2017 was an almost unprecedented year in games. We saw the release of tons of long-awaited games, the beginnings of new franchises, series-reviving sequels, and even a console launch that has since seen Nintendo take gaming by storm as it blurs the line between home and portable gaming. I can’t tell you how many of my friends wait for the Switch versions of games. I don’t know if 2018 can live up to that, but it’s still a huge year for gaming, and the last third of the year promises big things.
These are the biggest games that we know will be taking up our time this fall – along with a few honorable mentions, because we can’t fit every game into this list.
Spider-Man (PlayStation 4, 9/7)
Right as the kids are going to back to school and the grown-ups are lining up for their Pumpkin Spice Lattes (which, let’s be honest, are delicious), we’ll be lining up for Sony’s biggest game of 2018 – even bigger than the already huge God of War. We’ve been waiting for a true successor to the Spider-Man games that came along on the PlayStation console, and this year we’re finally getting it. Insomniac Games, the team behind Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive), has spent the last few years re-imagining Marvel’s biggest hero, and now they’re ready to show us their vision.
Spider-Man presents an open-world version of Manhattan to navigate that promises to be as full and lively as Sunset Overdrive but in a much bigger area. Both myself and our own Brandon Russell have spent some time with the game and come away more than pleased. Spider-Man himself controls just as fluidly as you’d hope for, and Insomniac seems to be trying to make traversal itself the point of the game. Getting around as Spidey should be as fun as fighting or anything else. Insomniac wants to make moving around fun for both casual players and those who want to master the game, and my short time with it suggests that’s going to be the case.
But like I said, this isn’t a particular Spidey story, nor is it based on the latest set of movies. This is Insomniac’s take on Spider-Man, and they’re doing some really clever stuff with the story. Two core characters from the Spider-verse have seen what feels like really smart overhauls. Mary Jane Watson is a photojournalist that we’ll spend some time playing as and clearly has her own life separate from Peter Parker. J. Jonah Jameson has migrated from newspaper editor to an acerbic and inflammatory talk-radio host ready to turn any good thing Spidey does into a conspiracy. If the rest of the characters are seeing smart revisions like this, then we’re in for a great time.
Spider-Man is a PlayStation 4 exclusive and hits the console on September 7.
Forza Horizon 4 (Windows 10 PC, Xbox One, 10/2)
As soon as we’re done zipping around Manhattan as the wall-crawler, it’s time to head overseas to England for the latest iteration in the bi-yearly Forza Horizon series. While this is a sequel, it looks to be changing more of the game than either of the previous sequels did.
The fairly static worlds of Horizon 2 and Horizon 3 are replaced with a world that sees seasons come and go through server-wide weekly events. Lakes will freeze over, opening up new events in the winter, while the arrival of spring will give us a muddy world just coming to life. Meanwhile, the game is going always-online, but seems to be doing it right. You can play solo offline play if you want to, but when you do go online it seems to be almost impossible to grief other players. You’ll see people racing around the world live, but they’ll be “ghosted” outside of races, meaning that they can’t block the road or knock you out of that dope combo you have going.
This is the fourth game in the series, but Playground Games continues to make meaningful improvements to the series and make virtual tourism fun in a way that few open-world games do. I’ve spent more time “seeing the sights” in Forza games than in just about anything else, and that’s what keeps me coming back to the Horizon games year after year. And with Crackdown pushed into 2019, this is Microsoft’s biggest game of the fall.
You can look for Forza Horizon 4 to hit Windows 10 PC and Xbox One on October 2.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, 10/26)
No game is bigger this year – not Spider-Man, not God of War – than Red Dead Redemption 2. While no one, not even the bosses at Rockstar and publisher Take-two, expects the game to have the same absurdly long life that the company’s previous game, Grand Theft Auto V, has shown, there’s no doubt that fans of the series have been anticipating this game for years. We’ve said before almost every E3 that we’d die if the game appeared on-stage at one of the big press conferences. Now, after a few delays, the game is very nearly here.
Details are still pretty scarce about what we’re going to be doing in the game and how we’re going to do it, but if there’s one thing Rockstar is good at, it’s been repeatedly raising the stakes and surprising us with each new game. The first gameplay trailer promised a huge open world that takes us from snowy countryside to bayou that looks so humid you could swim through the air. There’s a focus on realism this time around. Your character, Arthur Morgan, can only carry two weapons at a time, while the others stay on his horse. That horse will be its own thing, too; you’ll need to nurture a relationship with it before it’ll behave under fire, and if you decide to dive of a cliff, you’ll need to start over again with a fresh horse.
The game is a prequel to the first Red Dead Redemption game, taking place 12 years before that game, set in 1899. You’ll play as a senior member in the Van der Linde gang, the group of scoundrels that John Marston spent the first game taking down. John Marston is a character in the game, so you’ll get to see who he was before he was cornered into being a lackey for the U.S. government, as well as most likely fleshing out some of the gang members you spent the game tracking down. We’re still waiting on more details, but we’re already too excited to sit still.
Red Dead Redemption 2 hits PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 26. No word yet on a PC version, so prepare for a long, potentially endless wait for that.
Fallout 76 (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, 11/14)
Of all the games we were expecting from Bethesda, the makers of Fallout 3 & 4 and the Elder Scrolls games, an online Fallout game wasn’t it. But damn if we’re not stoked for it.
Fallout 76 isn’t exactly a new Fallout game in the same way that Fallout 5 would be, but it’s a new game built in the Fallout engine and set on the East coast just like the last two games in the series were. This time the game moves to West Virginia, and it’ll be an online game. Director Todd Howard told Rock Paper Shotgun, “80% of it is the Fallout everyone is used to, and the other 20% is really different.”
The game edges into the area of Survival-style games like ARK: Survival Evolved and Rust, but seems to be something of a survival lite. If you don’t shoot back at an other player and they kill you, they get a Wanted marker over their heads, marking them on the map as a profitable target for hunters. If a player destroys part of your building, it’s easy to re-create it in another part of the map. You can’t be trapped in a structure and held prisoner like in other survival games. It seems to be more of a “survival at my own speed” type of thing, which makes it a lot more interesting for casual players out there than those other more demanding survival games.
Whether it’ll actually feel like Fallout in the way that fans of the series want it to is yet to be seen, but it’s an interesting new take on the series and on survival games, and we’re excited to see where the team goes with it.
Fallout 76 hits PC (exclusively via the Bethesda.net launcher), PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 14.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch, 12/7)
While PC, PlayStation and Xbox gamers are exploring huge open worlds, Switch fans are getting something huge, too: the biggest, baddest, most smashing version of Super Smash Bros. yet. The cast of the game will likely break 80 by it smashes onto shelves, including classics like Mario and Link and just about every other Nintendo character (except Waluigi), as well as previous non-Nintendo characters like Solid Snake of Metal Gear, Bayonetta, Ryu of Street Fighter, Cloud Strife of Final Fantasy, and more. Even some long-requested Nintendo characters are making appearances, like Metroid boss Ridley and Castlevania protagonist Simon Belmont.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate promises to be absolutely huge. If you dig crossovers, Nintendo games, Switch games, nostalgia, or all of the above, this is the game you’re waiting for this fall, and it’s exclusive to Nintendo Switch, releasing on December 7.
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