My Top Ten Games of 2018: #1

My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!

#10 Dead Cells
#9 Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
#8 Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee!
#7 Frostpunk
#6 Jurassic World Evolution
#5 Into the Breach
#4 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
#3 Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
#2 Red Dead Redemption II

#1 Monster Hunter: World

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC

While there were some excellent surprises on my Game of the Year list, none reached the incredible dark horse status of Monster Hunter: World. This was a series that I’d never cared much about. I last dabbled in the series with Monster Hunter Tri on Wii a decade ago only to bounce off hard.

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.

With Monster Hunter: World I finally understand the appeal of the entire Dark Souls subgenre of action-RPGs: densely detailed game design that requires intimate knowledge of enemies, weapons, and attack animations. Over a dozen weapons provide different styles that completely change how we approach a fight. Every monster has predictable attack patterns and behavior, yet all still provide a dynamic and exciting challenge – especially when nearby monsters are thrown into the mix.

The crafting loop creates a constant and steady stream of rewarding progression while rarely feeling frustrating due to rare drops, at least until the very late game. The main campaign alone lasts over 50 hours, and then you can do it all again but with a fun remixed version of more powerful monsters in different locations. In total I logged over 100 hours into Monster Hunter: World, easily making it my most played game of the year, and much of that with cooperative multiplayer.

Sure the main story is threadbare. They didn’t exactly prioritize the cringey writing or voice acting. And that Zorah Magdaros campaign mission is probably the most laughably awful designed mission in an otherwise stellar experience. The primary appeal is choosing your randomized mission of varying risk and reward and jumping in to a dangerous zone of killer monsters and hazards, which satisfies all my online cooperative multiplayer in a way few modern games seem to be able to.

More than any other game on this list Monster Hunter: World created the most Oh Shit moments, such as fighting a T-Rex only to have a dragon swoop in and carry it off, or fighting a pair of dragons together only to knock them over a cliff by triggering an avalanche of water. It’s a game that cuts out all the middling parts of an action-RPG, leaving only the bombastic, imminently satisfying boss battles.

I hope to return to Monster Hunter: World again in the future but even if I’ve fully retired, it’s more than earned its place as my favorite game of 2018.

Monster Hunter: World Tips and Guide for New Players [Pixelkin]

Read the full guide at Pixelkin

Monster Hunter: World may be the most accessible game in the series but it’s still a tricky game to jump into, particularly if you’re completely new to the Monster Hunter series. We’ve compiled some helpful tips and explained some important mechanics to help start novice hunters on the right path to hunting and slaying.

In Monster Hunter: World your progression is tied directly to your gear, as well as a single Hunter Rank number. This number could be considered your level, just without all the normal RPG benefits of stat increases and abilities. Your HR determines how difficult of a mission you can accept, as well as unlocking new areas, quests, and facilities in Astera. Every quest has an HR requirement, and you can never join one that’s above your HR. Keep that in mind when playing multiplayer.

Read the full guide at Pixelkin

Monster Hunter: World Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full review at Pixelkin

I had the Anjanath on the run. Monster Hunter’s version of a Tyrannosaurus Rex decided he’d had enough of my hacking and slashing, and fled to higher ground. I chased after him, winding up the trees and branches in the Ancient Forest. We reached a nest-like clearing and faced each other, prepared to duel it out again. A terrifying roar signaled a newcomer to the party. We’d wandered into the nesting grounds of a dragon, the Rathian.

The 10-year old within me excitedly cheers as the giant monsters battle each other, the dragon picking up the T-Rex and dropping it from its nest. When the Rathian turns its attention toward me, I make like the Anjanath and run like hell.

Monster Hunter: World excels at capturing these emergent, exhilarating moments, and creating reactive areas where your hunter exists among larger, even deadlier hunters.

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Monster Hunter Stories Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full review at Pixelkin

The Monster Hunter series has been around for over a decade, though far more popular in Japan than in the US. The world of gigantic monsters, challenging combat, and hours of grinding and crafting weapons and armor often remains impenetrable for many would-be fans.

Monster Hunter Stories refreshingly succeeds at being a more intuitive, kid-friendly spin-off game. It incorporates basic elements of Pokémon’s monster-collecting while still using the core tenets of Monster Hunter’s questing and hunting tasks to create a welcoming, yet deeply rich experience.

Read the full review at Pixelkin