By _Mattallica 5 Comments
Gonna jump straight into this to try and keep it as short as possible. This is the 7th year running I’ve done a top 10 list and the first time I’m breaking my own self imposed rule of only games released this year are eligible. I spent so much of the first half of 2018 playing games from last year that I couldn’t ignore a few that I really enjoyed more than others that came out this year. So there are TWO 2017 games that snuck on this list so you’ll just have to deal with it. And honestly 2017 was, I still believe, the greatest ever year for games so let’s just continue to celebrate that.
A few honourable mentions for games I enjoyed but not enough to make the cut. Batman: The Enemy Within was a good continuation of the series but certainly didn’t leave a lasting impression like the previous season did. Episodes 1 & 5 were good but the middle dragged massively and the whole season definitely felt rushed. Also surreal to think this will be the last Telltale Games product I play after they’ve featured so much on these lists over the years.
Fortnite was a lot of fun for a couple of months at the start of 2018 and though I’ve got my fill of it now and doubt I’ll go back; I respect the hell out of how fun and how much work goes into constantly adapting a free game. They put a lot of developers to shame in that regard. Obviously helps being the biggest game in the world but still.
Steep scratched an itch for extreme sports games I’ve had for a while and was way better than I was lead to believe from the general consensus. I didn't play this game like it was marketed as an open world game but merely used the menus to jump from challenge to challenge and getting gold medals before moving onto the next.
Super Mario Party is certainly one of the best entries in the franchise to date but it’s weird how quickly I’ve stopped playing it especially compared to how much I played Mario Party 10 which was a way worse game. Hopefully I will play more of it in the future.
Also I don’t want to talk about it lots but Red Dead Redemption 2 not being on my list still blows my mind. I’ve loved Rockstar Games my whole life, have tattoos dedicated to their games and Red Dead Redemption was my favourite game of last generation. I’m not writing this game off; I will play it more in the future but I got to chapter 3 and didn’t feel compelled to continue playing at all. Especially when so many other games at the time of release were providing me with way more fun. I liked a lot of what I played but also disliked a lot and it felt very pretentious in a lot of it’s design which is a first I can ever say for a Rockstar release. Who knows, maybe I’ll pick this game back up in the coming months when there’s less coming out and have an amazing time but for know this is firmly in the place of my most disappointing release of the current generation.
And finally (I told you I’d try and keep it short) here’s a list of 2018 games that I’m pretty sure I’d like and will hopefully get to at some point in 2019 but it just hasn’t happened yet. They may even feature on next year’s list. They include Hitman 2, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Tetris Effect, The Messenger, Celeste, Return of the Obra Dinn and Life is Strange 2.
Now let’s get onto the proper list shall we..
This is more of a placeholder spot in the list rather than a definitive position because I just haven't played enough of it yet. Being around 15 hours into a game that I know I’ll need to put at least another 40 into but from what I have played; I absolutely adored it. There’s very few JRPG’s that have caught my eye over the years as that’s not traditionally a genre I spend my time in too much but the word of mouth was strong enough for me to dive in and I’m really glad I did. The game is stunning and looks amazing both on handheld or TV. It has one of my favourite soundtracks of the year and the themes have really stayed with me even after taking a break from it. And the battle system is super fun and in depth enough but not too complicated that it walks the line between fun and a challenge. A great game that I will hopefully get back into in the new year.
9. Golf Story
The first 2017 game making my list that I always knew I would love from the second I saw it. Golf is one of the things that I have zero interest in except when it comes to games and then I love it. Especially on handheld systems which is how I played all of this game. It had a fun enough story to keep me interested for it’s duration but I came for the 2D golf mechanics and they were fantastic. There hasn’t been many games like this on Switch so far so it really stood out and honestly was over too quick for my liking. The post game isn’t super well done which is a shame because I wanted an excuse to just keep playing rounds of golf long after the story was over. It also made me desperately crave a new Mario Golf for Switch. (The last one for 3DS was excellent)
8. God of War
This may be quite low on my list compared to many people so bear with me whilst I justify its position. God of War is probably the most well crafted game I played all year. The direction, art style, voice acting, combat, story; all exceptional. I just don’t care about the God of War lore or characters at all. I’ve never played a second of the series before this because it never interested me and only played this months after release because of all the good things I heard. And I’m really glad I did because I had a lot of fun. The biggest compliment I can give this game is that made me give a shit about Kratos and the franchise for the first time to the point that I would absolutely play and be excited for a sequel. If this world and lore was something I previously cared about this would probably be one of my favourite games of all time because it’s an incredible achievement on every level. I’m still shocked I enjoyed playing a God of War game but this is that damn good. The combat in particular was insanely enjoyable.
The second and last 2017 game to feature on my list is one that really caught me off guard. Assassin’s Creed is another franchise that I don't have the best history with. Black Flag was the only one I’d say I really enjoyed; the rest I either didn’t care enough to try or actively disliked them. Origins changed that completely and pulled me in for 60+ hours in it’s beautiful world and wonderful game design. I could talk about a lot of things this game does well but honestly the main reason why I kept playing and why it’s on my list was purely the world they created.
As a huge Ancient Egypt fan this is kinda a dream come true in a lot of ways. Pretty much everything else in the game is good but not exceptional such as the combat, story and characters. But the world itself was just so damn fun to do stuff in and I honestly could’ve played it for another 60 hours and not got bored. I wonder if any AC game going forward will remotely attach itself to me like this one did because this was the one location I’ve always wanted from the franchise and they nailed it.
Sometimes there are games that are exactly what you expect them to be and give you exactly what you want from them and this is one of them. It doesn’t reinvent the franchise and aside from a few really awesome new changes like the end of random encounters; it’s just a pretty Pokemon game. But I didn’t need it to be anything else. I had a wonderful time beating the story and collecting them all and if I feel the need to grind out some Pokemon this will be my game of choice. Until the inevitable next big Pokemon game comes to Switch; this was a fine reminder of what makes the series so great with a few new tweaks and the best looking game in the franchise to date.
5. Far Cry 5
Like most people; Far Cry 3 was my first entry in the franchise and was a fantastic game at the time. Then Far Cry 4 came out and I stopped playing after a couple of hours because I felt I got what I needed from the previous game and it was too soon to play a game like this again. I skipped the numerous spin offs as well so when Far Cry 5 and it’s American setting was announced; I was all in. And this game completely delivered for me and is now my favourite entry so far. I really liked the way they handled the open world and that the were always making progress no matter what you were doing. I didn’t feel like there was a big distinction between main and side quests; it all just chipped away at the same goal which was liberating each area and fighting the next member of the family. I loved all the characters and boss fights with each of them and thought the cult dynamic was super well handled and way more multifaceted than most people expected (or wanted given some of the bizarre criticisms this game received). Joseph Seed was a fantastic villain and the ending was super unexpected and perfectly executed.
I feel like at this point there are people that will just never like Quantic Dream games and people that do; and I’m firmly in the camp of people that do and this is their best game to date. Even though I liked Beyond: Two Souls; it was definitely a step down from Heavy Rain so I really hoped they could get back on track with this release and boy did they. This is my favourite narrative focused choice based game I’ve ever played. I’m super into rogue A.I and anything like that and this game evocates so many feelings that I love from this particular brand of Sci-Fi. The level of choices on display in this game is incredible and it’s best achievement is that every different choice seems valid. So many games have choices just for the sake of it; and that when you’re playing you can tell which path they really want you to take. In this game every choice is valid and all the different ways in which the story can play out and end all feel gratifying in their own ways. The world and characters were all super well written and performed and the when it was over I was sad that I’d have to wait many more years before we see something like this again.
Not much to say about this one other than it’s my favourite Call of Duty game to date which iis why it deserves such a high place on my list. I’m a weird COD fan because I was always just a campaign guy from the Modern Warfare days but then when Black Ops came around, especially 2 & 3 is when I really started getting into the multiplayer. Obviously it was a bold choice to drop the campaign and focus on 3 modes but it clearly paid off. I will never touch Zombies but the other two modes have pretty much split my time between them so far. The multiplayer just feels so good and constantly brings me short bursts of fun when I want it. And Blackout is my battle royale experience of choice. The gun mechanics of COD have always been stellar so combining that with the BR model was a complete no brainer and just works exactly how you want it to. I’m sure I’ll be playing this game for a very long time.
I’ve gone back and forth between these last two games because I really can’t split them and at one point nearly had them tied first but screw that; so sorry Spidey but you get the runner up spot for now. This game doesn’t really need that much explaining if you’ve played it. The best gameplay experience of the year with the combat being insanely fun but also surprisingly deep with the way gadgets work that made for a more fun system than that of the Arkham games. Swinging around NYC was never not fun and I will continue to just switch the game on to do just that because it's so entertaining and boy is this game gorgeous. My only complaints are the moments when you’re not playing as Spider-Man which I wish weren’t in the game. You made being Spidey so god damn fun so why do I have to spend so much time in awful forced stealth sections playing as lesser characters? A strange choice but it didn’t stop this game from being one of my most fun experiences of the year and I have no doubt that inevitable sequel will cut the crap and double down on what made this game so great and deliver a near perfect experience.
The last thing I expected was Smash to be my game of the year but here we are. As a lifelong Nintendo fanboy; Smash Bros should be my favourite franchise of all time. But it isn’t. I’ve always loved the hype of the character reveals, the amazing trailers and just the sheer amount of love and attention to the history of Nintendo that these games have. But then it comes to actually playing them and I don’t have a good time. The main reason this game is in the number one spot is because Ultimate is the first time it finally clicked and now has all come into place. I’ll never be an amazing Smash player, nor will I ever play this game online so I don't share the same problems as some players have had, but I actually feel like I know what I’m doing and I’m having so much fun playing it which is the most important thing for me.
Another big reason why this ended up here is the World of Light mode. I feel like this mode was invented for me because I’ve seen so much negativity surrounding it and I love it so much. A reason to play loads of single player smash, grinding towards an end goal and over 1000 references to classic games of the past? This right here is my dream game. I really like how each battle has its own modifiers to make who you are battling somewhat mimic the spirit you unlock. The strategy of picking different spirits and loadouts is really cool and the overworld you explore whilst playing is fanticaly designed; with a nice combination of fun little puzzles and exploration. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the game that finally made me fall in love with one of the few Nintendo franchises that wasn’t already on my most played list. Now excuse me while I go grind more spirits for many more hours.