The best upcoming games of 2018

Hitman 2

Hitman 2

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: November 13, 2018

Hitman 2 sees the return of expert assassin Agent 47, and though the series has switched publishers from Square Enix to WB Games, it's still being developed by the dedicated folks at IO Interactive. As always, there will be plenty of exotic locales to explore, hilarious disguises to don, and high-value targets to eliminate through ingeniously crafty or violently direct means. You simply haven't lived until you've knocked out a guard with a coconut while wearing a flamingo mascot outfit. 

Fallout 76 

Fallout 76

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: November 14, 2018

First things first: though Fallout 76 takes place in the same '50s-esque, post-apocalyptic setting the series is known for, this isn't a new single-player-focused story from the folks at Bethesda. Instead, Fallout 76 is a shared-world survival game set in in the irradiated expanses of West Virginia, 25 years after the conclusion of the Great War. You don't necessarily have to play with others, but they'll be out there, gathering resources, killing mutated beasts, building their own encampments, and possibly even launching nukes from silos found all around the map. Fallout 76 is reportedly four times bigger than Fallout 4's map, and it'll be fascinating to see how players interact in a Fallout that doesn't revolve around a single wasteland hero.  

Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee

Pokemon: Let's Go

Platform(s): Switch
Release date: November 16, 2018

Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee are two versions of the same game (in classic Pokemon style) that are set to make a splash on Nintendo Switch - but they're not the core RPG you might've been expecting. Instead, think of this outing as a mix between the classic Pokemon Yellow on Game Boy and the megahit mobile game Pokemon Go. You'll explore a spruced-up, 3D version of Kanto from a top-down perspective, with either Pikachu or Eevee at your side, catching Generation 1 Pokemon through simplified mechanics with Joy-Con motion controls (or the new Poke Ball Plus peripheral). There will be battles against other Pokemon Trainers, but you won't be weakening wild Pokemon before you attempt to catch them. 

Battlefield 5 

Battlefield 5

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: November 20, 2018

Battlefield 5 is taking the series back to its World War 2 roots, with infantry, tanks, and aircraft aplenty locked in combat across massive multiplayer skirmishes. Choose your preferred class between Assault, Medic, Recon, and Support, then master your role to turn the tide of battle one spawn location at a time. Veterans should be aware of a few key tweaks this time around: now any class can revive downed allies, so no more ignoring cries for help when you're getting your snipe on. The classic spotting mechanic now highlights general areas rather than individuals, encouraging you to seek out enemies yourself without immediately flagging a target for death. And there's a strong focus on Squad play in Battlefield 5, which rewards you for sticking with a designated group of men and women (including your very own customizable soldier). As in Battlefield 1, War Stories provide some single-player action, while the multiplayer does away with the traditional Season Pass in favor of Tides of War, a system modelled around Fortnite's Battle Pass featuring limited-time events.

Darksiders 3

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: November 27, 2018

First there was War, then Death, and now Fury is the next Horseman (or more accurately, Horsewoman) of the Apocalypse to star in her own fantastical action adventure. The Darksiders series is famous for essentially being a blood-soaked, bone-crunching take on The Legend of Zelda's open-world exploration with a dash of Devil May Cry combat mixed in, full of ridiculously proportioned (but undoubtedly cool-looking) character designs by cult favorite comic artist Joe Madureira. Darksiders 3's leading lady Fury is more magic-focused than her compatriots, and wields a spiky whip as her signature weapon. You'll be cutting down swaths of demons across the ruins of post-Biblical-apocalypse Earth, fighting back against hellish embodiments of the Seven Deadly Sins themselves.  

Artifact 

Platform(s): PC
Release date: November 28, 2018

Valve is finally making games again, starting with Artifact, the studio's first foray into the card game genre. Featuring the many heroes, minions, and items of team brawler Dota 2 (which still tops Steam's most-played charts daily), Artifact plays like a cross between Hearthstone and the three-lane battlefields typical of most MOBAs. Minions spawn, towers must be taken down, and five heroes on each side fight for victory - all via cards played during rapid-fire turns. Beyond some gorgeous art and Valve's exemplary levels of polish, Artifact has some amazing things going for it: the design team is being led by none other than Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering, and unlike Hearthstone, players can actually trade and sell cards via the Steam Community Market. Interestingly, it's also one of the few digital TCGs that will not be free-to-play, requiring a $20 upfront cost before you even think about buying card packs.   

Override: Mech City Brawl 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: December 4, 2018

From Gundam to Pacific Rim, Power Rangers to Big O, there's something inherently appealing about the power fantasy of suiting up as the pilot of a skyscraper-sized mech. Override perfectly taps into our obsession with giant robots, featuring two to four massive mechs duking it out in destructible cityscapes. Its behind-the-back, third-person camera and speedy movement evokes cult classics like War of the Monsters, Virtual On, and Armored Core, while the roster is already nice and varied when it comes to designs and fighting styles. A story campaign lets you take a break from beating up 'bots in multiplayer to lay the smackdown on some freaky aliens. And best of all, there's a mode that lets you live out your lifelong Megazord dreams: four players teaming up to control one mech, where a lack of coordination will lead to (likely hilarious) city-demolishing chaos.

Just Cause 4

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: December 4, 2018

Rico Rodriguez returns to wreak more open-world, physics-based havoc, this time in the South American wilderness of the fictional Solis. Just Cause 4 still has the frenetic third-person action you know and love, grappling hook and all, but the biggest addition this time around is an extreme weather system that tears up the environment as often as you do.  Giant twisters and severe storms cause even more chaos in a firefight, and you'll also get the chance to run wild in arid and snowy biomes in addition to the South American jungle.

Super Smash Bros. Utimate

Platform(s): Switch
Release date: December 7, 2018

The gang's all here. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate brings the series to Nintendo Switch in a big way by including every playable character from the series' history in its massive roster. In addition to all the old fighters, exciting newcomers like fan-favorite Ridley, Splatoon's Inklings, and Daisy (an "Echo Fighter" of Peach, which is how Ultimate now classifies its clone characters) are joining the fray. The pace of the matches has been tweaked to be even faster, most notably in the Final Smash attacks which have all been reworked to get you back into the action as quickly as possible. And just about every character has been tweaked, refined, or slightly rebalanced in some way, so it'll be fascinating to see how your favorite character from Smash games past plays this time around.

Insurgency: Sandstorm

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: December 12, 2018

For a certain subset of shooter fans, hardcore simulation games like Arma 3 represent the pinnacle of the genre, giving you almost zero in-game information to recreate all the uncertainties of actual combat. Insurgency: Sandstorm is an FPS in that same vein - the sequel to a cult classic Source mod, now done up in Unreal Engine 4. Minimalism is the name of the game in this tactical shooter: there's barely any HUD, and no hit markers or kill indicators to speak of, so you'll often have to confirm that an enemy is down with your own two eyes. Bullets are also extremely lethal, so quick burst fire will often be fatal. Whether you're playing head-to-head or co-op against AI-controlled militia, Insurgency: Sandstorm's multiplayer firefights will put you in a constant state of high alert, which is exactly what some players are looking for.

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