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Best Games of the Midyear 2018

We are already half of the way through 2018, and there have been some amazing games already released. The Shacknews staff has joined forces to put together a list of the best games to be released so far in 2018. This list is not presented in any particular order, but these are games that Shackers should pay attention to going into our Shacknews Game of the Year deliberations at the end of 2018. Please take a look at the best games of the midyear 2018.


God of War

There was something cynical about the idea of "Let's take Kratos and give him a kid." It's something that easily could have been a shallow gimmick.

Instead, God of War ushering Kratos into single fatherhood allowed Sony Santa Monica to completely reinvent the character without forsaking his past. If anything, Kratos owned up to his past and confronted some of his most problematic elements. He never ran away from what he did, but he imparted the lesson to his son that everyone should strive to be better people. "Don't be sorry, be better."

This is all in addition to one of the most satisfying open worlds of 2018 and amazingly crisp 3D combat. And while the violence wasn't quite as visceral and gory as past God of War games, it's still as impactful as its ever been. God of War is a triumph in every way. -Ozzie Mejia

Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire

Obsidian upped the ante with the sequel to their epic fantasy RPG Pillars of Eternity with its sequel, Deadfire, and I can’t get enough of it. The base experience has been improved on various levels, one example being the more streamlined party. The expansion into a new space also opened the game up to sea combat that reflects the games pen-and-paper RPG roots. Just like the first game, you’ll often find yourself knee deep in interesting side quests and task, some arguably more interesting than the main quest. Nevertheless, you’ll constantly be inspired to see what's around the next corner. -Charles Singletary

Dragon Ball FighterZ

I feel like everyone knew Dragon Ball FighterZ was going to be good, but it must’ve been hiding its true power level for when it launched. DBFZ is one of the most approachable fighting games to be made in years. Yet, underneath that inviting surface is an intricate and nuanced combat system that has enchanted the hardcore fighting scene as well. It doesn’t hurt that Dragon Ball is such a recognizable franchise with a cast of characters perfect for a brawler like this. Arc System Works did a fantastic job of making all of the game’s art and animated sequences look as good as the current Dragon Ball Super anime. Dragon Ball FighterZ is definitely the birth of a brand-new fighting game dynasty and I doubt we’ll see its final form any time soon. -Blake Morse

Runner3

The latest rhythmic platformer from Choice Provisions hits a lot of high points: it's lightweight and lighthearted enough to provide a potent distraction from more heavy-handed titles, and yet it presents delightfully addictive action that's perfectly suited to both short and marathon gaming sessions. Runner3 is the ultimate evolution of one of the most absurd rhythm games on the market, topping off its tight gameplay and outrageous humor with loads of unlockables, special features, hidden characters, and more. -Kevin Tucker

Conan Exiles

While it is rough around the edges and prone to the bugs and frustrations common to the survival genre, Conan Exiles manages to stand above the pack with its satisfying combat, an expansive crafting recipe progression, and lively open-world. For people who liked Minecraft, but found the adventuring aspect to be woefully under cooked, Conan Exiles provides a land full of cannibals, crocodiles, spider caves, ice temples, and creepy dungeons that offer excitement beyond building out your base. Group play and a willingness to go along with silly business is strongly encouraged. Additionally, if game quality was judged by the amount of reproductive organs on display, Conan Exiles would have a Metacritic score of two billion. -Chris Jarrard

Hunt: Showdown

Hunt: Showdown is still in early access, but the development team will likely have a full release done by the end of the year. If things continue to improve on the current pace, gamers could end up with one of the best blends of various genres to date. Hunt mixes PvE and PvP into one experience, taking elements from horror, battle royale, and survival and layering wonderful art design on top. It’s a very challenging game and the developers need to find a way to strike the perfect balance for player progression. If they do, watch this one climb the popularity charts swiftly. -Charles Singletary

Monster Hunter: World

It is a rare creature indeed that gets me to come back to it again and again in the wild world of gaming. But, I just can’t quit Monster Hunter World. I’ve put close to 200 hours into the game and I’m showing no signs of stopping. It takes everything that has always been intriguing about the Monster Hunter series and gives it all a tune-up for current-gen gamers. There’s so many nuances to the world that’s been built and I find myself discovering new details about its biology and the way the creatures interact with it. The fact that Monster Hunter World is consistently putting out new and completely free content for its millions of players doesn’t hurt either.  -Blake Morse

Pit People

The Behemoth continues to show just how versatile it can be by leaping into the real-time strategy genre. Pit People is an exquisite strategy game that pushes the genre, while also retaining The Behemoth's unique humor. Outside of the core cast, it's a test of putting together the best roster of wacky characters with their own unique functions on the battlefield. While the gameplay is solid on its own, it's the writing that makes Pit People a real treat, making it one of the funniest games of the year, as well as one of the best strategy games of 2018 so far. -Ozzie Mejia

Mario Tennis Aces

I've been waiting quite a while for a new entry in the Mario Tennis series, so a new adventure on Nintendo Switch with a story mode tickled me pink. I was thrilled to find that it took everything I love about playing tennis with Mario and his friends and expanded on it even further with new special moves, strategic plays, and an exciting roster of characters to choose from. It's some of the most fun I've had on my Switch, and even when it frustrates me, I still find myself going back to it every time I pick the system up off of its dock. This is tennis done right, and a sincere love letter from Nintendo to fans of its arcade sports titles. I'm actually thinking about playing a few matches now, after having written this. -Brittany Vincent

Subnautica

Subnautica is game about exploring uncharted waters, both literally and metaphorically. Coming to understand the events of the game, from the player's catastrophic arrival at Planet 4546B to the mysteries behind the the Alterra Corporation's exploration efforts, primarily involves surviving in increasingly dangerous scenarios. It's a fantastic experience that manages to be both entrancing and terrifying: the notion of being underwater and having a limited supply of oxygen stays at the front of the player's mind, and diving deeper involves making special considerations with regard to food, water, power, and even personal defense. In return for their efforts, the player will be able to slowly piece together the events of the Aurora's crash and learn the surprising history behind the planet's previous outposts. -Kevin Tucker

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Warhorse Studios focused on historical accuracy and minute detail in its pursuit of creating a medieval sim with Kingdom Come: Deliverance. A second hand tug-of-war between a historian and one of the game’s developers poked holes in that accuracy, but the gameplay experience is undeniable. Kingdom Come, like a few others that will be a part of the GOTY discussion, had some significant technical issues at launch. When it worked, though, it delivered big. I’ve rarely been as immersed in an RPG’s world as I was with KCD and I’m excited to explore it more.

P.S. I do not count the save system as technical issue. It was a design choice that just didn’t go over well. -Charles Singletary

Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido

Finally, a game that combines my passion for combat puzzlers with my obsession with raw fish. If I had one major gripe with Nintendo’s Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido it would be that it makes me hunger for the delectable, yet costly, dish. Beyond that though, Sushi Striker really impressed me with its clever twist on Pokemon collecting and puzzle fighting. Throw in some quality anime sequences and you’ve got a tasty combination. It may have ended up being more of a sleeper hit, but it’s still a hit nonetheless and definitely worth checking out if you missed out on it during its initial launch, which was somewhat lost in the E3 mire. -Blake Morse

Detroit: Become Human

Quantic Dream's best and most riveting adventure hooked me with its brief demo ahead of its official release, and I haven't been able to get enough of it since. Connor, Kara, and Markus switch off throughout a sprawling narrative that explores various themes, and by the end I couldn't choose a favorite, as each character had grown so significantly throughout the course of the story. I laughed, I cried, and I longed for more time with the entire case (especially Connor) when the end credits rolled. Despite watching alternate paths play out on YouTube, I've gone back to see what my decisions could have wrought if I had chosen differently from time to time. It's an excellent and unique tale, with nothing else out there like it on PlayStation 4, and well worth playing, even if you're one of those sad individuals who still thinks it's "cool" to talk about David Cage's "bad writing." -Britany Vincent

Laser League

Some of the best games are the ones that don't opt for any crazy gimmickry and focus more on basic ideas. Laser League is such a simple idea on paper. It's two teams in an arena battling it out by avoiding killer lasers. It's a simplistic premise, but one that's wildly fun and builds on top of its foundation with individual classes and power-ups. Its futuristic aesthetic is the icing on the cake. -Ozzie Mejia

Sea of Thieves

Rare’s brand new IP, Sea of Thieves, has deeply divided the gaming world with one side being unenthused by the content on offer and the other falling deeply in love with the experience – and we here at Shacknews are of the latter group. There’s something so pure about the world of Sea of Thieves, from the aesthetic and color palette to the way it feels sailing across the waters, all of it evokes a sense of journey and adventure.

Outside of the launch window, Rare has continued to support the game through regular, weekly patches, bi-weekly events, and free major content drops for all players. After speaking with the developers at E3 and after seeing how they continue to interact with the playerbase, there’s a real sense of dedication to the community. If you’re yet to dive into this world, now might be the best time, especially as we approach the release of Cursed Sails and Forsaken Shores, the next two major content updates for Sea of Thieves coming in July and September. -Sam Chandler

Vampyr

“Vampyr only got a 7 out of 10. How is it in the conversation for GOTY?” I see the gears turning, reader. I wrote the review myself and even suggested in the conclusion that it would be in the conversation despite the score, so let’s get right to it. Despite its technical shortcomings, Vampyr is a very entertaining game. The combat, ambiance, music, community management, and more all lend to a vampiric power-fantasy that has been sorely missing in gaming for a while. The duality of the main character is a well crafted platform for the experience too, giving players power as healer and killer while tying that into the development of the game’s playable areas. It likely won’t win the big award, but Vampyr is a very solid game that you don’t want to miss. -Charles Singletary

Fortnite

Epic Games has struck video game gold with this game. Fortnite may be the greatest pivot in the history of video games as the Early Access Save the World mode didn' take the world by storm. After clearly taking inspiration from the wildly successful PUBG, Epic brought the Battle Royale mode to their game and gave it the old Unreal polish. The game is available on pretty much every platform and is making truck tons of money for Epic Games in the process. Fortnite's developers have done a great job of keeping the game fresh with new emotes, limited-time-modes, and special events like meteors and rocket launches. Fortnite is here to stay and it certainly deserves recognition as one of the best games of the midyear. -Asif Khan

Celeste

Celeste feels like a journey of growth in more ways than one. It's about persistance, progression, and the pursuit of one's goals, even in the face of their own demons. It's a punishing platformer and one that revels in players' death counts, which skyrocket into the hundreds and thousands, but it's one that encourages players to keep trying, both with its narrative and its forgiving checkpoint system. Speaking of its narrative, it's one that's impactful to anyone who's ever doubted themselves or found themselves dealing with bouts of depression or panic attacks. It's a very human story, set atop a mountain that dabbles in the supernatural.

And beyond Madeline's quest to personal fulfillment, players can also see the progression of creator Matt Thorson's own journey, as he starts to hit his own peak of level designing potential. He's come a long way from TowerFall and it's a satisfying journey to witness. -Ozzie Mejia

Overload

From the creators of the classic PC game Descent, comes a worthy spiritual successor to the space shooter. Overload gives players six degrees of freedom along with great level design and a fine polish that this genre has been missing for decades. I loved Descent back in the day, and Overload has recaptured the excitement from the new series. Improvements to level and weapon design is immediately noticeable and the game is so dang pretty, there are times when I get killed just looking around. Overload is one of the biggest surprise games of 2018 so far and anyone on the fence about this game should give it a try. -Asif Khan

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit 

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, though only a short prequel and introduction to what we'll eventually see in Life is Strange 2, is an exemplary piece of storytelling. The tale of young Chris, who's fully into pretending he's a superhero, is as heartwarming as it is deeply emotional. The seemingly lighthearted story peppers in a cautionary tale of child abuse as well as the struggles people face after losing their partners and jobs one right after another. It's a fantastic foundation to build Life is Strange 2 on, and it kept me glued to my seat the entire time I explored Chris's home and got to know him as well as my own little brother. I wanted to protect him from all harm and give him something to look forward to, so I hope he plays a massive role in the next game from Dontnod Entertainment, as he's too precious of a character to give up on. -Brittany Vincent


There you have it, folks. Our list of the best games to be released in the first half of 2018. What games did you think should be on our list? Let us know in the comments section.

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