2017 was undoubtedly the best year for games after almost a decade. While I’m writing this, I’m already cherishing the great memories I had while playing a wide array of phenomenal titles in 2017. The most impressing aspect of the games released in 2017 was the fact that we got a masterpiece in each genre.
Think of RPGs, you got Persona 5, one of the best games this generation. Think of open world games, you got Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon Zero Dawn, both of which served as benchmarks for open-world games. Think of platformers, and you got Cuphead and Hollow Knight. While the former hit right on the nostalgia and was the *coughs* Dark Souls *coughs* of platformers, Hollow Knight showed how platformers can nail down atmosphere, narrative, and gameplay at the same time and proved to be reminiscent of Ori and the Blind Forest. Think of shooters, you got Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, with the good ol’ BJ Blazkowicz killing some Nazis. Then there was Prey, a game which continued the emergent gameplay of the legendary System Shock series, and, Nier: Automata and Evil Within 2, both of which need no description.
2017 did turn out to be a really great year for video games, but it did something more. It hinted towards a more promising 2018. And whether 2018 did better than 2017 from a gamer’s perspective, is still something which is bound to vary from person to person.
No one will deny the fact that it lived up to the expectations of everyone. Like 2017, we got a number of great games across genres, though there were some let-downs amidst all of it. Let’s take a look at what went right and what didn’t in 2018.
Sony Webbing Thugs, Killing Gods, Deviant Androids, And, The Show Stealer
I might sound like a console fanboy here but in spite of owning both a high-end gaming PC and PS4, I still firmly believe Sony stole the show this year.
It all started with God of War (read our review here), the old badass Kratos returning as a responsible father, with Santa Monica taking a completely different approach to gameplay and a Norse setting. As expected, people were skeptical about it. But, when it released, it surpassed all expectations. As Ayush mentions in his review “For God Of War, The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts. Slick graphics, intelligent level design and crunchy combat have been integrated with a beautiful story and allowed to blossom into rich lore. If you have a PS4, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be playing God Of War.”
Just when we were still enjoying and mulling over Santa Monica’s masterpiece, we got another game from Quantic Dreams this time and a somewhat niche game. Given the fact that David Cage’s games have almost little to no gameplay, Detroit: Become Human (read our review here) got a lot of mixed reception from the community, but it delivered pretty well in some departments. “The ability to play as three different distinct characters with unique but interlinked stories, the way feelings of both androids, and humans regarding a specific incident is conveyed, the futuristic sequences with bits and pieces of realistic events which are common in the current world, are all intertwined with three different, tranquil and grandiose soundtracks for each character, and a somewhat decent gameplay, making Detroit: Become Human a unique and a standout performer.”
Fast forward a few months, and we got the game the complement of the PS4 community was drooling over, Spider-man (read our review here). The drools, however, didn’t stop the criticism. Everyone who hadn’t played the game criticized it for having downgraded puddles and claimed that it was a clone of the Arkham games. Those who did play it though, have a different opinion altogether, I can assure that. “Spider-man had everything you would expect from a superhero game, a game, and a masterpiece. A great story filled with climatic and emotional points, absolutely stellar gameplay, and stunning visuals”, what else do you need in a game?
Rockstar’s Return from hiatus – Raising the bar, like always
While we were still awestruck by the stellar games which released this year, and the year was coming to a close, almost, Rockstar ensured that they upheld the popular saying “Save the best for the last”. Irrespective of the fact whether one was a fan of the Red Dead franchise, everyone was hyped up for Red Dead Redemption 2’s release. And, Rockstar didn’t disappoint, like always.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (read our review here) became more of a pedestal for other games to reach instead of a benchmark for other games, given that it excelled in every department. Narrative? Red Dead Redemption 2 has the most detailed, enriching world than any game in existence. From subtle activities to main missions, every aspect of the game is so well detailed, that nothing as if it’s out of place or is there just for the sake of it like in some *coughs* open-world RPGs *coughs*. Gameplay, Graphics & Sound? Well, it’s nearly flawless.
As Ayush says in his review, “It can be a little difficult to understand sometimes, but the experience offered is barring none at the moment. GOTY material for sure.” While I do think the game was a bit too slow at times, the game’s pace won’t prevent you from liking it and adding it to your all-time favorites list.
The Hidden Gems – Celeste, Dead Cells, Semblance, Vermintide 2, it goes on…
We did talk a lot about all the major games which released in 2018, but, don’t worry we got the titles which go under the radar covered as well. This year we had a number of indie/AA developers dropping some titles which were probably more worth playing than some of the AAA titles out their, and masterpieces in their own right.
While games like Warhammer Vermintide 2 (read our review here) “perfected first-person melee combat with its simple but hard to master combat and excellent audio-visual feedback“, platformers like Dead Cells (read our review here) and Semblance (read our review here) brought some rogue-like and platform-manipulating elements, respectively. “With its satisfying combat, smooth platforming, tight controls, non-linear progression, and the sheer amount replayability“, Dead Cells sets a benchmark for future rogue-like metroidvanias.
Semblance, on the other hand, redefined platformers as a whole. You just don’t jump from one platform, you reshape both yourself and the environment as you move across the levels. If you like platformers, you must’ve surely played probably two of the best games of the decade, Ori and the Blind Forest and Hollow Knight. While “Semblance doesn’t boast a wide array of mechanics and a robust narrative like Ori and the Blind Forest and Hollow Knight, the level design does the job to elevate this game on the same pedestal as Ori and the Blind Forest and Hollow Knight“.
There were a number of games apart from all these as well, which are well worth playing for everyone who was occupied by AAAs throughout the year and missed the hidden gems in the process. Some of them include Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Mooseman, ATOM RPG, A Way Out, Fe and Frostpunk, to name a few.
Oscillating About Mediocrity – Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Assassins Creed Odyssey, Far Cry 5 & Hitman 2
Like every year, we had a number of average and above/below average performers this year as well. It all started with Far Cry 5, which got a mixed reception from critics and players alike. While the game almost suffers the same fate as some of the other Ubisoft open-world games out there, the decent storyline ensures that it notches above mediocrity.
Speaking of Odyssey, it does perform pretty decently as a game, but if one is expecting an Assassins Creed game true to its roots, it’ll disappoint. The game does suffer from enemy scaling issues and most of the times it feels unnecessarily dragged, but it still performs, well.., above averagely.
On the contrary, Shadow of the Tomb Raider excelled in the gameplay department, but its underwhelming story was a letdown. Amidst all of these, Hitman 2 was the only one which was just shy of being a great game. While “the stealth gameplay is fantastic, replayability is at its peak and the fun factor comes in loads”, if you are buying “the game expecting classic style content, you will be disappointed”.
The Fallout(s) – 76, Just Cause 4 & Crew 2
And here are the disappointments of 2018. The game occupying the pedestal in this department is none other than 50 Mistakes of Bethesda – Fallout 76.
The most compelling aspect of Fallout 76 is how it consistently manages to fail in everything it tries to do. “The game is a technical mess with bland quests, disappointing open world, underwhelming survival mechanics and brain-dead AI. It should have been an early access title, or at the very least, should have spent another 6 months in the polishing room.“
Then we had another potentially good game but it was marred by poor optimization, ie, Just Cause 4. Like Fallout 76, Just Cause 4 seemed pretty rushed as well with a really messy PC port, and the game losing the fun factor which gave the franchise a name despite a number of additions.
Finally, we had The Crew 2. A pretty disappointing game from even Ubisoft’s standards. The game has a variety of stuff to do, but it falls short of delivering a long-lasting experience which a racing game should offer.
The Forgotten Greats – Dragon Ball FighterZ & Forza Horizon 4
Like some great indies/AAs which go unnoticed, we had some amazing AAAs this year which were overshadowed by the other biggies out there.
Dragon Ball FighterZ was undoubtedly one of the best games of this year, and of the Dragon Ball franchise. Arc System Works incorporated several features which are seldom a part of fighting games and which cover up the common flaws which mar fighting games, and consequently, the game is a benchmark for modern fighting games.
For racing game lovers out there, we got Forza Horizon 4, a game that raises the bar for racing games yet again. Forza Horizon 4 takes the elements which made its predecessors great, adds a load of more stuff including better visuals, a wide array of cars and all of that is backed up by some excellent gameplay. Playground games gave gamers around the world the best racing game till date in the form of Forza Horizon 4.
Getting back to the real question now,
Was 2018 a better year for games as compared to 2017?
While there is no doubt about the fact that it was indeed a really good year for games, I still feel 2017 had more across a variety of platforms.
When we speak about the best games of 2018, the games which come to our mind are Red Dead Redemption 2, Spider-man, God of war, and, all of them are either PS4 exclusives or console exclusives.
On the other hand, 2017 had a lot to offer for all gamers irrespective of the platform they played on. If we start counting the number of terrible multiplatform games released this year, the list will surpass the number of good games without breaking a sweat. That’s just a mere implication of the fact that 2018 was the year for consoles, and especially, the PS4.
If Red Dead Redemption 2 had got a PC Port, it might have made things better on the PC side to some extent, but comparatively, it’s been an average year for PC gamers, if not bad.
What did you think of 2018 as a gaming year? Did it exceed expectations, did it dissapoint, or was it average? Which game do you think we got right and got wrong. Let us know all this and more in the comments.