2018 has seen its share of disappointments (I for one am still struggling to get over the Fallout 76 CaBAGstrophe?! ApBAGalypse?!) and delays, but when I looked back through the games I'd actually played and not just read about I found a list filled with some real greats. Some, including myself, might even say that a couple of these games deserve to be placed amongst the best games ever made. That is quite the statement. On with the list!
Actually, before we start, I have a few notes about the list of my favorite games of 2018. I've split this list into five categories:
- The games I've played loads of, are awesome, and released in 2018
- The remasters
- The games I've played a fair bit but not enough to truly judge them
- A game that didn't release this year unless you count the late release of the PS4 version
The Best Games I Played Loads of in 2018
- God of War
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Forza Horizon 4
- Shadow of the Colossus
- Spyro Reignited Trilogy
- Far Cry 5
- Sea of Thieves
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Lego DC Super-Villains
- FIFA 19
- Slime Rancher
I had my doubts about God of War. I wasn't upset about Kratos having his son along for the journey like some on the internet had a problem with. Having finished every game in the series before it, it was the change to the camera system that had me a little worried. I needn't have been. God of War managed to combine incredible combat with a brilliant sense of exploration and discovery. It took me forever to get to the end credits as I was always wandering off the story path to see if anything cool was hidden, and more often than not it was. And to touch on the father-son relationship angle for a moment, I thought it worked wonderfully, with its deft character interactions that conveyed real emotion and depth of character. I love this game.
Whereas God of War is about as slick as video games get, Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2 feels cumbersome in comparison. Never before in a video game have I shot so many people accidentally (or horse kicked dogs into an early grave). I don't know why I do it, but strangers asking for help in my game need to be careful when I approach. That guy who got kicked to death by his horse should be thankful I didn't make it over to him any quicker. Despite some control system quirks that I'm still getting the hang of, I'm in constant awe at just what Rockstar has put into the game. The world is just incredible in Red Dead Redemption 2. I look at it on the Xbox One X and wonder if we're already in the next generation era a little bit. I'm working through the main missions, but also just having fun being Arthur in the game, doing whatever activities cross my path. The problem with this is that I'm not sure I'll reach the end before summer 2019.
I've played less Forza Horizon 4 than I have the other two games in this top part of the list, but I've played enough to know it's one of my favorite racing games of all time. Part of me still prefers the older, closed circuit racers that existed before everything was open-world, but of the modern era nothing is as much fun as Playground Games' gorgeous game. And yeah, it helps that it's set in the U.K., with its familiar locations and road signs. Along with Red Dead 2, this is another game that's justified my purchase of the Xbox One X, although the OG Xbox One does a remarkable job too.
The Best Remasters I Played in 2018
I'm not going to dwell on these two all that much, seeing as they are essentially old games made new and you've probably read a whole lot about them over the years, but damn these are good remasters. Spyro Reignited Trilogy and Shadow of the Colossus are the games I remember playing from years ago, but updated with some of the best visuals of the year. They both have some control irritations, but given how well the studios involved updated these classics, the small problems are easy to forgive. I know there's a large number of people who don't really like Shadow of the Colossus' new visuals, but for me they work perfectly.
The Best Games I Played a Fair Bit of in 2018
Although I've numbered these, their positions are pretty fluid. Far Cry 5 is a lot of fun, albeit one that I lost interest in a fair way before the end. That's not a huge problem as I'd probably put in 20 hours or so by that point. Sea of Thieves feels very much like a love it or hate it game, and I definitely fall into the love it camp, but I've struggled to get back into it since I gave it a break earlier in the year to look at other notable new releases. If time had allowed, I get the sense that I'd be ranking this a lot higher, but for now it has to settle for a place on the list and a recommendation as something rather different to anything else I've played in a long time.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a game that I feel got a lot of bad press and hate from online communities, but is actually a pretty great game. It's certainly a little rougher around the edges than the brilliant Rise of the Tomb Raider (which is one of my favorite games of this generation), but Shadow is still quality in my book and can be bought at a bargain price already. I wasn't sure about including Lego DC Super-Villains, but when I think back to what I've played over the year, it does stand out as delivering solid entertainment. It's more of the same, doing little to stray far from the path laid out by the trillion Lego games released in the last decade, but it's got superb production value and is good fun for kids too.
My Favorite FIFA Game of 2018
This was a tough choice, but in a year in which one new FIFA game released, my pick of the best FIFA game is FIFA 19. It was a good year for FIFA, although if you read online comments about EA's game you'd think the publisher had stuffed some copies with International Soccer on the C64 instead. My favorite part of FIFA 19 is when Danny did a deal with a Fish and Chip shop, which is exactly what a Premier League footballer would do. Right.
The Extra Game I Played Loads of This Year and is Awesome But Didn't Technically Release in 2018
So, Slime Rancher did release in 2018 on PS4, so maybe it does count, but I've put it here at No.11 in a list of 10 just so it doesn't upset any of you who are sticklers for rules. Anyway, Slime Rancher is a superb game. It's essentially a farming sim where you round up colorful Slimes (squishy blob creatures of all kinds) and feed them. But there's also loads of exploration, gadgets to build, hidden areas to find, and missions to undertake. I've played it on and off with my five-year-old son for months, and we're still discovering new areas. A mode that removes the dangerous Tar Slimes means that it's perfect for fledgling gamers, but it has meant that my son now thinks all collectible items in games are called "Plorts." If anything, this has made me love the game even more.