Eurogamer readers’ top 50 games of 2018

Well hi, hello and how do you do? There’s just one last festive tradition to tick off the list before we resume work for the new year, and it’s the finest tradition of them all – the Eurogamer reader’s top 50 games of the year! 2018 was a fascinating, diverse year for new games, and your list beautifully reflects that – as do your comments. Thank you so much for taking part, and see you all again soon!

50. Sonic Mania Plus

What we said: “Mania takes everything that was memorable about Sega’s pioneering 2D platformers – that joy in momentum always teetering on the brink of disaster, the deranged magnificence of those levels, the mournful bassnote as poor, faithful Tails stampedes into all the traps you’ve just triggered in passing – and rejuvenates it, to the point where you can only put down the pad in astonishment. Sonic the Hedgehog happened, everybody.

“He’s supposed to be all washed up – gaming’s Birdman, a balding, leather-jacketed C-lister they wheel on whenever some Mario crossover finds itself short on backing characters. How the hell is this possible? It’s possible because for a small group of dedicated aficionados, the blue blur’s halcyon period never ended. What’s old has become new, and Sonic is once again the star he was supposed to be.”

“It’s a wayback machine with a touch of futurism,” writes leonardomuniz. “It is everything I remember and also everything I wished this game could be on my long gone Mega Drive.”

“More Sonic Mania took the bad taste of Forces away,” says Xeall. “That should always always be commended.” Amen to that.

And finally, pjemptage has a message of festive cheer for all those at Sega. “Don’t let Sega be in charge of making Sonic games anymore.” Well, they have a point.

49. Wipeout VR

What we said: “There’s little quarter given to the player here – the action is relentless – but that’s WipEout, and I’m not sure I’d want it any other way. There are ways and means to enjoy a less frenetic experience – non-combat races and zone runs aren’t quite as much of a sensory assault, but the game is what it is: a zero compromise, enhanced VR port of one of the very best remasters available for PlayStation 4.

“It’s amazing how the Wipeout series has managed to be on the cutting edge of technology for more than two decades,” says SuperShinobi. “On the PS1 as part of the new 32-bit wave of 3D games, on the PSP as a demonstration of console-quality gaming on the go, on the PS3 as a 1080p full-HD game ahead of its time and now on the PSVR as a new kind of racing game that finally truly shows you what the anti-grav racing of the future might really be like from the first-person cockpit perspective. “

[STARS]Tyrant, meanwhile, also has a bit of future shock. “If you were go back and tell me in 1995 that one day VR would get so good that you’d be literally piloting a WipEout ship. I simple wouldn’t have believed you.”

And that’s a point that mistachicken makes in slightly fewer words: “Actually broke my brain.”

48. Fallout 76

What we said: “Fallout 76 strips away most of the things I love about Bethesda’s Fallout games and replaces them with human-controlled avatars. But while other players are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, this is a game world that spectacularly fails them – on pretty much every level.”

So yeah… I don’t think we liked this one that much, but a fair few of you found the fun in the slightly limp online take on Fallout. “People hate this game but it’s exactly what I expected, nothing more or less, having a great time with my mates,” says SyruM, a sentiment shared by Cydonia88. “Not even sorry,” they said. “This game has been so much fun with friends.”

Maybe, though, this found its way into the list on some of its other qualities. “Haven’t played it but it deserves top three for the entertainment it’s brought,” says runningwithscissors. “Fully deserved for being the most entertaining, complete balls up of the past decade,” adds *ahem* DJFingerBang.

47. Nier: Automata (Xbox One)

Eligible for this year’s voting thanks to the Xbox One version that launched in 2018 – and a common vote, partly due to how beloved this eccentric action game is and perhaps partly down to the fact that a lot of people only got around to its true ending this year.

“Although I completed it last year on PS4 (and subsequently rebought it on XBO), it’s always worth giving a Taro Yoko game a plug when you can,” says ror. “Though I don’t think it’s quite as good as the original NieR – one of the best experiences of the previous generation, IMHO – it still has an interesting world, great characters, and an utterly stunning soundtrack. Better combat than the first game too, even if I do prefer sealed verses to pod programs.”

“I can’t help it – I don’t have the Xbox version, only the PS4 version,” writes Dave, while revealing himself as a dirty cheat. “But I just can’t help it. It’s such an amazing game that I just HAVE to pick it.”

46. Diablo 3 Eternal Collection (Switch)

What we said: “Diablo 3 is a perfect fit for portable play, and Blizzard and Iron Galaxy have not skimped on the features and options while making the right technical choices to ensure a smooth, fast and highly playable experience. As a bonus, it comfortably surpasses Diablo 3 for last-gen consoles in almost every respect.”

For Mccymcflinn, this was the version of the loot hoover where it all clicked for them.”Bought Diablo 3 on PC – never played it. Bought Diablo 3 on PS4 – again, never played it. Bought Diablo 3 on Switch – didn’t put it down until I’d had my absolute fill (I sold the PS4 version to partially fund the Switch version – I’m not an idiot).”

Let’s leave with this charming image from guybrushfreepwood, though: “I’ve played it to death on the PC and now I’m doing it all over again in the toilet.”

45. Fortnite

What we said: “Fortnite’s designers may have responded to PUBG with opportunism, but they also responded with craft, and the map is where this is most immediately apparent. Battle Royale’s map is significantly smaller that PUBG’s, but it is also built with very different ambitions. The tighter footprint means that the slow rolling shift from one kind of terrain to another that makes PUBG feel so innately wild and natural is replaced with a cluster of neighborhoods that can transition quite abruptly. PUBG has the space to build up the gradient until – Jesus! – you suddenly realise you’re climbing a mountain. Fortnite relies on little IKEA hills that emerge from the ground in compact piles of rock. Want to get up high? Here’s your chance. Equally, its urban spaces are caricatured plots of real-estate – the skyscraper district, the rundown mini-mall, the toilet factory – which feel entirely separate from the landscape around them. And they’re meant to. PUBG’s meant to feel wild, like you’ve been dropped into a warzone. Fortnite feels more like a paintballing team-builder held in a theme park.”

“Was my game of the summer,” says Cowell. “It really gripped me for a few months and finally securing a couple of Victory Royales was a real buzz.”

“Sometimes it is fun to just enjoy the bombastic nature of modern video games in all its glory, and this game really epitomizes that with its constant wacky updates and ludicrous cultural significance,” adds yockenthwaite. “Got to give credit where credit is due, Epic have delivered quite the experience with this game. A lack of depth means that I burnt out on it after a season, but it was fun while it lasted.”

“Although it technically came out last year, there’s no doubt that 2018 belonged to Fortnite,” says greenwichlee. Ain’t that the truth.

44. Valkyria Chronicles 4

What we said: “As you might expect, the lengthy battles – not to mention the plentiful episodes sprinkled throughout – means there are dozens and dozens of hours of playtime here, and that’s not including the numerous hours you can lose to tweaking stuff inside the command room, too. But no matter how perfect the mechanics or how good the value for money, it’s difficult to unreservedly recommend Valkyria Chronicles 4 when the brilliant turn-based action is self-sabotaged by a lacklustre cast and lukewarm jokes about the female squaddies’ knickers.”

“More of the same from Valkyria Chronicles 1, with some added bits and pieces,” says Omniabsence. “Lovable cast of characters and an intriguing story with some of the best strategy gaming on console.”

“I waited so long for this and while it’s more of an expansion on VC1, it’s still absolutely amazing,” writes Xeall. “Tactical combat is a pure joy, and a decent chunk into the game, suddenly new mechanics are introduced to keep things fresh.”

“I never counted in a million years on getting this sequel,” says gormster. “A little lacking in characterisation after 1 and especially 3, but unquestionably the most refined, balanced and varied instalment gameplay wise.”

43. Moss

What we said: “The world of Moss feels like a real place, populated with characters that act like living, breathing creatures. The addition of VR elevates the experience to something else entirely. It allows you too lean into Quill’s world, to inspect it, to explore it and to fiddle and interact with it. It disintegrates the invisible barriers that have existed between the player and their avatar since video games first came about, and it does so in a way that’ll make your heart soar.”

“Just a beautiful little game with bags of character,” says atfruitbat. “I love Quill and the care they’ve taken in animating her.”

SvennoJ is similarly enthralled: “Pure magic, great level design, fun puzzles and so full of charm.”

And jawolf is ebullient about one of several PSVR gems this year. “Unlike anything I’ve played before, beautiful art direction and wonderful presentation have me a sense of awe I’ve not had for many years in gaming.”

42. Firewall: Zero Hour

What we said: “It’s easily the best multiplayer PSVR game out there, and when coupled with the Aim controller it’s one of the most immersive too. The welcoming community is a breath of fresh air and this means you’re never short of a good team to play with.”

“Bare-bones FPS with broken lobbies and one game mode,” says sickpuppysoftware. Hang on – this is *best* games list! Oh wait, there’s more. “Add VR, an Aim controller and a few chatty team-mates and you’ve got the online game I played the most this year. No grief, no screaming kids, just great teamwork and immersion.”

“The only game I’ve ever reached out from cover, poking my shotgun through a hole in the door to blow away unsuspecting sneaking opposing player!” adds gizzaciggy. Here, have a Superking for your troubles.

41. Ni No Kuni 2

What we said: “Ni no Kuni 2’s lavish array of systems grind away any ennui you might feel about the story. There are the usual JRPG sins of a world bloated with loot and resources and missions that are essentially there to sponge up the hours, but most of it feeds satisfyingly into kingdom-building and the party combat. Is a loss of awe and mystique the price we must pay for a game that is so ripe with little things to do, poke at and throw around on the field of war? I’m not sure it is – the Suikoden games were similarly big-bottomed, and had terrific, gripping stories to boot – but I can’t deny that I’ve enjoyed the ride.”

“A gorgeous game world telling a sweet story of friendship and hope,” writes Devox. “The Ghibli influence is still there with some wonderful monster designs and towns that are a joy to wander through. It’s just let down by a RTS mini game that’s not much fun to play.”

“If you enjoy JRPGs at all, you owe it to yourself to play this excellent title,” adds spookyxelectric. “The main premise isn’t as interesting as the first game’s, but it’s dripping with charm, it has a fun action combat system, a likable cast, and heavens, does it look and sound lovely. An underrated gem for sure.”

40. Dragon Ball FighterZ

What we said: “Dragon Ball FighterZ is a match made in heaven. It’s that rare licensed game that comes from the marriage of a developer and franchise who are perfect for each other. What Rocksteady did for Batman, what Rare did for James Bond and what BioWare did for Star Wars, Japanese studio Arc System Works has done for Dragon Ball. The result is an exciting, exuberant and surprisingly rewarding brawler that’s one of the best fighting games I’ve played, and it’s not just for genre enthusiasts either.”

“What happens when you mix the excitement of a tag based fighting game with the license of one of Japan’s most beloved exports, and give it to a competent developer with decades of pristine and intricate releases?” asks Rivuzu. Any ideas anyone?

Oh, wait – they’ve answered too! “FighterZ happens. It made me step into the FGC in a way I never had, and to date I’ve spent more time on this than any other fighter I’ve ever touched combined. It is fast, it is technical, it has Cell yelling ‘HAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!’ with the PRISTINE WAKAMOTO VOICE.” Glad we got that sorted out then.

39. Shenmue 1 and 2

It’s very much been the year of the remaster, but have any been more welcome than D3T’s take on Shenmue? For series stalwarts it was a grand chance to get reacquainted, but there was also the novelty of seeing new players get their heads around this strangest, most serene of open world games. “Shenmue’s animation is stiff, its story beats are cheesy and its acting is wooden,” said Oli about his first trip to Yokosuka. “Some of the meaningless diversions are played for novelty, so they haven’t aged well, and sometimes the whole enterprise just collapses into hapless camp. Yet in the hypnotic repetition and empty stretches of time created by its unwavering commitment to the clock, Shenmue describes a convincing emotional landscape for a lost teenager. It’s numbing, claustrophobic, fundamentally very boring, but also luxuriously self-involved: a heightened state in which a twilit walk down an empty backstreet, just because you have nowhere better to be, can be too beautiful to bear.”

“This is probably the nostalgia talking, and it’s certainly a marmite game,” admits skywise. “Playing it though I was very relaxed and the game just looks a lot more stable and clean now. Also the controls are way better than before and the music still hasn’t aged and is beautiful still. For old fans I can certainly recommend this game very highly!”

“Revisiting these games was an absolute pleasure,” says elvenscroll. “How about a game of lucky hit?” Oh, go on then.

38. Two Point Hospital

What we said: “This a more goal-oriented experience that nonetheless stays true to the spirit of its sort-of predecessor. Those completely new to the experience will find a varied and humorous hospital simulator. Anyone jumping in with fond memories of Theme Hospital, meanwhile, will find a modernised successor with just enough to make it feel new again.”

“I was a little disappointed with this game on initial release,” says outtolunch. “I felt the strategy side of things was a little lacking and that it was too easy.” THEN WHY DID YOU VOTE FOR IT? “But I missed the point.” Ah, okay! Carry on. ” This is one of those games that you sit and slowly play over a long session as you collect stars. If you do what I did on my first playthrough, and rush through it, you will miss all the expertly handled animations and slapstick humour that this game has.”

“Theme Hospital in 2018… What more needs to be said?” asks MagicMadjeski. There’s probably not much more to be said, but hey now you know how it feels for us when we have to try and spin out another 1000 words on this stuff for a review.

37. A Way Out

What we said: “Tired it may be, but there is a sense in which A Way Out achieves exactly what it set out to do. Fares wanted to demonstrate the transformative power of telling a video game story with, and for, two players. You could almost argue that the story’s stark unoriginality serves him well in this aim.”

“A great cinematic co-op journey, let down by a absolute shitty ending,” says Scawp, which only makes me more curious to see what exactly happens at the climax of this narrative adventure.

“You’d be forgiven for not knowing what couch co-op even means these days, but this game took a brave approach by forcing co-op, either couch or online,” says stepharneo. “I played through with my brother and we’re both hoping for a sequel.” You two should share a single controller and try Brothers next.

36. Yakuza 6

What we said: “Yakuza 6 marks a new beginning for the series, as well as a significant end; this is the first in the series to be realised on an all-new engine, while it also marks the last headline appearance for Kazuma Kiryu, the star of Yakuza since its inception back in 2005. It all makes for a more streamlined, much punchier entry than we’ve seen in recent installments..”

“Amazing end to Kazuma’s story and the best made game in the series by far,” said eddiehitler of what (spoiler!) might not even have been the best Yakuza game to come out in the west this year. “Roll on Judgement next year!” Eeeeesh, does that team never stop?

35. Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire

What we said: “The reason I play role-playing games is to ponder over everything, however insignificant. And from sailing the high seas to dealing with dodgy underworld bosses and insatiable gods, Pillars of Eternity 2 gives me ponderance in abundance. The Deadfire Archipelago is a bountiful tropical playground I will happily plunder again and again. How long this golden RPG doubloon shines I don’t know, but for now it’s worth savouring, for now it’s worth celebrating.”

“Despite the horrendous loading times of the original, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Pillars. The sequel is even more enjoyable and even more fun to play,” writes Mccymcflinn. “It’s definitely a game that likes enveloping you in the world, desperate to have you notice small details and interesting lore – perhaps to the detriment of the overall story, but that’s not unique to Pillars when it comes to RPGs.”

34. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

What we said: “Gone are the days when Call of Duty set the agenda. I remember the series’ water-cooler zeitgeist, when the Modern Warfare campaigns were redefining the video game set-piece and competitive multiplayer rewrote the FPS rulebook with perks and scorestreaks. There was a time when shooters copied Call of Duty. Now, Call of Duty looks to other games for inspiration. I’m not sure there’s much to be done about this, but I do know this: when Call of Duty puts its mind to something, it knocks it out the park.”

“Look, the multiplayer is fine,” says raginscotsman. I never said otherwise! “The Zombies mode is getting out of hand and only works with friends. The need for a season pass is a big bucket of crap. But Blackout is the best Battle Royale game ever made.” Preach, good sir.

“It’s surprising to me that I’m nominating this,” says tpreview, but I’ll say it – I’m not surprised at all. “But it’s my most played game and it’s an absolute gem. So much content and a best-in-class Battle Royal mode with outstanding dev support.”

33. BattleTech

What we said: “Perhaps BattleTech’s worst crime is that, while it borrows many ideas from XCOM and augments them within its own deftly-weaved backstory, at the fundamental level – on the field of battle – it can’t quite match XCOM’s arms race-driven unit diversity or mission variety. That said, when it comes to having iconic suits of sci-fi armour balanced across wind-swept hillsides and firing laser beams into the night, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy the spectacle of mechanical strides fighting at the scale and in the time signature they were originally designed to operate in.”

“Giant stompy robot strategy goodness!” Says Udat. U dis? Sorry, new phone. ANYWAY THERE’S MORE. “My wife accused me of liking my robots more than her not long after Battletech’s release, which is a good endorsement for the game, if not for myself.”

“Big stompy mechs and a fine campaign,” says crakghoul. “Scratched an itch I didn’t know I had.”

32. Return of the Obra Dinn

What we said: “It is a joy to poke around as the game slowly opens up new spaces. It is a pleasure – and a very harmonious pleasure – to come to an understanding of how different parts of the ship slot together, where people sleep, where they work, where they gather for a game of cards. That powdery white line that draws this bleak world is surprisingly adept at giving a sense of the material reality of the ship – razor sharp on the rarely-used stairs you use to climb aboard, breaking into radar-like speckles when ghosting an outline of waves into life. As your clues mount up and the images in the book become less and less fuzzy, so the world comes into focus. You are not just exploring a place, you are slowly getting a sense for it. What an astonishing game. What an incredible piece of work.”

“Without question the most original and compelling gameplay experience I’ve had all year,” says a8a.

“The smartest and most original detective game in recent memory,” says Jigsawn. “Not only does Obra Dinn unveil its story in a very unique way, but this is a game where your deductive reasoning and logic are really put to the test. Every person you identify feels like an accomplishment. Once again Lucas Pope treats us to his unique art style and excellent ideas.”

31. Kingdom Come: Deliverance

What we said: “A shadow lingers over Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Instead of challenging the Dark Age it reinterprets 615 years later, the game seems to delight in it. Instead of seeing notes in the margin of a history book, we get what feels like a glossy pamphlet advertising an escape into an oddly romanticised past. And it’s that, ultimately, which makes me too uneasy about Warhorse’s work to be able to recommend it..”

Rowjay enjoyed the muck, filth and occasional wonkiness of Warhorse’s RPG “My favourite immersive sim of the year,” they write. “Full of glorious Euro-Jank that is way more ambitious than is feasible for a studio to produce, but I admire the effort.”

“The game from this year I played the most,” says Siro. “Needed some mods for comfort but then you are in for an incredibly well told story.”

30. Yoku’s Island Express

What we said: “Yoku’s Island Express is a deeply sweet game, but it is wonderfully eager to deliver nature at its strangest and ugliest. The result is an adventure that feels weirdly honest, even if you are playing as a beetle who delivers the mail. The world is exhilarating and beautiful, but it’s also frightening and gross. It is, to borrow a phrase from David Chang, an Ugly Delicious kind of deal – and what a perfect way of summing up this magnificent and loveable oddity.”

“Who knew Pinball and Metroidvania paired together would make such a compelling and enjoyable game?” asks JoelStinty. VillaGorilla, that’s who!

29. Battlefield 5

What we said: “It’s clear that DICE has a long road ahead of it to get Battlefield 5 ship shape and where it really needs to be. It’s too slim, and too spotty, to recommend diving in this early. The foundations are in place, though, for something truly special.”

“Best multiplayer shooter by far,” says bigleadballoon. “Lacking content and lots of controversy but still the most enjoyable multiplayer game of the year.”

“Undeserving of the criticism it received and another fine addition to the series,” says jimdriver2. “The gameplay is as solid as ever and DICE deserve a lot of praise for introducing the attrition system and pushing their players towards improved team play.”

28. Pokémon Let’s Go

What we said: “I suspect Game Freak’s ideal outcome is you, the old Pokémon veteran, playing Let’s Go in co-op on the sofa alongside your freshly hatched little one, spotting the difference between past and present Kanto like you’re driving through an old hometown and telling the kids that, when you were their age, this was all fields. Looking at Let’s Go from that perspective – the perspective of the seven-year-old in the back seat, glued to their Nintendo Switch just like you were to that sticky, streetlit Game Boy Colour – it’s hard not to fall in love.”

“I hate Pokemon,” says IncredibleBulk. “I really do.” Wow. Even Psyduck? “I have however always wanted to like it,” they continue. “So I gave this a go and I love it. All the things they changed and people moan about… I’m the guy that likes these changes and benefits from them. Sorry! But it’s fun, it’s fresh, it’s lengthy and I hope for more of this and less of the usual stuff.”

“I thought returning to Kanto for the umpteenth time would be a chore,” adds Gorogan, “but Let’s Go is a refreshing change of pace to a much loved region. The integration with Pokemon Go is seamless, the connection makes it feel like no matter where I am I’m able to contribute to completing the full Pokédex.”

27. Divinity: Original Sin 2 (console)

What we said: “There’s such a wide range of influences visible in Larian’s work. Ultima and XCOM are the obvious ones, but there are other moments, such as when you’re breaking into a house or searching for a hidden hatch to the basement, that the game suddenly feels more like Thief or Dishonored. The game foremost in my mind while playing, however, was The Witcher 3.

“This isn’t because of the setting or Divinity’s similar ponderings over morality. It’s because I thought it would be many years before I played another RPG that was even close to being that rich with choice and charisma. Original Sin 2 has made me question that belief, and I don’t think I could give it a higher accolade.”

“One of the best CRPGs I’ve ever played,” says Disintegration7, “and I’m enjoying it even more now that I can finally read all that tiny text on my 4K TV!” Well, *someone’s* earning.

“Very possibly the best written game of all time,” says PyD. “Interesting interactive characters to inhabit, or the option to be your own and just interact with the party.”

26. Sea of Thieves

What we said: “Sea of Thieves is made to be played with others. With randoms, whether on voice chat or emotes and a selection of easily accessible phrases, jumping into a galleon can be a bit like playing Quantum Leap. Where am I now? I’m in the hold of a ship and it’s filling with water. Better get a bucket. Better get out of the way of that guy who’s come down to fix things. No! He’s a boarder! He’s coming to kill me! Oh boy! With friends, though, there is simply nothing like it.”

“An acquired taste,” says DJDog. “But if you do have taste for it, there’s no other game like it. Unique, charming and a helluva lot of fun with friends.”

Scawp keeps it simple, though. “Yarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”.

25. Destiny 2: Forsaken

What we said: “It’s a reset, really, taking lots of what people loved about Destiny 1 and adding cool new experiences, such as Gambit. All this is underpinned by the wonderful gunplay Destiny has always had. I’m not sure Forsaken will revive Destiny 2’s fortunes, but it’s off to a great start, and I can’t wait to play more.”

“Very decisive game right now,” says Bootchka. “But D2 starting with the whisper quest through to the new Forsaken content has matured into the game all Destiny fans wanted… Creeping secrets and plenty of lore bolted onto some of the finest gunplay out there. The best timesink this year.” You, clearly, have never tried to put up a shed.

24. Subnautica

What we said: “Subnautica is daunting and enigmatic in a way few survival sims are. Its choice of setting and peculiar constraints rejuvenate a species of game that is always at risk of disappearing under a cloud of toil and mealy-minded acquisitiveness. But I wonder whether there’s another version of this game, somewhere out in the lowering darkness, which is no less beautiful and complex but far weirder and sadder, and which says something truly remarkable about the ocean without and within.”

“The best underwater game of all time,” says Jigsawn. “Incredible atmosphere, challenging survival mechanics, and a great structure that leads you deeper and deeper in ever more exciting vehicles. No game in 2018 has immersed me as much as Subnautica.”

“Played through it mostly in VR until I realized I was too scared to finish exploring the depth,” says Exno. “Wonderful environments and great gameplay systems that really makes the exploration worth it.”

23. Yakuza 0

What we said: “Though a return to Kamurocho isn’t far away, Yakuza 0 is, in many respects, the end of an era – and a heck of a finish it is, too.”

Hit it, Crashmasters! “If they only realised it’s 2018 and updated the gameplay mechanics this would end higher up the list.” Oh. Okay, that’s actually kind of mixed. Torhal? “My first entry into the Yakuza franchise. I was always intimidated by jumping in late into this long-running franchise, so, I was delighted to try an original new entry point into the series. And it is glorious.” There you are! Glorious!

22. Shadow of the Tomb Raider

What we said: “Shadow of the Tomb Raider ends this reboot on much the same note that it began, which for its fans may not be such a bad thing. This is a well-crafted and polished experience, and when the game actually gives you full control and leaves you alone to seek out its quieter mysteries, it can render you wide-eyed with wonder. And this Tomb Raider may have motivation and purpose and a vague semblance of an emotional arc but it all rings hollow, particularly when elsewhere there’s repetition and an overall lack of new ideas. This Lara has forgotten herself and forgotten the joy and the thrill.”

“Thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end,” says TribalSpook. “Combat is relatively scarce till the final third (against common belief) which allows for hours of exploring in interesting locations which have been beautifully realised. Its only weakness is that with so much to do, it’s too easy to get distracted from the main quest, but that’s definitely an issue I could cope with. And *spoiler* Lara does lighten up by the end of the game, promise!”

21. Octopath Traveler

What we said: “Octopath Traveler is the kind of game that gets hand-waved aside as being for “the old school”, but that’s to overlook its charismatic innovations in battle and the strange, detached, even austere construction of its narrative. For good and a little for ill, it’s a lot more eccentric than it seems. JRPG detractors will bounce off the hoarier elements – changeless villages, that well-thumbed handbook of classes and abilities, those sparsely animated sprites – and so, miss the peculiarities those devices hide. Genre aficionados may take umbrage at being forced by the levelling curve to alternate characters, and never quite seeing those stories entwine as fully as in, say, the Mass Effect games. Give the game time to bed in, however, and you’ll find it a bold contribution to a genre that has always been a little too in love with its past and the past in general. There’s much here to inspire nostalgia for the classics, but Octopath Traveler is at its best when following its own nose through a history of its own creation.”

Liketoseeyoutry was won over: “Absolutely loved the style and one of the best soundtracks for an RPG since the SNES days.”

“Fantastic JRPG. The battles are complex, and the bosses are the best,” concludes Coyoteman.

20. Dark Souls Remastered

“Perhaps controversially, Dark Souls Remastered makes the cut because, no matter how many times I throw the controller down in disgust, it always manages to reel me back in,” says JackHalligan, and mate, if you want to see controversial, wait until you get to number 12 on this list. “Thanks to lovely remastered graphics and all available DLC, plus increased online capabilities, there has never been a better time to prepare to die.” Still JackHalligan. Hope he’s still talking about Dark Souls.

“What an amazing game,” says DockeeBalboa.

19. Beat Saber

What we said: “Beat Saber makes you feel like a Jedi. If that Jedi was the conductor of an orchestra. And if that orchestra only played hardcore dance music.”

“Simply the most fun game released this year,” says Sowasred2012. “The concept is so simple you just have to look at it to know what to do, but it’s challenging enough that when your technique steadily improves you feel like a musical samurai conducting a techno-orchestra on the grid from Tron: Legacy. Very cool.”

“It’s a rhythm game with light sabers and it’s as great as it sounds,” says MajorJaws69.

18. Dragon Quest 11

What we said: “This is a pointed return to a different age of RPGs, a throwback to a golden era that shines brightly in its splendour. You’ll be hard pushed to find a more lavish production this year, or one that’s so generous, though you can’t help but wonder whether it’s too much of a backwards step.”

Jbumi was on board in a big way: “Absolutely the best DQ thus far! The graphics, gameplay & sheer fun – I laughed, I cried, I fought, I danced, I flirted – best game SE’s put out in ages!!” (Let me translate the more technical stuff for you: DQ means Dragon Quest and SE means South-East.)

Josephcross had a lot of fun too: “The real old school RPG… love it!” (RPG means rocket-propelled grenade.)

17. Far Cry 5

What we said: “One grateful civilian waves you over, a side quest icon materialising over his head. “Wh-” he says, and is promptly swept off his feet by a speeding pick-up truck.”

Crakghoul clearly got The Flavour Thesaurus as a gift earlier this year: “This game is a blueberry and lime slushy.”

God, The Flavour Thesaurus is a good read. I won’t say it’s made me a more inventive cook, but I never regret dipping in to read a few hundred beautiful words about something or other. Essential! Getting back to Far Cry 5: “Great world to lose yourself in,” says Noircissistech.

16. Shadow of the Colossus

What we said: “Shadow of the Colossus is such a sad, beautiful, thrilling game. It’s so bold in its austerity; compared to the frantic busywork of today’s games, its sheer emptiness comes as a relief. So does its rejection of the triumphalism and moral certainty that underwrite virtually every other action game. It’s a classic, and it’s a privilege to play it in this stunning new form.”

Break it down Tgcseymour: “Solid remake and despite playing this twice previously on other generation consoles, this was the first time I finished it all the way to the end. That has to speak to how well Bluepoint did with the project to improve controls etc.” It does! It does!

But we couldn’t let this one go without hearing from one of the first sixty Herberts. “A faithful recreation of a classic in which Bluepoint has again created the definitive version for a new generation of consoles. The artwork behind its environments had me falling in love with it all over again.” Herbert56 there – but you knew that already right?

15. Hitman 2

What we said: “Hitman 2 is not the landmark the last game was, and given that it almost didn’t happen at all, with Io wresting back the rights from Square Enix at the eleventh hour, that’s only to be expected. It doesn’t take us anywhere drastically unfamiliar for Hitman – all the maps have precedents in older games, and for all the multitude of smaller tweaks, like NPCs spotting you in mirrors or picture-in-picture footage of people you’ve successfully distracted, the rhythms are exactly those of the 2016 outing. There’s plenty to go back to in each map, however, from Trumpian politicians to that slowly unlocking repertoire of subtler or more grandiose strategies, and in Ghost, at least, the suggestion of a series turning a new leaf. I hope Io has the chance to follow through, because Hitman remains one of the smartest stealth experiences out there and truly a game for unequal times – a window upon society in which spoiled elites always get what’s coming to them, by fair means or foul.”

You never see Areeves89 until he’s right up next to you, gun poking you in the ribs as he whispers: “Frankly, this game has level designs unmatched by any other game series, and has near-endless replayability, especially for a single-player game. Take the complexity of a typical Hitman level and compare it to literally any Zelda game, or any Metroidvania… It takes what those game do, and increases it a hundred-fold. There’s just nothing else like it in video games! The ultimate James Bond simulator.” Then he’s disappeared before you can turn around!

14. Into the Breach

What we said: Yes, we know: should have given it an Essential.

“Wow played through this twice on my PC, and bought a friend a copy. Waiting for it to be discounted on the switch so I can buy another copy to play on the move. Keen to know what Subset Games have in mind for future release. Any DLC for this I would gladly buy.” That’s Gav082. He’s right! But don’t wait for it to be discounted, Gav! Send this dirty capitalist world a message.

13. Tetris Effect

What we said: “Tetris is a game for the ages, a game that has always felt like some form of universal constant that has been excavated as much as it was ever actively designed. Everywhere in the universe there is complex life to be found I reckon there will be Tetris sooner or later. I hope they get a game as good as Tetris Effect to truly do it justice.”

“How do you improve on Tetris? Playing this in VR with headphones on transforms a game we all know so well into something even better. An absolutely phenomenal achievement.” That’s the NabNab verdict and he’s spot on. This game is a total banger.

“Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s best game, and the best version of Tetris yet,” says CaptainTrips. “Played through the campaign in one sitting, and it stands out as the best VR experience I’ve had to date.” Total. Banger.

12. Detroit: Become Human

What we said: “Most worrying of all, though, I can’t shake the feeling that Cage is trying to have his cake and eat it.”

“Great graphics, great game,” says Crashmasters.

“I usually despise FMV games but for some reason I absolutely loved this one,” says SonicRising. “Maybe it’s the setting or maybe it’s because there’s actually a lot of gameplay for an FMV game. Whatever the reason I was pleasantly surprised by and really enjoyed Detroit and will be returning to it for a second playthrough at some point.”

11. Celeste

What we said: “For those who want the full experience, there are all those collectables to nab, all those secrets to find, and that timer clicking away while you toil. But this is truly a game for everyone. Celeste is brutal, but it’s also sweet, and in its handling of the two elements it finds both a touching, timely narrative and an enviable sense of balance. What a game.”

“YES”, says Vertigofanboy. And that’s all that needs to be said about this one. What a game.

10. Hollow Knight (console)

What we said: “There are no training wheels in this kingdom.”

“On switch the controls are pitch perfect, inevitably frustrating at times but ultimately the game was just highlighting my own mistakes.” That’s Zero_G with a lovely attitude to adversity.

Malek86 now: “Metroidvanias are a dime a dozen lately from indie developers. And Dark Souls has been especially influential among indie developers. Guess what you get when you mix the two? Yep, Hollow Knight.” BUT IS IT ANY GOOD MALEK86.

9. Astro Bot Rescue Mission

What we said: “Astro Bot Rescue Mission is a pretty wonderful platformer, but VR does something that lifts it to the heady realms of actual magic: it allows you to climb inside its world.”

IMadeThis says: “As close to a Mario platformer I’ve felt, without it being Mario. The joys built up and it just got better as it went on.” What else? “If you only ever play one VR game make sure it’s this one,” says IronGiant. God, that movie was sad. The ending! I need a moment.

8. Dead Cells

What we said: “The one thing I would hold against Dead Cells is that it’s an exercise in preaching to the choir. For all the deftness with which it sutures together the bleeding pieces of various genres, it’s a tough game to recommend to anybody who throws up at the whiff of permadeath, or who can’t see the difference between a random loot drop and a slot machine. Getting kicked back to square one can be as frustrating here as in Souls or Spelunky, though the shortness (up to an hour or two) of the average run deadens the pain – and it’s always a pleasure to return to that grisly, slowly blossoming canopy of specimen jars. Such mild caveats aside, few role-playing games offer such a breadth of options within recurring structures, and few games in general manage to put across such elaborate systems with such swagger. Dead Cells might cast you as a possessed hunk of corpseflesh, but it’s incredibly lively.”

“I hate Rogue-like games, yet I love this,” says BigHal, so I guess we were completely wrong about preaching to the choir. “Controls are super-sharp, the combat feels just right and the art style is awesome.”

“A masterpiece,” says Mcgoals. Actually, they said that about last year’s number eight, but maybe they also like Dead Cells?

7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

What we said: “And where else is Isabelle, with the assistance of Yakuman, the cover star of Nintendo’s 1989 Mahjong game, going to square up against Solid Snake against the backdrop of Electroplankton’s Hanenbow?”

“ROY!” says Janoid.

Darkarm66 has props for the Smash Team: “Online notwithstanding, the staggering amount of content wrapped around an amazing brawler is impossible to put down.”

“Not only the best fighting game of 2018, also a game that can be enjoyed to its fullest by people that aren’t heavily invested in the genre (which can’t be said about any of its current competitors in the genre).” That’s the DEV_NULL verdict.

6. Monster Hunter World

What we said: “The truth of Monster Hunter – and arguably its greatest strength – is that you’re never truly its master, and that every player, be they novice or veteran, is always learning something new. Monster Hunter World sees 13 years of evolution come crashing together with some new influences to create a very exciting breed of beast. This has always been a superlative series; with the release of World, it’s only become easier to see that’s an undoubtable truth.”

Runningwithscissors is a fan: “I haven’t as many hours on a game as I have on MHW in a long, long time (early Xbox 360 days, perhaps). It’s addictive, fun and actually quite generous with its content. Capcom has done a great job with this game. Of course, there are a lot of MH fans claiming World isn’t anywhere near as good as some of the others and it’s actually quite slim in content but I wouldn’t know as i’ve only played this one. What the game has done though, and I’m sure this was Capcom’s primary intention, is get a new audience who find the game to be a great new experience for them. I can’t wait for the next game down the line.”

What more is there to say? Also, never run with scissors.

5. Forza Horizon 4

What we said: “It will take another iteration or two for Playground to get the infrastructure for a shared-world racing game to match the vision, it seems. There’s every reason to believe that it will manage – certainly if you look at how competitive multiplayer has evolved from that initial shambles to the now rock-solid ‘team adventure’ playlist format, which with Forza Horizon 4 gets a welcome ranked variant for the first time. And it’s reassuring, in a way, that Forza Horizon 4 is less sure-footed than its predecessor, because it means that Playground are challenging themselves and the series is moving forward into uncharted territory. Unless it wants to end up a fond memory someone else’s tribute, the last thing a racing game should do is stand still.”

Ready yourself, Dan G. Leonardomuniz is about to upset you. “This is the game I enjoyed the most from this year. And probably from the entire Forza series.” Savage.

Valver ways in: “Xbox One X. 4K. HDR. Jaw-dropping.” “The greatest car-fest ever,” says Gintoki, while Pinkio invokes Constable (who was a jerk): “A fantastic open-world racer with so much depth and the beautiful British countryside to oggle at! Who couldn’t resist the charms of Suffolk’s ‘The Haywain’ moved several hundred miles North!” Tell you who could resist that? Turner. Check out Frosty Morning in the Clore. Now that’s painting.

4. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

What we said: “Odyssey is an enormous game – certainly one of the biggest, if not the biggest game Ubisoft has ever made. It’s an astonishing creation, extraordinarily generous and solidly crafted, and like its namesake is something that will live long in the telling.”

We couldn’t get the first 2364 NightRavens on the phone, but NightRaven2365 had this to say: “Assassins Creed Odyssey breathes new light into a franchise which had started to get stale. Not only is it a absolutely beautiful game, the new RPG mechanics are a joy to play with. Being able to customize my own play-style is also really fun, being able to go full stealth or hard and loud is a lot more fun than I thought it would be. The voice acting and the characters themselves are excellent, the witty remarks made from either Kassandra or Alexios were great. Overall this is a game I have fell in love with and will continue to enjoy for many more years yet.” Steady on!

“A modern classic and the action RPG genre refined to near perfection. Criminally underrated due to franchise baggage and coming out so near to another horse based game!” concludes Jimdriver2. (We couldn’t get the first Jimdriver either.)

3. Spider-Man

What we said: “Can you truly say you have lived until you have lamped someone with a manhole cover in Insomniac’s new Spider-Man game? Sure, you may have known happiness to a certain degree. You may have known love, even. You may have rolled the dice, as the saying goes, and landed a few sevens. But lamping someone with a manhole cover? It’s top-tier. Top of the shop, as an older generation might put it. Bam!”

Eugen-fet: “I’ve been waiting for a good Spider-Man game for years. This one delivers.” EvilAspirin: “Simply the best superhero game ever made. The first game to actually make you feel like Spider-Man, both as the masked hero and Peter Parker. Sublime.”

Dysonism: “The first AAA game I ever got a Platinum trophy for, I couldn’t put it down. The DLC comes out next week and I can’t wait to revisit the city again.”

2. Red Dead Redemption 2

What we said: “Is this Rockstar’s greatest game, a new masterpiece alongside the original? There are one too many caveats, and one too many flaws at its heart, to leave me totally convinced. Is this its richest, most beautiful open world? Of that there’s not a single doubt.”

“What else needs to be said, it’s epic in every way,” says VandalHandle, which is a very good name because it rhymes.

m_br is doing a spot of soul-searching: “I’m fairly loathe to include such a popular game but the fact is this is the first open-world game I’ve played where I’ve wanted to explore every inch of the map.” You should play Grow Up, mate. (Everyone should!) “Arthur Morgan’s development and writing alone makes this game near perfect: i.e. I’m afraid.” Enough said, QuirkyWizard.

1. God of War

What we said: “This is a strange beast, really. The latest technology and astonishing craft and artistry are employed to deliver a game of extremely simple pleasures – a wash of new pseudo-ideas that cannot hide the fact that the basics remain unfixed because they were not broken. God of War dresses things up, in other words, but it is ultimately the same deal it always was.”

“Great but lacking in memorable boss fights,” says Jabberwocky. Steady on mate, you punch someone through a mountain. What have you been getting up to this week?

JoelStinty has caveats too: “A near flawless experience if maybe a little bit to over designed.”

“BOI!!” says xXlive4eatingXx, whose forum name is a bit over-designed. Lozza86 is more fulsome: “I didn’t finish many games this year (new dad!) but I did finish God of War. A quality, polished 15 hour single player experience that had a clear beginning, middle and end with no microtransactions or live service rubbish – more like it please!” Congratulations, Lozza! And please do not take too many parenting tips from Kratos.

Let’s leave it with Omniscient: “You ask yourself, Am I qualified to nominate a GOTY, when I’ve yet to play other prospective GOTY contenders? But a game of a generation has no contenders, and that is what GOW is. Red Dead is great but its faults remind you it will be surpassed. GOW feels like an adventure beyond the singular game.”

Phew! And we’re done! Happy new year everyone! May it bring you all the best!


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