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Wednesday 31 January 2018

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2018 Hot List. I hope you enjoyed last week's entry covering the essential videogames of 2018. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting new music due for release in the coming year.

best anticipated new music 2018 albums hot list

In truth, 2017 was a bit of a mixed bag when it came to music. Some of the year's bigger albums struggled to live up to expectations, while new acts bringing fresh ideas were few and far between. But the performers that shone, shone bright, with impressive pieces of work from the likes of Father John Misty and The xx. Otherwise it's fair to say this was more a year of great singles than great albums. Indeed there were some cracking individual tracks: particular standouts included the excellent new single Long Time from evergreen Blondie, as well as the surprising collaboration between The Killers and Brian Eno, Some Kind of Love, among others.

The lineup for this year looks more focused on newer, less established artists, with many of the big hitters having released albums in 2017. Great opportunity for some of the industry's younger acts to steal the limelight. So without further ado, here is our list of the top albums to keep an eye on in 2018, starting with number 15:

15. Clean Bandit 

clean bandit new album 2018 disconnect symphony best most anticipated musicWe'll start with a easy crowd pleaser, the second album from Cambridge-based electronic band Clean Bandit, which is due to hit sometime this year.

This is the highly anticipated follow up to the band's successful debut, New Eyes, and the presumed vehicle for their more recent singles Rockabye and Symphony. What else do we know about the album? Not much aside from the fact that the band intends to collaborate with a few prominent names, including Harry Styles and, apparently, Elton John.

This is a band with a real knack for chart-topping hits, but such is the long gap between albums that many of what will be the key singles of this LP have been out already for more than a year at this point. One has to wonder if they've undermined themselves somewhat here, whether the album will still appeal when its biggest hits have already come and gone. We will know soon enough, it's expected to release early 2018.

Release Date: Q2 2018

14. "All the Things I Never Said" by Pale Waves (New band)

pale waves debut album all the things i never said 2018 best most anticipated musicNow for the first of our highlighted newcomers of 2018. Pale Waves are one of the hottest names on the indie circuit at the moment. They've been feted by some of the industry's most influential critics and have collaborated with big names like The 1975. Now it's time to stand on their own. And yes, that black square to the left is not a glitch, and is in fact their album cover.

A debut EP followed by a full album is expected in the next year, featuring some promising tracks, including My Obsession, New Year's Eve and Television Romance. Think a dash of Chvrches mixed with The Naked and Famous and you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

The upcoming EP is due to release in March, but for the full studio album, you'll have to wait until late 2018. One to watch out for.

Release Date: Q4 2018

13. "Nudes" by Lucius

lucius nudes new best most anticipated album 2018Brooklyn based outfit Lucius are fast establishing themselves as one of the most exciting bands in indie music.

Creative in an off-beat kind of way, with a diverse range of musicality much in the mould of someone like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Metric, their sound varies from the earnest folk stylings of Wildewoman and Tempest to the balls-to-the-walls powerpop of Born Again Teen.

Next up is another new direction for the band with an entirely acoustic offering in Nudes. So far the tracks sound about as luscious as you'd expect. Lead single Until We Get There is delicate and sweet, while Neighbours gives us a little more of that trademark fire.

If all turns out well this could be one of the highlights of 2018. Nudes is due to release at the beginning of March.

Release Date: 1 March, 2018

12. "Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt" by Moby 

moby everything was beautiful nothing hurt album best most anticipated new music 2018 A true love/hate artist, Moby is back with a fifteenth studio album, Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt, and it sounds like he has his edge back.

While his more recent albums have leant towards the ambient and forgettable, the old fogeys out there that remember the 1990s will recall that he started with a far more intense and industrial sound. From the looks of lead single Like a Motherless Child, it seems that Moby may be aiming to recapture some of that identity, and I'm pretty excited about that.

Another March release, could it possibly be a return to form for one of the mainstays of the music industry?

Release Date: 17 February, 2017

11. Nilufer Yanya (New band)

nilufer yanya debut best new most anticipated album 2018The next newcomer for 2018 is Nilufer Yanya. The London-based singer-songwriter has been making a name for herself with a series of tender, jazz-infused pop tracks.

A successful 2017 EP and well received single releases for The FloristBaby Luv, and Small Crimes have set expectations high, and she finds herself among many pundits' top picks for 2018. A full debut album is now expected at some point later in the year.

I'm certainly a fan. Her musical style is wonderfully understated, and her voice lends an R&B soulfulness to an interesting blend of influences. It will be exciting to see what comes next.

Release Date: TBA 2018

10. "The Place You Can't Remember, the Place You Can't Forget" by Chicane

chicane place you can't remember place can't forget new albums 2018 best no ordinary morning most anticipatedAnother nom célèbre of the British electronic music scene; Chicane has been putting out albums since as far back as I can remember, and holds a body of work that includes some of the most memorable tracks of the past few decades.

Their's is a sound that typifies the early electronic movement of the 90s, but it would not be giving them due credit to attribute their status to mere nostalgia. Highlights from their discography include an array of disparate moods and soundscapes, most memorably including tracks such as Daylight, No Ordinary Morning, and Sunstroke.

Now with the release of new single Gorecki, it sounds like a brand new LP may be with us shortly. The title, The Place You Can't Remember, the Place You Can't Forget, has been revealed by frontman Nicholas Bracegirdle via podcast, and is said to include a "sequel" to his classic No Ordinary Morning.

We expect this to release late on in 2018.

Release Date: Q4 2018

9. Bastille

bastille third new album best new anticipated music 2018British rock group Bastille are hard at work at a third, as yet untitled album.

Little is known of this record at this point, aside from the fact that it draws its inspiration from the "bizarre and tempestuous place" that the world has become in the years since their last album. Frontman Dan Smith describes it as an "apocalyptic party record".

The band is two for two when it comes to successful albums, and a number of hit singles under their belt, including The Weight of LivingThings We Lost in the Fire, and Good Grief. They've established themselves as one of the bands to watch at the moment, and we wait with anticipation for their next release.

Release Date: Q2 2018

8. The Japanese House (New band)

the japanese house face like thunder debut album best new anticipated music 2018Another 2018 debutant, first raised in last year's Hot List: The Japanese House have been drumming up a huge amount of hype over the past couple of years, and find themselves prime contenders among many pundits' picks for 2018.

Theirs is a well defined sound, dreamy, layered synth pop with melancholy vocals. They've produced some really excellent work so far, songs that strike a balance between the powerful and delicate. Check out Clean and Face Like Thunder for a little taste of what they're about.

The word is that a debut album will be coming before year end, and if that's the case then that makes them a very exciting one to watch for 2018.

Release Date: TBA 2018

7. Paul McCartney

paul mccartney new album best most anticipated new music 2018Paul McCartney is not a man that requires my introduction, or plugging by my blog. He has spent six decades producing work of a level of genius that few in history have achieved, and he was part of a little group known as The Beatles.

Well despite being the venerable old age of 75, Sir Paul is still touring, and apparently he's still recording. In recent years he has collaborated with the likes of Beck, Rihanna, Adele and Kanye, but now he's returning to his solo work, with a new LP afoot. This new record will be his first studio album since 2013. Quite when it will release in 2018 is anyone's guess.

Youth may be fleeting, but genius lasts forever; time and time again McCartney has shown us that despite his advancing years he still has the goods. Let's see if he does it again.

Release Date: TBA 2018

6. Jade Bird (New band)

jade bird something american lottery new debut albums 2018 best most anticipatedThe last of this year's exciting newcomers. Jade Bird has come a long way in a short amount of time, and despite her tender years has found herself feted as one of the most exciting names in music.

A singer-songwriter in the style of an Amy Macdonald, Rolling Stone calls her the next big thing in country music. It's easy to see why when she releases great numbers like Lottery and Cathedral.

A highly successful EP now under her belt, attention is being turned to the debut album, which is expected to be ready for release sometime in the next year.

Release Date: TBA 2018

5. "Music for Cars" by The 1975

the 1975 music for cars new album best most anticipated music 2018The 1975 announced themselves as a band of some promise with their eponymous debut, but it was that wonderful sophomore LP, I Like it When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, that really established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. That 2016 release doesn't seem too long ago, but word is they are already working on putting out new material.

The new album, titled Music for Cars is expected to release during 2018. Little is known of the new release other than a few track titles, but frontman Matthew Healy has cited other celebrated third albums, including OK Computer and The Queen is Dead as inspiration as to the direction the band will be taking. The implication being that The 1975 don't want to just rehash their previous work, but evolve their sound and in doing so perhaps make a bit of a statement.

It's an ambitious sentiment, but they've proven themselves to be very adept songwriters with quality tracks as diverse as The SoundA Change of Heart, and Chocolate. If they can keep producing work of that calibre, then this will be one of the highlights of 2018. Release is expected to be at the start of June.

Release Date: 1 June, 2018

4. Kavinsky

kavinsky new album outrun nightcall best most anticipated new music 2018French house artist Kavinsky spent much of the 2000s developing his signature synthwave sound, inspired by the cinema and pop culture of the 1980s. That process culminated in his debut, and so far only studio album, OutRun.

An ambitious concept album, complete with its own mythology and distinct artwork. But it's the great singles we care about, including his most famous tracks Nightcall, and Odd Look. Indeed OutRun was so successful that it is considered among some internet subcultures to have created its own aesthetic genre, and is now an umbrella term used to describe any form of neo-futuristic 1980s revival.

Yet despite the success, there has been almost complete radio silence since that album's release in 2013. But there are rumblings through the grapevine that a new LP is in the works for 2018, seemingly confirmed by the man himself who recently tweeted "I'll be back #2018" (rock solid proof, I know).

Release Date: TBA 2018

3. Arctic Monkeys

arctic monkeys 2018 new album best new anticipated musicWe most recently saw Alex Turner in 2016 enjoying the release of his long awaited second album under The Last Shadow Puppets name, but it has been a solid five years since we last heard from the outfit that made him a star, Arctic Monkeys. Well the band is back together in 2018, a new album is on the way.

Quite what form that album will take is anyone's guess, but suffice it to say it will be one to keep an eye on. Arctic Monkeys are undoubtedly one of the great British bands of recent years. Theirs is the iconic British rock and roll sound, from the retro-flecked indie melodies to Turner's distinctive accented vocals. Their hits are numerous from Fluorescent Adolescent, to Mardy Bum, and Fireside.

Originally due to drop at the end of 2017, the as yet untitled album is considered to be essentially complete at this point. Arctic Monkeys have announced a new tour, their first since 2014, to begin in June, so the smart money is on a release around that time.

Release Date: June 2018

2. "Love is Dead" by Chvrches

chvrches love is dead new album 2018 best new anticipated musicAnd now from British pop royalty to the young pretender. Chvrches appear to be on the cusp of great things following two widely acclaimed albums in 2013 and 2015.

Since their debut and early EP work, the Scottish synth-pop band have shown a talent for crafting memorable hooks. The first single off their debut album The Mother We Share was an instant classic, and they followed it up with an even better sophomore record which included great tracks like Clearest Blue, Empty Threat, and Never Ending Circles. Far from a one hit wonder, they are now one of the top bands in the game.

Little is known of their new album other than it will be called Love is Dead, and will apparently be their poppiest record to date. We have only seen a brief snippet of a track so far, but the first single, Get Out is set for release at the start of February. The album itself? Expected sometime in the spring.

Release Date: Spring 2018

1. "Little Dark Age" by MGMT

mgmt little dark age new album 2018 when you die most anticipated best new musicBut The Ephemeric's most hotly anticipated album for 2018 is Little Dark Age, the latest from one of the world's most mercurial bands MGMT.

The story here is legendary. MGMT stormed onto the scene in 2007 with their wildly successful debut Oracular Spectacular, buoyed by the mega hits Time to Pretend and Kids. Overwhelmed by their overnight success and resentful of the sudden deluge of casual fans, MGMT have spent the remainder of their career trying to get as far away as possible from the radio-friendly style of those tracks (they allegedly refuse to even play those particular songs at their live shows). Follow up album Congratulations was an impenetrable, if intermittently brilliant record, while their eponymous third record was more miss than hit.

Now MGMT are back with a fourth album, and what we've heard so far has us very excited indeed. Three tracks have been shown so far, title track Little Dark Age, When You Die, and Hand it Over, and they all sound pretty brilliant, and each one radically different from the last. If this is indicative of the album as a whole, then it's an early frontrunner for album of the year.

Release Date: 9 February, 2018

So there you have it folks: 2018 in music. Tune in next week for the most exciting new theatre in 2018!

Saturday 20 January 2018

Hello and welcome back to the Hot List. This week we will turn our attention to videogames, previewing for you our loyal readers the most exciting videogames set for release in 2018.

new videogames games gaming 2017 ephemeric

The big star of gaming in 2017 was the Nintendo Switch. Ever the innovators, the Switch boasts unique technology for sure, but it's the strength of the console's software library that looks set to ensure it endures as more than simply a fad console, as was arguably the case with the Wii. The most recent iteration of the Mario and Zelda series in particular are being roundly held aloft as pinnacles in the industry. If they can deliver more success even close to that level in the coming year, then we can see the Switch going from strength to strength.

The year ahead boasts an intriguing mix of big budget AAA offerings, as well as indie projects. Sony and Microsoft have both released upgraded versions of their current home consoles in the past year, and all eyes will be on E3 to see how they intend to make use of that extra horsepower. Nintendo meanwhile don't look like they're going mainstream anytime soon, and the announcement of the bizarre and wonderful new Project Labo indicates they've still got a few wacky and unique ideas up their sleeve. For the scope of this preview we will consider a range of projects across all platforms, and from the looks of it there should be a little something for everyone.

So here it is, the 15 key videogames to keep an eye on in the coming year (trailers linked in the title where available), starting with number 15:

15. Far Cry 5 (Xbox One, PS4, PC)

far cry 5 pc xbox ps4 2018On the surface, the latest entry in Ubisoft's Far Cry series, Far Cry 5, doesn't look set to reinvent the wheel. Players will once again find themselves inserted into a wild and dangerous open world with a series of capture-the-flag style objectives to make progress. The usual series of intricate gameplay systems: guns, vehicles, crafting, animals, and others, will ensure that players have the agency to pursue those objectives in any way they wish.

But Far Cry 5 has been gaining attention for all the wrong reasons, its setting. Typically, the Far Cry series has seen players travel to the far-flung extremities of the Earth in order to suit its wild-west style settings of lawlessness, but Far Cry 5 will be set in rural United States against the backdrop of an anti-government right-wing extremist group that has seized control. It's hard not to see this as some kind of comment on the very real state of anger seen among some segments of the country, and the political movements that have sought to direct that anger. Naturally this has a lot of people quite upset. One recent petition (which I would hope is actually an attempt at satire) called for the setting to be changed to Canada, and the villains to be changed to Muslims.

So if you are of the opinion that America has degenerated into a wasteland of gun-nuts and angry mobs, this might be a setting that connects with you. The game drops in March.

Release Date: 27 March, 2018

14. Age of Empires IV (PC)

age of empires iv pc 2018Who says videogame companies never listen to the fans? The Age of Empires series has always held a fond place in the hearts of old school strategy fans, and in particular the 1999 classic Age of Empires II to this day retains a surprisingly devoted fanbase and active multiplayer and modding communities. So much so, in fact, that Microsoft even deemed to make one of the community's more popular mods an official expansion, some 15 years after the game's release.

It seems Microsoft's newfound embrace of the franchise was not limited to just fan-made expansions and HD re-releases, and have announced Age of Empires IV, the first entry in the series since 2005. Little is known about the sequel, but the teaser trailer appears to imply a vast swathe of history will be covered, showing artwork from the bronze age right through to the colonial era.

Release date is still to be announced.

Release Date: TBA 2018

13. Two Point Hospital (PC)

two point hospital theme hospital reboot bullfrog pc 2018Along much the same lines, we have Two Point Hospital, the first game from new dev studio Two Point Studios. A little history for you young'uns. Back in the 1990s there existed a legendary game studio called Bullfrog co-founded by the mercurially innovative Peter Molyneux. They pioneered a new genre of creative sims under the "Theme" brand, releasing titles including Theme Park, Theme Hospital, and others. In 1995 they were acquired by gaming giant Electronic Arts, and those franchises have barely seen the light of day since. Molyneux would later leave the company to found Lionhead Studios.

The legacy of Theme Park lives on in the likes of Rollercoaster Tycoon and Planet Coaster, but Theme Hospital remains a beloved anomaly, one that has never really been revisited. Enter Two Point Studios, the new shop founded by former Bullfrog employees who appear dead-set on returning us to the glory days of the genre, beginning with this, a spiritual successor to Theme Hospital.

Fans of the original don't look like they'll be disappointed, Two Point Hospital maintains its predecessor's trademark humour and depe sim gameplay, through devs do promise a few surprises as well. Two Point Hospital is expected to release towards the end of the year.

Release Date: Q4 2018

12. Sea of Thieves (Xbox One, PC)

sea of thieves rare pirates 2018 pc xbox
Now for something a bit different, an entirely multiplayer game, Sea of Thieves. This game is notable for two reasons, one it's the newest game from what was once the legendary game development company Rare, two it just looks like a lot of good silly fun.

This is a multiplayer pirate game, you and a few friends design your pirate, get a pirate ship, and take to the seas finding treasure and getting into naval battles and the like. Sailing one of these ships is no simple point and click job though, it takes teamwork, with one man steering, one man on the sails, another operating the cannons, and if you take damage, someone needs to place wooden boards over the holes to prevent your ship taking on water and sinking. You can also do all manner of silly piratey things like drinking grog and, just for the hell of it, playing musical instruments. There's something delightfully over the top about charging into battle with one guy on the wheel, another firing cannons, and another in the crow's nest blasting out Flight of the Valkyries on an accordion just for atmosphere.

This seems like the type of game that I have zero time to get into these days, but 10 years ago would have been a blast to waste some time with a few friends. Sea of Thieves has been in development for some time, but looks set to finally release in March.

Release Date: 20 March, 2018

11. Jurassic World Evolution (Xbox One, PS4, PC)

jurassic world evolution theme park planet coaster pc xbox ps4 2018The theme park simulator genre is having a bit of a moment right now, most successfully manifested in Frontier Development's excellent Planet Coaster. No sooner had that game launched than rumours began to propagate for Frontier's next project, based on leaked references to "Planet Safari" found within the code of the game's website. Planet Safari has now apparently been confirmed, but it's not the type of safari we were all expecting.

It's a known fact that the one thing better than a theme park is a theme park with dinosaurs, so it is logical that Frontier's next game should be Jurassic World Evolution, essentially a theme park sim in design, but based on the Jurassic Park franchise and with dinosaur-based attractions.

The concept of Planet Coaster with dinosaurs would already be enough to get my money, but let's face it it wouldn't be Jurassic Park if everything went to plan. This park's attractions can and will run amok. It promises for an interesting blend of management sim and strategy. Expect a release alongside the film this summer.

Release Date: June 2018

10. The Occupation (PC)

the occupation game pc 2018The Occupation is a fascinating project. A politically driven investigative thriller which sees the player take on the role of whistleblower in a fictionalised 1980s England.

A deadly terrorist attack has left the Government with no choice but to implement harsh new security policies, but is everything as it seems or does some ulterior motive lie behind the act? With four hours until the vote, The Occupation gives the player the opportunity to uncover the mystery in realtime. Sound a bit too close to home?

The game itself looks interesting, like a cross between Bioshock and LA Noire, but it's the timeliness of its political message that will make headlines. Release date has yet to be announced.

Release Date: TBA 2018

9. Star Citizen (PC)

star citizen 2018 kickstarter crowdfunding chris roberts freelancer wing commanderA long recurring member of the Hot List. Star Citizen is the mother of all crowdfunding success stories, having so far raised over $100 million, and that amount is still growing. What makes this all the more remarkable is that people are throwing their money at Cloud Imperium Games despite the fact that only a few conceptual game-modes have been made available so far after years of development. So why all the excitement and hype?

Star Citizen is the brainchild of Chris Roberts, a game design legend from the early days of PC gaming most famous for his space-based combat simulations such as Wing Commander and Freelancer. Star Citizen is Roberts' big comeback to gaming following years in Hollywood with a number of producer credits to his name.

Unapologetically PC exclusive, Star Citizen's mission statement is simple: to be the ultimate space epic, the game that Roberts has always wanted to make. It takes Roberts' trademark quality combat simulation gaming, adds detailed economy and trading elements, and throws it all into one massively multiplayer online persistent universe. A massive online universe populated with thousands of players, in which players can essentially do what they want: they can trade or start a business, they can be a combat pilot, they can become a diplomat, or they can engage in a bit of in-game sports (racing for example).

The sheer variety of gameplay being thrown into this game is matched by the vast efforts that are going into creating a believable, fully fleshed out universe. The official website now is chock-full of literature and back-story for the world they are creating, and even if reading into all that depth is not your kind of thing, that kind of love and detail makes a game world truly engaging, even for the most casual of players. It's this kind of effort that turns a good game into a great game.

Can an independent developer really deliver on such high ambition? So far the signs are good. The modules that have been rolled out so far show promise, and with the single player campaign set to begin this year, with the online persistent universe soon to follow, it's time to get excited.

Release Date: TBA 2018 (yeah right)

8. Cyberpunk 2077 (PC)

cyberpunk 2077 rpg game 2018 pcA title cloaked in mystery made all the more elusive by the continued delays and radio silence of its developer CD Projekt Red, a developer best known for the celebrated Witcher trilogy of games.

Cyberpunk 2077 is an openworld RPG set in a tantalising Cyberpunk setting in near future California. The brief suggests potentially "hundreds" of hours of gameplay, and a richly developed backstory, the basics of which can be found online. But what is most fascinating is the description of the game's setting as a "seamless living world" that apparently includes both singleplayer and asymmetric multiplayer in the same map. It will be fascinating to see how they marry those two elements in a way that doesn't spoil the immersion, but if they get it right it could make for quite the unique experience.

At this point a release date is pure speculation, but after years of silence a flurry of rumours and recent social media activity suggests that 2018 may be the year.

Release Date: TBA 2018

7. Anthem (Xbox One, PS4, PC)

anthem game 2018 xbox one ps4 pc ephemericFor anyone wondering why Bioware didn't put any effort into its development of Mass Effect: Andromeda, look no further. The primary focus of the studio in recent years has been towards its new title Anthem.

So what is Anthem? This is an open, shared-world action RPG in which players assume the role of a Freelancer, tasked with protecting a new colony in a mysterious and unknown environment, while helping to explore the surrounding landscape through the use of a customisable exosuit, the Javelin. The game is designed to accommodate both single and massively multiplayer gameplay, with the primary focus of gameplay seemingly being to develop and upgrade your own equipment and skills.

Honestly it sounds a little derivative, essentially Destiny crossed with Titanfall, neither of which I particular liked. But there's no doubting the pedigree of this Bioware studio, and one would hope that the storytelling flair of the talent involved will go some way towards elevating this project above its competitors.

Release Date: Q4 2018

6. Call of Cthulhu (Xbox One, PS4, PC)

call of cthulhu best game 2018 pc xbox one ps4Call of Cthulhu is a lot of things. It is the most famous of the canonical works of celebrated horror author H.P. Lovecraft, it was later turned into tabletop RPG, and has generally taken on an iconic quality as a source of inspiration in the genre of implacable, cosmic horror.

Now it is also a videogame, which seems to be taking the form of an investigative survival horror which sees players take the role of a private investigator looking into the mysterious death of a family in turn of the century (the last one) Boston.

Precious little detail has been revealed so far. The trailer reveals a heavy narrative focus on sanity and perception, as well as surprisingly strong voice acting. The closest analogue in memory is the under-appreciated 2002 title Eternal Darkness, which was similarly celebrated for its playful use of subjectivity and quality production. Release is expected later in 2018.

Release Date: TBA 2018

5. Kingdom Come: Deliverance (Xbox One, PS4, PC)

kingdom come deliverance kickstarter 2018 ephemeric
It's back again! This has been on the Hot List for a good long while. One of the more notable Kickstarter success stories, Kingdom Come: Deliverance started with a simple observation. Publishers typically refuse to release games with historic settings unless it features magic, dragons and silly things like this, so why not break the mould by making a game in an actually realistic historic setting?

That's the idea behind Kingdom Come: Deliverance. A roleplaying game set in 15th Century Bohemia, with period-accurate clothing, technology, culture, and even going so far as to bring in medieval combat experts and historians to program realistic tactics and fighting styles. But this is not just a period combat simulator, it is a truly sandbox world in which players can pursue their goals as a warrior, a trader, or take a more diplomatic approach.

Depending on how these different gameplay elements come together this could be a very unique experience. There aren't enough games that display an interest in real history and show the kind of attention to truly bring alive such a setting. All the signs so far are that Warhorse Studios are very committed to this vision, and judging by the millions of dollars raised there are a lot of gamers who are as well. After many delays, the developers have at last given us a final release date in February.

Release Date: 13 February, 2018

4. The Artful Escape (Xbox One, PC)

the artful escape francis vendetti annapurna edith finch david bowie best game 2018Award winning film studio Annapurna made their debut in videogaming last year with the spellbinding What Remains of Edith Finch. This year they will look to follow up this success with their second title The Artful Escape.

The concept is quite unique. Players take the role of aspiring folk musician Francis Vendetti on a journey to reinvent his musical and stage persona. The result has been described by the game's lead developer as "David Bowie traveling off from London on an interstellar trip to create Ziggy Stardust".

In terms of actual gameplay, this takes the form of a musical platformer which sees Vendetti's performances depicted as journeys through mind-bending fantastical and sci-fi landscapes, with occasional rhythm-based music sections to pass. Frankly it's stunning to look at and listen to, with a pleasurably relaxing pace to it.

Release Date: TBA 2018

3. Sunless Skies (PC, Mac)

sunless skies sunless seas fallen london failbetter alexis kennedy kickstarter best game 2018Something exciting for fans of complex story-driven games and world building. Sunless Skies is the latest title from Failbetter Games, the studio of acclaimed game designer/writer Alexis Kennedy. This is the latest in the Fallen London/Sunless Seas series of games which takes the industrial revolution and British colonialism into a new fantastical neo-Lovecraftian setting, this time outer space.

The game itself is part RPG, part trading sandbox, but the big appeal of these games has always been the quality writing, the tasty narrative vignettes and bizarre imagery of Kennedy. All these elements create an open world in which the player has the freedom to craft their own story, with narrative branches in the style of a choose-your-own-adventure. The scope for player-agency is impressive and rewarding, ensuring that each game will leave its unique mark on the world. Failbetter's games always make for whimsical, unique experiences, though not for those with an aversion to reading.

Sunless Skies is now in early access on Steam, and expected to release in it's final state sometime in May.

Release Date: May 2018

2. The Legend of Zelda 3DS (Nintendo 3DS)

legend of zelda 3ds 2018 best gameNintendo are on a roll right now, so what better opportunity to revisit their still highly successful handheld gaming platform, the 3DS. Rumour has it that they will soon announce a brand new title in their famed Legend of Zelda series for the device.

The rumour is that this is some kind of remake of the original handheld Zelda classic, Links Awakening. Exciting stuff for what remains one of the most memorable and indelible of Zelda titles.

Will this be a slight remix? a full re-imagining? Top-down, full 3D? The 3DS is, after all, a console that can handle both styles, as seen with the recent ports of the fully 3D home console titles. Of course we could also just be way off the mark, and this may end up being simply an original title. Either way, we expect a reveal by this summer's E3, and a release in the latter half of the year.

Release Date: TBA 2018

1. Read Ded Redemption 2 (Xbox One, PS4)

red dead redemption 2 revolver grand theft auto rockstar best game 2018 ephemericAs promising as the other titles on this list are, none of them can take the top spot away from Red Red Redemption 2, a sequel to 2010's Red Dead Redemption.

RDR remains one of the finest games ever made. It had the quality of storytelling and production that one would expect from Rockstar, developer Grand Theft Auto series, but married that with an open world that to this day can't be matched for character and detail. The setting has been confirmed to be a prequel to its predecessor, albeit with a different central character and unrelated plot.

At the time, this was a world unprecedented in the variety and depth of its procedural content. Through its random events, ambient challenges and mini-games embedded throughout, this was a game world you could potentially play endlessly, even once the main story and side quests had been completed. For the sequel, I'd expect more of the same, and the leaked map suggests a world that is even bigger and more varied than its predecessor's.

Due by Spring/early summer, I can't wait to get lost in this one.

Release Date: Q1/Q2 2018

So there you have it folks: 2018 in videogames. Tune in next week for the most exciting new music set for release this year!

Sunday 14 January 2018

Hello and welcome back to The Ephemeric. I hope you are all well rested and well fatted from your holidays, but now 2018 is upon us it's time to get down to business. A new year can only mean one thing, it's time to break out The Hot List and see what's next.

So here it is, your ultimate guide to the year ahead, The Ephemeric's 2018 Hot List. In this first entry we will be looking at the most exciting things happening in the world of television over the next 12 months, with a particular eye cast over the brand new shows hitting the your screens in 2018.

best anticipated new tv television shows 2018 hot list ephemeric

2017 saw a continuation in the trends of recent years. An increasing prominence in the web-based content-providers has sent traditional media scrambling, most dramatically in Rupert Murdoch's abrupt disposal of the entirety of Fox's entertainment assets to Disney.

Perhaps most intriguing has been the continued push towards completely original content, even among the traditional networks. The likes of TNT, Syfy and even National Geographic have clearly decided that the way to compete in the new media landscape is to refocus from their roots (old movies, old sci-fi, and documentaries respectively) into original fiction. National Geographic got off to a strong start with mini-series Genius, while TNT are generating real buzz for their upcoming The Alienist.

Whatever the mode of the day, it is clear that there has never been a better time to be watching television. The quality and breadth of new programming on offer at the moment is staggering, and gone are the days where television was the poorer, maligned cousin of the cinema. Increasingly this is the medium for people who want deep, rich storytelling, and that is a reality that the star-power and money of Hollywood has now embraced fully.

So without further ado here are the top 15 essential television shows, both new and returning, that will hit the airwaves in 2018:

15. The Office - NBC

the office us revival reboot return most anticipated tv 2018We will begin with the recent development that has caught us completely off guard. The Office is making a comeback. This is, of course, the American version of The Office, a series which against all expectations managed to escape the shadow of its British source material, and established itself as one of America's best loved TV series.

In its first iteration, the The Office lasted an impressive nine seasons and scooped numerous Emmys. Even towards the end of its run as the quality began slipping, the show managed to retain its wide following. Now NBC clearly feels there is the appetite for a revival, just four years later.

So what do we know so far? Not much, aside from the fact that this will be a mix of old and new castmembers, the identity of which have so far been kept under wraps.

Start Date: TBA 2018

14. Westworld - HBO

westworld hbo tv show 2018 anthony hopkins thandie newton james marsden ed harrisAfter a year-long break, HBO's latest hit series Westworld will return for a second season.

Season two picks up on the cliff-hanger of the first with the robotic denizens of the titular Westworld now on the verge of revolution. The stage is set to play out the climactic events of the Michael Crichton cult classic, but showrunner Jonathan Nolan is promising plenty in the way of new twists that will keep even fans of the original on their toes.

Success on the awards circuit and, crucially, with the fans means that HBO has the makings of a phenomenon on their hands. Westworld scratches a specific itch in mysterious, addictive sci-fi that hasn't been seen in the mainstream arguably since Lost aired all those years ago. Many shows have tried to hit that sweet spot, but Westworld is the first that has succeeded. Can they now live up to the lofty expectations?

Start Date: TBA 2018

13. The Romanoffs - Amazon (New TV Show)

the romanoffs amazon 2018 most anticipated tvThis is probably the most exciting of Amazon's ambitious lineup of original programming for 2018.

The Romanoffs is the new miniseries from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. Each episode follows a different central character around the globe who believe themselves to be the modern day descendants of the Russian royal family. The series will feature a bumper cast, including the likes of Aaron Eckhart, Christina Hendricks, Isabelle Huppert, Jack Huston, Diane Lane, and Corey Stoll.

The hype is strong. Talented showrunner, stacked cast, and an ambitious studio willing to devote huge amounts of capital. This looks excellent, expect it to go live in the Spring.

Start Date: Spring 2018

12. Confederate - HBO (New TV Show)

confederate hbo 2018 most anticipated tvControversial stuff from HBO's newest project, Confederate. As the name suggests, this depicts an alternate history where the American Civil War ended in a stalemate, and the Confederate States went on to form a successful independent nation with slavery a modern, legal institution.

Presumably, you might think, the controversy comes from the American left wing being up in arms over the depiction of a modern day slavery-embracing America? Well actually no, the outrage is coming from the conservative south... because apparently we live in a world where criticising slavery is considered controversial.

But nevermind all that, forget the controversy and the politics, this is just an exciting high concept brought to life by one of the great names in television. It's expected to drop in the second half of the year, just in time for the elections.

Start Date: Fall 2018

11. Glow - Netflix

glow season 2 netflix 2018 most anticipated tvOne of 2017's big surprise packages, Glow exceeded the expectations of its meagre premise and managed to charm audiences and critics alike with its sharp writing and colourful cast.

Netflix have reviewed the series for a second season of 10 episodes which looks set to continue the crew's efforts to establish a credible women's wrestling league. The old cast returns, headed up by Alison Brie and Marc Maron, while a few new faces will be joining including Shakira Berrera.

We expect season 2 to be released sometime this summer. Until then, if you haven't yet watched the first season, there's still time to get caught up!

Start Date: Summer 2018

10. Arrested Development - Netflix

arrested development season 5 netflix 2018 most anticipated tvConfirmed by producer/narrator Ron Howard to be in the pipeline for 2018 is the near mythical return of Arrested Development.

A cult classic following its initial three seasons on Fox, the series' revival by Netflix, some seven years after cancellation, was met with a surprisingly tepid response. The writers tried too hard to make clever use of this new digital-binge format (1 character per episode) and the result was a show that simply lacked the charm and ensemble brilliance of the first run. Rumour has it that the lesson has been learned, and season 5 will be more in line with what longterm fans have been hoping for.

The usual cast returns, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, and the rest. I'm hopeful that this will see a return to form. (Ron Howard narration: "It didn't...")

Start Date: TBA 2018

9. Britannia - Sky Atlantic/Amazon (New TV Show)

britannia sky atlantic amazon jezz butterworth game of thrones roman england 2018 most anticipated tvHere's a fascinating project, and the first British production on this year's list. Britannia is a Sky Atlantic production, to be aired on Amazon in the United States. This historical period drama will cover the Roman conquest of the British Isles in 43AD, offering a rare depiction of ancient Britain.

The large ensemble cast features most notably Ian McDiarmid and Zoe Wanamaker, but the most exciting element from a production standpoint has to be the writing of celebrated playwright Jez Butterworth, fresh from his award winning success on the London stage with The Ferryman.

There is a worrying trend among historical television that everything needs to be like Game of Thrones, fantastical and flamboyant rather than historical and nuanced. Sad to say the trailer does have the look of such a direction, but with the considered writing talents of Butterworth directing the content, I will give it the benefit of the doubt for now. First episode is out on January 18th.

Release Date: 18 January, 2018

8. Watchmen - HBO (New TV Show)

watchmen hbo tv show 2018 best most anticipatedFor some people, this will mean absolutely nothing, for others it will be a subject of immense excitement. Watchmen is a graphic novel, considered to be one of the best pieces of superhero fiction ever written, so much so that Time Magazine even included it in their top 100 novels of all time - not just graphic novels, all novels.

So in this world of superhero over-saturation, an interpretation of arguably the finest source material of them all is surely a welcome development, especially coming from HBO, the best in the business.

But of course, Watchmen has been adapted before in the form of a Zach Snyder film, one which received only lukewarm reception. In that case, it was the pacing of trying to cram so much content into a single film that caused the issue. A mini-series is the perfect format, and one that I can't wait to see.

Release Date: TBA 2018

7. The Orville - Fox

the orville seth macfarlane tv show fox 2018 season 2The Orville had a great debut in 2017, finally giving fans that proper spiritual sequel to Star Trek that they had so badly been craving.

Imaginative and timely with its moral-driven plotlines, Orville sees Seth MacFarlane move out of his comfort zone and into a less slapstick genre, one which showcases his talents as a writer. In an era when anything even vaguely sci-fi feels the need to be über grim-dark or full of over the top action, it's nice to see a series that's more about provoking thought than a visceral reaction.

If season 2 can maintain the consistency and quality of its storytelling, then we could have the makings of a very strong science fiction franchise here.

Release Date: Summer 2018

6. My Next Guest Needs No Introduction - Netflix (New TV Show)

netflix my next guest needs no introduction david letterman obama tina fey malala 2018 most anticipated tvRetirement just isn't for some people, and apparently the legendary former host of the Late Show, David Letterman is one of those people.

His newest project, courtesy of Netflix's renewed push into non-fiction programming, is My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Essentially, it's an hour long interview with a series of highly prominent subjects. The first episode features none other than former President Barack Obama in his first televised interview since leaving the White House, just in case you don't already feel immense sadness at his successor. Other guests include George Clooney, Tina Fey, and Malala.

The first episode releases in January, and unusually for a Netflix show it will be an episodic release, one every month or so. A series of in depth interviews with some of the world's most influential figures, conducted by one of the all time great interviewers. This is a must watch.

Release Date: 12 January, 2018

5. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - Netflix (New TV Show)

ballad of buster scruggs netflix coen brothers western new tv show 2018 best televisionThis one is promising. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a western anthology series produced jointly by Netflix and Annapurna, a name well known to film fans that has since been branching out to other forms of media including television and videogames.

The main headline here is the involvement of the many-award winning Coen Brothers. It's the first foray into television by the brothers who will also write and direct the series. The cast includes the likes of James Franco, Liam Neeson, and Tim Blake Nelson, and will tell six interconnected stories set among the Nebraska panhandle.

The exact release date is still up in the air, but it is expected to hit sometime in late 2018. This is going to be a big one.

Release Date: TBA 2018

4. The Alienist - TNT (New TV Show)

the alienist tnt 2018 most anticipated tv TNT, purveyor of the classic movie rerun for decades, is getting into the original content game, and they want The Alienist to be their first big hit.

It's promising on paper: a period-set detective thriller based on a well received novel by Caleb Carr, created by Cary Fukunaga, the man behind the first (ie the only good one) season of True Detective, and featuring a talented cast that includes Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning.

TNT are relatively untested when it comes to original content, but they've assembled talent and experience. I've had my eye on this one for a while, but the wait will soon be over, with the first episode releasing late in January.

Release Date: 22 January, 2018

3. The Good Place - NBC

the good place nbc netflix 2018 new most anticipated tv parks and recreation the officeSad to say I only got into this one late in 2017, but what a delightful show it is. From Michael Schur, the man behind the American version of The Office and Parks and Recreation, The Good Place scratches that same itch of supremely charming comfort TV.

The premise itself is remarkably clever, following Kristen Bell's character Eleanor Shellstrop as a woman who wakes up apparently in the afterlife, but above all it is the remarkable performance of Ted Danson that steals the show here.

The first season features a significant twist in its ending, so I will avoid going into any further detail and would encourage all of you not to read too much about the show before watching. Suffice it to say, The Good Place is wonderful and well worth your time.

Release Date: Currently running

2. Altered Carbon - Netflix (New TV Show)

altered carbon netflix tv show 2018 best most anticipatedAltered Carbon is Netflix's tentpole blockbuster TV series for 2018. Based on the award winning cyberpunk novel by Richard K Morgan, this tech-noir mystery about solving a murder in a world where death has been rendered meaningless.

This is set three centuries in a future where the wealthy are able to transfer their minds from one body to another, theoretically postponing death indefinitely. The first trailer depicts this futuristic world in dazzling detail that is reminiscent of Blade Runner and the work of Philip K Dick. Above all, this clearly showcases what must be a significant, Hollywood-sized budget.

Season one will go live at the start of February. It's clear that Netflix has huge expectations for this one, and time will tell whether the risk pays off.

Release Date: 2 February, 2018

1. Stranger Things - Netflix

stranger things best tv show television 2018 season 3And sorry, but no surprises for our number one pick of 2018. Stranger Things remains one of the best things on television, and I know I'm not the only one who can't wait to see where season three takes us.

Little is known about the new season, aside from the fact that it is confirmed in production, and expected to land in 2018. The last season left us on something of an ominous note, with the antagonistic Shadow being facing temporary defeat, but still very much present and with designs on our world. Elsewhere the smart money would expect to see more of Eleven's sibling, revealed briefly in season two.

While there are clear plot-threads to follow going forward, no one really knows what direction the Duffer Brothers will take this. Whatever the case, the strength of the writing and production thus far gives us no reason for concern, and we expect great things when this releases.

Release Date: Late 2018

So there you have it folks: 2018 in television. Tune in next week for the essential new videogames of the year!

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