The Best Games of 2018
By Willow Green Posted 28 Jun 2018
From tearing up the Wild West and acts of frosty deicide, to explorations of burgeoning romance and swinging through the streets of New York City, 2018 has been a fascinating year for video games. As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on everything we’ve had the chance to play over the last 12 months, with a look at the best games of 2018, as picked by the Empire staff.
10. Destiny 2: Forsaken
Watching the growth of Destiny has been fascinating – from the frankly broken release of the original game, through its mid-gen upgrade, to the full sequel, Destiny has grown into a captivating sci-fi universe. Forsaken proved the biggest change yet, and despite being the third expansion pack for the core Destiny 2, managed to move the entire universe along. The mechanical overhaul would have been enough for many fans, delivering new multiplayer Strike missions and Crucible maps, plus a fresh play mode blending PvE and PvP. It was the story campaign that elevated the entire package though, with the death of long-running character Cayde-6 and the fallout from his passing. Given much of Destiny‘s lore to date had been window dressing for the shooter/RPG hybrid of the gameplay, Forsaken‘s greatest accomplishment was in making players actually feel something, emotionally investing them in the sci-fi universe for arguably the first time.
9. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Coming only a year after Origins, there was some concern Odyssey might mark a return to the bad old days of Ubisoft churning out an Assassin’s Creed annually. Thankfully, that concern was misplaced – Odyssey improves on everything its predecessor introduced and evolves the series into a full-on epic scale, open world RPG. The Ancient Greek setting is one of the series’ most beautiful locations, while its story, set around the Peloponnesian War, is one of the most absorbing the franchise has delivered. With compelling lead characters – either Kassandra or Alexios, whichever you choose to play – and an array of ways to develop their satisyingly lethal skills, plus entirely new aspects of play such as melee battlefield encounters, Odyssey cements itself as one of the best Assassin’s Creed games ever.
8. Tetris Effect
Who’d have thought a 34 year-old game could clinch the title of one of 2018’s best? Well, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, for one – the auteur creator behind Rez, Lumines, and Child Of Eden, and an unrelenting advocate for video games as a way to explore sensory synaesthesia. That’s exactly what Tetris Effect delivers, too – a mind-melding new way to play the beloved block-busting puzzle game, where music and visuals blur into the zen-like tile matching gameplay for mesmerising results. With unadulterated Tetris rules and a host of new modes, plus the option to truly immerse yourself in the sensory overload via PSVR, this revamp of a stone cold classic becomes one of the freshest games of the year.
7. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Early glimpses of Insomniac’s game made the studios take on Marvel’s wall-crawler look like a linear, borderline generic affair. What arrived was a stunning recreation of New York, capturing the essence of the real world city and layering on the mystique of the Marvel Universe, peppering it with locations ripped straight from the comics. With silky-smooth web-swinging, elegant combat mechanics, tonnes of fan service in the form of unlockable costumes, and a story that blends the best elements of decades of Spider-Man stories into a cohesive whole, it’s instantly entrenched itself as one of the best superhero games ever. It’s canon too, with the game’s version of Spider-Man catapulted into the comics for the multiversal Spidergeddon storyline!
It’s still rare for mobile games to offer particularly emotive or resonant experiences, but thankfully that’s changing. Case in point: this beautiful slice of life game from director Ken Wong, previously the designer on the groundbreaking Monument Valley. Here, you guide the titular Florence as she meets and builds a relationship with Krish, a street performer. While the gameplay is divided into short minigames – even mundane ones, like tidying her apartment – the joy comes from interacting with her everyday life and relationship. A far more emotive use of your phone than another round on a match-three puzzler.
5. Dark Souls Remastered
The greatest achievement of Dark Souls may be its ability to infuriate everyone who’s ever played it – yet still bring them back begging for more. This year’s remaster of the original game in the series (not counting precursor Demon’s Souls) served to cement its reputation as one of the toughest yet finest action RPGs ever created, returning players to the blighted dark fantasy world of Lordran to battle through its assorted horrors in full HD. Packing in all previously released DLC makes this the definitive edition in terms of content, while an improved and stable frame rate makes sections that were previously nigh-impossible at least manageable. Best of all, Dark Souls Remastered didn’t soften its notorious difficulty to appease newcomers. Prepare to die… again.
4. Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Arriving just shy of the 20 year anniversary for the series, Nintendo delivers an entry so good, it might not ever need to release a Smash Bros title again. With every character who’s ever appeared in a Smash game before, including crossover characters such as Metal Gear Solid‘s Snake and former company rival Sonic The Hedgehog, and a stunning array of stages and play modes, Ultimate easily stands as the biggest instalment ever. It doesn’t just impress by overwhelming players with content though – every aspect of the game has been tweaked to perfection, leading to balanced battles that will appeal to casual players as much as esports pros. A magnificent achievement.
3. Shadow Of The Colossus
2018 is shaping up to be the year of the remake done right, with this ground-up rebuild of the PS2 classic showing how it’s done. Every beat of Fumito Ueda’s harrowing treatise on loss and isolation is recreated beautifully here, without developer Bluepoint Games giving in to temptation to add in new areas or extra Colossi to slay. This remains the unexpectedly poignant tale of the desperate lengths one young man will go to, to be reunited with a lost loved one, with all the harrowing consequences that entails – but now it looks a whole lot prettier as it rips your heart from your chest.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
Set a decade before the first Redemption, players take on the role of outlaw Arthur Morgan, general in the Van der Linde gang, as their criminal ways are increasingly at odds with the advent of modern civilisation. The sprawling plot is filled with nuanced and captivating characters, and has enough material packed in for a multiple season HBO show, but the story is still almost second fiddle to the sheer wonder and detail of this Western world. Rockstar spared no effort in making this the most intricate and realistic experience possible, and whether it’s staging heists and surviving shootouts with the law, or simply grooming your horse and foraging for herbs, Red Dead Redemption 2‘s attention to detail staggers belief. An easy contender for 2018’s most remarkable gaming world.
1. God Of War
Or as the internet now calls it, Dad of War. Who would have thought, back in Kratos’ days of tearing hydra to pieces, garrotting gods, or partaking in the odd hidden orgy that the grumpy Spartan had more paternal instincts? Yet casting the godslayer as a reluctant single father, struggling to connect with his son while dealing with the loss of his beloved wife, provided a necessary dash of humanity that the earlier games lacked. Transposing ancient Greece for the icy climes of Northern Europe, and the Greek Pantheon for the darker magic of the Norse gods, helped God of War stand apart from its predecessors, while updates to mechanics – including casting Kratos’ son Atreus as an aspiring archer, who can help in battle – made the game feel like more than a rehash of the gory titles of old. Most impressively, the entire story is framed as one long camera take, making God of War look like nothing else we’ve seen this year.
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