This year was full of exciting and anticipated releases in the video game industry. Although a few of them will probably end up a little lower on this list than most people think. There were so many high-profile releases in fact that I couldn’t keep up with giving Chris grief of his dislike for Horizon Zero Dawn. Yes, that fight will NEVER be over! Also, on that subject predicting right now that we’ll hear the announcement of Horizon Zero Dawn 2 sometime this year. Just remember that if it happens you heard it here first. Ok, ok, ok, this year isn’t about Aloy. I get it. My Game of the Year list will see some familiar names, but there’s also a few I’m sure no one else will have on in their top games of the year. What I’m basically trying to say is I’m an educated hipster gamer who you should tease and make fun of in equal measure.
After the utter disappointment and mess that was Bravo Team for the PSVR, I was truly worried about Firewall Zero Hour. They had advertised themselves similarly and involved tight, gun combat with the Aim Controller. Luckily, First Contact created a truly special, squad-based shooter that actually relied on teamwork, communication, and your own aiming abilities. I know many people use those words to describe other titles, but rest assured all of those are REQUIRED to play Firewall. Yet, even when teammates had the brainpower and sense of a walnut, the experience was still plenty fun. On an individual level it was amazing using tactics to outwit foes and actually having to take into consideration things like angle and fire direction.
Sure the entire XP system is an annoying grind, and the holy grail of unlocks, the signal jammer, took forever to unlock. It’s just that I never found myself overly frustrated except when my peripheral stopped functioning properly after hours of playtime. I’m hoping that when the next generation virtual reality headset releases, Firewall Zero Hour will be remembered fondly like the old Socom games and used as a standard for VR shooters.
A bit of a controversial entry even to me if I’m being honest. There were a lot of great games released this year, but also a lot of stinkers. I found myself scraping through games in order to find one more game for this list and Detroit Become Human was the best of the mediocre. Or at least at first. As I thought back to my time with David Cage’s latest creation, there were still definite monotonous and tedious feelings towards the title. However, when things picked up and moves were being made on a world-wide stage regarding android/cyborg rights…man events unfolded at a breakneck pace while tension and drama were handled perfectly. The first half of Detroit Become Human definitely fumbled and bumbled with the tones it wanted to take and the morales we were suppose to understand. Towards the end though, we experienced a cult-classic, sci-fi adventure reminiscent of Blade Runner.
Also, can we talk about the amazing and hilarious relationship between Hank and “Hi, my name is Connor, I am the android sent by Cyberlife.”? Well, assuming your myriad of choices kept Hank or Connor alive that is. Which there were more choices than ever that could affect the outcome in every level. It feels like Quantic Dreams is getting closer than ever to reaching the level of art they’re aiming for. It’s just not quite there yet and Heavy Rain is still my de-facto favorite from them.
What?! The sequel to the greatest game of all time (subjective and not even my favorite of all time, just doing this for dramatic effect) only at number eight?! Yes, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 finds itself sitting pretty low, or high depending on how you look at it, on this list. This isn’t to say that the game is an absolute technical marvel and tells a breathtaking story. This is after all a top ten list isn’t it? Arthur Morgan’s journey was definitely one I enjoyed taking, albeit slothing through at times, and he was even a better character than John Marston. The rise and fall of his outlaw life with the Van Der Linde gang was one for the history books and would please any fans of the western genre.
The sole reason Red Dead Redemption 2 finds itself in this spot can be blamed on the injection of too much realism. Like having to pick up items one at a time in painstakingly slow fashion or searching through the entirety of a dresser drawer by drawer. My personal favorite was riding my horse through a town and accidentally running someone over and being immediately wanted. Plus, let’s not forget the slightly annoying survival mechanics in eating, drinking, caring for your horse to maintain core levels and basic gameplay advantages. It just got in the way of the amazing story, great voice acting, and wonderful gameplay exploration. Take these hampering effects away and Red Dead 2 would have skyrocketed up this list.
“Ok, Kyle f**k you! First RDR2 and now you’re telling me God of War isn’t in your top three?!?!?”
Well angry internet user, this is an opinion and subjective related article so I’m sorry you’re so upset. But yes, God of War finds itself as number seven on my 2018 GOTY. Let me state in no uncertain terms, that what Cory Balrog and the Santa Monica team did with Kratos was one of the biggest achievements in all of gaming. Taking an angry, vicious, and bloodthirsty killer and turning him into a remorseful, regretful, and begrudging father was one of the best pieces of art I’ve ever seen. It was believable and heartfelt the way everything was handled and calling Atreus “boy” was unexpectedly entertaining. Not to mention the fantastic gameplay with old and new weapons alike. That first fight with the “Stranger” still gives me goosebumps and finding out later he wasn’t even there for Kratos (let alone know who he was) added even more goosebumps.
Where God of War faltered for me was the navigation and side content. When I was on a decent sized piece of land, God of War was great. When I had to go back to the boat and row around a lake…not so much. It really broke the tension of exploration and would have prefered just being able to run around instead of paddling. Then every small area you could only get to by boat would more than likely be a puzzle in order to find something. Not to mention that the Niflheim and Muspelheim areas were a chore to even attempt. I didn’t find much enjoyment in completing a crap ton of very specific objectives or only being able to stay in a maze for so long. Basically outside the main story and a few side missions, I didn’t have much fun.
The saddest entry on this list since the massive layoffs suffered by the developer. Onrush was a one-of-a-kind, arcade racer that not only brought back the genre’s fun, but switched up game modes and abilities to freshen them. I truly didn’t have this much fun in an arcade racer since Split/Second. Although that says something about these types of games nowadays. Sad face. Gameplay was amazing, fun, frenetic, and most of all intense. All of which was accompanied by an unbelievable soundtrack that I still want officially released dammit! Also, Onrush is still a PS Plus title for December! So for whatever reason you didn’t purchase it back in the Summer, you have literally zero excuse to not try it out now.
Those who have followed my exploits here at Pure PlayStation know I’m not a fan of survival games too much. Hell, this list even insulted those mechanics. However, Conan Exiles was something different. I knew that the second day playing it after only purchasing it because a friend begged me too. The world takes place in the Conan the Barbarian mythos and features a stunning and fully realized world. There was a ton to explore and discover while just trying to survive the harsh world full of dangers. Yes, eating and drinking is required. What’s more is the unbelievable creations that could be built from the ground up. A clan’s base of operations was only limited by your imagination.
Those building mechanics though were a little strict. You needed A LOT of requirements met or crafted in order to create some of the game’s better loot. Hell, some of the items couldn’t even be crafted at launch. The real issues though were the many technical errors that could screw over your character and what they may be carrying at the time of death. Still I never felt like I had a second, fantastical life like I did in Conan Exiles. It’s just a shame that there wasn’t much staying power except socio and political events within the small, forty player servers.
Probably my favorite PlayStation VR game to date. Sprint Vector was an incredible sports title that spoke to the competitive athlete in me. It was essentially a parkour racing game that required you to actually move your arms up and down, kind of like the motion of running. I know I lost more than a few pounds and sustained much soreness. But the level design, powerup abilities, and other mechanics made Sprint Vector a true joy to play. I’m torn between wanting to never experience something as special again or for technology to make it so an experience like this could be more fully realized. Hands down and without a doubt, if you have a PSVR and like sports games, you need to download this game. There’s no better virtual reality title worth your money and then some.
I don’t think anyone was expecting Arc System Works to create a meaningful and true to source fighting game for the Dragon Ball fandom. I mean people were expecting a good fighting game, but not what we got. A lovely, handcrafted ode to the series that struck all the chords on what made the manga/anime great. While the story mode itself was a little bland, the cutscenes within were entertainment gold and showed that the developers were creating something out of respect and appreciation. Most importantly though were the tight fighting mechanics with each fighter having a move set that catered to their individuality and uniqueness. I can’t tell you how much fun I had with my team of Hit, Gotenks, and Super Vegeta. Like you just said what a team combo right?
Yet Dragon Ball FighterZ isn’t higher for a reason. The first month after launch was plagued with countless matchmaking issues and you couldn’t even be guaranteed to play with friends. You had to hope that both of you could even join the same room and then have the lobby survive long enough to actually fight. In the end though any game that can make me scream out loud, “FINAL FLASH” every time I pull off the move is a definite win in my book.
There was just something about Far Cry 5 when I played it back in March. It was typical Far Cry gameplay sure, but the characters, setting, and attention to detail just left me awestruck. To the point that the latest title in the series is my favorite. The Seed family may not have been the next Vaas and that’s fine. These religious psychopaths thought THEY were the good guys and were written incredibly well because of it. Each member of the family would irk you in some way that just made you want to give them their just desserts. The story may not have been as narratively fulfilling as God of War, but great villains, a beautiful open world, and always great Far Cry mechanics combined to make one memorable video game.
Let’s not forget Far Cry Arcade either. While a bit on the shallow side, players could create maps, levels, and missions with all sorts of stipulations for other gamers. There was user-generated content as amazing as Resident Evil 2 recreations all the way to a broken and glitchy battle royale mode around a castle. This small addition, but full of infinite possibilities, elevated Far Cry 5 to my second favorite game of 2018.
Here we are. Only one amazing title left that released this year and it found its way to my 2018 game of the year. Spider-Man was anticipated for plenty of reasons: Insomniac Games doing development duties, insane and action packed trailers, and a promise to capture the essence of the superhero. What released wasn’t just true on all of those accounts, but one of the best superhero games to ever release and in my opinion, better than Spider-Man 2 on the PS2. The story was thought-provoking and full of heart, gameplay was utterly astounding, the web swinging was orgasmic (can we say that in writing on the internet?), and every little attention to detail paid created a masterpiece. I only put down this title once and that was to actually get a decent amount of sleep. Other than that I had the platinum trophy to this game in less than two days. Any game that can make me do that and proudly so, is easily worth a GOTY title.
While no game is perfect it was truly hard to come up with cons for Spider-Man. I mean I found the Taskmaster challenges annoying more often than not, but some side content like that didn’t even scratch the overall journey. While I would love to stick around and throw more praise here I actually want to really play the Silver Lining DLC to this game. See? I’m still obsessing over it to the point where it’s affecting my writing. Feel like that’s more than enough reasons to name Spider-Man 2018 as the best game this year.
PlayStation is love. PlayStation is life.