My top games of 2018
It’s that time of year again where we’re recovering from eating and drinking too much, and looking forward to the new year filled with exciting opportunities and a chance to do better. Who knew that an arbitrary point in the Earth’s orbit round the Sun had such power? I’ve definitely neglected the blog this past year or so (I’ve been a little more active on my dev blog, but only just) and I’m contemplating just migrating all the content from this site over to picnicerror.net and focusing my efforts on one site. Anyway, I digress. I think my last post on this site was looking back (very belatedly) at my favourite games from 2017, so it seems kind of fitting that my next post is this one.
Sitting comfortably? Great.
Destiny 2: Forsaken
Although Destiny 2 released in 2017, it seems only fair to include it here given the “annual expansion” model employed that completely changes the game each year. Forsaken has revolutionised D2, and probably got me the most interested in the grind that I’ve ever been. While I’ve fallen away for the last while (mostly thanks to Battlefield V and Trueachievements’ 12 Days of Christmas challenge), I was thoroughly enjoying how Forsaken changed the game, and felt like even as a bit-part player, I could level up and keep my hand in with new activities. I’ve yet to break the 600 barrier and partake in the Black Armory content, but that’s okay as there’s so much there to do now, and everything helps progress, which is the key.
It does feel like Bungie have taken a bit of a mis-step again with the Black Armory, but after what they delivered with the initial Forsaken update, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for the next drop, especially now that they’ve split from Activision.
I was going to wait. I wasn’t going to buy it, at least not digitally. EA Access and all that. But damn. I couldn’t resist, and I’m glad I didn’t.
Battlefield V has been rather criticised for being a partial game, but what is there is superb. The Battlefield series has always been about the multiplayer, and BFV does not disappoint. It’s more hardcore than BF1, and feels reminiscent of some of the fun of Battlefield 3. Great gunplay, good balance, and big, open maps. I’m missing a true Metro or Locker successor, with the closest in my eyes probably being the stunning looking Fjell 652, which takes place on a snowy mountain top.
There have been some vocal (and not entirely unjustified) complaints about lack of content (no Rush mode, seriously?!), although DICE seem to have a fairly long term support plan to keep drip feeding content over various seasons. Purely looking at the base gameplay however, Battlefield V is an incredible experience and seriously good fun.
Red Dead Redemption 2
I couldn’t resist buying this, and it’s really weird. I’ve never fallen asleep to any game as much as this one. Yet it’s compelling. I keep wanting to come back and explore. The storytelling and mission design is classic Rockstar. But it’s also frustrating as f**k. Clunky combat and movement controls, and some of the interaction with NPCs is ridiculous. I gave someone a lift home, and right as I arrived using the cinematic camera, some joker riding a cart crashed into me, prompting him to get angry and start shooting, which resulted in my passenger running off and me getting a bounty on my head.
I don’t think I’ve ever quite experienced such a love/hate relationship with a game before. But Rockstar’s classic production value is evident in every pixel of the game, and the open world itself is one of the best ever committed to disc.
There are some very scary reports out there about the working conditions for Rockstar employees, and it’s great to see organisations like Game Workers Unite UK and others speaking up about the culture of crunch in the gaming industry.
But in terms of pure gameplay, RDR2 is certainly epic in every sense of the word. Just like the real Old West, it’s a tough life, but it captures the end of the era of Manifest Destiny perfectly.
The ones that got away
Here’s the part where I look at a few titles I didn’t manage to get to this year, but am very much planning to play in the near future.
- Sea of Thieves – I took part in the beta for Rare’s free-form pirate ’em-up but haven’t played the final release yet. I’m hearing lots of good things about it, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy the game. My only worry is the time commitment, which is an issue, but from what I’ve been told so far it’s the type of game that lends itself well to playing an hour or two at a time without much need for a plan.
- Forza Horizon 4 – I’m still working on the superb Forza Horizon 3! But I picked up Gamepass so will be giving this a go. I’m mostly keen to tear around Edinburgh (my old stomping ground), which I’ve seriously missed since the good old days of Project Gotham Racing 2 (by the way, Microsoft – how about some back compatability love for PGR?).
- Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey – I’m still working my way through Origins, which is an excellent game, so I’m really looking forward to this. All reports suggest it builds on Origins and makes for a bigger, better experience all round. Yay, another huge game to play!
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider – Some of my lovely family got me this for Christmas. Having played the previous two in the reboot series (Confession – I wasn’t a fan of the originals), I’m hoping this will be simply more of the same, which is totally fine by me.
Other games I’ve played in 2018
Away from the 2018 releases, I’ve been passing the time with a few other titles over the last year or so that have kept me away from the bigger, newer games.
- Assassin’s Creed: Origins – As I mentioned above, Origins is a very good game. It’s quite different from the previous AC games (no bad thing) but works very well, and Bayek is a likeable character. He’s no Ezio, but he’s a decent protagonist. The Egpytian landscape is different to what they’ve done before, and I’m liking the RPG elements and combat system. Yep, I might just complete an AC game in 2019.
- Steep – Bit of an odd one this. Steep feels a bit rough round the edges, and certainly missed the mark with a lot of the community, but I’ve had a lot of fun just soaring around wearing a rocket-powered wingsuit. There’s a great sense of freedom in the game that works best when you ignore the events and races, and simply explore the stunningly created alpine environment.
- Star Wars: Battlefront II – Lootboxes! Microtransactions! EA! It may be a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but as someone who enjoys a story-driven game, I’m quite enjoying playing through the Battlefront 2 campaign. The first game was absolutely superb in my opinion, and while it won’t win any awards for originality or writing, the campaign here is a fun journey through a classic Star Wars era.
Anyone been playing anything else interesting? Tell me in the comments below.