In 2017 the video game world enjoyed a banner year chock full of quality releases that will live long in the memory. Game of the Year lists have been published, the last 12 months surmised and documented, and the slate is now clean for another 12 months of gaming delights.
Just a few years ago the first couple of months of any given year would be fairly barren, offering some much-needed time to work through the games missed over the busy period leading up to Christmas. Such a luxury is a thing of the past now.
Headlining January 2018 are two potentially massive games from Japan, so let's crack on with our round-up of the most important releases this month.
Monster Hunter: World (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
After a prolonged stint on Nintendo platforms not nearly as technically impressive as the market leaders, Capcom's hit RPG series is finally getting a multi-platform release on PS4, Xbox One and PC this month.
Announced at E3 in June 2017, Monster Hunter was always expected to hit a 2018 release. A date in January came as a huge but welcome surprise though, making the ambitious, multiplayer-focused action RPG the biggest release of the year's first quarter.
For the uninitiated, the title is pretty self-explanatory. There are monsters of all sizes, ferocities and beauties to be hunted, with complex behaviours to figure out and all kinds of ways to surprise players. For the initiated, Monster Hunter: World could well see the promise of the series to date realised.
Release date: 26 January
Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Games based on Dragon Ball Z aren't exactly rare, but FighterZ has stuck out since its announcement last year thanks to an incredible art style that faithfully captures the aesthetic of the iconic anime.
Given it comes from the team behind the Guilty Gear series, the game's good looks don't come as a huge surprise, but even so Arc System Works has outdone itself. If what's under the bonnet matches the bodywork, this could be the next fighting game phenomenon and EVO favourite.
Release date: 26 January
Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition (PS4, PC)
Speaking of EVO, Street Fighter still reigns supreme and later this month a new version of the the game's fifth full instalment releases. Arriving nearly two years after the initial release, Arcade Edition includes all DLC fighters from seasons one and two, as well as new gameplay modes, a new V-Trigger for each character and more.
Release date: 16 January
Kirby Battle Royale (3DS)
Despite the huge success of Nintendo Switch in 2017, the gaming giant isn't putting its six-year-old handheld 3DS to pasture just yet. Things are slowing down, but there will still be big releases – including Kirby Battle Royale.
Developed by the prolific HAL Laboratories, Battle Royale is a top-down brawler in which players play as variations of the titular protagonist, wielding swords, hammers, whips and other weapons to beat their opponents. A single-player story is also included.
Release Date: 19 January (North America)
In 2015 Square Enix announced the formation of a new studio called Tokyo RPG Factory, whose debut title was the warmly-received I Am Setsuna. Lost Sphear is a spiritual successor once again seeking to capture the look and feel of classic 1990s JRPGs.
The game follows a cast of young characters as they search for a way to clear the "White Fog" slowly tearing their hometown apart.
Release date: 23 January