The Wolf Among Us, Season 2 – Fall 2018
2018 will be a landmark year for Telltale. Six years after The Walking Dead invented its own adventure game subgenre, we’re getting both The Walking Dead: The Final Season and a second season of The Wolf Among Us.
It’s the latter that’s got most of my attention. While The Walking Dead going back to a Clementine-centric story sounds great, I’ve already seen quite a bit of that world—and not so long ago. Wolf Among Us hasn’t had a follow-up since its 2013 release though, and both the imaginative Fables universe and the neon-soaked noir aesthetic of Bigby Wolf’s first season are still high water marks for Telltale.
Metro Exodus – Fall 2018
Emerging from the ashes of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., the two Metro games were some of my favorites from the last console generation—2033 in particular, but Last Light too.
Set in Russia in the wake of a nuclear apocalypse, Metro detailed a world where Communists and Nazis fought over the remains of Moscow’s subway system while those caught in the middle just tried to survive against overwhelming odds. Not just the aforementioned extremists, but also mutant animals, a mysterious psychic force known as the Dark Ones, and a general lack of supplies.
A third game and a continuation of protagonist Artyom’s storyline is more than welcome, especially given the cult fandom Metro’s garnered. In the wake of THQ’s death, another Metro was far from guaranteed. I’m glad Metro: Exodus is happening.
Anno 1800 – Winter 2018
After Anno 2205’s dalliance with the far-future, Anno 1800 takes us back to humanity’s past—this time to the industrial revolution, to smokestacks and coal-fired factories and steam engines. That (probably) means no trips to the moon, though Ubisoft has promised the ability to “plan efficient logistic networks” and “create huge metropolises.”
If that doesn’t get your history nerd palms sweaty, I don’t know what will.
Darksiders III - 2018
We already discussed one series arising from THQ’s ashes (Metro) so we should probably discuss Darksiders III too. That’s definitely another one for the “I can’t believe this exists” pile.
The original Darksiders is my favorite Zelda game, by which I mean it lifted the same structure from Nintendo’s series, but repurposed for a world where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have to fight both angels and demons for the fate of humanity. It’s comic book schlock, but unique and surprisingly endearing. While the sequel’s pivot to a more open loot-game structure didn’t hook me quite as much, I’m still excited to see the continuation of a story I’ve been waiting on for six years now. Hopefully THQ Nordic is up to the task.
Unavowed - 2018
It's been a couple years since Wadjet Eye founder Dave Gilbert put out an adventure game of his own (the last was 2014's Blackwell Epiphany), but the wait seems worth it. Unavowed does things I've never seen in a point-and-click, with BioWare-style companions, branching puzzle solutions, and more. It's ambitious, and that's before you stop to admire the game's ultra-detailed pixel art.
Sunless Skies - 2018
Sunless Sea was one of 2015’s best games. I didn’t always love playing it, but I loved reading it—page after page of text detailing the Lovecraftian world of Fallen London and the adventures of my tiny steamship.
Sunless Skies is on track to be similar, flaws and all—except this time taking players through the vacuum of space in a wondrous flying train. “Stake your claim. Fight to survive. Speak to storms. Murder a sun. Face judgement.” That’s the description on the Sunless Skies Steam page and might I point out one of those sentences says murder a sun. How could you not be curious about that game?
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - 2018
We’re spoiled by isometric CRPGs these days, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Pillars of Eternity, if only because it so faithfully aped the style of its Infinity Engine predecessors. And that same nostalgia has me looking forward to Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, which takes players to the titular Deadfire Archipelago and adds a ton of modern features—a dynamic weather system, NPCs that follow a schedule, a ship stronghold that doubles as your party’s transportation, new subclasses, and so on. Plus Pillars II folds in some of your key decisions from its predecessor.
It sounds like an ambitious sequel, and I hope Obsidian can whip up a story to match.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps - 2018
Ori and the Blind Forest was one part gorgeous fairy tale, one part ultra-precise platformer. That's why I loved it, that duality. The so-called "Metroidvania" genre's seen a resurgence in recent years—Hollow Knight, Steamworld Dig, Owlboy, and Axiom Verge are all impressive too—but Ori's ability to make me tear up one second and then send me fleeing for my life the next still lands it as one of my favorites.
Judging from its E3 2017 trailer, Ori and the Will of the Wisps will continue that tradition. If anything, it's even more stunning to look at than its predecessor, and with music to match.
System Shock – 2018
I was excited when Nightdive announced it was remaking System Shock from scratch. It...really hasn’t aged well. I mean, the story’s solid and some of the moments are excellent, but even if you play Nightdive’s remastered version you’ll still find the controls hopelessly antiquated.
The project’s changed a bit since that initial announcement, with Nightdive now labeling the new game a reboot instead of a remake—more of a “How you remember System Shock” and less a 1-to-1 recreation. Nightdive’s even “collaborating with the original developers...understanding what they would do differently and keep the same.” Whether it works out? We’ll see, but personally I’m hoping for a revival as good as Doom.
Heaven's Vault - 2018
I had to check on this one, but yes, Inkle does plan to release Heaven's Vault in 2018. I couldn't be more excited. 80 Days was brilliant and I consider the four Sorcery! games some of the best interactive fiction ever made.
Inkle's billing Heaven's Vault as an "archaeology game." A real one—not an action game like Uncharted or Tomb Raider, but one where you cross the galaxy and along the way learn to translate an ancient alien language. My demo at GDC 2017 focused on decrypting unfamiliar symbols and then crossing my fingers, because as Inkle's Jon Ingold made sure to tell me, "The game isn't going to tell you if you got that right." Bold.