It’s time to bid farewell to 2018 and remember all the great games it brought us. We’ve waited right until the final days of the year to compile our best games list, just to be sure we manage to play and experience as many of them as possible. It was a grueling process (poor us), but in the end, we’ve emerged with a list of great AAA and indie titles that we love.
Our best games of 2018 list is a varied one, with epic RPGs, vast open worlds, pixel-art action, multiplayer shooters, and story-rich adventures. These are some of the best games we loved to play in 2018.
ONRUSH is not like any other racing game I’ve played, and it’s not just because there are no positions and no finish line. Everything is engineered around precise controls and epic action. It’s not only the tight controls but also the beautiful tracks, which provide many diverging pathways and heroic jumps. Tracks the like I have wished to explore ever since I became a gamer. Everything looks natural and detailed, so much so that a community of virtual photographers formed around the game.
ONRUSH is also a unique sound experience, where music and sound effects become an integrated part of your driving. When you respawn, the music slows down, but once you’re back on track, the music picks up again, urging you to drive faster and more recklessly. Sound effects come from all directions, and immerse you in the vehicular combat. When you overtake a car or pass by a tree, you can hear that whooshing sound just as if you’re driving a real car.
And the best part? The game continues to receive free content updates, and I find myself returning to the online multiplayer again and again.
Dragon Quest XI
Dragon Quest XI is a game that proves that you can still make a great RPG with an old-school combat system and a rudimentary plot. We follow our young hero as he discovers he is the only one that can save the world from the forces of evil, so that’s precisely what he sets out to do, together with a cast of colorful characters. Standard stuff, really.
As I mentioned, the gameplay is as old-school as it gets. The combat is turn-based, where you stand during the encounter is meaningless, and there’s no way to strategize and gain an extra turn. However, the game makes up for that with a ton of character development and amazingly useful special moves. Even the seemingly basic plot delivers some emotional scenes and twists that have far-reaching effects.
Frankly, it’s difficult to see how Dragon Quest XI can be any better. Every bit of it is polished to perfection: character animations during combat, the series’ iconic music, and Akira Toriyama’s legendary visual design.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed hasn’t really changed all that much in recent years, and many fans lamented the mediocre games Ubisoft released year after year. But all that changed with Assassin’s Creed Origins last year. With refined combat, a bigger world and a story that actually mattered, it seems like the series was back on track. Odyssey continues this trend and improves on everything Origins did right.
Odyssey doesn’t even feel like the classic Assassin’s Creed games, which I think is a change for the better. The combat is intense, and you need to use skills and strategy rather than press a button to kill your opponent instantly. Plus, spartan-kicking enemies off cliffs or roofs is a riot. Having the option to choose between Alexios and Kassandra gives us a rare opportunity to play another female assassin after Syndicate’s Evie Frye, which I’m all for.
Freely exploring ancient Greece, taking on side-missions and talking with the many NPCs turns Assassin’s Creed Odyssey into an action RPG – one you won’t be able to take your eyes off. Keep it up, Ubisoft.
Red Dead Redemption 2
You probably don’t need me to tell you that Red Dead Redemption 2 is a great game. You either already played it, still playing it, or going to play it – if it’s not the best game of 2018, it’s definitely the biggest.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a meticulously-crafted outlaw simulator, with one of Rockstar’s better games buried somewhere deep inside. It takes a while before you manage to cut through all the ridiculous beards and shrinking horse testicles to get to the really good stuff, but once you’re there, it becomes clear why everyone’s talking about it. Arthur Morgan’s surprisingly complicated and personal story is the highlight of the game for me, thanks to incredible performances from everyone involved and top-notch direction. It’s slow, thoughtful and the complete opposite of Grand Theft Auto’s over-the-top satire of modern America.
The reports of the crazy amount of overtime employees had to pull off to ship the game make me a bit more critical when playing Red Dead Redemption 2. However, this massive, extremely detailed open-world is one I find so easy to get lost in for hours on end, it’s hard to get mad, even when your horse trips over a log and almost dies for the 8th time today.
Dead Cells proves that just because something looks simple, it doesn’t mean it’s any less fun — the pixel art visuals, the rhythmic music that pushes you forward, and the weird story that all come together perfectly.
The game requires dedication, repetition, and lots of patience, but once it gets moving, it’s almost impossible to stop. There’s an almost spiritual synergy between combat, exploration and the random traits you unlock. It’s in the way your character zips through enemies, leaving only bloody piles in your wake. It’s how the story only advances when you die, making death an integral part of the game. It’s how every run is completely different thanks to the multiple paths you can take.
You can play Dead Cells for hours on end or pop in for only a few minutes, making it a great game on every platform. It’s just a great game in general.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden took me completely by surprise. I had my eye on it, but I didn’t expect it to be this good. The game is built on the successful pen-and-paper Mutant RPG, so you should expect a solid story and lots of lore. Luckily, it doesn’t disappoint. After a series of global catastrophes, humanity is on the verge of extinction. Most of those who remain are half-human, half-animal mutants, like Dux, the human-size duck who likes to smoke and carries a sniper rifle.
You take the role of a mutant stalker team, scavenging the wasteland for resources when suddenly the plot kicks in. However, I was more impressed with Mutant Year Zero’s gameplay. Playing the game is a combination of exploration with stealth and tactical combat. It takes a lot of inspiration from the new XCOM games, but in my opinion, it exceeds them thanks to its implementation of real-time exploration and character evolutions that change their roles in combat.
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden doesn’t innovate or feature anything too “new,” but it’s still one of the best tactical games I’ve played this year.
In The Messenger, you play as a ninja trainee who is tasked to take a magic scroll and bring it to the top of the tallest mountain. What starts as a fun retro-looking spiritual successor to Ninja Gaiden, quickly evolves into something much more than that.
While continuously breaking the fourth wall, The Messenger introduces you to the smug shopkeeper, and other funny, quirky characters, and you can’t help but fall in love with each and every one of them. The Messenger has given me a pile of great stories to share, and some really great morals to learn from.
When it gets down to the gameplay, The Messenger nails it big time, with tight controls and evolving mechanics that create one of the most action-packed games of the year. On top of all that, the game drastically changes throughout its run, making it even more surprising.
Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon 4, the new installment in Forza’s crazy spinoff series, is here to take us on a wild ride through a beautiful open world loosely based on Scotland.
The new and improved engine pushes both the Xbox One X and every single one of the 400+ vehicles you can drive to their limits. The roar from under the hood, the screech of the tires, and the way the environment changes with the passing of the seasons combine into the ultimate driving racing experience.
True, there are plenty of superficial features that don’t add much to the overall experience, but everything works so well together, like a turbo engine at full capacity. Add smooth online gameplay, and you get a racing game that takes itself serious only where it counts most: precision, tons of vehicles, and a highly-detailed open world.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is the best Spider-Man game to date. And yes, that also includes 2004’s Spider-Man 2. Swinging through New York City feels almost like being on an extremely speedy tour and not playing a video game. There were plenty of times I aimlessly explored the city, just to enjoy the view and the sense of freedom being Spider-Man can provide. Fast travel has never been more unnecessary
The game doesn’t focus on yet another origins story but instead lets us play
Available on PlayStation 4.
Monster Hunter World
Before playing Monster Hunter: World, I had only bad experiences with the Monster Hunter series. But the latest game in the series not only proved me wrong, but made me into a fan who’s looking forward to new events, downloadable content, and new entries.
Monster Hunter: World is not just a game about being an anime character that kills giant monsters – it’s about exploring beautiful jungles and deserts, tracking down monsters, and experimenting until you learn how to hunt them down properly. There’s something extremely satisfying about narrowly escaping a blast of fire from a Rathalos, then dodging a sweep from its tail and then severing it with one mighty blow. The way everything comes together to create this epic monster hunter experience is incredible.
With a huge roster of fourteen different weapon classes and armor sets that can be crafted using the materials you collect from monsters, Monster Hunter: World creates a strong incentive to go back and kill the same monster in new ways. Co-op makes the fun hunting experience a shared one, and with the number of events and challenges being added, Monster Hunter: World is a game I’ll keep playing well into 2019.
The Red Strings Club
The Red Strings Club is a game about an advanced AI, a psychologist bartender, and a cyber-terrorist attempting to take down an evil corporation. You ask hard questions, hack security systems and make pots of clay. But most of all – you talk to people over an expertly-mixed glass of lust, sadness or euphoria.
You get the answers to your questions not by using your fists or deductive reasoning, but through empathy. You also use alcohol to manipulate people’s emotions, but that’s not as disgusting as it sounds; that’s actually why people come to your bar – to feel. However, this isn’t an investigation game. It’s more like a series of drunken conversations with a cast of diverse, endearing and complex characters. These characters are what drives the game forward and help it feel much bigger than it really is.
In the 4 hours with The Red Strings Club, I got to exchange a few touching, hilarious and reflective moments with my patrons. I still find myself thinking about some of these interactions, and how I might have affected the game’s cyberpunk future. To me, that says a lot.
If imagination, nonsense, unapologetic craziness and raccoons are why you play video games, then you’ll love Donut County. The game tells… a story; an unimportant story, really, where the main characters are a hipster and a raccoon who work at a donut shop. One day, the raccoon discovers an app that lets him control a hole from his phone, and now the entire county is underground.
You play that raccoon, controlling a hole via its phone. The goal is simple – swallow everything you can to get bigger; like a reverse Katamari of sorts. It may sound simple, but consuming a whole county is pretty tricky, and there are plenty of weird puzzles to crack. How can a hole eat up a hot air balloon, and where does it go? Are snakes just hateful spaghetti? All will be answered in Donut County.
This colorful indie title works perfectly on your PC, Switch, PS4 and even mobile phone, so there’s no excuse not to give this insane puzzle game a go. You just might get sucked into it.
Rimworld has been in development for around five years. In 2018, it has finally left its Early Access status behind and stepped onto the stage as a fully released game, so I can finally add it to our “best games of the year” list.
Heavily inspired by Dwarf Fortress but with a cleaner, friendlier UI, Rimworld, in my opinion, is an excellent game for both fans of Dwarf Fortress or those who, like me, wanted to like it but struggled with its many bizarre design choices. In Rimworld, you manage a group of people as they attempt to survive and prosper on a foreign planet. As your colony grows, you will need to fend off attacks from wild animals, pirates or even robots and face many different events and crises.
While the game might not be everyone’s cup of tea due to its steep learning curve, I’ve spent countless hours playing it, and enjoyed many amazing moments and great stories which I wouldn’t have been able to experience in any other game. Rimworld is not only one of the best games of 2018, but it’s also one of the best games ever.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is essentially a simulator of what it’s like to live in 15th century Bohemia. You are Henry, the son of a blacksmith whose entire village is burned down and family murdered. From that point on, Henry slowly works towards fulfilling his father’s dying wish and avenge his family.
The game aspires to be as realistic as possible while still being fun to play. Henry starts as a not-so-strong, not-so-bright peasant that doesn’t know how to swing a sword or even read. Throughout the game, you train to become a master with a sword who can read in multiple languages. Or you can just sit around the pub all day and do side-missions – it’s really up to you.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s realism is a point of contention. It takes time to get to a point then you don’t die every few steps, but once you can take on a whole camp of bandits by yourself, you can see it was all worth it. The same goes to every other aspect of gameplay. Some people might not enjoy how demanding the game can be, but others (like me) will find it incredibly rewarding.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
When I started playing Thronebreaker: The Witcher tales, I expected an intense and powerful story but was still entirely overwhelmed by it. Thronebreaker is much more than a Witcher game, or a campaign mode for Gwent. It’s an epic fantasy about a proud queen dethroned, fighting bravely to regain her kingdom in a profound tale of morality and survival. It continuously challenges you with tough moral choices, to the point where I started contemplating every one, especially when they started coming back to haunt me.
The different characters you meet have their own agendas and moral compass, which can often conflict with yours. I was moved and shocked to the point of tears as my decisions made some of them leave by force, or even get them killed. That was when I realized just how powerful CD Projekt RED’s storytelling could truly be.
With beautiful, hand-painted aesthetics, rich sounds that accompany the compelling narration, and the addictive gameplay of Gwent, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is one of the best role-playing games of this year.
Return of the Obra Dinn
Return of the Obra Dinn puts you in the seemingly dull boots of an insurance investigator aboard a derelict trade ship in 1807. Your job is to find out what happened to the 60 crew members and passengers who disappeared. The investigation that follows is anything but boring – it’s smart, complex, and hair-raising, and the most fun I’ve ever had with insurance or boats.
With the help of a mystical pocket watch, you experience the last few seconds of someone’s life. You then have to analyze the scene, dialogue and participants to determine exactly how this person died. All the clues are there – finding them and drawing the right conclusions is the tricky part. Every fate you successfully solve fills you with pride and makes you feel like the smartest person on the planet.
The unique, 1-bit art style helps the game stand out, but it’s the gameplay that doesn’t let go until every last person is accounted for. Return of the Obra Dinn is my favorite game of 2018, and I wish I could forget how to solve every fate so I can play it all over again. Maybe in a few years or so.
Available on PC.
Even though people keep insisting the genre is dead and buried, some of the best games I’ve played all year were point-and-click adventure games. Unavowed, the latest game from Wadjet Eye Games, stands out among them thanks to a twisting story that channels legendary creatures, folklore and a touch of noir.
But the story isn’t even the best part. I’ve played the game three times (once for every origin story); each led me down a slightly different playthrough, with different interactions, puzzles, and even endings. It all depends on the characters in your party. That’s right – Unavowed is an adventure game with a party system. The characters you take with you into a level have a distinct personality and a set of abilities that can open up new paths for you to try. While not as deep as an actual RPG, the branching narrative is fun to explore, and the characters are always fun to talk and listen to.
Other than that, we get everything we’ve come to expect from a Wadjet Eye Games title – an endearing pixelated retro look, top-notch voice acting and script, and another chance to explore the greatest city in the world.
Available on PC.
Detroit: Become Human
Not a lot of games can combine a gripping plot with gameplay that always keeps you moving. This year we’ve seen a handful of such games, and one of the best is Detroit: Become Human. It deals with the turbulent relationship between humans and androids – a relationship that the player can affect with every choice. Will you seek a peaceful co-existence, or will you choose violence to gain your freedom?
The story is a bit of a cliché, as we’ve played and seen countless iterations of the “can artificial life still be considered life“ philosophical debate, but Detroit: Become Human approaches it with the creative, fresh and slightly cheesy style of Quantic Dream’s David Cage. The characters are relatable (especially the androids), and so are the interactions between them. Thanks to the complex decision trees that make up each chapter, you can replay the game many times over to see different outcomes or solutions to the challenges you face.
Detroit: Become Human is an emotional, thrilling tale that stayed with me months after it was over. It manages to take a tired subject and bring it to life through a compelling story and meaningful choices, and I love every second of it.
Available on PlayStation 4.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Wait, what’s a Call of Duty game doing on our yearly “best of” list? What made us declare the 4th entry in a sub-series of the longest-running FPS franchise in gaming history as one of the best shooters of 2018 – a game with yet another Battle Royale mode no less.
The truth is simple – the game delivers a top-notch multiplayer experience, even if it comes at the expense of the single-player campaign. The Zombies mode is better than ever, with a brilliant cast of characters and an actual, coherent plot, and the standard multiplayer takes everything good about COD and a dozen other multiplayer games and improves on it. But the star of the show is Blackout. It’s refreshing to play a BR game without game-breaking bugs, with excellent graphics and responsive, straightforward controls.
Black Ops 4 isn’t just a good Call of Duty game, but an amazing FPS that takes the most worn-out trend of 2018 and take it to new heights of quality. Treyarch should be proud.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
Pillars of Eternity has a vital role in the revival of the classic role-playing games genre in the last couple of years. The sequel, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire came out this year to remind us why this genre was worth reviving. The game starts five years after the events of the first one. A deity of light and rebirth awakes up under your stronghold, destroys it and consumes part of your soul. Your goal is to hunt down the god and retrieve what it took.
Pillars Of Eternity 2 brings the same character depth and well-written storyline as its predecessor with improvements based on players’ feedback, like more freedom of action and better immersion. The game’s core mechanics remain the same: we control a party of up to five characters in real-time, with the option to pause during combat to issue orders or strategize your next move. Ships are a cool new addition to the game and open the gate to naval battles, which are always fun.
Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is my RPG game of 2018, as it brings the kind of deep and extensive gameplay and story we only really see in classic RPGs. If you miss the days of Baldur’s Gate, Planescape Torment and Icewind Dale, you should definitely give it a try.
Available on PC.
Imagine if The Goonies and Stranger Things, and E.T. were fused into a Legend of Zelda-style video game. That sounds pretty cool, right? Well, you don’t have to imagine it – just play Crossing Souls.
In Crossing Souls, you control a group of teenagers who go against the corrupt U.S. Army general terrorizing their town in search of a mystical artifact. Each of these teenagers has their own personality, looks, and abilities you can use to traverse the semi-open world, solve puzzles, and fight bad guys. It’s full of delightful references to 80’s pop culture, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Stand by Me, and Back to the Future – everything I watched as a kid.
The game flew under a lot of people’s radar when it first came out in February, which is a real shame. Crossing Souls is a true indie gem, with a unique and colorful visual style and a classic story about friendship, adventure and growing up.
Into the Breach
From the creators of FTL comes Into the Breach, a great and highly addictive strategy game. Gigantic creatures breeding beneath the earth threaten the remains of humanity. After humanity loses the fight, you take the command over a squadron of mechs from the future to try and save the world.
This indie game tosses aside the AAA graphics and even the plot and dedicates itself to pure tactical gameplay. You will try to save the earth and probably fail, but then you will try again and again and again and again. Each attempt will pit you against randomly-generated challenges, so you’ll have to adapt quickly if you don’t want to add another “again” to the list. Be warned that this game is as much addictive as it is difficult.
Into the Breach is by far the best strategy game of the year for me. The game focuses on delivering a pure, noncompromising tactical experience and it definitely succeeds in doing so. I found myself spending hours upon hours trying to save the bloody earth, and you should too.
Frostpunk is an indie strategy game developed by 11 Bit Studios. The game takes place in a future post-apocalyptic winter, with you as the leader of the last city on earth. As with the studio’s previous title, This War of Mine, you are constantly forced to make tough moral decisions and compromises to ensure the survival of denizens of your city.
While you debate whether or not to legalize child labor so the city has enough workers, you can enjoy the attention to details and atmosphere. Everything is designed to make the player feel like a part of the world he is playing in while the ever-increasing danger and dwindling resources keep you on your toes throughout.
Frostpunk is easily one of the best and most memorable strategy games I’ve played this year. Since its release, there have been several new updates to the game with even more planned in the future. The list of available features and scenarios keeps on expanding, and the developers are dedicated to continuing helping us through the winter with even more content.
Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk
Labyrinth of Refrain is, as far as I’m concerned, the best game of 2018. It tells the story of a witch and her assistant who arrive at a mysterious town called Refrain. They are there to investigate a labyrinth filled with monsters and toxic air. The duo has a hidden agenda we learn more about as the game progresses and they encounter more and more obstacles.
The game builds upon the familiar RPG trope of exploring a dungeon with party-based combat. Since the air in the labyrinth is unbreathable, you control a party of puppets who take the place of your fighters. You can even clump them into a single unit and pool their attacks and health together to deal more damage and complete tough encounters. Managing your puppets is key to survival, as Labyrinth of Refrain can be one tough game.
But the plot is the real star here. It continuously shifts between comedy and tragedy and isn’t afraid to explore dark themes. With fantastic soundtrack and voice work, Labyrinth of Refrain offers plenty of surprises throughout dozens of hours of unforgettable gameplay.
God of War
After years of absence, Kratos is back in our lives, this time to crush the Nordic mythology. But this time around, Kratos doesn’t only carry the burden of godhood – but the burden of parenthood as well. He and his son Atreus travel across Midgard and several of the other nine realms, taking in the breathtaking sights and killing mythological creatures. Typical father-son activities.
Although Kratos is not much of a talker, his dialogues with Atreus can be deep, profound and even amusing. They blend well into the game’s epic story and offer a glimpse into a new side of Kratos. But the game isn’t called “God of War” without reason – combat is still a big part of the adventure, and it’s better than ever. You can feel the force behind every blow of the Leviathan Axe, and every enemy poses a challenge for you to crack.
Even though the gameplay doesn’t resemble the previous GoW titles, it successfully brings the series back into our lives. God of War 2018 is a lesson in how to bring back a beloved series the right way and left us hungry for the rest of this new saga.
Available on PlayStation 4.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.