Holidays and spending more time playing games than typing on my PC meant I kind of skipped going through the process of highlighting favourites from the last year.
So now I’ve got a little time (oddly, work does that) it seems a good opportunity to do so. I don’t know how well I’ll be able to state my case of why I think any of these are “the best” except to say that I’ve played more hours from these games and enjoyed every moment of it too.
Note: these opinions are my own and I’m sure that many will disagree.
My best game
Forza Horizon 4 – I played a lot of the previous two games and this continued to deliver the kind of experience I want from a racing game with plenty of spectacle, challenges and content to keep you occupied for ages. It also handles superbly and makes it very hard for me to go back to any non-Forza title. Maybe because it’s the only racer I’ve played that seems to get what made Test Drive Unlimited special might help contribute to the franchise’s appeal to me. It’s not always about the races or being “edgy”… some times you just want to jump into a cool car and go wherever you want.
There’s debatable value in relation to the player cosmetics and the frustration in getting those over credits and new cars (and there’s a lot of those) but the game goes out of its way to constantly reward players so you’ve always got another chance just around the corner. In conjunction with the game’s Forzathon events and shopfront there’s good reason to return time and again to see what else might be on offer to add to your collection.
The continued support with additional cars and content and one great expansion (so far), it once again exposes the car fanatic in me that’s been long hidden.
My also best game
Dead Cells – I die a lot. I will throw myself into it’s semi-procedural levels trying to find the right weapon, blueprint or cells and see all that get lost from my poor judgement. Sometimes I get lucky and cash them in to work towards my upgrades. Eventually I get a little further and then I die more.
It can’t be understated just how great the controls are (played on Xbox) – they are fluid and make it very easy for anyone to play at their best so when you die it’s not because of some difficult combo or impossible task it’s simply because you made a mistake… and you usually know it too. There can be a big grind in obtaining upgrades to make your life easier but the moment you unlock one you just want to jump back in again to see what difference it makes in your next attempt.
I had to tie this with Forza Horizon 4 as my best – both scratch different itches and are so incredibly easy to pick up and keep playing that I will be doing that well into 2019. I will be continuing to die a lot I suspect.
Best late games
Ghost Recon Wildlands – we tried out the beta way back in 2017 but I hadn’t returned to it again until late in 2018. Turns out it is a really great game that holds up well and works in either single player or co-op. The updates over the last year bring in some cool cameos including one guy from a much missed stealth franchise.
Being able to jump into sessions with friends is fun and the sprawling map means there’s usually something out there for you to find or create chaos within. Having a LOT of tools at your disposal means you can be quite creative with your solutions to problems and the game is flexible enough to let you try and push it as far as you can.
Diablo III – I had kept away from playing the third Diablo game for such a long time I think I may have forgotten just how good it really it. The game has been polished over time to be such a fantastic and complete package it’s understandable why Switch owners were getting excited over a six year old game arriving on the system. The game continues to get support from Blizzard and even now there’s still special events and challenges for players to take part in.
Best game I should be playing
Red Dead Redemption II – If I asked Grocs what he thought would be the best game of the year I bet it would be between this and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. The production values and attention to detail in the game are at times staggering with more than enough horse care tasks in it to feed a Barbie Horse Adventures addict.
I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of RDR2 so will need to return to it again soon… apparently braiding your horse’s tail makes it easy for you to spot it which is handy to know.
Best game everyone stopped playing (?)
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – I’m sure that’s open to dispute but the Oceania servers feel dead now and trying to compete on North American servers puts players here at a disadvantage. Doesn’t stop me trying. With Fortnite iterating at a relentless pace and Black Ops 4 taking it’s own share of the audience the competition might be too much for a game that’s still very good at what it does but lacks the polish and appeal of the others.
There’s still a chance of a resurgence – the latest map (Vikendi) adds a cool snow map which was advertised some time ago but it ended up launching in the midst of Fortnite‘s own all snow map change. The Battle Royale genre is now stacked with heavily backed titles and though PUBG is still popular it might quickly be relegated to an also-ran.
Expectations for 2019
Truth be told I think I’ll still be catching up with games from 2018 for a time (REALLY need to check out Into the Breach) but there’s still a handful of games on the horizon I’m also interested in. I’ve already been surprised with how much I’m enjoying Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown and in the next month there’s Crackdown 3 too which we’ll finally be able to play. Bioware’s Anthem might be the game I am most interested in seeing this year. Destiny never worked for me but the thought of something similar with a story from the company behind Mass Effect seems like a winner.
This year we’re also likely to start seeing more of the future plans for Xbox and PlayStation consoles at E3 as they have been expected to arrive around 2020. And with subscription plans and streaming becoming more common it seems as good a time as any for Microsoft’s rumoured disc-free Xbox One to make an appearance too.
Please feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below. 🙂
Forza Horizon 4 looks really good, it’s one of the only Xbox One games I have any interest in whatsoever. (Crackdown 3 is another, as it happens!)
Dead Cells is one of those games I feel like I can appreciate from afar, but have no real pressing desire to play it to death like some people have. Lovely design and overall “feel” though. I think I just have roguelikelike fatigue.
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Guacamelee was the last “punishing” platformer I’d devoted time to and with the exception of the Shantae games might have been my last. So I was once again surprised to be back playing a game in the genre again!
I can highly recommend the Forza Horizon games if you like the idea of jumping into a car and simply going for a drive… With the odd race or challenge thrown in.
Can you hear the ping of Crackdown’s agility orbs? I still recognise that sound… and now it’s back in my head again… 😉
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I heard many great things about Dead Cells; I should check that one out at some point.
A lot of people say Read Dead Redemption 2 is a masterpiece, though I myself have not gotten far; I think I’ve just arrived at the point where it begins to open up.
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Sounds like I might be slightly ahead of you in RDR2 – I’m going to have to dedicate a few hours at a time to get through any more of it!
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In answer to Night Owl’s query in this post – my GOTY…. Red Dead Redemption 2 wins it. Those who haven’t had a chance to finish it should invest a bit more time, as it really is an amazing game (particularly if you’ve finished the first one). Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a great game too, and I’ve put just as many hours into that as I did RDR 2, but it just not quite up to the polish of Rockstar’s masterpiece. I’m holding off on Red Dead Online until it is out of beta.
Forza Horizon 4 is great too, but I still don’t think it is as good as Test Drive Unlimited (pretty damn close though). 🙂
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