The gaming industry seems to change beyond recognition every few months, and after a busy 2018 in which loot boxes, VR and F2P gaming have all provided talking points, 2019 promises to be another year packed with innovation. Here are just a few of the developments we can look forward to.
Ghost Recon Wildlands Special Operations 4
Ubisoft have not rested on their laurels throughout the lifespan of the Ghost Recon series, and following the success of the Wildlands Special Operations 3 update in December, we can look forward to another new mission in 2019. Gamer chat is full of speculation about what we can expect from the fourth mission, but we have very few concrete details, other than that we expect the new content to be released in February or March.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that this will be a short time before the schedule release of The Division 2, the follow up to the slow-burning 2016 release, and there have been intriguing suggestions that the two games might somehow link up, though it is not clear how such a tie-in would work, given that the events of The Division take place roughly a decade after the Ghost Recon Wildlands time period.
There is more good news for Ghost Recon fans in 2019, as the PC Referral Program, which launched on December 11, will run right through until February 11. So players will be able to pick up their Battle Crate rewards for referring new PC players right up until that date.
Of all the exciting titles we can expect to drop in 2019, few have been more hyped than CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. To say that the game, from a studio whose last project was the critically acclaimed The Witcher 3, is eagerly anticipated, would be an understatement. It hasn’t been confirmed that the game will be out in 2019, but it looks a good bet, given that the studio obtained a government grant to work on the project, which included a June 2019 release date condition.
From what we have been able to gather, Cyberpunk 2077 will be significantly grander in scale than The Witcher 3, though will be similarly packed with stories, characters and side quests. Reports suggest that there are more than 400 people working on the title, suggesting that in terms of size alone, this game could be bigger than anything ever attempted.
Cyberpunk 2077, which has been in development since 2012, and is based on a role playing game called Cyberpunk 2020, will be based on a metropolis called Night City, and will feature at least one interesting innovation. The characters in the game will all speak different languages, and if players want to be able to interpret what everyone is saying, they will have to obtain in-game translator devices. Players will also be able to access other characters’ memories, through something that is called the ‘Braindance’. These innovations, along with the track record of the studio working on the project means Cyberpunk 2077 could turn out to be an industry-changing game.
The never-ending Pirates of the Caribbean series may have dulled the public appetite for all things piracy-related, but Ubisoft may have come up with a pirate-themed title that could appeal to players who found Sea Of Thieves too cartoonish, by going back to an old classic.
Their fourth instalment in the Assassin’s Creed series: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, was one of the most popular of the series, thanks largely to its pirate setting, so rather than try to reinvent the (ship’s) wheel, they’ve taken an innovative approach and relaunched Black Flag, minus the assassins and the somewhat convoluted plot.
Set in the Indian Ocean, rather than the Caribbean, Skull & Bones takes the popular sea-faring sections of Black Flag and upgrades them, allowing players to take control of a ship, choose their crew, and pick from an arsenal of deadly sea-faring weapons before setting sail on the high seas in search of treasure, territory and ships. The fact that Ubisoft have clearly listened to fans who enjoyed the piracy element of Black Flag, along with their ongoing consultation with fans throughout the development of this game, bodes well for its future and we can’t wait to see how it plays.
Augmented Gaming Reality
We’ve been hearing about the potential for Augmented Reality (AR) for a while now, but 2019 could be the year in which this technology finally comes into its own, alongside the developments in Virtual Reality (VR) mentioned below. 2018 saw the debut of Magic Leap, the first accessible AR platform that operates through a head mounted unit and superimposes images on real-world surroundings.
The potential for this technology is obvious, and we can expect games developers to be rushing new Magic Leap-friendly titles to market throughout 2019. One of the most exciting possibilities offered by AR is the capacity to play casino games in the comfort of your own home, with the 360-degree holographic platform promising a cutting edge gaming experience. AR is often mentioned as an adjunct to VR, but this technology is set to radically change gaming in its own right.
VR Casino Innovations
VR technology could be one of the most exciting developments in the gaming world of the last few years, and gaming companies have so far only scratched the surface of its possibilities. One of the most intriguing uses for this technology is to create thoroughly immersive online casinos, and with the development of user-friendly headsets such as the Oculus Rift and others, VR casino games are set to explode in 2019 as software developers begin to make the most of the technology.
VR has the potential to move peer to peer gambling onto another level. For example, if you’re playing VR poker at an online casino, you will be able to see your opponents, and take advantage of the physical tells that you can only spot when you’re playing the game live.
VR doesn’t only suggest possibilities for poker players. As VR technology has become ever more accessible, casino gaming companies have been developing table game and slots titles that take advantage of the strengths of the platform. For instance, leading games producer Net Entertainment
have already put out a VR version of one of their most popular slots titles: Jack and the Beanstalk, and we can expect other games makers to follow suit in 2019.
The other obvious benefit of VR technology is live casino gaming. Live casino has been popular for a while now, but the traditional model of live gameplay broadcast from a mock casino set up in a dedicated studio is being replaced by more ambitious games that feature live roulette and blackjack play in a real world casino, as showcased by the Live Casino platform launched by the Golden Nugget in New Jersey this year. We can expect more live casino innovation in 2019, with VR technology incorporated to provide the most immersive online gaming experience ever.
The Rise Of The Smart Contract Casino
One of the newest developments in online gaming is the Smart Contract Casino, in which operators create online casinos that are able to run autonomously, providing games that have zero house edge. Made possible through blockchain and cryptocurrency technology, the Smart Contract Casino has the potential to transform the industry in 2019, offering players the advantage of playing against computer code that is completely transparent, and which offers no house edge.
A Year To Enjoy
These are just some of the developments that could help to shape the gaming world in 2019, but there are likely to be plenty of surprises on the way as new technology and daring innovation push the limits of what we thought could be possible. We can’t wait!