games have we gotten since Ultimate Spider-Man? It’s a shame they never revisited the mechanics that made that and Spider-Man 2 so beloved. It seems like such an obvious direction to take too. Insomniac recently showed off a trailer for their upcoming Spider-Man game. The web-slinging section was brief, but it looks like they’re going back to what made those old games so fun.
This seems like the game Spider-Man fans deserve. It’s an original story with no relation to any of the films. One of the biggest reasons to believe in this is the Insomniac name. They’ve put out some fun titles, and their style is definitely going to translate well into a super hero game.
Persona 3 Dancing Moon Night & Persona 5 Dancing Star Night
You might be wondering why a silly rhythm spin-off game is so high up on my list. Why would he place this ahead of Dragon Quest and Spider-Man? Why isn’t Red Dead Redemption 2 on the list, but this is? Who is this disaster of a human being? Well, I just love Persona. I’ll take as much of it as I can get. Atlus can keep milking this franchise as much as they want. They should take all my money now. Make a Persona typing game for all I care, I’ll buy it all.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Studio Ghibli and video games is a combination that’s a match made in heaven for me. Ni no Kuni had its fair share of problems here and there, but it’s a game that I love. The characters and plot could have been better, but it had this childlike sense of wonder that’s missing from a lot of modern video games.
It’s unfortunate, but Studio Ghibli isn’t involved in this project. Yet the influence is still there. This is clear in the character designs, and especially the designs of the higgledies. These are what replace the familiars from the first game. If you’re disappointed that mechanic is absent, you still get something like it.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom will hopefully improve what was good about the first game as well as fix its issues. The story and characters already seem more interesting, and the Ghibli charm is the same. I am a little worried about the way the chibi sprites look on the map, and the mandatory strategy mode is putting me off a little. But I actually think the removal of the familiars will change combat for the better. It looks like fighting enemies will be a lot more involved.
Despite some big changes that seem a little worrisome, I doubt we have to worry about Ni no Kuni II. If the release delays are any sign, it means that they’re working hard, and Level-5 wants to make the best game they can.
The Last of Us Part II
The sequel to “the Citizen Kane of video games” is officially in development, and I am looking forward to it. The initial teaser was enough to get me excited, especially since we’ll be taking the role of Ellie this time around. The second trailer caused a bit of controversy with how violent it was. But the world of The Last of Us was never one to stray away from that sort of thing. If anything, it made me more intrigued. Who are these new characters? And what the hell is going on?
Naughty Dog’s been delivering the pinnacle of blockbuster gaming since the second Uncharted. The Last of Us proved that video games can have well paced and engaging stories. With the recent improvements to the Uncharted franchise, I can’t wait to see how they make The Last of Us better.
Kingdom Hearts III
Growing up, I had this bad habit of starting video games with the intent to finish them, and then never doing it. Kingdom Hearts is one of those games. While I tried several times to get through it, I’d always get distracted by something and stop. It wasn’t until very recently that I took the time to finish the first one.
Even though I didn’t actually beat a Kingdom Hearts game until recently, the series still means a lot to me. My brother and I used to play these games together all the time. In middle school, I’d spend hours reading fan theories about Kingdom Hearts 3. I have a lot of nostalgia for this so it’s honestly kind of emotional that it’s finally happening.
The first Kingdom Hearts isn’t perfect, but there’s an undeniable charm to it. On paper, mixing Final Fantasy with Disney seems like it wouldn’t work. But the two clash in a way that they create something wholly unique. Donald and Goofy make the dramatic moments feel out of place, but the magic of both universes works.
I plan on playing through the rest of the series to prepare for the third one. Adding the Pixar worlds is what sold me. Playing as a tiny toy Sora along with Woody and Buzz in Andy’s room looks super fun. They’ve also added a lot of special moves to spice up combat.
It’s been a long time coming for Kingdom Hearts 3. I know we’ve all been waiting around a decade. I’m excited to play through the franchise so I can feel the love of Kingdom Hearts with everyone else when it drops this year.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Something in me feels bad for putting this at number one since it’s a remake, but I can’t help my own personal excitement. Final Fantasy VII is a game that I grew up playing. The rumor of the remake is something that’s been floating around for a long time as well. It’s no surprise that I’m looking forward to this, and to be honest, I’m not super worried about the outcome.
The game is definitely going to look great. If the gameplay from Final Fantasy XV is any sign, I expect it to play great as well. The turn-based combat is being swapped out for third-person action. While purists might complain, I think this is actually a good thing. The change here should be welcomed, since if you want to experience the original, you can always go back and play it. That’s the beauty of remakes: they’re there to enjoy, but they don’t need to replace what you already love.
Well, there you have it. Those were my top 10 most anticipated games of 2018 and beyond. I know I missed a lot, but you can trust me when I say that narrowing this list down to ten was a difficult task. So many great games are coming out, and even though I won’t be able to play them all, I’d like to. The future of video games is shaping up to be very bright.