With the massive success of Fortnite, it has become impossible to deny that we are in the era of games as a service. Frankly, I’m happy to see the industry moving away from traditional DLC and season passes and embracing the idea that if people want to keep playing a game, that should be encouraged without fracturing the community by demanding a premium. On the other hand, single player games have continued going in the direction of the likes of The Witcher 3 and Breath of the Wild, delivering increasingly complex, mechanically deep, gargantuan experiences. Basically what I’m saying is that it’s getting harder and harder to try to cover the entire medium by myself each year, especially since I also try to keep up with movies, TV, and music. So, yeah, this top 10 is essentially the 10 games I liked enough to beat. Anyway, this is the end of our 2018 lists, so let’s get to it.
Honorable Mentions (Games Which Would Have Made This List Had I Beat Them)
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Forza Horizon 4
In Donut County you play as a fun-loving raccoon who works at a doughnut shop. When you get an order, you deliver a hole to the customer’s location, sucking up everything in sight. It’s a bit like Katamari Damacy, in that clearing these spaces of clutter does spark joy. But that clutter is peoples’ homes, and eventually you’ll have to recon with that fact. The gentrification metaphor is really staring me right in the face, you basically help a mega-corporation clear a city out of everyone who doesn’t fit in with their image. I appreciate that, and the fact that this game actually is well written and funny. Anyway, gotta get back to saving up for the quadcopter.
I have been trying to get into Warframe since 2013 and this was the year that it finally, really happened for me. After Mass Effect: Andromeda disappointed and the first Destiny 2 DLC underwhelmed, I was looking for some sci fi shooting to grind away on and decided to try getting into a game that even the developers admit has a skyscraper-high barrier to entry. With the help of a lot of forums and YouTube videos, I finally broke through the early game and all the systems started to click… Then Destiny 2‘s expansion came out and I checked out of Warframe, but at least for a month or two I really, truly enjoyed how fun it is to jump around and shoot, slash, and electrocute goons in that universe. Hopefully when that cool new update comes out this year I’ll be able to slide right back in.
The guy who made Rez got to make a Tetris, what more do I need to say? It’s Tetris, with the ruleset were you can hold one tetronimo, which I imagine some purists aren’t into. But hey, this game is never going to be the one competitive Tetris people play anyway. The concept here is simple enough: play up the zen quality of this classic game by overlaying visuals and music that please the senses and react to your gameplay. That can becoming distracting and overwhelming, but it also makes Tetris, somehow, seem totally amazing. I just wish this was on PC so I could play it in VR.
The Forsaken expansion breathed life back into Destiny 2 when it came out in September, revitalizing the community by adding a ton of new content and fixing some of the biggest longevity problems the game had. Bungie, the developers, changed weapon mechanics, enabling players to experiment much more with their loadouts, even if everyone just ended up using shotguns. They also introduced a new weapon type, the bow, which, like all the best parts of Destiny, just feels really good to play with. I also though the new game mode, Gambit, was a compelling addition, even if it has gotten stale. I hope they push that mode in more of a MOBA direction this year. Oh, and the new story was really good too. I think this latest era has been my favorite period in the history of Destiny. Please, help me quit.
The successor to the addictive FTL, Into the Breach tasks you with guiding a team of three mechs across four islands besieged by terrible alien threats. Clear them out and you’ll have saved the world, but fail and a single member of your team can jump back in time so that you may try again. So it’s a bit of a roguelike, but mostly Into the Breach is one of the best strategy games I’ve ever played. It works by putting you into incredibly difficult and complex situations where every move of your enemies’ if clearly telegraphed and giving you all the time you need to think your way out. So, in summary, Into the Breach makes you feel smart, has giant robots, and featured perhaps the best UI of any game in 2018. Maybe this should have been number one?
My desire to explore the world of Red Dead Redemption 2 gave out well before the story ended. Nevertheless, I persisted. And you know what? The more I played, the better the main missions got. This is the best written and acted Rockstar game, and simply one of the best stories the medium has ever birthed. That all that narrative is tied into such a vast and beautiful world just gives it that much more gravitas. Ultimately, I felt like there was a disconnect between the open world “do whatever you want” sections and the story’s “do exactly what we want you to” approach, which is what held it back from being one of the best games I’ve ever played. I hope Rockstar can find a better balance in whatever they do next.
Another one of the big games that finally clicked for me this year, Monster Hunter: World was Capcom’s attempt to win over the west by bringing MonHun to current gen consoles and making a bunch of small, but meaningful, gameplay tweaks. It worked! I had a blast in early 2018 going on countless hunts experiment with all the fun weapons in this game. I was drawn to the hammer, which is the best at knocking out monsters, but also couldn’t resist the hunting horn, which is kind of like if the hammer was also a bagpipe that buffs your team. Then there were the multifuncional weapons, like the charge blade and the switch axe, which are totally 11/10 on the cool scale. I just wanted to play with everything! Prep, hunt, loot, craft is the purest, most essential gameplay loop, and nobody does it like Monster Hunter.
King K. Rool has a big belly and when you punch it he laughs and you go flying. King K. Rool has a crown that he throws like a bowling ball and hits like a truck. King K. Rool has a gun that’s actually a cannon that fires cannon balls and also is a vacuum. King K. Rool is a beefy boy who dominates Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with his superior mass. This is a good game. It even has a good single player mode!
What a great time it is to be a Spider-Man fan. Between Tom Holland’s portrayal and the stellar Into the Spider-Verse, the character has been totally redeemed on the big screen. And this game on PS4, let me tell you, is fuckin’ good. Swinging around Manhattan and beating up groups of thugs – the two main things Spidey does – have never felt or looked better than they do in this game. And then, on top of that, there’s all the fan service in the form a collectible Easter eggs and unlockable costumes. I really only have one complaint: the MJ and Miles sections, obviously designed to show you what it feels like to be a normal person in a comic book world, are a bit of a drag. That’s all, otherwise, well, this game is perfect.
There was one other PS4-exclusive that I really couldn’t find fault in, and that was God of War. This game did an amazing job respecting its legacy, building something new, and incorporating ideas from other franchises. The combat is deeper and so much more satisfying – I’d say the only thing I enjoyed more last year than Spider-Man’s webs was Kratos’ axe. The Norse setting is mysterious and fascinating, a huge shift from the series Greek origins without forgoing them. And the storytelling, sweet Jesus! This is a complicated story about the burdens of fatherhood; who would have guessed the series that thusfar mostly just featured an angry man yelling about killing Zeus could pull that off? I didn’t review any video games last year, but this one would have easily gotten five stars.