2018 was a very weird year for me. On one hand, it was a very good year with plenty of great games, even if it didn’t reach the same heights as 2017. On the other hand, this is a year that I struggled to find time to actually play those games. As a result, a lot of the games on this list are ones that I haven’t finished. But, regardless, these are my ten favorite games of the year.
Before we get started, as always, I’m going to throw out some honorable mentions.
Red Dead Redemption II
Red Dead Redemption II is probably a really good game. If you read my review of Pokemon Let’s Go, you’ve already heard me talk about how I was simply too stressed out at the time of Red Dead’s release to be able to enjoy it. It’s just too much. At the time of this writing, I’ve made it off the mountain you start the game at, and that’s about it. Maybe 2019 will be the year that I manage to really sink some time into this one.
I don’t allow remasters/re-releases onto my list, so Shenmue was disqualified from the start. But both Shenmue games are among my favorite games of all time, and this was the first time either game had been available on a console since Shenmue II came out on the original Xbox. One of these days, I’m going to have a blog post getting into my kind of complex feelings on the games, but for now, just know that I’m happy they’re back.
Super Mario Party
When I wrote out a list of all the games that I had played this year and slowly pieced together a list, Super Mario Party originally landed at #10. Unfortunately for it, I ultimately decided I liked another game better and it knocked it off the list. But hey, Mario Party is a franchise that has been floundering for awhile now, and Super Mario Party really puts it back on the right path. It’s not perfect by any means, there’s only four maps in the main mode and they’re weirdly small, but they got rid of that dumbass car from the previous two games. That’s pretty cool right?
Alright, let’s being the actual list.
#10 Starlink: Battle For Atlas
I wasn’t sure what to think about Starlink when it was first announced. Did we really need another toys-to-life game, especially when it seemed like all the big ones were starting to close up shop?It wasn’t until E3 this year when the Star Fox content was shown that I was officially interested. But even then, I didn’t pick the game up until Black Friday.
Turns out, Starlink is really cool. I’m a big fan of Star Fox, and in a lot of ways, this feels like what a modern Star Fox game should feel like. It’s open world, you can go between planets, and get into dog fights. Surprisingly, the Star Fox stuff in the Switch version doesn’t feel shoe-horned at all, to a point where I honestly think it’s weird that there are versions of the game that don’t include it. Also, the toys are neat.
#9 Detective Pikachu
It’s really baffling every time I see people talk about theories about the Detective Pikachu movie. Like, you guys know it’s based on a game, right? We know what the general story is, it already exists. This is a game that won me over almost entirely with its charming writing. The gameplay itself is a pretty basic adventure game, but your interactions with your father’s old Pikachu who loves coffee, attempting to flirt with women, and somehow talk to you in steal the show. If you’re looking for a complex detective story, this probably won’t give you what you’re looking for, but I had a smile the whole time I played. Hey, is this the final 3DS game to make it into my top ten lists? We’ll find out next year.
#8 Marvel’s Spider-Man
I was excited for Spider-Man for as long as we knew it existed, but it was also kind of a known thing. It’s an open world game where you swing around, find stuff, stop crimes, and take part in bigger missions to stop super villains. And, that’s exactly what the game turned out to be. While it isn’t reinventing the wheel, in fact it takes a lot of inspiration from Batman’s Arkham games, it does it so well that I feel like everyone should check it out, whether you care about the character or not.
#7 Mega Man 11
I actually wrote a full review for this one, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But, Mega Man 11 is everything that I wanted out of a new game in the series. It pushes things forward with some new mechanics while staying true to the old “jump and shoot” gameplay the series is known for. If only the music was better.
#6 Monster Hunter World
I recently saw in my Facebook memories the post I made after playing the demo for Monster Hunter World. I was happy that fighting monsters was as fun as ever but lamented the decision to make the actual hunting easier. No more paintballs? You follow a bunch of sparkles until you stumble into the monster? No thanks.
Well, I ended up actually really liking the changes. Those sparkles don’t make the game as easy as the demo seemed to imply, you have to actually find footprints and things like that before they start showing you the way. And you know what? Who cares about paintballs? This game took the notoriously difficult to get into series and made it something much more inviting. It’s still a real Monster Hunter game, and a real good one too.
#5 Dead Cells
I’ve never been the biggest fan of rogue-likes and I’ve always struggled with Dark Souls-esque games. So, why did I fall so in love with this rogue-like with Dark-Souls-esque level up mechanics? Mostly because of just how well it plays. It’s a 2D game that has a very Castlevania look to it and really snappy combat. As you kill enemies, they drop Cells which can be used to unlock new abilities, but if you die, you lose any that you haven’t spent. You also start over from the beginning, but with all the equipment you unlocked. It’s a simple concept with some excellent depth to the action and it had me hooked for tons of hours.
#4 Pokemon Let’s Go
This is another one that I’ve already written a full review of, so again, I’m not going to go too in-depth. But Pokemon Let’s Go is a great little game to chill out with and enjoy a very nostalgic adventure. And yes, I know that you could consider this a remake of the first generation Pokemon games and thus shouldn’t be eligible, but I think there’s enough different here to qualify it as a new game. Also, it’s my list, leave me alone.
#3 Dragon Ball FighterZ
Again, check out my full review, but man, Dragon Ball FighterZ has done what is apparently impossible. They made a Dragon Ball Z game that both captures the spirit of the show and is an outstanding game. It’s very easy to pick up, but as any match in online will show you, there’s still a real amount of skill required to be actually good at it. And it just looks so good. If you have any interest in Dragon Ball, fighting games, or both, please play this game.
#2 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I’ve loved every Super Smash Bros. game to date, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that I love Ultimate. Every character is back and plays how you remember them, but with subtle balancing and what not. New characters are here and they all feel great and unique, especially Simon and Richtor Belmont and King K. Rool. The single player mode is the best it’s ever been, even topping Subspace Emissary in my opinion, even if it has less story. The inclusion of Spirits, which are non-playable characters that you can attach to your characters in the single player mode for extra buffs, allow for a much bigger celebration of all things video games than ever before. This game is everything that a Super Smash Bros. sequel should be and I can’t wait to hear who’s coming in the DLC.
#1 Sea Of Thieves
I feel like this is kind of a controversial opinion. Sea Of Thieves doesn’t have enough content. You see all the game has to offer in an hour. There’s no notable progression. These are the things I keep hearing, and I guess they’re not wrong. But I don’t think that’s the game Rare was trying to make.
Instead of some grand MMO where your jobless friends skyrocket past you while you struggle to find time to play, any time you come back to the game, you are on a level playing field with everyone else. This is the kind of game you play because it’s fun to play, not because you have to get that number higher.
But if you really want to get that number higher, there are multiple factions who you can raise your reputation with and eventually become a pirate legend. This was enough for me, and this game has been the one that I just keep coming back to all year. There is no other game that I spent this much time with, or even wanted to spend this much time with, this year.
I understand that not everyone will feel the way I do, but every chest dug up, every Megalodon I’ve run away from, every player I’ve teamed up with, every player I’ve betrayed, all added up to the most fun I’ve had all year. Sea Of Thieves really is something special, and I’m so glad to have a big game from Rare again.