Phew, what a year it was! I don’t know about you but I’m just about to feint! But alas, I still have a duty to do. Yes that’s right, it’s time to tally up the marks, line-up the games and pick our favorites. Game Awards are behind us, but everyone has an opinion on this, and these are our picks.
And boy was it hard to pick 10 games this year. While we saw a lot of controversies that will live in our collective meme-ory, it was a veritable avalanche of fantastic games. Though admittedly, not from our friendly biggest publishers, they slacked off pretty badly this year. Except you Rockstar, 20 years of grinding for a gold bar or not, we still cool.
|Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Obsidian Edition
|A Way Out
|Marvel's Spider-Man Remastered
|Action & Shooter
|Red Dead Redemption 2
|Extremely OK Games
|God of War
|SIE Santa Monica Studio
|Monster Hunter World
|Sea of Thieves
|DRAGON BALL FighterZ
|Arc System Works
|Warhammer: Vermintide 2
|EA Digital Illusions CE
|Forza Horizon 4 Standard Edition
|New World Interactive
|Farming Simulator 19
|HITMAN 2 Gold Edition
|Destiny 2: Forsaken
|Action / DLC
|NARUTO TO BORUTO: SHINOBI STRIKER
|Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (IIII)
|Digital Sun Games
|Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
|Return of the Obra Dinn
|Valkyria Chronicles 4 | Complete Edition
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Definitive Edition)
|Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
|Into the Breach
10. Pillars of Eternity 2: Dead Fire
|the best throwback to the good old days in 2018
Look, I try to be objective here. So while I am not really into old school, isometric RPGs (something about the slow pacing and having to read walls of text always makes me lose interest eventually), I have to admit, this is a really good game.
It was nominated to the title of the Best RPG game of 2018 by PC Gamer and received several other accolades. Even though it got beaten fair and square by Monster Hunter World [to be fair, MHW is more of an action RPG than classic RPG so it’s comparing apples to tomatoes—Ed.], it put up an admirable fight.
It’s a great game, all in all, with deep and captivating story, clever mechanics, great music, and it does some things that games of its nature rarely do [mostly Obsidian’s penchant for robust reputation meters, inherited from Chris Avellone’s love of convoluted dialogue trees, no doubt—Ed.]. More than anything, it revitalizes the formula that was gathering dust for a long time. It is something of a landmark and for that it will be remembered.
|11 bit studios
|best morality simulator of 2018
Created by the people behind This War of Mine, Frostpunk is an interesting beast.
On the surface, it’s a complex and tricky to master city builder, glazed with fantastic visuals and steampunky aesthetic designs. However, it also uses its gameplay mechanics to present some real moral dilemmas.
Joseph Stalin famously did not actually say: “the death of a single person is a tragedy, the death of a 1000 people is statistics” [I certainly doubt he’d say it in English—Ed.].
That is something Frostpunk explores thoroughly, the city you’re building is a den of misery to its citizens and the game will remind you just how much suffering all your decisions, even those made in the most earnest, cause. And after some time you will start to consider all of it to be white noise. 10 people died, but meters go up. That marriage of mechanics and themes is what makes Frostpunk truly fantastic.
8. A Way Out
|the best cooperative experience of 2018
From the creator of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and possibly the most eccentric person working in the industry (and also a gaming version of Tommy Wiseau).
A Way Out is a marvelous little game that can only be played cooperatively. Two convicts are trying to escape prison and they need to work together to accomplish that goal, even if they don’t see eye-to-eye.
A Way Out is really unlike anything you played, utilizing game mechanics in innovative ways that we haven’t seen before and since. Best digested in local coop with a person you know well, which allows the two of you to test your friendship, but it also has an online mode where you can play with a random stranger.
It’s a wholly unique experience and one that really changed the landscape and for that it certainly deserves a place on the list.
7. Spider-Man (2018)
|the best great-power-to-great-responsibility ratio of 2018
Spidey’s fans have certainly waited for a long, long time for a quality Spidey game, but boy, has it been worth the wait! And if it was just a good Spidey game.
It wouldn’t have a shot in hell to get on the list, but it goes deeper than that by being a fantastic mix of great combat, engaging story, varied gameplay, and truly astounding visuals [what about them puddles, though? DOWNGRADE!—Ed.].
The beautiful thing is that even if you removed the Spidey thing completely but retained the mechanics, this game would still be great, but it’s that Spidey-ness that ties it together.
It’s honestly strange to talk about a licensed video game about Spider-Man as, no joke, a work of art. But I guess we had the Batman Arkham series, so miracles like that happen [Spider takes a spark of inspiration from the Bat and lights a bonfire with it—Ed.]. The winner of both Best Console Game and Best Action-Adventure Game by Game Critics Awards, Spider-Man HAD to be here.
6. Dead Cells
|Action & Shooter
|For the best 2D Dark Souls of 2018
Dead Cells occupies a unique place on this list because honestly, it could have been one of the best games of 2015, 2016 and 2017.
It’s been in Early Access development for a long, long time, but it was absolutely fantastic from day one. However, it finally went gold in 2018, so that is the year it gets its long-awaited reward.
Dead Cells is a rogue-like, souls-esque game of amazing depth and complexity, topped off with great art-style and some really clever environmental storytelling Miyazaki would be proud of. More than anything Dead Cells is infinitely engaging, giving the player that “one more run” feeling and encouraging them to try out new things. Every time you start Dead Cells, you will learn something new and that discovery will carry on with you.
5. Read Dead Redemption 2
|the best shrinking horse balls in gaming in 2018
This was a no-brainer. Everything about the development of Red Dead Redemption 2 was promising from start to finish, it only had to confirm its hype.
And many games this year failed to do so Fallout 76 which made this one succeeding that much sweeter [amusingly enough, people stopped talking about RDR2 faster than about God of War—Ed.].
Red Dead 2 is a worthy sequel to the first game with an even greater story and the mechanics expanded in every direction. It’s a western distilled into its purest and most heart-wrenching form, amazingly voice-acted by a great caste of actors, with a fantastic musical score and a gripping story about revenge, loss [cue CTRL+Alt+Delete memes—Ed.] and, yes, redemption. A winner of several accolades in 2018 Game Awards, RDR2 is certainly one of the best games of 2018 and of all games, ever.
|Matt Makes Games Inc.
|the best protagonist of 2018
Celeste is a treat of a game. In their short review, Brian David Gilbert of Polygon likened the very exercise of playing Celeste, a game ostensibly about scaling a mountain, to actually scaling a mountain [exhausting and not advised during bad weather?—Ed.].
I couldn’t agree more. Everything in Celeste works to establish a cohesive whole, the game’s mechanics, visuals and story all come together and reach beyond a game to become a meta-game.
Celeste is a puzzle-platformer in the most classic and yet somehow also the most innovative way. And it really was a brilliant move by Matt, the lone developer behind Celeste, to choose puzzle-platformer as a frame on which to build a game about figuring out and conquering yourself. The game’s protagonist also manages to be strong precisely because of her fragility, which is honestly something we do not see in games. It’s an amazing game and it being recognized so widely really warms my heart.
3. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
|the best anime in video games of 2018
Mixed to perfection [you are already drunk—Ed.], the game adaptation of the classic anime that a lot of people recognize, not many people actually watched (it’s not THAT great).
Fist of the North Star comes from the same team that gave us Yakuza and that certainly shows. It’s a thoroughly silly game, with silly characters, silly plot and silly themes, but permeating this silliness is a deep and meaningful storyline [and pauldrons—Ed.].
It flew under the radar for many people and publications and I think that’s a legit game crime. The combat is nuanced and very enjoyable, with quick combos that, when executed well, will freeze frame and show glorious (and yes, very silly) explosions of gore. It also has great voice acting both in Japanese and English. It’s a game that certainly more people should play.
2. God of War
|the best dad in video games. Of all time.
Ah, yes, the big winner of 2018. God of War came a little bit out of nowhere, as nobody really expected the soft reboot of the legendary series to change this much to the core of the game and do so successfully.
Games rarely innovate this much between entries in the series and usually, a game as late in the timeline as the 2018 God of War would just fall back on things that worked in previous games and sail the winds of success with sheer brand recognition.
Instead, Cory Barlog decided to change a lot. Like “a lot” a lot. Camera is now much closer to our intrepid god-slaying protagonist, making for much more visceral and brutal action.
Character progression was enhanced with gear customization. And the plot was given much more importance, giving us this great, mythical adventure of father and son in a coming of age/redemption story. It’s impressive how many things came together to just make all of it work. Winner of the Game of the Year award, God of War stands tall and proud as one of the best works the gaming industry has to offer and it will live in eternal fame for it.
1. Monster Hunter World
|the best cats in video games in 2018
From start to finish, Monster Hunter World seemed hell-bent on doing everything in its power to be my game of the year.
Everything about it just seems designed specifically to push all my buttons. Now this is of course subjective, more subjective than other entries on the list, but Monster Hunter World worked hard to get on my good side, it would just feel rude not to appreciate its efforts.
Monster Hunter World is an Action RPG in the best way, the Japanese way [cue The Witcher 3 army—Ed.]. It has oversized (and highly customizable) weapons that have defined move-sets, it has giant monsters to hunt and fight (solo or cooperatively), it has a huge and well-designed world and it has cat companions.
It’s everything I personally love about games, rolled into one, and executed perfectly. The single point of criticism I had, which was that the PC launch wasn’t smooth and suffered from a (very popular for Japanese games) bug that caused it to drain memory and crash, had since been rectified. And Capcom has been very generous with introducing limited events that appeared on PS4 first. So at the time of writing this, Monster Hunter World is a PERFECT video game. At least to me.
And towards the future we go.
2018 was, all in all, a fantastic year for video games. As we move forward, the industry is becoming more at odds with itself, with even more controversies and games that disappoint (to the utter dismay of gamers), but also with more fantastic hits that make up for it. That is just the nature of a growing industry and if patters seen in other branches of entertainment are to be taken at face value, this is a good thing.
So here’s to 2018, and lets have another great year for video games, shall we? I leave you with a promise of bright future [supernova is kind of an overkill, but I like your style—Ed.]. Let’s all work together to make 2019 even better than 2018. I’ll still be here and I will, of course, be writing about video games.