The most hotly anticipated indie games of 2018

Looking beyond the AAA churn to the year’s most exciting independent releases

There’s more to video gaming than highly polished, huge budget AAA titles like Call of Duty or Horizon Zero Dawn.

Sometimes, it’s in lower budget titles where you’ll find true innovation, finely-honed mechanics and pure good old-fashioned fun – and 2018 is set for a healthy haul of new indie games promising great things. Let’s dive into the release calendar to take a closer look at some of the upcoming highlights.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 (Windows, PS4, Xbox One)

Fatshark’s Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide revived old Valve favourite Left 4 Dead’s spirit of frenetic 4-player first-person co-op, plonking it in Games Workshop’s grim fantasy world and replacing the hordes of sprinting zombies with hordes of skittering Skaven ratmen.

Its sequel, coming very soon to PC, PS4 and Xbox One, doesn’t do anything to change up the formula too much, keeping the same five player characters from the original (albeit giving each three distinct subclasses to choose from) and retaining a gameplay style that throws dozens of enemies at them in terrifying waves.

This time, though, the Skaven will be allied with Chaos God-worshipping northmen, and worse - giving players tons of twisted, disease-ravaged new adversaries to face.

Due: Early 2018

Phoenix Point (Windows, Linux, Mac)

With its development headed up by Julian Gollop – best known as the creator of the original 1990s X-Com games – Phoenix Point is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest PC strategy games.

Mixing up the oppressive, horror movie-like atmosphere of the early X-Com titles with the faster-paced, cover-based combat of Firaxis’ new generation of XCOM games, Phoenix Point’s developers seem determined to deliver a “best of both worlds” solution.

Expect in-depth turn-based tactical combat with an overarching map-based strategic layer that sees you building bases and exploring a virus-ravaged Earth in search of allies and resources, all the while fighting off horrific creatures.

Due: Q4 2018

Frostpunk (Windows, Linux)

Fresh from developing a certified indie smash hit in the poignant This War of Mine, 11 bit studios’ next project is Frostpunk, a city-building survival game set on an alternative history Earth in which the temperature has dropped, leaving the entire planet an icy wasteland.

Luckily, the British Empire (before it collapsed) developed a method of powering cities with huge steam generators, one of which forms the centre and starting point for the player’s own post-apocalyptic attempts to survive and eventually thrive.

Players will have to manage both a city’s infrastructure and its inhabitants, balancing their wellbeing with the constant need to build, gather resources and explore further afield. 11 bit is promising that tough decisions will need to be taken along the way (do you ban child labour, or set every able-bodied person to work?) while, judging from trailers and let’s plays, the visuals do a fantastic job of portraying the frozen world that surrounds your tiny, fragile beacon of civilisation.

Due: Q1 2018