2018 is almost over so its just about time to bring out the wine, party poppers, and pointy hats to celebrate the start of the new year. It’s also about that time when every single video game reviewer and blogger on the face of the planet makes a fancy list of their favorite games and biggest disappointments. Then proceeds to spam your social media with them!
Oh…right….. I’m one of those people….. time to get started I guess…. Ahem
Before I start this list, there is something I need to note. I’m pretty fresh to the world of gaming journalism, at least officially. And before I started this gig, the first half of 2018 was pretty rough and led to me missing out on a lot the games being highlighted by other folks right now. I’m playing catch up and tackling my backlog between articles and reviews, but most of them won’t get finished until 2019. So keep in mind, if you have been following me and find it strange that a specific game isn’t on my list. There is a decent chance I haven’t actually played it yet
Also SPOILER WARNING. There could be spoilers for games on the list.
Top 5 games of the year
Number 5: Battlefield V
Despite the controversy surrounding it, Battlefield V has got the best multiplayer gameplay battlefield has had in ages, with its renewed focus on squad play and slower pace. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who likes competitive multiplayer. The maps are well designed, every class is useful and changes such as fortifications and the removal of 3D spotting really do make a difference. The guns feel tight and control very well. No more random bullet deviation.
It’s at its best in a squad of friends but works decently even in a squad of randoms. Which by the way, I even wrote a multiplayer guide on the game on how to not be hated by your team!
Number 4: Monster Hunter World
I’ve been with the Monster Hunter franchise from the very beginning. Way back on the PlayStation 2 with its very first title. Back then I was considered the weird kid who liked strange Japanese games with dragons and oversized swords. Many years later the franchise is now mainstream and I’m considered…well, still weird, but at least I can find people to play Monster Hunter with!
It’s an excellent game that took all of its systems and polished them to a degree that more Westerners would fall for. It’s still the same old Monster Hunter I always loved but with key quality of life changes that took it from niche to big time. As a vet of the series, my own enjoyment did suffer a tad, it isn’t challenging enough for me since it needed to appeal to newcomers. But its coming expansion looks to remedy that and I’m super hyped for it to release.
Number 3: God of War
God of War gave me combat that felt like it had real weight to it and on harder difficulties became quite tactical. At the same time, it told a great story that was well written and voiced without taking away gameplay from me to do it. The whole game was shot in the style of a single take with zero cuts and no visible loading screens. It featured some of the best boss fights I’ve had in a while (the real boss fights, not the damn trolls you nitpickers).
It also had a lengthy story with lots of optional side content that wasn’t boring to do. I still have some valkyries to hunt down. Throwing your axe and recalling in like Thor is probably the greatest thing ever, it never gets old. You can check out my review of it here
Number 2: Sea Of Thieves
Don’t roll your eyes, yes it was a bit content-light at launch. But everything it did, it did very well, and I seriously had a ton of fun sailing around and battling other pirates with my significant other. The amount of emergent gameplay that arose out of the simple concept of find treasure, protect the loot from other players and stealing other players ill-gotten gains, was pretty crazy. It had the intense player versus player, open-world action of games like Rust. Without having three days of work flushed down the drain after a fight.
I still have a lot of fond memories of working together with my partner on a two-person sloop, taking down fully manned galleons by ourselves. Sneaking explosive barrels under their hulls, or boarding them with one from the crows nest. Moments where we stole treasure or got it stolen from us, intense chases and fort battles. And many times these shenanigans left me laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. Its rare a game can have that kind of impact on you. It’s not a perfect game by any means. But its one of my favorites to be sure.
Number 1: RimWorld
RimWorld is hands down my game of the year, it’s also the game I’ve given the highest score so far. It’s a colony sim, but that description doesn’t do it justice. It’s also a survival game and storytelling device. The amount of variance every playthrough has is staggering and if you ever get bored, it has deep steam workshop support.
You have to keep your little colony alive in the face of numerous threats, pirate raids, giant insects, blights, disease, weather, starvation and more. Each pawn has their own personality and skills. You don’t control them directly and with a little imagination, each playthrough is a story. They can fall in love, marry, divorce, cheat, get sick, and lose limbs. They can snap and get into fights, set fires or go on eating binges. When you combine it all. It makes a game experience like no other. I have so many stories of triumph, defeat and everything in between. I also have hilarious stories. such as when a house cat saved a colony by eviscerating a raider.
I’ve lost hundreds of hours to the game and I expect to lose hundreds more.
Sundered Eldritch Edition
This one is the biggest shocker for me. I recently reviewed Sundered Eldritch Edition and it kinda blew me away. I can play platformers well enough that I can review them fairly and objectively. But they are far from my favorite genre, mostly because there are so many of them. But Sundered takes the Metroidvania style of game and polishes it to a shine. This would have taken number 5. But it technically released on Steam in 2017, it got a nice update tough and its first console release this year, however.
Top 5 Disappointments.
Number 5: Farcry 5
I actually like Farcry 5. It plays well, the guns for hire system works greats and its fun to play in co-op. I even thought the story was decent, but how the story was told was terrible. First of all, every action you take against the cult (the games bad guys) fills up a meter. After that bar reaches a certain threshold, you get yanked out of whatever you were doing and kidnapped for the sake of the story. Which was a totally neat concept the first time it happened…then it happened a second time…and a third..and several more times after that.
Seriously, the protagonist gets kidnapped so many times, I was half expecting Mario to kick open the door thinking I was Princess Peach. It’s absurd. Then the game ends with the cultist leader being right about everything…and nuclear bombs dropping on the county. That’s right, everything you did the last forty hours? All the people you helped? For nothing. Big middle finger from Ubisoft. The only other ending I can think of that tops this one, is Mass Effect 3s, but that’s because that it’s ending was to a trilogy where you had sunk numerous more hours into it and its predecessors.
Number 4: State of Decay 2
Again, I actually like this game. Or rather I want to. Its concepts are incredibly solid and its damn close to being the top zombie apocalypse simulator out there. But the game is absurdly balanced to an embarrassing degree. I tend to rail on games that are too easy if they don’t provide difficulty settings. But State of Decay 2 is on another level. Keep in mind, this is a survival game that preaches that the permanent death of your survivors is a core feature. It also has no difficulty settings.
It is so poorly balanced, I’ve never lost a survivor. Never even came close. I actually ran a little test by throwing a fresh and unleveled survivor into a group of 4+ zombies and decided to let them eat him. I only pushed a button to bring them back from the last chance state. (Basically, when your health bar runs out, you have a second health bar that starts to deplete, if you push a button fast enough you stand up again as long as it doesn’t reach zero).
Without dodging, fighting, healing, or moving, It took them 1:30 seconds to kill that fresh unleveled survivor. It’s not hard to imagine how its impossible to die if you bother to actually do anything. Undead Labs has heard the cries of players like me and plans of fixing it early 2019. But right now the game lacks any bite, and for a survival game, that’s bad.
Number 3: Jurassic World Evolution
I love Dinosaurs, I have since I was a kid. One of my favorite games, when I was a teenager was Jurassic Park Operation Genesis. So seeing the trailer for Evolution, you can imagine my excitement. That vanished when I got to play it. The dinosaurs sure look pretty. But that’s about it. Its an extremely shallow park builder, to the point I hesitate to actually call it a game.
The guests aren’t simulated. They only are on screen for aesthetic purposes. your income is based on your star rating, which depends on your dinosaurs. Raising it is as simple as having more breeds of dino in your park. Dinosaurs have almost no behavioral AI and have very simple switches on their happiness. Such as three other dinos in my pen is too many, two is just right. It’s an okay sandbox park builder. But a very poor simulation game.
Number 2: Fallout 76
I could write paragraphs about this one. But odds are you have been reading gripes about 76 every day since it released. It’s not exactly a secret how loathed the game is. If you really want to see what I think, you can look at my early impressions and my full review.
Suffice it to say. Fallout 76 could have been the working man’s rust, one where you could have a slightly less hardcore survival sandbox that you could actually go to bed without fear of losing three days of work overnight. Or it could have been an awesome multiplayer co-op type fallout. It turned out to be neither while trying and failing to be both.
Number 1: Red Dead Redemption 2
Surprise! while you have to give props to Rockstar for an amazing story and attention to detail. At the end of the day, RDR2 isn’t a television show, its a game. And it, in my opinion, it fails to be a great one as noted in my review. The shooting is a basic third-person cover shooter and most of its other systems are poorly implemented. It’s got survival systems that you never need to pay attention too. Side activities that don’t respect your time. They give you pennies when a single main mission will give you hundreds, followed by giving you so much money that you can afford to buy everything anyway.
It’s got no difficulty settings and even without auto-aim, each shootout is incredibly easy. Supplies are abundant, so you never need to buy or look for ammo. The wanted system is inconsistent. Then, you have Red Dead Online, even putting the microtransactions aside, I don’t think it’s worth playing.
The auto-aim defaults to being on for all players online and lobbies between those using free aim and those using auto-aim are not separated. That means all players practically have aimbots. The game has a neat system where people are meant to interfere in your missions and you in theirs. But player versus player combat boils down to who aimbots who first. I find it insane. You could make an argument for the auto-aim as an accessibility option in singleplayer. But to have the game automatically snap to targets online?
Red Deads writing and voice acting are superb, but I really think less detail could go into things such as horse testicles shrinking in the cold. That effort could be redirected into being a better video game that you play in between each twenty-five-minute long dialogue session.
Earth Defense Force 5
EDF 5 is an absurd amount of fun. It’s not the prettiest game, and the dialogue is awful, past the point of being cheesy. But its got a long campaign with a bunch of content, classes, weapons, vehicles and enemy types. Its got really good player feedback in combat and its twice as fun in multiplayer. Its got a couple framerate issues in a few missions. But for the amount of content you get and the sheer fun of it, I still believe it’s worth picking up, even at full price.
Metal Gear Survive
It probably shouldn’t have the Metal Gear name. But honestly, I found Survive to be a lot of fun to play. Maybe its the fox engine, but everything in the game just felt so smooth and responsive. The zombies gave good feedback to being attacked and I enjoyed the tower defense like gameplay combined with the scavenging and survival elements. I feel like a lot of the hate it got was misguided at best. Take away the Metal Gear name and it would have done much better.
Top 3 indies (not already on a list).
Number 3: Two Point Hospital
A spiritual successor to theme hospital and well deserving of the title. It’s a proper simulation game and it captures the essence and humor of the game that inspired it. Something that games capitalizing on nostalgia typically fails at.
Number 2: WoodPunk
A lot of indie developers go with a retro look for their games. But very few do it as good as WoodPunk. The style invokes a feeling of nostalgia while delivering a game that is fun to play by modern standards with slick looking animations. Its got a ton of weapons and powers to play and local co-op as a bonus.
Number 3: Parkitect
Parkitect is the antithesis to my disappointment in Jurassic World Evolution. It’s a park builder worthy of the simulation tag and it can easily stand tall alongside its older cousins. It allows a ton of freedom in customizing your park and coasters while maintaining its own simulation aspects that you have to cater too. It is incredibly easy and intuitive to control. Other park builder and tycoon games should take note. This is the bar you should be reaching for.
Warhammer Vermintide 2
Take left 4 dead, combine it with Warhammer fantasy, and you have Vermintide. It’s a lot of fun with friends, challenging and replayable. Its got a good amount of missions and class-specific weapons to unlock. It can be repetitive at times and is rough around the edges but still a ton of fun.
Welp, there we go. I’ve properly conformed to the likes of everyone else and made a list of stuff. Now to go spam everyone’s social media and beg them to read it!
Have a good new year’s everyone!