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This is pretty much expected behavior for people who like to write about video games, I figure. So to further extend assumptions, I will now openly admit that I’m writing this in the hopes that I get all the free stuff from the games I mention.

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In fact just writing that lead-in brought me about $35.

But seriously, though, whatever you feel about 2017 in terms of real-life things, it has been a great year for games and next year is looking pretty solid as well. So I wanted to wiggle excitedly in the direction of upcoming titles that I have no basis for anticipation for other than marketing speak and second-hand experience. Because piss off I like being excited.

This post was prompted by a tweet that came across my feed a few days ago that immediately got me thinking about stuff that I’m looking forward to playing next year. Naturally, I couldn’t limit myself to just one game, so I’m going to be a rule-breaking badass and come up with several.

Sea of Thieves

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The art style of this game was an immediate draw, but then the idea of what this game is about – an open multiplayer sandbox where you live life as a romanticized pirate in the age of sail – almost instantly captivated my imagination. Since then, I’ve seen this thing develop from a good idea into what can probably be described as the first sandbox where fun is the point.

Every move the developers have made leading up to its recently announced launch date have been smart ones to mitigate every terror I hold about sandbox gaming. They have safeguards that ensure people who are together don’t screw one another. They have interesting ways of (hopefully) helping players deal with bad actors regardless of those safeguards. They have a progression system that really sounds enjoyable while still having that “make your own fun” aspect of normal sandboxes.

Hell, the simple act of sailing a large vessel on the open seas demands that people work together to even get anywhere. It’s such a natural way to make people pull together as a team that it now seems glaringly obvious.

Tie that with a healthy dose of what can only be described as “Rare Ltd. charm” in terms of characters and presentation and you’ve got a game that really might end up being a hilarious adventure.

Crowfall

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Where Sea of Thieves seems to have ways of making a sandbox for “the rest of us”, Crowfall seems to be the complete opposite on paper for me – a game where PvP is the only point and every day will be a source of stress. So why add it to this list? Because in spite of that, I still want to see what this kind of game has to offer and Crowfall looks like one that at least values those who aren’t the PK’ing sort.

For one, the PvP is realm vs. realm, so once more there’s a system in place that kind of demands that people come together for the sake of survival if not advancement. Secondly, everything this game has shown about its crafting systems leads me to believe that it values those who don’t value combat.

From what I can tell, crafting in Crowfall is the only way PvPers can get gear, meaning that people like me who lose their ability to push buttons when facing a human opponent suddenly become valuable to the war effort. The fact that my preferred playstyle is not only wanted but possibly demands to be protected gives me hope that I’ll finally find a PvP title that I can look forward to.

Ascent: Infinite Realm

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Admittedly, I’m probably more in love with the setting of this game than the gameplay prospects itself. In fact, recent videos from Steparu pretty much seem to suggest that, gameplay-wise, Ascent: Infinite Realm is almost nothing to write home about.

Then again, that’s precisely what kept me interested in City of Heroes for so long. The gameplay wasn’t precisely mind-blowing but the setting was, and the fact that A:IR takes place in what I can best describe as “Final Fantasy 6 World Online” immediately has me eager to play.

Even the PvP in this game looks like a great deal of fun primarily because its got enough going on that I can hide my suck behind myriad others. Also, I get to fly an airship around or drive in a steam-powered battlemech. So that almost instantly gets a nod from me.

I still need to see and learn more before I really get off of the fence over Ascent: Infinite Realm, but consider me leaning forward with great interest whilst sitting on said fence.

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

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It has been pretty much a decade since I’ve played a MechWarrior game. I fell hard in love with the series when I first picked up MechWarrior 3 – incidentally the first game I bought with my own money. Since then, MW3, MW3: Pirate’s Moon, MW4 and MW4: Mercenaries became staples and deepened my addiction to a universe that I had never experienced previously and am yet to again.

So knowing all that love for the third game in the series, seeing MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries operate much like an HD Mech 3 has me understandably excited.

This game is single-player big bot battle action that appears to be the most obvious of video game indulgences that no developer wants to indulge in anymore. It looks like a back-to-basics MechWarrior game devoid of free-to-play shilling and hopefully free of EA-level microtransaction nonsense.

But most importantly, if I get to build an ER Laser boat loadout of a Shadowcat? That will ultimately mean I got my money’s worth and you’ll be able to hear my joyous crying for miles.

Dreams

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What appears to be LittleBigPlanet on steroids, Dreams is something I’m looking forward to not so much because I want to create in it but more because I want to see what other people create.

The tools in LBP were limited yet robust enough that the imagination and brilliance peoples put into the levels they made was astonishing. So now that we’re all getting a current-gen edition with all new tools and an engine that appears to be able to create different experiences, I’m very eager to see what players will do with this one.

Sure, there’s likely going to be more than a few heaps of trash in the pile, and I’m not seeing anything that is going to mitigate someone coming up with a “hilarious” level full of abrasive and vile nonsense, but honestly I have faith that Media Molecule are keeping that in mind and will put together something great. I mean, they’ve done this before.

Soul Calibur 6

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I played the hot holy hell out of Soul Calibur 2 for a very long time, which is a first for me in fighting games. I’ve since fallen very hard out of the genre with a couple of attempts at re-entry, but Soul Calibur 6 looks like the best “in” yet along with a return to series form.

Of note is the game’s Reversal Edge system, which seems to be one of the best ways someone who sucks like me can defend against tough opponents offline or online. Of course, that could also lead to a lot of turtling and any number of other problems, but at least this gives me a way to feel like I can try to play. Which, honestly, is all I want.

Barring that, if this game’s single-player features are robust enough, I could see myself swinging digital swords and trying for a ring-out for a very long time. Also, the game just looks damn pretty, which is a very nice thing in fighting games.

Again, I wanna see more before I really get excited, but consider my ears perked.

Monster Hunter World

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Considering my last blog post, this one should probably come as no surprise. Still, the point stands: Monster Hunter World has everything I want in a Monster Hunter game and even some things I didn’t even know I wanted.

Nearly every weapon I tried during the last beta “test” was a delight. The game’s world looked wonderful. The monster hunts were fun. The online play…needed work but has potential. And the systems installed for this entry are by far the best the series has ever seen.

I’ve already put in my pre-order, so honestly it’s just a matter of sitting and waiting for release. As well as for the next beta “test” to arrive later in the week. Seriously, I am very ready to get in there and get to huntin’.

World of Warcraft

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Surprised? So am I.

Now I should specify, I’m not excited for Battle for Azeorth. Returning things to the red vs. blue formula feels astonishingly boring and lazy to me. What I’m referring to is the game as it stands now; a game in which I hadn’t played since Cataclysm was nearly launched.

I’ve been challenging myself to face my cynicism and play World of Warcraft for 30 days to see if my feelings about the game are mired in any sort of truth and if the game has grown since I last logged in years ago. And while my cynicism is saying that I’m still in a honeymon phase, I have to admit that this time around feels a whole lot better.

A lot of that enjoyment comes from rolling a Pandaren, which is full of character and the sort of fun that I glom on to. Another part of that is the Brewmaster spec, which doesn’t have a whole lot of interesting tools for me at level 17 right now, but has enough going for it that I want to follow through.

Ultimately, though, I’m excited for this game in 2018 because I’m experiencing that brand new noob delight which I love about MMOs. Better yet, I’m sharing that delight in livestreams with wonderful people, which heightens my joy and makes me beam that through the airwaves.

It’s still too early to call, but I genuinely can’t wait to see where this all leads as I slide into 2018.

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