The holidays are officially over and a new year has begun. The end of this celebratory time means that games have entered a bit of a down time. All the biggest game releases rushed themselves to make it out before the Christmas shopping season, but many were either delayed or just planned to launch in early 2018 all along. The hits are definitely going to be slower coming, but there still will be hits, and I’m going to try to predict them. These are the biggest and best games of early 2018 (January to March).
Monster Hunter World – January 26th
The Monster Hunter series is one of the biggest franchises in Japan and has been steadily growing an audience of millions in the US and other Western countries. It’s always been a bit held back by its platform choices though, either sticking to handheld or being a Wii U exclusive; a rarity for a third party title. Now, with Monster Hunter World Capcom is giving fans and newcomers something truly brand new to talk about. Offering the best visuals the series has ever seen, while making the huge leap to the current generation systems. The game looks gorgeous just in the graphics, but the true potential lies in how the formula can be rethought and reshaped given the better systems and services it will be utilizing.
Dragon Ball FighterZ – January 26th
While the first part of January will be a bit slow, things kick off on the 26th with two solid titles. The second one to look forward to is Dragon Ball FighterZ, Bandai Namco and Arc System Works’ fantastic looking fighting game based on the legendary anime. Featuring near perfect cel-shaded representations of a bunch of mainstay characters, the game also looks to offer a robust 2D fighting game as well. Fans have been simply falling all over themselves at every single announcement about this game, and for good reason; it looks amazing. If you’re a fighting game fan, this is for you. If you’re a Dragon Ball fan, this is for you. If you just like good, solidly crafted games, Dragon Ball FighterZ seems like it might be for you.
Shadow of the Colossus – February 6th
2017 was a fantastic year for original game releases, but the few years that preceded it were chock full of remakes and remasters. The release of the PS4 and Xbox One preempted a glut of these types of game releases, many of which were great while others were cheap cash grabs. 2018 gets its biggest and best looking remake in early 2018 with Shadow of the Colossus arriving just in time for my birthday, and what a gift it looks to be. Shadow of the Colossus is a game that many consider to be the best of all time, and this remake comes from the talented port masters at Bluepoint. The trailers have looked simply amazing so far, and with the rock solid core of the original release to build on, this could be the best remake of 2018.
Sea of Thieves – March 20th
The Xbox One is a bit lacking in exclusives lately, but Rare looks set to give the console one of its best in early 2018. Sea of Thieves is a unique game, with its multiplayer focus in a cartoonish pirate world, and fans have already started clamoring to get their hands on it. We loved it back at E3, and Rare seems to have only improved on the game since. Players will take to the sea in search of treasure and action, taking on other player controlled pirate ships, exploring islands, and stumbling across tons of surprises hidden throughout the large open sea. It’s not clear yet if the game will keep its audiences’ attention beyond its distinct setup, but if Rare has done their job well this could be the multiplayer hit of early 2018.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom – March 23rd
The next biggest and best game of early 2018 comes from Bandai Namco once again, and again it’s a cel-shaded title but a very different one from Dragon Ball FghterZ. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom brings players back to the world of Ding Dong Dell, this time totally diving into the fantasy elements of the series. While Studio Ghibli isn’t tied to this game, the people behind the studio still are, as we found out at E3 2017. I also got to go hands-on with the game there, and enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s clear that Level-5 isn’t resting on the praise the first game received, and is instead looking to fix things and make a better RPG experience for the player. We’ll have to wait until March 23rd to see if the risks paid off though.
A Way Out – March 23rd
A Way Out is certainly one of the more unique titles being offered up in early 2018. Coming from Josef Fares, of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and “F*** the Oscars” at The Game Awards fame, the game focuses on co-op like few other games have. Two players have to work together to escape from prison, and there’s no way to make it out without each other. Communication will be key, but each player will be experiencing something different from the other, so the game can be replayed at least twice, and likely many times more. This level of co-op play is fascinating and will hopefully result in one of 2018’s best games.
Far Cry 5 – March 27th
And, of course, the first part of the year wouldn’t be complete without Ubisoft’s massive shooter series. Pushing the series into some interesting new directions, Far Cry 5 has players exploring a huge open world once again, this time deep in the religious territory of a fictional America. The violence will be strong, but players can always make choices about how to deal with threats. Will you use your dog to distract as you sneak around the area, or will you go in guns blazing with a plane helping to dispatch your foes. Choice is the key to this series, and Far Cry 5 looks like it’ll have the most of any title before.
And those are my choices for biggest and best games of early 2018. These games look like they’ll be kicking 2018 off in just as good a fashion as 2017, though we’re still waiting to hear from Nintendo about what big Switch titles we could be seeing. This list could have a few additions to it soon.