While it’s often exclusives that help to tip your interest in a games console one way or the other, it’s usually cross-platform third party blockbusters that end up being what you play most of the time. From the likes of Destiny to Assassin’s Creed, third party publishers create huge experiences that they want as many people to play as possible.
Speaking of Destiny…
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: Q4 2018
Bioware are no strangers to creating epic role playing games, but Anthem is their first attempt at an online game built around adventuring with friends and earning loot to improve your character. You take on the role of a Freelancer, stepping into a customisable Javelin suit that lends you superhuman abilities with which to battle beast and marauders.
Truth be told, we don’t know an awful lot about Anthem just yet, but the overall pitch does sound an awful lot like Destiny and The Division. Bioware are the ones with the track record of creating compelling world that draw people in and make hem want to keep exploring, but given EA’s current reputation and the paucity of previews for Anthem, it feels like this is a game with a lot to prove.
There’s plenty of time for it to do so, however, with Anthem not due for release until the end of this year. Expect EA to go all in on this game at E3 and Gamescom.
One aspect of the game’s release that will be bittersweet is that Lead Designer Corey Gaspur won’t get to see the game he worked on released. The nine year veteran of Bioware sadly passed away back in July, just a couple of months after its gameplay reveal at E3.
Skull and Bones
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: Q3/Q4 2018
What happens if you take all of the land bits out of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag? You end up with something an awful lot like Skull & Bones. While the Assassin’s Creed series has long since moved on to other periods and settings, Ubisoft aren’t ones to throw away good ideas, and that’s led to their Singapore studio’s debut as lead developer.
While Black Flag was a single player affair and you can play solo in this game as well, Skull & Bones really feels like it’s being built for multiplayer. You take to the Indian Ocean in your ship, whether it’s a stoop, frigate, brigantine or something else entirely. Whatever you have under your command, it’s going to be heavily armed with mortars, cannons and even rockets, with your ability to manoeuvre and deal the most damage while minimising your own damage going to be key in the pitched battles between groups of players.
I know some people really didn’t get on with Black Flag’s sailing, but it was one of the real appeals of the game for me and I’m glad it’s been given a new lease of life here.
Far Cry 5
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: 27th March
This was one of a few games to court controversy last year, given the way it depicts religious zealotry and a homegrown anti-government insurgency on US soil. The atypical antagonists are going to be a big part of what helps Far Cry 5 feel fresh, but there’s also the way that Ubisoft are finally moving the series away from the oft lampooned Ubisoft formula.
As a deputy under the local sheriff, your attempt to arrest the preacher Joseph Seed goes terribly wrong, and it’s only you that manages to escape the Eden’s Gate cult. From there, you can head in any direction, taking on the three cult Heralds in whatever order you want, disrupting their operations in order to draw them out. Along the way, your actions will inspire the regular people of Hope County to fight back, whether they do so by joining forces with you – you can have a whole group of them alongside you in the Guns for Hire system – or fighting of their own volition.
There’s a huge open world to liberate, and you don’t have to do it alone. You can also bring a friend along for the ride in co-op, which lets you play together whether it’s just messing around with side missions or tackling the main story.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: Q4 2018
After two games spent trudging through the dark and decaying ruins of the Moscow Metro system, occasionally popping out onto the equally scary and contaminated surface, Ayrtom and the Spartan Rangers are leaving the city and heading east to the promise of sunlight, fields of green and a future where mankind doesn’t have to hide in the shadows. Just stepping out of the darkness and not having to reach for a gas mask has a liberating air of freedom to it compared to the first two games.
Many of the gameplay elements will remain the same or similar, with mutated animals and hostile human factions at play, while you have to scavenge for resources in order to survive. There’s a more open design to the world, but there’s also a new dynamic weather system and a day-night cycle, not to mention the thematic shifting of the seasons as you journey across the country for a whole year.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Platforms: PS4, XBO – Release date: Spring 2018
Probably the most highly anticipated game since Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2 has looked simply incredible from every tiny snippet that Rockstar have released.
You play as Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang that roam the Wild West and pull jobs to survive, but beyond that, there’s not much to go on. Presumably, given the title, Arthur goes on a journey of redemption from his life of crime?
Naturally, this being Rockstar, they’ve kept a tight lid on the game, content to sit back and let the hype train pick up pace almost all by itself. Considering the perennial popularity of GTA V and the way that Red Dead Redemption pioneered some of that game’s online play, we can expect that heading online will be a big part of the sequel.
Having been delayed from a 2017 release, the game is currently pencilled in for a Spring 2018 launch. Cross your fingers that it doesn’t slip any further!
That’s all for this collection of major AAA games. I can probably guess, but let us know which one you’re most looking forward to in the comments below.