Move Over Football, There’s A New Sheriff In Town.
I’m sure I’m not the only person on Earth who takes fantasy sports a little too seriously. From scouring stat sheets in preparation for annual drafts, to hunting for potential studs on waiver wires, to watching artificial digits pile up on a small mobile screen through rain, sleet, snow, or shine, sports fans have all been there at one time or another.
While 2017 was an exciting year for games (you can catch up on our Best of 2017 series here, here, and here), we’d like to take a moment and look forward at what’s to come in 2018. Rather than commit to a traditional “Most Anticipated” or “2018 Preview” list (which I won’t rule out, as one or both of those may very well be coming down the line), I thought we’d have a little fun and take some inspiration from our fantasy brethren.
And thus, The Punished Backlog’s 2018 Fantasy Gaming Draft was born.
Here’s how it works. Eight of our writers (myself included) communicated over several weeks in our Slack workplace in a channel called #fantasygaming2018. Following a randomized snake draft order, we took turns selecting from a pool of games either confirmed or likely to release in 2018. The goal? To draft a team of games whose combined Metacritic scores are greater than those of the other teams. (For games releasing on multiple platforms, only the platform with the highest number of reviews will be counted.)
This offered an interesting conundrum for most of our writers. Should we prioritize games we’re excited for? Should we focus on games that have the greatest chance of fairing well with critics? There were a lot of close calls, and an even greater amount of ballsy decisions, that were made by the time our draft finished.
The draft lasted 5 rounds for a total of 40 total picks. Those familiar with snake drafts will likely realize that this is unfair for the people who drafted last (or near last) initially. To circumvent this issue, we will be holding a 6th round after E3 2018, which will allow our participants to draft additional games to their rosters (those who went last now will have first dibs then). There will also be an opportunity to drop games that have been pushed to 2019. Our writers had all of this in mind when preparing for the draft.
Rather than paraphrase the results of our draft, I pulled the best bits from our discussion over the past few weeks. The following is the events of our 2018 Fantasy Draft, exactly (or at least very close to) how they transpired. (Picks are in bold for those who’d like to just skim through.)
David: Drew 8 rng numbers in the following order: 4, 7, 3, 8, 2, 5, 1, 6
David: Applying them to the eight of us, this is how the draft order would look:
- PJ Manning
- Sam Martinelli
- Geron Graham
- David Silbert
- Augustine Villanueva
- Jack Linnehan
- Genesis Sandoval
- Kei Isobe
David: Again, in snake form. I think we’ll end up drafting something like 4-6 games each.
David: Also, in addition to selecting a game, can people also just add a brief sentence (longer than 2 words please, but again, brief) saying why they’re going with the choice they picked?
David: 2017 ex: Breath of the Wild, Because if there’s one publisher to bet on, it’s Nintendo.
David: PJ, whenever you wanna start us off, go for it!
Jack: Anyone looking to trade down 😏
PJ: I’m going first? Red Dead [Redemption 2], because that’s obviously the number 1 choice.
PJ: I win. See you in 2019.
David: Yeah I think there was little debate about that one.
Sam: Monster Hunter: World is my pick. Seems to be a ton of hype over it and the series is fairly well regarded.
Geron: I’m going with Ni No Kuni 2 [Revenant Kingdom]. The first one was very well received and from what I’ve seen of the second, it’s shaping up to be even better.
David: As for me, I’m picking God of War. Sony Santa Monica flopped for the very first time with Ascension back in 2013, but I don’t see them faltering again with God of War in 2018. Throw in a new The Last of Us coat of paint and this has GOTY frontrunner written all over it.
Augustine: Does Shadow of the Colossus count?
Augustine: If no does Secret of Mana count?
Augustine: Fk it I’ll do Detroit [Become Human].
Jack: Well I’m going to do The Last of Us [Part] 2 because it’s a game that I recognize.
Genesis: Ah, heck. I was going back and forth with a couple of games. I’m gonna go with A Way Out. I think Josef Fares did a great job with his previous game, and I think that he’ll be able to do another great job with this one.
David: I have a good feeling about that game as well.
David: Last but not least for Round 1, we have Kei. Reminder (although I’m sure you’re already aware) that you get 2 back-to-back picks.
Kei: I’ll take Pillars of Eternity II and DBFighterZ.
David: Any reasoning behind the two picks?
Kei: Pillars of Eternity was super overrated (IMO) but got good reviews, and I’m hoping the sequel will cut down on the extremely lore and proper-noun heavy story and make it more palatable and, well… fun.
Kei: As for Dragon Ball FighterZ, I’m just kind of hoping it pulls off an Injustice like level of quality, although it probably won’t, given it doesn’t have NetherRealm pumping millions into facial capture, voice acting, and actual writing. Also, I just felt like it.
Genesis: I’m gonna go with Yoshi. I think it’s just a safe pick. Everyone knows Nintendo, most people like it. Plus, I’m excited for it too.
Jack: Another game I’m suuuuuuper stoked about, let’s go with Far Cry 5.
Augustine: Dynasty Warriors 9.
David: I’m going with Dragon Quest XI this time around. First console DQ game since VIII, and the first DQ to hit US shores in 8 years. This game is going to be huge.
Geron: Shadow of the Colossus. Seems like a safe bet. Capitalizing on nostalgia with a fresh coat of paint. SotC was one PlayStation’s most revered titles. I imagine they’ll see that the remake does that justice.
Sam: I choose Sea of Thieves! A lot of hype around what appears to be a pretty dope concept. Who doesn’t want to be a cartoon pirate?
PJ: I’ll take the Persona 5 Dancing game. I think it’s Persona Dancing Stars All Night? I’m not sure. [Editor’s note: Very close. It’s Persona 5: Dancing Star Night.] That series is hot and with 5 going full mainstream contemporary, the sequel to Dancing All Night is gonna come in hot.
PJ: I bet it’s going to get sleeper good reviews.
PJ: It also looks like Days Gone has largely slipped under our radar. I think it’s gotta be special with all the E3 attention it got a few years ago.
Sam: I’m picking MLB: The Show 18 because those games always do pretty well.
Kei: Are we allowing annualized sports franchise entries?
David: Yeah I’m going to allow it.
Kei: *drafts every ____ simulator 2018 game available*
Geron: I’m going to take Shenmue 3. I fell in love with quirky, moody world of the the first two games, and I think this one has the potential to be something really special, assuming it ever actual comes out.
David: My next pick is Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Ori and the Blind Forest was one of the biggest surprises to hit the Xbox One, and to date it’s still my favorite Microsoft-published game of this generation. Colorful and wistful yet brutally difficult, Blind Forest was a phenomenal Metroidvania, and I have great faith that Will of the Wisps will continue the legacy.
Sam: Damn, that’s a good one.
Augustine: Project Octopath Traveler (Name TBD). More Switch games PogChamp
Jack: Telltale’s TWD [The Final Season] because goddamn do I love those games (reminds me I need to play season 3).
Genesis: That was gonna be my next choice!
Genesis: I’m gonna go with Kingdom Hearts III. I think that it’s a long time coming, and hopefully the anticipation for the game will translate to good reviews once III is released.
Kei: I’ll take Darksiders III and
anime Dark Souls Code Vein.
Kei: Darksiders has always done pretty surprisingly decently critically (better than my personal impressions) and since Darksiders III is likely going to be the end, I’m hoping the studio brings their A game.
Kei: For Code Vein, well, I just felt like picking a bit of a wild card. Made by the director of God Eater 2, hopefully this is… better LOL.
Genesis: Kirby Star Allies! Seeing the latest Nintendo Direct Mini, I think that it looks promising and visually it’s great. Also again, Nintendo is always a safe pick.
Sam: Damn you took mine! Lol
David: This round of fantasy gaming is providing some serious PLOT TWISTS.
Jack: Alright, Sam really inspired me here. Y’all ready for this one? FIFA 19.
Kei: I N S P I R E D
Jack: Most consistent sports game franchise on the market. I’m at least guaranteed low 80s.
Augustine: Wait how was KH3 not picked yet lol
Augstine: I wanna pick agony but idk
Augustine: Ghost of Tsushima
Augustine: jk Vampyr
Augustine: Vampires from the same people that made Life is Strange. Count me in.
David: Backstabbing left and right!
David: Okay, my next pick is going to be a bit of a gamble: Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Despite the fact that this game hadn’t been officially announced… it really has—first in a subway car and later on Twitter. Square Enix is promising the definitive Lara Croft adventure, and they’re heavily implying we’ll be playing it in 2018. If stealth launched, it’ll be one of the biggest games of 2018, without a doubt.
Geron: I guess I better make this next pick count.
David: Any particular feeling you have behind picking Dreams?
Geron: Honestly, this pick is about my own personal hope that Dreams scratches the itch LBP made me realize I had. I didn’t love LBP, but I loved the idea and I’m hoping Dreams expands on that. This is a game I want to play with my son. Plus, it looks gorgeous. I have high hopes that it will be a phenomenal piece of video game art.
Augustine: I regret picking Dynasty Warriors.
David: I almost said something when you picked it but I had faith you knew something I didn’t.
Sam: I’ll pick State of Decay 2 even though I didn’t play the first one.
PJ: I picked up State of Decay a while ago on Games with Gold. It’s a really good game for as small as it was. With the press behind Decay 2, I’m thinking that’s a good pick.
PJ: For the last pick of the round:
PJ: I’ll take Spider-Man.
Kei: I was wondering when Spider-Man would be taken for like 2 rounds.
PJ: I’ll also take the new Metro [Exodus] game.
Sam: F it let’s do Crackdown 3! It’s probably not gonna be that great but it could be! I liked the first one I guess!
David: Amen! Believe the hype!
Kei: That was a very strong endorsement: “I liked the first one I guess.”
Geron: Well I’m convinced. “It’s probably not gonna be that great but it could be!” Lol they ought to put that quote on the back of the box.
Sam: To be fair, at this point I’m picking games I have very little intention of actually playing.
Sam: The only game I picked that I’m super interested in would be Sea of Thieves.
Geron: While my inner indie hipster demands that I take The Last Night (it looks soooooo good), I’m actually going to take Soulcalibur [VI].
David: As for me, I’m actually going to do the opposite and go for an indie for my last pick: Iconoclasts. In development since 2010, the game is an extremely ambitious Metroidvania helmed by a single person. Normally I wouldn’t really take a chance on an indie game that could fly under many people’s radar, but I played the game at PAX East last year and am convinced it’ll catch the gaming world by storm. Oh, and it releases in 6 days. [Editor’s note: This was written on January 17th. Iconoclasts comes out tomorrow. I could not be more excited.]
Augustine: Gonna go for a ballpark pick with Anthem. EA, Destiny; what can go wrong?
Augustine: The PUBG of action RPGs, calling it.
Jack: Ok I recognize (unsurprisingly) few of these games so I’m gonna go on a limb and take Metal Gear Survive because PJ told me about it.
Peter: That is a brave choice.
Genesis: Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. I think it looks really cool aesthetically, and it’s led by the co-creator of Gone Home and I LOVED that game.
Kei: I’ll take
Out of the Park Baseball 2019 Football Manager 2019 Valkyria Chronicles 4. Valkyria Revolution does not exist.
David: Okay! That wraps up the first part of our 2018 draft! Thanks to everybody that participated!
Kei: #1 waiver wire priority 😉
The Final Tally
5 rounds and 40 picks later, our 2018 Fantasy Draft had come to an end. For those interested, here’s a recap of the complete teams for our eight players, ordered by pick:
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Persona 5: Dancing Star Night
- Days Gone
- Metro: Exodus
- Monster Hunter: World
- Sea of Thieves
- MLB: The Show 18
- State of Decay 2
- Crackdown 3
- Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Shenmue III
- Soulcalibur VI
- God of War
- Dragon Quest XI
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Detroit: Become Human
- Dynasty Warriors 9
- Project Octopath Traveler
- The Last of Us: Part II
- Far Cry 5
- Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season
- FIFA 19
- Metal Gear Survive
- A Way Out
- Kingdom Hearts III
- Kirby Star Allies
- Where the Water Tastes Like Wine
- Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
- Dragon Ball FighterZ
- Darksiders III
- Code Vein
- Valkyria Chronicles 4
More Updates to Come
Thanks for reading about our draft, but the real fun begins now!
The current plan is to provide updates at the end of each month with scores for each team—perhaps with a bit of analysis from yours truly and the rest of our participants.
Until then, be sure to check out all our other content around the site. See you soon!
Enjoy the draft? Which teams do you think will perform the best as we move into 2018?
Let us know in the comments, and be sure to cast a vote in our poll below!
Author: David Silbert
David is the creator and editor of The Punished Backlog. A recent Penn graduate, David enjoys gaming and writing. Now, he’s combining his passions and doing both at the same time, all from the comfort of his French apartment!
Follow him on Twitter at @David_Silbert to keep up to date with all things The Punished Backlog.