Now that 2018 is here, it’s time to start clearing out that hard drive and seriously considering another GPU upgrade because this year is going to put some serious strain on your free time, your wallet and your gaming machine.
In the months to come we’re going to see some open-worlds that promise to blow our minds, shooters that aim to rewrite the FPS rulebook and some of the most exciting indie titles to come out of a small, upstart studio.
So to get you primed and ready for the year ahead, we’ve collected together ten of our favorite slices of overclocked wonder…
Release date: 13 February
To call Kingdom Come: Deliverance ambitious would be quite the understatement. Within its open-world, you’ll find yourself in one of the most ultra-realistic environments you’ve ever seen.
We don’t just mean how it looks – and we’re fully down for its apparent Witcher vibe – but in the minutia of its mechanics. Locked to first-person, combat is brutal, relentless and without mercy.
Armour will protect you but hinder both your movements and your vision, while releasing arrows or swinging a long sword will deplete your stamina (requiring you to micromanage your energy constantly). Think Chivalry: Medieval Warfare if it had a secret crush on Dark Souls.
Release date: TBC
This being a Crytek game you can bet your house on one thing – Hunt: Showdown looks as incredible as Crysis did way back in 2007. Mists drift through the darkened swamps that serve as its main gameworld, one populated by five teams of two players each.
In with these players are three demonic, boss-like enemies in need of hunting and a whole host of smaller beasts ready to ambush you. There’s a real DayZ/PUBG feel to its use of sound as a form of bait, while the tactics needed to take down each huge monster hints at the greatness Evolve never lived up to. Its risk/reward setup could prove to be one of 2018’s most addictive lures.
Release date: 2018
Zombie survival games are everywhere these days, but there was something about the buggy-yet-intriguing premise of the original State Of Decay that hinted at a great concept yet to be delivered.
The upcoming State Of Decay 2 looks to right the many wrongs of its 2013 predecessor, with co-operative survival mechanics that combine resource gathering and fort building with the ever-looming threat of permadeath.
Drop in/drop out co-op will also add an extra incentive, although we suspect a few trolls to emerge. Preview builds have shown off a far more polished product that could cement itself as the undead-based videogame on PC in 2018.
Release date: 2018
With the various Warhammer licences enjoying a raft of videogame adaptations at the moment, we weren’t surprised to see the End Times era get some time in spotlight with its Skaven-hunting exploits.
What we didn’t expect was the first Vermintide to be such an addictive co-op adventure. The team-based setup returns for Warhammer: Vermintide 2, adding in three unique career paths for each of its five heroes and a new loot-based system that rewards gear and weapons based on in-game accolades. Oh, and this time around the armies of Chaos are joining the ratmen, so expect the blood to flow.
Release date: Q1/Q2 2018
Following on from the success of Life Is Strange’s choice-driven narrative was always going to be a challenge, but no one expected Parisian studio Dontnod’s next game to be an open-world vampire sim set on the streets of pre-Victorian London.
As a doctor afflicted with a thirst for blood, you’ll interact with a city full of NPCs, each with their own unique story and relationship to the world. To upgrade your abilities you’ll need to feast, but doing so will kill these NPCs permanently and unleash zombie-like creatures on the street. We’ve not seen a decent vampire sim since the days of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodline so we’ve high hopes for Vampyr.
Release date: 27 March
Although it’s been delayed by a month, pushing its planned release date from February to March 2018, that hasn’t dampened our excitement for Ubisoft Montreal’s open-world shooter, Far Cry 5.
The basic formula that worked so well for Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 returns, so expect the Montana sandback that is Hope County to be filled with all manner of animals to hunt, outposts to liberate and side-quests to complete.
Vehicle customisation also joins the series, as does a more diverse set of interior environments (offering a greater depth to stealth and an improved AI that will sweep rooms when searching for you).
Release date: 20 March
While it’s taken a while to unfurl its sails and catch a strong wind, Rare’s first proper game in many a year is preparing to drop anchor on PC and Xbox One in the new year.
Infused with that unique brand of whimsy that’s set Rare’s games apart from its peers, Sea Of Thieves takes the eternally cool concept of being a pirate and infuses it with an online game world where building a crew, sailing a galleon, hunting for treasure and drinking too much grog are the hottest tickets in town. One of the more unusual offerings coming your way in 2018.
Release date: TBC (console release January 26)
Monster Hunter World is hitting consoles first in 2018, but that’s not going to stop Capcom’s long-in-the-fang series from arriving on PC shortly after.
The first proper Monster Hunter outside of the handheld market since Monster Hunter Tri in 2009, Monster Hunter World offers the most exciting take on the solo/co-op beast slaying concept, with servers enabling players from all over the world to play together for the very first time.
Capcom is promising a menagerie of monsters to kill, and plenty of ways to turn their carcasses into shiny new bits of armour, so expect this title to make a big splash when it arrives in 2018.
Release date: TBC
With Mass Effect placed in stasis and no news on the next Dragon Age just yet, Bioware came out swinging at E3 2017 with Anthem, a new open-world affair that throws together jetpacks, monster hunting and a Destiny-style persistent gameworld where teaming up with friends is the dish of the day.
Of course, that comparison to Destiny and how the much the final product can differentiate itself will be a hot topic in 2018 (as will fears over the potential use of loot boxes), but its co-op focus and unusual world remains one of the most exciting new IP in the year to come.
Release date: March 23
While director Josef Fares sometimes overshadows his work with controversial outbursts and F-bombs a plenty, there’s no denying he’s a real eye for innovation in co-op based games.
Following on from his success with Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons, Fares is back with a new studio, an EA publishing deal, and A Way Out, a game where you control two cons who need to work together to break out of jail and evade the law.
It’s a splitscreen affair and one that’s far more overtly narrative driven than Brothers, so it promises to be one of 2018’s most intriguing upcoming releases.