You Asked For This
Go big or go home. Here’s the play: two lists in one. First, let’s rank every game I bought with a 2018 release. Then, let’s rank the games I actually played in 2018 (let’s say 20+ hours), regardless of initial release. We shouldn’t feel the need to quantify 2018 as a “good” or “bad” year for gaming. For people like my brother, no other year in gaming has ever mattered as Fortnite trumps everything that has ever been.
Is he right? Probably not. Is he wrong? Probably not.
Red Dead Redemption 2 came out, but Breath of the Wild did not. Which year was better? Good things happened, bad things happened. Everything was alright, and likely will be going forward. Regardless, you all want these lists. So here it goes. Let’s kick things off with my rankings on every 2018 game I played this year.
A 2018 Retrospective
I “bought” (or downloaded, in the case of free games like Fortnite and Pokémon Quest) seventeen games that released or received a new port this year. I ranked these by several criteria. Gut opinion mattered to me, as did things like general gameplay and narrative strength.
For long lists like this, especially with such diverse entries, I give each a letter grade. When multiple entries share a letter, we keep adding subsequent letters until everything naturally sorts itself out. Do some proofreading to ensure nothing is wildly out of place, and the list forms itself.
I’ll include a screenshot of the google sheet at the end of this list for fun. I used the same method when ranking every single character in Breath of the Wild. Though, as you can imagine, that list took a little bit longer.
But without further ado, here are my top seventeen games of ‘18.
17. Pokémon Quest
I would hardly constitute this as a game, rather an experiment/demonstration. Pokémon Quest was a glorified mobile title (released on the Switch) to tide gamers over until Let’s Go. The art style is cute and the approach is new. In a lot of ways, it respects Pokémon as an intellectual property, but can hardly be called a satisfying experience.
I’m sure people still play this game. But for me, I don’t see the gameplay feedback loop as anything impressive or worthwhile. Spend “energy” to watch your Pokémon go on missions. Level up and press the occasional button in combat. In terms of Pokémon spin-offs, this is no Conquest or Mystery Dungeon. That’s unfortunate too, because the box designs really do rock.
16. South Park: The Fractured But Whole (Switch Release)
Matt Stone and Trey Parker are two of my favorite creators. South Park holds a special place in my heart, even if the later seasons don’t do much for me. I also loved the Stick of Truth. The RPG mechanics weren’t super fleshed out, but after the 15-hour experience ended, we were left with a genuinely funny and wild adventure that felt like a natural extension of peak South Park humor. The Fractured But Whole, on the other hand, was a major misstep.
The Fractured But Whole prioritized a re-imagined combat system with more classing and character specs than needed. It wanted to be a real RPG, and sacrificed the charm and humor that made The Stick of Truth worthwhile. What we ended up with was a half-baked Avengers spoof that sooner asked you to collect selfies than play the game.
There were genuinely great jokes. But unlike The Stick of Truth, I really didn’t care for the set-pieces much. All in all, the game felt both generic and self-serious—everything South Park is not. The Fractured But Whole holds the distinct honor of being the only game on this list I returned.
15. Kerbal Space Program: Enhanced Edition
My first exposure to the Kerbal Space Program was a demo I download on my Mac back in (I think) 2013. I bought the alpha soon after and fell in love. KSP is a highly advanced physics game all about rocket science. You launch adorable little Kerbals into outer space as they orbit around celestial bodies in an effort to chart, explore, research, and mine the greater solar system.
My Macbook Air could barely run the game back then. I figured my PS4 Pro was a processing beast, able to do the game justice. I was wrong. As much as I love KSP for its “pull no punches” approach to orbiting, mass, and thrust, the game is too opaque for me to grasp. I’m a smart guy, for the most part. But there’s too many numbers with too little explanation. Each rocket part comes with an adorable description and some genuinely funny flavor-text, but there’s next to no aid on the differences between monopropellant and liquid fuel, what engines work with what tanks, or advanced heat dispersion techniques to name a few.
I do see some tremendous rockets on the KSP subreddit, so this game clearly works for a lot of people. But with my limited bandwidth for gaming, I need more resources in game. I can’t spend hours upon hours of outside research on YouTube learning to land on planets without an atmosphere.
This game doesn’t translate well on consoles either. The keyboard-mouse combo is a must for this game. There’s so much necessity for detailed key bindings that dual analog sticks and a literal handful of buttons can’t match. The game compensates for this by asking players to flip between two control schemes: an on-screen cursor and more typical stick scrolling. This game is just too demanding to play, which absolutely kills me because the potential is so clearly there.
14. Darkest Dungeon (Switch Release)
This game’s gonna get a bit of an unfair ranking. I bought Darkest Dungeon on Switch, played several hours of it, then lost the cart. Yikes. But, I did really, really enjoy everything I saw up until that point.
From what I can tell, this is a grindy, difficult RPG less about dungeon crawling and more about team management. Combat is there, predominantly focusing on characters’ spacing and managing afflictions. But how you spend your downtime matters as much as the actual levels. This is a balanced game with an absolutely incredible art style.
I include this game because my reaction is purely neutral. It serves as a good divide between games I didn’t like and games I did.
I jokingly challenged the idea of labeling a year “good” or “bad” for games. But a quick scan of my list reveals I played a lot more I enjoyed (in some capacity) than didn’t. I just wish I had more time with Darkest Dungeon. I’m sure it deserves a rank notably higher than it recieved.
Passpartout is an indie title with a bit of a cult following. In a marionette puppet Paris, you play as the painter Passpartout (loosely translated to “overlooked by all”) as it makes its way in the greater French art community. For the actual gameplay, you paint pictures NPCs bid on.
Each stage features two distinct character “classes” to bid on your work, each with distinct likes and dislikes. The game features a relatively intense algorithm that analyses and evaluates your painting through unspecified criteria (color, complexity, time spent). Your only feedback comes from the murmurs of impressed or disappointed critics observing your work. It’s honestly brilliant.
I am pretty terrible at art, so this game’s a bit tough for me. But it’s genuinely satisfying watching a realtor buy your surrealist Pikmin portrait because the colors will help move houses. Passpartout struggles, though, on Switch.
Similar to KSP, this really isn’t a game that works on controllers. You honestly can’t make subtle brush strokes using the pad of your non-dominant thumb. I love everything about this game, even if it is a bit repetitive and straightforward. However, this is almost unplayable on Switch.
It should be noted this game has touchscreen support, so undocked play is more bearable. But my fat fingers make using a small canvas difficult in its own right.
12. Mario Tennis Aces
Sports games are a bit hit or miss for me. Mario Tennis Aces was a big miss. The controls are good enough, and playing in classic mode (no disgustingly overpowered charge shots) is fine. But when I play tennis, I want to play with friends. Aces pushes against this at every turn.
Free play has weird restrictions. You can’t pick your stage, just what stages the game will randomly cycle through. I’m pretty sure you can turn hazards off, but it’s mind boggling that you can’t choose between clay, grass, day, or night.
The campaign is completely unnecessary, unenjoyable, and seemingly required to do anything beyond the most vanilla gameplay. All characters (besides those rolled out for free post-launch) are open from the start, but you don’t have access to any court diversity. You’re forced to sit through a half-baked story about a godly (yet cursed) tennis racket brainwashing members of the Mario’s typical posse. So to beat it, you have to level up (why?) and gently return serves across an adventure mode map inspired by Super Mario World 3.
And you have to do this.
Otherwise, online actually works very well. The competition is fierce and the no bullshit mode holds up. This isn’t a bad game, but it definitely isn’t good. If it weren’t for the polished online and post-launch support, this game would fall behind that Darkest Dungeon threshold and into the “bad games of 2018” category.
11. Night in the Woods (Switch Release)
I entered Night in the Woods hearing nothing but really great things. It’s apparently an incredible story following a depressed lead with natural sounding writing. I’m sure it is an unforgettable story; but it’s surrounded by completely forgettable gameplay.
I like the art and I love the characters. They each have their respective quirks and funny quips. But jumping around a room as I try and figure out how to ring a short-circuited doorbell is not engaging gameplay. Long story short, it isn’t fun to play. There’s no challenge other than vague tasks. While I want to experience more, it simply isn’t fun to trudge through.
I know many people had an amazingly personal and intimate experience with this game, but you can tell an incredible story and have compelling gameplay. I would love to see this movie, but I seriously doubt I’d fire up the game again.
10. Fortnite Battle Royale (Switch Release)
For every person who loves Fortnite, there are seven who absolutely hate that it’s everywhere. But for a moment, let’s pretend Ninja doesn’t exist, ignore any lawsuits with PUBG, and pretend there aren’t armies of twelve-year-olds flossing in math class. Let’s just stick with the facts.
- Fortnite has a distinct, instantly recognizable art style. In addition, it generally does a good job including atypical player models, including PoC and female avatars.
- Building, for as simple a mechanic as it is, fundamentally distinguishes Fortnite from the wealth of competition.
- The gameplay feedback loop is repetitive, but highly engaging, meaning the act of playing Fortnite is simplistic but constantly rewarding.
- It has fierce competition, but anyone can get lucky and win. Sometimes the loot just rolls your way.
- It broke Sony’s infamously strict “no crossplay” policy, letting gamers across all consoles AND PC play together.
- It’s completely free. I refuse to hear complaints about microtransactions with this game. While some people complain about V-Bucks, the battle pass system rewards good players, but not unfairly. No loot boxes either, so you can’t hold that against them.
- The post-launch support has been unreal. For no added cost at all, the game map is constantly changing and adapting. New modes and guns are added nearly weekly. Epic listens to players and “vaults” unbalanced weapons. While characters often get nerfed and buffed in games like Overwatch, Epic does this as well as I’ve ever seen.
Real talk, I’m not the biggest fan of competitive shooters. I’m pretty terrible at them. Still, Fortnite has done great things to popularize video games in the mainstream. Plus, it’s a very solid game to own (FOR FREE) and play (WITH LITERALLY ANYONE, REGARDLESS OF DEVICE).
Video Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/WatchPeopleDieInside/comments/abvf4s/ninja_tries_to_entertain_ppl_older_than_6/
Credit where credit is due. I don’t enjoy playing Fortnite much (don’t hate it, don’t love it). But this is by all means a good game. Still doesn’t excuse people doing that Orange Justice dance in public.
9. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Black Ops 4 ekes out just above Fortnite. It was tight, deciding between the two. But for all the good Fortnite has, the game-mode diversity of Black Ops 4 wins out, if just barely. Two years from now, people will still be playing Fortnite and just about everyone will forget they ever bought Blops 4. But for now, I still love Zombies.
Blops 4 Zombies is a return to form. I wouldn’t say the maps and general gameplay stack up to 1 and 2 (the pinnacle in my mind), but Zombies finally feels like a genuine priority again. I still don’t love the importance of gobblegum and microtransactions. But hey, at least it’s not that dumb exosuit stuff.
I entered Celeste hearing nothing but really great things. It’s apparently an incredible story following a depressed lead with natural sounding writing (sound familiar?). Long story short, just because a character is dealing with depression doesn’t make them interesting. That said, Celeste is a good game. It’s a “difficult” platformer with a nostalgic art style.
We have another writer on staff (Kei) who often pushes back against claims that Super Meat Boy and Celeste are hard games. The jumps may be tight and the courses are well designed, but there really isn’t any penalty at all for dying. You respawn instantly and you have unlimited lives. You can fail a jump a million times and it doesn’t matter. There are no stakes that make each movement feel “worth it.”
But, like I said, there’s a lot of good to this game. It’s creative and well designed. It’s “hard,” but kind of isn’t? I haven’t been particularly moved by this blatant chase from one’s inner demons, but I haven’t finished it either. It’s fine. This game is fine. 10/10? I’d push back on that. But it does whatever it does well.
I just doubt I’ll go back to it anytime soon.
7. Spyro Reignited Trilogy
I never played Spyro growing up, so this was my first entrance into the series. Spyro is a relatively simple game with easy platforming and a light (at most) story. Spyro 1 doesn’t hold up too well, but who cares? There’s two other, truly excellent games to choose from in this single $40 purchase.
No matter what you say, Spyro is one of the best looking games out right now. Yeah the art of Celeste and Night in the Woods is unique and quirky; but Spyro is vibrant and crisp, plain and simple. There’s also so much to collect and so much to do.
Each oddball character is made lovingly; the game doesn’t take itself any more seriously than it needs to. I’m saying all this without the shackles of nostalgia clouding my view. Aside from Mario, not much is keeping that era of 3D character platformers alive. It’s sorely missed. Spyro proves we need more.
To be fair, I haven’t touched Celeste since May (and don’t plan on playing again anytime soon). I played Spyro last weekend. Maybe I’m more fond of the latter because I played it recently. I’m not perfect, and admit that may have some sway. But make no mistake, this is a game that deserves a slot on your home console.
6. Diablo III: Eternal Collection (Switch Release)
Similar to Spyro, this port was my first stab at the series. I love absolutely everything about this game. I haven’t sunk as much time in it as I’d like, but the grinding, character spec-ing, and top-down horde-slaughter rocks.
It’s a bit of a bummer going through this solo, and kicking off as a necromancer made me accidentally overpowered, but Blizzard perfected the grind, loot, repeat loop in a way that makes me never want to put this down. With the Switch, I don’t have to.
This game lends itself perfectly to the grab and go nature of the Switch. I can just walk into a friends house and dive into some local multiplayer grinding whenever. The game isn’t burdened with an over-serious campaign. Diablo 3 is all about playing Diablo 3, nothing more and nothing less. That’s all it has to be, and it does so very well.
5. Octopath Traveler
Octopath Traveler is a game of high highs and middling lows. It reproduces nearly everything that made Final Fantasy VI special. It updates a classic formula with a fresh coat of paint (at the very least, some pretty staggering lighting effects). It’s accessible, fun, and genuinely challenging at times.
Combat is super fresh for a turn-based RPG. Recharging battle points (BP) and fluctuating attack priority (all clearly outlined by a handy graphic) liven up an otherwise overworked format. Enemy weaknesses and job-based abilities are as well implemented here as they ever were. By all accounts, playing Octopath is a delight.
Octopath drops off once we talk story. It’s comprised of eight distinct micro-campaigns that follow an immediately repetitive format. Character enters location, cut-scene, uses special ability, cut-scene, ends with a mini dungeon and boss fight. Admittedly, most of the game is spent travelling from chapter to chapter, grinding to hit suggested leveling for each story, and rounding out your team through smart job spec-ing. It’s unfortunate that the story is told through such a “cut and paste” format.
Each character is delightful, but rarely do they interact. Two characters will occasionally gab in between notable events, but Octopath sorely needs a unified campaign. I do believe time will look favorably on this return to form for Square Enix. While it has notable flaws, this game respects its predecessors.
4. Subnautica (Full Release)
Similar to Kerbal Space Program, Subnautica has sat in my Steam library since 2014. Unlike Kerbal, I stayed closely engaged with the development process and sank countless hours exploring this ocean’s vast and many trenches. I’m openly a massive Subnautica fanboy, as well as one of the first to write up a preview on the upcoming Subnautica expansion: Below Zero.
This game is getting widespread praise and deserves every bit of it. You may have previously heard of this title due to unfortunate backlash against some crude remarks by a sound developer, largely on comments about developing female avatars.
DO NOT LET THAT DETER YOU FROM THIS EXPERIENCE. Subnautica is a truly excellent game,
You can now venture these unforgiving depths on console, to widespread acclaim. Subnautica takes the farm and craft survival formula to new heights (irony) through two main selling points: vibrant locals/locales as well as the most incidentally intense horror to hit gaming ever.
Original Post: https://www.reddit.com/r/subnautica/comments/aftz2a/that_sound_that_nobody_wants_to_hear/
This game has very few procedurally generated elements. Instead, the map layout was carefully designed piecemeal for years. Now, every turn, trench, and plant feels lovingly placed, creating an unforgettable sandbox teeming with unique and creative life. As beautiful as it is terrifying, Subnautica delivers in so many ways. It truly is a complete package and a standout game. One of 2018’s very best.
3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Red Dead 2 knocked the wind out of every game’s sails. The only game to cause more of a splash than Red Dead 2 is Smash Ultimate, and justly so. Ultimate may be the very best Smash game commercially available. Yes, the roster is huge. But this seems like the first Smash where Masahiro Sakurai listened to fans.
Small quality of life tweaks like customizable default rules and “stage then character” selection provide welcomed convenience. The characters are largely balanced and control in a way more accessible manner than in previous entries. They are faster than in Smash 4, less punishingly precise than in Melee (to Kei’s great dissatisfaction). Plus, Pichu is a top-tier character now.
As far as party games go, Smash Ultimate boots up fast, and playing portably combines the very best of both 3DS and Wii U. People may have differing views on World of Light and the Spirit system, but with its sheer wealth of content (music and character art), Smash Ultimate adds depth to the near-infinitely repeatable grind of “Omega No Items.”
Cut it however you like, Smash Ultimate is a masterpiece.
2. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!
But, Smash Ultimate is no Let’s Go, Eevee. This game shakes hands with nostalgia while opening the doors to something much greater. Let’s address everyone’s biggest gripe right off the bat. Wild encounters are catch only. Big deal.
There is seemingly as much battling in this game as I’ve ever seen in Pokémon. Trainers are everywhere, so the core experience of Pokémon is unchanged. The new, wild Pokémon system created much more notable changes (all positive) by showing wild Pokémon visible in the overworld. Shiny hunting would not exist to the same degree without this, as well as chaining (another very welcomed addition).
Eevee—and, by extension, Pikachu—is unbelievably charming. High-fiving your partner after gyms, wearing matching outfits, and the infinitely cute facial expressions give sorely needed character to the franchise. There hasn’t been a good Pokémon rival since Silver (save for N, but he is his game’s main antagonist). Of course, being perfectly EV’d and having access to the most broken moves in the game raises the likelihood Eevee runs off your arm and into battle.
The plot should be delightfully familiar to anyone who’s played Gen 1. The addition of Jesse and James (and a Meowth) boosts mass appeal to any kid who grew up with the anime. There are brilliant nods to the Pokémon timeline with the inclusion of Red, Blue and (for the first time ever) Green. At the very least, everyone should be thrilled at how great each Pokémon looks when running behind you.
The game is gorgeous. Visually, every expression is phenomenal and every animation is smooth. The game rings out familiar tunes with a fresh coat of auditory paint. Yes, the game only has three buttons. But the game uses those three buttons very well.
For the purists, you’ll get your main series entry this year. For everybody else, this is the best Pokémon game since Soul Silver.
1. Far Cry 5
What an unbelievable game.
Rural Montana is the best overworld since Hyrule. Who would have guessed? Far Cry 5 excels in every single category a game can be judged. The gunplay and general controls feel as sharp as the best “Call of Duties” and “Destinies.” The graphics rival real life. The soundtrack has such a purely distilled Americana vibe, it could win a Grammy. The plot is strong, but lead by even stronger characters.
Every good video game villain gets stacked up next to Vaas. In a lot of ways, the Father surpasses him. We may never see a performance as well done as Michael Mando’s again. But the Father carries so much weight. His charisma is terrifying because it’s real. The Jim Jones parallels cannot be more obvious (all the way down to the yellow-tinted shades), so the horror of that eerily calm voice hits hard. Throw in a weird bastardization of Christianity, and you see a narrative shockingly close to the news we see on TV.
True campaign multiplayer seemed like an afterthought, but an enjoyable one. Hunting and fishing feel great, and though the craftables system was effectively removed, existing in the world of Hope County is a treat.
Ubisoft did side missions right. Their non-invasive structure—solve issues at your own pace—guides players to organic action, not forcing them into a set-piece. On that note, the guns for hire system received a needed overhaul with dedicated companions. They control so well, and will certainly be a series mainstay going forward.
Just a heads up, casual spoilers in the video. More importantly, very much NSFW
Cap this all off with an ambiguous, yet jaw-dropping ending. Remember, “goodness” is relative, even in the phase “Good Ending.”
What I Actually Played in 2018
That’s every 2018 game I “played.” But as for the games I actually played, here’s my true “Favorite Games of 2018” list.
26. Pokémon Go
I had to get my fix leading up to Let’s Go, Eevee.
25. Fire Emblem Heroes
Simplified gameplay, but those seasonal heroes always draw me back.
24. Rocksmith 2014
Guitar Hero with a real guitar.
23. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
I’m no good at Mario Kart, but it alleviates the monotony of constant Smash at parties.
22. Call of Duty: Black Ops
Best Zombies of them all. I jump back to this occasionally.
21. Pokémon Moon
Not the only handheld Pokémon title on this list. It does freshen up the Pokémon formula nicely, but often feels too easy.
20. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
It’s an easy time sink. But every now and again I gain enough wherewithal to stop the meaningless Bell farming.
19. Grand Theft Auto V
It’s a very easy game to go back to on boring nights. The story itself is underrated (especially by our site’s founder, David). Weaving in and out of oncoming highway traffic never gets old.
18. Assassin’s Creed Origins
I was late to the party, clearly. I’m not thrilled with the new item rarity scheme. All in all it feels like a far cry from Assassin’s Creed 2, the purest game in the franchise.
17. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
I play a lot of Smash, and 90% of the year happened before Ultimate. What can I say?
I obviously rave about this a lot. It’s a game I like existing in. In terms of gameplay, Subnautica is notably less thrilling than the upcoming titles on this list.
15. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Switch)
The portability is amazing and—come on—it’s not like anyone ever “finished” Skyrim. Who cares if I already own it on three consoles and PC?
14. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Of course, for the other 10% of the year, I had this.
13. Fire Emblem: Awakening
I love this game and its sappy “shipping” potential. But after a while, the challenge wanes and the story is kinda also present in the background.
12. Super Mario Sunshine
I wrote about my experience with SMS in my first speedrunning article. I won a world record by default (since dethroned). It’s my favorite platformer ever set in one of my favorite hub worlds in gaming. The movement is so sharp. I also recommend taking a stab at the game “hoverless.” It’s possible, and a delightful new challenge.
11. Pokémon Crystal
This scratched my more traditional Pokémon itch than Go in the lead up to Let’s Go. Crystal is the first game I remember ever really “owning.” I grew up chasing that ever-illusive Suicune. Plus, it’s two games in one. What? That’s insane!
10. Super Mario Odyssey
I was a little disappointed about the smaller scope of each level than in previous 3D Mario platformers, but this game is a near-perfect return to form for Mario. I think the “quantity over quality” Moon placement detracts from the level design slightly. But again, this game is beloved for good reason.
9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
This is an overused expression, but one I take literally in this instance. Ocarina of Time is quite seriously the Citizen Kane of gaming. It may be the closest thing we’ll ever get to a perfect video game. It isn’t flawless though, if you get the distinction. The graphics are admittedly hard to get past and the controls are staggeringly dated. I think it’s absolutely playable to a brand new audience, but it does have a rough coat of paint.
8. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The Wind Waker is my all time favorite game. WWHD is my all time favorite port. The stars aligned to make this one of the best games to drop in the last decade. Hopefully this beautiful title finds a second life off Wii U, because this iteration of Link’s genealogy is one of his best.
While I constantly go back to this game in a speedrunning capacity (my main game, if I were to have one), I took another stab at WWHD for a 100% playthrough. This game holds up. Not everything about this is perfect—I don’t love any of the dungeons like City in the Sky or Snowpeak (both from Twilight Princess)—but this may be the most polished “traditional” Zelda experience out there.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
But traditional experience doesn’t mean best experience. I won’t say any more about BotW than is already said. Instead, I’ll just plug my every BotW character ever ranking.
6. Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour
This is one of the best games on the GameCube. It is the best golf-physics games out there. It’s a hell of a party game (and an even more brutal drinking game). Plus, it genuinely looks good on a CRT, very vibrant.
5. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!
I love this game. You already know why.
4. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Oh I love this game so much (and hate it even more). I don’t think Xenoblade likes its players; it has more problems than I can list here. But something hooked me about Rex and Pyra’s fight against evil. It’s a good JRPG with addictive summoning and an even better rhythm component. This was one of my only Switch games for a long time, but it certainly dug its way into my heart.
3. Far Cry 5
It was my 2018 GOTY. It ranks pretty well in my general favorites of 2018 as well.
2. Persona 5
Maybe my favorite game ever, save for Wind Waker. P5 is sexy. It looks great. It’s a standard but well executed narrative. It’s long as hell and has smart enough micro-stories to keep you constantly engaged, meaning there’s a cliffhanger every two hours that brilliantly maintains player attention.
I played for easily 70 hours this year, and that was all New Game+. It really lacks the ability to play in small doses though. When you play, it’s a serious investment. Very rarely does it feel natural to chug through passively, losing it the top spot.
1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Maybe my favorite game ever, save for Wind Waker and Persona 5. I love every single thing about this game. I recognize the complaints. But for me, this game is completely flawless. The nonlinear gameplay grants a similar freedom to Breath of the Wild, but with more explicit objectives. Plus, the side missions act as microcosms of great gameplay to pick up and play anytime you need a stealth fix.
MGSV is an experience everyone should play once. All eyes are eagerly on Hideo Kojima as Metal Gear’s spiritual successor will launch within the next two to three years.
Who’s to say? I had a good 2018. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has my attention, as does Red Dead 2. I wish I speedran more seriously. I wish I wrote more for the site. But gaming resolutions are as “in” as GOTY lists. Maybe this is mine.
Other things that are mine:
I have a fun thought piece on real music that coulda woulda shoulda had a place in some great video game soundtracks.
On that note, our whole team compiled the very best soundtracks in gaming. A list that was once described as “legit only JRPGs. Seriously?”
But one final piece of fun, how about a list of the best Zelda dungeons (if by “best” you mean “using number of small keys as the only metric”).
Keep up with The Punished Backlog for more features like I just described. We focus on atypical pieces: personal experiences and the ilk. They’re often fun looks at a different side of gaming than the standard top 10 lists, though we definitely have those too. If you like what you see or have something to pitch, please reach out. We’re all fanboys (and fangals) at heart here.
If you have something you’d like to chat about, reach out to peter.manning[at]punishedbacklog.com. I’m more than happy to workshop prospective pieces. Otherwise, hit us up below.