Predicting the big stories of 2018

The messaging around loot crates and microtransactions will change drastically. Every publisher knows they have to change the perception on this practice now—I think we'll see a lot of publishers seeing what they can get away with on this front and still getting burnt, and a few getting in front of the potential bad press by saying 'you absolutely don't need them to succeed'. After the firestorm around Battlefront 2, I think they have no choice but to take a look at themselves and revisit how these things are sold, or at least talked about.—Samuel Roberts

However there will still be loot crates and microtransactions everywhere. Publishers can try to change the language around loot boxes, but these mechanics are here to stay. If you want to see the endgame for a big-budget game with microtransaction hooks, boot up an EA Sports game. Fifa Ultimate Team and UFC’s equivalent—equipping card drops to put different punches and kicks on your fighter—are prototypes for Battlefront 2’s terrible card buffs system. There has been a lot of justified controversy around loot boxes this year, but even if publishers plan to back down it takes a long time to course correct. We haven’t seen the end of this, and I will be very curious to see if/how Anthem tries to squeeze more money out of customers.—Tom Senior

Dragon Age 4 gets announced and looks rad as hell. Anthem's on the cards for next year from BioWare, and I hope it's good. But we know Dragon Age 4 exists in some form—now it's a question of seeing the damn thing. This will be the first Dragon Age released after The Witcher 3, and it'll be interesting to see if that affects the type of game they make, one way or another. Over three years after Inquisition, though, it's about time.—Samuel Roberts

Battle royale clones, and plenty of them. We've already seen an opportunistic spurt of battle royale modes in 2017 and there will be many more to come. Fortnite successfully pivoted into this genre, but we’ll start to see games built from the ground up to deliver a PUBG style experience in the coming years. Many will release far too late to catch the wave, but competition is good, and there is loads of potential in the battle royale format. As bandwagons go, this is a good one. Remember the decade when every big publisher decided they had to have a World of Warcraft? Dull, dull, dull.—Tom Senior

Another panic about singleplayer games. Some will fail, E3 will be multiplayer-heavy and we'll once again worry that singleplayer games are on their way out. We'll have to wait and see. All it'll take is one Elder Scrolls VI reveal to quash everyone's pessimism, though.—Samuel Roberts

Red Dead Redemption 2 will be confirmed for PC, but it'll come out in 2019. It's due for release at some point before the summer in 2018 on consoles, so it seems likely to me that they'll release it about eight or nine months later on PC. That's assuming it comes to PC at all. Fingers crossed we don't miss out, eh?—Samuel Roberts

More digital board games. News that the Lord of the Rings Living Card Game is coming to PC was one of December's surprises, and I think it's merely the beginning of what we'll see from Fantasy Flight (which opened a new studio this year) and other publishers. We've been in golden ages of board gaming and PC gaming for roughly the same few years—expect more crossovers and ports. Honestly, I'd play a Hearthstone clone of any of the following: XCOM (play as the Advent or Earth's defenders), Dishonored, DayZ, Cities: Skylines (taxes are mana), Darkest Dungeon, Rainbow Six, Half-Life ("Card - Eli Vance: Sacrifice to gain absolutely nothing").—Evan Lahti

Amazing indie games. This is a given every year to be honest, but there are some seriously promising indie titles in development right now that are due to drop in 2018. Into the Breach, Ori, No Truce with the Furies, Spelunky 2, Sunless Skies, that Untitled Goose Game. 2018 is going to be a rich, varied year full of delightful small games. We’re in for a treat.—Tom Senior

More than 10,000 games will be released on Steam. In 2017, more than 7,000 games came out on Steam. In 2016, 5,000. Next year seems poised to overwhelm us with more than 10,000 games, which will make Steam harder to navigate for all of us. Struggling indies will have to work even harder, or get even luckier, to stand out from the crowd. It's going to be more obvious than ever that Steam needs better curation to help PC gamers find the games they want to play.—Wes Fenlon

2018 will be the year 1440p 144Hz becomes affordable. 1440p has been the sweet spot for gaming for a while, and 144Hz displays—whether G-Sync, FreeSync, or not—take that to the next level, but even the least expensive options are pretty pricey. With the arrival of 4K HDR + 144Hz, prices on 1440p 144Hz will finally drop to affordable levels of $250 or less. (I hope.)—Jarred Walton

More predictions:

  • Metal Gear Survive will score 78%. It'll be better than people think it is, but probably not loads better than that. 
  • EA's E3 press conference will again target a perceived youth audience of content creators and we will not enjoy it. A footballer will be there.
  • Virtual reality headsets won't get any cheaper and the 'year of VR' will be delayed again, except for in the houses of people who can afford them.
  • Running out of quality Japanese games to port to PC, we’ll finally get that 4K remaster of Mr. Mosquito.
  • The number of people complaining about battle royale modes will eventually match the number of copies sold of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
  • GOG will start selling the Westwood Blade Runner game. Well, we can dream, can't we?
  • GTA VI will be announced at some point in 2018. After all, it'll be five years after the original release of GTA V. It's got to happen sometime. 
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