An odd collection of genres and categories, certainly, but there’s a delightful sibilance to today’s Ones to Watch. Lots of games put stories front and centre, but few have story quite so integral to the experience as Telltale’s games, meanwhile there’s the sims of managing Martian colonies and dino theme parks, and the strategy games that can be described as grand, turn-based and more.
Without much further ado, let’s dive in.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC, iOS, And – Release date: Summer 2018
The Walking Dead was the game that really made Telltale who they are today. Having made a number of more traditional point & click adventures, they transformed the games they made by focussing on the story and characters, letting players make decisions that led directly to characters surviving or dying.
While The Walking Dead and Telltale’s particular style has become a little long in the tooth, The Final Season gives them the opportunity to send Clementine off with a bang, as she becomes the main protagonist once more and you travel with her to rescue AJ. One high point is that Gary Whitta is returning to write the story, having left Telltale after the first season.
Jurassic World Evolution
Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO – Release date: Middle 2018
Frontier Developments are looking to take the magic that made Planet Coaster the go-to theme park builder and mix it with some dino DNA! This won’t be set in the classic Jurassic Park era of films – the Jurassic World branding makes that clear – but this will be a dream come true for the millions of kids and adults who have been captivated by the films and dinosaurs in general.
There’s a lot of questions yet to be answered about the game, but it’s been built from the ground up to work on both consoles and PC, when the genre is traditionally bound to mouse and keyboard.
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, XBO – Release date: Spring 2018
I’d bet the Venn diagram for interest in dinosaurs and interest in Mars is pretty close to being a single circle. Surviving Mars is all about setting up the first colony on our neighbouring planet, starting with corporate sponsorship to help your drones set the groundwork for human habitat domes.
Coming from Haemimont Games, their connection to the tongue-in-cheek Tropico series might lull you into thinking this is going to be full of cheeky dictators and a game to relax with, but Surviving Mars plans to live up to its title and the need to survive the harsh environment. You’ll have to ensure there’s good air quality for your colonists, make sure there’s power stored up to run through the night, mine for water and dredge up the Martian surface for concrete and more.
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, XBO – Release date: 2018
El Presidente is back in 2018, and he’s got some new contractors in. Haemimont Games have shifted away from the series now, with Limbic Entertainment being drafted in by Kalypso Media. That could give the series a fresh new look with new ideas coming into the mixture.
You’ll be taking your nation through four separate eras, managing a large archipelago that you can connect together for the first time with meaningful transportation and infrastructure. It’s also perhaps the most self-indulgent Tropico game, with the ability to steal landmarks from around the world, and then letting you make grand speeches from your customise palace in order to keep the people on your side.
The Wolf Among Us – Season Two
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC, iOS, And – Release date: Late 2018
Despite being one of their earlier and most critical successes, it seemed that Telltale would never return to The Wolf Among Us and the world of Fables. The game added a new prequel chapter to the acclaimed comic book series, and that was a huge part of its charm.
Details are thin on the ground, with Telltale actually looking to revitalise their storytelling format, but Adam Harrington and Erin Yvette have been confirmed to return as Bigby and Snow White, and it’s these characters that will remain at the heart of the new season.
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux – Release date: 2018
There’s a lot to like about BattleTech, with HareBrained Schemes and Jordan Weisman taking the series back to the start of the board game universe he helped create. This is a thoroughly modern take on the series and on turn-based strategy games in general, with lots to consider as you lead your Lance of hulking great mechs into battle.
The single player campaign takes place during the Succession Wars, with the golden age of technology having crumbled into wars between rival factions and empires. You’re just a mercenary within this, building up your team, looking to scavenge and earn new and more powerful weapons and equipment to attach to your Mechs. They’re old and inefficient technology, meaning that you have to carefully manage them during battle, from managing the heat of the weapons you use, to worrying about the instability incoming fire generates and the phases of the turn-based structure.
This is shaping up to be a great game in the turn-based genre, and it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
Total War: Three Kingdoms
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux – Release date: Fall 2018
It’s been a long time coming, but Creative Assembly have finally announced their next historical Total War game. While they’re still building on their fantasy Warhammer series, historical games are still Total War’s bread and butter, and Total War: Three Kingdoms takes us to a place and time that is brand new: 190CE China.
The Han Dyanasty is crumbling as Dong Zhuo rules in all but name, with the child emperor providing him his power. His tyrannical rule inspires others to rise up against him, though, with three kingdoms banding together to end him. They might be friends by way of their main enemy, but don’t expect this to be so straight forward, with plenty of personal ambitions keeping these alliances tentative at best.
Coming out towards the end of this year, Three Kingdoms is definitely one to watch for fans of the series.
That’s all for today’s edition. We’ll have One to Watch running until the end of this week, with plenty more games to bring to your attention between now and then!