DualShockers' Game of the Year 2018 Staff Lists -- Michael's Top 10
As much as 2018 felt like a hit-or-miss year for games, there were still a ton that I enjoyed. From The Messenger to Rainbow Six Siege, these are my top ten.
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.
Ah, yes. It’s that time of year once again. With 2018 coming to an end, we celebrate our love of video games with arbitrary lists naming our favorite video games of the year. Does this list matter? Probably not. But I’m here to perform my duty of telling you what’s good.
Joking aside, 2018 has had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in video games. We were graced with several “masterpieces” while also covered — excuse my language — in absolute shit. We’ve also had some unexpected duds; games we thought would be, at the very least, good but just ended up being another disappointment. It has been a mixed bag in 2018, which made creating this list the most difficult it has ever been for me.
With all that said, here are my favorite games of the year. No, WWE 2K19 is not on this list, I just like the picture a lot.
10. Rainbow Six Siege
I know what you’re thinking: “why is a game from 2015 on a list dedicated to games released in 2018?” Rainbow Six Siege is obviously not the best game of the year, but it certainly made a huge impact on me and how I will play games moving forward.
You may recall an editorial featured on DualShockers I wrote earlier in the year titled “Red Dead Redemption 2 Made Me Realize That Long Games Aren’t For Me.” While RDR2 was the catalyst to this realization, there are tons of games this year, like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or Monster Hunter: World, that I just couldn’t get through primarily due to its length. I enjoyed everything that I played, but there were just other games out there that felt more rewarding after just a few minutes with them.
Let me also iterate on something that I may not have touched on in that editorial: I’ve also completed some longer titles this year. God of War and Lost Sphear are, by no means, the longest games to complete, but they do take at least 20 hours of your time. Even with games like Monster Hunter: World or RDR2, I spent at least 20 to 30 hours playing those games. It became more about player satisfaction rather than that they’re “too long.” Although, RDR2 is too long…
Anyways, this brings me to Rainbow Six Siege: the 2015 game that made it on a “top 10 games of 2018” list. This game is pure satisfaction: whether I win or lose, every minute never feels wasted, and I feel like I am constantly improving and learning after every match. It also helps that each match is very short, allowing me to get a few rounds in even if I just have 30 minutes to game.
This “short but sweet” direction is something I’ve appreciated for a while now. But as I’ve grown to the ripe old age of 27, that appreciation has grown exponentially and playing Rainbow Six Siege, especially with my friends, has been one of my most satisfying gaming experiences in years. In some ways, this game symbolizes all the quality shorter experiences, like Gris or Florence, than just saying “Rainbow Six Siege is my number 10 game of the year because it’s a good shooter from three years ago.”
9. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
This was a late entry. Releasing earlier this month, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden thoroughly entertained me more than any tactics game in recent memory. Yes, even more so than Into the Breach, which would be occupying this spot if I had not played this.
What really impresses me with Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is its world. Set in an alternate timeline where nuclear warfare ended humanity as we know it, you follow a talking duck and pig who are tasked to help out the Ark, one of the last beacons of civilization left on Earth. I’m not too far into its story — hence why it is so far up my list — but it is a tale that I find intriguing and I’m constantly thinking of it almost every hour. The synth-laden soundtrack, along with snarky dialogue from some talking animals, gives the game a cheesy vibe that I absolutely adore.
While its world is at the forefront, its gameplay shines just as bright. As engaging as the tactics games before it, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden manages to stand out with what I’ll call its “exploration phase.” Instead of just dropping you into the fray, you can move around the world freely. You can explore any area at your leisure to pick up scraps or new equipment to improve your arsenal.
This exploration phase also allows you to perform some reconnaissance before you rush into battle. Instead of going in guns blazing, you can get the lay of the land and identify where are your enemies are before you proceed. A major part of succeeding in Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is stealth: if you can stealthily pick off enemies, the higher the chance that you have of defeating the opposition, even if you’re outnumbered.
Although my time has been limited with Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, its challenging gameplay and the appealing world has got its hooks in me and I can’t wait to jump back in.
8. Starlink: Battle for Atlas
Before my recent obsession with Super Mario Sunshine‘s Il Piantissimo, there was Fox McCloud and his Star Fox fleet. Star Fox remains my favorite Nintendo franchise to ever grace the many television screens throughout my life. The original Star Fox, along with DOOM, Mortal Kombat, and Galaga, makes up the foundation of my video game interests; Fox has played an integral role in my life, in more ways than an anthropomorphic fox probably should.
When I saw the Star Fox fleet show up in Starlink: Battle for Atlas during Ubisoft’s E3 press conference this year, it was like my childhood dreams came true. Not only will I be able to fly around an open galaxy in the Arwing, but I’ll also get an awesome toy I can display on a shelf. Ubisoft certainly got my attention as a Star Fox fanboy, but the toys-to-life genre has, for all intents and purposes, died. I wasn’t quite sure how much I would actually enjoy this game beyond playing as Fox.
Fortunately, Starlink: Battle for Atlas made me believe there is still room for the toys-to-life genre to thrive. Although its story and characters are paper thin, its gameplay is a blast. Is this the Star Fox game I’ve been wanting since the disappointment known as Star Fox Zero? Yes actually, it is.
7. Quarantine Circular
Last year Mike Bithell’s first short, Subsurface Circular, made it onto my top ten for 2017. Like previously pointed out with Rainbow Six Siege, it was a game that respected my time. Only lasting roughly two hours, I was able to play it in one sitting and get that feeling of satisfaction I always look for when playing video games. Subsurface Circular‘s spiritual successor, Quarantine Circular, is another short that still hits the same satisfying notes as its predecessor but in a slightly different way.
While it does bring back the text-based gameplay from Subsurface Circular, the puzzle elements are mostly non-existent in Quarantine Circular, instead favoring storytelling and player choice. It was a bit of a bummer that the word puzzles were very sparse, but thanks to its exceptional and thought-provoking tale, I was just as captivated by it.
6. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Yes, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 (or IIII) is on this list. It isn’t perfect, but BLOPS 4 is the most fun I have had with a multiplayer game since Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Yes, you read that correctly.
I have a ton of problems with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4: the Zombies mode is hot trash, Blackout is a ripoff of a better battle royale, and some of the technical aspects of its gameplay are pretty awful. Even with all of those problems, I love its multiplayer. The map selection is pretty strong, the gameplay is still tight despite some of its terrible technicalities, and the newly-introduced systems makes it stand out from its predecessors. It may not be perfect, but it’s the Call of Duty that really just clicked with me more than any entry from the past three years.
5. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Last year, a fighting game was my favorite game of the year, as Tekken 7 opened my eyes to competitive gaming. Sure, I watched EVO and other tournaments from time-to-time, but I never tried to play competitively. That changed with Tekken 7 and continued with this year’s best fighting game, Dragon Ball FighterZ.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is the epitome of the expression “easy to learn, hard to master.” This is the perfect game for someone not familiar with fighting games: the simplest combos are legitimately done by mashing the punch button. Just knowing the basics of the attack and countering will actually see you triumph over your opponent more than not. The complexities of the game come from stringing together those simple combos and special moves in effective ways. When you do inevitably get to that level, Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the most satisfying fighting games you’ll ever play.
4. Forza Horizon 4
It’s impressive what Playground Games, Turn 10, and Microsoft Studios have done with the Forza Horizon franchise. With every entry, they somehow find a way to improve upon it in awesome and creative ways. Forza Horizon 4 is no different. This entry proves that this series is not just some Forza Motorsport spin-off: Forza Horizon stands on its own, and truly is the best racing series any console has to offer.
Check out the DualShockers review of Forza Horizon 4.
3. Beat Saber
During Black Friday, I bought one of those PSVR bundles that included the Move controllers, SUPERHOT VR, and Creed: Rise to Glory for the low price of $250. For that price, it was absolutely worth it. Not because of the pack-ins — although I’m super excited to try SUPERHOT VR at some point — but because of Beat Saber.
This rhythmic masterpiece isn’t just a game, it’s a lifestyle. Although I’ve fallen off a bit recently, I was playing Beat Saber every day as a way to exercise. Just after four or five songs, a generous amount of sweat would cover my headset as I took quick, tired breaths from being so exhausted. It really does test your physicality just as much as your reflexes.
Beat Saber also shows that VR doesn’t have to be limited to short, on-rails experiences: they can be full-fledged games that you can play for hours on end. Tapping into the addictive rhythmic nature of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, I found myself playing Beat Saber for hours, constantly trying to top my last high score. It may not be the game that made me a believer of VR — that accolade goes to Thumper — but it certainly reinforced that belief.
2. God of War
Growing up, I was primarily a Nintendo kid. I had only known the Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule, the Lylat System, and all the other worlds the Nintendo family of consoles had to offer. It wasn’t until the Xbox 360 launched where I truly ventured away from the familiar and comfortable places of the past and looked towards the future.
With that being said, I scarcely played a PlayStation console; it wasn’t until the PS4 launched when I delved into the franchises exclusive to that platform. So, when a new God of War was announced for PS4 – one that you did not need to play the other six to understand what was going on – I was intrigued. It was not the violent and monotonous action game I had once seen, but a more grounded take set in the realm of the Norse gods.
I’ll admit, I was lukewarm in the first few moments of God of War. I thought the story seemed great and the characters aside from Kratos were interesting, but I really was not into the gameplay. Heck, I still have problems with some of the mechanics. It wasn’t until the dragon boss fight where everything clicked for me. The gameplay, the story, the world… everything was just more enjoyable from that point on. It was this weird “voila” moment that I haven’t had since I played Mass Effect.
God of War is a very special game. It is the one from this year that transcends into “greatest of all time” terrain. I’m sure this is the new litmus test for great video games moving forward.
Check out the DualShockers review of God of War.
1. The Messenger
Alright, ladies and gentleman: I present to you the best game of 2018. Actually, scratch that. I present to you one of the best games this generation: The Messenger.
Before I gush about how amazing this game is, let me tell you a story first. During PAX East this year, I sat down with the game’s director, Thierry Boulanger, where he showed me the first few moments of the game. If you’ve played, you know that the first level is like any other Ninja Gaiden-inspired platformer. Sure, it had its own unique take on it, but it wasn’t out of the ordinary. Then, he spoiled one of the main plot points for me…
So, that seems pretty crappy, right? But after he told me that the scroll I was carrying to the top of that mountain was actually a map and that once the Messenger opens that map, the game becomes a Metroidvania, my brain melted. It was, far and away, my favorite game I saw at PAX East, and one I was eagerly anticipating.
Once I finally got my hands on it in August, I thought I knew what I was getting into. I already knew the big twist, right? What other surprises could this game have?
A lot. The answer is a lot.
It turns out there was at least one thing in each stage that surprised or delighted me. Whether it was some ridiculous commentary from the Shopkeeper — the actual best character of the year — or a time-traveling boss fight, there was always something that made me verbally question just what mind-blowing thing happened.
The Messenger is the most clever amalgamation of storytelling and game design I have ever had the pleasure to play. With such a killer soundtrack by Rainbowdragoneyes, fun gameplay, and an engaging story, Sabotage Studio’s first outing is the interactive definition of why I play video games.
Check out the DualShockers review of The Messenger.
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