DualShockers’ Game of the Year 2018 Staff Lists — Jordan’s Top 10
This year opened up a ton of new gaming experiences for me from fighting games to JRPGs and more: here were my 10 favorites from 2018.
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.
The past couple of years have been this sort of Japanese reawakening in gaming for me. From turn-based JRPGs, fighting games, action-hunting, and so many more, Japanese developers have come to introduce and reintroduce tons of beloved characters that continue to define what makes gaming so great. It’s not only been a pleasure covering many of these titles, but also playing them alongside many of you.
With 2019 on the horizon, it’s never been a better time to be into this subculture of gaming (fingers crossed for more on Final Fantasy VII Remake). So without further ado, I present my personal top 10 favorite games of 2018. Some omissions may come as a surprise to many, and it was certainly difficult narrowing things down, but I’m confident I’ve chosen the 10 titles that left the biggest impact on me. Please enjoy!
10. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate seems like an unfair pick in my mind since it’s obviously the game that’s freshest in my mind. But, there’s something to be said at the ridiculous amount of fun a Smash Bros. game can provide, whether you’re playing for fun or competitively. As soon as I gathered around the couch to play with some longtime friends of mine, I knew Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would provide years of enjoyment…and even more arguments. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
9. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age delivered a turn-based JRPG experience that I’ve been craving for years. While the series’ popularity has fluctuated in the west for some time, I think it’s safe to say that it’s back in full force. Dragon Quest XI is so incredibly big, and with a cast that’s absolutely lovable, this one is an easy recommendation to old fans and new ones. Final Fantasy and Persona better watch out: Dragon Quest is back and it’s out for blood.
8. Shenmue I & II HD
Shenmue‘s certainly a series that means multiple things to many different people. For me, the original titles provided a sense of scale and storytelling that I had previously never seen in my life. How could a video game offer an experience that’s so immersive? Seeing these titles get a re-release was an absolute treat and going through them again is nothing short of an absolute nostalgia trip. Any gamer who appreciates the history of the medium, or fans of the Yakuza series, should check out this HD collection.
7. Monster Hunter: World
Monster Hunter: World has solidified itself as one of Capcom’s greatest series. With World, the series has finally been adapted for modern hardware and it’s never looked, or played, better. I won’t soon forget overcoming the tremendously large Anjanath for the first time in this game, and only going up from there. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be revisiting this title throughout 2019, and I can’t wait to see where it’s upcoming expansion takes us next in late 2019.
6. Fighting EX Layer
As I became more accustomed to the fighting game genre than ever before in 2018, Fighting EX Layer entered the scene and I almost instantaneously fell in love with its cast of characters. While many of these fighters haven’t seen the light of day since the Street Fighter EX series, they’re all back now in full force. Fighting EX Layer is a labor of love and it still has so much room to grow. I enjoyed playing hours of online battles in this one, and can’t wait to see what Arika does with the game in the coming months and years.
5. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Level-5’s Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom did away with many of the first game’s original gameplay mechanics. While in most cases that would totally hamper a sequel to another beloved game, Revenant Kingdom is actually an equally amazing game. It offers a varied experience that’s a heartwarming Ghibli-esque tale alongside fun and engaging action-RPG gameplay. At around 30 hours long, Ni no Kuni II is a solid recommendation to anyone looking for a very doable JRPG experience that’ll offer enjoyment in every moment.
4. Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood
A Konami game in my top 10? I sure am surprised. I should say that Rondo of Blood is partly to blame here. This incredible collection offers two of Castlevania‘s best, Symphony of the Night, and Rondo of Blood. I had never experienced Rondo of Blood before and it completely took me by surprise. It’s so freaking hard for Castlevania noobs like myself, but in return, it has the most refined and rewarding gameplay of the pre-Metroidvania era. Whether you’re revisiting these titles or not, it’s definitely worth checking this rad collection out.
3. Red Dead Redemption 2
What more can be said about Red Dead Redemption 2? I don’t consider myself a Rockstar fan at all, and yet the Red Dead series has always stuck out to me. While I was initially skeptical after finding out Red Dead Redemption 2 would be a prequel to the first — after seeing the credits roll, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Red Dead Redemption 2 had me thinking about video games in ways that I haven’t before. The attention to detail in every instance of the moment-to-moment gameplay is astonishing. Again, Rockstar has raised the bar in terms of what a AAA title can be and because of that, I will never forget my journey with Arthur Morgan and John Marston.
2. Octopath Traveler
Octopath Traveler came as a shock to me. It offered something both wildly unique and familiar at the same time. With its incredibly stylized graphics, refined turn-based combat, and beautiful score, Octopath Traveler is a JRPG wet dream on the Switch. It’s exactly what I was waiting for on the handheld-console hybrid.
While its story leaves more to be desired, the unique gameplay designs carry this game to the finale. I loved exploring the world, experimenting with my party members, and taking on beautifully-illustrated enemies. Octopath is proof that the creativity behind game creation is still thriving, and even older game elements can be revived in new and exciting ways.
Check out the DualShockers review of Octopath Traveler.
1. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Arc System Works has created the best Dragon Ball Z game of all time with Dragon Ball FighterZ. The game recreates the iconic visuals of Akira Toriyama’s original work with environments and character models that are brought to life through masterful animation. There’s not a single game on the market right now that’s as visually-engaging as Dragon Ball FighterZ.
Whether you’re a fan of the Budokai series or Guilty Gear, Dragon Ball FighterZ offers a simplistic pick-up-and-play control scheme that’s given an impressive amount of depth through additional mechanics, making it a staple in the fighting game community. I’ve sunk more than 300 hours into this title in 2018 alone and I plan on doing so much more with it in 2019. I’m still growing, still getting better, and I’m still not tired of seeing the Ultimate techniques I’ve viewed hundreds of times by now.
I love this game so much, and it brought me right back to my childhood watching anime on Toonami every Saturday. It’s easily a step above the rest for me personally; the bar has been set, and I’m honestly not sure if anyone but Arc System Works can top it.
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