Good day all, Bain here. Charles has been knocking it out of the park with articles on Around The Bonfire lately ranging from aspects of gamer culture to the state of the Star Trek franchise in video games, to the care and attention put into recreating Victoria London for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – make sure to check them all out! I’m afraid that this isn’t anything like that however, I’m going a very obvious low hanging fruit – it’s another year and that means it’s time for another ‘Most Anticipated’ list from myself.
Let’s get started then…
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
This game appeared on my ‘Most Anticipated Games of 2018’ list… only to get delayed. I’m hopeful that won’t happen yet again (it was originally slated for a 2017 release but I never believed that) so I’ve decided to go ahead and add it to the 2018 list while keeping my fingers crossed.
So, why exactly am I anticipating Ritual of the Night…? Well it’s a new metroidvania-style game from Koji Igarashi, the maker of numerous classic Castlevania games. In fact it’s basically a new Castlevania in everything but name, which naturally makes it right up my alley. The move to 3D environments and characters is a bit of a shame (since I loved the 2D sprite-work of the older games) but other than that things seem to be coming together nicely. Bloodstained is coming from a great pedigree and the game has been in development for a very long time now so I’m cautiously optimistic.
I don’t expect Ritual of the Night to reinvent the wheel and to be honest there are lots of great alternate metroidvanias around these days (way more than I can play). However, it’s certainly nice to have one of the fathers of the genre back doing what he does best.
Shovel Knight: King of Cards
The final part of the epic Shovel Knight saga is scheduled to arrive in the first half of 2019. I am a big fan of the original campaign (now know as ‘Shovel of Hope’) and the 2017 update ‘Specter of Torment’, both of which were packed with great platforming and they were set in a charming, entertaining world full of amusing characters. King Knight was one of my favourites with his pompous attitude and extravagant tastes so getting to spend a whole game with him should be great fun.
This will be the last campaign for Shovel Knight and I’ll be greatly looking forward to whatever Yacht Club Games go on to do next. However, one last run and jump around this kingdom with a truly magnificent monarch should be one of the top gaming experiences of 2019.
This is the game on my list that I have the least confidence in… when it comes to actually releasing in 2019. However, I’m going to hope that it does make it and also that it doesn’t get buried in the AAA rush around the end of the year as this looks very interesting.
I hadn’t actually played any games by Remedy Entertainment until Quantum Break, back in 2016, but found that to be good fun while telling an entertaining yarn (even if it could get a bit silly at times). I was also highly impressed by its incredibly cool graphical effects based around time manipulation, with the world itself often stuttering back-and-forth through time-periods.
Control looks to take some of those concepts and run wild with them, going in a very trippy direction with the game’s setting, ‘The Oldest House’, boasting some bizarre and surreal environments. Combat meanwhile looks like a lot of fun, with the main character sporting some cool physics-based super-powers (alongside her trusty sidearm). I also suspect that the narrative will go in some weird and mind-bending places which could be awesome… or it could be a mess, but there’s only one way to find out (Quantum Break wrestled with some cool time-travel shenanigans in its story and mostly nailed them).
So, here is hoping that we actually get to explore ‘The Oldest House’ before the year is out.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
This was another game which was on my list last year and ended up getting delayed. Much like Ritual of the Night however, I’m way more optimistic that this is actually going to get released – we’ve seen a lot more of the game now and everything seems to be ticking along nicely.
The original Ori and the Blind Forest was already stunning beautiful and had fantastic platforming but one area it lacked polish was its combat… which was frankly quite boring. Thankfully that seems to have been addressed in the sequel with a lot more options at Ori’s disposal to attack enemies.
So long as Will of the Wisps doesn’t deviate too much from the first game I think Moon Studios are going to have another classic on their hands, especially now they’ve recruited ‘DoctorM64’, i.e. the main man behind the amazing remake ‘AM2R – Another Metroid 2 Remake’.
Gears of War 5
Gears is an unusual one for me in that I don’t really tend to enjoy straight-up shooters very much… except for this series which I love. Gears of War 1 & 2 especially stand proudly as some of my favourite games of the XBOX360 generation.
While I was somewhat cautious about reviving the franchise on the XBONE, The Coalition managed to deliver the goods in Gears of War 4 – I felt that it managed to strike a good balance between keeping a lot of familiar things while shaking them up just enough in order to avoid feeling like a re-tread. True, the new cast were not as memorable as the awesome foursome of Delta Squad but they were perfectly fine and once a grumpy old Marcus Fenix showed up after a couple of hours I enjoyed the dynamic between he and his son J.D.
The decision to focus on Kait in the first trailer for Gears 5 is an interesting one. True, she was probably the best character of the new trio and has the most interesting back story, but I’m hoping that doesn’t mean we are leaving Marcus and J.D. behind. My best guess (and hope) is that the narrative will inter-cut between two different ‘strands’ with Kait off following one plot thread while the Fenix boys have their own adventure.
When it comes to the gameplay I mostly hope that the Coalition stays the course. I would hate it if Gears were to go the way of every other AAA game and embrace things like an open-world, crafting, levelling-up and skill trees. That stuff can be fine in certain games but keep it the hell out of this. All I ask for is chest-high walls to hide behind, Marcus Fenix shouting angrily, a variety of awesome guns and some horrific looking monsters to shoot them at. Oh, plus blood and guts. Lots and lots of blood and guts.
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