These games are just the best. We mean it. We’re not telling you that these are your personal favorites, but they’re certainly ours. In fact, without these games, 2018 would've been horrible. If you’ve played them, we hope you liked them. If you haven’t, and you’re staring at your Steam/GOG/Origin/Epic library, wondering what to play next, then trust us, you can’t go wrong with these picks. Gauge your mood, though. If you’re feeling like more of a pixel-art platformer, grab Celeste, not God of War. Or if you’re more in the mood for a smash-bang action game with a father-son narrative, then grab God of War, not Celeste. You get the idea. With that in mind, here's our favorite games of 2018.
Celeste - Most of the new games I play during the year tend to skew towards anything that’s made in an 8-bit or 16-bit style. That alone drew me into Celeste. What kept me coming back were the story and the game’s platforming as I’m a sucker for a good platformer. The difficulty increases feel natural up until the final climb to the summit, and the music that goes along with that climb is one of my favorite video game tracks in recent memory. One of these days I’ll return to Celeste and try to complete at least one B-Side stage.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - In my opinion, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is probably the best Super Smash Bros. game I’ve played. I love that every character from the previous Smash Bros. games are included in Ultimate and that the eight you have unlocked from the start are the same eight you had in the original Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64. World of Light is fun to play through, though most of my time is spent with either Classic mode or just straight up Smash battles. If we went years before another Smash Bros., or if we never got another Smash Bros. at all, I’d be pretty content with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate being the be-all-end-all of Smash Bros. games.
Mega Man 11 - I’m a Mega Man fan, so with a new official game coming out earlier in 2018, it’s no surprise that it would end up on my favorite games list. I know a lot of people are probably sick of seeing another new Mega Man game, or they’d rather see a new Mega Man X game, but Capcom absolutely nailed it with Mega Man 11. Honestly, I probably went a tad too low with my final score when I reviewed it a while back. This is one of the best games in the series—and it shows—with a game that starts off rather easy, has a natural increase in difficulty (by the time you get to Wily’s Gear Fortress), while the multiple difficulties and the Double Gear System help ensure that anyone can enjoy the game, both veterans and newcomers alike.
Red Dead Redemption 2 - Despite the fact that I haven't even finished this game yet, it still tops my list as the best of 2018. There was a lot of anticipation for this game over the years, and in my mind it lived up to the hype. I'm much more of a single-player focused person, so I can't speak to the quality of the online play, but Red Dead Redemption 2's story and living world have kept me engrossed for hours and hours, and will most likely bring me even more joy once I find the time to return to the Old West.
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey - I was completely burned out on Assassin's Creed games and had little to no interest in Odyssey. I am sure glad that I didn't pass this one up because man this game is incredible. This is one of the first open world games I have played where I am actually taking the time to do all of the side quests and explore the world because there is so much to see and do. It's such a satisfying experience assassinating a random person only to find out that they were one of the cult members, or finding a cave buried deep in the ocean that contains legendary gear. To top it all off, the game features a wealth of fantastic characters that I wanted to spend time with and get to know each and everyone of them. Kassandra may be my favorite female protagonist of all time now, and I wanted to keep playing just to keep her story going. Now it makes me sad knowing the next Assassin’s Creed will take place in another time period because I do not want to play as anyone else besides Kassandra now.
Far Cry 5 - In retrospect, Far Cry 5 was merely a warm up for Red Dead Redemption 2, although at the time it felt like a reasonable enough facsimile of same back when RDR 2 seemed forever inaccessible to a non-console owner. As with previous Far Cry versions, I found it far more enjoyable to endure the storyline just long enough to unlock something that flies. From the air, liberating even the largest enemy enclaves is much easier and more satisfying.
Red Dead Redemption 2 - With the unanticipated arrival of a hand-me-down PS4, Red Dead Redemption 2 spurred on an even better world in which to hunt, fish, and commit general mayhem whenever the mood struck. The absence of air power was keenly felt, of course, but a scoped rifle is an adequate replacement. In general, I prefer to reach out and touch someone (with a few pieces of hot lead) from a safe distance whenever possible. As with Far Cry 5 and every other similar game, I enjoy merely inhabiting the world itself so much that it is surpassingly unlikely that I will ever bother to finish the story. See also: Grand Theft Auto V.
Marvel’s Spider-Man - I had a feeling that Spider-Man was going to be a good game, but I was blown away by how great the final product turned out. What really came through was how much Insomniac cared about the property and how much attention to detail was packed into the game. You could nitpick the game to death, but I can't think of another game that I enjoyed playing as much as Spider-Man this year.
Beat Saber - Outside of Spider-Man, Beat Saber was another game that turned out to be better than expected. It's a fun game that's a natural mood booster as it gets you off your feet and gets you moving. The songs are a good mix and it's been nice to see new songs starting to crop up every time I fire up the game.
BattleTech - Mech warfare in the streets, political strife in the sheets. My grizzled fighting force is the Black Water of the Inner Sphere and outer Periphery. But it’s the blue collar work ethic of my senior staff that keeps the whole operation shipshape. BattleTech is both solemn and heartwarming, where a movie night with the crew feels as good as lobbing a Hail Mary at a hard target. This game, which is equal parts action-packed and accounting-heavy, should’ve gotten old months ago. Instead, I’m more in love today than the day we met.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance - This medieval RPG is so convincingly rooted in 15th century Bohemia that, I’m not going to lie, it almost had me ordering a 23andMe DNA test so I could trace my own heritage back to King Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor. (Spoiler: I’m nowhere near that lineage.) I’ve seen Tamriel and Azeroth, Thedas and...wherever Divinity takes place. But I’ve never seen such white-knuckled historicity on this scale in a role-playing game. Assassin’s Creed goes there, sure, but to Kingdom Come location isn’t just set dressing, it’s a breathtaking historical reenactment. Plus the workaday main character goes from throwing poo at the neighbor’s house to earning his stripes as a bona fide lord of the land.
Forza Horizon 4 - As soon as I fired up this game and started the tutorial, I knew I was in for a treat. I love driving games in the vein of Test Drive Unlimited and Burnout Paradise that have all kinds of extra elements built in, such as tracking down rare vehicles, completing quests and challenges, and being able to build a massive collection of cars. Throw in stunning graphics, a beautiful English countryside, and a heck of an underlying story line, and I am all in on Forza Horizon 4.
God of War - I convinced my wife to get this for me for my very first Father's Day. And while Kratos is certainly not the parent I aspire to be, an adventurous tale about a father and a son taking on the world together is a storyline that really does pull at my heartstrings. But more than just a resonating story, God of War is a technical marvel how it seamlessly transitions through a detailed and vibrant world, works in an entirely new pantheon of gods with their own rich history to keep the plots fresh, introduces deeper and more fulfilling gameplay mechanics, and leaves the door open after neatly wrapping up this major plotline to all sorts of sequel possibilities that already feel complete and appropriate (i.e. not hamfisting more conflict into future games that make little sense following the conclusion of the predecessors). Then when it is all done there is a wonderfully paced litany of side quests and challenges to keep a player engaged if they choose to extend the experience. It's the game that ticks every box and stands alone, head and shoulders above all else for my game of the year.
It's a Toss-Up Between Battlefield V and Red Dead Redemption 2 - The former is explosive, fast-paced, and fun. The latter is also that, but a lot more. I see myself more willing to engage in Battlefield V more often because I know it will be a unique experience each and every time I play. I've played Red Dead Online once, and honestly, I didn't really care for it. Taking inspiration from the fast gunplay of Max Payne 3's multiplayer (at least in the applicable game modes), it's a shooting gallery where the targets shoot back at you with as much ferocity and firepower that you hurl at them. Compare that to the systems in BFV, what with only snipers being able to spot, fortification building, and more customization than ever before, and it's easy to see why I prefer huge open playgrounds where I have to find people compared to back alleys where I'll be followed by some jerk on the minimap for the whole game because they know where I am.
Tetris Effect - In a year where I struggled more with my mental health than any previous year, playing Tetris Effect was something of a revelation. A place I could retreat to and feel like I had a modicum of control over tumultuous events that had been plaguing me all year. The sublime combination of visuals and sound put this game immediately into my top five of all time. The soundtrack is so unbelievably good, and the VR visuals make this game an all-encompassing experience that justifies the PS VR.
Celeste - Celeste is pure platforming magic. I cannot stress enough how perfect this game's mechanics are. The level of difficulty ramps up at just the right pace, never making you feel like something is out of reach, and if for some reason it is, you're a quick retry away from another attempt. Giving up is not an option when this game tries so hard to coax success out of you, and it has a good soundtrack to top it all off.
The Missing: JJ Macfield and the Island of Memories - This one isn't going to be on many people's lists, but I think this is one of the most important games to be released this year. It's a little heavy-handed with some of its messaging, but at the same time seems to be delivered with the care and empathy that it seems like only Swery65 is capable of. If you loved his previous efforts like Deadly Premonition and D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, then you know you're in for a wild ride. But with The Missing I got more than I could handle in the short four-hour experience. I don't want to spoil anything, but I think it's something everyone should play.
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