By DarthOrange 2 Comments
I really did not play very many games this year. Like, I guess I technically played 18 games that released in 2018, but most of those I spent an hour or less with. Old games I spent a significant amount of time with this year were Forza Horizon, Cuphead, and Fortnite. The first two were a result of me buying an Xbox One X, primarily as a 4K Blu-ray player, and figuring I should play something on it too. Horizon is just as fun as it was when I played it on 360 and looks absolutely stunning on the X. Cuphead is also beautiful and just as hard as everyone said it was. Fortnite is a ton of fun to play if you are playing with others you know. Being able to do cross play and play with my brother (who is on Switch) while I play on the Xbox is still a miracle I never thought I would live to see.
But anyway, 2018 games. The ones I played were pretty meh. I didn't have the time to really dig and see what the indie scene was offering and Steam, Itchio and even the console stores have continued to be bloated with even more mediocre shit making the job of sifting that much harder and more time consuming. The AAA industry felt like they didn't really make any big innovations with their studios and as a result I was just left feeling sorta meh about the whole thing. If you are interested, here are links to my previous game of the year blog posts: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.
But anyway, amongst the games that I did play, these five were my favorite:
5. God of War
Based on the reaction of most people on this game, it seems like people were ready for a big refresh on this game. I honestly would have been happy with just more God of War, but new can be nice too. And it was indeed nice here. Revisiting Kratos and getting a real shift in character development that felt earned was no small feat. I had my issues with this game, but it was still a solid revival of a dormant franchise and they set up some big things for the future of the series. The heart is there, just expand on it and bring more spectacle next time and I'll be happy.
4. Detroit: Become Human
I want to make sure that I preface this by saying that the story in this game is bad. Like, offensively terrible. David Cage is either stupid, an asshole, or a stupid asshole for writing the story in this game. Everyone and everything from Malcolm X to the motherfuking Holocaust are shown profound disrespect and misunderstanding in this game about fucking robots and that gain sentience. With that said, I played through this game with my brother in a "pass the controller" fashion with him controlling Kara, me controlling Markus, and us switching off on who controls Connor. There is still nothing else quite like this on the market and this engine and game design really does deserve a better script than what David Cage can muster. As it stands, it was still really fun to play through and riff on with someone else by my side.
3. Forza Horizon 4
What the hell happened to all the good arcade racers? Like, I was complaining last gen that we weren't getting enough of these kinds of games and somehow we have even fewer now. Horizon 4 is not quite a full on arcade racers (as defined by being able to pull the e-break at a moments notice and drift) but it also isn't a full on sim either. Horizon 4 lies somewhere in-between, and provides some uniquely solid controls that are forgiving without being completely self playing. The drift zones in particular were my favorite to go through. The map has a glut of content with various types of races throughout the well made map and there are enough speed traps, ramps, and drift zones that even driving around the open world can be a lot of fun. The game does have an issue with money being doled out at a snail pace alongside loot boxes that usually give you shit you don't want, but I liked enough of the vehicles on offer that I was able to make peace early on that I would only get to drive the exotics that I won in wheel spins. I also spent a large amount of time in the editor, fine tuning both the interior and exterior of my car. The "Forzathon Live" events that happen every hour on the hour provided a great place to show off my car while doing all sorts of goofy cooperative challenges.
2. Into the Breach
Robots fighting monsters will never not be cool. Into the Breach perfectly captures this awesomeness in a short, turn based rougelike with runs that never overstay their welcome. There is a large supply of robots to pick from and each provides a unique way to approach the map and enemies. I mentioned it in my review, but the big thing that hooked me about this game where other rougelikes lose me is that you never feel powerless at the start of the game, and there is an ample amount of player choice when starting your run thanks to choosing which mechs you want to take with you.
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Smash Bros has always been great, but something about Ultimate feels extra special. The characters all just feel right. Hits have a greater sense of impact and the zoom-ins when delivering a KO hit are beautiful. With a roster this large, if you can't find one character you enjoy playing as the you aren't looking hard enough. Sure, a representative from the Wonderful 101 or ARMS would have been greatly appreciated, but I can't complain when looking at the rooster on display. The standard fights are fantastic and online has been really great for me as well outside of a handful of laggy matches near launch. Being able to play 2v2 with a local partner is great as is seeing the strategies and synergies others come up with. There is something incredibly satisfying about grabbing an opponent and just holding them while your partner delivers the finishing blow. The World of Light mode and Spirit Board are all fun little diversions in between standard matches against human beings and they have enough content to last quite a long time. This game really does feel like the culmination of the this franchise and I have no clue where the hell they are going to go from here. But for right now? I'm enjoying the hell out of this moment.