Hoooooly f*ck what a year for games.
Seriously. 2018 was nutso-sh*t-ball amazing in gaming. We are indeed in a golden age, my friends. We had a plethora of new (and old) IPs, THQ Nordic buying everything under the sun (how and why is a topic for another day), new experiences, somehow VR made a comeback in the best way possible, and the switch continued it’s meteoric rise into the collective gamer consciousness. I’m going to attempt to summarize every month or so, but hot damn was 2018 awesome.
I should mention I haven’t gotten a chance to play every game I’ll mention here, but their significance is recognizable even without my direct consumption.
In January we had two games that ended up in numerous award considerations, Celeste and Monster Hunter: World (for console you PC nerds). Celeste is one of those ultra-precise platformers done in retro-style to a killer soundtrack, but told a story so many of us can relate to of anxiety and self-doubt. It was different because it told you, “You can do this.” In an age of mockery and sarcasm, this refreshing take was real and powerful. You should play this game, even if you have trouble with it’s difficulty (and holy hell is it hard) you can turn on various assists to help through the pause menu. I unabashedly love this game.
Then there’s Monster Hunter: World. The first time a monster hunter game has brought itself out of the portable market and into the console world. The world (hahahahaha….hah) was so fully realized, and while there were some issues at launch regarding the…
Dragon Ball FighterZ came out and showed the world that, yes, a 2D fighting game based on anime can be done and done well. Teams of three characters from across the Dragonball series’ fight each other with all their trademark abilities. It’s really fun and also super competitive. New fighting IPs are always welcome.
February was notable for GOTY contender Metal Gear Survive.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, no I’m kidding, no one cared about that game. Instead in the second month of 2018 we got the long awaited Kingdom Come: Deliverance (can we please stop with the subtitle naming conventions please? Blah blah blah: bleh. Just…please stop that devs.) While the game had some controversy and issues surrounding it (pretty justifiable imo), it gave many a pretty realistic taste of life in the middle ages.
We also got the Shadow of the Colossus remake for the PS4 and if you haven’t played SotC yet what are you doing stop go play it now now now now now now now now. Seriously. It’s legit one of the best games of all time, has one of the most interesting premises ever in gaming, and looks better than it ever has before. In an age where everything is getting a remake or remaster (like this article for one…wait a minute wut) SotC is the prime example on how it should be done.
Near the end of the month, we got our first (and not last) VR title in Moss for the PSVR. This is a puzzle platformer which utilizes VR in a unique way where you don’t have to leave your couch/chair/sitting apparatus. I mean, there’s bits where it might be better for you to stand and crane your neck around to figure out a puzzle, but it was another refreshing take on something that had grown quite stale over 2017.
In March we got Sea of Thieves, Ni No Kuni 2, A Way Out and Far Cry 5.
Sea of Thieves open-world sandbox pirate sim put “emergent storytelling” first and foremost, and while it wasn’t for everyone it definitely has made its presence felt with continuous updates and content drops since. If you haven’t checked on it in a while, you might be surprised at everything that’s been added. Biggest caveat is it’s pretty stale by your lonesome, but with friends it can be some of the most fun you’ve had.
Everyone who’s played Ni No Kuni tells me it’s amazing. I take their word for it. I wish I had more to say about it, but I honestly only heard second-hand about how good the game was. Hearsay I know, but check the reviews and some gameplay and maybe it’ll fancy your tastebuds.
A Way Out is the game by that dude who hates the Oscars from 2017’s Game Awards. And what a unique take on co-operative gameplay it was. A game made for two-players, (as in requires two players to play…who does that?) it told the story of a pair of escaped convicts and I’m not sure how it all went down as I unfortunately hadn’t had the opportunity to experience it…yet.
Then we got our yearly iteration of Far Cry 5. It’s more Far Cry, set in the continental USA this time, way up in Montana. If you’ve played a Far Cry, you probably know how this one plays. I’m convinced this franchise is perfectly happy with being solid 8s. They aren’t bad, not great, but perfectly fit in as what they are. They are just kinda, gamey games. Memorable megalomaniacal big bads and that’s about it. I still enjoy them for what they are.
In April, we got Minit, and what a charming experience it is. It’s like an old school Zelda game, with the mechanic of dying every…minute…but the changes in the world persist. It’s great.
Xbox finally got a chance to play one of the best games of last year, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. I don’t want to say too much about it, but it is an amazing piece of art and you should play it. With headphones, I might add. Spatial audio is insane in this game. I cried, a lot.
Then we got God of War. This game, man….who would’ve thought a soft-reboot/sequel to one of the most actiony-hack-n-slash-actioniest games from the previous two Playstation generations would turn out to be one of the best videogames ever made. I could end this list here. I could start it here. This game is that damn good. Unequivocally it is a masterpiece.
In May we got Pillars of Eternity II, State of Decay 2, Dark Souls: Remastered, and Detroit: Become Human.
If you need an introduction to PoE, it’s one of the best core RPGs ever made. I know I keep saying that about games, but THAT’S HOW INSANE THIS YEAR WAS, Y’ALL. If you liked Divinity, the OG Fallout games (more on THAT franchise later…heh), or like, the original Pillars of Eternity, you’ll like this one. Mmm. That classic isometric view. I’m a sucker for good dialog so take that for what you will.
Which leads me to Detroit for PS4. Now, I know people liked this game. But I am just…I don’t really like the David Cage style. I think Until Dawn did this waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better, and in a much less pretentious manner than Quantic Dream games have (Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls). Still, it has an intriguing story with like, all the replayability in the world due to a branching narrative with a remarkable number of iterations. It’s not for me, but hey maybe it’s for you, so give it a shot.
Dark Souls finally got a remaster. The game that says, “You will die and you will like it!” I’m a souls fanatic. So finally blighttown operates at more than 10 frames per second. PC nerds were upset about this one, understandably so with the delisting of the OG Dark Souls. Console kids like me said, yay more achievements/trophies in a game I loved last gen. It’s still great.
I almost forgot about State of Decay 2. Which a lot of people did. It is basically SoD 1 but now with co-op, a bigger map, and still some jank. This is the best Walking Dead game that doesn’t follow a girl named Clementine. Seriously the other walking dead games are pretty bleh. You’ll never forget the first time one of your community members dies because of you. I shot the f*** outta the people that killed her, then attracted more zombos to feast on their corpses. I still hate them.
June finally entered a state of relevant calm in terms of releases.
So let’s talk about something. Releases used to come out…really whenever. Like there wasn’t release season or anything. Then we got to a fall release schedule. Then publishers were like, “There’s too many games in fall, we need to release in spring!” So they did. And now it’s like, every GD month from August to May has a f*ck bomb of a release during it. Either one that’s hyped AF or one that seemingly comes from nowhere to take the world by storm. I love it and hate it at the same time. We’re in a golden age and there’s just no time to play every game that comes out. My backlog is over 200. Also every game gets ported to the switch eventually. That’s another undercurrent of the year that was.
Like Fortnite finally came to the Switch, completing their quest to be the new Skyrim port. I think an Apple II can play Fortnite now. And then Playstation did weird things at their E3 press conference. And something about cross-play and locking Epic accounts. I think it’s all fixed now, yea? Fun times.
Also Vampyr came out. Nier: Automata came to Xbox, and…Unravel 2 I guess? Mario Tennis Aces? June was a weird month. Xbox buys half the industry.
Alright, what came out in July….No Man’s Sky for Xbox. Cool. Apparently it’s fixed now. Don’t know, haven’t touched it. /shrug
Jebidiah tap-dancing f*ck nouns August was stupid full of releases.
Dead Cells made it’s full release and it is honestly one of my favorite games of the year. Overcooked 2 came out and caused families and friends to break apart over cooking. How do you catch soup on fire? I don’t know but enjoy having 5 christmases from here on out. This is a good co-op game.
PC Nerds finally got Monster Hunter: World after hearing about it from their console children.We Happy Few released and few were happy about it. Donut County came out and showed us again why Annapurna Interactive is one of the best kept secret dev studios in the industry. I expect Microsoft to try and buy them.
Shenmue 1 and 2 came out again because nostalgia. Shenmue 3 will come out in 2083 and will end videogames once and for all. Divinity 2 came out and can we just have them and PoE fight already? These two series are ridiculous and amazing.
The Messenger came out towards the end of the month and garnered near-universal praise. I’ve heard nothing but good things and it pains me not to have gotten to play it yet.
Kicking off September was this year’s Horizon: Zero Dawn, Spider-Man for the PS4. Again, near universal praise and it seems like we finally got a superhero game that is worth our time. So much so it didn’t WIN A SINGLE AWARD AND IT’S BULLSH*T, but that’s the world we live in these days. There’s just not enough praise. Somebody get Geoff Keighley on the line, just make up an award and give it out so this stops happening. (In case you were wondering, HZD didn’t win a single award last year either. Yeah).
Then a bunch of sports games came out like they do every year. And they’re always good. And I don’t understand it. I also don’t understand gravity. (WHY FALL NO UP?)
A lot more games got ported to the Switch. I’m not gonna mention it again.
Life is Strange 2 debuted the first episode of the long awaited sequel. I still haven’t finished the first one. No spoilers you jerk heads. Hella.
One of the biggest and saddest stories of the year was Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season getting episode 2 out and then TellTale quit making games forever. Eventually, Skybound (co-owned by Robert Kirkland…author of TWD graphic novels) went on to rehire a bunch of former team members to finish the last two episodes that’ll release in 2019. This story has a somewhat happy ending, but for all those who lost their jobs suddenly and without warning, I hope you landed on your feet. RIP Telltale and shoutout to Team Still Not Bitten.
I still want second seasons for Tales from the Borderlands and Wolf Among Us. *sobs*
October is the month of gaming that you don’t have enough time for.
31 days of hahaha yeah right you’ll never be able to play these all the way through. Every year it’s like this. We started out with Astro-bot: Rescue VR for the PSVR and it was a delight. Another platformer taking the VR concepts into new heights.
Then Forza Horizon 4 came out. And the English countryside never looked prettier. In every season no less. There’s a reason this is one of if not the highest rated series of titles. It’s the most-approachable and most fun racing title out there. You don’t even have to like racing to like it. It pulls a lot of inspiration from the arcade racers of times past, and then drops a hyper-realistic racing sim in the middle of it. You can dial it however you want. Just wanna have fun blasting through the snow-capped hills? Got it. Want to uber-tune your car so it shifts at the RPMs you want it to? You can do it if you want….nerd. The third game in the series had a Hot-Wheels DLC. It’s dumb and awesome.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 came out and said eff off to a traditional single player campaign in lieu of a battle royale game type called Blackout. I’ll say it, Blackout is the most fully realized and polished battle royale experience to date. It puts the jankiness of PUBG to shame and for those who hate the goofiness (and building) of fortnite it’s right where it needs to be. Now we wait and see how Battlefield does it…in 2019.
Alright here it is. The game EVERYONE was waiting for and the one that made publishers move release dates so their games would actually sell and not get lost in its enormous wake. Red Dead Redemption 2 was 2018’s most anticipated game by far. And it lived up to the hype. There’s been some bemoaning of how slow it is, but it is a deliberate masterpiece. It’s incredible to see a studio make games so…intently. Like there’s nothing in there that is out of place or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Whatever happens is because Rockstar willed it to be so. The online service will make Rockstar another 453 billion double dollars and they’ll finally be able to ascend into the heavens as new constellations for us to guide our lives by.
At least that’s what my horoscope said. Or maybe it was a fortune cookie. Huh.
I should mention Return of the Obra Din here as it was up for numerous awards. The next game from the studio that brought us, Papers, Please! You are tasked with finding out what happened to everyone on this ghost ship. You have a magic pocket watch that allows you to witness their final moments. It’s haunting and entirely in a black and white comic-book style. It’s in my backlog.
November brought us…huh…not a lot.
Call it the RDR2 effect this year. Hitman 2 came out and gave us homing briefcases and rakes to prank people with. Battlefield V came out sans a lot of stuff, but it’s still a good game because of course it is.
Then Bethesda gave us the gift that is Fallout 76. A frankenstein mish-mashed together abomination of game engines that refuse to work together and packaged together with probably that cheap version of duct tape I can never find in Fallout 4. It has a lot of bugs. They’re working on them. It’s understandable (to a degree) as it’s the first time they’ve attempted something like this. People still love playing it with friends.
Yes, I know Zenimax Online Studios made Elder Scrolls Online. Yes, it’s true they have the same parent company as Bethesda. No, I don’t want a salad. I want a hot dog.
The crescendo to this madness was a PR nightmare of some poor fool hitting send on an email that definitely was never meant to be sent regarding some blatant false advertising of the special edition. I’m just gonna say if you say you’re gonna give someone something, do that. Don’t give them something worse and say it’s cool, it doesn’t really matter, and then dox them. What a tumultuous turn of events that was. I’m glad I stayed out of it.
Artifact came out proving that Valve is still more concerned about making money than it is about developing games.
Beat Saber came out for the PSVR and is the most fun you’ll have working out while gaming since Just Dance.
The final month of 2018 was nothing short of entertaining because of one thing, THE GAME AWARDS!!!!
I’m kidding it was Smash. Holy crap there’s a new Smash Bros. I can’t stop thinking I just wanna Smash. All the time, everywhere I can. Just Smash. Smash smash smash.
Just Cause 4 came out and doesn’t crash immediately so it is better than Just Cause 3. PUBG finally made its way to PS4, Earth Defense Force 5 came out (oh Japan, I love you), and Below finally released…5.5 years after it was announced?! That’s as old as the Xbone and PS4. That’s what you call development hell, yo. But hey it’s pretty cool. The sense of scale is unlike anything I’ve experience in other games, except maybe Shadow of the Colossus.
So there you have it. I did not expect this to be this long. 2018 was nucking FUTS in gaming. I couldn’t even list everything I remember. Someone out there is gonna be like, “WTF WHERE’S HOLLOW KNIGHT?!?!?!!?,” to which I’ll respond, “MOTHERL*CKING SON OF A TOAD WH*RE I FORGOT HOLLOW KNIGHT.”
You will never play all these games and that’s okay. Play what you want, how you want. Try out new things and maybe you’ll find something you never thought you would. There are more great games today than ever before. That’s rad AF. See you in 2019!