Say what you will about 2017, it was one hell of a year for video games. PCWorld’s annual Game of the Year awards and the accompanying list of the best PC games you might have missed were packed to the rafters this time, and there were even more superb games waiting in the wings. The most anticipated PC games of 2018 have a lot to live up to.
But you know what? They just might. There are already quite a few cool games on the horizon, be they games that meant to release in 2018 or games that slipped out of 2017 by accident. Monster Hunter finally comes to PC, Far Cry 5 finally goes to Montana, and Star Citizen—ha, just kidding. Star Citizen isn’t releasing in 2018. Probably.
Below you’ll find the titles we’re most looking forward to though, with dates for those that have solid release dates planned, “release windows” for a few others, and hopes and dreams for the rest.
Monster Hunter: World – January 26
I’m listing this under its console release date, but it’s a bit misleading—Monster Hunter: World is coming to PC, but nobody’s said when yet. The console versions launch on January 26 with the PC release to follow.
The PlayStation 4 version
Monster Hunter: World – PlayStation 4 Standard Edition
Fingers crossed it doesn’t take long though, because Monster Hunter: World looks like it might be a breakout hit. It’s the first mainline Monster Hunter to come to non-Nintendo platforms in over a decade, and it looks stunning. Capcom recently ran a beta on PS4, and my favorite part: Someone was fighting a dragon in a pool and the dragon slammed into a nearby stone wall, which collapsed and sent a wave of water rushing out, sweeping both dragon and player over a cliff. It’s the sort of easily shared and digestible moment that might convince people to check out and maybe stick with a series known for its high difficulty and impenetrable UI, because the rewards can be worth it.
Singleplayer is what I’m most anticipating though, and it’s what we’re waiting on in the full release. In BattleTech you run a mercenary company, contract killers looking for the highest bidder. Like XCOM there’s an element of persistence to grapple with—a destroyed mech is destroyed forever, a dead pilot is dead no matter how veteran he or she might be. But what makes BattleTech interesting to me is the risk/reward proposition. You can negotiate for better pay up front, or decide a mission’s not worth it halfway through and jet out of there. It’s an interesting twist, and I’m curious to see how the experience holds up when there’s a whole galaxy to explore.
Civilization VI: Rise and Fall – February 8
When no Civilization VI expansion materialized this past fall I was admittedly confused–for the past few years it felt like you could set your watch by Firaxis, they were so consistent at hitting that October slot. It’s only four months “late” though, with the Rise and Fall expansion due to arrive in February instead.
It’s an interesting expansion, too. Since Firaxis didn’t really hold back any old systems to “add back in” to Civilization VI, Rise and Fall’s challenge is to add something entirely new: Golden Ages and Dark Ages. Your Civilization can fall into either each era, resulting in bonuses or penalties to City Loyalty and other stats. And while a Dark Age might be a temporary setback, emerging from one can trigger a “Heroic Age,” an era where all bonuses are tripled. An interesting twist on Civilization’s tried-and-true progression.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance – February 13
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition [Online Game Code]
The elevator pitch for Kingdom Come: Deliverance is easy: It’s like an Elder Scrolls game, but set in a recreation of the Holy Roman Empire circa 1400, complete with period-accurate combat, a story about the political workings of the royal court, and a realistic approach to food/sleep/equipment durability/medicine.
Either that sounds great to you, or your eyes glazed over while reading. Personally I’m looking forward to it, though the verdict’s out whether a small team can overcome the performance issues and bugginess that generally go hand-in-hand with Bethesda-style games.
Sea of Thieves – March 20
It was my most anticipated game coming out of E3 2016. It remained my most anticipated game coming out of E3 2017. And now as we head into 2018? It’s still my most anticipated game.
So after that recommendation…what is it? Well, Sea of Thieves is a pirate game as you might expect. The hook though (no pun intended) is that it’s a pseudo-MMO, meaning you’re a lone pirate in a world shared by fellow pirate-players. You can play alone, but the real draw comes from crewing up on much larger ships—at which point everyone takes on a roll. One person might occupy the crow’s nest for instance, while another steers the ship and a third fires the cannons. Maybe one person just stands on the prow drinking beer and playing accordion.
It’s up to you, and that’s what has me looking forward to Sea of Thieves even though much of the game remains shrouded in mystery.
A Way Out – March 23
A Way Out is one of the most promising titles I played at E3 2017. A story about two convicts who break out of prison and go on the lam, the gimmick is that A Way Out is only playable in co-op, with each player controlling one of the characters. This allows for all sorts of asymmetric storytelling—for instance, in our E3 demo we robbed a gas station. I was deep in a Telltale-style conversation with the cashier while my partner wandered around the shop setting up the actual heist.
It’s a fascinating approach, and director Josef Fares (who you might remember from his legendary Oscar-bashing speech at the Game Awards) told us his goal is a game that changes mechanics every few minutes to keep the experience fresh. If it works, it could set the standard for this sort of cinematic-heavy adventure.
Far Cry 5 – March 27
We’ve visited tropical islands, contracted malaria in Africa, scaled the Himalayas, and now it’s time to explore a place so exotic, so truly remote, it dazzles the mind: Montana. Yes, for Far Cry 5 we’re headed to the state known for Glacier National Park, a very small part of Yellowstone, and also (mostly) because the western border looks like a face.
The E3 demo I played was Far Cry through and through, first scouting and then shooting my way through an outpost. Whether Far Cry 5 does anything more interesting with its setting, or just uses it as a backdrop for “Yet Another Far Cry Game”? We’ll know in a few months, I guess.
Anthem – Fall 2018
If I were to predict any game slips out of 2018 and into 2019, it’s Anthem. We’ve barely seen anything of BioWare’s Destiny-style shooter so far—just an all-too-brief E3 demo and that’s it. It’s also made by BioWare, which historically has fallen prey to delays, and I imagine that’s even more possible post-Mass Effect: Andromeda. They don’t want to screw this one up.
But if Anthem does launch in 2018, well, I’m curious to see what comes of it. The game is centered around the same sort of co-op loot grind as Destiny 2, with a sci-fi universe that looks weirdly Mass Effect-like—to the point you wonder why BioWare didn’t just make this the next Mass Effect game, or at least keep the branding. In any case it’s also beautiful, with one of the most stunning Frostbite implementations I’ve seen to date.
After EA’s missteps in 2017 it’s hard to get too excited, but Anthem has piqued my interest at least.
Next page: New PC games we’re excited about later in 2018.
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.
Mentioned in this article
Darksiders III – PC
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
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Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition [Online Game Code]
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—HollowKnight, 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.
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.