The 30 most anticipated games of 2018

UPDATED: The back half of the year is absolutely stacked

Well, 2017 truly lived up to our expectations: it was one of the best years that gaming has ever seen. But we're an optimistic bunch, and we think 2018 could be even better by the time it's all said and done.

It's true! Why? Well for starters, developers are flocking to the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo itself has been delivering knockout experiences. Meanwhile, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One should be well-stocked with greatness from first-party and third-party studios. Oh, and the PC remains the destination for the widest selection of games large and small.

Now that E3 is complete, we have a pretty good sense of all of the huge games releasing before the year's up - but as games release and dates firm up, we'll be adding new games to this list on a monthly basis. Right now, these are the games we're most excited about for the rest of 2018.

1) Red Dead Redemption 2

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One

It's really no surprise at all that Red Dead Redemption 2 is our most anticipated game of the year: it's not only the successor to one of Rockstar's absolute best games of all time, but it's also the studio's next project following the world-dominating Grand Theft Auto V. That's huge.

And in fact, it's a prequel rather than a sequel, making it a pretty ideal starting point even if you didn't play the brilliant Red Dead (which you should fix ASAP). As the trailers show, RDR2 is shaping up to be absolutely gorgeous, and an open-world Western with the ambition and capabilities of Grand Theft Auto V could be truly mind-blowing. We want it bad. But now we'll have to wait 'til October.

Due: 26 October

2) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Switch owners have been hyped about the prospect of a new Super Smash Bros. this year, and Nintendo took off the wraps at E3 – and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looks like it will absolutely live up to its billing.

Ultimate is a new entry in the series, but it also feels like a best-of compilation: it'll feature every single fighter seen in the franchise to date, including past guest and DLC characters, along with newcomers like the Splatoon squid-kids and Ridley from Metroid. It'll support GameCube controllers and bring back the extra 8-player mode, as well. Ultimate Smash? Yeah, we'd say so.

Due: 7 December

3) Marvel's Spider-Man

Platform: PlayStation 4

Superhero games usually suck, and the wall-crawler hasn't had a great starring role in ages – but we have high hopes for the Sony-exclusive Marvel's Spider-Man. Why? Well, it hails from Insomniac Games, the studio behind the brilliant Ratchet & Clank and ultra-entertaining Sunset Overdrive.

Also, it looks pretty phenomenal in motion, and while we were initially concerned about how much you'll actually control the action in those very cinematic-looking early trailers, the gameplay footage and hands-on reports have all impressed of late. This looks like the real deal: the first truly great Spider-Man game in many, many years.

Due: 7 September

4) Battlefield V

Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC

Call of Duty did it last year, and now it's Battlefield's turn to return to the ripe setting of World War II with Battlefield V. But unlike this year's Call of Duty, Battlefield V won't scrap single-player missions or try to crowbar in a battle royale mode.

Instead, Battlefield V looks like the large-scale, 64-player shooter we know and love, albeit elevated with huge Grand Operations matches that span four maps, along with a new focus on creating and sticking with your squad in battle. We'll still get War Stories missions like the great ones in Battlefield 1, plus future add-on maps and content will be free. Phew.

Due: 19 October

5) Forza Horizon 4

Platforms: Xbox One, PC

Another year, another Forza racer on Xbox? Sure. But when Forza Horizon 3 was the series' most entertaining entry to date and one of the best open-roader racers we've ever laid eyes on, our ears perk up a little more than usual.

Forza Horizon 4 looks to continue the winning approach from the last jaunt, shifting the action to historic Britain as you take in the sights and zoom past the competition. This time around, the seasons will shift in the game, which can affect both the sights and terrain, plus it'll run in native 4K on Xbox One X and offer a 60fps option (probably at a lower resolution) as well.

Due: 2 October

6) Pokémon: Let's Go

Platform: Nintendo Switch

The Switch will still see a full-blooded, handheld-like Pokémon game come late 2019, but later this year we'll get Pokémon: Let's Go in separate Pikachu and Eevee renditions. And both of them merge the classic approach with a heap of influence from Pokémon Go.

Will it be the best of both worlds? That remains to be seen, but this adventure could hit the sweet spot for newcomers, younger players, and casual fans. While the motion-controlled battle mechanics look like Pokémon Go, there's a proper quest with towns and exploration, along with local co-op support. And the Poké Ball Plus peripheral, optionally used to capture monsters and transfer them to Go, is sure to sell in droves.

Due: 16 November

7) Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Tomb Raider got the reboot treatment a few years back and Rise of the Tomb Raider saw a darker, more confident Lara Croft continuing her adventures – and now Shadow of the Tomb Raider promises to take the heroine to some really intense places.

We've been hands-on, and while the familiar mix of exploration, blistering combat, and dazzling set-pieces didn't surprise, there were some truly lump-in-the-throat moments along the way, and it's clear that Croft has stumbled into a rather serious situation this time around. Besides, with no Uncharted on the horizon, this'll likely be one of our top choices for action-packed adventure later in 2018.

Due: 14 September

8) Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

We won't have to wait long at all for the next huge Assassin's Creed adventure: following last year's strong Origins, Ubisoft already has Assassin's Creed Odyssey ready for release this year.

Odyssey shifts the action to Ancient Greece in 431 BCE, thus far the oldest setting for the winding historical adventure franchise, and introduces more role-playing elements including narrative choices that affect the events. It also lets you pursue relationships, plus Odyssey brings back naval warfare. Too much of a good thing or a smorgasbord of gaming thrills? We're hopeful for the latter.

Due: 5 October

9) Fallout 76

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Bethesda skipped Fallout 5 and went all the way to 76, huh? Kidding – but the title does make it quite clear that this new entry isn't a follow-up to the brilliant Fallout 4, nor is it entirely the same kind of game.

Unlike the epic single-player campaigns of past entries, Fallout 76 is a multiplayer-centric affair, with all characters in the game world controlled by other online humans. It puts a focus on survival and team combat, as well as base building, and is set prior to the other Fallout games. It's a big leap away from the beloved formula, but hopefully Fallout 76 finds fun new ways to play with the post-apocalyptic premise.

Due: 14 November

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10) Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

It's a new era for Activision's storied first-person shooter with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, the first in the franchise to do away with a cinematic campaign mode. And that's not all that's different here.

Blackout mode will represent Call of Duty's attempt at a Fortnite/PUBG-like battle royale mode, spanning a massive map inspired by past franchise multiplayer levels. And even the standard multiplayer stuff will get a jumpstart with tweaks like health bars, underwater action, and absolutely no jetpacks or wall-running in the mix.

Oh, and it has Zombies mode of course, with three separate story modes on day one. In short: no campaign, but seemingly way more multiplayer action than ever. That ought to work out fine.

Due: 12 October