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Most Anticipated 2018: Ozzie's Picks

Shacknews has returned for another full year of gaming coverage. This year begins with the continuation of the annual Shacknews tradition that sees each staff member laying out the games that they're most looking forward to every year.

Kingdom Hearts III

Look, I realize what I'm opening myself up to here by putting this on my list. Kingdom Hearts III feels more and more like the JRPG answer to Half-Life 3 with every passing year. It's been more than a decade since the last numbered (numbered without a decimal point or a fraction, anyway) iteration of the franchise released. An entire PlayStation generation came and went. The main villain's voice actor died of old age... almost three years ago! So yes, I fully understand why everybody's excited about Kingdom Hearts III getting an honest-to-goodness release window. And because the release window says "2018" on it until further notice, you'd better believe I'm throwing it on my list.

Am I actually expecting it to stay "2018?" Let's put it this way. I will believe this game is coming in 2018 when it is in my hands and not a moment sooner.

With all of that said, the third proper chapter in the series will almost certainly close the story of Sora, Riku, Kairi, and their war against Xehanort and the Heartless. There are far too many story beats for me to rave about, including the addition of the Toy Story world, the plans to build on the Big Hero 6 film ending with that movie's stage, and whatever Maleficent and Pete are searching for. Anyone dying for a recap can check out my breakdown of the E3 2017 trailer, but hopefully all of the mysteries will finally be solved this year. Lord knows the Kingdom Hearts fanbase has been patient enough.


Guacamelee 2

As a Mexican-American kid from Los Angeles, I've always been a sucker for Mexican lucha libre culture. That's why the first Guacamelee was such a joy to play. It captured the idea of being a supernatural lucha-themed hero and wrapped it in an engaging Metroidvania world. On top of that, it was one of the funniest games I had come across in some time. But the story looked straightforward and self-contained, so when Drinkbox moved on to Severed, I fully believed that Guacamelee would be a one-and-done effort.

Then came Paris Games Week and the out-of-the-blue announcement that Guacamelee was getting a sequel. So on top of getting four-player co-op, it looks like there's going to be more of the Metroidvania action from the first game, more of the game's humor and wacky characters, and a whole lot more poultry.

I tried out Guacamelee 2 during December's PlayStation Experience and it's definitely a game that I can't wait to check out.


The Walking Dead: The Final Season

Telltale has been a reliable storytelling studio, getting its humble starts with games like Sam & Max and Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People. But Telltale's boom period arguably began with The Walking Dead, with a dystopian world, engaging characters, gutwrenching decisions, and one of the most unforgettable endings I've seen in a game this entire decade. It's a big part of the reason why I was proud to write up the entry when the Shacknews staff named it Game of the Year in 2012.

Even as Telltale's formula has started to wane slightly in recent years, The Walking Dead has consistently pulled me in. And if Season Two's frustrating cast of characters proved anything, it's that I was mainly there for Clementine. The walker outbreak is all she's known since she was ten years old. She's gone from the innocent child that Lee found in her treehouse to a strong survivor who knows how to get by on her own.

One way or another, her story is going to end in 2018. Is she going to get the happy ending she deserves or is this going to be the umpteenth instance in the Walking Dead franchise where everyone's hearts are about to get ripped out again? I'm eager to find out.


Spider-Man

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has had his ups and downs in the gaming world. His most recent stint at Activision had some quality hits, but the last game to star the web-slinger was 2011's Spider-Man: Edge of Time. That's a seven-year layoff and Edge of Time wasn't exactly going out on a high note.

Now it's Insomniac's turn to enter Spidey's world and, by all indications, it looks like the house that Ratchet & Clank built has a firm grasp of what makes a superhero game fun to play. It looks like they have Spidey's web-slinging down, they have the Batman: Arkham Asylum style of combat, and they have a story that's touching on Spidey's most recent decade of stories. I've raved about the use of Mr. Negative before, but tapping into the Dan Slott era of Spidey comics is an inspired design choice and I'm excited to see what comes of it.

The lack of hands-on time at PlayStation Experience was a bit disappointing, but the time to swing through the Big Apple will come again. Look out, here comes the Spider-Man!


Those are just a few of the games I'm looking forward to in 2018. Look for other members of the Shacknews staff to weigh in with their picks throughout the coming days. I also look forward to seeing what the rest of you want to see in 2018, so join the conversation in Chatty and let us know your most anticipated games of the new year.

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