For our second Ones to Watch, we’re not focussing on a specific month, platform or genre, but the simple distinction between playing on your own and playing with others. Certainly, there will be multiplayer games appearing in other parts of this series (I can spot about half a dozen just looking at our lists), but these are a selection of games where multiplayer will play a big part in making them enjoyable and engaging in the long run.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: Q1 2018
The first Warhammer: Vermintide sought to scratch a few particular itches for gamers. The biggest itch was for the kind of four player co-op that Left 4 Dead excelled at, setting you and your partners (whether human or AI) on long and treacherous missions through hordes of enemies and with only decent odds of success. There’s also been a distinct itch for some seriously good Warhammer-themed video game action, albeit taking us to the end times of the magical fantasy world; and then there’s the fleas. The damned fleas!
Where Vermintide reached out for Left 4 Dead’s crown – the melee combat and overall feel didn’t quite match it in my opinion – the sequel seeks to grab it and place it firmly upon its own head. The stakes are higher, with the hordes of Chaos to fend off in addition to the aforementioned flea-ridden Skaven, while you and your compatriots fight through the fortress city of Helmgart on the Bretonnian–Empire border.
Key to the game will be its balance between ranged and melee combat, with the latter much more integral to the combat. You’ll also have a new and improved loot system to keep you engaged as you try to level up your heroes and gain new talents and abilities. Helping keep the grind more varied will be the Heroic Deeds System, to mix up enemy composition, weapons, objective and more.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: 2018
Best known for their 2D skateboarding game OlliOlli, Roll7’s next game is all about fast-paced competitive multiplayer. Also Tron and probably a bit of Rollerball.
Laser League is a future sports game with teams battling to eliminate the other side using a mixture of arena control, abilities and deviousness. Each arena features a different array of shifting laser walls that are deadly when in the opposite team’s colour, making arena control vital to success.
At the same time, you have to use your abilities effectively, whether they stun players, steal laser walls, or give you a sniper-like teleport to knock the enemy down. It’s fast, frenetic and has the potential to be an addictive competitive multiplayer hit in the vein of Rocket League. It really is that good.
Catch more on Laser League in our preview!
After a couple of betas at the end of 2017, the game will be heading to Early Access on PC before a full release that will involve consoles as well.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: Coming Soon
After years building their Sniper Elite series, Rebellion are all set to do something rather different. Spinning away from WW2, they’re sending players on a cooperative adventure to the corners of the British Empire in the 1930s. It’s all a bit Indiana Jones and matinee adventure serial with its setting and visual styling, not to mention the stiff upper lip of the trailer’s hammy voice over.
You can play this on your own, but it’s a game that will be much improved by co-op. There’s a flavour of Left 4 Dead to it, but the better parallel might be Rebellion’s own Sniper Elite: Zombie Army Trilogy. Big battles in large arenas have you constantly shifting around, trying to make use of traps and environmental elements, while charging up your Amulet powers to gain the upper hand.
Though not officially announced by Rebellion as a game for 2018, it was announced mid-2017 and we’d personally expect it some time this year. Either way, it’s One to Watch!
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: Coming Soon to Steam Early Access
Sure, Call of Duty WWII took the series back to the Second World War, but it’s a modern take on the era. Battalion 1944 wants to return, not just to a historical era, but to a classic form of online first person shooter. In particular, it’s inspired by Call of Duty 2, from the feel of some of its weapons to some of the tactics that will work during play.
Bulkhead Interactive got their development up and running via a Kickstarter campaign, and since then have tried to emphasise an almost brutal honesty to marketing. In part, that’s so that it can be developed with close input from their community, but it’s also there to temper expectation so that people can be surprised by its quality.
Read more on Battalion 1944 in our hands on preview.
There’s a purity to the game that might push modern gamers away – there’s no vaulting action, just jumping, for example – but that will appeal to others. It’s already been a success at public game shows such as Rezzed, E3 and Gamescom, with a game trailer set for 9th January and push into Early Access coming soon after.
Metal Gear Solid: Survive
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: 22nd February
“What do fans of Metal Gear Solid want?” Konami pondered while enduring the fallout of Hideo Kojima’s acrimonious departure from the company. “A co-op zombie spin-off game?” Maybe that’s not the right answer, but I’m prepared to be fairly open minded on this one. After all, just look at how good Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle ended up being, and the initial reception to that was literally the worst thing ever.
Set between Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, Survive literally sucks the entire MSF outfit into a wormhole and deposits them in an alternate reality to fight crystalline zombie creatures known as Wanderers. Your only real goal through the story, such as it is, is to survive in the wilderness, collect minerals to try and find a way to get back home.
OK, so it’s not likely to redeem Konami in the eyes of Metal Gear fans in any way, but with both single player survival and cooperative multiplayer, it could still be a fun game.
The Crew 2
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: Mid-late 2018
I didn’t really get on with the first The Crew, but sitting down to play its sequel at Gamescom last year slapped a great big stupid grin on my face. The secret to that was the near seamless way you could switch between vehicles, letting you take to the skies, turn into a boat, and then become a car again at any point. Literally. You can be 400m up in the air and turn into a car. It’s ridiculous. It’s brilliant.
In large part, it’s built on the foundations of the first game, taking the huge open world renditions/miniaturisation of the United States and making it your playground. Ivory Tower are really embracing the overriding variety and fun that the game could offer, leaving the staid and dumb story on the cutting room floor in favour of hubs that you can work through to focus on a particular theme and style of play.
As before, there’s a dynamic multiplayer system, letting you see other players as you cruise around the world, but also letting you invite friends to particular events to compete against you. You can also team up to take on rally raid events cooperatively.
That’s all for today’s collection of games. Let us know if any of these games interest you, and we’ll be back tomorrow for a look at some more games.