The hottest video games still to come in 2018

There are many upcoming video game releases for the year. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 October 2018

The hottest video games still to come in 2018

DUBAI: From outlaw cowboys to secret agents via purple dragons, here are the videogame releases to get excited about in the rest of the year

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Developer: Treyarch
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Released: October 12

By the time you read this, “Black Ops 4” will likely already be flying off the shelves. The 15-year-old “COD” first-person-shooter series has consistently sold big —  2015’s “Black Ops 3” reportedly pulled in $550 million in its first three days —  and this year’s release, set in the near future, will be no exception, even if Treyarch has dumped the popular offline campaign story mode in favor of a new ‘Battle Royale’ mode (a salute to the runaway success of “Fortnite”) with an ever-shrinking map. There are 10 specialist classes for players to choose from, and the popular ‘Zombies’ mode will also be returning.

Red Dead Redemption 2
Developer: Rockstar Studios
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Released: October 26

An epic open-world Western adventure with a nod to the huge popularity of TV series “Westworld,” Rockstar’s follow-up to the wildly successful original “RDR” (2010) is actually a prequel to that game, with our ‘hero,’ the outlaw Arthur Morgan, working for the villainous Dutch, leader of the notorious Van der Linde gang. Set in 1899, the game atmospherically explores the end of the Wild West age of the gunslinger, with the industrialized metropolis of Saint Denis interrupting your rides through the stunningly visualized wilderness. As before, the game’s honor system means the storyline changes based on how you choose to interact with other characters (whose intentions are often far from noble), but for many players the real joy will come in exploring the vast landscapes on offer, from snow-covered mountains to the alligator-infested swamps of the bayou.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Developer: Toys for Bob
Platforms: PS4, Xbox one
Released: November 13

Retro gaming is big business right now, both in terms of consoles and franchises. Sony has already enjoyed the revival of Crash Bandicoot, and now another character from the Nineties is reborn in this rebuild of the first three games in the Spyro series, which sees the titular purple dragon star in a gorgeous-looking, easy-to-pick-up but hard-to-put-down 3D-platformer. The visual tweaks —  as you’d expect 20 years on —  make the whole thing way more immersive, but previews suggest the developers have gone way beyond a simple graphic makeover —  the dragons’ personalities are now distinctive and well-realized, and the whole game is full of character.

Fallout 76
Developer: Bethesda
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Released: November 14

The ninth game in the “Fallout” series is a prequel to it all. It’s also Bethesda’s first foray into online multiplayer gaming (you can play this sprawling shared-world survival game alone or with up to three companions). The in-game world —  Appalachia —  is, the studio claims, four times bigger than that of “Fallout 4.” Naturally, the game is set in the post-apocalyptic mid-last-century setting as the rest of the series, following the (nuclear) conclusion to the fictional Great War. This time round, though, you’ll be able to take on the mutated beasts of the wasteland and explore the available resources (including nuclear missiles) with some friends. Or not.

Just Cause 4
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Released: December 4

Covert CIA operative Rico Rodriguez returns for another action-packed installment of the popular third-person action series “Just Cause.” This time around, though, Rodriguez isn’t just battling the bad guys. In the latest setting —  the fictional South American state Solis —  developers Avalanche have reportedly introduced a new enemy: the weather. Extreme events including hurricanes and giant twisters will make your firefights even more chaotic.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Developers: Bandai Namco & Sora
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Released: December 7

Dropping just in time for the holidays, this crossover fighting game will reportedly —  in a licensing nightmare for Nintendo —  include every single playable character from the series’ storied history. So, Pac-Man can now take on Pichu, as well as ever-presents constants like Mario and Link. Newcomers include Princess Daisy, Ridley from “Metroid,” and King K. Rool from “Donkey Kong.” Switch owners should prepare to lose several weeks of their lives to button-mashing combat over the New Year.

Hunt: Showdown
Developer: Crytek
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Released: TBC

There’s a lot of people hoping Crytek meet their proposed 2018 release date for this online multiplayer first-person survival game. And with good reason. The footage so far released looks amazing, with a genuinely creepy, olde-worlde atmosphere, full of grime and ghouls. You (and a teammate) will hunt down otherworldly monsters in a dingy, swampy setting. Kill a boss, and you might reap the rewards. But the moment you vanquish your enemy, the map shows all the other players where you are, and then you become the hunted as they try to grab your bounty before you can escape. It’s a great idea —  one that should make the game endlessly fun to play.

A Plague Tale: Innocence
Developer: Asobo Studio
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Released: TBC

This stealthy action-adventure centers on two orphans, Amica and her young brother Hugo, and their struggle to survive during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England. The player controls Amica, and you have to sneak around (or use your slingshot to take down) soldiers of the fanatical Inquisition. They’re not the main danger though. That’s the rats. Big rats. Really big. And supernatural. Big enough to eat a human in a few seconds. Fortunately, you can scare them off using light and fire. But they’ll be back.


Greek researchers enlist EU satellite against Aegean sea litter

Greek university students gently deposits a wall-sized PVC frame on the surface before divers moor them at sea at a beach in the island of Lesbos on April 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 22 April 2019

Greek researchers enlist EU satellite against Aegean sea litter

  • “All the targets were carried into the sea, the satellites passed by and we’re ready to fill out the first report”
  • Satellite data is provided free from the European Space Agency (ESA) and hours after the overpass targets should be detected from the Sentinel-2 satellite

LESBOS ISLAND, Greece: Knee-deep in water on a picture-postcard Lesbos island beach, a team of Greek university students gently deposits a wall-sized PVC frame on the surface before divers moor it at sea.
Holding in plastic bags and bottles, four of the 5 meter-by-5-meter (16 foot-by-16-foot) frames are part of an experiment to determine if seaborne litter can be detected with EU satellites and drones.
“This was the first big day,” says project supervisor Konstantinos Topuzelis, an assistant professor at the University of the Aegean department of Marine Sciences, said of the scene from last week.
“All the targets were carried into the sea, the satellites passed by and we’re ready to fill out the first report.”
The results of the experiment — “Satellite Testing and Drone Mapping for Marine Plastics on the Aegean Sea” — by the university’s Marine Remote Sensing Group will be presented at a European Space Agency symposium in Milan in May.
“Marine litter is a global problem that affects all the oceans of the world,” Topouzelis told AFP.
Millions of tons of plastic end up in the oceans, affecting marine wildlife all along the food chain.
“Modern techniques are necessary to detect and quantify marine plastics in seawater,” Topouzelis added, noting that space agencies have already been looking into how drones and satellites can help with the clean-up.
“The main advantage is that we are using existing tools,” which brings down costs and makes it easier to scale up, says Dimitris Papageorgiou, one of the 60 undergraduate and postgraduate students who worked on the experiment.
To prepare, the team gathered some 2,000 plastic bottles and lashed them to the frames. Other targets were crafted with plastic bags, as these are even harder to spot in the water and usually constitute the deadliest threat to Aegean marine life such as dolphins, turtles and seals.
In 2018, a first phase in the experiment was able to detect large targets of around 100 square meters from space.
This year’s experiment uses targets a quarter that size to test the smallest detectable area under various weather conditions.
“It was a crazy idea,” laughs Topouzelis.
“We knew that the European satellite system passes at regular intervals with a spatial resolution of 10 meters.”
In theory, then, the satellites should be able to detect the floating rafts of plastic the team pushed out to sea.
The University of the Aegean is working on the project with Universidad de Cadiz in Spain, CNR-Ismar in Italy and UK environmental consultants Argans Ltd.
Satellite data is provided free from the European Space Agency (ESA) and hours after the overpass targets should be detected from the Sentinel-2 satellite.
The project acts as a calibration and validation exercise on the detection capabilities of the satellites.
But even if relatively small patches of plastic garbage can be spotted from orbiting satellites, the problem of how to remove it from the sea remains.
Last year, a giant floating barrier five years in the making was launched off the coast of San Francisco, as part of a $20-million project to clean up a swirling island of rubbish between California and Hawaii.
But the slow speed of the solar-powered barrier prevents it from holding onto the plastic after it scoops it up.