2018 has been a magnificent year for gaming. It’s definitely better than 2016 or 2017 was for me. What a year it was, especially for the PS4, which (in my opinion) had its best year yet with phenomenal exclusives that blew all the competition away. It was the year of the PS4, with two Game of the Year (GOTY) candidates being PS4 exclusives.
Before we welcome the new year, check out my top 10 gaming things of 2018 below. I’ve included two games from the now-defunct Telltale Games, so I want to take this opportunity to give a shoutout to everyone who previously worked at the studio and unceremoniously laid off in what was the most tragic gaming industry news of 2018.
10. Red Dead Redemption 2
For many, Red Dead Redemption 2 is their choice for GOTY 2018. While it’s not mine, the latest Rockstar title is definitely still a great game with high production values and visuals. Its focus on realism is a double-edged sword, capable of spinning the most unexpected moments in its narrative while being too tedious at times.
The gameplay feels satisfying though a bit unwieldy and clunky at times (due to its realism). My initial playthrough was marred by a couple of bugs which, while not game-breaking, breaks the immersion that the game is so striving for. Head on over here for my full and detailed review of RDR2.
9. Total War Saga Thrones of Britannia
Total War Saga Thrones of Britannia (that’s a mouthful) is the first title in Creative Assembly’s new line of Total War games which are more focused on a fixed point in history instead of an entire era. As a result, the game is more streamlined and less complicated compared to previous mainline titles in the franchise.
The game still retains many of the essential Total War mechanics while removing some of them. It’s smaller scope allows for shorter and faster-paced campaigns, which prevents fatigue from setting in. I look forward to more Total War Saga games, especially with the huge potential of many minor historical conflicts to adapt from.
8. Batman: The Enemy Within
Although the first episode of Batman: The Enemy Within was released in 2017, the final two episodes launched in early 2018 (so it still counts). The sequel to 2016’s Telltale’s Batman is a worthy follow-up to what I feel is the third best Telltale game (after The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us).
Unlike other comic book adaptations, Batman: The Enemy Within feels fresh due to the fact that Telltale decided to put their own unique spin on the Dark Knight mythos. Even a comic book fan like me didn’t know what to expect, which is an extremely impressive feat. It also provided a refreshing perspective on the Joker’s origin, which I appreciated.
7. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
I’ve been a fan of Japanese developer Level-5 since the PS2 days when they released underrated gems like Rogue Galaxy and Dark Cloud. Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is their first foray on the PS4, and it’s a glorious debut. I was initially apprehensive of the kingdom-building mechanic in the game, but then I realized that it complemented the core real-time combat gameplay while being addicting (in a good way) at the same time.
There’s even an RTS mechanic in the game. This mish-mash of multiple game genres shouldn’t work, but in the hands of JRPG maestros Level-5, it succeeds beautifully. The game is also rendered in lush cel-shaded graphics, which makes the game look like an anime come to life.
6. Detroit: Become Human
I remember calling this game nothing but a glorified movie promoted as a game. I was proven wrong. Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human looks like a tech demo, which means that the graphics are definitely some of the best I’ve ever seen. The high production values can be seen in the excellent motion-capture performances of the actors and actresses.
However, the narrative is filled with plot holes and minor gripes, as well as including every science fiction trope involving androids and artificial intelligence ever. Still, the game is an ambitious undertaking and one that shows the potential of gaming as a versatile medium.
5. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
While there might be some truth to complaints that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey doesn’t feel like an Assassin’s Creed game, I believe that the heavier RPG elements do much to improve the game. The game refines the mechanics already introduced earlier in Origins, and the Greek open-world feels authentic.
Ubisoft Quebec only added naval battles as part of the core gameplay again, but also added new ones like the Shadow of Mordor-inspired Mercenary system and new Conquest system. The addition of dialogue trees also allows for a certain degree of choice, though not at the same level as other games like Mass Effect or The Witcher 3.
Head on over here for my full and detailed review of ACO.
4. The Walking Dead The Final Season
Rick Grimes who? Move over, The Walking Dead TV series, Telltale’s The Walking Dead has always been the best adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s popular comic book since 2012 when we first met Lee and Clementine. After six years and a lot of tears, the conclusion is here. Well, only the first two episodes are currently playable, with Skybound Games developing the remaining two episodes to be released in 2019.
Players grew up with Clementine over three seasons, invested in keeping this young but strong protagonist alive. The Walking Dead: The Final Season is more personal in nature compared to previous seasons, with a smaller cast and setting. That makes for a tighter narrative and more emotion. Clementine’s journey is soon coming to an end. I’m not crying, you are.
3. Marvel’s Spider-Man
The last great Spider-Man game we received was 2004’s Spider-Man 2 on the PS2, and that was 14 years ago. A good Spidey, and by extension, Marvel game was long overdue, which is why it was spectacular fortune that Marvel’s Spider-Man swung by.
I’ve always liked the idea of an older and more experienced Peter Parker (rather than the teenager in Spider-Man Homecoming) so Insomniac’s take on the character provides a closer look at what it means to be Spider-Man with real problems (not schoolchildren problems). Just like Batman The Enemy Within, developers making their own unique take on established comic book lore makes for a refreshing perspective.
Before Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse released, I would have said that Marvel’s Spider-Man is the best adaptation of the character of any media outside of the comics. The gameplay is polished and accessible to everyone, making you feel like Spider-Man more than any other game has done before. Insomniac nailed it, and Marvel’s Spider-Man is now the quintessential Spidey game.
2. God of War
My personal choice for GOTY 2018 is Sony Santa Monica’s God of War.
It’s one of the few games that actually deserves a 10/10 rating. I was awed by the game’s narrative and phenomenal visuals from the beginning to the very end of the game. I played through the game with a constant ‘O’ face (insert emoji here). The game is a masterpiece in all aspects: story, gameplay, and music.
If a perfect game exists, then God of War is that game. The fact that Cory Barlog and the folks at the Sony Santa Monica managed to reinvent this tired franchise into something like this is a godly feat in itself. The relationship between Kratos and Atreus is an unexpected emotional rollercoaster ride. I say unexpected because everyone initially thought that Atreus would be that typical annoying brat sidekick. Boy, were we wrong.
I struggle to even find flaws in God of War, that’s just how good the game is. By the end of the game, I was left wanting and utterly satisfied all at the same time. If you told me ten years ago that a God of War game would make me cry, I’d say you were crazy but apparently, miracles do happen.
1. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
And my number one top gaming thing of 2018 goes to what I believe to be one of the most underrated games this year. This was my most anticipated game of 2018 and I was still blown away by the title developed by Yuji Horii and Square Enix.
There’s a certain charm to the game that makes it unique amongst all other modern JRPGs. The fact that the game holds so closely to traditional JRPG tropes may push some gamers away, but that’s also the reason why this game is the king of JRPGs. This game sets a precedent for other future JRPGs by proving that there’s nothing wrong with sticking with the classics.
Despite its lack of any real innovation, Dragon Quest XI manages to refine every JRPG mechanic to perfection, which is a testament to one of the oldest and most legendary JRPG franchises of all time. While I admit those who abhor JRPGs wouldn’t like this game, it is a must-play for everyone who professes to play JRPGs.
Besides that, the narrative (though filled with familiar anime-style tropes) is full of twists and turns. Your companions in Dragon Quest XI might also be one of the best ensemble casts I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending more than a 100 hours with. I cared for them and I loved their little quirks.
The game is also a complete package, with no planned DLC or expansions. It also has an extensive post-game that leads to a true ending, which is probably the most satisfying one I’ve encountered in all my years of playing JRPGs, even compared to other franchises like Final Fantasy, Shin Megami Tensei, Tales of, and more.
Head on over here for a more detailed review of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, and why it’s a masterpiece worth playing.
2019 and Beyond
Personally, 2018 was a game-changer for me in so many ways. I’m thankful that I’m currently working with two of the most experienced (best) game journalists in the region: Kenn Leandre and Mr. Toffee. I’m looking forward to doing more great stuff with these folks, heading into 2019 and beyond.
Speaking of 2019, next year looks like it’s going to be an even more eventful year for the games industry. With a plethora of major game releases and the possible announcements of a new generation of game consoles, 2019 will be a historic year for gaming.