2017 was a big year in gaming, led by the debut of Nintendo’s Switch hybrid console, which redefined the relationship between handheld and television-based gaming consoles. The Xbox One X also hit the console market, while Kinect exited the scene. 2017 saw some smash-hit game releases, too, including breakout game of the year PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the open-ended physics driven adventure The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the 3D-platform triumph Super Mario Odyssey.
2018 promises more big gaming developments, including innovations in virtual and augmented reality, possible new consoles, and exciting upcoming games. Here’s a preview of three of the top gaming trends to watch over the coming year.
The Rise of Virtual and Augmented Reality Gaming
2017 saw an upsurge in VR game releases, including the highly-awaited Fallout 4 VR and surprise hit L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files. With the latest mobile devices like the Galaxy S8 plus now being designed to support cutting-edge VR and AR applications, VR/AR gaming is poised to take off in a big way in 2018. The VR and AR market, valued at $5.2 billion in 2016, is on track to expand to $162 billion by 2020, driven by gaming consoles and VR headsets, International Data Corporation projects.
VR games dominated last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, and this year will host a series of exciting new upcoming VR releases. One of the first will be The Inpatient, a PlayStation VR psychological horror game set for release in late January. The game is a survival horror game set in an insane asylum, viewed by the player in VR first-person perspective. A Walking Dead VR game from TBC looks to be a hit later in the year. Other VR games from PlayStation, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Gear VR are also scheduled for release over the next twelve months. Expect more AR games in the spirit of Pokemon GO as well.
On the console front, it’s a toss-up whether 2018 will be a slow year or a breakthrough. The Switch and Xbox One X are already out, and no major new consoles are definitively scheduled for release. However, industry watcher Damian Thong, who has a solid track record with previous forecasts, predicts that the PlayStation 5 may be out as early as the end of the year, which would be the biggest console story of the year if it happens.
Like the PS4 Pro, the PS5 will support 4K resolution, delivering a richer gaming experience. However, other analysts such as Michael Pachter expect Sony may wait until sales of the PS4 die down to release the PS5, which could push the release back to 2019 or 2020. A new Xbox console is supposedly currently in the works and may also be released in 2019, YouTuber DreamcastGuy predicts.
Games on the Horizon
2018 video game releases are starting off with a bang in January. The first month of the year will see the launch of Dragon Ball FighterZ, which already looks to be the next big thing in competitive fighting games; and Monster Hunter: World, which will feature bigger maps and bigger monsters than previous installments.
March is rumored to include the release of a new PS4 God of War installment, with Kratos seeking to control his rage as he mentors his son Atreus. The month of March will also see the launch of Sea of Thieves, a pirate-themed game for Xbox One and Windows 10 developed by legendary British production company Rare. Spider-Man is also expected to swing into the PS4 in the beginning of 2018. Other games to watch for include gangster game Yakuza 6, first-person shooter adventure Metro Exodus, and open-shooter apocalypse Far Cry 5.
Increasing availability of VR and AR games, the anticipation of the PlayStation 5, and innovative fighting games such as Dragon Ball FighterZ will be some of the key gaming trends to watch for in 2018. Look for more immersive graphics, more dynamic fighting and shooting game physics and a more exciting gaming experience this year.