So, you’re perched on the edge of your saddle waiting for RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 and FAR CRY 5. I know I certainly am! But this year’s crop of blockbuster sequels are not the only console games worth your time. These ten upcoming under-the-radar console games captured my attention — and they should have yours.
(Note: the intricate world of PC gaming intimidates me. So in this article, I’ve focused on console games available for Xbox One, PS4 and/or Nintendo Switch!)
1. KINGDOM COME: DELIVERANCE
I’m a fan of two genres seemingly at odds with one another: historical narrative and fantasy adventure (…ladies?). Along comes Warhorse Studios’ KINGDOM COME: DELIVERANCE, a deep RPG that merges the two genres into one dirty, bloody package. A realistic SKYRIM set in Medieval Europe without the dragons and magic? I absolutely love the idea.
You explore an interactive environment that boasts period-accurate clothing, combat techniques, and castles recreated alongside historical experts. The world reacts convincingly to your actions: people will be friendlier to you after you’ve bathed, for example. And the realistic combat punishes you if you try to take on too many foes at once (no Witcher-style heroics here).
Best of all, by the time you read this, the game will be out, and you can dive in right now. KINGDOM COME: DELIVERANCE is now available on PS4 and Xbox One.
2. HAND OF THE GODS: SMITE TACTICS
I’m not much of an MMO guy, but I enjoyed Hi-Rez Studios’ SMITE, mainly due to the dynamic and beautifully-designed god characters from the major world religious pantheons (Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, Chinese, etc.) battling it out for dominance.
Now they return with a turn-based strategy game closer in spirit to a game of chess. It’s perfect for someone like me, who tends to get shredded in faster-paced online matches. Finally, we have a way to determine who would win in a contest between Zeus and Osiris, without having to worry about being cheesed from behind by a sneaky Loki player.
This free-to-play game has been in open beta for a while now. The full release comes sometime this year for PS4 and Xbox One.
3. A WAY OUT
Josef Fares’ follow-up to his critically acclaimed BROTHERS: A TALE OF TWO SONS puts two players in control of Leo and Vincent, a pair of convicted prisoners. They must work together to break out of prison and then continue beyond, staying one step ahead of the law all the way.
Uniquely, the narrative-driven game is a co-op-only experience, which means that you can’t play without the aid of another player. However, utilizing a free EA “friends pass” system, only one player needs to own a copy of the game when playing online.
I can’t wait to experiment with this one when it releases on March 23 for PS4 and Xbox One.
4. SHAKEDOWN HAWAII
I can’t stop giggling while watching this insanely chaotic 16-bit gameplay video from Vblank Entertainment’s follow up to RETRO CITY RAMPAGE. The pitch: imagine if GRAND THEFT AUTO existed for the Sega Genesis, was set in the 80’s, and encouraged any and all forms of destruction and mayhem.
Also, I’m pretty confident that this is the first game that allows you to play as “an aging CEO trying to make ends meet.” His plan is to “destroy every other business on the island until he owns all that’s left and people will have to depend on him for clothing, videos, and cabs.” Consider me a customer.
Delayed from its original 2017 release date, the Switch Exclusive title should deliver sometime in 2018.
I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now: a Gothic action-RPG from Dontnod Entertainment — the makers of the brilliant LIFE IS STRANGE — starring a doctor-turned-vampire in Edwardian London. Think DOWNTON ABBEY meets Anne Rice.
Survival depends on killing and feeding on innocent people. To get away with it, you must stalk and study your targets, dispatching them as you see fit and unlocking new vampiric powers in the process. COOL. Or, you can be super lame and finish the game without taking a life, if you wish.
VAMPYR is set to release on June 5 for PS4 and Xbox One.
6. STARLINK: BATTLE FOR ATLAS
Ubisoft offers this open-world space flight-sim featuring “Smart Building Technology.” Players physically collect starship toys that they then assemble, customize and attach to their controllers, making their creations appear instantly in-game. So, pretty much the nerdiest thing ever. I don’t know how this will work in practice, but it sounds fascinating!
STARLINK: BATTLE FOR ATLAS is scheduled for Fall 2018 on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.
7. BLOODSTAINED: RITUAL OF THE NIGHT
Koji Igarashi — the creator of CASTLEVANIA: SYMPHONY OF THE NIGHT — raised a stunning 5.5 million on Kickstarter to fund his newest creation, a Metroidvania-type action platformer presented in a beautiful 2.5D style. The player controls Miriam, an orphan attempting to free herself from a curse slowly turning her skin into crystal. By defeating bad guys, you gain new powers and elements used to craft new weapons and armor, giving the game a light RPG flavor as well.
Fans of CASTLEVANIA should look out for this one later in the year on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.
8. CALL OF CTHULHU: THE OFFICIAL VIDEO GAME
Okay, I know that Cthulhu and the other elements of the H.P. Lovecraft mythos are hardly “under-the-radar,” but hear me out. I had no idea that a role-playing survival horror adaptation of the material was in development. I am HERE FOR IT.
The official site doesn’t provide much explanation plot-wise, but the Wikipedia page says: “The game follows private investigator Edward Pierce as he investigates the death of an entire family on Darkwater Island near Boston, Massachusetts, and discovers the impending revival of the Great Old One Cthulhu.”
Developed by Cyanide, this one promises to be delightfully atmospheric and creepy. No release date has been set other than “sometime in 2018” for PS4 and Xbox One.
9. THE LAST NIGHT
“The fight for survival doesn’t mean food and water, but a purpose for living.”
Jeeeeze, that’s an intense way to set up a game. Developed from a concept originating during a 2014 game jam, The Last Night looks like BLADE RUNNER by way of MONKEY ISLAND. The pixelated art style clashes with a cerebral experience set in a future dystopia. Machines do all the menial work, leaving humans to their own devices.
As lower-class citizen Charlie, you explore the post-cyberpunk city, interact with other citizens, and battle it out in gunfights. I see this ending up a staple in future “games as art” conversations.
THE LAST NIGHT is due for release in 2018 as an Xbox One console launch exclusive.
And finally, an adorable indie to wash down all that gloom. Developed by a two person core team, this creature collection/farming game combines ANIMAL CROSSING and STARDEW VALLEY (the latter of which I played obsessively last summer). It sounds like the kind of thing you’d play before bed to relax… only to realize you’ve been playing for 4 hours.
Expect OOBLETS to release later in 2018 for Xbox One.
2018 Looks Bright for Console Games
As a fan of console games, every one of these has me excited. Have I missed anything? If all of these games live up to their potential, it promises to be a great year for console games.