19 Upcoming Games That Deserve Your Attention From PAX East 2018
The Games of PAX East 2018
As a place where fans and developers can come together to play the hottest and most exciting games, PAX has traditionally been a fun event for those who want to see what sort of games the year has to offer. It’s also a great opportunity for newcomers and die-hard fans alike to check out what’s new and hang out with other like-minded folks who want to celebrate their favorite hobby. During PAX East 2018 in Boston, U.S., GameSpot got to check out some of the most interesting games on display–most of which are coming out much sooner than you think.
We’ve pulled together some of the most noteworthy games we saw during our time exploring the show floor of PAX East. Featuring titles from Annapurna Interactive, Surprise Attack Games, Nintendo, and some other noteworthy titles from the Indie Mega Booth, these upcoming releases left a big impression on us during the hustle and bustle of the East Coast’s biggest gaming convention. Here are 19 games coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch that are expected to release this year or in early 2019.
For more games to keep an eye out for, be sure to check out our gallery of noteworthy games from GDC 2018, which includes some notable picks like Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, Mothergunship, and the extremely weird Untitled Goose Game.
Ashen | PC, Xbox One
Ashen exudes feelings of isolation and mystery during its quiet journey into the unknown. Taking cues from titles like Dark Souls and classic adventure games like The Legend of Zelda, you take on the role of an unnamed explorer journeying through a strange land, looking for a place to call home. With that goal in mind, you’ll travel to monster-filled dungeons, finding new items and gear along the way that will help you survive. Eventually, you’ll encounter someone just like you who’s searching for a home as well.
With a lot of focus on the co-op experience–but still playable solo–Ashen tasks you with using all the resources you have at your disposal to survive the elements. The only way to communicate with other players is through some rather vague and generalized gestures, like pointing or waving. With your lantern, you’ll be able to explore the furthest reaches of the dungeons and caves, while also casting light on shadowy creatures to expose an opening in their defenses. As your explore the environment further, you’ll discover certain details of the land that evoke a familiar feeling–something that hints at a connection to the land that’s much deeper than you may realize.
Published by Annapurna Interactive with a planned release in 2018, Ashen evokes feelings of being a stranger in a somewhat familiar place while offering some satisfying Souls-esque combat along the way. | Alessandro Fillari
The Banner Saga 3 | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
The Banner Saga 3 is the epic conclusion to the tough tactics series from Stoic Studios. If you’ve grown comfortable in making decisions for your caravan and during major battles, the latest entry in the turn-based strategy series plans to increase the scale and scope of your party’s dire circumstances–forcing you to commit to some harsh decisions.
The battles have been revamped in several ways. First, you can encounter enemies who have a special endurance, requiring you to drain their willpower on top of breaking their armor and chopping away at their HP. Slaying an enemy also gives you the chance to unleash a powerful new chain lightning attack on anyone’s turn, in addition to their normal actions. Together, these two mechanics give you new strategic options while also making battles trickier.
Banner Saga 3 also introduces wave-based fights, where your party will have topple every foe before the turn limit ends–which rewards your team with a special piece of gear before facing the wave boss. You can even bring in reinforcements for any fallen troops once a wave has been slain. This new features opens up new strategies for your team to consider, while also kicking up the difficulty significantly–should you choose to go for the bonuses.
Releasing on July 24 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and the Switch–which will also see ports of the first two games–The Banner Saga 3’s focus on larger battles, combined with its exploration and party migration system, presents another epic tale full of tough decisions and challenging engagements. | Tony Wilson
Black Future 88 | PC
18 minutes is all the time you have to survive in Black Future 88. Set in a brutal, dystopian version of 1988, your lead character will traverse an ever-changing tower that shifts in accordance to how well you clear through the various trials and obstacles in your goal to reach the top of the tower. Making it to the top will put an end to the chaotic cyberpunk nightmare, and may just save your life as well.
Channeling classic 2D action-platformer gameplay with the mechanics of a roguelike, you’ll have to fight your way through several randomly generated levels to upgrade your gear and add more perks to your skill set to survive the robotic horde trying to stop your ascent. Just when you think you’re hitting your stride, the game throws a number of curveballs your way. In addition to some cursed weapons–firearms and melee items that have interesting bonus effects but some drastic downsides–you’ll also have to contend with a robotic bounty hunter that keeps tabs on your progress in the tower. As you make your way up, the cyborg stalker will jump into the fray and hunt you down to put a sudden stop to your progress.
The roguelike sub-genre is in, and Black Future 88 brings a particular style and tone that makes it stand out in interesting ways. With a vibrant neon aesthetic, along with bumping synth-rock tunes that keep your pulse pounding, this cyberpunk roguelike–releasing later this year on PC–should earn some notice for its dark and brutal style. | Alessandro Fillari
The Church in the Darkness | PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developed by Paranoid Productions, The Church in the Darkness is a top-down “action-infiltration” game in the vein of the very first Metal Gear title, tasking you with sneaking into a town run by a large cult to discover your nephew’s whereabouts.
The story revolves around a radical socialist Christian cult known as the Collective Justice Mission, led by the charismatic Isaac and Rebecca Walker. Believing the US to be corrupt, the cult and its adherents establish their own settlement in South America. Naturally, the inhabitants aren’t very welcoming to outsiders, so you have to use stealth to infiltrate the town and find your nephew.
What’s particularly interesting about The Church in the Darkness are its roguelike elements. Enemy placements and character allegiances differ in each playthrough, and the story can unfold along radically different paths depending on how you approach the game. These elements make The Church in the Darkness one of the most intriguing titles coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC this year. | Kevin Knezevic
Dark Devotion | PC
On the surface, Dark Devotion looks to be another 2D Souls-like game that pushes you to your limits as you journey through an isolated and dark world. While the game is undeniably influenced by From Software’s stoic action-RPG series, the developers at Hibernian Workshop have surprisingly come up with a far bleaker approach to their game.
Dark Devotion puts your faith–both figuratively and in practice as a tangible currency–to the test. As you battle monsters and other deadly creatures in the depths–all while collecting valuable loot along the way–you’ll acquire faith, which can be spent at randomly placed statues. While some statues will reward you for your faith, offering health, items, and upgrades to your character, some deceptively suck up your precious resource, rewarding you with nothing for your misplaced devotion.
Set for release later this year on PC, with other platforms to be announced later, Dark Devotion channels a sense of dread and unease that’ll put you on edge as you dive deeper into the abyss. | Alessandro Fillari
Decay of Logos | PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Decay of Logos is a third-person adventure game from developer Amplify Creations. Set in a high-fantasy world inspired by European folklore and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, the game channels classic adventure games while boasting an appealing art style, an expansive world to explore, and a methodical combat system.
The game follows the story of Ada, a young woman who embarks on a quest for revenge after her home village is raided and destroyed. Shortly after she sets out, however, she collapses, and she’s awakened by a mystical elk, which becomes her travel companion as she continues her journey for vengeance.
The game world is vast and leaves you to your own devices, but it’s the elk companion that is Decay of Logos’ most intriguing and distinctive element. On top of being a mount, the elk plays a vital role in the story, and you will need to slowly earn its trust and work together with it to solve puzzles and navigate the world. Decay of Logos is slated to launch for PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and PC this fall. | Kevin Knezevic
Donut County | PC, PS4, iOS
Donut County, coming to PS4, PC, and iOS later this year, is not unlike Katamari. You consume something to grow in size, but instead of rolling a giant ball around, you’re maneuvering a hole in the ground. It’s fun to swing the hole around, swallowing all sorts of objects with reckless abandon, but this also gives way to puzzle aspect to the game. Say you need to send a hot air balloon into the sky; you can drop an adobe oven into your hole, then use the heat to make the balloon rise.
This is just one example of the creative fun found in Donut County. Even the brief, opening moments can put on a smile on your face while you trip a goat on a moped or swallow up a backyard full of toys. And the cutesy art style and talking animals that lend the story add even more charm. | Tony Wilson
Due Process | PC
The long in-development Due Process is finally ready to make its debut later this year. Published by Annapurna Interactive, the 5v5 tactical shooter set in procedurally generated levels will force you into a game of planning and precision as you attempt to take down your enemies. Each team must plan its offensive and defensive games respectively before making the first fateful step into matching wits and reflexes with their opponents. Due Process’ pace is fast, hectic, and somewhat nerve-wracking. One fatal move can spell doom for your group, and it’ll take clear communication to win the day.
The visual style of Due Process takes cues from PS1-style low-polygonal graphics, with textures and detail having a heavily stylized look. This shooter’s visuals match that of a hard-boiled manga set in a dystopian society that’s reached a tipping point. In addition to featuring some strong strategy elements–with pre-match set-up allowing you to coordinate and draw directions on the map–the core gameplay focuses the subtle decisions you make when the action starts to hit and the stress starts to amp up.
With its release set for late 2018, Due Process’ focus on micro-engagements across its randomly generated maps aims to make every game feel fresh and keep you guessing as the pre-match timer hits zero. | Alessandro Fillari
Ion Maiden | PC
The mid-’90s FPS craze saw a number of games looking to cash in on the hype surrounding id Software’s Doom. 3D Realms stood out with Duke Nukem 3D, which offered fast and gory action with a ton of cheesy one-liners thrown around along the way. While the studio no longer owns the Duke Nukem brand, that isn’t stopping it from making a retro throwback to classic ’90s FPS action with the upcoming Ion Maiden.
As the prequel to the somewhat forgettable shooter Bombshell, developed by Voidpoint, the lead character Sherry “Bombshell” Harrison has to put a stop to a swarm of murderous cyborgs controlled by a mad scientist. While Ion Maiden sets up its story admirably, it rightfully focuses its attention on the intense and fast-paced action you’d come to expect from classic FPS games. With a large arsenal of weapons, including a chain-gun, target-seeking grenades, and a ridiculously oversized revolver, Ion Maiden revels in reliving the heyday of over-the-top schlocky action.
Coming to PC later this year, 3D Realms’ Ion Maiden sticks close to the developer’s roots, and it shows that there might be something worthwhile in this ridiculously violent trip down memory lane. | Alessandro Fillari
Just Shapes & Beats | Switch
Just Shapes & Beats has a very compelling premise. Developed by a three-person team at Berzerk Studio, the title is billed as a “musical bullet hell game,” and it’s every bit as stylish and tricky as that descriptor would lead you to believe.
The object of Just Shapes & Beats seems simple enough. You take control of a shape and must maneuver around the screen, avoiding all of the deadly hazards that appear to the rhythm of the music. The only ability at your disposal is a boost that provides temporary invulnerability, so you must have sharp eyes and even sharper reflexes to reach the end of a stage. The game also boasts a story mode and features a catchy soundtrack composed by more than 20 chiptune artists.
As you can imagine, levels becomes chaotic in a hurry as the screen is filled with a kaleidoscopic array of shapes and hazards to avoid, and it’s especially hectic in multiplayer. Just Shapes & Beats supports up to four players at a time, which is the best way to experience the game, as you have the added benefit of being able to revive a fallen ally. The game doesn’t have a set release date yet, but it’s slated to arrive first on Switch this summer. | Kevin Knezevic
Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk | PC, PS4, Switch
Nippon Ichi Software is known primarily for the Disgaea franchise, but the studio is trying its hand at a different genre with Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk. Set to arrive around the world later this year on PS4, Switch, and PC, Labyrinth of Refrain is a first-person dungeon crawler reminiscent of the Etrian Odyssey series.
The game is set in the eponymous town of Refrain. Despite its peaceful appearance, beneath the town lurks a winding and dangerous labyrinth that’s said to contain treasure. The dusk witch Dronya arrives at Refrain seeking something from the labyrinth, and using a magical tome, she creates puppet soldiers to venture into the maze in her stead.
Like other dungeon crawlers, Labyrinth of Refrain unfolds at a measured pace, with you venturing into the labyrinth tile by tile until your health and resources run low, then retreating to the surface to restock. Your party of puppet soldiers is fully customizable, from their classes and avatar portraits to their personality and voices. Your customization choices can even have a bearing on the gameplay, as a soldier’s personality type will affect how they develop. It’s a classical take on the genre, but Labyrinth of Refrain looks like an enjoyable dungeon romp, particularly if you enjoy Etrian Odyssey. | Kevin Knezevic
Outer Wilds | PC
Many video games have tackled space exploration, but few have done so in quite the same way as Outer Wilds. A first-person adventure game from publisher Annapurna Interactive, Outer Wilds puts you in the role of an astronaut who sets off to explore the cosmos. The catch: You’re stuck in an infinite time loop.
20 minutes after the adventure begins, a supernova will explode, ending the game. You then restart from your original campsite and have another chance to explore the galaxy until the supernova goes off again, repeating the cycle anew. This structure is reminiscent of the three-day time limit in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, as you will be reliving the same cycle over and over, taking a different approach each time and gradually piecing together the mystery of the galaxy.
While the time limit may sound restrictive on paper, in practice it’s a compelling hook, as it encourages you to do something different each playthrough. The game also has a wonderfully mysterious world that beckons to be explored, and you can freely pilot your ship to different celestial bodies, ranging from small, desolate moons to larger planets. With such an intriguing premise, Outer Wilds is one PC title to keep an eye on. | Kevin Knezevic
Pode | Switch
One of the most eye-catching titles from Nintendo’s March 2018 Nindies Showcase was Pode, an adorable cooperative puzzle-adventure game coming to Switch this year. Boasting a lovely visual style inspired by Norwegian art and culture, Pode follows the story of Glo, a fallen star trying to return home with the aid of a little rock named Bulder.
While Pode is fully playable solo, the game shines brightest when played with a friend. Glo and Bulder must use their inherent abilities to solve puzzles and help each other scale Mount Fjellheim. Glo can make plants blossom and activate ancient shrines, while Bulder can enter small holes and be used as a stepping stone to reach higher platforms.
Our hands-on session with Pode at PAX East was fairly brief, but the game’s charming visuals and clever cooperative puzzles make it worth keeping an eye on, especially if you have someone around to play it with. | Kevin Knezevic
RICO | PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
In this co-op oriented shooter, RICO puts you in the shoes of key members of an elite crime-fighting unit that’s seeking to put an end to an elite criminal organization’s drug ring. Set in several randomly generated levels, you and your partner will engage in cheesy, over-the-top buddy-cop action and clear through a set buildings–room by room–to take out the drug manufacturer’s business and hit the cartel where it hurts the most. Before each game, you can pick your preferred weapons and perks to match your particular playstyle.
As you breach the room, you’ll enter a bullet-time mode, allowing you take out the initial bad guys in the room; it then transitions into a large-scale shootout in real time with the remaining bad guys. Each room filled with bad guys armed to the teeth functions like a micro-encounter, where one bad move or misplaced shot can mean the end of you and your partner. As you work your way through the house, the cartel will eventually call in reinforcements, forcing you and your partner to contend with heavily armored commandos.
With a release planned this year for PC, other platforms soon after, RICO offers a lot thrills in its short maps, making for several pulse-pounding encounters during your raid. | Alessandro Fillari
SCUM | PC
Devolver Digital publishes some of gaming’s most evocative and bizarre titles, and the upcoming SCUM is no different. As yet another game looking to throw itself into the battle royale genre, this over-the-top and surprisingly detailed online action-shooter takes some rather interesting approaches in how it puts you in the hot seat. In SCUM, you will take on the role of a prisoner who must participate in a reality TV show focusing on several fights for survival on an abandoned island. With bombs fastened to the back of their heads, the prisoners will have to stick with the program in order to earn their freedom.
Sort of like a cross between The Running Man and The Hunger Games, you’ll have to appease the viewers at home by performing well in your fight for survival. But what makes SCUM such a standout amongst other online survival shooters is that it features a system that keeps track of your character’s body weight, metabolism, dietary habits, and other details that all tie back into your struggle to survive. With the character creator, you can adjust body physique and attributes, along with focusing on a particular set of skills such as shooting, melee, cooking, etc. While out in the field, you can pull up your personal menu and view the current stats on your character, which includes current heart rate and figures on food that’s currently being digested.
While this all may seem a bit overly complex–especially when you learn the hard way that wet clothes will make your character slower–it all ties back into SCUM’s meticulous nature. Eat too much junk food, and your character will gain weight and become slower over time. But if you eat right and stay fit when on the island, then you’ll be able to remain one step ahead of the others.
Coming to early access sometime in Q2 2018, SCUM’s bizarrely specific approach to survival can be jarring at first, but you’ll quickly find yourself going with the flow of the game–while also watching what you eat. | Alessandro Fillari
Semblance | PC, Switch
Dubbed “the first real platformer” by its developers, Semblance takes an interesting approach to the classic genre. Playing as a sentient purple blob, you jump and leap over obstacles to collect special orbs and reach the end goal. That all sounds elementary when it comes to the traditional platformer formula, but Semblance employs a clever gimmick when it comes to switching things up.
When you find yourself below a ledge that’s too high for the nearby platform to reach, you’re able to hop up and push the platform slightly up, contorting and stretching it out into angles that allow you to reach higher places. By manipulating the platforms and certain areas of the world’s floors, you can change the way you traverse and explore the environment.
In its own strange way, Semblance does succeed in getting you to rethink how you move through its colorful environment. Unlike other games where the platforms are largely static and will occasionally move on their own, this odd and quirky platformer tasks you with making those objects work how you need them to. Set for release later in 2018, Semblance may not be “the first real platformer,” but it’s certainly a surprising take on the formula. | Alessandro Fillari
Sky Noon | PC
Sky Noon takes its Western-set multiplayer gameplay to new heights–literally. Taking place across a series of floating islands in the sky, you and your team of outlaws–or lawmen–must take out the other group by any means necessary. But unlike other multiplayer shooters, Sky Noon’s guns don’t use bullets. Armed with an arsenal of high-powered air-guns that are mostly harmless, you’ll have to knock your opponents off the platform, sending them falling to the ground below.
While the premise is a bit goofy, Sky Noon runs with it–making for a uniquely kinetic combat flow. Armed with one weapon and a grappling hook, you shoot and swing your way across the map to try and flank the enemy team. If you get knocked off, or if you just want to maneuver your way around more quickly, your grappling hook can make moving around much easier, resulting in some impressive maneuvers as you get the upper hand. Coming later this year to PC, Sky Noon is a fun and quirky twist on what you’d normally expect from a multiplayer shooter–and that change of pace may be something worthwhile. | Alessandro Fillari
The Stillness of the Wind | PC
Usually, farm and slice-of-life simulators like Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley have an element of calm and cheerfulness to their easy-going routine. But in The Stillness of the Wind, that routine represents a vestige of days gone by, with only the weathered remains of your home offering solace. As the follow-up to Where The Goats Are–another game about running a farm during dire circumstances–you play as an aging Talma, the last member of a once lively village.
With only the local animals, an oft-travelling merchant who visits with supplies, and the comfort of her routine to keep her company, Talma spends her twilight years tending to the crumbling village and its once active farm. During your days, you choose how to spend your time–which mostly includes chores like tending to your animals, planting crops, and other work around the farm. When the merchant comes by, you barter for resources to aid in your stay, and he occasionally gives you letters from your family–who’ve long left for life in larger communities.
Described as “a quiet game of life and loss” by its developers, The Stillness of the Wind certainly lives up to those aching feelings. While this may seem like an extraordinarily sad game, there is sort of a comforting feeling of settling into your groove in the time you have and having a little place to call your own. With a release later this year, this personal experience gives you something to ponder as they tend to their little farm in the wilderness. | Alessandro Fillari
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido | Switch
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido may not have the name recognition of some of Nintendo’s other releases this year, but it’s shaping up to be one of 2018’s biggest surprises. After its initial unveiling at E3 2017, the game was reintroduced during Nintendo’s March Direct presentation as a dual 3DS/Switch release. It seems to have evolved significantly since we first saw it, boasting lengthy anime cutscenes, voice acting, and an all-around spruced up presentation.
Sushi Striker takes place in a world where sushi is outlawed, following a bitter conflict known as the Sushi Struggles. Players assume the role of Musashi, the eponymous Sushi Striker on a mission to loosen the Empire’s grip on the world’s sushi supply. Musashi’s encounters with the Empire take the form of competitive puzzle battles, which have you matching up sushi plates of the same color from conveyor belts and throwing the plates to whittle down your opponent’s health.
The gameplay in Sushi Striker is fast-paced and easy to grasp, and it offers enough nuance to add an element of strategy to battles. On top of matching plates of sushi, you can befriend magical creatures known as Sushi Sprites, who can be called upon during a battle to unleash a special ability. With more than 100 stages, local and online multiplayer, and one of the catchiest theme songs we’ve ever heard, Sushi Striker has the potential to be Switch’s sleeper hit of the year. | Kevin Knezevic