What We Predicted Right (And Wrong) About Gaming In 2018
By Phil Hornshaw | @philhornshaw on
Looking Back At Looking Forward
The world of video games is a swirling, ever-changing place where nothing is guaranteed--games no one thought would exist come out of nowhere, while others that seem like foregone conclusions get delayed into oblivion. We cover an industry that's often extremely tough to predict, which is exactly why each year, we try to make predictions about the coming 12 months. Sure, anything could happen, but it always feels great to be right--and we've got some good evidence on which to base some educated guesses.
In 2018, our predictions ranged from some safe-seeming bets like remasters, to wishful ports across the Pacific, to announcements that happened much differently than expected. Our editors made 11 total guesses for 2018. Not all of them were wrong--but how many do you think we got right? You'll have to read on to find out.
As long as we're thinking about what didn't come true in 2018, it's worth taking a look at the great games that did make it into our hands. Check out our Best of 2018 hub for rundowns of all the games that caught and kept our attention last year, the gaming moments that defined the year, and the titles we're most looking forward in 2019.
We'll also have predictions for 2019 coming soon, so be sure to check those out. And if you've got predictions of your own, or stories of amazing prognostications that came true in 2018 despite all odds, be sure to leave them in the comments below.
Nintendo Will Announce Mother 3 For Switch
It might have been wishful thinking, given that we've predicted Mother 3 coming stateside each of the last few years, but we really thought there was a chance this year. That's because releasing the Earthbound sequel for the Nintendo Switch seemed like a pretty ideal both for Nintendo after a record-breaking 2017 put the console in a whole lot of hands. Ravenous Nintendo fans are hopeful for the game, and the Switch would be a great fit for a localized version of the original GBA game as part of Nintendo’s digital content offerings.
Unfortunately, just because a thing makes a lot of sense and would would bring joy to a lot of people doesn’t mean it’ll happen. Another year has come and gone and Mother 3 seems no closer to finding its way to your Switch on this side of the Pacific. We were wrong about Mother 3 showing up last year, but the chances still seem pretty good it might eventually. And Reggie Fils-Aime knows Nintendo fans want the game in the US--so there may well be hope for it in 2019.
Nintendo Will Release Another Zelda Game Or Expansion
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was both a huge game and acclaimed by players and critics when it released in 2017, so we predicted that Nintendo would want to ride that wave into the future as it continued to build the Switch’s library. The two DLC packs Nintendo offered for the game seemed to go over well, but there's definitely still room at the periphery of Breath of the Wild to make it even bigger. And given the massive success of both the game and the Switch in 2017, it seemed like Nintendo had an opportunity to print even more money with another Zelda offering the year after. We figured that more expansions for Breath of the Wild, beyond that first annual pass, would likely pop up this year as Nintendo found more value in its huge adventure. Another possibility: a new take on a classic Zelda, just in time to take advantage of the Switch's digital storefront and its big new install base.
Unfortunately, the only fresh appearances of Link we saw in 2018 were in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. There wasn't any movement on Nintendo about its flagship franchise, in fact, and the last we heard about any DLC for the game was back in December when Champions' Ballad was released. Maybe that's because Nintendo is gearing up to make 2019 the Year of Link? That seems...unlikely, but it's always tough trying to predict what Nintendo has planned.
Bethesda Game Studios Will Announce Its Next Game At E3 2018
Bethesda’s big press conference extravaganza at E3 each year is usually packed full of games, and since we hadn’t heard much from the studio behind The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, it made sense that Bethesda would hit us pretty hard at E3 2018. In particular, the next installment of the Elder Scrolls series seemed to be due for some news. Skyrim might be on everything that plays games, including Alexa, but the game was first released in 2011.
We were very right about this one, with Bethesda hitting the gaming public with two big announcements. First, we found out about Fallout 76, an online multiplayer addition to the Fallout franchise. And as expected, 76 was released just months after Bethesda told us about it at E3. But that wasn’t all Bethesda Game Studios had to offer at the event: it also teased The Elder Scrolls VI. That game is coming, uh, sometime, and Bethesda has given pretty much no information about it at all apart from showing an image with the title over it. And then Bethesda went and announced a third game: Starfield, which got its official debut trailer at E3. That's two announcements, so our speculation that we'd get news of a Bethesda game--and that one would release soon after it was announced--was right on.
Verdict: (Extremely) Right
Nintendo Will Announce (And Release) Smash Bros. For Switch
Well, this one's pretty obvious. We speculated that with Nintendo chugging along with a lot of acclaim around the Switch, it was time for a new Super Smash Bros. Nintendo hasn't disappointed on that front--Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is here, and Nintendo really did lean into the "Ultimate" part. The game is huge, featuring every character that's ever been on a Smash Bros. roster before, plus multiple game modes and a lengthy single-player campaign.
We loved Smash Ultimate almost as much as we loved being right about the game showing up this year. In our review, Edmond Tran gave Smash a 9, writing, "it's still astounding that a game featuring characters from Mario Bros, Sonic The Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, and Street Fighter all interacting with each other actually exists." Smash Ultimate also made our list of the best games of the year--that's how great it is. It sure is nice being right.
Cyberpunk 2077 Will Be Re-Revealed At E3 2018
We were hoping to see Cyberpunk 2077 make a big splash at E3 after a whole lot of time had passed since the last reveal of information about it, and we were not disappointed. Not only did CD Projekt RED bring Cyberpunk to E3, but it also brought a huge, gorgeous hands-off gameplay demo. It only showed that behind closed doors (although CD Projekt made the demo available online in August), but it was enough to remind us all why we were excited about it in the first place. Cyberpunk's open world of Night City is huge and full of things to do, and there are plenty of ways in which the RPG will react to your actions and change around you. All in all, Cyberpunk is looking great and we learned a ton about it at E3 this year, making this prediction satisfyingly correct.
Mass Effect Ain't Dead; Trilogy HD Remaster Will Come This Fall
This one might be kind of right. We expected that, in the aftermath of Mass Effect: Andromeda, Electronic Arts would let BioWare's sci-fi RPG franchise cool off, but it wouldn't kill it. Instead, we figured BioWare would take the opportunity to re-release an HD remastered version of the original trilogy. A re-release of the original three games could go a long way to repairing the bridges between BioWare and fans who felt burned by Andromeda, bringing them back into the series' world and potentially revitalizing it, bit by high-res bit. The hope, of course, is that Andromeda will be a misstep but not a fatal fall for the beloved franchise, and instead provides the developer with some lessons that can improve Mass Effect and the rest of what BioWare has to offer in the future.
No HD remastered version of the Mass Effect trilogy made its way to us in 2018, nor was one even announced, sadly. That doesn't mean it's not being planned for the future, though. In fact, BioWare's Casey Hudson gave fans a cryptic note on November 7, otherwise known among the Mass Effect faithful as N7 Day, suggesting that there's more coming for the series in the future. So perhaps Mass Effect isn't dead! We don't know what BioWare might be planning, whether a new Mass Effect game or a remaster of the old trilogy. But at least there's still hope on the galactic horizon.
Verdict: Wrong, but with a glimmer of hope
From Software's Project Teased At The 2017 Game Awards Is Tenchu
E3 2018 saw the first real information about From Software's next title. Bummer for this prediction: it wasn't a new Tenchu game. Instead, From showed off gameplay of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game that riffs on feudal Japan and stars a ninja, fighting monsters, demons, and various other creatures. It's a departure from both Dark Souls and Bloodborne, adding a lot of speed to the proceedings, but it's definitely possible to feel the influence of the From's past games on this new effort.
We might be forgiven for getting the exact nature of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice wrong, on account of the fact that Sekiro really did start its life as a Tenchu title. A lot of the hallmarks of the stealth ninja series seem like they're making their way into Sekiro too, and the phrase "Shadows Die Twice" is a reference to Tenchu 3. So while From Software isn't technically making a new Tenchu title as predicated, this is pretty dang close.
Nintendo Will Release The N64 Classic
We got the NES Classic Edition and SNES Classic Edition in 2016 and 2017, respectively. So it stood to reason that Nintendo might decide to continue printing money in 2018 with another miniature version of one of its classic machines--the N64. After all, the console had plenty of standout, watershed titles, including Super Mario 64 and the original Super Smash Bros. With the way that the other Classic consoles have made major impacts on the market and among Nintendo fans, even encouraging a similar tiny console from Sony, the N64 Classic seemed like a no-brainer.
Sadly, Nintendo didn't bring out a new classic console this year, and what's more, the current classic consoles will be discontinued after the holidays. That's basically negative progress on our prediction. Thanks a lot, Nintendo.
Blizzard Will Announce Diablo 4
We couldn't have predicted just how this one was going to play out. Blizzard's lack of Diablo announcements in the last few years made an announcement of the next chapter in the franchise feel inevitable for Blizzcon 2018. We were right that Blizzard did have something up its sleeve for Diablo--but we, and just about everyone else, were very wrong about what that Diablo thing turned out to be.
At Blizzcon, Blizzard announced a new entry into the Diablo franchise, but it wasn't a new numbered installment. Instead, it was Diablo Immortal, a mobile game, and fan response to the announcement was pretty intense. It included booing and one Blizzcon attendee asking if the game's announcement was actually an early April Fool's Day joke. We got hands-on with Diablo Immortal and found it pretty impressive, but while the controversy seemed overblown, it's obvious that fans are ravenous for a new, full-fledged Diablo game.
Phantasy Star Online 2 Will Finally Come To The West
Phantasy Star Online 2 is performing well for Sega, even five years after its 2012 release. The MMO even got a release on the Nintendo Switch in 2018--in Japan. With the game trucking along with ports and expansions five years later, it seems like it would make a lot of sense for Sega to expand its audience. Phantasy Star Online 2 still isn't available in the West, but we hoped 2018 would be the year that changed. Spoiler alert: it wasn't.
We're still waiting to hear anything on the front of PSO2 making its way out of Japan, and even with the Switch release, there's no word of a western release. Maybe 2019 will be the year an English version of Phantasy Star Online 2 finally becomes available.
Spyro Trilogy Remaster Announced
In 2017, Activision released the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a remaster of the first three Crash Bandicoot games. Fans had been asking for a Crash Bandicoot re-release for years, and they finally got it. With the N. Sane Trilogy in the past, the next logical step was a re-release of another classic PlayStation platformer series: Spyro the Dragon.
Activision must have been thinking the same thing, and the N. Sane Trilogy performed pretty well. Not only did the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, a remaster of the first three games in the franchise, get announced, 2018 also saw its release. Justin Clark gave Reignited an 8 in our review: "The Reignited Trilogy is the best kind of collection that not only brings a beloved series up to current visual standards but also proves just how well-built the original titles were," he wrote.
4.5 out of 11
For making predictions and prognostications that mostly just boil down to educated guesses, a success rate that's not too far off 50 percent feels pretty respectable, overall (although maybe we're just biased). Hopefully this means we're improving in our predictions since our track record at the end of 2017 was pretty dismal. Here's hoping (predicting?) our look through the crystal ball at 2019 will be even more successful.