Hubert's 2018 Games of the Year

Before we get into this list, let’s establish some “rules”.

1 – I obviously didn’t play everything, and there are even a couple huge games I missed out on. I just got around to 2017’s Destiny 2 and Horizon Zero Dawn in 2018, Here’s to next year, and playing more of the great games from this year.

2 – Even though it’s tough to do this year, I tried to organize my top five list by the quality of each game, and not just how much I liked them. My favorite game this year is definitely Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, but I don’t think it’s the single best game that came out in 2018.

3 – I’m 100% down to argue about this list. Hit me on social media, my phone, PSN, whatever. I ain’t scared of y’all. In all seriousness, I feel like there’s a lot to be gained talking to people about their strongest opinions, and dissecting games, so I’m always open to that conversation.

 

The List of Shame

I didn’t get around to playing these, but these are all titles that looked like potential top-five-to-ten candidates.

Battlefield V – The beta didn’t blow my mind but every Battlefield is in the top ten of its year, as far as I’m concerned. It’s one of the best shooter franchises in history, and I assume BFV - with all its new modes, a decent-looking story, battle royale, and pretty graphics - would at least uphold those standards.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – I love what I’ve seen of these last two games, but actually haven’t played either. Ancient Egypt is more interesting to me thematically than ancient Greece, and Bayek sounds like an interesting character, so I’ll get to this game once I’ve finally played Assassin’s Creed Origins.

Red Dead Redemption 2 – This game looks so damn impressive, but it also looks like just another Rockstar game. I felt like RDR was an okay game with a fantastic story, and this seems like a slightly better game that also tells a good story. It just wasn’t enough to get my attention this holiday season.

Into the Breach – I hate the look of this game but everything about its mechanics sounds incredible. This will absolutely be a game I check out in the coming months.

I wonder if all of  Octopath Traveler  looks this good. (source:  Eurogamer )

I wonder if all of Octopath Traveler looks this good. (source: Eurogamer)

Octopath Traveler – JRPGs are hard to get into based solely on reviews because no other genre (maybe fighting games are the exception) are so reliant on nostalgia. So, without having played it myself I can’t really trust any opinions of the game. This has a unique look, a cool twist on traditional mechanics, and hopefully a decent story. If I get a Switch in 2019, I’ll try it.

Donut County – This one has such a strong combination of style and humor in its trailers that I can’t ignore it. I hear it’s short, but efficient, and I’m good with that.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT – I just thought this was a phenomenal game. The gameplay is exceptionally good, it looks amazing, the 3v3 style works great… but that’s all from the beta. This game came out in a packed January, so I skipped it to play other big games. I hear it didn’t sell well, but if the online servers are still alive in 2019, I’ll be on it.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 – I dug the multiplayer changes in the beta. What I’ve seen of the storytelling is actually better than having a campaign (compared to what we typically get out of a Call of Duty campaign). And the beta of Blackout mode is already the best battle royale game on the market. They made sweeping changes to CoD this year, and every one of those changes looks excellent. This game is a perfect counterexample to all the people complaining that annual franchises are bad for the industry… but I haven’t played the full game yet.




 The Best Games of 2018

Okay, here goes. This is an ordered list of what I think are the best games of 2018, based on what I played. I don’t want to get into an entire review of each game here, but I’ll throw in a little of what made these five games rank so highly for me.

 

5 – NBA 2K19 (PC, PS4, Switch, XONE)

The 2K series is huge but it doesn’t get the respect it should when awards roll around. I just got back into the series with this year’s game, after skipping the past three, and I was immediately reminded that no other sports game is even close to being as accurate as 2K. This one has some rough spots around the edges, but the main features have never been better. Basketball is a sport about small details and NBA 2K19 captures so much of those that it blows my mind.

Dead Cells should look like this in game.

4 – Dead Cells (PC, PS4, Switch, XONE)

I’m sick of roguelites, Rogue-likes, and procedurally generated games. I think every version of “retro” graphics in modern games looks like trash. I have never liked a Castlevania game. All of these ideas are present in Dead Cells and I still found it to be incredible. Its gameplay mechanics are almost perfect. Character growth is based on random factors, but they’re random in the right ways, if that makes sense. The game’s biggest strength, though, is its difficulty balance. Dead Cells is hard enough that you have to stay focused at all times, but it’s that magical kind of hard where you feel like your failures are fair. The upgrades will help your optimism, but your skill development as a player will keep you coming back, run after run.

3 – Monster Hunter: World (PC, PS4, XONE)

The Monster Hunter series is finally a thing. It has always deserved to be more popular, but it also deserved to be better designed. World is hardcore enough that you can’t get by just button mashing or ignoring its systems, but approachable enough to bring in new players. The series has finally embraced multiplayer, toned down the grind, and stepped up to a modern graphical presentation. The fans finally have the game they deserve, and newcomers now know what all the fuss is about. I’m 400 hours in and I’m itching to play more. Read our review here.


Some Reddit kid basically made a 2002 movie poster.

Before we wrap this up, I’d like to make a quick aside about these last two games. God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man (reviews here and here) are among the best games I’ve ever played. They may be in my all-time top ten (but I’d have to think on that and now’s not the time). This is a top five list, but I feel like it’s worth highlighting that nothing else in 2018 is anywhere near the quality level of these two games. There’s an argument to be made that they’re the best games this generation has seen so far.

They’re also extremely hard to compare. Both games are very light on issues. They’re beautiful to look at, in that “Look how far video games have come,” sort of way. They both bring emotionally deep stories, with realistic, believable characters. In an age where people like to say how dead the single-player game is, these are lengthy, story-driven action/adventure games. Their accomplishments as complete games without micro transactions are also commendable. Hell, God of War doesn’t even have DLC.

The deciding factor for me really came down to the smaller stuff. God of War is tied very closely to its story but it’s side activities and end game mean scouring its open world on foot or by boat. Spider-Man’s side stuff is just more fun to deal with, since traversal in that game is so enjoyable. At the end of my time with God of War, as I wrapped up those last trophies, I felt like I was shutting down playing that game for good. After getting the last trophy in Spider-Man, I immediately started playing it again, and will probably go back to playing it even after this is posted. So, while both are top-tier in basically all the ways, Spider-Man is simply more fun to play.

2 – God of War (PS4)

2018 Game of the Year – Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)

Honorable Mentions: Dragalia Lost is in my top ten for the year. It’s a fantastic mobile game, but that’s by mobile standards. Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is also up there. It didn’t make my top five because it’s an expansion, but it still deserves its due. The standalone package is the best fighting game released in 2018.

That’s the year! Thank you for rolling with us in 2018. I honestly feel a little ashamed that I haven’t played more stuff, but that’s also a result of EWC’s current status. The site has to grow, which means I have to market better, and make more stuff. So, I’ll get back to that now.

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