There is little doubt that 2018 has been a great year for gaming and, with 2019 rapidly approaching, it’s time to sit back, relax and take stock of the amazing games that we’ve been able to play in the past year.
This year we got to see the softer side of the bearded god killer, explore ancient Greece, and web-sling through New York. We also got to see Mario beat up Pikachu, drive some really awesome cars and learned to assassinate targets in new, creative and weird ways. 2019 was also a year where we were once again reminded that it’s not always about the triple-A titles but that smaller games can carry just as much or even more weight as the bigger budget franchises.
As always, it wasn’t easy putting a list together of the best games of 2018 and, to be honest, this was one of the more difficult years – mostly because gamers were truly spoiled for choice.
God of War
When God of War was first announced, fans were shocked and excited at Kratos’ return. There was a bit of confusion though as we were quickly introduced to a brand new, snow-covered, setting and, more importantly, to Atreus, who we soon found out was actually The Ghost of Sparta’s son.
While imagining the gruff and grumpy Kratos as a father was difficult at first, it soon became apparent that the new game would not only place focus on slicing mythical creatures in two with a brand spanking new axe but would also take a closer look at Kratos and his relationship with his son. Some fans were concerned that this could mean that the guy who is mostly known for bashing skulls in with his bare hands would now be portrayed as a softer more loving character. And although we did get to see and experience the softer side of Kratos, it was still apparent that the God of War still had loads of rage bubbling just below the surface.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I have loads of fun memories playing Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64. While the series has had a few hits and misses over the years, the latest entry in the franchise takes the best from all that came before and smashes it into one, truly fun, exhilarating and chaotic experience. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate not only improves on what came before but keeps many of the best parts.
It also adds the wonderful single-player focused World of Light mode for those who crave a more single-player focused experience. There are truly few things as wonderful as seeing your favourite gaming characters beat the living daylights out of each other and, with a roster of more than 70 characters, everyone is sure to find at least one that they can gravitate towards.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Origins took the franchise’s formula of sneaking, stabbing and assassinating and turned it on its head, steering the series in a new direction. It turned out to be a great move as fans loved the new mechanics. Where Origins seemed to dip its toes into the RPG genre, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey fully committed. The game ensures that you’ll have hours upon hours of fun as you slowly carve your way through the myriad of quests.
Red Dead Redemption 2
Who would’ve thought that one of the biggest games of 2018 would also be one of the most divisive? While almost everyone expected Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 to be amazing, many found it to be boring at times.
Sure, the game is a technical masterpiece but many found that in creating a living world Rockstar might have sucked some of the fun out of the game. That said, it is a beautifully written, gorgeous looking, and exceptionally crafted game. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that you can literally keep exploring for years and still discover new secrets.
Spider-Man – Here comes the Spider-Man!
Spider-Man on the PS4 has given fans exactly what they have been patiently seeking for all these years; a Spidey game with a solid narrative, some fast-paced combat and, above all, fun and exhilarating web-slinging. When the game released it was praised for just how much it made players feel like Friendly Neighborhood Superhero. While Spider-Man might not have won any awards at The Game Awards this year, it did win the hearts of Marvel fans.
Once in a while, when the planets align just right, there comes a game that not only surprises but blows gamer’s expectations out of the water. Celeste is one such game. While it might look like an unassuming retro 2D platformer, it is so much more. Saying too much about the game for the fear of spoiling it would be an absolute travesty, but one thing is for sure and that is that Celeste gives us a meaningful and honest look at depression and anxiety. Not only is it a tough as nails yet fun 2D platformer, but it’s a game that challenges you to view these issues differently.
Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter World has taken everything we love about the franchise, hunting huge monsters and wearing their parts as armour or using them as weapons, and made it more accessible to new hunters. This does not mean that the game has been dumbed down but that it has rather been streamlined to make its intricate mechanics are easier to come to grips with. Not only are the monsters you hunt suitably large and challenging to take down, but the environments and visuals are stunning.
While we did enjoy heading out on our own to kill beasts, whose toenails we required to craft a powerful new weapon, it’s when you venture out with friends that the game truly comes into its own. Working together to take down a particularly tough beast and succeeding is one of the most rewarding moments we’ve experienced this year.
Dead Cells is an interesting beast. It merges together different genres. Where most games who try this end up failing miserably, Dead Cells seems to use some ancient forgotten magic to not only make it work but also be a fun experience. A tad like Metroidvania, a dash roguelike and a splash of Dark Souls, Dead Cells takes the best parts of these genres and artfully merges them into something that is far greater than the sum of its parts. The game combines these genres along with some beautifully rendered pixel art and basically creates something brutal yet rewarding.
You’ll be dying, and dying, and dying over and over and, you know what, you’ll love every moment of it as you become consumed by its wonderful gameplay loop.
Forza Horizon 4
The Forza Horizon franchise has always been out to impress. With stunning visuals and pinpoint controls, the series has quickly become a fan favourite. Forza Horizon 4 has built upon what came before and dialled it up to 11. Visually, it’s one of the best-looking games so far on this generation of consoles and, thanks to the fact that the game continually dangles the promise of more XP points in front of players, it is also a game you keep coming back to time and time again.
A sprawling map ensures that there is more than enough to explore and the slew of beautifully rendered cars available to drive is just the proverbial cherry on top. It’s a racing game that is easy to get into and makes newbies feel welcome.
Hitman has always been about sneaking around and taking out the target quietly and effectively before anyone even notices what you’ve done. Each game has built on these mechanics, some more successful than others. The latest game in the franchise, Hitman 2, allows players to fully explore hyper-detailed levels chocked full of creative ways to dispatch those that need to be taken out.
Basically, it allows players to take down their intended target in whichever way they see fit, be it with a dead fish or a silenced pistol. The choice is yours.
Hitman 2 is a game that requires patience, planning and creativity to become great. But once you do, there is no greater feeling of success.