Welcome to 2019! It turns out that 2018 was another good year for games, from big exclusive blockbusters like God of War, and Spider-Man to independent games like Kenshi, and RimWorld finally leaving Early Access and getting full 1.0 releases. I played fewer games this year as I tend to only play games that are good (which is debatable), and I try not to waste my time with rubbish. This also means that there is plenty of good games that I just didn’t have the time to play, or old games that I have currently shelved for the time being.
Note: Like always for a game to qualify, I must have played the game in 2018, but the game doesn’t have to been released in 2018.
Here are some games that I played that were enjoyable but didn’t make my top ten list:
(I) Stardew Valley (Switch)
Stardew Valley is what Harvest Moon would be like if made by one person and inspired by 16-bit graphics. In Stardew Valley, you have inherited your grandfather’s old farm plot and decide to start a new life living off the land there. This isn’t easy though as the old farm is in major disrepair, you therefore must build it up from scratch, by cutting, chopping, planting, feeding crops, and much more before you can enjoy the easy life.
Stardew Valley is a great game for people who love repetition, while seeing their efforts spring into life before them. The game isn’t for everyone, and is a game you will likely only ever play once as it takes about up to 100 hours to do everything. Multiplayer was recently added, so you can reduce the grind with your friends, and it works very well. What Stardew Valley does well is create a game that you will always remember your time spent with.
(II) Star Traders: Frontiers (PC)
In Star Traders: Frontiers you play as a captain of a starship in a large open universe where you can explore a galaxy filled with internal conflicts, alien threats, and factional politics. Star Traders: Frontiers is a space RPG rogue-like. You will likely replay the game often trying different tactics or play styles, blowing up spectacularly, or just drifting from one planet to another for eternity.
Star Traders: Frontiers depending on the difficulty settings chosen isn’t a practically easy game but allows you freedom to be a trader, pirate, explorer, and more, all of which have their strengths and weaknesses. The game is basically split into four sections: Firstly overtop starship exploration like Stellaris. Secondly planet exploitation, and exploring, which uses cards, and is a lot similar to other 4X games. Thirdly space combat like FTL, and finally on foot combat like Darkest Dungeon. That’s a lot of variety in the game, and it all mostly works well together.
However I felt that while space combat was tactical and fair, on foot combat just felt a bit unfair, and over reliant on certain weapons, skills, and roles. Therefore you are more likely to get screwed on foot than in space. The thing that ruins the experience most for me is that the time it takes to navigate between all these sections can be long and tiring, especially when all you might want to do is retreat from a battle, but it still forces you onto the space combat screen, just so you can click a couple of buttons and then retreat.
If you want to play a non-linear space game where your story and actions matter, from impacting stock levels on planets, faction relations, and wars, then you should play Star Traders: Frontiers by the Trese Brothers. The developers are the lords of making well realised independent video games, which they support for years to come with free updates and patches.
(III) World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth (PC)
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the latest expansion for the MMORPG juggernaut World of Warcraft, and it feels aptly named as this expansion more than any others in the game’s history has divided the community and even Blizzard itself. Some have called it Legion 2.0, as while Legion felt fresh by adding new mechanics such as world invasions, legendary weapons, and changing the way world quests work. Battle for Azeroth again uses all these mechanics but doesn’t add much else. It does replace the legendary weapons mechanic with Azerite armour that requires players to collect Azerite to level up their gear and increase their item level, and there are a few new distractions, such as Island Expeditions, and Warfronts, both of which are against NPCs, but Battle for Azeroth fells empty for solo character players, even though levelling is still quick, and you will likely spend several real-time days in the game doing raids, battlegrounds, and quests.
Battle for Azeroth narrative goes back to basics by telling the story of the war between the Alliance and Horde that sees the destruction of the Elf capital city of Darnassus, and the Forsaken capital city of Undercity. This tale is well told, but because the way subscription based games work, if you play it now you aren’t going to get the whole story or even the whole content intended for the whole expansion which is fine, but means you need to be in World of Warcraft for the long run to benefit from it all, so you can’t just play for a month to see it all.
I had fun levelling up my character to the highest new level (level 120), and doing all the contend available at the time, until my subscription expired. It does mean that while I do feel satisfied with my experience exploring the new lands, and doing the various new activities added. It does indicate that Battle for Azeroth like the other World of Warcraft expansions is only as good as what you put into do it. You really need to make your own goals in the game, as its inconceivable to complete 100% of World of Warcraft, with certain tasks being not worthwhile, or fun at all. It is also likely that while my character was quite powerful at the time, if I play now he will no longer be.
If you have never played World of Warcraft then Battle for Azeroth won’t change your mind, and if you are a veteran this might not bring you back either. That being said World of Warcraft is still the only MMORPG you should play, if you need that kind of gameplay experience, and World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth allows you to play the latest content without even having to start from Level 1.
The experiences you have in Azeroth will always stay with you for the rest of your life. You can’t say that positively about most other games.
Games of the Year
With that all being said, and without further a do these are my top games for AD 2018:
(10) Valkyria Chronicles 4 (Switch)
The Valkyria Chronicles games are tactical role-playing games set in an alternative reality version of World War II, with instead of the Axis and Allies, it features the Empire and the Federation. In the game missions you select units on a map then zoom in to control each individual unit on the battlefield. Movement and attacking is done in real-time. Players directly control where a character shoots, so you can aim and do head shots for more damage. How many units you can control on a turn is determined by your total Command Points, which if used tactically can change the tide of the battle. In Valkyria Chronicles 4 (Chronicles 4) there are a few new additions such as the Grenadier class, and characters can sometimes make a last stand.
The story is okay, but is pretty predictable with mostly forgettable characters who are mostly annoying, and offer little to care about. If you like anime stories then you will likely enjoy the narrative but for me, if I am playing a war game, I want a more gritty tale or one that is at least more interesting within the games fiction. While your characters can die in the game and change the story, good luck achieving that as even on the hardest difficulty, death is easily avoided and main characters can’t be permanently killed. What we get instead in Chronicles 4 is a group of childhood friends who much fulfil their “fate” while fighting a losing war.
Chronicles 4 features two characters called Kai, who are brother and sister. This is where the game could have been interesting, as at the start the brother goes missing and is replaced by he’s sister. Both have the same name, so you might think he has had a sex change or something. That could have been an interesting story to tell, as the overly masculine Raz character fancies the female Kai. They could explored what happens when someone changes their sex and how people act towards them. They could have asked some interesting questions such as: Are you the same person? Or are you a completely different person when you decide to change etc? Instead it turns out the male Kai didn’t like war, so he goes AWOL, but eventually joins the Empire. The female Kai isn’t him but he’s sister, who joined so the army didn’t notice he left. The whole story involving Kai, and the squad is such a wasted opportunity in telling an interesting tale.
Chronicles 4 still shines in its tactical combat and features plenty of maps to fight on and a pretty deep upgrade system. You will have to watch and listen to hours of anime children, mostly acting like fools between battles, all of which require you to button through hundreds of slowly spoken dialogue boxes.
Most Valkyria Chronicles games have been good in the past and Valkyria Chronicles 4 is probably the best one since the original game.
(9) Kenshi (PC)
Kenshi, is an open world free-roaming squad based RPG. You can be a trader, a thief, a rebel, a warlord, an adventurer, a farmer, a slave, or something in-between. Kenshi will be familiar to anyone who has played a game like Battle Brothers, or Mount & Blade: Warband, or Rimworld. While they all play differently, they all have the same principles of offering a sandbox to make your own stories and decisions, with an attention of detail that some might not even notice.
Kenshi was in development for about twelve years, a pretty incredible amount of time. This is because the game was made by a very small team of people, with a lot of it being made by one person, this is a truly independent game, not like those multimillion big budget ones. However this has clearly impacted the game in may ways for good and bad. A positive impact is that the game is nonlinear, and massive in terms of scope and scale, you can see hundreds of people on the screen at once, and travel the world for literally miles. On the other hand, the negative impacts are seen in that the game isn’t the prettiest, intuitive, or gives much help to new players. All of which you get use to but will put off a lot of people from even trying the game.
If you like brutal gameplay then you should try this game. Kenshi allows you to wander a desert, get your leg cut off, captured, and carried to some slave traders, who chain you up and force you protect then until you die slowly of starvation and blood loss. Or you could be a person who builds squads of ruthless killers, like a plague of locusts that raids every town, and camps they come across, only caring to secure their next meal
What makes Kenshi special is that the world doesn’t scale with you, certain areas of the map will mean certain death if you go there, and even enemies that are easy like Dust Bandits, can cause serious trouble for you if not handled correctly. This means that while you can out level areas, but because of the way combat works, it doesn’t mean you will be unscathed at the end of it.
There are other cool things in the game such as: See someone with cool weapons and armour? Just incapacitated them and steal them, now they are yours. Find a cool place to build a base? Then build a base there. Want to take over a town but don’t have the squad for it? Encourage the local wildlife to do it, and steal all the glory for yourselves. The possibilities are huge in Kenshi.
The reason it is here on my list and not more nearer to number one, is that the fun comes from quick situations and scenarios. If you play one character for tens or even hundred of hours, the game can become stale, especially if you have a base, as it becomes more about micromanaging settlers and stock. This is still fun in it own right, but the start of the journey is often the most eventful and enjoyable part of Kenshi as you try to survive in a dangerous world. The later parts of the game become more about endurance, as survival becomes easier with a large squad.
If you like to live short and dangerous lives in a Japanese inspired “swordpunk” world, Kenshi is a perfect game to spend your time in.
(8) Kingdom Come: Deliverance (PC)
Kingdom Come: Deliverance (Deliverance) is a role-playing game set in an open world environment and played from a fixed first-person perspective. The game uses a RPG system like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, in such the skills are improved by using them, and your class can be flexible.
Deliverance is basically what Oblivion would be like if all the fantasy fluff was taking out, and instead set in 15th century Czech Republic (Bohemia) and made to be kind of realistic, and authentic with real locations, people, clothes, and weapons.
The game starts you off as a simple blacksmiths son and is linear but after some important story events, it let’s you explore the map to your hearts desire. At this point you are not a simple skilled peasant but a knight. You however don’t have to be chivalrous or even wear armour, or use a sword but it does allow you have enough freedom to do what you want.
You will spend a lot the time travelling in real-time around the massively realised world map, you may fast travel but fast travel only works to certain points of the map and can lead to random encounters and events which can get you killed. You will come across people living out their lives, working, sleeping, and travelling, all which impacts businesses, quests, and how you play the game. This also means your player character needs to consider their hunger and energy levels. As being too hungry or tired will have an impact on your character stats and ability to do tasks. Therefore when playing Deliverance you need to consider all these moving cogs, and mechanics as you play and don’t expect to shop, do quests, or travel at any time of the day you want.
Deliverance is a kind of game that, you could be wandering near some woods, and get ambushed by three bandits. In the ensuing battle you kill one, make one surrender, and the last one flees. A little while later after you have robbed a traveling merchant, you come across the bandit who fled earlier taking a toilet break in the bushes, you slowly sneak up and take him out from behind. This is all made more impactful because of the games attention to authenticity and detail. All of this is optional emerging story telling which is common in Deliverance.
Combat takes place strictly in first-person, where the way you are facing impacts the direction of your swings, and whether you will get hit or able to block. This makes combat more involving than Oblivion and can take some time to get use to. As while it will be familiar to people who have played a Mount & Blade game before, it is a bit more complex for one on one fights. You can get skills that allow you to hit multiple combatants later on, but for the most part you will need to switch targets constantly if you want to fight effectively against multiple foes. However once you get used to the combat it is really satisfying, as it allows you to pull of certain special moves or even make enemies surrender.
Yet some of the systems used in Deliverance can be confusing or badly implemented, such having to drink a potion to save the game (when you away from a bed), or how the cleanliness of your character and weapons can impact certain perks, which in turn can change how people react to you or even how stealth works. Despite that most of the time these systems add to the game than take away from it.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is well worth playing just because it’s a RPG that doesn’t rely on dragons, scantily clad women, or magic to tell an interesting and well realised story.
(7) Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (Switch)
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (Hyrule Warriors) mixes the hack-and-slash gameplay of the Dynasty Warriors series of video games with settings and characters from The Legend of Zelda series. If you like Dynasty Warriors or Zelda games you will likely have fun with Hyrule Warriors. That being said if you like Zelda games but don’t like Dynasty Warrior ones then you might not enjoy the game but you will appreciate how they have woven all the various Zelda games into one unique story.
I haven’t played a Dynasty Warriors games since one of them on the PlayStation 2, so for me Hyrule Warriors felt fresh, and something enjoyable to pass the time with. I probably know more about Chinese mythology and history than that of the Zelda franchise, but as long as you know that Link and Zelda are good people, and the monsters are bad then you are all set really. Each level has a set character that is recommended to play as, but in most cases you can choose who you want, and with this version of the game there is a lot of characters to choose from. You can even be Link from The Wind Waker or play as Ganondorf. This is because all previous DLC for Hyrule Warriors is included in the Definitive Edition which makes the game feel filled with content and activities to do. There are several modes to choose from, and you can even play the game together with a friend, if you don’t mind the compromises that come with that, such as slow down, and scaled down graphics.
There is two main modes in Hyrule Warriors: Legend and Adventure mode. In Legend mode you play through the main story of the game which sees Cia and eventually Ganondorf working with the forces of Darkness as they try to take the Kingdom of Hyrule from the forces of Light. The story mode slowly introduces playable characters and teaches you how the game works. While the story is pretty forgettable it is interesting how they work various Zelda characters into it and they mix up the objectives enough that it doesn’t become stale. While the Adventure mode recreates various maps from old Zelda games and lets the player explore them, and discover their secrets such as unlocking extra costumes, and customisable fairies at their own pace. Both are great modes and offer tons of content to explore in the game.
If you just want to relax and bash buttons, while seeing a spectacle than you can’t go wrong with Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition.
(6) Red Dead Redemption 2 (Xbox One)
Red Dead Redemption 2 (Redemption 2) is a Western-themed action-adventure open world game set in a fictional 1899 America. You play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and a member of the Van der Linde gang which featured in Red Dead Redemption. The game brings back and updates mechanics from the previous game, such as its combat, its Dead Eye system, improves horses, it adds an honour system, and much more.
It’s hard to add much to what has already been said about Red Dead Redemption 2, like Grand Theft Auto V it is already a phenomenon selling millions and making Rockstar Games and especially Take-Two Interactive billions in only a few months. It is a great game and deserves all the praise it has received but is also one of the most controversial in recent times. It also raises the question for me, in that: If you have millions of pounds worth of resources to spend on developing a game, does that mean it is likely to be a good game?, and therefore guarantee to bring in tons of money? And if yes, what does this mean for the competition? It’s like having a car race where one team can afford a Bugatti Veyron, and the others can only afford a FIAT 500. If it was a speed race the Bugatti Veyron would clearly win. Of course if it was a style icon competition then either could win.
I enjoyed playing the game immensely, from living out a fantastical life in the open American countryside, looking after my horses (at least five got killed because of lawmen or bounty hunters), to hunting and cooking. All of which is immaculately detailed with near life-like attention to detail, whether to the game detriment or not is debatable. Most of the details you eventually ignore over time while you are playing the game, as the gameplay loops by themselves are fun and well-developed. Rockstar Games always have the best ragdoll physics in games and Redemption 2 once again delivers, offering humour and often painful looking accidents. It’s a kind of game where the environment and physics can be more of a danger than other characters.
You will care about your horse, you will care about Arthur and the gangs stories, and most importantly of all, you will care about nature and the environment. Attention to details in the animals and skinning animations is enough to make you want to become a vegetarian, it is very graphic and kind of interesting analogy for violence in video games today. I can easily blow a person’s head half off with a shotgun but If I carefully and “respectably” hunt, kill, and skin a deer, I suddenly want to become a vegan hermit.
My biggest fault with the game is that as a person with OCD, the game constantly triggers and encourages OCD behaviours in me while playing. I am not talking OCD in which I need to collect every cigarette card and even keeping duplicates (which you can do in the game and I still need to do). I mean I come to a hut in the wilderness, and I need to check every inch of it, I don’t want to miss anything. This is made worse by how unresponsive the interaction system can be, sometimes you have to be at a very particular angle to pick something up, and a clumsy inventory system makes this worse. I will even leave and re-enter the building multiple times to make sure I have searched. If I find the hut later on in the game, I will have to search it all over again. This means most of the game I am using the hunting vision to make sure I don’t miss anything. This is only a problem for me in games like this, because for one thing it has achievements (which have ruined games) for completing the game 100% which requires you to complete all missions, and find most animals and weapons. It also has miss able side missions, with time and locations specific ones too. If you have similar problems like me then playing Red Dead Redemption 2 is cognitively annoying and tiring. You can just ignore all these mechanics and just do whatever you want, but then you might as well not play the game. Even after probably 90 hours and progressing halfway through Chapter 3, I have taken a long break from the game.
The honour system is broken as someone who wanted to play like a degenerate, you can kill hundreds of lawmen and bounty hunters and get no negative honour, but kill one horse, or a dog and you will. If you want to be a renegade you just have to go around killing livestock, or horses which isn’t fun. Being a renegade has no benefits and being honourable does. If you play dishonourable you wont be able to do a lot of the side quests. You will also have to deal with bounty hunters and towns being locked out constantly, or be forced to pay a massive fine. If you are going to have a system like this, don’t have two sides of a coin approach where one side is: you can do everything the game has to offer, and on the other side where you can’t do anything. Arthur Morgan even has he’s own built-in morale and believes so you just feel like you are fighting your own character all the time.
A great game but it also features a terrible Online system like Grand Theft Auto V, where real life money will be the master of everything. It is also defiantly not the Game of 2018 as saying that is basically like saying Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the Movie of 2018, both are good, but you expect both to be at least decent when they have had millions spent on them.
(5) XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (PC)
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (War of the Chosen) is an expansion for XCOM 2 which changes the campaign, adds new enemies just as the zombie like creatures called the Lost, special Chosen characters for the ADVENT, and three factions that the destroyed XCOM can court for favours and unique units.
UFO: Enemy Unknown (X-COM: UFO Defence), and X-COM Terror from the Deep are classics in the turn based tactics genre, and while Firaxis Games own XCOM: Enemy Unknown was good in its own right it still paled in comparison to the originals by Microprose and Mythos Games. The developers of XCOM 2 decided to create an original game in which humanity was enslaved by the alien invaders after XCOM was destroyed in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. By doing this they have got rid of my biggest complaint of the first game, in which they were trying to make an open-ended game like the very first in the franchise seemed like. However it ended up just being a linear game with very few meaningful choices and little real depth. XCOM 2 changes this by using the restrictive nature of the game to its advantage.
While War of the Chosen still contains more linear elements, it doesn’t feel as restrictive as it fits the narrative and the gameplay. You are a resistance movement on a very hostile planet, so of course you are going to want to be careful and chose where you fight, and try not to grow too big before you can protect what you have taken back.
At times the game can be punishing and a lot of the time seem unfair, but because of the game’s story it makes more sense than in the original XCOM. The biggest problem with the difficulty is the in-game clock (Avatar Project) that when full results in a game over. It is really short especially if you aren’t familiar with the game, however in-game mechanics can delay and reduce the clock, and lower difficulties make it easier, while an extra option can double its size. My advice is, whatever difficulty you play, play with Ironman on. If you can just load a game up each time your favourite squad member dies, the game uses all impact or tactical weight. You will fail over and over but when you win it will feel even more worthwhile.
The biggest change in XCOM 2 compared to the other games is that when you have landed on a mission, a lot of the time you will start cloaked. This is the games stealth mechanic and means you can set up an ambush or even try to complete the mission without alerting the enemy. This gives the player the upper hand, as it means you can scout where all the enemies are and then engage on your own terms. If used properly you can wipe out at least one-third of the enemies on the map. The new units introduced in the expansion also add a lot of tactical variety to the game, with the Reaper unit able to stay constantly cloaked even after shooting.
If you play XCOM 2, you really need to get War of the Chosen too as without it the game is arguable easier, but it is also has less replay value. That being said having to deal with the three different Chosen characters which use a Nemesis system, and act like the Uruk from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, can be a real pain and ruin the pace of the game.
One of the biggest addition to the games replay value was the recently released DLC called: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen – Tactical Legacy Pack. This DLC adds a campaign that connects the story of XCOM and XCOM 2. The DLC also adds skirmish mode, where you can create random combat missions, and a small campaign generator. All of which rockets the games value, and is the best DLC available for the game. It is probably overpriced for what it adds and also requires that you already own the War of the Chosen expansion.
Finally the DLC allows you to use a soundtrack inspired by UFO: Enemy Unknown, which in my opinion makes the game even more amazing.
(4) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Ultimate) is a fighting game for up to 8 players in which characters from Nintendo games and other game franchises must try to smash each other out of a 2D stage (map), a percentage meter which also serves as life shows how easy a character is likely to be launched in the air and out of the stage.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate only came out recently but is also some of the most fun I have had on my Nintendo Switch and in gaming in recent years. Similarly to Hyrule Warriors you can mindlessly bash buttons, or plan and play more strategically, both are fun and viable. The game has tons of playable fighters, stages, music, and content. If you have ever played a game in the last thirty, or so years you will encounter something that will give you some nostalgia, from seeing and obtaining a Spirit (collectable trophies) such as the Spirit of Tempo (main character from the Tempo games) or playing as Cloud from Final Fantasy VII.
The last Super Smash Bros. game I played was Melee on the Nintendo GameCube, which some say is the best one in the franchise. I am not sure but Ultimate is defiantly one of the best games in the series with tons to do, and defiantly one of the top games on the Nintendo Switch. I do miss how Melee had a slot machine mechanic for unlocking trophies, and each trophy had lore linked to it, so you can find out more about that character or item. Ultimate doesn’t have this feature which is a noticeable absence from the game.
The only real criticisms the game has gotten is the way new characters are unlocked, with over 70 characters, unlocking them all can take time. I have managed to get all the fighters myself but if you go into the game wanting to unlock all the characters at once, you aren’t going to have a good time. You should see the fighters as a reward for playing the game naturally and having fun.
The single player Spirit adventure mode is new and links all the available characters and Spirits into an interesting story, where battles are tailored to the Spirit. For example the Spirit might be one of the Metal Gears, so instead of actually fighting one you will fight a Giant Metal R.O.B equipped with a Nintendo Scope, while fighting on a Metal Gear Solid stage with relevant Metal Gear music. These are all well thought out, and each combination fit well with that Spirits theme.
If you just want to do quick battles with themed Spirits then you can on the Spirit board mode. These battles are quick and engaging, and is probably the most time I have spent in single player. In spite of all the improvements they have made to the game, for some reason throughout the Spirits modes, the developers have decided to implement free-to-play mobile phone mechanics, such as timers, limited items, and levelling systems, all of which feel out-of-place in the game and make you think they were trying to make a phone game instead.
If you have a Nintendo Switch, and especially if you have friends to play with, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate should be your first choice.
(3) Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
Super Mario Odyssey (Odyssey) is a platform game in which you control Mario as he travels across different Kingdoms, from desert themed maps to space areas, on the Odyssey, an airship. This is all done to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser, who plans to strong-arm her into marring him. What make Odyssey different is that he has a hat called Cappy which can be used to help Mario get around the various levels or used to posses enemies and gain their abilities temporary, such as a Bullet Bill, or a Goomba.
Nintendo are the masters of fun, and platforming games which they have proven once again with Odyssey. There’s plenty of secrets to discover with the main collectable being Power Moons. These are everywhere and a certain number need to be collected in each Kingdom, as these Moons power the Odyssey and allow the ship to reach new destinations. One of the biggest things I love about Mario Odyssey is the costume system, some costumes access certain areas or protect from certain environmental conditions, most of the time you can wear what you want but each Kingdom has its own style and distinct costume. Another great thing about the costume systems is that it allows Mario to be various characters from Nintendo history such as Waluigi or the Mario from Super Mario 64. It also Nintendo to add costumes when they want, which they have being doing regularly such as adding a Knight, Sunshine, and Santa costume.
Odyssey along with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild really show the graphical capabilities of the Nintendo Switch even if they are not traditionally or technically the most demanding for a gaming system (except maybe Breath of the Wild). You usually expect Nintendo to show of their own systems the best and they have done it masterfully with Super Mario Odyssey.
(2) Monster Hunter: World (Xbox One)
Monster Hunter: World (World) is a third person action role-playing game in which you play as the titular Monster Hunter, who has been tasked by the Research Commission to travel to the “New World” an unexplored area of the world filled with some of the largest monster known in existence.
There are fourteen weapon classes which impact your Hunter moves and abilities, and armour which can give various combat skills. Solo and Co-op players also get Palicoes which are cat-like allies which serve as a computer controlled Hunter. They are mostly useless but can be a useful distraction to the Monsters and their equipped gadget can offer helpful aid in combat like healing a hunter or stunning a monster with a Flashfly Cage.
World is the first game in the franchise that non Monster Hunter players have been playing, and not just because it’s a fully fledged Monster Hunter game on a console or PC, but because the changes they have made to the mechanics of the game have made the game more easier to understand, and less time-consuming. For example I remember you only had a limited amount of whetstones, now its unlimited. Of course you will still need to sharpen your weapon several times throughout long fights. There are also bigger maps, more camps on a map, camp fast travel options, points of interest are shown on the map, and big improvements to hunting and crafting systems. All these changes like this make it more user-friendly, but the game still retains it deep strategy core and gameplay mechanics, which fans will appreciate.
World is best played with others, while it is possible do most of the quests in the game by yourself, having help can be entertaining and make fights easier. Having more Hunters is a double-edged sword though as having more players means the enemies all scale in difficulty too, but also the rewards. Loot is all instanced individually so you don’t have to worry about carving up the last piece of Nergigante Carapace from the dead Nergigante. If you carve up a monster you will get rewarded too.
The game is just a lot of fun while it can be hard to get into and still centres around hunting the same large monster, over and over, once you are invested into Monster Hunter: World you aren’t coming out for hundred of hours. This is not because the game is naturally addictive or manipulative, it’s because it a great place to hang out and spend your time in. With Monster Hunter World Iceborne expansion coming later in 2019, there has never been a better time to start Monster Hunting.
(1) Hitman 2 (and Hitman) (PC)
In Hitman 2, you play as International Contract Agency (ICA) super assassin called Agent 47 who is on the hunt for the “Shadow Client”. After events of the first game he is now working on behalf of Providence, a secret society that supposedly controls global affairs. As Agent 47 you travel to various colourful locations around the globe to eliminate high-profile targets.
Hitman 2 continues on from the fantastic first game, in more ways than one. So much that if you have played Hitman (2016) you have played Hitman 2. The mechanics of both games are similar, the graphics are mostly the same, and the gameplay loops are identical. This isn’t a bad thing as Hitman was originally conceived to be a seasonal and episodic based game aka a “Live Service Game”. The developers didn’t need to change much of the game to keep it entertaining. There is some new content like mirrors work now, and snipers are illegal for everyone so carrying a suitcase to hide one is essential.
The Hitman games rewards playing stealthy, and methodically, however you can go crazy and shoot everyone, or use tons of explosives like Timothy McVeigh. The only things this impacts is your score which if you don’t care about means you can just breeze through the game. The main thing to know about modern Hitman games is that the game only really gets hard on the hardest difficulty and when you do Suit Only Silent Assassin runs, which require you not to be seen or change costumes. If you just go to the target and shoot everyone in the head and then run away, you can complete the game easily.
The biggest problem with Hitman 2 is that, owning the first game is mandatory, if you own the first game already you get all that old content in the new game. If you just own Hitman 2 then the game feels half-finished and empty. The second game doesn’t feature CGI cutscenes like the first game, or many unique items, and a lot are the same from the first game. There is also less level content, such as Escalations at the moment too. More levels, missions, targets, and such will be added in time but the first game is still a better experience overall.
There is also something with the recent Hitman games with how they control and hurting my hand, I did this with the first game and now the second game. Probably because in Hitman you should always be running, which means I often get pains in my left knuckles. It might just be my controller, or something else, but I don’t have this problem with any other game. If you are not running around in Hitman then you are probably not playing Hitman properly.
Hitman 2 isn’t perfect, but there isn’t many games out there that allow a player so much freedom in solving a particular scenario anyway they want. While offering plenty of meaningful replay value, good action, and stealth gameplay at the same time. This is why Hitman 2 (with all Hitman 1 content) is My Game of the Year 2018.
Game of The Year 2018 Video
If you want to see the games in action, I have put together a video that lists and shows all games mentioned (watch video in full screen for a better view).
Well that’s my Game of the Year feature for 2018 done. After nearly 7000 words, and about two weeks worth of work, it took longer than expected. Nonetheless I hoped you enjoyed reading my thoughts on these games, as much as I did typing them down.