DualShockers’ Game of the Year 2018 Staff Lists — Grant's Top 10
Nothing will top the monstrous year that was 2017; however, 2018 still had some of the best video games ever created and some standout VR titles as well.
As 2018 comes to a close, DualShockers and our staff are reflecting on this year’s batch of games and what were their personal highlights within the last year. Unlike the official Game of the Year 2018 awards for DualShockers, there are little-to-no-rules on our individual Top 10 posts. For instance, any game — not just 2018 releases — can be considered.
After the absolutely monstrous year of video games that 2017 had, I don’t think that we are going to see a year similar to that one in a long time. Hell, I thought that last year’s excellent lineup would put a damper on this year’s games no matter how good it was. However, boy was I wrong: 2018 straight up told everyone to put a sock in it.
What most surprised me about this year was the variety of games I thoroughly enjoyed. Throw in some indie titles, your typical single-player AAA experience, multiplayer shooters, VR titles, and you are left with a something to play for whatever mood you are in. Sadly, there are plenty of games that I need to get to that could have possibly made this list such as Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Hitman 2, and Monster Hunter: World. However, I plan on getting to them as soon as the holiday ends.
That being said, here are my top 10 favorite games from 2018:
10. Mario Tennis Aces
To start the list off, let’s discuss the best Mario Tennis game yet. Yeah, I said it! Mario Tennis Aces had a forgettable and easy single-player mode. But let’s forget all about that and talk about what really matters, the online mode.
Oh my god did I play so many Mario Tennis Aces multiplayer matches. The game didn’t have all too much content, but damn was that multiplayer addicting! The tournament system was genius; even though the scoring system doesn’t mean much, there was a two-week window where winning a tournament meant everything to me.
What was surprising was the vast difference in gameplay when playing as different characters. Playing as Boo had me curving tennis balls all across the court. If I wanted to just blast some tennis balls down the other player’s throat, Bowser was the right guy for the job. Yoshi could probably return almost every ball hit his way and I can only imagine the player on the other side throwing his Switch into the wall when I won a rally of 50 or more hits. Mario Tennis Aces was excellent, but it makes me want the one true king in Mario sports titles back, Mario Golf. In due time my friends. In due time.
Check out the DualShockers review of Mario Tennis Aces.
In a year full of wonderful PSVR experiences, Moss was one of the standouts. It showed me how clever level design can be in virtual reality and how many different ways that the new tech can be utilized. Rather than being in the typical first-person perspective, the all-seer perspective–as I like to call it–was such a unique way to solve puzzles and control the adorable Quill.
If I could describe Moss in one word, it would be “magical.” Playing the game was similar to being at Disney; everything just felt so wondrous. The storybook narrative, the incredible environments, and unique level design had me enthralled. Polyarc created one of the best VR games on the market, and I can’t wait to see what they have planned next.
Check out the DualShockers review of Moss.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — The Champions’ Ballad
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my favorite game of all time. I have had the time to reflect on it, and I can say that without a doubt is, as no other game has captivated me like it. So, of course, I was happy to jump back into Hyrule with the game’s second DLC expansion, The Champions’ Ballad.
I know that The Champions’ Ballad released last December, however, I didn’t get to it until January of this year, so it still counts! Even though the second expansion pass didn’t live up to some fans’ expectations, I still believe that it provides some of the best shrines and I would say the best boss battle in the game.
What might have helped was that I had not popped back into the game in a while. I beat it at launch and beat it a second time on Master Mode when the first DLC launched, so it had been a while since I had popped back in. It might be a short time for some, but for my favorite game of all time, it was a while for me. Revisiting my favorite open world was like going back home and having that favorite dish your mom makes.
The Champions’ Ballad provided me with new content to the most memorable, fascinating, and wondrous game I have played, and that might be all it needed to do to make me love it. Does that make me biased? Probably.
7. Marvel’s Spider-Man
I am not as high on Marvel’s Spider-Man as many of my colleagues: I found the missions to be repetitive and not many of the side missions stood out to me. However, swinging through New York City was so damn fun. I don’t think I had ever used the fast travel mechanic just because I would much rather swing my way around and over buildings. I am not sure how Insomniac Games made it so damn easy and intuitive, but they did a phenomenal job on not only the movement but combat mechanics. Combining brutal kicks and punches along with web attacks was fast, fluid, and surprisingly easy to get a grasp of after only an hour of playtime.
Insomniac also compiled a wonderful narrative, and much of that was due to Yuri Lowenthal’s performance as Spider-Man/Peter Parker. If it wasn’t for Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War, he would have been a shoo-in for the performance of the year.
I am personally not that big of a comic book/Marvel fan. Woah, whoah, whoah, before you raise your pitchforks: I do enjoy all the movies, I am just not as into them as others. However, I was incredibly invested in the story of Marvel’s Spider-Man, and I am eagerly anticipating the second entry into the series.
6. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
It almost became just a part of my nightly routine. Around 8:30 every night at the beginning of the year, a couple of my buddies and I would hop on the Xbox One version of PUBG and try to win a few chicken dinners before bed. Even though it was frustrating as all hell to play sometimes at launch due to frequent crashes, terrible framerate, and entire buildings taking forever to just render, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was probably the game I played the most this year. Despite its hiccups, and it had a whole lot at launch, the game is still an experience unmatched by other Battle Royal shooters.
PUBG provides some of the most suspenseful multiplayer gameplay on the market right now. You could run into ten other players depending on where you drop, or you could possibly get run into one other player and somehow get that sweet chicken dinner. I know that the game still has a multitude of issues that still are not fixed, but PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is still an experience like no other. Just one match sucks me right back in.
5. Firewall: Zero Hour
Firewall: Zero Hour, developed by First Contact Entertainment, is the game we all dreamed of when we were kids. With the power of PSVR, rather than just controlling the first-person shooter, you are now inside the first-shooter. I am still blown away by how well everything worked. Using the PS Aim controller to, well, aim of course, is incredibly intuitive and fluid. Besides learning how to move with the thumbstick on the aim controller, it is as simple as just pointing and shooting, and boy is it fun.
As a competitive tactical shooter, Firewall: Zero Hour is a mind-blowing experience and shows how limitless the possibilities are for PSVR. When an enemy was around the corner, I would peek my gun barrel around the corner and take them out. If I got pinned down behind cover, I could stick my gun over and blind fire to give myself an opportunity to get to safety. My only issues with the game were that it had some annoying quality-of-life issues at launch when it came to matchmaking, and how long it would take to start a new match.
Firewall: Zero Hour was my favorite VR experience this year, in a year that was absolutely packed with some of the best games that PSVR has to offer. Now, all the game needs is a rounds system like Rainbow Six Siege. Please, First Contact! I am begging you!
4. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to the Ultimate name. It is the definitive Smash experience and even though it released just a couple weeks ago, it has provided me with some of the most fun I have had all year. I mean, what did you expect? It’s Smash Bros. except, this time around, there is much more content to enjoy rather than just regular Smash battles with your friends.
World of Light, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s single-player/adventure mode, has had some mixed reactions across the internet. However, I am a firm believer that it is the best single player offering in any of the games in the series. Running into familiar and new faces while collecting Spirits has provided me with hours upon hours of enjoyment. Collecting and switching different Spirits in and out might sound tedious to some, but I have enjoyed every second of it. With a stellar single-player mode, the biggest roster in the series by far, a knockout soundtrack, and that same old, yet refined Smash gameplay, Ultimate is the best in the series and a must-buy for Switch owners.
Talk about a game that caught me off-guard. Celeste was not only a great platformer, but also had a very emotional story that impacted me in an unexpected way. Here I was thinking that I was just booting up a new, retro-style platformer. But next thing I knew, I was up at 3 AM, captivated by Madeline’s conflict with her own inner demons and also torturing myself to find strawberries. Celeste is the best platformer of the year, and I don’t think it is even close. (I haven’t played The Messenger or Guacamelee! 2 or many other of those types of games yet, but it just sounded cool to say)
I think what stood out to me the most, along with other many other players, was how unexpected of an experience that Celeste was. When I first started, I was thinking I was going to get a fun and challenging platformer, but that was going to be most of the experience. I never would have guessed how impactful the narrative was going to be and how it tackles deeper subjects such as mental health issues. At the time, I was going through some personal problems and this game helped me to cope with those emotions, as well as tackle them head-on. Maybe in a lesser year, Celeste would have taken my personal top spot.
Check out the DualShockers review of Celeste.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
It seems crazy that Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t the definitive game of the year for everyone’s list. After the excellent Grand Theft Auto V and the almost infinite amount of money that Grand Theft Auto Online continuously makes even to this day, the sequel to Rockstar’s classic Western seemed like it was going to be the most ambitious game ever made, and I think it just might be.
Red Dead Redemption 2 had an absolutely phenomenal and heart-wrenching story; the downfall of the Van der Linde gang was a beautiful mess, even though we all know where it was heading. The world is by far the most immerse open world ever created. Roger Clark captured Arthur Morgan and his enlightenment so well, and these are only just a few parts of why I enjoyed the game so much.
While the game is groundbreaking in many aspects, there are still some little nitpicky things that I can point out that bug me, such as the lack of traditional fast travel systems, clunky gameplay, and that it might go on just a tad too long. However, Red Dead Redemption 2, despite its minuscule flaws, is one of the best open world games ever created.
1. God of War
To me, God of War might be the closest the closest thing to a perfect video game. In my opinion, there is not one flaw that I can point out. In fact, I think that most aspects of the game can be considered as the best we have ever seen from the medium.
The narrative in God of War reached a level of storytelling that I have didn’t think the industry could reach. The simple, yet extremely detailed story left me captivated. Christopher Judge made Kratos into a purposeful character and gave one of the best performances I have ever seen. The Leviathan Axe is my favorite video game weapon I have ever used, and it was just so damn satisfying to play with.
Cory Barlog and Sony Santa Monica created an absolute masterpiece that other developers will be studying for a long time to come. God of War set the bar so freaking high that it will be hard for any game to follow this up next year. It is the pinnacle for storytelling, gameplay, level design, world building, and artistry, and because of that, God of War is absolutely one of my favorite games of all time.
Check out the DualShockers review of God of War.
Check out the other DualShockers’ staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards:
December 17: DualShockers Game of the Year Awards 2018
December 18: Lou Contaldi, Editor in Chief // Logan Moore, Reviews Editor
December 19: Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor // Tomas Franzese, News Editor
December 20: Reinhold Hoffmann, Community Manager
December 21: Scott Meaney, Community Director // Ben Bayliss, Staff Writer
December 22: Ben Walker, Staff Writer // Chris Compendio, Staff Writer
December 23: Grant Huff, Staff Writer
December 26: Jordan Boyd, Staff Writer
December 27: Max Roberts, Staff Writer // Michael Ruiz, Staff Writer
December 28: Rachael Fiddis, Staff Writer
December 29: Steven Santana, Staff Writer // Tanner Pierce, Staff Writer
December 30: Iyane Agossah, Staff Writer // Travis Verbil, Staff Writer // Zack Potter, Staff Writer