2018 Year In Review - Games: Honorable Mentions

Whenever we reach the end of a calendar year, nothing makes me more excited than articles detailing the year that was. Whether it’s for TV, Movies or Games, it’s always fun to look back at what came back and seeing how things did stack up against one another. What was the best thing that came out in the year? What were the things you liked but barely made it to your best things of the year? What were the things that disappointed you? This time of the year always brings fun debate to those questions. For today, I want to focus on part 1 of what this year was for videogames.

I thought 2018 was a tremendous year for video games, and it's very easy to see why. Usually when we are deep into a generation of consoles, we always start to see the best work from game developers. After years learning how to use the hardware, this is the time where we start seeing the full potential of these machines. 2017 was the year where things started to hit their stride for the PS4, Xbox One and also latecomer Nintendo Switch. 2018 continues the trend with some great quality that makes me excited to see how things could possibly continue to improve in 2019.

With that said, there are still things that didn’t quite hit the mark in 2018, and it’s something I wish developers will start to course correct before things get too awry. For one, I feel like we’ve finally hit an inflection point of way too many games being open world games or games that want to bend forwards and backwards to become long tail “games as a service”. The games as a service model is a good one for few games a year but having many games at the same time pursuing that model is just going to collapse on itself. There’s just so much time and money someone can spend a year in games. Developers should be mindful of that model since it could lead to less unique games and more games that will justify releasing unfinished because they’ll add things overtime (more on that later).

Despite those hang-ups, I still had a lot of fun with games this year. Here’s what I thought of the games I played this year, starting with my honorable mentions which, in any other year they’d easily have made my Top 10 list.


Far Cry 5 / Far Cry 3: Classic Edition

The Ubisoft open world model has been one that burned bright at its zenith in 2012 and has been one often copied by other developers not named Rockstar. As much fun as I’ve had with that formula, I fear we’ve reached a point where more has to be done to change things up, especially with so many games copying and pasting that formula ad nauseam. Including both "Far Cry 5" and "Far Cry 3: Classic Edition" in one entry is an interesting contrast, with both coming out this year.

With "Far Cry 5", I saw developer Ubisoft Montreal attempting to shake things up a bit with the game that made their formula so popular in the first place, with mixed results. I liked the game’s nonlinear slant and the focus more on exploration than having everything unlocked via Tower Synchronization (an overused staple in their games). At the same time, the game was an example in excess, where barely you could go to take a breather and let the world shine because something was ALWAYS HAPPENING. The excess carried over to every aspect of the game, including the ridiculous story. 

While I still had fun with it, the excess of things started marring the proceedings, which is why playing "Far Cry 3: Classic Edition" was a great reminder that the formula can work when excess doesn’t bloat up the game. "Far Cry 5" was still a fun ride with a crazy ending, but playing "Far Cry 3: Classic Edition" was an interesting case study of the strides Ubisoft made with the formula with the fifth game, and also how much better things were when they were simple.

Hollow Knight: Void-Heart Edition

One of the games this year I liked in premise but wasn’t in the right mindset for it. As a huge fan of the “Metroidvania” genre, 2018 was a huge blessing for fans of it. “Hollow Knightwas the game I kept hearing a lot about during the summer as this big GOTY contender, but not owning a Nintendo Switch meant I couldn’t play it until it came to the other consoles with the “Void-Heart Edition”. And what I found was an interesting game with an interesting art style but PUNISHING difficulty. As much as I like the genre, my mindset wasn’t ready for a game that kicked my teeth like this one did, so it’s one of those games that’s idling by, waiting for me to be ready to play something this challenging. What I played its promising, but I can’t in conscience put it in my top 10 games until I experience more of it.

Destiny 2: Forsaken

Any other year, this would have been in my Top 10. "Destiny" and its sequel "Destiny 2" are the “games as a service” I have dedicated the most time to this generation. Yes, I’ve had to suffer the baffling lows that both games have had to endure, almost exactly at the same time in their respective lifespans. But those baffling lows always lead to some high highs, and “Destiny 2: Forsaken” represents the best piece of content and the best state the Destiny franchise has seen so far in its 5-year lifespan. This expansion fixed so many of the things that Bungie unnecessarily broke in "Destiny 2", while also delivering the coolest story in the franchise and also the most inventive design the series has seen with both the Tangled Shore and the Dreaming City.

The game also swung the pendulum towards those that want this game to be their forever game, and that was a big strength and also a big deterrent for me this year. With so many great games coming out during the fall, it was harder for me to keep playing Destiny 2 with such a longterm dedication, so I put it away for the time being. Once things have slowed down (which is looking dire with so much coming in early 2019), I might reengage with the game with its Annual Pass because it’s in a great spot. I just can’t commit to it when so much has come out.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

This is an interesting one in that I almost put this in my upcoming “Most Disappointing Games of 2018” section, but ultimately decided I still had a decent enough time with it to put it in my honorable mentions. 

There’s no denying the fact that this game, developed by Eidos Montreal, is a drop off quality wise from the first two games made by Crystal Dynamics just in terms of polish. At the same time, "third person adventure games" is still my favorite genre of game. In a vacuum, I still had some good fun with “Shadow of the Tomb Raider”. Considering how much of a step back combat in this game was, I enjoyed that they recognized the shortcomings and stuffed this game with so many great puzzles. Also, the ridiculous mayan apocalypse plot of the game led to some really cool setpieces and the kind of campy quality I usually expect from adventures in the "Indiana Jones" mold. I still stand that it’s disappointing the series never let go of its grimy, super self-serious tone to embrace the fun of being the Tomb Raider, which this game actually promised but never delivered in its story. Despite those setbacks, the game was still fun to some extent, and I await to see what Square Enix does now that this “trilogy” is complete.


This one is an interesting entry here because for all intents and purposes, I HATE playing this game. I like shooters, and I have never felt the shooting in this game is particularly good. So why is this in my honorable mentions?

The simple truth is that it’s been a while since I ever saw a game take off the way this game did in late 2017 and pretty much all of 2018. This is the game that broke the cultural barrier and everyone but their mother played it at some point. This was the game that potentially set us up towards a future enabled by cross play, where every console and device on Earth can play with each other. In a sea of games pursuing the “games as a service” model, I feel "Fortnite" is the only one that managed to crack the nut and show the world how a game in that mold can thrive, be the talk of the town and continuously grow and be successful. It was hard to be part of the gaming scene and not see this game's name pop up at some point. It was hard to escape its dominance. It was also a fascinating game to watch others play.

For all intents and purposes, "Fortnite" in some form was the game of 2018, and deserves recognition for that. I may not like the act of “playing” it, but I can’t deny the impact it had this year.


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