2018 is now gone, so we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite games from a year full of great releases. It was a great year for video games, seeing some releases that are sure to become classics. This list is no particular order—here our favorite games of 2018:
Subnautica is a survival game, but easily one of the best survival games of 2018. It has a diverse ocean to explore, while simultaneously being narratively driven, with story beats that are almost perfect. Subnautica also manages to be intensely scary while not being horror-themed—a testament to the developer’s ability to make you feel like a small morsel in an ocean full of big fish. If you choose any survival game to play from last year, Subnautica should be it.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 was one of the most anticipated games of 2018, and it delivered beyond our—already high—expectations. An epic tale of outlaws told at the turn of the century that takes place in a huge, extremely detailed open world, with a great story to back it all up. It is easily one of the best games of 2018.
Into the Breach
Into the Breach, from the developers of FTL: Faster than Light, has a way of sucking you into the action that a lot of turn-based combat games can’t. And just when you’ve mastered one set of Pacific Rim-style kaiju smashing mechs, you’re given another team with a whole new set of tricks. On top of all that, the presentation is impeccable, with great pixel art, animations, and an amazing soundtrack by Ben Prunty. Recently released on Nintendo Switch, it’s definitely one of our favorite games this year.
God of War
When we reviewed God of War earlier this year, we said it felt like the beginning of an epic, but that’s not to say the beginnings of this journey aren’t epic in itself. Full of great combat that is (mostly) slower than its predecessors, it reflects an aging Kratos who is left with his son. Together they embark on a journey that brings them face to face with a new pantheon of gods for Kratos to spar against in a tale that is more mature than its predecessors. God of War is a well told tale of loss and coming to grips with your past.
FAR: Lone Sails
FAR: Lone Sails is one of this year’s hidden gems, or truly unsung greats. In FAR: Lone Sails, you play as a young girl who is piloting a landship across a dried ocean bed, overcoming obstacles along your path. Sometimes slow, definitely contemplative, FAR is a beautiful exploration across a watercolor landscape. Much like Limbo or Inside, it is a side scroller with no dialogue, so all of its story is told through its absolutely stunning visuals. And much like Limbo or Inside, much of the interactions with the world is done through pushing or pulling objects, and otherwise solving puzzles. However, piloting the land ship is a huge part of it, and definitely a unique and extremely mechanically satisfying experience.
Spider-Man was another hotly anticipated game this year, and another that delivered beyond expectations. Playing as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has never felt better, with great combat and super fun web traversal. Not only is Spider-Man mechanically satisfying, it has a great story with a whole bunch of iconic Spider-Man villains portrayed with great storytelling and voice performances.
Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus is a great example of what to do with a remaster. It has updated visuals, and a good amount of quality of life changes, while keeping its core experience intact. It is haunting and beautiful with a poignant story that is told with minimal dialogue. It’s a great excuse to get into this classic if you missed it the first time, and it’s worth revisiting if you played the classic.
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy
Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a colorful delight to those who are coming to these games for the first time, or are in it for the nostalgia trip, like I was. Like last year’s Crash Bandicoot N’ Sane Trilogy, Spyro Reignited takes the classic gameplay and adds colorful HD graphics, new character models, etc. It looks great while keeping true to the originals.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Keeping its compelling new mechanics and overall tighter gameplay, Shadow of the Tomb Raider pared down combat sections and delivered better story and a renewed focus on exploration and tombs that made it feel like a homecoming for longtime fans of the series like us. Shadow of the Tomb Raider brought back the joy of exploration and treasure hunting and, paired with some creatively revealed tidbits about Lara’s past and some truly memorable moments, made us extremely excited to see what’s to come for Tomb Raider.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, developed by Treyarch, is the latest entry in the Call of Duty series, and features some of the biggest changes the series has seen since Advanced Warfare turned the game into one big bouncy castle. With the removal of campaign and introduction of the battle royale mode Blackout, Black Ops 4 has cemented itself as a multiplayer shooter,which I don’t see as a problem. Along with a much longer time to kill, Black Ops 4 has gone in a more arcade-y direction compared to previous titles, and in my opinion that is a good thing.
Hitman 2, from IO Interactive, is the distillation of what makes a good Hitman game: Stealth that walks the line between hardcore and easy, great dialogue, a ton of inventive and sometimes straight up goofy assassination opportunities, and a boatload of different destinations in which to attempt said assassinations. Sure it might not reinvent the Hitman series, but the Hitman series is not one that needs reinvention. It needs to perfected, and Hitman 2 stands alongside Blood Money and 2016’s Hitman as one of the best Hitman games ever made.
Octogeddon comes from the mind of the man who gave us Plants vs. Zombies, and is even better than its predecessor. Octogeddon has you play the part of an angry octopus who’s mad at humans for eating his friends, and goes on a rolly rampage to destroy Earth’s cities for revenge. You roll through crazy levels, underwater and on land, attaching various types of appendages made with animal DNA and using said appendanges to fight off an array of weird and wonderful foes, from scary mimes with giant baguettes to mecha-kangaroos. It has an amazing sense of humor and an even better soundtrack, while also managing to be a satisfyingly challenging game you won’t want to put down.
Taking Left4Dead style gameplay into the Warhammer universe is a no-brainer, especially set in the End-times when hordes of Skaven rat-men (and now Nurgle-worshipping Northmen) are the perfect medium to hack and slash through. Vermintide 2 features incredibly satisfying melee combat—which is the best we’ve ever experienced in a first-person game. Cutting through hordes of enemies has never been more fun, with DLC expected to be coming throughout 2019, we’re going to be playing Vermintide 2 for the foreseeable future.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
“Ultimate” is the most apt way to describe the latest in the Super Smash Bros. series. It is absolutely jam-packed full of…well, most everything that has made Smash Bros. such a hit–more fighters, more stages, more modes, etc. If you were ever a Smash Bros. fan or a fan of fighting games, Smash is a must have. It doubles as a casual party game, or a seriously hardcore fighting game, making it one of those rare accessible fighting games with a high skill ceiling. This is the best Smash game to date, and should definitely be on most anyone’s list to try out.
Honorable Mention: Deep Rock Galactic
Deep Rock Galactic is still in Early Access, but we really thought it was a worth a mention since it turned into a bit of an obsession of ours. In it, you play as one to four dwarf miners who are dropped into the surface of a planet (using a cool driller/drop pod thing) where you must mine minerals for a corporation that is more concerned with its bottom line than your safety. Part Left4Dead, part Minecraft, you will fight and mine through some of the best procedurally generated levels we’ve ever encountered while fighting giant bugs who want to stop you from being in their world. With four different classes, lots of different biomes, and a whole lot of polish for an early access game, we can’t wait for the full release.
Contributing authors include Antal Bokor, James Brod and Marielle Shaw.
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