10 – Tom Clancy’s The Division
While a few years old now, Ubisoft’s showing at E3 was strong enough to remind me to go back and finish this game off. When it launched, it’s safe to say there were some glaring issues with it, but the developers have done a really good job at both fixing the problems and adding new content for players still engaged. One of the best examples of this came after E3 this year, where Ubisoft unveiled the Shields system. While a sign that The Division was on its way out, completing Shields in the game will carry progress and perks over to The Division 2 when that launches in February. While very much a first stab at an Open World MMO Third Person Shooter (try saying that three times very fast), The Division is still a great game to jump back into, and I can’t wait to see what The Division 2 is like when it launches.
9 – Far Cry 5
The Far Cry series has had some considerable highs and lows during its fifteen years of releases, and Far Cry 5 was somewhere in the middle of the series. The gameplay still offers fun shooting mechanics, and while it doesn’t exceed in anything it attempts to do (and it tries to do a lot), the game is still incredibly fun to play through. Creating huge explosions and destroying wave after wave of enemies is very satisfying, and what other game in 2018 had a mission entirely about slaughtering bulls for their testicles? Overall though, while the sandbox and world were fun to play around in, the story was rather poor, and at times, took you out of the fun you were having.
8 – Forza Horizon 4
I only got this game towards the latter stage of the year, yet I feel it deserves a mention in my games of the year. It’s been an incredibly long time since a racing/driving game gripped me the way the Forza Horizon 4 has, and it’s no surprise really. This is now Playground Games’ fourth entry to the series, and over the years they’ve fine-tuned both the story and map beats to hit exactly how they feel so good. Just exploring the map is a sheer joy (doubly so because it’s a mini-UK) and every time you drive somewhere you will encounter all of your friends-list “drivatar’s”, and probably beat one of your friends on one of the numerous small challenges throughout the world. Simply put, this is worth the year’s subscription to Xbox Game Pass alone.
7 – Minit
Another game which I played quite late on in the year (thanks to Chazzee for the recommendation), but nonetheless, a charming little 2D puzzle game. If you didn’t listen to the podcast episode where Minit was discussed, it’s essentially a puzzle game where you die every minute. The only things that persist are puzzle solutions and your inventory. This might sound quite gimmicky, but it’s a charming and surprisingly refreshing premise that doesn’t feel old at all when you’re playing through the game. Overall, the game is a great throwback to the point-and-click adventure games of the 90s, but with a fresh twist. Some puzzles take a bit of thought and battering to get the solution, but it’s always satisfying.
6 – Destiny 2
Much like Mark, a lot of my gaming time in 2018 was taken up with Destiny 2, and by the sounds of it, I got back into Destiny just as it was getting good again. When Destiny is good, it’s the best shooter that’s currently out, when you blast your way through levels with precision kill after precision kill and finally unleash your super on a wave of enemies, you feel like a god. There’s now a decent end-game, so when you log in every week something has changed, or there’s something new to do, which was my biggest complaint with Destiny 2 when it first launched. I only didn’t put this into my top 5 because I thought it’d be tired and old-hat to do so, and then Mark went ahead and made it his number 2. Typical!
5 – Fortnite
Well, this one was unexpected. Released in 2017 as a survival shooter, Fortnite really didn’t set the world on fire. That is until Fornite developer Epic released a free mode inspired by popular Battle Royale shooter PUBG. Suddenly everyone was talking about it, it was the most streamed game all over, and well, I got a bit addicted to it. The thing that sets Fortnite apart from all other online shooters I’ve played this year is the constant evolution of both the game and the levels. Epic has created a platform where they’re free to play around and tinker with the entire game, and they have done to great effect. Every few months, something massive happens which changes both the mechanics and the map for good. They’re bold and confident, and that approach really translates well to Fortnite, with its comic-style graphics and overtones. Nothing is serious, and whenever you drop into the map, you’re always achieving something, whether it’s getting 2 more kills with a shotgun as part of a weekly challenge, or even survive till the end, you feel your time hasn’t been wasted. And best of all, it’s free, so win-win.
4 – Detroit: Become Human
David Cage has a long history of creating mediocre games based on interesting premises. I wouldn’t really know, as most of his career has been Sony-exclusive (including this release), and I didn’t own a PS3. What I do know is that Detroit: Become Human is a pretty good game. Alright, so a lot of the dialogue and story is quite cheesy and predictable even, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable to play through. Every choice you make is plotted on a flowchart which is presented at the end of each chapter, giving you an idea of the path you chose, and the many paths you didn’t take. The amount of detail in this and the replayability factor is a big reason why this game is so high on my list for this year – at least for me, seeing how everything plays out in all of the different decisions you make became a small obsession. The graphics were also stunning – I spent so long wandering about with a grin on my face marvelling at the quality of the scenery – this is truly a “next-gen” game.
3 – God of War
As it became clear during our Game of the Year episodes, I never really bothered even paying attention to the original God of War games on PS2 and PS3. I knew of them, but they were never my thing, and so to me, the idea that I’d find myself putting God of War number 3 in my best games of the year is a bit strange. But God of War is honestly an astonishing accomplishment. A true “reboot” of the franchise in every sense, every detail in this game has been locked down and tuned to perfection. The graphics are stunning, and the storytelling is the best in any game I’ve played for a very long time – stories of the Gods are told to you naturally as you go on an adventure of epic proportions through many different lands on the Nords.
2 – Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu
Pokemon was probably the first game I got addicted to. The Gameboy Colour was definitely the first “console” I owned (shortly followed by the PlayStation One), and Pokemon Yellow was the first game I got for it. My parents couldn’t get me off it – I’m sure sometimes they purposely turned the Gameboy on without me knowing to drain the batteries a little. So with all of this preamble, it should come as no surprise that Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu was one of my favourite games of the year. Every detail has been re-created in a beautifully colourful, 3D map, and the gameplay has been refined to make it simpler to play and less grindy. Honestly, even though I spent so long playing Pokemon back in the day, by the time I’d beaten the Elite Four, Pokemon Silver/Gold came out, so I moved onto that, and as such, I’ve never (ever) completed a Pokedex. Pokemon Let’s Go is the first entry in the franchise where I believe it’s achievable for anyone to complete the Pokedex without a huge effort.
If Nintendo had just released a like-for-like port of Pokemon Yellow on the Switch, it would probably have sat around #5 of my GOTY list, but what’s made it so high for me is the completely game-altering addition of being able to see wild Pokemon, rather than random encounters you can’t control. No longer do you fear exploring tunnels and caves, or have to plot a zig-zaggy path around the tall grass when you’re Pokemon are low on HP. You can simply see where the Pokemon are, and avoid them. The catching mechanic has also been drastically altered, bringing it pretty much in-line with Pokemon Go, which I’m still not entirely sold on, but I do like not having to battle wild pokemon, and last but not least, all your Pokemon now gain HP from catching Pokemon, rather than just Pokemon who were involved in the battle.
I could go on for hours about this, but I’ll stop here. Suffice to say, I highly recommend buying this game if you have a Switch. It’s practically a must-buy.
1 – Marvel’s Spider-Man
Here’s a challenge for anyone. Play Spider-Man, for 5-10 minutes, and try not to smile. It’s physically impossible. Marvel’s Spider-Man is just a fun game to spend time in. As an Open World game, one of the most important factors is how fun and satisfying it is to traverse the map. This is exactly where Spider-Man excels, with near perfect web-swinging mechanics that truly make you feel like Spider-Man.
The story is exciting, fun, and emotional in all the right ways, and the game introduces many different types of side-missions to you in phases, which means you avoid the overcrowding maps seen in most Ubisoft games these days. For me, a massive Spider-Man fan for years, this game is utterly brilliant and gave me hours of joy the playthrough – from what I’m hearing, the DLC is also of a high standard, but I haven’t had the chance to jump back in to enjoy it all.