2018 has been absolutely wild in the video game industry- possibly the best year we’ve had in quite a long time. Choosing my top five picks for GOTY was not easy with all the AAA powerhouses this year, but I went for it anyway.
No. 5: Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu / Eevee
Gamefreak and Nintendo’s most recent journey into the world of Pocket Monsters takes players back to the Kanto region, which was home in the original Pokemon titles. Filled with nostalgic throwbacks and exciting new features, such as the ability to fight master trainers that train one specific Pokemon species, as well as new ways to catch and train Pokémon, Let’s Go offers fun and replayability for hours. An added flourish of fun sees your partner Pokémon (Pikachu or Eevee depending on the version you chose) acts as a companion on your journey. The game does an excellent job making them feel like your friend as well as your battle-ready super-animal. With a mixture of old and new coupled with visually pleasing aesthetics, it provides a good midway point between Pokémon Go and the core Pokémon game planned for 2019.
No. 4: Red Dead Redemption 2
It’s no secret that Rockstar games are widely known as one of the top dogs in game development- constantly breaking sales records while recieving near-universal critical acclaim. Their latest project, a prequel to the beloved Red Dead Redemption, keeps up this trend and then some. Red Dead Redemption 2 follows Arthur Morgan, a member of Dutch’s infamous gang that John Marston is forced to confront in the first game. Visually, the game almost never disappoints- with beautiful landscapes and vivid textures. The world feels alive, breathing in a new era of lawmen and industrial revolution and exhaling a dying wild west culture. What the game may lack in slower and slightly clunky gameplay it more than makes up for in its gripping narrative and exciting world.
No. 3: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
As a longtime Call of Duty fan, I’ll be the first to admit that they haven’t exactly been great the last few years. I’ve always been a fan of Treyarch’s renditions, but they only get their shot every three years. This year they’ve returned in full force, bringing the franchise back to its “boots on the ground” roots by keeping Black Ops 3’s idea of “specialists”- each one having its own abilities tailored to specific gameplay styles. This keeps the game fresh and fast-paced while the gun variety keeps things balanced. Obviously, like any large-scale multiplayer game, it’s going to need work and further balancing to continue improving but it’s off to a great start. Zombies has been heavily revamped while still retaining the feeling that made it exciting and fun. I was always a big fan of the competitive scene for CoD and it’s never been more exciting than it has been this year. The players are amped and enjoying everything the game has to offer, which makes it even more fun for me to play as well.
No. 2: Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
Much like the previous entry, the AC series has had a rough time finding it’s identity in this latest generation, but that hasn’t stopped Ubisoft taking a leap of faith off the edge with two new entries that seek to change up the series in a major way without sacrificing that distinct AC-ness. Odyssey returns to its roots in many ways while retaining many of the newer RPG elements that have emerged in its last game, offering customization of skills and appearance that caters to all play styles. The game is also very visually pleasing, which is something the series has never shied away from in the past. Greece feels alive at any given moment, and the narrative takes many different twists and turns throughout, making for a fresh and unique experience all around. The naval combat feels smooth and plays a huge part in the story and doesn’t feel like a hindrance, and dozens of side quests make for a gripping journey which reminds us all that AC is back, stronger than ever.
No. 1: Marvel's Spider-Man
Anyone who’s visited the site or read any of my work knows I’m a huge Spidey fan, and I will eagerly consume any piece of media that stars the web-slinger without hesitation. That being said, I haven’t played anything that has really gripped my nerdy soul like this game has. Its story, the soundtrack, the voice acting and writing, and the smooth combat and swinging gameplay- they all come together to really make the player feel and understand what it means to take on the mantle of Spider-Man, and I loved every minute of it. Sure, maybe I’m biased, but I think many would agree that Spidey deserves the spotlight on this one. It’s been a long time coming, and Insomniac Games has done more than enough to deliver a truly breathtaking superhero game in nearly every way, and I can’t wait to have more when the sequel comes out. Between this and the MCU, it’s a good year to be a Spider-Man fan.
I could have spent much more time throwing other games into this list, such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and God of War. Instead, I chose games that grabbed me and held me for hours and hours, some I will play even now and into the future. It’s a good year to be a gamer, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.