These titles have taken gaming and life in general to uncharted territory - and we've only seen the tip of the iceberg.
Through 2017, we have witnessed some interesting gaming trends. With a spotlight on indie titles, as well as disabled and LGBT+ communities, they showcase the diverse manifestations of modern gaming.
But with a mixed bag seeing the rise of titles such as Cuphead and Horizon: Zero Dawn – one has to wonder as to what trends lie ahead for 2018.
Will they be as varied and novel as the year gone?
Though we can never be certain they are ‘in fashion’ until they’ve passed, one can predict movements through upcoming releases. As well as considering social, political and topical factors to set the guessers from the clairvoyants.
Without further ado, here is DESIblitz’s list of top 10 gaming trends of 2018.
Through PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, players are given the opportunity to experience the pinnacle of console gaming. Both systems have a semi-upgrade, containing the best graphics and functionality on the market aside from PC.
But why then aren’t these consoles trending now? It mainly comes down to the price and what you get. Despite them offering the best performance for consoles, they just don’t offer players enough reason to trade up.
For both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, many people found it very hard to part with their money. Not to mention that a 4K TV is needed to experience their full potential.
However, it’s likely that in 2018 many gamers will soon get their hands on these semi-gen consoles. With the gradual reduction in price and enhanced games, they have reasons to turn to these in the new year.
By mid-2018, it’s likely that more people will have 4K TVs, helping them to experience the best console games have to offer.
Movie games were huge in previous iterations of PlayStation and Xbox. Recently, they haven’t been as prevalent.
In the past, nearly every film or TV show with the slightest element of action would have a video game counterpart. Remember the titles The Office or Mean Girls?
These did exist, so it’s clear why many didn’t take the genre seriously. Often they were released purely for promotion. However, they have changed their platform to mobile, made cheaper and quicker.
However, titles such as Alien: Isolation and Friday the 13th have achieved critical acclaim, not because of their promotional material. But because of their exploration of the interesting worlds.
This 2018 trend may become a fusion of both promotional and engaging gameplay experiences. In November 2017, Planet of the Apes: The Last Frontier released, presenting a ‘choose your own adventure’ style.
A promising mix of both game and film, it perpetuated the hype of The War for the Planet of the Apes. Giving gamers a memorable, worthwhile experience.
Expect a similar experience from the likes of Spiderman and AVATAR. These intend to endorse and entertain in their own rights.
Open world games are arguably considered as the most amazing gameplay experiences.
With diverse side quests, beautiful scenery, and immense interactions – players are given a sense of true freedom. One unachievable in conventional, linear games. However, with the access of advanced game engine software to more developers, the quality of open-world games has dropped.
Games such as No Man’s Sky are examples that it takes more than an abundance of space and a specific aesthetic to make a game good.
Developers have been forced to step up the mark for their 2018, open-world games to stand out from the noise. And from the looks of it, they are really pushing the limits of modern technology.
Upcoming games that aim to push the boundaries are the long-awaited Beyond Good and Evil 2 and the picturesque Anthem.
Identity is an MMO by developers Asylum Entertainment that is meant to be the next alternative to real life. Within it, players can interact with nearly everything.
They can also choose whatever route they want in their virtual lives, from a businessperson or even a crime lord. From what’s been shown so far, the graphics look hyper-realistic – leaving very little reason for gamers to actually leave their consoles.
Less Offense – More Inclusivity
As audiences become more diverse, the trends of media also seem to change to a stance of impartiality.
Video games have been more inclusive of women. For instance, major releases of late such as Tomb Raider and Horizon: Zero Dawn have favoured female leads rather than the standard aggressive male archetype.
This may be because it doesn’t allow for much emotional narrative progression, contradicting their machismo personas.
The differently abled are also being recognised in gaming. Mental illness was a key aspect of this year’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Moreover, Microsoft has added new avatar options for those with wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs.
Aside from inclusivity, companies have faced severe backlash for being portrayed as potentially offensive.
Developers Ubisoft came under fire after releasing the cover art of Far Cry 4. Appearing to show a white man sitting on a throne, with his hand on the head of a grovelling person of colour. Ubisoft cleared the air by stating: “He’s not white and that’s not the player.”
Guerilla Games have also been criticised for Horizon: Zero Dawn for the ‘appropriation of Native culture‘. As a result of these outcries, 2018 can expect less susceptible to an accusation of partiality.
Among all of the popular releases of 2017, there may be some you’d rather not tell your friends that you play. Maybe it’s because they’re considered bad, too childish, or just plain ‘weird’.
Games give players the chance to defy physics, explore worlds, meet aliens – things that they’ve always wanted to do. But they probably never realised they wanted to win a live chicken in a game of bowling. Not until they have the chance to play Yakuza 0 perhaps.
But it wasn’t just 2017 that provided a strange array of games. They’ve existed as far back as the Sega Genisis days. With the increase of indie games and Eastern Asia’s influence, players are likely to see even more alternative games in 2018.
The long-awaited Psychonauts 2 is an upcoming weird one that follows a child called Razputin who has psychic powers. Another is Biomutant, an RPG with the central character as a raccoon-like creature in a world full of mutated animals. Monster Hunter: World is another 2018 release, in which the player hunts monsters.
They’re not exactly your standard shooter. But by favouring the absurd, they offer players a fresh new perspective on gaming. A welcome change from the aim and shoot games that dominate the market today.
Indies have taken the gaming world by force. Once they were on the fringes of gaming society, only accessible to PC gamers, with no hope of recognition from the mainstream eye.
They could go where no AAA games could ever go, unbound by the constraints and convolution of corporations. They took risks and had the artistic freedom to create obscure and ambiguous narratives.
Games such as Papers Please and The Stanley Parable pushed philosophical, political, and psychological elements into their narratives. Making gamers question their own morality as they’d never done before.
Recently, Sony and Microsoft noticed the potential of indie gaming and brought them into the mainstream view. This may be detrimental to the value of indie gaming, as they may lose their artistic integrity. However, hugely popular indie releases have shown to be outstanding.
Cuphead for instance by Studio MDHR, has been excellently received by audiences and critics alike. The 2D animated game was almost totally hand drawn in a 1930s-style and included some real-life set pieces. Titles like this open the door for more to blur the line between games and art in 2018.
Casual gamers rejoice! The gap between console and mobile is finally being bridged! After years of feuding, the two platforms have formed a coalition on PS4.
PlayStation first reached out the hand of friendship back in the days of PSP. This portable console gave gamers a way of playing high-quality, casual or ‘serious’, games on the go. Nintendo followed then suit with the wildly popular DS.
Since then, Android and Apple have dominated the mobile gaming market – rendering PSPs, and even DSs, as rarities.
Granted, Nintendo has attempted to splice the two platforms before, resulting in the unsuccessful Wii U or expensive Switch.
PlayStation, however, capitalises on an already existing trend – smartphones! Everybody has got one, meaning they all can join in the fun. It’s all part of the console’s new PlayLink initiative, which uses smartphones as controllers.
Games that are set to come out are mainly party games such as Knowledge is Power, the arcade-style Frantics – but also serious narrative-based releases. Erica is a ‘choose your own adventure’ crime title which puts players in plenty of tricky moral quandaries.
This sort of gaming is likely to trend in 2018 as it appeals to adept gamers and give novices a chance to join in, using a universal tool.
Virtual Reality (VR)
For years now, VR has been the hottest topic on every gamer’s mind – and for good reason. From its first appearance in the 1990s, it has taken the world by storm. Offering humans a chance to leaves the shackles of the real world and escape to one with endless possibilities.
Of course, back then the technology didn’t really live up to the promises. However, its revival, with the aid of modern technology, looks to be outstanding.
With Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and more, these games have been impressive – but nothing that exceptional. This is due to developers working out the bugs, trying to figure out how to make the most immersive gaming experience possible.
While still not quite there, they have produced unbelievable titles. These include Skyrim VR and Resident Evil: Biohazard VR amongst others. These titles have taken gaming and life in general to uncharted territory – and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
In 2018, gamers can expect to be taken to the next level of VR with titles such as Fallout VR and From Other Suns.
From time to time, every gamer loves to revel in the nostalgia of classic gaming. From Sonic to Starfox, there’s something for everyone available on the old systems.
One of the best things about this is that for many gamers today, it’s not nostalgic. The experiences that older players cherish are totally new and fresh to younger generations.
The release of the Super NES Classic Edition appeased fans of retro gaming all over the world. Now they have a platform to play their old-school favourite games like Zelda and Street Fighter with genuine 90s-feeling controllers.
It comes packed with added features such as action replay rewind and cool aesthetic borders around your game. As well as a never before released retro game: Starfox 2.
Side-scrollers and nostalgia-inducing games are a fast-growing trend. Games like Sonic Mania and Cuphead are gaining huge popularity and critical acclaim.
Expect this trend to follow into 2018. With games following a retro aesthetic along with the revival of old favourites.
Unfortunately, we end this list on what some may consider a sad note. The final trend DESIblitz predicts in 2018 is the take over of Play-to-Win games.
As we have already seen this year, this practice seems to be on the increase. Take the infamous example of the Star Wars: Battlefront II scandal.
This concept involves ‘microtransactions’, where you earn in-game credits through hours of gameplay or spend real money. In this way, you can unlock features such as ‘loot boxes’ and potentially more.
It seems then there are very strange times ahead for the world of gaming. Times where real-world financial success will determine the player’s in-game success.
No longer will skill be relevant when well-monied gamers can afford the super-powered weapon or character. When those without money have to settle for default options.
Play-to-Win is already heavily implanted into the world of mobiles, slowly creeping into console and PC gaming too. But is it necessarily a bad practice for developers? Time will tell.
There you have the possible top 10 gaming trends to look out for in 2018.
As the new year approaches closer and closer, so does the potential of these movements. With the prospects of indie titles, VR and advanced open-world games, it seems some are more likely to occur than others.
Regardless, perhaps we could be set for an exciting, innovative year for gaming!