Kingdom Hearts III (Xbox One, PS4)
The Kingdom Hearts fanbase is a long-suffering one. While a plethora of spin-offs and remakes have been released continually, Kingdom Hearts II was released back in 2006. After 12 years, the wait will be over as the series finally receives a proper sequel.
For those not in the know, the Kingdom Hearts series is an eccentric crossover between Square Enix and Disney. As such, the action role-playing game has a distinctive Japanese flavor, with Final Fantasy artist Tetsuya Nomura taking the creative helm with the game’s setting and characters. At the same time, characters like Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck are adapted to the game’s universe–with their official voice actors performing.
With compelling gameplay and plenty of Disney fan service, it’s no surprise the game series is so popular. The footage so far looks promising–Kingdom Hearts III is slated for a 2018 release on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with no solid date confirmed just yet.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
The Warhammer Fantasy series is best known as a figurine-intensive tabletop strategy game for the hardcore, but its setting has also been used for a handful of video games. Thankfully, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 doesn’t require such time sinks. It’s a first-person action game that pushes players to work together for their team of warriors to survive an onslaught of giant rats. The game’s fantasy setting lends itself more to hacking, slashing and magic than shooting firearms.
It’s been touted as similar to Left 4 Dead in gameplay and for its psychological effects–while the game doesn’t force you to work together with your team, you’d be crazy not to. It was released for PC on March 8 to good reception, with review aggregate Metacritic revealing an 81% average score. Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is expected to be released on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 platforms in the summer.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (PC/Mac/Linux, Xbox One, PS4, Switch)
The story of Obsidian Entertainment is a fascinating one. The RPG veterans responsible for classic Dungeons & Dragons-themed games like Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, as well as silly RPGs like South Park: The Stick of Truth, nearly went bankrupt and resorted to Kickstarter to fund Pillars of Eternity back in 2012. The crowd-funded game received over $4 million in donations, and it launched in early 2015 to excellent reviews, consistently scoring in the 9/10 range.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will be released on PC in May, with console ports following suit later in the year. Like many RPGs, players are free to customize their character’s physical and magical abilities to their heart’s content and recruit a sizable party to fill in the gaps. The sequel will feature the same story-centric gameplay from an isometric view, this time with less repetitive filler combat and more meaningful encounters.
Call of Cthulhu (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
If you crave some psychological horror in your life (who doesn’t?) then good news: In 2018, the video game industry is once again bringing Lovecraft into the mix. In the immersive single-player experience, gamers will take control of private investigator Edward Pierce as he looks into the death of a family on Darkwater Island. In the process, he discovers a cult looking to revive the Great Old One Cthulhu.
True to the ambiguity of the survival horror genre, the release window is not entirely certain. But after a Q4 2017 delay, summer seems a likely time.
The Crew 2 (PC, Xbox One, PS4)
Many racing games play too similarly for their own good–deck out your car, customize your controls to your heart’s content, learn how to drift, and learn how to navigate the same track over and over again until you nab first place. The Crew is different in that it features a persistent open world, wherein players can navigate a scaled-down version of the contiguous United States and bump into other online gamers along the way.
The first game launched in 2014 to decent reviews, but The Crew 2 is looking to improve upon the concept. No longer will gamers be restricted to driving solely cars, but be able to pilot airplanes, boats, motorcycles and more. Open-world games are becoming increasingly common as Internet servers are continuously improved to accommodate the traffic, but many are notorious for being wide as the Pacific Ocean yet shallow as a puddle. The Crew 2 is looking to evade this issue by offering a large variety of activities: Off-roading, street racing, pro racing and freestyle, as well as missions that can be played alone or cooperatively with a friend.
The Crew 2 will be released on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on June 29.