Now that the New Year is upon us and many of us will be heading back to work tomorrow I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect back on the year that was 2018 in video games for me personally. I’m not saying these were categorically the best games released last year, just that these were the games that resonated with me the most in my own experience.
I’ve played almost every release of Battlefield in the last 15 years but not since Battlefield 2 has a Battlefield game hooked me with its multiplayer like Battlefield V has. I still have multiple issues with the state the game was rushed out to release in, and the single player campaign did nothing for me, but it has become my go to online game for the last couple of months and looks to have me hooked for a while yet.
Monster Hunter World
I’ve always heard that Monster Hunter was a series that was almost impenetrable for more casual players. This appears to have changed with Monster Hunter World being the most accessible and successful Monster Hunter game ever. That’s not to say it’s not without it’s fair share of problems. The online matchmaking is still a nightmare and I had to watch YouTube videos in order to learn how to get the most out of it, but I had a lot of fun killing monsters and wearing their corpses. If it had been easier to play with friends I might have actually stuck with it longer. Definitely one I intend to go back to this year.
5. Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is probably one of the most impressive immersive experiences ever released. I was completely blown away by the visuals and immediately drawn in to the characters due to the strong performances by the voice actors so I had to include it on this list. However it can be a frustrating game experience at times due to the poor combat mechanics and purposefully deliberate environmental interactions. It has become a game I now intentionally enjoy in small bursts to avoid getting burnt out over the plodding nature of the experience. As a result I still haven’t finished it and it could be 2020 before I do. Which is a shame because I really want to know where the story goes.
4. Detroit: Become Human
If you are a fan of interactive narrative games, I believe Detroit: Become Human to be one of the best examples of this genre. Whilst some of the main story beats happen in reasonably similar ways regardless of your choices, there are actually an incredibly impressive number of branching paths your choices can lead you on. I completed the game twice, had drastically different endings each time, and still had numerous paths I never even encountered. Shared gaming experiences are always among my most memorable and this was the perfect game to play with someone else in the room with you, as it can be just as absorbing for spectators to the action. The story isn’t perfect, as it lays on the obvious themes a bit thick and some of the dialogue can be clunky at times but it didn’t stop it being a fantastic journey throughout and one I wanted to discuss with as many people as I could.
3. Assassins Creed: Odyssey
Assassins Creed is one of those series that I have always wanted to get into but just never found time for previously. I was always curious about them but when I attempted to play Black Flag I found myself dropping off of it pretty quickly. So I felt resigned to the fact that maybe this series was just not going to be for me. That was until I jumped into the world of Assassins Creed Odyssey. I had no great expectations for this title but quickly found myself engaged with the world and the characters, despite Alexios being a bit of a meathead. I think the added layer of RPG like mechanics added in the previous entry may have proved the difference in holding my attention. I’m a sucker for the gameplay loop of always striving to find better gear, level up and improve your stats. This is another title on my list which I have still yet to finish as there is just so much to do in the vast expansive open world. But as I enjoy exploring the beautiful Greek Islands so much I want to do as many of those things as possible.
2. God of War
Has there ever been a better, more successful reboot than God of War? Taking what was a reasonably popular if unremarkable action adventure series starring an overly violent, extremely angry Demi-God and turning it into one of the more emotional and touching games of the year. The ultra violence is still prevalent but Kratos now has added depth to his character which was not present in previous titles. He has to come to terms with being a Father, trying to teach his son Atreus to not end up like him. Moving the focus from the Greek to the Norse Mythology provides a fresh angle as this time Kratos is a stranger in the lands he finds himself residing in. These changes have breathed fresh life into a formula which had become somewhat tired and predictable. The gameplay is more satisfying than ever, the first time you throw and recall the axe feels fantastic and the combat is varied and remarkably gory. I loved my time with God of War and there’s no wonder this game is getting so much praise and was voted the best game of the year at the Game Awards.
1. Marvel’s Spider-Man
As soon as I got my hands on Marvel’s Spider-Man I could tell it was going to be something special. There hasn’t been a really good Spider-Man for a long time but everything in this game just feels exceptional. From the first time I started swinging around the city It just felt right and immediately filled me with pure joy. When a game can make you have that much fun just traversing the environment it just makes the whole experience awesome. The combat is the perfect balance of being just challenging enough, but not frustrating and provides plenty of variety to mix things up to ensure it doesn’t grow stale. I haven’t seen Into the Spider-verse yet but so far this is one of my favourite ever incarnations of Peter Parker and the surrounding characters. Everything in the story from the humour to the more serious dramatic moments are handled expertly, showing that the developers really cared about the characters and the world they were making. Some of the twists were largely predictable and telegraphed early on but it was still immensely enjoyable to watch it all play out. All of the character interactions, especially between Peter and Mary Jane were brilliantly executed and the more emotional moments really hit hard. Spider-Man was far and away the game I had the most fun with which is why it tops my own personal list. I still can’t wipe the stupid smile off my face.