When compared to the likes of Sony and Nintendo, one could argue that Microsoft has something of a software problem, in that there isn’t much of it. But with a pretty promising set of first-party games already announced, which will all be available free for Game Pass adopters, Microsoft might be keeping the second half of the year kept pretty close to the chest until the mid-year conferences hit.
CHANCE OF RELEASING: Pretty Likely
It’s been eight years since we last got a look at a Crackdown game, though there have been plenty of imitators in the years since. With the hilarious Terry Crews attached to cameo in this bombastic and long-awaited sequel, it’ll be good to see Crackdown return to its explosive best with massive-scale city destruction powered by the Cloud.
After already being pushed into this year after failing to meet its November date, it’s pretty likely we’ll see Crackdown 3 on shelves this year.
SEA OF THIEVES
CHANCE OF RELEASING: Certain
Rare has languished under the thumb of Microsoft for so long, stuck in a loop of developing forgettable Kinect titles that are all now where they belong – in the bin with people’s Kinect devices, finally releasing Rare from their shackles of servitude and thrust straight back into the limelight with their most creative and ambitious game in years.
Sea of Thieves is already being touted as one of the most fun and accessible multiplayer games of the year. In a world full of battle royale clones, it’s hard not to find that ocean breeze refreshing. The pirate life just might be the only life to live in 2018 when Sea of Thieves releases on March 20.
STATE OF DECAY 2
CHANCE OF RELEASING: Likely
State of Decay was a runaway hit, managing to sell 4.5m copies, so it was a no-brainer for Microsoft to greenlight a sequel.
At this stage, very little is known about the sequel but it’s evident that it’ll once again be a vast open-world survival epic. The game has featured in Microsoft’s Game Pass promotions so it’s likely to be releasing this year, plus as the original is available through the service, it might be a good time to brush up on the franchise.
THE LAST NIGHT
CHANCE OF RELEASING: We’re Hopeful
We’re cheating with this one as Odd Tales’ cyberpunk platformer isn’t exclusive for Xbox, though it is a console exclusive. This cinematic masterwork looks to have a gorgeous aesthetic that’d make Blade Runner blush and plenty of grimdark violence to match.
The Last Night left the audience awe-struck when it was revealed during Microsoft’s E3 conference last year and it looks to be an indie darling that depicts a chilling future where life is leisure and, for protagonist Charlie, the world seems pointless. People have been rather intoxicated by cyberpunk of late with Blade Runner 2049 and Altered Carbon capturing the attention of many, so The Last Night would be wise to strike while the iron is hot.
CHANCE OF RELEASING: Nobody Knows
Ashen has long been in the works under the ID@Xbox program having been originally revealed in 2015. The world’s feel is said to be heavily influenced by Cormac McCarthy’s novel ‘The Road’ and it brings high-risk Souls series combat to the table.
Clearly not a big blockbuster franchise, most might be underwhelmed by Ashen at a glance but Microsoft has a proven track record with the ID@Xbox program so it’d be foolish to write Ashen off just yet. It has been in development for some time, so logic says it’s closer to release than ever though there’s no guarantee it’ll arrive this year.
THE DARWIN PROJECT
CHANCE OF RELEASING: Pretty Likely
Another console exclusive, The Darwin Project is yet another take on the battle royale fad, though it certainly looks like an interesting one. It implements survival tactics into its harsh, dystopic battlefield plopped within the wintery Canadian Rockies.
Though the other participants aren’t the only danger as the Show Director, a role assumed by a player takes things up a notch with nuclear bombs and gravity storms among other things. With a touch of The Truman Show, spectators can even weigh-in, helping the Show Director wreak havoc on the poor players while live-betting on the death-sport.
A truly fascinating twist on an already saturated market, The Darwin Project is currently stress testing on PC so hopefully, its console counterpart isn’t too far behind.
CHANCE OF RELEASING: Look, Probably Not
Plucking this one from the rumour basket might be a bit of a cheeky ploy, but with a lot of credible sources piling in, Fable IV is looking closer to being a done deal than some may think.
Though Fable III was a lacklustre fantasy game, it’s sad that Lionhead won’t be able to realise the continuation of their franchise and return to Albion. That said, we’re sure Microsoft will place it into capable hands and see that one of their oldest IPs returns to its glory days.
Given that development is rumoured to be early days on this one, it’s pretty unlikely to see a 2018 release but we can dream, can’t we?
CHANCE OF RELEASING: Abandon Hope, Embrace Despair
Look Capybara, this is personal now. Below was the shining highlight of E3 2013 for this humble gamer and the fact that it still isn’t here has seen my heart and hope reduced to a blackened clag.
The drawn-out and careful development of Below does bode well for its eventual quality as it looks to take its place in a fairly saturated genre of tricky roguelikes. A pretty far along build was shown off late last year so I’m crossing my fingers and toes that this year might be it.