DualShockers Game of the Year 2018 Staff Lists — Tomas' Top 10
Following a stellar year for gaming, DualShockers' News Editor Tomas Franzese ranks his 10 favorite games from 2018.
I consider 2018 to be one of the best years for gaming in recent memory, even when compared to the lofty heights of 2017. No matter what genre you are a fan of, there was likely a great game for you to enjoy. I played a ton of games this year, both for review and for leisure, and the following 10 are the titles that stood out to me the most as favorites.
Keep in mind that I didn’t play every game that came out this year, so you won’t see titles like Octopath Traveler or Monster Hunter: World on my list. There were also a lot of great games that I would still recommend but didn’t make the list, including Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido, SoulCalibur VI, Dragon Quest XI, and Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden.
On that note, here are the 10 games I consider to be the best that 2018 had to offer:
10. Dragon Ball FighterZ
A Yamcha-only tournament mode exists…10/10.
2018 started very strong with a weekend that was home to two games present on this list, as well as Monster Hunter: World. One of the games to release on this weekend was Dragon Ball FighterZ, a 2D fighter from Arc System Works. While I’m not the biggest Dragon Ball fan, I couldn’t help but to be in awe of this game’s utterly gorgeous visuals that really make it feel like the anime has been brought to life and is playable in your hands.
From a gameplay standpoint, Dragon Ball FighterZ is still just as strong, being accessible to newcomers while still having the depth to satiate the hardcore community. After the disappointment that was Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, it was nice to kick off this year with a fast paced 3v3 fan-service-y fighter, albeit one from a different franchise. I’ve returned to it time and time again during 2018, and the fact that it still sticks out in my mind so vividly long after release really solidifies it as one of the best titles of 2018.
9. Sonic Mania Plus
Ray the Flying Squirrel, my son. We are united once more…
Is it unfair that Sonic Mania has made my GOTY list two years in a row? Maybe, but that’s just a testament to how great the game is. I’m sure everyone and their mother has told you how this game, made by fans-turned-developers, brought the series back into a positive light for the first time in years upon its release due to its great visuals, music, and level design. Leaving it there would’ve been fine, but the developers knew the Sonic fanbase needed to wash Sonic Forces out of their minds and released some hefty DLC alongside a physical release.
Sonic Mania Plus added several quality of life improvements, slightly redesigned levels, and most importantly new playable characters with two of the series’ most notorious MIA characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. Both of them add unique spins to the gameplay with their abilities. That, coupled with the redesigned Encore Mode, adds more content for die-hard fans to sink their teeth while also cementing Sonic Mania Plus as the best Sonic the Hedgehog game to date, in my eyes.
8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Remember Geno? I sure do.
Despite what I may have said just above, I’m still in awe of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s roster. If you had told me that Ridley, King K. Rool, and Pichu all would’ve been playable in a new Super Smash Bros. with characters like Piranha Plant and Joker from Persona 5 on the way, I wouldn’t have believed you, but here we are. I’ve always loved the Super Smash Bros. series, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate delivers pretty much everything that fans would want and then some.
I’ll admit that the reason Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t higher on this list because I’ve spent comparatively spent less time with it than the other entries. That being said, I’m sure I’ll only fall in love with this title even more once I beat World of Light and unlock the last couple elusive characters. Now just add Geno, Sakurai, and we’ll talk about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate making it onto my 2019 GOTY list as well.
7. WarioWare Gold
The whole game is set-up for a poop joke…really!
If there’s one title on my list that won’t be getting much attention during this awards season, it’s WarioWare Gold. This series usually either begins or closes out a Nintendo system’s library, with this game doing the latter for the 3DS. WarioWare Gold was also actually quite refreshing as we hadn’t gotten a traditional microgames package like this in years. While it may be a bit too short for its own good, the microgames and various modes present are still a ton of fun to return to whenever I decide to boot up my 3DS.
It’s fairly clear that the 3DS is on its way out, with the only major releases on the horizon including ports and western releases of Japanese titles. Fortunately, WarioWare Gold was one last great original title to see the 3DS off with, topping off the library of what may be my favorite handheld of all time. While titles like WarioWare Gold and Ever Oasis that came later in the system’s lifespan may have been ignored for GOTY consideration, I’d still vehemently recommend them if you don’t mind dusting your 3DS off.
6. Tetris Effect
I can’t think of a joke for this game because it’s just so damn mesmerizing.
Those who know me are aware that I’m not into music at all. I didn’t pay enough attention to music-related things to notice that the Beatles’ name was a pun until this year. Despite all that, I was instantly hooked the first time I played Tetris Effect, and it wasn’t just because I’m a sucker for the classic puzzle game.
Tetris Effect engrossed me in a way no other title did this year and for reasons that are quite hard for me to put into words. The soundtrack was great and the way it blended its gameplay and visuals to create a euphoric gaming experience will make Tetris Effect a title that is seared into my brain for a long time, despite my milquetoast nature towards music. Also, the traditional Tetris is just really dang fun.
5. Valkyria Chronicles 4
Squad E, to the Beach! is one of the greatest DLC titles ever. I didn’t really have anywhere else to put that.
Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s existence makes me immensely happy, and the fact that it is one of 2018’s best games makes it all the better. This series’ unique take on the typical strategy game formula still feels as fresh as it did 10 years ago and the game’s amazing level design only bolsters its quality. While it may strip back some features from Valkyria Chronicles 2 and 3, that allows it to be the most refined and focused entry in the series yet.
The story of Valkyria Chronicles 4 also managed to be the best in the series yet, focusing on a group of well-fleshed out characters on what seems like a suicide mission. While 2018 was home to some really great strategy games like Into the Breach, the engaging story, refined gameplay, and excellent level design helped cement Valkyria Chronicles 4 as my favorite strategy game this year, as well as one of my favorites overall. I hope SEGA continues to pay attention to this series, as it seems to have come back strong from a mainline series hiatus.
From here on out, the games git gud. Like really good.
Celeste was a very special game for me this year. When I initially played the game for review pre-launch, I wasn’t expecting anything more than a tightly-designed platformer reminiscent of Super Meat Boy from the developers of Towerfall. What I ended up experiencing was something much more than that. Not only was it one of the most tightly-designed platformers I had ever played, it had an excellent soundtrack and masterfully wove themes regarding social anxiety into both the story and gameplay to make Celeste immensely relatable.
I couldn’t wait for this game to be exposed to the world and was happy to see it get such a warm reception out of others that same busy weekend as Dragon Ball FighterZ and Monster Hunter: World. Like all of the aforementioned games, Celeste has stuck with me since that first magical playthrough in January. I had a bigger connection to its story than any other this year and its tight gameplay design cements it as one of my favorite 2D platformers of this decade. The fact that Celeste is only at the #4 slot really speaks to the quality of the games released this year.
Check out the DualShockers review of Celeste.
3. Red Dead Redemption 2
DualShockers gave this a 10 because the horse poops realistically.
Despite the controversy surrounding it, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 remains a remarkable achievement for gaming. It features a world with a scarily thorough attention to detail throughout every inch of its enormous map, and tons of unique events and interactions to populate it. On top of that, gameplay has been vastly improved from the already-great original, and an amazing story highlighting the decline of the Wild West kept me captivated throughout with great characters like Arthur Morgan, Dutch Van der Linde, and Sadie Adler.
On a technical level, I would say Red Dead Redemption 2 is probably the most impressive game that has ever been made. While its pacing was a bit too slow in some parts, especially considering its lackluster fast travel systems, Red Dead Redemption 2‘s intricate design means I’ve only scratched the surface of what it has to offer, even after putting over 50 hours into it.
2. Marvel’s Spider-Man
I’m just going to plug Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse here. It’s really good too.
While Red Dead Redemption 2 my be a better game on a technical level, Marvel’s Spider-Man just clicked with me on so many other levels. I’ve had a long history with Spider-Man video games and even have a soft spot for some of the more mediocre titles like Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Fortunately, Insomniac truly delivered with this game on both the gameplay and story fronts.
The story, while surprisingly reserved with its villains, understood the character and world of Spider-Man so well that it has become the most definitive portrayal of the character since the early days of Ultimate Spider-Man. The open world design of Marvel’s Spider-Man may be a bit too formulaic for its own good, but the web-swinging and combat are more than satisfying enough to make up for that.
Physics-based web-swinging had been a heavily requested feature in Spider-Man games for year, so to see it implemented so well meant I could spend hours just swinging around (and I have). Combat also remains fun, mixing Batman: Arkham-style combat with Insomniac’s classic gadget setup to create a really fluid and enjoyable experience, even when you aren’t experiencing the great story or swinging. That being said, THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE.
1. God of War
Kratos is DualShockers’ honorary Best Husbando: just look at that face.
Wow. Even with all the great games mentioned prior, Sony Santa Monica’s God of War has still managed to come out on top. With the exception of a few annoying combat sections, it’s a nearly flawless package that knocks it out of the park with an unexpectedly personal story, brutal yet satisfying gameplay, and stellar visuals to top it all off. There’s a reason it got our Game of the Year Award.
By making Kratos a damaged father attempting to connect with his son in order to prevent him from making the same mistakes, the developers managed to make a previously belligerent character sympathetic and surprisingly relatable. Combat was also fine-tuned to be more focused and engaging; not even the web-swinging in Marvel’s Spider Man came close to the satisfaction of pulling off a devastating kill with the Leviathan axe, or to throw it and have it come back instantly.
God of War has refined itself to the point where it might be the best game of the generation just because of how well it does everything it set out to do. I’d go as far to say it’s one of the best games ever made, and that twist ending has only left me wanting more. God of War 2 (or 5?) can’t come soon enough.
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