The 30 most anticipated games of 2018

UPDATED: Red Dead 2, Smash Bros, Forza, and plenty more

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) 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

4) 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

5) 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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6) 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

7) 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 in the process.

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: 20 November

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) Dreams

Platform: PlayStation 4

Media Molecule blew our minds with LittleBigPlanet once upon a time, and now they're going even bigger with the ambitious Dreams. Following a similar creative ethos, Dreams is both a game and a toolkit, albeit with a lot more flexibility than the studio's earlier experiences.

Dreams lets you use the same creation tools as the developers, which they've used to create these dazzling, elaborate visions seen in the trailer above. Spend a little time with them and maybe you'll be able to design and share your own masterpieces. Or, if you'd rather just play, there's a story mode – and surely a wealth of user-created games to come.

All that said, given how late in the year it is now without a release date, we're not convinced that it's actually coming in 2018. But until we hear otherwise, we continue to hope...

Due: TBD 2018

10) Hitman 2

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

The episodic format is gone, but Hitman 2 continues the rejuvenated silent assassin approach seen in the 2016 sorta-reboot, offering large environments filled with all sorts of different ways to craft a plan to take someone out.

Just have a glance at this trailer, featuring footage from the first locale, Miami. With a pair of high-profile targets to eliminate, you have options. Snipe a race car from afar? Sabotage a part to trigger a hopeful crash? Don a disguise? Use a wacky item? Detonate a stage in front of everyone? Hitman 2 offers more and more of the assassination sandbox, this time with a bonus co-op mode as well.

Due: 13 November

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