Welcome, my dear readers, to the top 10 games of 2018, spanning Xbox One, PS4 and PC. This is the year I’ll always remember as the time EA declared that nobody was interested in single player games any more. It was a stupid thing to say at the time, but a slew of fantastic single player games has made EA look even more absurd. Indeed, all round it has been a superb year for games regardless of the platform you play on.
With that said, we’ve also seen some major disappointments and some controversy. There was Bethesda and their horrible Fallout 76 followed by a bunch of stupid decisions that turned the fans against the once venerated company. There was Battlefield V which is already available with a hefty discount, indicating that things aren’t going well. And there was Metal Gear: Survive, a game which I hate with a passion
But enough with the negativity, let’s chat about awesome games. This list is going to cover Xbox One, PS4 and PC titles since those are the platforms I own, and as always I’m just one person who doesn’t have the time to play everything that comes out. I didn’t play Detroit: Become Human, for example, and then there’s all the brilliant titles that were released on Switch.
But before we get to the main list let’s do a few honourable mentions, shall we?
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is the first that I want to mention. Now, yes it came out for PC and PS4 in 2017 but since it arrived on Xbox One in 2018 I’m going to slip it in on a technicality. Truthfully I wanted to put this enthralling game on the list proper, but it didn’t feel right since it’s really a 2017 release. Regardless, you owe it to yourself to play Hellblade which tells the tale of Senua, a Pict warrior who suffers from constant voices in her head while she seeks to save the soul of her lover. It was made by Ninja Theory using a tiny development team and a small budget, yet looks breath-taking, tells an outstanding story, boasts amazing performances and great gameplay. It shows the triple-A industry that you don’t need to spend millions on a game, try to make it appeal to everyone and then complain that the millions of copies solid wasn’t enough. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is truly special.
Firewall: Zero Hour was a PSVR title released earlier this year that shows virtual reality can bring deeper experiences, too. On paper, it sounds like a Rainbow Six rip-off, but in motion it’s very different. Slow-paced 4v4 action with everyone using the Aim controller leads to some tense, tactical firefights that will have you ducking behind cover, firing through keyholes and reaching round corners to blind fire. It’s incredibly fun and way you can handle your gun opens up a wealth of options not found in other multiplayer shooters.
Moonlighter answers the old question of how shop-keepers in RPGs get hold of rare items. As it turns out, they just go out adventuring in dungeons and night then sell their loot the next day. It’s a brilliant little indie title with a fun gameplay loop.
Onrush has been pretty much forgotten about since it was released, and even when it had just come out there was a general ambivalence about it. Well, I’m here to tell you that Onrush offers up some of the most chaotic racing fun you can find. It’s more like a destruction derby on steroids
F1 2018 is the best the long-running series has been. Codemasters just needs to add some damn VR support.
Right, with that out of the way let’s get on to my top 10 games of 2018 in no particular order. To read the full reviews just click the link that appears just below each image.
God of War
I never got to review God of War fully because I only finally scraped together the pennies for a PS4 Pro a few months back. It was a hell of a year for Sony with numerous strong exclusive titles, including another on this very list, but God of War might just be their apex. This game, guys. This game. Jesus Christ.
I want to just do a review here, but we don’t have the space for that. I’ll try to keep this short, but there’s a lot to praise in God of War.
Firstly, it’s utterly beautiful to look at. Santa Monica managed to push the PS4 as far as it could go and its one hell of a technical achievement given that even the PS4 isn’t particularly powerful. The sheer amount of detail to be seen within the gorgeous textures and the animations blows my mind. That’s coupled with a fantastic art style and some of the most jaw-dropping sequences I’ve seen in a long time. The first time I met the World Serpent just had me sitting there in awe, admiring how small Kratos and his son felt in comparison to this vast beast. And when it spoke it felt like an earthquake rumbling through my speakers.
It’s so fascinating to see how different this game is compared to the original three, as well. Kratos is back, but now he’s sporting a beard (because he needed to be even manlier) and has somehow managed to get married for a second time and wind up with a son. Now he mostly just wants to be left alone, but the death of his wife triggers a journey to spread her ashes atop the tallest peak, so Kratos and son head off to do just that.
Naturally, this involves a lot of fighting. The fast and fluid feel of the original three games has been ditched in favour of something slower, more methodical and yet just as satisfyingly brutal.
Driving everything is the relationship between Kratos and his son. Unsurprisingly, Kratos isn’t a natural father and struggles to connect with his child in the way his wife did, so a lot of the story’s emotional heft comes from the two of them trying to figure their relationship out.
Look, you already know how good this game is. Every review has sung its praises, it’s sold a crap-load of copies, won numerous awards and does not need my pitiful voice added to the masses. All I want to say is that God of War is a masterful adventure from start to finish and if I was actually ranking these games it would likely take the top spot.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Read the review.
Although I’m still annoyed at Ubisoft already turning Assassin’s Creed back into a yearly franchise there’s no denying that their single year off did wonders for the series. While AC: Origins was pretty good, Odyssey is truly great and felt like it nailed the new direction Ubisoft is aiming for. Mind you, that new direction is probably the least Assassin’s Creedy than any other game in the long-running series. Hell, if you tossed out all the Assassin’s Creed stuff I don’t think it would even make that much of a difference.
So why do I like it so damn much? It’s hard to put my finger on one, singular thing. Perhaps it’s the massive world that is so easy to spend hours in. The infamous Ubisoft template calls for an army of icons assaulting your eyeballs, all pointing you toward things to do, but Odyssey has an option to tone those down. With the game pulling some of its icons back exploration is actually rewarding unlike prior games where you already knew where everything was. Sure, Odyssey still tends to point you toward things, but there’s enough room now to set out in a direction and find interesting things.
Oh, and those things are worth finding. Yes, there are still some generic missions, but now most quests come wrapped up in more fun ways. Side-quests tell their own little stories, some more serious and others more light-hearted. Throughout my journey I had sex with pretty much everyone, discovered an entire tourist market built around a fantasy monster, sailed the high seas, dived into sunken temples and generally just been a nuisance. I’ve loved every minute of it.
Forza Horizon 4
Read the review.
There are alot of racing games out there on the market that are absolutely terrific, but when it comes to open-world cruising Forza Horizon 4 has taken the trophy, done a burnout and driven off into the distance with it in a beautiful sport scar.
The handling is where the magic can be found. It tones down the more simulation orientation of the main Forza series into something more streamlined and manageable, yet without losing that realistic feeling. Of course, then you drive off a cliff or launch off a ramp and all semblance of being a simulation goes out the window faster than my controller when somebody makes me fight Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat. It just feels so damn good to play.
I suppose it does help that the game is sort of set in my home country, by which I mean there’s a tiny sliver of Scotland in the sizable map. It’s nice to blast around a virtual representation of countryside I’m familiar with in a car I could never afford.
I also love the balance between multiplayer and single player, the game offering a wealth of stuff for both. Special events are being added all the time, you can race around with other people or you can just sit down and chill out by yourself.
Read the review.
Dead Cells is a game that has stripped everything back to easy to understand set of mechanics executed almost perfectly. You charge into the levels and proceed to die, and then you do it again and again and again. As you go you earn more stuff, get more precise with the combat and more fluid with the platforming. You learn the enemies, you find the weapons that work best. You. Get. Better.
What continues to grab me every time I fire up Dead Cells for a quick run is just how good the controls feel. They’re buttery smooth, instantly responding to your every input to create an effortless feel. Other developers should sit down and take notes because this is how you do it. This is how you make your game feel amazing, and help ensure that mistakes feel like the player’s fault and not the game’s.
The whole thing has been polished to within an inch of its life, taking the tried and tested Roguelike style and nailing it. There’s nothing complex or ground-breaking to be found within Dead Cells, it’s just a gamer’s game done very, very well.
Monster Hunter World
Read the review.
Monster Hunter World can be a rather strange game. After scoffing down an enormous meal that was cooked by a team of cats via a lavish cutscene that seems to delight in the joys of food I headed out to hit a massive dinosaur thing with a weapon made out of one said monsters relatives. It’s pretty easy to see why the long-running Monster Hunter franchise has struggled to break into the Western market. It’s bloody bonkers.
The thing is, I don’t know if I’ve ever done the game real justice. It requires tremendous commitment when it comes to hunting the various monsters and using their corpses to craft new gear. I try to go back to the game as often as I can, but the systems are so varied and layered that coming back feels tricky. I’m adamant I’m going to find the time to go hunting again, though, especially since a raft of updates has been added that flesh the whole thing out even more.
And man, is it fun in co-op. The entire U.I. and the way you actually get together with others players is a bit of a mess, but when you finally get some friends into the same server or meet up with some interesting strangers the game takes on a new lease of life. It’s so easy to get caught up comparing gear, making fun of each other’s weapon choices and hunting massive beasts.
The first big expansion has been announced for next year, so hopefully Monster Hunter World has a long life ahead of it.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Read the review.
Although it is the least surprising inclusion any list of the best games of 2018 there’s no denying that Red Dead Redemption 2 deserves it. It has issues, including how Rockstar’s basic mission and gameplay mechanics feel dated and clumsy, but overriding everything is the incredibly rich attention to detail and sheer amount of effort that went into making you feel like a part of the world. This can sometimes make the game feel slow, but the result is a level of immersion that could only bettered if it was in VR as well.
Then you have the story. Arthur Morgan is easily one of the finest protagonists to ever star in a game. He’s surly, quiet, loyal, loving and complicated, just like a real human. He’s a bad guy, but as Wreck-It Ralph said, he’s not a bad guy. Like any human he is not good or evil, he’s a mixture of the two, capable of horrible violence and acts yet also willing to help those in need and do anything for his adopted family of misfits.
Though its creation may have been marred in controversy surrounding the concept of “crunch” in video game development the simple fact is Red Dead Redemption 2 is a technical masterpiece that puts nearly every other game to shame when it comes to sheer attention to detail. It’s an experience in every sense of the word and while it might not be for everyone in terms of its pacing and gameplay I feel like everyone should at least try it, just so they can dissect what will go down in history as one of the most important video games ever created.
Read the review.
As the old saying goes the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and by the end of Frostpunk’s campaign my road had been well and truly paved. In my quest for the greater good I had turned my frozen city into a heavily policed state that spouted propaganda, and yet every time I made a tough choice I felt justified. With the cold constantly battering the houses and buildings and people sending kids to work alongside their elders felt justified. The decision to make a fighting pit where angry folk could work out their anger felt justified. The decision to pad out the rations with sawdust felt justified. Refusing refugees felt justified. Guard towers felt justified. It. All. Felt. Justified.
In case you didn’t know Frostpunk is a city builder but the twist is that you’re attempting to survive an ice-age. At the centre of your home is a massive generator that provides power and heat, and so as you expand outwards with new buildings and homes you constantly need to balance your need for coal with your need for food, warmth and other things. As things become tougher the ability to pass laws like sending the children to work begins to look more tempting.
By the time you reach the end of this beautiful, atmospheric city-builder it’s fascinating to look at where you started and at what your city has become, all the various decisions you made in the name of survival.
So far the developers have supported the game with a bunch of free content that includes a challenging survival mode, but nothing beats your first playthrough. Do yourself a favor and play Frostpunk.
Two Point Hospital
Read the review.
If Two Point Hospital has taught me anything it’s that unscrewing someone’s head is a perfectly valid method of treatment, and that GP’s must be recruited in droves.
Look, Two Point Hospital is almost more of a remake of Theme Hospital than a sequel, but that doesn’t stop it being awesome. Building your own hospital from the ground up while treating all manner of insane illnesses is both stressful and relaxing, a sort of strange mishmash of the two.
It has its fair share of problems, such as how making staff happier with thier working environment basically means plastering the walls with tat like a teenager that has just discovered posters and blu-tak, or how you might sometimes get frustrating at how many damn GP offices you need. But even with these problems I still lost many happy hours to Two Point Hospital, enjoying each new little challenge as it came.
The sense of humour from Theme Hospital is still strong, too. I’m pretty sure they even got the same voice actor to be the tannoy lady, and if I’m right then it doesn’t sound like she’s aged at all. Even though I’ve seen all the animations and heard all the lines I still find myself giggling at the weirdness of it all.
If you want a truly in-depth management sim then this isn’t for you, but if you fancy laughing because a surgeon just removed a rubber duck from someone then Two Point Hospital is for you. And for me.
Read the review.
Having been born in the early 90s I’ve gone through a strange period of time where I was first reviled and often laughed at for my love of comic books and video games, yet now the Marvel movies are something almost everybody watches and being a “geek” has become cool. It does my heart good to see my favourite heroes on screen, to see all these people now understanding what I already knew; superheroes are important. Like so many other kids growing up Spider-Man was my hero of choice, and to this day I still browse the digital shelves and pick up the story arcs that look the most interesting. He’s the kind of guy you can look up to and relate to, a person who wants to do good while dealing with everyday problems that his superpowers can’t help with. It’s why I felt like the opening of Marvel’s Spider-Man nailed the character as it had Peter Parker looking back and forth between the letter demanding that he pay the rent for his tiny flat or the Spider-Man mask. Of course, he chooses the mask, leaps out the window and the adventure begins.
And that adventure begins with the web-swinging and Insomniac nailed it so wonderfully. The sense of momentum, speed and power is everything I ever imagined being Spider-Man would be and from there Insomniac just keep proving again and again that they understand the character and what drives him. Not since playing Ultimate Spider-Man back in the day have I seen my favorite superhero so beautifully rendered in the medium of videogames, and playing every minute of Marvel’s Spider-Man was a pleasure. I simply adored swinging through the detailed recreation of New York.
Then there’s the story, a classic Spider-Man tale that Insomniac twists into their own unique take whilst remaining faithful to source material. Peter Parker is an amalgamation of various versions of the character, Mary-Jane is considerably different from her comic-counterpart yet still undeniably the red-head that I had a huge crush on back in the day and the relationship between Peter and his Aunt May is damn near perfect.
It’s not a perfect game, but in Marvel’s Spider-Man Insomniac have created the best video game version of the character ever. It was the reason I bought a PS4 and I’m glad I did.
Read the review.
Hitman 2 lets me live out my every twisted fantasy, from shooting someone with a sniper rifle while dressed as a pink flamingo to feeding a target to his pet hippo. There’s a story buried between the various levels but it’s instantly forgettable guff that takes a back seat to the sweet, sweet art of murdering people in the face.
Not much changed in terms of gameplay mechanics between the episodic 2016 Hitman and this, but I’m perfectly okay with that. Agent 47 can be a clunky git to control sometimes, but I quickly forgave that as I navigated the fantastic levels that offer so much replay value. At this point I’ve gone through each location multiple times in a bid to find the most amusing or downright awesome ways to kill my targets that I can.
But the most fun usually comes when everything goes completely wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I really love executing a smooth assassination where I get in, kill the target and escape like a freaking ghost, but when everything goes tits up it’s hilarious to stumble your way through, abandon your brilliantly planned murder and wind up just thumping your victim over the head with a brick of cocaine. Job done.
As po-faced as Agent 47 might be this is a comedy game at heart. Yeah, you could play it as the serious assassin, but it’s far more fun when you hit people with a fish or drop heavy objects on their heads. I’ve laughed out loud more times than I can count playing Hitman 2, and now plan on playing through all the levels from Hitman 2016 again as well.
It’s just a shame that Hitman 2 seems to be struggling in terms of sales. It’s absolutely worth getting. Hopefully the developers were sensible with the budget and its turning a decent profit.
That’s All Folks!
Well, that’s all I’ve got people. It has been a hell of a year full of ups and downs, but in the end we got some pretty good games out of it.
Now why are you still reading this?