It feels like 2018 came and went, with nary a moment to pause and reflect on all that’s happened. Likewise, the 2018 game release schedule felt like a never-ending deluge of content to fill your metaphorical face with, a digital buffet that likely left you overstuffed and guilt-ridden. With such a barrage of gaming to deal with, picking a list of standouts certainly wasn’t easy.
That said, here are some titles you should consider sinking your time and money into. You can trust me; I’m not a doctor, but I do know a good time when I see one.
Monster Hunter: World
They say there’s nothing like the thrill of the hunt, and Monster Hunter: World offers hunts like few others. Gamers have long salivated over the idea of an open-world, beast-hunting epic, and MHW does not disappoint. It offers a dizzying variety of gear, combat styles, and gigantic creatures to conquer, all within a gorgeous environment begging you to dig around. While MHW will take a while to learn, it’s also the most accessible entry in the franchise, and a welcome introduction for newcomers. Give this fine action-RPG a go, and see why it continues to inspire series loyalists globally.
The beautiful game is artful, cunning, and savagely cruel. I speak, of course, about football (Editor's note: Soccer to those of us in the USA), the planet’s most popular sport. Football is exceedingly simple, yet unfolds its complexities in the individual expressions of its top players. Whether it’s the world-class scoring touch of Cristiano Ronaldo, the prenatural attacking instincts of Jadon Sancho, or the stout positioning of defensive wunderkind Mattijs de Ligt, FIFA 19 captures every moment of glory and defeat in great detail. The underlying mechanics, ball physics, passing, and moment-to-moment action make this the best entry in the FIFA franchise to date. While the timed finishing opportunities are more of an annoyance, the addition of game modifiers to Face-Off means a whole new ballgame of hijinks are in-store. Some modes could greatly benefit from an update, but it’s hard to argue with the sheer volume of content FIFA 19 offers as-is.
Like the FIFA franchise, NHL thundered into 2018 with the best game the series has offered in ages. For once, NHL 19 feels just right, with greatly improved player skating, checking, animations, and defensive positioning. The slightly improved presentation and addition of some needed mechanical tweaks to the management mode round out a much-improved package. Pond hockey modes offer some additional online entertainment, but most will likely bypass it for the Hockey Ultimate Team offerings. While few fundamental changes have been made to the core experience, the tweaks EA did make should be more than enough incentive for series fans to dive in once again.
My Hero One’s Justice
Bandai-Namco frequently caters to the more anime-inclined among its western audiences, and they could scarcely contain their excitement at the prospect of a My Hero Academia video game. My Hero One’s Justice, a fighting game instantly familiar to those who’ve played the Naruto franchise of games, is a love-letter to My Hero’s most ardent fans. The game isn’t exactly complicated and lacks the depth of other similar titles, but offers more than enough sights and sounds to keep fans of the franchise occupied for hours. It doesn’t hurt that the action is frequently explosive and visually-dazzling, echoing the art-style of the anime in full 3D. If you have any interest in the My Hero series, there’s no reason for you to pass this game up.
Far Cry 5
The Far Cry franchise is fairly predictable. You get dropped into a hostile environment, have to spark a resistance of some sort, and go on an incalculable number of collect-a-thons. Ubisoft knew it needed to freshen the formula somehow and turned to some mild controversy to make Far Cry 5 feel new again. The resulting game really isn’t all that different (or offensive) from previous Far Cry entries, but the Montanan landscape provides a wonderful environment in which to dispatch hundreds of crazy cultists. The combat is still as tight and explosive as ever, so if you’re looking for another big-budget FPS, you could do much worse than Far Cry 5.
Game of the Year
Red Dead Redemption 2
When people refer to games as art, there’s often a bit of cynicism from observers. Red Dead Redemption 2, however, truly is artistic. Rockstar have crafted their most ambitious, emotionally-stirring release yet, a massive behemoth of grim beauty and vibrant violence. Surprisingly, RDR2’s best moments are found in the quiet horse-bound voyages along dusty roads, or the slow ambles through troubled frontier towns. The world of RDR2 feels genuinely lived-in, and your participation often exists as a microcosm of action within the grander scale. With unbelievable production values, stellar writing, and a jaw-dropping sense of scale, RDR2 is truly 2018’s greatest achievement in gaming.