Gaming @ The Digital Fix Best of 2018
2018 has been a great year for games with some of the most impressive and immersive experiences we've ever seen. With the Switch hitting its stride with a run of brilliant first and third party titles and Sony's stunning show in exclusives owners of those platforms have a huge amount to be happy about. Xbox owners can take some solace in many multi-platform games being best on Xbox One X even if the first-party showings have been sparse.
The TDF team have had a quick vote and we've come up with our list for our favourite games of the year. There is one clear winner - a game that makes open world gaming something exciting again, one which lets you explore New York City from the rooftops and to scale buildings as easily as walking down the street. It's a deserved system seller...
Our Game of the Year for 2018 is...
Marvel’s Spider-Man (Playstation 4)
Stephen Hudson - In a generation when third-person open-world sandboxes arrive on a weekly basis, Spider-Man shone above all else with excellent visuals and spectacular gameplay that really made me feel like Peter Parker!
Adam Speight - Other games this year may be better crafted and even more fun overall but despite its flaws, no other game captures a childhood dream quite like Spider-Man. This 2018 game gave us one of the best traversal systems ever.
Eden Penketh - After a decade of somewhat underwhelming chances to jump into Peter Parker's spandex suit, Insomniac Games and Sony finally surpassed the web swinging thrills of Spiderman 2 and delivered a piping hot slice of web swinging, providing a sense of speed and finesse that finally felt strong enough to thrill again. Here's hoping for a more expansive sequel or even an open world Avengers game in the future. If they can make web swinging satisfying again I'd love to see Insomniac's take on flying as Ironman or bounding as the Hulk.
Craig Huntley - Who doesn’t want to swing between skyscrapers in the greatest city on Earth AND play as Spider-Man the greatest super hero of all time on the greatest console of all time? ME that’s who! What a fantastic immersive open world experience Spider-Man has been. A joy to play, with an intuitive combat system overlayed with the sheen of the PS4.
Colin Polonowski - Wow! The moment you first start swinging between the buildings of New York is the moment that this latest video game take on Spider-Man cements itself in your mind as one of the best games ever. It's an amazing feat in open world gaming and feels fresh in a world of carbon-copy experiences. Brilliant stuff and worth buying Playstation 4 just to play this one game.
The Best of the Rest!
Gaming hasn't ALL been about Spider-Man this year - it's been a brilliant year that has seen the best instalments in many franchises and some stunning independent games getting a huge amount of critical praise. There are thousands of hours of gameplay in our top games list alone so if you haven't played some of these games we can guarantee that you won't be disappointed in any of them...
Red Dead Redemption 2 (Xbox One, Playstation 4)
Stephen Hudson - It had to be, didn’t it? Red Dead Redemption 2 is a truly spectacular gaming experience that everyone needs to play. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as God of War, it stands above all else in terms of what is now technically possible in gaming!
Adam Speight - 2018 has featured many top games with fascinating narratives however Red Dead Redemption II stands apart. A game in which a story is built through every single player interaction. This makes it feel like a true step forward in gaming.
Eden Penketh - No other game has ever made me consider a time and place in human history like Red Dead Redemption 2 has. It's uncompromisingly adult narrative, stunningly detailed design work and flawed, believable characters pulled me into a world full of moral grayness and tongue in cheek social commentary. Other, similarly pitched games pale in comparison as RDR2 has set a new high standard. It's as close to a visit to Westworld as I might ever like to make, though it certainly makes a mostly care free life on the edges of civilization seem appealing at times.
Craig Huntley - It took me nearly 5 years to complete Red Dead Redemption and not because I’m a terrible gamer but because I didn’t want it to end. I can only see Red Dead Redemption II taking me just as long if not more. The world of Red Dead is the world we’ve always dreamt of when this IP was created. You can feel the wind in your hair as you ride through a canyon or on the back of a train. You feel bad when you accidentally get your horse injured or killed because the game MAKES you bond with your horse. You feel the bite of the wind on your face, the cold at your feet in the mountains. I love this game because it does what little other games do and that puts me in a world far removed from my daily life. Check back in 2030 and see if I’m still playing (hint: I will be)
Rebecca Stow - Arthur Morgan’s story which unravels in the American old west on the cusp of industrial civilisation is one of the most prominent stories I have every experienced in a video game. The open world is impressive and character development is second to none, everything feels polished and carefully crafted as the Van Der Linde gang move across America, leaving chaos in their wake. For a game I initially wasn’t interested in, I’m ever so glad I gave Red Dead Redemption 2 my time.
God of War (Playstation 4)
Stephen Hudson - It wasn’t hard picking my favourite title of 2018. With a brilliant new control system, deep, enthralling story and rewarding gameplay, God of War feels like not jut the game of 2018, but the game of the generation.
Adam Speight - I don’t think many would have foresaw the emergence God of War as one of the most thoughtful titles of 2018. However, the game succeeded for me by combining weighty mechanics with a combative and intriguing father-son dynamic.
Yanis Vatis - An epic story of father and son finding a way to connect through a perilous journey where trust and faith in each other are tantamount to survival. I love how Kratos is completely reinvented in this game in a way that doesn't retcon his brutal and vulgar self from past iterations. On top of that, it's the best looking game I've played in the last few years.
Monster Hunter World (Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Stephen Hudson - I spent well over 150 hours in the gorgeous worlds of Monster Hunter: Word, and I’m still coming back for more now. While the story is a little hit and miss, the gameplay and endless amount of loot make this the essential RPG of 2018.
Jason Coles - It's hard to think back to January and believe it's part of this year, but it definitely is. I still can't believe the year started off this strong. World finally brought this amazing series to consoles and in a big way. I'm really looking forward to the expansion Iceborne next year.
Yannis Vatis - The MH series has already been a series I play constantly for its exciting tactical gameplay and near endless replayability. Having that experience on a current gen console with more quality of life features, crisp high def graphics and huge expansive maps is just gravy on my giant juicy monster steak.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
Jason Coles - While I've always been a fan of the series the latest entry is so good it almost seems unfair. With the new characters and the tweaked mechanics it's the best it has ever been and that's an obnoxiously high bar to beat.
Eden Penketh - It's hard to think of a game with "Ultimate" in the title that truly justifies it's moniker, but the latest entry of Smash most definitely does when it comes to content. I've already spent hours playing with friends, uncovering the World of Light, leveling spirits, steadily unlocking it's cast of nostalgia inducing characters and I've barely scratched the surface. It's mix of accessibility and high skill ceiling are ideal for pulling dedicated gamers and more casual types together in a way so few fighting games can.
Yanis Vatis - The very first Direct to introduce the Switch's version of Smash dropped more jaws than possibly any fighting game announcement in history. Everyone is here, literally. Nintendo spared no expense and made the impossible possible with a roster that puts every other fighting game's to shame. No compromises, no DLC. The hours upon hours of content and crazy huge soundtrack are just icing on what might be the most complete fighting game package ever to be introduced.
Rebecca Stow - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was one of the most anticipated games of 2018 and it didn’t fail to impress come its release. Packed with hundreds of new stages, thousands of spirits and a multitude of new fighters to flesh out the roaster Ultimate is just that, Ultimate and incredible.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey (Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Jason Coles - It might just be that I spent 90 hours playing this with a newborn on my chest, but I will always have a soft spot for Kassandra and the beautiful ancient Greek landscapes. It's refreshingly silly in places and surprisingly dark in others. A great adventure game.
Adam Speight - Last year, Assassin’s Creed reinvented itself with Origins and it was a welcome change. What makes Odyssey great is that it takes this new norm for the series and improves upon it with added exploration and personality.
Craig Huntley - In terms of longevity, Assassin's Creed has been around for about 10 years and its my favourite series. 2017’s Origins was visually stunning and in depth but had the stale feel of a system going through the motions. Well hello Odyssey and its stripped back approach, this is the least Assassin's Creed Assassin's Creed game and it WORKS. Who knew to breath life back into a series going through the motions you had to rip out the very essence of the game, change it slightly but not so much and still keep the Assassin's Creed vibe?.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Craig Huntley - Lara Croft has been around for the best part of 25 years and all the games above each tip their hat to the original OG of creating an IP so well crafted and thought out to last for generations. The game keeps what was good with the previous games in this reboot series. Yes, each game gets more and more into more convoluted story lines but what does it matter when the world created here is so good. With the added DLC and now online play, the future looks bright for Lara and her crew.
Colin Polonowski - Building on the rebooted, origin story of Lara Croft that has been explored in both 2013's Tomb Raider and 2015's Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow is an impressive culmination that pushes the boundaries of the franchise further than ever. Stunning imagery and atmosphere coupled with challenging - but never frustrating - gameplay make for a game that has been polished to perfection.
Far Cry 5 (Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Stephen Hudson - This may be controversial, but Far Cry 5 is the best in the series, and yes, while the story has its issues, the world of Hope County was a truly beautiful place to spend a few hours. Add in the solid gunplay, and Far Cry 5 is certainly one of the best FPSs on the market today.
Wandersong (Switch, PC)
Tom Bedford - Funded on a tiny Kickstarter budget, Wandersong is a far more poignant and powerful game than any AAA game this year. Its novel gameplay and aesthetics are matched only by the fantastic tone and atmosphere.
Frozen Synapse 2 (PC)
Tom Bedford - Frozen Synapse 2 encourages players to think of strategy and battles in a new way – how many games can say the same? Its bugs hardly mar the intriguing world and fantastically designed tactical combat.
11-11 Memories Retold (Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Tom Bedford - 11-11: Memories Retold is a feat of storytelling, only beaten this year by Wandersong in terms of narrative, world building and artistic fusion. In the future when scholars look back at artistic achievements as they do Tarkovsky or Truffaut now, Memories Retold will be worshipped.
Just Cause 4 (Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Tom Bedford - While it’s not aiming as high as other AAA games, Just Cause 4 actually reaches its heights, and so should be commended. It’s only trying to be a fun yet meaningless action rollercoaster – and fiercely succeeds at this aim and this aim only.
Fallout 76 (Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Tom Bedford - Putting aside its myriad technical issues, Fallout 76 is one of the most astounding examples of storytelling through mise-en-scène, and fantastically engorging landscapes, of any game ever. Bethesda are masters at weaving narrative into arena, and vice versa, and as such the world and story of Fallout 76 is second only to Skyrim.
Earth Defense Force 5 (Playstation 4)
Jason Coles - EDF EDF EDF. While the game foregoes graphics it more than makes up for it with amazing gameplay. The loot grind is satisfying and the writing is ridiculous. It's just pure fun, everything a game should be sometimes.
Gris (Switch, PC)
Jason Coles - This is easily the best looking game in existence and the story really hit me hard. The sound track is truly incredible as well. Sometimes you just need something revolutionary that lasts a few hours, and this is that game.
Hollow Knight (Switch, Xbox One, PC)
Adam Speight - Hollow Knight was my first foray into indie games on the Switch and I was not disappointed. The game’s melancholic tone, engaging upgrade system and level of exploration make it one of the best indie games of 2018.
Pillars of Eternity 2 - Deadfire (Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Eden Penketh - Streamlining the CRPG genre's often excessive mechanics and presenting a far more pressing and focused plot than it's predecessor, Deadfire's combination of high seas and high fantasy was a gripping jaunt into a world full of political and moral lines ripe for drawing and crossing. I'm just a bit disappointed that my favourite character, Durance, didn't make an appearance.
Two Point Hospital (PC)
Eden Penketh - Another game picking up a long neglected legacy and updating it to modern standards, Two Point Hospital's combination of well paced management, absurd illnesses and silly undertones put a smile on my face on release and has continued to do so with it's new DLC. Here's hoping talk from the dev team about other Two Point games comes to something, I'd love to see their skewed take on the education system or law and order.
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle (Switch, Playstation 4, PC)
Yannis Vatis - BBTAG is the perfect example of a fighting game that achieves the ever coveted "easy to learn, hard to master" status by simplifying the fighting game formula while still keeping the high-level mind games and crazy combos competitive players crave. Lack of content puts it lower than Smash but its easily my favourite traditional fighting game this year.
Yannis Vatis - I'm a softy for Metroidvania's and Dead Cells not only has managed to be my most played game this year; it's also the game that I think I'll always be playing for years to come. The gameplay is fast and satisfying and every run is completely different each time you respawn. Metroidvania and rogue-likes were already a match made in heaven with other games but tacking on such adrenaline pumping gameplay just made it even more divine.
Forgotton Anne (Xbox One, Playstation 4, Switch, PC)
Colin Polonowski - As much an animated film as it is a game, Forgotton Anne marries stunning hand drawn Ghibli style animation with a gripping story. The only fly in the ointment is slightly less than satisfying platforming gameplay but when the rest of the package is as brilliant as this we're not going to complain
Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One, PC)
Colin Polonowski - Open world racing doesn't get better than this - it looks astounding, plays like a dream and lets you race around a replica of Edinburgh and an approximation of other UK sights. Xbox One X owners in particular will be blown away for the 4K visuals.
The Gardens Between (Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Rebecca Stow - Sometimes you need a quaint indie title to sit back and relax with, during a hectic year dominated by AAA action titles and story driven adventures it was a delight to stumble across The Gardens Between. This charming indie game revolves around the childhood memories of two young friends and the impact time has on their friendship. It’s a delightful take and one which completely took my breath away.
Subnautica (Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC)
Rebecca Stow - I have a soft spot for survival games so when Subnautica was released I was immediately intrigued by its premise. Set on an alien planet, stranded thousands of miles from home your task is to scavenge resources to survive and find your way off planet 4546B. Subnautica keeps its gameplay survival centred but introduces a strong narrative and keeps you on your toes as you desperately try to survive in waters home to monstrous leviathans and deadly environments. It’s an engaging game and one that has me entirely hooked.
Detroit: Become Human (Playstation 4)
Rebecca Stow - As soon as I completed the initial few chapters of David Cage’s new interactive adventure that I would remember the moral of the story for a long time post the final scene. With multiple pathways, dialogue choices and character development which adapts to your choices it’s a powerful story, one which I intend to go back to again and again.