When looking back at a list of the games released during 2018, a trend begins to emerge very early on in the year. 2018 was undoubtedly filled with some great games, but it also featured a crazy amount of re-released/remastered/remade games that a lot of people have already played. While these games were great to revisit, there’s no way we could list any of them as Game of the Year contenders, for obvious reasons. Instead, we’ll be focusing on new titles that left a lasting impression on us.
Let’s get this out of the way right now before we get into our list. We have not had the time to finish God of War or Red Dead Redemption 2 as these games require a lot of time to get through. As a result, neither of these games have made it on to our Top 5 list even though they most likely deserve a spot. Think of it this way: every other GOTY list contains both of these games, so now you’ll get to see a list that has to feature two different games. Everybody wins.
Release Date: 25th July 2017 (Early Access)
Platform: Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android.
Despite launching in Early Access in Summer 2017, we think it’s important to acknowledge Fortnite’s impact on gaming this year. Thanks to Epic Games’ frequent updates, Fortnite has changed dramatically since its inception. In 2018, we saw the release of Seasons 3 through 7, marking huge changes to the map, weapons and items which have kept the game feeling fresh. Bearing in mind that this is a F2P game that is available on every platform, including mobile, it’s fair to say that Fortnite has set a new standard. To our knowledge, Fortnite is the first (and currently only) game to be cross-platform across every device. No matter what you think of Fortnite, this is a huge step in gaming and we hope this platform unity becomes the norm in years to come.
Oh, and the game is pretty good too! Fortnite has minimal downtime, meaning that you’ll always feel like you have something to do, whether it’s aggressively pushing other players, building, or finding cool items to play around with. Even if you’ve taken a break from Battle Royale games, returning to Fortnite will provide you with a different experience, while retaining the features that made it so popular in the first place.
4. Tetris Effect
Release Date: 9th November
Platform: PlayStation 4
Tetris Effect was one of the hidden gems of 2018 that may have slipped under your radar due to some of the other big releases. Created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, game designer of Rez and Lumines, Tetris Effect introduces new mechanics to spice up the traditional Tetris gameplay, while adding plenty of additional modes for hardcore players. Puzzle games typically don’t feature a soundtrack as good as this one, but Tetris Effect relies on players being entranced in the gameplay. The trippy effects that take place as you clear numerous lines can be mesmerising at times. Tetris Effect gives you an experience that you never thought a puzzle game could be capable of. To be reductive: Tetris Effect is Tetris with an interactive visualiser built in. Honestly, even that sounds really good to me.
On a separate note: there have been a number of game critics stating that they’ve actually cried while playing this game. To induce this effect, I believe you will need to purchase additional accessories, and I’m not talking about PSVR…
3. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee
Release Date: 16th November
Platform: Nintendo Switch
While a lot of fans have expressed complaints regarding Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee, we really appreciate the changes that have been made in this new title. Serving as a reimagining of Pokémon Yellow, this game has also been updated to include components from Pokémon GO, not to mention some incredibly familiar assets! The removal of surprise encounters saves a lot of time and makes filling your Pokédex even easier. However, it feels slightly strange to have lost features such as Wild Battles and we’re still unsure why Nintendo won’t let players use a Pro Controller to play this game. Overall, this fixed a lot of the inconveniences in previous Pokémon titles, despite coming with a few trade-offs.
Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee is the perfect game if you’re looking for something relaxing to play. The game has decent pacing, ensuring that when you locate a gym you’ll likely be able to beat it on the first try, with all the battles in between levelling up your party along the way. It’s also very friendly for new players, particularly those who enjoy playing Pokémon GO as it lets you transfer your Pokémon from the app to your Switch.
Release Date: 7th September
Platform: PlayStation 4
The impossible finally happened. We finally got a high quality Spider-Man game that we don’t have to lie about being good *cough* Spider-Man 2. Almost everything about this game is exactly what I would want from a Spider-Man game. The swinging mechanic, arguably the most important thing to get right in a Spider-Man game, has been implemented so well that the developers will genuinely struggle to improve it in any future sequels. As for the combat, fighting random goons feels so fluid when you’ve unlocked enough of the gadgets. It’s as close to becoming Spider-Man as you can get without being bitten by some magic spider.
Sure, the Mary Jane and Miles missions weren’t very good, nor were the boss fights, but remember when you got to kick loads of people off skyscrapers as Spider-Man? That part was the best. There are clear improvements that can be made to improve the series going forward, however, for Insomniac’s first attempt at a triple A Spider-Man game, this is an excellent place to start.
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Release Date: 7th December
Platform: Nintendo Switch
It’s no surprise that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes our top spot in our 2018 Game of the Year list. While Ultimate looks a lot like a port of Smash 4 with a few tweaks, there are a number of changes that make this instalment feel noticeably different. Sporting the largest roster ever with 69 unique characters and 7 echo fighters, Ultimate provides us with a huge choice of characters. Small yet notable changes to various characters will require you to spend a little while adjusting to your main again, although we’ve also spent a considerable amount of time testing out new characters, which has been equally enjoyable.
Unlocking the full roster can feel incredibly tedious and playing online was a bit sketchy to begin with however, thanks to a prompt patch, both of these issues appear to have been greatly improved. If you liked Smash 4, you will definitely enjoy Ultimate and we especially recommend picking up this title if you have at least one buddy to play with. Our best moments occur in tense 1v1s, which have often extended into long sessions of play.