I wasn't opposed to paying! But there's a limit.
I know I’m not the first – and likely not the last – to say this, but 2018 was a real lackluster year for games. As the title of this post implies, I had a lot of trouble deciding on ten games that really blew me away this year! There were plenty of games I had a lot of fun with – but they didn’t wow me like a GOTY candidate should. A big reason for this, of course, could be that I didn’t get a chance to play some of 2018’s indie masterpieces, like Celeste. Oops! I’ll likely be spending 2019 playing catch up, grabbing the fantastic indie titles I missed this year. Which means, uh, look forward for my 2019 GOTY list, where I’m also unable to pick out ten games, due to only playing games from the prior year! But that’s a whole year away, and for right now, I’ve got five titles that I’ll likely still be playing well into next year:
5. Dragonball FighterZ
I’ve said the same thing about DBFZ all year: it’s the fighting game that will save the dying genre. It’s yet to be seen whether that’s the truth, but I stand by DBFZ as a perfect game for beginners. The skill floor is low enough to not overwhelm a first time player, while the skill ceiling is high enough to keep professional play exciting for spectators. It’s one of the best feeling fighting games and one of the most well known IPs in the world, making it the perfect fighting game for everyone – something that the genre I love desperately needed. Plus, you can play as a team of three god damn Gokus.
4. Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves is one of my absolute favorite multiplayer experiences of all time. While it began its life with very few things to do, the later addition of several free content packs and seasonal events has kept the game fresh. The ebb and flow of the game’s pacing really lends itself to the experience in my opinion. The lull in activity as you sail from point A to point B helps to emphasize the excitement when a galleon full of players sails up to try and steal your goodies. Despite only owning this game for a couple of months, my friends and I have lost dozens of hours sailing about, collecting treasure, and ruining some poor, anchored crew’s night by sailing up and stealing their treasure for ourselves before they can get back aboard their ship.
Or, as pictured above, having our ship blown to smithereens as we piled all the loot we could carry onto a dinghy. My three crewmates played a jaunty tune as I rowed us to the nearest outpost, with only the vaguest idea of which direction I needed to head in. This incident concluded with a friend abandoning the rowboat to respawn our galleon, sailing solo to find us adrift at sea. The entire endeavor took almost half an hour, and we were crying with laughter for just about the entire experience.
If you know me, you might know I love city builders. I live for the relaxing experience of watching something I plot out come to life. But I went into Frostpunk unprepared for just how much it would absorb me for the entire length of its initial three scenarios. Every single time the temperature dropped, I had the same thought – this is it. I’m going to lose here. But nevertheless, my meager colony persevered through the harsh, endless winters. The push and pull of anxiety and relief was endless. Every single time I thought I had things under control, it all went wrong. As soon as I had a steady supply of coal, producing more than I burned, a group of survivors would stumble upon my city, looking for a home – thus requiring me to expand my generator’s heating range further, doubling coal consumption. Along with that, suddenly I’ve got more mouths to feed. But, oh! New survivors means new workers to produce these resources. The cycle of tension and relief, as well as the beautiful aesthetic and dramatic, orchestral score by Piotr Musial delivered an experience no other city builder game has been able to capture, and it kept me coming back for more – especially with the late addition of an endless survival mode.
2. Katamari Damacy Reroll
Is this cheating? Is it cheating to throw in a 1:1 remake of a game that’s almost 15 years old? Maybe. Is it cheating to throw in a game that came out only a couple of days before we deliberated GOTY? Maybe. Does that matter to me? Absolutely not. Katamari Reroll is a near flawless recreation of 2004’s Katamari Damacy, one of my absolute all time favorite games. I adore Damacy, and I absolutely love this remake just as much. If you haven’t played Katamari, pick up this remake. It’s a perfect game. Lonely Rolling Star makes me cry almost every time I hear it. I love Katamari so much.
It’s been a long time since a game had me immediately coming back for more like Spider-Man did. The act of swinging through New York alone was completely therapeutic for me. Paired with the smooth combat, it was almost impossible for me to put down. Sure, the story isn’t perfect, and Spidey sounds like a real cop sometimes, but Spider-Man is one of the few superheroes that really lends himself to a fantastic gaming experience, and it’s a shame so few Spidey titles have come close to nailing it like this game does. When people refer to games as escapist fantasy, the one that will always come to mind from this year is Spider-Man – because almost no game has captured the feel of being truly spectacular like Spider-Man has.