2018 was a good year—no, a great year—for video games. Rather than scratch and claw our way to a top 10 games of the year list, we acknowledge that everybody on staff at Gaming Nexus has their favorites, regardless if the game took home a trophy from Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards, and whether or not it was streamed by rapper Drake and Twitch influencer Ninja. Here, we like to acknowledge a plain and simple philosophy when it comes to video game criticism: We like what we like.
Through the week we’ll work our way up to our Favorites of the Year list. But first, we want to start things off on a bright note as well with our Favorite Gaming Memories. Whether it was something memorable that struck our fancy in-game, or something that turned everybody’s heads across the gaming industry as a whole, here are the things that stuck out for us in 2018.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - Right after the game came out a couple of friends and I got together to battle it out against each other and the CPU while trying to unlock more characters on my friend’s Switch. Towards the end of the night we got the brilliant/insane idea of having eight-player free-for-all Smash battles with us three and five CPUs set to level nine, but the catch was we all had to be the same character and play on that character’s stage. We did a couple of interesting ones such as Bowser and Yoshi…and then I did something completely stupid. I suggested Ice Climbers…on the Ice Climbers stage. Thankfully we did the Battlefield version of the stage so the stage was stationary, but have you ever wondered what a battle with 16 Ice Climbers running around would be like? Pure insanity.
Finishing the Last Level of Celeste - Celeste is a beautifully structured game, and the whole last level is just a perfect summation of all the ones that came before it. It brings all the challenges the player has experienced together into one collective experience. It's really tough, but the level of satisfaction I got from pulling it all together peaked higher than anything else I'd done in 2018.
Mortal Kombat 11 - Announced at the Game Awards and scheduled for release only four months later. For context, Netherealm Studios, those behind Mortal Kombat and the Injustice series of fighting games, has stuck to a specific schedule every year since 2010. At E3 2010, Mortal Kombat 9 was announced and released in 2011. At E3 2012, Injustice was announced and released in 2013. At E3 2014, Mortal Kombat X was announced and released in 2015. In 2016, Injustice 2 was announced and released in 2017. So here we are, the entire Mortal Kombat Kommunity at E3 2018 ready for that Mortal Kombat 11 announcement and...nothing. No announcement at all. We all sat there on our Discords and chat rooms wondering what was going on. Then heartbreak as Ed Boon tells us that they have nothing to announce at the time. To say we were all heartbroken was an understatement. So, after months of total silence from NRS, we get to The Game Awards. This is pretty much the last chance for this game to be announced this year. We are all sitting in the Discords and chat rooms again and Ed Boon walks out on stage...to announce the winner of Best Sports Game. We all collectively said, "It’s over," as we thought there was no announcement. Then Ed Boon pulls the troll of the century as the trailer for Mortal Kombat 11 interrupts the presentation. Even more surprising is that at the end of the trailer we find out that release date: April 23, 2019—a mere four months away. We were all expecting this as a Fall 2019 title at the earliest, Spring 2020 at the latest. All game companies should do this from now on. Stop messing around and stop announcing games when they aren't going to be released for another two to three years. Just announce it when it's ready.
Far Cry 5 - There was a time when I thought working as a software developer on something like Microsoft Flight Simulator would present me with numerous opportunities for mischief. The most prurient of which was to secretly place a pair of bovines out on the middle of nowhere, performing a procreative act. The evening when I was returning to my base in Far Cry 5, after a foray of night vigilantism in a helicopter, only to see a pair of cattle behaving in exactly the way I had envisioned those many years ago...Well, I consider my gaming life to be complete. I truly have seen it all.
Red Dead Redemption 2 - This is a bonus Least Favorite Gaming Memory: The accidents leading to the demise of an unconscionable number of horses.
The Fallout Around Bethesda Games Studios - Not to go the cynical route, but I rounded a turning point with Bethesda Game Studios this year. I don’t deify anybody, but Todd Howard is the closest I’ve come to granting somebody sainthood in the gaming sphere. He turned both Fallout and The Elder Scrolls into global phenomena. As far as I’m concerned, he can retire to his island of choice and never have to work another day in his life. But he didn’t retire. He released the games-as-service Fallout 76, rife with game-breaking bugs (even for a Bethesda title), swapping out canvas bags for “trash bags,” delaying the plastic-bottled Nuka Dark Rum in his $200 special editions, going radio silent as the low 50’s Metacritic rolled in, introducing pay-to-win loot boxes where he promised there wouldn’t be any, dropping cosmetics the price of an entire expansion pack, and then having the original creators of the Fallout series basically give him the middle finger at this year’s Game Awards. I didn’t like the year Bethesda Game Studios had, but I couldn’t look away either. I’m just ready to put all of this behind me and, once again, look forward to The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield. I haven’t lost the faith, Todd Howard.
Sea of Thieves - The best evening of co-op gaming I had all year. Steering the ship, manning the sails, pulling into port, coming in hot, running aground, dropping anchor, firing cannons, dancing on the bowsprit, playing sea shanties on a hurdy gurdy, getting grogged, hurling on the decks, aiming for treasure, dodging other players, and doing it all on water so beautiful it brings a tear to an old Navy man's eye. What an unforgettable three or four hours it was. And then it was done. Or at least I was. I tried going back a time or two, but couldn't re-bottle the good times the Gaming Nexus crew had on our hectic, over-the-top, wilding-out maiden voyage.
Gaming Nexus Game Nights - I was tempted to go with the absolutely pathetic display of building a PC by The Verge that went up on the internet late in Summer, but honestly I will stick with some of the great one liners that have come out of the Gaming Nexus multiplayer gaming nights. Whether it was Randy (immediately locked in the brig in Sea of Thieves), John (“It's Fine”), Sean (“Owen...stop!”), Kinsey (puking all over he ship, also in Sea of Thieves) or myself (“Who is shooting? Oh, that was me.”), we really have fun with this group. So, thanks, everyone, for making my 2018 gaming experience so much more enjoyable.
Destiny 2 - Five-nil down in a game to six wins. The game was countdown, two teams of four alternate in trying to place or diffuse bombs, or just romp around the map for a team wipe and easy victory. It was a random matchup for each team, a rarity in Destiny where the perpetually broken matchmaking seems to always prefer matching randos up against well-coordinated fireteams, but in this case it was at least even on paper. Our opponents had plain outplayed us to this point. Close rounds but deserved losses, nonetheless. That sixth game for the sweep, the opponents were up with three still standing to our one. And they were spamming dancing emotes just as they had the last two or three rounds prior. They got cocky and decided to actually arm the bomb instead of just pack hunting for the final kill, but then went pack hunting anyway. With the timer ticking down and the bomb unattended, the last man standing made a desperate attempt for the diffusal. I was already loading up DIM to check my loadout for what I would join in next, when, lo and behold, just as the timer was set to expire, the bomb was defused by that little lone legend. We had another round to play, it was only 5-1. Hit them hard the next round for a quick team wipe. Then the round after that, too, 5-3. There might be something in this, and I look to the top of the screen, we're stacked with supers. We start popping them in the next two rounds, 5-4...5-5 after I had to unload mine to counter a super on the other team...From 5-nil down it's all coming down to the final round. I know the other side must be going nuts at this point, no time to get uber-conservative but I can't lose my head either. I sit just off the shoulders of my temporary teammates, lobbing pulse rifle volleys just over their shoulders. One down, then another. We're up four men remaining to two and just capped the heavy ammo. Are we actually going to pull this off? Is it over? A dozen seconds later it is. From 5-nil down and facing elimination with a capped bomb ticking away to victory, and now it's time to pop my own dancing emote.
Battlefield V - It was neck-and-neck in a game of Breakthrough on the map Devastation. My squad and I were held up in the library, base B, on the upper floor. I was squad leader. We had Germans on the bottom floor trying to hold off our other teammates, but they didn't know we were above them. I popped off some shots, took out a few, and watched as their red line began to outgrow our blue speck on the base insignia. But I had a trick up my sleeve. I had accumulated enough points for a JB-2 rocket in my squad reinforcements. I called it in, and waited for the countdown to defeat or the boom. Suddenly, a whoosh and explosion knocked me down, and then the kills started racking up onscreen. I had taken out nearly all of the enemy team, and secured our team a victory. It's the type of story that can come "only in Battlefield," as the old adage used to go, and I was excited to start making those memories again.
Tetris Effect in VR on the E3 Floor - If you've ever been to E3, you know it's a loud, crowded, and hectic environment. One of my favorite moments this year was booking an appointment to play the game at E3. Getting the VR headset on with a nice pair of headphones took me completely away from that bustling showfloor and put me in Tetsuya Mizuguchi's technicolor wonderland for a brief 10 minutes, and they were the most peaceful moments of the show.
Pushing Tetris Effect on My Friends Like I'm Some Kind of Electronic Drug Dealer - I cannot get enough of seeing people experience Tetris Effect for the first time, and then hearing their thoughts afterwards. I'm guilty of being that guy who brings his PS4 and headset everywhere he goes for social situations to get more people to try Tetris Effect. I...I think I have a problem.
The Long Walk with Atreus in God of War - That final climb, where so much is revealed, was a marvel of storytelling. God of War as a whole is an amazing game from start to finish, but that last sequence, and the final reveal...Can we get the sequel now please?
Swinging Through New York as Spider-Man - This is a real simple joy, but swinging around as a Yuri Lowenthal-voiced Spider-Man through a virtual New York is something I could do for hours on end.
Finishing Celeste - I felt such a wave of relief when I finished this game's main story mode, then the pit of my stomach sank when I found the B-Sides. Then I felt the joy of success all over again. This is one of the best games released in 2018, and it has left an indelible mark on me as a gamer.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Randy gravitates toward anything open world, open ended, or open to interpretation. He prefers strategy over shooting, introspection over action, and stealth and survival over looting and grinding. He's been a gamer since 1982 and writing critically about video games for over 15 years. A few of his favorites are Skyrim, Elite Dangerous, and Red Dead Redemption. He lives with his wife and daughter in Oregon.View Profile