Leaks and Delays Galore as We Head into E3 2018’s Draft
June is here, and with it, a reflection of the past month in fantasy. While April brought us the Goliath that was God of War, May was far more lukewarm by comparison.
Team Augustine’s Detroit: Become Human and Vampyr released within weeks of one another, and while both have received their fair share of praise, their critical reception has been far from ideal, especially from a fantasy standpoint.
We also got hit with two additional crushing dates, putting Teams PJ and Sam in precarious (yet ultimately salvageable) positions heading into our E3 fantasy draft. On the bright side, however, we also received two new concrete release dates for other games coming in 2018.
On the subject of the upcoming draft, I’ll also be breaking down what games we can expect to see announced during E3 and how they might affect the fantasy landscape moving forward.
It’s a packed update, so strap in.
Detroit and Vampyr Leave Team Augustine Hanging
When Team Augustine headed into the end of May/beginning of June, it was in desperate need of two fantasy successes. Dynasty Warriors 9, while a bold, admirable draft pick at the time, didn’t pan out. Sitting at a 65 on Metacritic on PS4 with 49 critics, DW9 put Team Augustine in an early hole that would prove difficult to dig out of.
Despite placing his trust in the efforts of Quantic Dream and Dontnod Entertainment, Team Augustine was left out to dry with the releases of Detroit: Become Human and Vampyr. While I myself was extremely high on Detroit, the game released to good, but not fantastic, reviews. The game sits with a 79 Metascore on PS4 with 91 critics. Worth a playthrough? Still seems like it, and I fully intend to get the game when I have the chance. A God of War or Monster Hunter: World competitor? Far from it.
Additionally, while Vampyr showed some really great promise with its industrial London setting and “kill or save” premise, it too fell short of expectations. The game has a 72 on Metacritic on PS4 with 48 critics reporting in. While few people had as high of expectations for Vampyr as they did Detroit, the low score here still stings, especially for Team Augustine.
With the inclusion of these two games, Team Augustine’s average score has now risen from 65 to 72. Though that might be an improvement, make no mistake: Augustine has his work cut out for him. Still, with Square Enix’s Octopath Traveler and the new World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, on the horizon, Team Augustine still has a chance to make a splash in the competition.
Crackdown 3, Persona 5: Dancing Hit by Crushing 2019 Delays
Teams Sam and PJ were already bleeding and down for the count. Despite a fantastic initial showing thanks to Monster Hunter: World, Team Sam has since been hit by the “Microsoft curse,” as I’m coining it. First, Sea of Thieves failed to deliver on people’s expectations, settling into a 69 Metascore on Xbox One based on 71 critics, despite positive impressions from both me and Sam. Then, despite an admirable effort from MLB The Show 18, Sam got hit by another crusher in the form of State of Decay 2. The game currently has a 68 Metascore on Xbox One with 63 critics, and even Sam himself expressed disappointment with its lack of story and overly complicated systems.
Team PJ, on the other hand, has had its roster steadily dismantled, month after month, due to crippling delays. First, Red Dead Redemption 2 got pushed to October 26—a move that would be an omen of the storm to come. The next few delays hit much harder. Days Gone slipped to 2019 and was recently confirmed for a new February 22 date. Then, Metro: Exodus was pushed to Q1 2019 to work on additional polish. Seemingly, things couldn’t get any worse for two teams that had been beaten and battered for so long.
Wrong. This past week, we received word of two additional fantasy delays—one due to development woes, the other due to the typical localization process—that would hit both teams while they were already face-first on the canvas.
Per Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, Crackdown 3 has been delayed to 2019 (confirmed by a Microsoft PR rep and specified to February 2019), continuing the “Microsoft curse” for Team Sam.
Further, as part of Sony’s lead up to E3, Atlus USA has announced that Persona 5: Dancing Star Night would release in North America in 2019 under the new title Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight (along with Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night, now Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight)—now the third game to be delayed for Team PJ into 2019.
These are tough pills to swallow. While Crackdown 3 might never have been a good game had it released in 2018 (and it still might not be, even in 2019), its delay leaves a hole in an already weak roster for Team Sam that’ll need to be filled. Likewise, Dancing in Moonlight’s newly confirmed North American release window, despite not technically being a delay, is a huge blow to Team PJ, making it now three roster holes that need to be filled come E3.
No easy task, for sure, but thankfully, there’s shaping up to be quite a lot of games for the taking, come E3. More on that in a bit.
The Walking Dead S4, Code Vein Receive Detailed Release Dates
While nothing can make up for the void left by a game (or, in this case, several games) being delayed, getting the release date for a game that’s on track comes close.
A few days back, we got confirmation that both Code Vein and The Walking Dead: The Final Season would be releasing within the next few months. Code Vein will be released on September 28 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, while The Walking Dead’s final season will premiere on August 14 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC (the Switch version coming later this year) as the first of four episodes.
This is good news for both Team Kei (Code Vein) and Team Jack (The Walking Dead). For Kei, Code Vein could be a solid pick to rely on in order to avoid any unwanted delays in the second half of 2018 (following E3, if any game on a roster is pushed to 2019, it’s an automatic 0 for that team—no additional safety nets). At the same time, however, it isn’t likely going to be a great release—I could see it landing anywhere between a 60 and an 80. It might be wise for Kei to drop the game and pick up something else during the draft, despite the news of this release date.
As for Jack, news of The Final Season starting in August is especially good news. Why, you ask? Recall that The Walking Dead is an episodic game, which makes assessing the Metacritic score across all episodes somewhat tricky. As a solution, we will be weighting each episode’s individual score equally (so each Metascore in a 4-episode season would contribute to 25% of the total score). Again, that means that if, say, two episodes of The Final Season releases in 2018, but the last two release in 2019, the max score Jack could receive would be a 50 (not good). Thankfully for him, The Final Season starts in August, and at a reduced episode count to boot, meaning that there’s an extremely good chance that all four episodes release before the end of the year.
Smash 5, Forza Horizon 4, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey Headline E3 2018 Draft
Where to start? By now, you’ve surely read and/or heard about the major leaks that have caused publishers to take proactive measures in the lead up to E3. How about a quick recap:
- Someone at Walmart Canada messes up, blowing the lid off of potentially eight unannounced titles:
Walmart CA listings https://t.co/MhwlNGn6s1
Just Cause 4
Dragon Quest 2 (PS4/XBO)
LEGO DC Villans
Gears of War 5
Forza Horizons 5
Assassin’s Creed pic.twitter.com/TF0mxnxkES
— Wario64 (@Wario64) May 9, 2018
- Bethesda then indirectly adds credence to the leak by officially announcing one of the listings in question: Rage 2.
- Warner Bros. Games follows suit by officially announcing LEGO DC Super-Villains.
- A report from French outlet JeuxVideo-Live outs a new Assassin’s Creed game, titled Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.
- Kotaku’s Jason Schreier corroborates the story, adding details from his own sources.
- Ubisoft officially announces Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, promising more at E3.
See you at E3! pic.twitter.com/03NTPhCkCf
— Assassin’s Creed (@assassinscreed) May 31, 2018
- Steam accidentally publishes promotional material for the unannounced Just Cause 4, and then subsequently pulls it, all but confirming the Walmart listings.
- Elsewhere, an anonymous user on 4chan posts a leaked E3 document highlighting nine upcoming Switch games—some previously announced, most unannounced.
- A Fortnite file and logo is datamined from the Nintendo eShop.
- Hi-Rez Studios announces that hero-shooter Paladins is coming to the Nintendo Switch, lending additional credence to the leaked document.
- A domain name for Devil May Cry 5 is linked to Capcom via ResetEra.
- A leak by reddit user DasVergeben, someone with a proven yet shaky track record, claims that a Star Fox racing spin-off is in development for Switch named Star Fox Grand Prix. Eurogamer corroborates the leak with its own sources.
- DasVergeben also claims that the new Super Smash Bros. for Switch will in fact be a proper sequel (albeit with some reused assets), and that Castlevania’s Simon Belmont, Metroid’s Ridley, and past Smash games’ Ice Climbers will be joining the fight.
- A supposed poster for Rocksteady’s new game is leaked on 4chan. The anonymous leaker claims the game will indeed be a Superman game, titled Superman: World’s Finest, and that it will be officially revealed at Microsoft’s press conference.
Phew, you still with me?
While you’re free to take the Superman, Smash Bros, Star Fox, and Devil May Cry rumors with a grain of salt, the Walmart and E3 document leaks are looking increasingly more legitimate. And if this lengthy list of titles proves anything, it’s that there will be no shortage of games to pick from during our E3 2018 draft.
Put more concisely, expect the following leaked games to be extremely desirable assets by the end of next week:
- Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
- Devil May Cry 5
- Forza Horizon 4
- Gears of War 5
- Just Cause 4
- Killer Queen Black
- Overcooked! 2
- Splinter Cell
- Star Fox Grand Prix
- Superman: World’s Finest
I left out a few titles here: Rage 2, as it releases in 2019; Borderlands 3, as I doubt it’ll be released in 2018; and all the other Switch ports that wouldn’t qualify as new releases.
Still, these leaks only scratch the surface of what’s available for the rest of the year. First, there’s Super Smash Bros. (Switch), which is bound to be a top-tier pick. There’s the recently announced Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu!/Eevee! pairing, which could prove surprising in spite of its more casual, Pokémon Go-oriented structure. There’s the tried-and-true first-person shooter competitors, Battlefield V and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, each with their own unique takes on the battle royale genre. There’s also the just-announced, seemingly online-oriented Fallout 76, as well as the no-longer-episodic Hitman 2. Throw in Mario Tennis Aces, a game that flew under all of our radars the first time around, as well as Travis Strikes Again and other indies like Guacamelee 2, Below, Ashen, Knights and Bikes, and Chasm, and there’s no shortage of games to work with here.
Finally, I’d like to wrap up by speculating about games that, while not the subject of current leaks or rumors, could finally make some waves at this year’s show. Could Bethesda’s Starfield truly be a thing? Going further, could it possibly release in 2018, considering the publisher’s currently weak lineup heading into the holiday season? Might Halo 6 finally appear at Microsoft’s press conference, bringing with it its epic conclusion to Master Chief’s tale? What about Fire Emblem (Switch)? Will it be unveiled, at long last? And could Bayonetta 3 surprise us all and release sometime this year?
These are all questions that will be put to rest shortly. In the meantime, our various competitors wait anxiously as we approach an important mid-year draft in our fantasy league. The picks chosen here will undoubtedly shape the fantasy landscape for the rest of 2018. Stay tuned.
Rhythm, Pinball, and Sorcery Join List of Fantasy Sleeper Studs
Three new games have entered the pantheon of “games we have missed, but shall not forget.”
First up, we have the music/rhythm game DJMAX Respect. A lightning fast mix of note-tapping and finger twitching, DJMAX Respect backs up its challenging gameplay with crisp, stylish visuals and a catchy electronic soundtrack. The PS4 exclusive has an 85 on Metacritic with 10 critics.
Next, we have the most recent installment in the Elder Scrolls Online universe, Summerset. Providing the first opportunity for players to explore TES’s Summerset Isle since The Elder Scrolls: Arena in 1994, Summerset has wowed critics with its strong story and beautiful new locale. It currently sits at an 85 Metascore on PC with 8 critics recorded. Play it on PC, PS4, or Xbox One.
Finally, we have the surprisingly odd mashup that is Yoku’s Island Express. A mix of open-world Metroidvanias with pinball gameplay mechanics, Yoku’s Island Express makes a strong case for most unique game of 2018 up until now. Critics seem to agree—the game has an 84 on Metacritic on Xbox One with 21 critics. Grab it on PC, XB1, PS4, or Switch.
We missed out on these gems, but that doesn’t mean you have to! Give them a look when you have the chance.
Upcoming Fantasy Releases
Now that Vampyr has released, it’s a slow month for the rest of June. Things quickly pick up, however, as the following month, we have Square Enix’s hotly anticipated turn-based RPG Octopath Traveler (Team Augustine), releasing July 13.
Rounding out the summer, we have Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 1 (Team Jack) and World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth expansion, both releasing August 14.
Looking past the summer, the rest of the fantasy release schedule is as follows:
- Dragon Quest XI – September 4 (Team David)
- Spider-Man – September 7 (Team PJ)
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider – September 14 (Team David)
- Red Dead Redemption 2 – October 26 (Team PJ)
- Valkyria Chronicles 4 – Fall 2018 (Team Kei)
As always, this is subject to change, especially after this month’s upcoming E3 draft. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: stay tuned.
The Current Standings
Here’s a look at the updated standings going into E3 2018:
- 1st) Team David: 88.5 avg, 177 total
- 2nd) Team Geron: 88.0 avg, 176 total
- 3rd) Team Kei: 87.5 avg, 175 total
- 4th) Team Sam: 77.25 avg, 309 total
- 5th) Team Genesis: 75.33 avg, 226 total
- 6th) Team Augustine: 72.0 avg, 216 total
- 7th) Team Jack: 70.5 avg, 141 total
- 8th) Team PJ: N/A avg, 0 total
Thanks for reading, and check back in July for a very special fantasy update: our E3 2018 Fantasy Draft!