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Brandon’s Game of the Year 2018

Well, 2018 was a year. Every where I look, people talk about how 2018 was an awful year. But I have to brag a bit, 2018 was a great year for me. I got engaged, moved into a house, and adopted a dog. Those are three life goals I’ve been pursuing for a while now, and they all happened within the span of a few months.

Due to my new life changes, I feel like I wasn’t able to dedicate enough time to video games, which is a bummer because there were some great games that released in 2018. I did manage to play quite a few games, but I am going to do something different this year.

As I think back to the games I played in 2018, I can’t number rank them. So I’m going to write a little blurb about each game that left an impression on me in 2018. I’ve placed the games in alphabetical order so that there is no confusion of this being a numbered list. Anyway, here we go!

Assassin’s Creed Origins – That is not a typo, I do mean Origins, the Assassin’s Creed set in Egypt. It was pretty much all I played between the months of March and May in 2018, and was so impressed with all of the changes made the the Assassin’s Creed series.

The thing that I appreciated most about the game was the environment, and traveling between different cities. It was such a cool experience to enter a new city or village and just learn the little stories. Each area felt unique and different, and as the player I felt connected to that world. I’m glad to see Assassin’s Creed embracing RPG mechanics in their games, and you’ll probably find Odyssey on my 2019 list!

Celeste – I played this very early on in 2018, and kept revisiting it. I love the tight controls in this game. Some of the platforming felt so cool, especially the little intricate maneuvers that you had to plan out from trial and error. I played this game on Switch in handheld mode, and I plan to get back into it on PC using a different controller. I feel like it’s better suited for a more comfortable set up.

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition – This is a game I had been meaning to play for years, and finally got around to it in 2018. While it does play like an eight year old game, I was a bit nostalgic for that game design. Plus it actually has a decent story, and I liked how War grew in power as the game progressed. It had some pretty fun boss battles, decent platforming sections, and the upgraded version looked great at a high resolution.

Dead Cells – I’m not the biggest fan of roguelites, but Dead Cells is a gosh darn masterpiece. The speed of the game is what kept me coming back. It takes very little time to get back into a new run after dying. You die and then all of a sudden you’re back in that first area slashing enemies. But that combat is second to none in the 2D platforming genre. It feels so weighty and powerful. Once you get really good at the game, it all just becomes muscle memory. There were definitely a few runs I messed up because I was just going through the motions, not really paying attention to what was happening on screen. Writing this up has reminded me that I need to actually beat this game.

F1 2018 – Something I learned in 2018 is I like games with fast cars, F1 2018 has some really fast cars. It also has some of the best handling mechanics I’ve played in a racing game. It does help that the game plays great with my racing wheel, and the tweaked physics engine makes the cars feel as realistic as possible. The 2018 version of the F1 series features a more robust career mode, which I appreciated. I had a hard time unlocking upgrades in 2017, but in 2018 I’ve gone from having the worst car on the grid to the third worst car on the grid in half a season!

The game can be a bit of a time commitment, so when my life started to get really busy, I wasn’t able to dedicate as much time. But as things are starting to settle, I plan on getting back to my career mode.

Forza Horizon 4 – After driving close to 200 mph in the new McLaren Senna, the thought that popped into my head was “this is modern day Burnout: Paradise.” The sense of speed in Forza Horizon 4 is matched by few games.

At the end of the day, Forza Horizon 4 is a celebration of UK car culture. The range of cars you can drive is insane, and the Scottish countryside is such a joy to drive through, plus Edinburgh is replicated beautifully in the game. This is another game I plan to continue playing well into 2019.

Hitman 2 – If you’ve read other game of the year lists, I’m sure you’ve seen the same thing said over and over about Hitman 2, so I’m going to try and talk about other areas of the game. First off, the amount of content in Hitman 2 is absolutely insane. If I was stranded on a desert island and could only bring one game, I think it might be Hitman 2. If you own Hitman 1 and all it’s content, that is all ported over to the upgraded engine used for Hitman 2, so all of the Hitman content from the last two years is under one launcher. Plus there is the sniper mode and multiplayer mode that I haven’t even touched yet.

What stands out the most for me is how varied and detailed all the different levels are. This past weekend I spent almost two hours walking around Whittleton Creek trying to see everything in that level, and I know there is a ton that I still have to find. I loved walking into the homes and getting a little story of each family lives in this neighborhood. Don’t even get me started on the Miami level. That’s another level I spent close to two hours exploring on my first run, and I can’t wait to get back to it.

It definitely feels more refined over Hitman 1, and it makes it more enjoyable to play. We have two expansions on the way, and I hope that support for this game continues well beyond those two expansions because there is so much IO Interactive could do with this game.

Into the Breach – The two main things I like about Into the Breach is each level isn’t about winning, just surviving; and how it is more of a puzzle game than a strategy game. Instead of having to react to the movement of enemies, you are shown the enemies next attack at the beginning of your turn. Your goal is to push them out of the way of attacking your mechs or the buildings your protecting. If you do it correctly, you can push them into each other to take damage, or line the enemies up so they attack each other. It does start to feel a bit overwhelming after you have 6-7 enemies on screen and only three mechs. But you’re supposed to feel overwhelmed. It’s a game about survival, not absolute victory.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance – When looking for a big new RPG to play, you don’t really think about a game that prides itself on being historically accurate. But that’s exactly what Kingdom Come: Deliverance prides itself on. You play the son of a blacksmith, and your village is burned to the ground as the Bohemian countryside is engaged in a civil war. As Henry, your goal is to retrieve a sword your father made for a lord and deliver it to him. I really like how the story isn’t this grandiose fantasy tale. You’re just some dude trying to honor your dead father.

It also does some things to change it up from other RPGs. Combat is slow and methodical. Instead of just mashing buttons, you have to find gaps in the enemies defense and exploit them. It took some time to get used to, but after a while it’s possible to take on two to three opponents with little issue. It’s a massive game that I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface after playing for more than 20 hours, and it’s another game that I’ll continue into 2019.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Three racing games on this list! They always say that your favorite Mario Kart is the one you played first, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe proves that theory is false as this is my new favorite Mario Kart. This is what I remember Nintendo games looking when I played them as a child on the N64. The game is simply gorgeous, and the racing is a lot of fun. Plus with the 200cc and track reverse mode, the game feels completely different than when playing in the other modes. We spent a lot of time play this game over the holidays, and it was so enjoyable playing in four player split screen. When I’m not sure what I want to play at the moment, it’s easy to just hop on Mario Kart and do a series.

Return of the Obra Dinn – This game wins the category of “Game Brandon is bad at but still loves it.” When I told my fiance that Lucas Pope had made a new game, she responded with “what is it about this time?” She is well aware of Papers, Please, and when I told her the premise behind Obra Dinn, she responded with, “I like how he doesn’t make normal video games.”

I felt rushed during my first playthrough of this game, and now that I know what it really wants, I’ll do a better job of paying attention. I hardly used the bookmark mechanic, which I feel would help a ton. This game also has one of the best soundtracks of the year. During the few days I did my first playthrough, I could not get the music out of my head.

Sea of Thieves – This game brought me the most pure joy of any game in 2018. It reminded me of those early days of playing video games online and the feeling of a new way to play video games. While there are plenty of valid complaints about Sea of Thieves, it was easy for me to overlook them because of the sheer joy I had sailing around the ocean.

My favorite experience in Sea of Thieves this year was fighting the ghost ships in The Cursed Sails. We teamed up with two other random boats and had so much fun coordinating attacks. A few times I got knocked off our boat, and ended up on an allied boat, helping them out. It got to a point where I was just bailing water out of our boat waiting for our allies to respawn and get back to the fight. It seems so lame writing it out in a blog, but I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun in an online game playing with strangers. I’m excited to see this game grow in 2019.

Let’s hope 2019 is as exciting as 2018!

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Brandon’s Game of the Year 2018


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