(1) Red Dead Redemption 2 v. (4) Monster Hunter World
The next Red Dead is one of the most highly anticipated games of this generation, mostly because of the questions we still have for it. As the first Rockstar title built exclusively for this generation of consoles, just how big is the game going to be? Will the map size be larger than GTA V, or will it be smaller but more populated? How is Rockstar going to handle Read Dead’s multiplayer when GTA Online is still wildly successful? Is there any chance in hell this game gets finished in the next 6 months? It’s these huge question marks that make it hard to favor over a game that’s right on edge of releasing.
Monster Hunter is at least tangible, while we have no clue what kind of game Red Dead is shaping up to be, despite its tentative release window of Spring 2018. I don’t doubt that Red Dead is going to be incredible and bust sales records, but there’s just too little to go off of.
Winner: Monster Hunter World
(2) Kingdom Hearts III v. (3) God of War
After several years of teases and empty promises, Kingdom Hearts III feels closer than ever to being a reality. The Toy Story world gameplay shown off at D23 looked phenomenal, and proved Square Enix is going wonderfully off the rails with its level design.
God of War also looks incredibly inventive. Sony showed off a ton at E3 last year, and it seems like Sony Santa Monica is combining God of War’s unmistakable combat with the personal, mature storytelling Sony’s game studios have become known for.
It’s a toss-up, but given Kingdom Hearts III’s development issues and how tight-lipped Square Enix has been regarding more details, God of War just edges it out.
Winner: God of War
(2) Dragon Ball FighterZ v. (3) Sea of Thieves
Dragon Ball FighterZ has a lot going against it; for one, it’s a game based on an anime (albeit the most popular anime in America and debatably the world). Perhaps even more limiting, it’s a hardcore, no-nonsense 2D fighter, a genre which is notoriously prohibitive for newcomers.
Yet despite this adversity, it’s still one of the hottest games of the year. It’s impossible not to fall in love with how this game looks, and there’s an electricity to watching the game in action. Most importantly, Bandai Namco is aware of its audience, and wisely included one-button chain combos to help ease the intimidation of learning a 2D fighting game.
Sea of Thieves is also well-designed and self-aware, but as fun as the first 15 minutes I played was, I’m concerned how monotonous the game could get if there’s no kind of structure. Crashing your pirate ship and watching your friends fall into the sea is worth a good laugh but it’s hardly sustainable for more than a few play sessions. There hasn’t been much revealed in terms of players’ greater goal in Sea of Thieves, but mindlessly completing quest after quest will get old fast.
While Sea of Thieves has still has something to prove, Dragon Ball FighterZ has already exhibited its excellence, and its considerable following is a testament to that.
Winner: Dragon Ball FighterZ
(1) Spider-Man v. (5) A Way Out
There have been dozens of Spider-Man games. Some of them have been exceptional. But the one thing that none of them has ever done is tell a completely original story. For their upcoming game, Insomniac has reinvented every convention found in your prototypical Spider-Man tale and has crafted its very own amazing fantasy.
When I think about this game’s potential, what gets me most excited is that surprise of getting to discover a brand new Spider-Man universe, re-imagined with different rules, characters and relationships. A clever, unique story coupled with the technical ability of a modern console could make Insomniac’s Spider-Man the greatest game in the wall-crawlers storied video game history.
Of course, A Way Out is also a unique experience. A smaller, personal co-op experience is completely antithetical to the modern video game landscape, and for that it should be commended. But even though I think A Way Out will catch everyone by surprise, it just won’t be able to compete with the size and scope of Spider-Man.