Every year is a great year for gaming, but 2018 in particular was full of big payoffs for blockbuster games like Marvel’s Spider-Man, God of War, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Red Dead Redemption II.
Despite working as a freelance writer who covers games, I definitely didn’t play all the games I wanted to this year. But I still came away with a list of 10 fantastic games that I absolutely loved.
This was the year I finally acquired a Switch, though not until November. As everyone already knows it’s a great system and the gaming world feels better with Nintendo succeeding. You definitely saw some Switch games on my Top Ten list!
On the flip side, the Nintendo 3DS has been all but retired, and this is the first time in years at least one 3DS game isn’t on my game of the year list.
This year I hit 1,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel and started a Patreon to help expand my video content. It’s been a blast and I want to personally thank all my Patreons for allowing me to spend more time doing DMs Guild Reviews, Let’s Play live streams, and of course our star attraction: the weekly live play D&D campaign.
As of December 2018 my channel has now grown to 1,300 subscribers, and for the first time this year, I did my Top Ten Games of 2018 countdown list via videos.
To recap, I’ve compiled my complete list of top ten games of 2018 below.
My Top Ten Games of 2018
10) Dead Cells
Metroidvanias and roguelikes are two of the most overused genres, and buzzwords, in indie gaming, but it’s still a genre I tend to love. Dead Cells is anything but a tiresome retread, pulling the best elements of both genres into an instantly likable neon art style of colorful death.
9) Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
I’m an easy target for any game that features tactical, XCOM-like turn-based combat. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden had the dubious potential to become a budget XCOM – which I probably still would have enjoyed. But by combining solid tactical gameplay with rewarding stealth mechanics and shockingly good voice acting Road to Eden carves its own space in the genre.
8) Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!
Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! are charming and delightful recreations of the original Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow games. Adventuring through a fully 3D Kanto is a delicious nostalgia fest but it’s the little improvements that really kept me hooked, like being able to swap your party out on field, drop-in co-op, and not having to teach the critical Hidden Machine skills just to get around.
Thanks to its incredibly immersive atmosphere, haunting string soundtrack and compelling writing. Frostpunk is more than just a thematic city builder. It’s one of the best games of the year.
6) Jurassic World Evolution
I admit that 2016’s Planet Coaster is ostensibly a better, and more robust theme park game, but I’m a huge sucker for dinosaurs and Jurassic World Evolution is the closest thing to a Jurassic Park dream game I’ve been waiting over a decade for.
5) Into the Breach
Out of all the games on this list Into the Breach is the one I plan on returning to the most. Its delicate tactical balance splashed with just the right amount of RPG elements make it more than a worthy follow-up to Subset Games’ previous hit, FTL.
4) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
It may be too early to tell if Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the best of the series, but it’s certainly one of the best games of the year. With over 70 fighters, 100 stages and hundreds and hundreds of music tracks it’s well-deserving of its ‘Ultimate’ designation.
3) Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
If you’ve ever sighed wistfully and declared that they don’t make them like they used to in regards to traditional RPGs, Dragon Quest 11 is here to grab you by the arm and usher you into a gloriously sincere world of monsters and charm.
2) Red Dead Redemption II
If I had to choose one single game from the last console generation as my absolute favorite, there’s an excellent chance I would settle on Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar Game’s sequel is bigger and deeper than anyone could have imagined.
1) Monster Hunter: World
I never expected to like this game, let alone fall in love with it. After my first week of playing I feverishly told my friends they had to pick it up, and what followed was dozens of hours of both solo and cooperative greatness as we mastered our favorite weapons, familiarized ourselves with the colorful hunting grounds, and studied the deadly dance of each monster so we could craft better gear and do it all again.
Every year in January I publish my top ten most anticipated games of the year. Now it’s payoff time as we get to remark on how close – or embarrassingly far off, my predictions were!
Here’s a quick rundown of Most Anticipated Games of 2018, published last January.
- Red Dead Redemption II
- Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
- State of Decay 2
- Jurassic Wold Evolution
- Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
- Spelunky 2
- Into the Breach
- Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
- The Bard’s Tale IV
Four out of ten made my Game of the Year list – same as last year! Three of these games didn’t come out this year: Bloodstained, Spelunky, and Griftlands.
That leaves us with three games: Pillars of Eternity 2, State of Decay 2, and The Bard’s Tale 4.
Out of those three I only played one of them. Despite the first Pillars of Eternity being my #1 Game of the Year in 2015, the sequel shockingly failed to grab me in a meaningful way. I actually replayed part of Pillars 1, along with The White March DLC (part 1 anyway) to prep for the sequel.
But when I finally got around to playing Pillars 2, I just didn’t get sucked in like I was expecting, and the whole pirate/ship theme is a bit jarring. Thus, Pillars 2 wins the rather dubious honor of being my most disappointing game of the year. It’s not a bad game, but I was expecting it to be one my favorites of the year.
As for the other two, I didn’t play them. I read mixed things about State of Decay 2, a game that has been on my most anticipated lists for years (I LOVED the first one). But I also don’t have a modern Xbox console and I’m not super keen to use the Windows 10 store.
As for Bard’s Tale 4, I just didn’t have time for you (winning another dubious award). So many games, so little time! I’m still very interested in how this one plays and really want to try it next year.
I also publish a Mid-Year list in June, celebrating my top five games, as well as my five most anticipated games for the latter half.
My Top Five Games of the Mid-Year:
- Monster Hunter: World
- Into the Breach
- Jurassic World Evolution
- Jurassic World Alive
The mobile game Jurassic World Alive fell off for me as I actually got back into Pokémon GO thanks to Pokémon: Let’s Go. The rest remained strong going into the finals, with no game able to dethrone the greatness of Monster Hunter: World.
Here were my top five most anticipated games for the second half of 2018 (alphabetical):
- The Bard’s Tale IV
- Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
- Fallout 76
- Red Dead Redemption II
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Red Dead and Smash are obvious inclusions. Bard’s Tale and Bloodstained were Kickstarter games I’d been looking forward to, and both I already mentioned above.
As for Fallout, well, I’m a big Fallout fan but Fallout 76 appears to have some major issues as Bethesda stumbles a bit with its first multiplayer game. Given all the very excellent multiplayer games and modes that released this year, I’m okay with skipping it.
2018 End of Year Awards
Most Played: Monster Hunter: World (102 hrs)
Best Multiplayer: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Best Cooperative Game: Monster Hunter: World
Biggest Surprise: Monster Hunter: World
Most Disappointing: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Best Early Access/Beta Game: N/A this year!
Best Original Music: Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Best Soundtrack: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Best Art Design: Dead Cells
Best World Building/Atmosphere: Red Dead Redemption II
Best Writing: Red Dead Redemption II
Best Game Nobody Else Played: Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Most Improved Sequel: Monster Hunter: World
Favorite New Game Mechanic: Swapping out Pokémon on the fly in Pokémon: Let’s Go
Most Innovative: Into the Breach
Best New Character: Sylvando (Dragon Quest 11)
Favorite Moment: Drinking with Lenny in Valentine (Red Dead Redemption 2)
Best Industry Trend: Fantastic AAA single player games
Worst Industry Trend: Nintendo’s disappointing online functionality
Didn’t Have Time to Play: The Bard’s Tale IV
Too Long; Didn’t Finish: Red Dead Redemption II
Favorite 2017 Game of 2018: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Backlogged Games Finished in 2018
A new section I’m adding to my already lengthy year end post – the backlogged games I played (and hopefully finished) this year. I never have enough time to play through my backlog, but this year I made a better effort than the last few years.
My biggest accomplishment was playing through every single Uncharted game, having never before played a single game in the series. Hit the link for my Final Thoughts on each game.
- Darkest Dungeon (Let’s Play series, Final Thoughts still forthcoming!)
- Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 1 (No Final Thoughts for DLC)
- Chrono Cross (via PSP)
- Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
- Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection)
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection)
- Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection)
- The Last of Us Remastered
- SteamWorld Heist
Have a wonderful holiday and I’ll see you next year with my most anticipated games list of 2019!