As I look back on 2018 I see a sight I’m unfortunately too used to: a bunch of games I played, but didn’t have a ton of time to beat. The common thread I witnessed between the games that make up this list is that despite the sheer volume of games I experienced, these are the few I made time to revisit. Come along as I review my favorite games of 2018!
Destiny 2: Forsaken
Forsaken may not truly be a standalone game, seeing as it’s an expansion to Destiny 2 but I would be remiss to allow that to disqualify a campaign-length game of this caliber from being a candidate for my GOTY 2018. Bungie has hit the mark time and time again with the Destiny franchise, and Forsaken is no exception. With every addition to the lineup, Destiny presents new challenges, new player-versus-player options, and compelling narrative to reconnect the Guardian with a rich and diverse cast of companions that make Forsaken seem like it truly has some stakes. As the campaign follows the inevitable downfall of fan favorite Cayde-6, the player is treated to scripted moments that will remain in memory for years to come. A new instance of PvP has been introduced in Forsaken with the rise of Gambit. An innovative and unusual take on PvP, Gambit has quickly become one of my favorite ways to spend my time in Destiny. I’ve come to have high expectations for Destiny and I hope to see more development in 2019.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
This game is a great example of fantastic worldbuilding at its finest. The Assassin’s Creed team has learned from their missteps of the past and created Odyssey. This game is certainly more than the sum of its parts; made up of multiple compelling systems and features to make the open world exploration meaningful and ensuring it has an impact on future gameplay. Not only are the mechanics of the game tight, but the visuals are breathtaking. Exploring the Greek isles is an immersive experience that lets the player dive into rich culture and historical vibrance in a way that connects you to the protagonist. From a series that has had a few stumbles and expectations of innovation, Ubisoft delivered a solid title with Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.
Stardew Valley (Nintendo Switch)
Stardew Valley is no stranger to my GOTY list, seeing as it has had a spot for the past year. However, I want to nominate it again for the multiplayer update pushed late in 2018. Few games have left me wanting more than Stardew. With the advent of multiplayer, a bit of added content, and the familiar bucolic setting of Stardew, the recent update has breathed new life into a game I’ve already spent absurd amounts of time playing. There’s not much further to say about Stardew Valley seeing as the simplicity of the game is part of the appeal, but it always humbles me when I consider that this whole venture was propelled by a single developer.
This new venture from Nintendo has been quite a brave undertaking on their part. Despite their brand momentum, Nintendo invested in a brand new IP by way of mobile game. Mobile games tend to take the brunt of heavy criticism due to freemium-style builds, but Dragalia Lost is a step in the right direction for the genre. When Nintendo is willing to devote the time and energy to fan suggestions at the degree that Dragalia’s staff has been performing, it will inevitably change the narrative on what draws people to the mobile platform. Though mobile doesn’t provide depth in control techniques, Dragalia manages to keep gameplay challenging and compelling all while providing a whimsical, compelling narrative. It’s also one of very few games that I have played daily since launch! Breaking the freemium mold, Nintendo frequently distributes the special currency, or uses it as rewards for events and achievements. Dragalia is a blast, and seeing as it is free, I recommend it to anyone with a bit of time on their hands.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Super Smash Bros Ultimate is the latest in monumental Smash Bros titles, boasting a roster of over 76 characters. Quantity doesn’t always equate quality, but in the case of this party-style fighting game, Nintendo has definitely hit a nice balance. The most appealing factor in SSBU to me is the sheer customization options. A notable feature is the adaptive handicap setting for times when a player’s skill level is too challenging. It allows people of different experience levels to appreciate and enjoy the huge cast of beloved characters as they duke it out in fan favorite locations. It’s hard to argue with the efficacy of the Smash Bros formula, and as long as they keep pumping out titles of this quality, I’m certain we’ll be seeing the timeline of this series for years to come.
2018 was a year of great titles! I regret not having the time to really experience a vast majority of the critically acclaimed series of the year, but with so many great games from indie to AAA, it’ll be tough for 2019 to step up. Here’s to a great coming year of even greater games!