2018 was a good year for gaming. Judging by the release and reception of titles such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassins Creed Odyssey, God of War, Monster Hunter World, Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom and more, it's no wonder we are spending more time in front of our consoles. Gaming has evolved beyond mere entertainment, becoming tools used by game developers to tell a compelling and immersive story.
As the year comes to an end, we can look forward to some of the most anticipated games that are releasing in the first quarter of 2019. The only question left is, "Have you preordered?"
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Remember poor Officer Elliot from Raccoon Police Department who was devoured alive by a horde of flesh-eating zombies in the 1998 Playstation classic Resident Evil 2? It was a traumatic experience for us even in its dated 3D polygon glory. Well, you can relive that scene in the upcoming remake powered by the same RE Engine that Resident Evil 7 was on. In case you haven’t had the chance to play the original RE2, the story follows two protagonists—Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie police officer who was on his first day of duty, Claire Redfield—a college student searching for his brother Chris Redfield (from the first Resident Evil), trying to escape a zombie outbreak in the Raccoon city caused by the G-virus, a bioweapon that gives the host biological immortality in exchange of brain damage and physical deterioration.
Right off the bat, the new photorealistic remake is horrifying. Ditching tank controls for “over the shoulder” third-person POV instantly modernises the 20-year-old game. The floors are smeared with pools of blood, strewn with organs and corpses. Enemies are more gruesomely detailed, more resilient to headshots and harder to dodge. Unlike the fully-lit interiors of the original, the remake’s atmosphere is intensified by the claustrophobic environment, dramatic camera angles, and confined visions. The creators want players to be engulfed by the darkness and experience the reimagined moments up-close and personal. Needless to say, we are kinda expecting to piss our pants when we finally encounter the Licker in the remake.
Resident Evil 2 will be released on 25 January for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows.
Kingdom Hearts III
14 years. That is how long we have waited for the upcoming sequel of the fourth most popular gaming franchise by Square Enix, Kingdom Hearts— a nostalgia-filled action RPG that sees protagonist Sora, joined by Disney icons Donald Duck, Goofy and Mickey in a journey to fend off greater evils that are taking over the universe known as the Heartless. And boy are we looking forward to its release at the end of January 2019.
Kingdom Hearts III pick up right after Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and seeks to tie up the loose ends of its many vast and convoluted plots, featuring some of Disney-Pixar’s old and new(er) characters from Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Big Hero 6, Tangled, and Hercules. The game retains its classic hack-and-slash battle system from earlier sequels but is refreshed with new Keyblades, spells, combos, summon-able characters, and “Attraction Flow”—super moves inspired by the biggest Disney theme park rides such as Teacups, Pirate Ship and Thunder Mountain Railroad. Fans of the series can expect to catch up on lost time, exploring an even larger world and immersed in the custom elements unique to each world—which is the highlight of every Kingdom Hearts game.
Kingdom Hearts III will be released on 29 January for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Devil May Cry 5
The stylish demon hunting agency is back in action. The fifth installment picks up the story several years after the events of DMC2 and DMC4. Nero, the protagonist of DMC4 and also, the son of Virgil (spoiler!) is on a quest to hunt down his missing Devil Bringer arm after it was dismembered and stolen by a mysterious assailant. Meanwhile, Dante is approached by a demon hunter V (the series’ newest playable character) to solve demonic incidents that are happening across the world.
Like any DMC series, we can look forward to the fluid battle sequences, flashy “SSS” rank combos and realistically-grotesque enemies in the new sequel as you traverse through the fictitious city of Red Grave—implicitly modelled after London. We are sold after watching old man Dante ripping crowds of demonic creatures into shreds with his motorbike-chainsaw hybrid; exorcism had never looked so cool. Did we also mention that you could own Dante’s oxblood leather trenchcoat if you purchase the new Devil May Cry 5 Ultra Limited Edition bundle for just JPY972,000 (SGD11,926)?
Devil May Cry 5 will be released on 8 March for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
FromSoftware singlehandedly popularised the genre of “Souls-like” games and blazed a trail for spin-offs such as Nioh and The Surge after a wildly successful Dark Souls trilogy and the Gothic, Lovecraft-inspired Bloodborne. Their games are brutally difficult; almost to the point of sadistic as the game punishes any sloppy actions and bad judgments. Like it was designed to fend off noobs and people who don’t take failure well. But the allure of FromSoftware games truly shines when you finally complete the tutorial for the first time, which will likely convert any haters to fans.
So, when it was announced that the next game was not going to be a Souls sequel, it drove people mad. Financially, it just doesn’t make sense for FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki to not milk a successful formula. Instead, they veered off the familiar medieval setting with a new IP—Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, set in feudal Japan in the late 1500s. You play as Sekiro, the “one-armed wolf”—a disgraced and disfigured shinobi who embarks on the journey to rescue his young master, abducted by a samurai. He wakes up from the brinks of death and finds himself with a new prosthetic hand, renewed with the purpose to restore his honor. Setting the new title apart from the Souls series, FromSoftware does away with the traditional character customisations to put gaming skills to the test. While longtime fans might be disappointed with the lack of personalisation, others will be happy to know that playstyles could be customised with the introduction of the grapple hook that allows for vertical traversing, opening up even more ingenious ways—from stealth to visceral bloody combats—to kill off your foes.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice will be released on 22 March for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows.
In the current generation of consoles, post-apocalyptic zombie shooters don’t do well in the already-saturated gaming world. Look at Konami’s Metal Gear Survive. It was massacred mercilessly by fans of the Metal Gear and the genre. Beat em’ up survival game Dead Rising fell flat after its release, which according to Capcom's 2017 report sold just 650,000 copies of its fourth installment instead of the projected two million. However, Days Gone seeks to prove that the genre is still relevant in gaming. And it's promising, judging by their E3 teasers, sporting visuals that are reminiscent of the 2013 Sony-exclusive The Last of Us—a masterpiece during the PlayStation 3 era.
The game is set in the harsh high-desert of the Pacific Northwest, where you play as Deacon, a rebellious biker (who looks like he stepped out of Sons of Anarchy), navigating through a multi-geographical dystopia where humans are as dangerous as the infected. There is still no information on the plot as of writing but the game’s Creative Director John Garvin promises that the narrative of Days Gone will be as important as its gameplay. Before you lump the game with other drab shoot em’ alls that fester in the zombie category, Garvin states in an interview that the world of Days Gone has its ecosystem of capricious climates that runs on a day/night cycle, which players have to learn and adapt in order to survive the onslaught of various enemies. And of course, the sandbox gameplay will allow the freedom for you to charge in guns blazing or lure a zombie horde into an enemy marauder camp.
Days Gone is slated for release on 26 April exclusively on PlayStation 4.