2018 was a pretty spectacular year for video games, from the Old West immersion that is Red Dead Redemption 2 to the story-heavy Detroit: Become Human to the wildly epic fights of God of War. There were some pretty great virtual reality games, finally fulfilling the potential of the PlayStation VR, and some gorgeous graphics and smooth transitions from cinematic to gameplay. Here are our GAMEGRRLS picks for the best video games of 2018. Let us know yours in the comments!
Red Dead Redemption 2
Brittany: Games centering around the old west are far and few between, but Rockstar has somehow propelled this little-used setting into one of gaming's greatest adventures. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the original game and shows the fall of the Van der Linde gang, a lawless organization that we only heard bits and pieces about in Red Dead Redemption.
The protagonist, Arthur Morgan, is Dutch Van der Linde's right-hand man and the narrative centers around his disillusionment with Dutch as he leads the gang on a wild-goose chase across the country in an attempt to make enough money to finally escape the law.
Morgan makes for a deep and compelling protagonist, but the whole cast has a vital and real feel to them. You really get to know the other members of the gang, which makes some of the events you witness, and those in Red Dead Redemption, all the sadder. Rockstar didn't just craft a winning narrative, though. Their version of 1898 is simply fascinating, and few game worlds have felt so alive.
Jenna: Fancy yourself an outlaw? Red Dead Redemption 2 is the most immersive game you can get outside of virtual reality. As Arthur Morgan, you don’t just shoot up bad guys or rob trains (though you certainly do a lot of that). You deal with the day to day issues of the outlaw camp you’re a part of. You make sure to feed and give some love to your horse. You shop in old time-y stores for food and whiskey. You get drunk, hallucinate and end up wrestling in a pig pen. Well, who hasn’t had that particular Saturday? The game is so detailed that you could spend half your week just wandering around and drooling over the scenery.
Jenna: This game was released for PS4, PlayStation VR and Microsoft Windows, but it’s the VR game we’re talking about here. Moss is a beautiful adventure into a world from the perspective of a tiny mouse named Quill who is trying to save her uncle. It’s the nature of VR to be immersive, but from the moment you open the book in the cathedral, surrounded by candles, turning the pages of a book with your own hands, you are absolutely transported into a fantasy land. Even better, you are the reader, and the hero not only knows you’re there, but you’re able to help her save the world. It’s a book lover's ultimate fantasy. The game is short, but like the classic Beyond Good & Evil, the length only serves to make the ending that much sweeter. You’ll dream about this game, and wish upon a star for more like it.
Detroit: Become Human
Brittany: Detroit: Become Human is a sci-fi masterpiece which taps into great robotic characters of the past to pose a vital question: What does it mean to be human? The game follows three robots in a near-future Detroit and puts us into a world where artificially-created beings are far more compassionate and vital than the humans who built them.
Marcus, and advanced prototype; Connor, an android detective; and Kara, a housekeeping unit, are all on the brink of consciousness, and it's up to you to make sure they survive long enough to self-realize and break free from the chains that bind them.
Jenna: If you’re a gamer who really loves to just immerse yourself in a story, the A.I. tale of Detroit: Become Human is going to sweep away hours of your life. You make choices that affect the story, you can totally screw up if you don’t pay attention (leading your human police partner to tell you off), and you begin to understand more about being an outsider than you thought. This game is going to pull at your heartstrings, mess with your sense of morality, and make you want to be extra nice to your toaster.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
Jenna: We picked another VR game and it’s pretty darn awesome. This was a mini-game for the PlayStation VR that was so popular that it came out in long form. In the game, you play as the holder of a tiny robot who is out to rescue their equally tiny friends. The gameplay takes a bit of getting used to as we’ve all been conditioned by decades of platformers to face a certain way, but once you get the hang of it, you feel like you’re living in the world. There are small frustrations here and there with accuracy, but mostly, you’re going to want to play this game over and over again until every single little bot is found and saved. (They cry for you to come get them. Just try and pass by one of them. You can’t unless you are heartless.) This is one of those games that you will use to convert your friends into VR fans.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Brittany: In Yakuza 6, Kazama Kiryu, former Yakuza, is finally released from prison after taking the heat for the events that occurred in the fifth game. When he returns to the orphanage he calls home, he finds that his adopted daughter, Haruka has gone missing and his journey to find her will take him back to the criminal underbelly of Japan.
Yakuza 6 gives a fitting end to Kiryu's final adventure and is an emotional rollercoaster. The poignant story, along with the game's great sense of humor and a plethora of things to do make it a fantastic play.
God of War
Jenna: Fans of the series are going to lose their minds over Kratos’ journey into Norse mythology. The story and gameplay are seamlessly intertwined, and the battles are absolutely beyond epic. The fears of having a follow along character were unjustified, as his son’s presence is not only perfectly integrated but actually useful.
Brittany: Kratos's move from Greece to Midgard could have been a bumpy one, but God of War rang through as one of the best games of all time, not just 2018. It focuses the fighting into something more complex and meaningful than the hack-and-slash of past games and weaves together an interpretation of Norse mythology that's absolutely enthralling.
Kratos wife has died, and he and his son Atreus must take her to the tallest peak to lay spread her ashes. This simple request propels the two on an epic journey across the many realms of Norse mythology. A Kratos is a god, and his son doesn't manifest any sort of special powers, their relationship is strained. We see the two grow closer during their adventure and Kratos finally gets an opportunity to find at least a little peace.
On so many levels, God of War is one of the pinnacles of video game storytelling, and few other games can touch the emotion-provoking writing in this game.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Brittany: Dragon Quest 11 brings the venerable RPG series to current-gen consoles and is one of the biggest entries yet. The plot follows the basic, you're the chosen one scenario, albeit with a few twists and turns, and it's a lot of fun to go through a regular, mostly by-the-numbers RPG plot after years of games trying to out twist and turn themselves.
The graphics are top-notch, bright, and beautiful, and reflect the classic Dragon Quest look as pioneered by Akira Toriyama. DQ 11 is very much a traditional JRPG, and these days that's something special. It unapologetically follows the JRPG style but refines it to mastery, and this is what makes it a must play for fans of the genre.
Brittany: Tetris has a spot in gaming history as being one of the most-played puzzle games of all time. However, Tetris Effect brings the franchise to the status of art for the first time. Tetris Effect was helmed by Lumines creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi and blends the classic gameplay of Tetris with music and visuals that are breathtaking. Each move of a tetromino adds to the chorus of a level's song and each line cleared is an exciting crescendo.
Viewed in PSVR the game is even more awe-inspiring. Most importantly, it's entertaining and takes Tetris beyond a game that's just about clearing lines into something inspiring.
Jenna: You’ve played it on your phone. You’ve used the word “Tetris" when trying vainly to fit groceries in the trunk of your car. Now Tetris has been taken to the next level. Tetris Effect is the game you know, but far beyond it. You’ll dream about stacking things. The bricks on your house will start to look like tetriminos. It will take over your life.
Jenna: We know. You don’t want to just watch Spider-Man. You want to be Spider-Man. There has never been a Spider-Man game that has allowed you to feel like a web-slinger more than this one from Insomniac Games. You might even spend half your time playing by just swinging around and checking out New York City. The mechanics are pretty flawless, you can pretty much go anywhere you like, and the baddies are plentiful
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido
Brittany: In a world where sushi is outlawed, one brave soul wages war to bring the delicacy to the masses. This colorful puzzler is an addictive blend of matching games and quick strategy with an anime-styled story that you won't be able to put down. If you're into fun mobile puzzlers or anime-centric artwork, you'll find plenty to love about this quirky offering from Nintendo, which is one of the year's most exciting releases for the Nintendo Switch and 3DS.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Jenna: This is the final chapter of Lara Croft’s quest to become the Tomb Raider, and it’s exactly the game you dreamed of back when the Tomb Raider games were new. Either you love puzzle games or you don’t, but if you do, this one has a ton for you to figure out. Some are a blast, some are frustrating, but those are the ones that you brag to your friends about solving the next day. Even better is that the story has weight. Lara makes mistakes and acts like a human. Well, a very, very murder-y human, but still. Her relationships matter. Her actions matter. You get to know a lot of side characters and having the village to go back to gives so much more depth to what you are doing. The DLC that has been released so far is also worth a play-through.
Life is Strange 2: Episode 1
Brittany: Shifting the focus from the Life is Strange series to the Diaz brothers was an excellent move, introducing a heartbreaking new narrative that hooked you from the very beginning of the game. Watching Sean and Daniel go through one of the scariest moments of their lives and attempt to come out on the other side is one of the most challenging things fans of the Life is Strange series have had to go through next, and you'll want to be there for every single gripping moment.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Jenna: Alright, fine. There are things in this game that are annoying. It’s a bit bloated and the microtransaction thing doesn’t need any explanation, but Assassin’s Creed Odyssey allows you to visit the Peloponnesian War. Any history buff worth her salt is going to revel in that. You can play as a woman or a man, have relationships with either gender, and that alone is worth a mention. As an RPG fan, this is a little more in my wheelhouse than some of the earlier games in the series, but overall, it’s really about the depth of story and the setting. Do not miss this one.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Brittany: Too often in medieval settings, you play the role of a chosen one, someone who is entirely out of touch with the everyday citizens of the day. Kingdom Come puts you in the shoes of a humble blacksmith's son in a faithful recreation of 14th century Bohemia.
Henry, the character you play as is generally a layabout, but when his home village of Skalitz is raided, he becomes an integral part of the resistance against the invading Cumans under control of pretender to the Bohemian crown, Sigismund of Luxembourg.
The game basically plays like Skyrim, but with better combat, no magic, and set in a real-world scenario. This ends up being an absolute blast that even teaches you a bit of medieval history in the process.
Yakuza Kiwami 2
Brittany: We also got the third chapter of Kiryu's story retold in 2018. Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the remake of 2006's Yakuza 2 and improves the game in almost every way. While the PS3 entries in the series still hold up rather well, Yakuza 2 was the last part of the series that remained a PS2-exclusive. With the release of Yakuza Kiwami 2, we can finally play through all of Kiryu's story in HD.
Yakuza Kiwami 2 is far from just a remaster, though. This complete remake brings the game to the Dragon Engine that was introduced in Yakuza 6, and with even more content than its predecessor, Kiwami 2 is a game that you can sink an easy 50 or so hours into. The story, matching Kazama Kiryu against rival Omi Alliance member Ryuji Goda, is arguably the best in the series, and watching the Dragon of Kansai and the Dragon of Dojima go head-to-head is as thrilling as any kung fu movie.
Monster Hunter: World
The trend this year is worlds that you can lose yourself in, and Monster Hunter: World fits the bill. The wildly extensive hunting grounds allow you so much freedom, and you can become almost any sort of hunter your little gamer heart desires. Progressing through the ranks feels exactly as it should, and the weapons make the game different every time you work with a new one. The monster design is so varied and full of diversity that you’re never going to get bored. The addition of your Palico alone pretty much secured this game a place in the list.
Destiny 2: Forsaken
Jenna: Yes, this is DLC, but it’s definitely has a place on this list. Destiny 2: Forsaken is the best and most refined version of an already great game. The new locations, new raid, new strikes, new weapons, and new armor are all fantastic. The controls are perfect as always, and Gambit is the best multiplayer mode since… well, maybe ever. It takes a lot of the pieces of what makes online multiplayer great and smashes them into one uber-multiplayer mode. Forsaken expands the Destiny universe to where this is never a shortage of places to go, things to do, and aggressive aliens to kill.