Regardless of where you play, 2018 has been an amazing year for games. Sony delivered a phenomenal one-two punch in Spider-Man and God of War, Nintendo came out swinging with the best Super Smash Bros. game yet, and Red Dead Redemption 2 pushed AAA gaming to new heights on both PS4 and Xbox One. Celeste and Donut County highlighted a deluge of incredible indies, while titles such as Moss and Tetris Effect showcased the magic of virtual reality. From massive blockbusters to smaller, more surreal adventures, here are our favorite video games of 2018.
Northgard is far from the most famous or recognized game of 2018, but it deserves a spot on this list. You control a clan of Vikings fighting for control of the continent of Northgard. Each clan brings unique advantages, quirks and strategic considerations.
Some elements of the game will be familiar to those who frequently play real-time strategy games: Your scout uncovers new lands as the game progresses, villagers gather food and wood, and you trade resources for money. But other mechanics present a unique challenge for all: blizzards and other natural disasters threaten your resource production, and you can even trade with giants and kobalds to woo them into joining your clan. Plus, you'll fall in love with the graphics and the classic Norse soundtrack. — Monica Chin
Credit: Shiro Games
Hilariously, the puzzle game Donut County has you play as its villain, who doesn't know he's the bad guy. As a raccoon named BK, you navigate a series of remote-controlled sinkholes around towns to devour everything in sight. While the game is super-simple at first, you'll soon find yourself creating virtual Rube Goldberg devices, triggering events by pulling certain objects into the sinkhole, to shoot them out at others.
BK's doing all of this to earn enough points for a sick drone, a reward cool enough to make him forget that he's ruining peoples lives and destroying landmarks. After you pull every piece of an area down to your level, you'll see BK and his human friend Mira interrogated by the neurotic animals whose lives they've ruined. These scenes feel like a mix between Animal Farm and a contentious local town meeting with an absentee congressman, and give audiences a real reason to see Donut County as a significant work. — Henry T. Casey
Credit: Annapurna Interactive
A major measure of a mobile game can be found in how long it lives on your phone. In that regard, the puzzler Holedown — which feels part Tetris (you're facing wave-after-wave of bricks) and part Peggle (you attack them by shooting reams of rounds of balls at said bricks) has a near infinite return on investment. I've played it all the way through twice (progress doesn't transfer across new phones) and I keep playing its unbeatable, infinitely deep, final level to try and get a new score.
How is this puzzler so replayable? The physics engine in its ricocheting balls makes each move mean something, as you can make a ton of progress in one shot, if timed properly. Also, Holedown features a clever, elegant design, where the patterns on its bricks subtly change as they slide around the map, but its original soundtrack is a calming, bloopy bit of brilliance from Salkinitzor. — Henry T. Casey
Credit: Grapefrukt Games
Squeeeeeee!!! Moss won me over as soon as I strapped on my PlayStation VR and saw Quill, the adorable protagonist. On an epic quest to save her uncle from an evil, fire-breathing snake, it was my job to assist her and keep her safe as the Reader, an unseen force for good. Navigating the world of the first-person action title felt like moving through a literal storybook. I would help Quill solve puzzles and if I got stuck, she communicated via sign language. Overall, Moss is a fun, exciting romp through an engaging world and a great example of what PSVR is capable of. — Sherri L. Smith
Credit: Polyarc Inc.
"You're already dead." When I learned Sega was making a game based on one of my old anime faves, Fist of the North Star, I was geeked. Following the exploits of Kenshiro, successor of the assassination art Hokuto Shinken, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is a mish-mash of postapocalyptic mini-games and bloody, brutal combat. On a quest to find his lost love, Yuria, Kenshiro battles many familiar foes from the series including Shin and Jagi. But it wouldn't be Fist of the North Star without Kenshiro's pressure point-based attacks. Hit the right combo, and your enemy's body will swell and explode in grand fashion, accompanied with one of the protagonist's deadpan, time-honored phrases. And while the fights can get repetitive, there's enough fan service and wacky side-missions to keep you entertained. — Sherri L. Smith
Step aside Fortnite, Black Ops 4 has the best Battle Royale game mode yet. In Blackout mode, you're air-dropped into one large map where you'll need to scavenge for weapons and items in order to outlast 99 other players. Black Ops 4 doesn't bring any revolutionary ideas to the young genre, but the game's fluid mechanics, weapon variation and breakneck pace amount to a better experience than what other Battle Royale shooters offer. Don't worry if you haven't jumped on the Battle Royale bandwagon yet, Black Ops 4 gives you tons of ways to play online, from classic rounds of Team Deathmatch to killing the undead in Zombie mode. Everything else about Black Ops 4 is what you'd expect from a good Call of Duty game: exhilarating (often unforgiving) firefights, endless customization options and tons of maps. — Phillip Tracy
Credit: Activision Publishing Inc.
F1 2018 isn't just a great racing simulator — it's one of the finest sports games ever made, that was clearly built by a team of fans who love and understand what makes the world’s top level of motorsport truly special. It's a dream to drive, but so was Codemasters' previous licensed F1 efforts; it's actually the game's ancillary content that puts it over the top. The career mode has been bolstered with a new skill tree system that is uniquely designed for each of the sport's 10 teams, allowing you to put R&D credits earned during practice toward neutralizing your squad's shortcomings. Additionally, most sessions are bookended by interviews with the press, and how you respond to them bears a direct impact on your team's morale and your reputation around the paddock. It's a comprehensive on- and off-track experience that any racing fan is sure to become addicted to. — Adam Ismail
Credit: Codemasters Software Company Ltd.