Shack Chat: What is your Game of the Year 2018?

This week, the Shack Staff discusses their individual choices for Game of the Year 2018.

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Shack Chat is back once again, our weekly feature where each Friday where we’ll ask the Shacknews staff to give their opinion on a particular topic, then open the floor to our dedicated Chatty community to provide a diverse mixture of thoughts on the subject. It’s a great way for us to get to know one another better while inspiring healthy debates with all of you passionate gamers out there.

We're wrapping up the year with a look at our favorite games from 2018, and we can't wait to share them with you! Before you head off for a fantastic holiday break and enjoy time with your family and friends, let's have a quick chat about the games that really brought us joy this year. 

Question: What is your Game of the Year 2018?


Tetris Effect - Asif Khan, Probably Playing Tetris Effect Right Now

Tetris Effect is the best iteration of the game franchise since The New Tetris on Nintendo 64. The team at Enhance Games took serious risks with gameplay and the payoff is tremendous for gamers. Anyone who loves puzzlers will instantly be drawn in by the new feel of it and folks who are new to the series will be surprised and delighted by the absurd attention to detail found in every corner of this game. Tetris Effect is my favorite best game released this year, and Tetsuya Mizuguchi's team has truly changed it for the better. This is the update to Tetris no one knew they needed, but now that we have it, it is impossible to imagine stepping back.


Monster Hunter: World - Bill Lavoy, Managing Editor

My Game of the Year isn’t something I would have predicted back in January. With God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2 dropping in 2018, both games that are in my wheelhouse, I would have thought one of those would take the prize. Once E3 concluded and Fallout 76 was on the way, that was my pick as a likely candidate for Game of the Year. Wow, was I wrong.

Monster Hunter: World is the first game in the Monster Hunter franchise that I’ve played. I’ve not been exposed to any Monster Hunter previously. What I found early on didn’t impress me, either, as the story is still something you could rip from the game and I’d be just as happy. What landed well for me were the loot and crafting systems, both of which feed the character building through unique armor and weapons.

It sounds simple, but one of my primary gripes about Destiny games is the random nature of a lot of the loot. You want Shards of Galanor, maybe it will drop randomly for you over the next two months of grinding. In Monster Hunter: World, you can seek out the ingredients for items you want by farming the monsters that drop those ingredients. If you need an Anjanath Fang, you will need to fight an Anjanath, and break it’s head, in order to get the fang to drop. Additionally, I feel Monster Hunter: World does a fantastic job of providing different scenarios to face each monster, increasing replayability and decreasing the feeling of endless grinding.

Since I’m someone who likes sinking myself into big games like Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter: World, gameplay is also important. Initially, I felt the combat in Monster Hunter: World was weak, but I was just bad at it. There is a shocking amount of depth to combat, and at a certain point it goes far beyond simply hitting the big monster with a sharp sword. Team composition becomes essential to success.

Monster Hunter: World is a game that gives back what you’re willing to put in, and the more you put in the more it will impress you.


Monster Hunter: World - Blake Morse, Reviews Editor

I spent well over 200 hours this year playing Monster Hunter: World and I loved every minute of it. While I have tried playing other Monster Hunter titles in the past I always found them a bit cumbersome. This time around though Capcom found what I consider to be the perfect balance of crafting, combat, and progression. There were still moments where the game was tough as hell, but all it took was some resourcefulness and co-op assistance to get past most obstacles.

Visually it was just flat-out gorgeous too, there was a ton of environmental variety and each area felt alive thanks to things like small game that would graze or provide a meal to the larger predators and hazards you could lure prey into. I feel like David Attenborough could make a whole documentary series on the ecosystems of MHW if he was so inclined.

On top of all that, the launch of MHW was also the beginning of a major turn-around for its publisher, Capcom in 2018. It almost feels like it heralded a new renaissance for the company’s prolific catalog of titles. Either way, I’m excited to see what 2019 holds in store for Monster Hunter and can say with confidence that this is my favorite game of 2018.


Hitman 2 - Kevin S. Tucker, Doesn't Want To Be Drowned

Given the choice, I'll typically opt to play a good game over an interesting one. It's a shame, but a lot of the time, that distinction has to be made. It's exceedingly rare for a game to be solid in presentation, graphics, controls, and mechanics, and yet still do something that is both unusual and engaging. It's taken many iterations to get here, but it seems IO Interactive has at last managed to perfectly balance that equation with Hitman 2.

Hitman 2's tagline is "make the world your weapon," and while that might sound like a catchy buzz phrase, it's in fact a perfect summation of the game's direction. Agent 47 isn't a great assassin just because he's gifted killer, he's a great assassin because he finds opportunities in the world that likely wouldn't cross anyone else's mind. Hitman 2 lets players take out targets in any way they choose, and the freedom that choice represents — particularly given the order, structure, and general confines of each level — can be astounding.

Stalk a mark all night and suffocate them in their sleep if you want to. Poison their drink, or release poison into the air conditioning ducts. Garrote them while they're brushing their teeth, or maybe open their throat as they're outside catching some fresh air. Hell, pop them through the skylight if you like, or go balls-out and use a shotgun to paint the walls with their grey matter. The choice is yours, and all of the aforementioned routes (and many routes otherwise) are possible in the game's introductory mission alone. Once later levels are reached, potential approaches feel practically infinite.

I frankly couldn't be more thrilled with Hitman 2. It stokes an interest in me that most games can't even come close to approaching. The notion of controlled chaos, of taking out targets in creative ways that don't grab the attention of everyone around, is just fascinating. I've been a stealth gaming fan for years, primarily due to the Metal Gear Solid series, but the truth is that IO Interactive simply does it better.


Tetris Effect - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor

I've opined further on why Tetris Effect is my game of the year several times in the pieces I've written for our Game of the Year proceedings, including why it won the award for best PS4 game and best music this year, so I'll let those pieces speak for me in terms of the game's biggest achievements. For now I'll say here that Tetris Effect is one of the only games this year that I continually come back to. It's not a terrible 2D throwback platformer "with heart" or a comic book odyssey with an awful female lead who nags you every step of the way. It's just pure, unadulterated fun.

It's everything that gaming should be, distilled into one beautiful package. I'll continue to play it long after 2018 has ended and for years to come. And because it seems that the rhythm game genre is all but dead in the West and I have to look to Japan for games of any worth in that department, I'm just thankful Tetsuya Mizuguchi could make this happen for me, and for everyone else in love with the genre.


Marvel's Spider-Man - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor

It's been almost 15 years since I've seen a game with such a satisfying open world. Coincidentally enough, this was also a Spider-Man game. But Marvel's Spider-Man takes everything great about Spider-Man 2 and adds in the very best elements of the Batman Arkham series. If there's anything more fun than swinging around a near-perfect re-creation of New York, it's fluidly pounding thugs one-by-one and webbing up unsuspecting fools.

It's also one of the most satisfying stories I've played this year. Spider-Man stories are a dime a dozen after 50 years. But Marvel's Spider-Man takes a strong Spider-Man story and tosses in one of the most relatable Peter Parker stories I've seen in years. This isn't the high school Peter from the Marvel Cinematic Universe or any of the recent animated shows. This is a grown-up Peter finding his place in the world and becoming an adult who balances those struggles with his growing responsibility of keeping New York in one piece. It's a fantastic story, one that rekindled my love for Spider-Man stories, both modern and classic, and paves the way for more tales down the road.

Bonus points for adding the option to turn off the quick-time events. More games seriously need to do this.


Kingdom Come: Deliverance - Charles Singletary, News Editor

Medieval simulation with no fantasy elements. Meticulously detailed mechanics that require players to manage health and weight, remember recipes and steps for alchemic creations, and layer up different types of armor to stave off various types of weapons. Despite all of this built on a foundation of realism that could turn some gamers, even fans of similar titles, away, I found myself completely enamored.

It’s not required, but RPGs benefit from a heightened sense of immersion as players become truly engaged in their roles. Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s collective elements provide a platform for exactly that and it is propelled, thankfully, my a well-written campaign and carried by mostly exceptional voice acting.

Kingdom Come’s world is alive and I reveled at the opportunity grow the lead character into someone that can survive and experience it. Despites the game’s missteps and one of the developer’s mishandling of drama, it’s not a game you want to miss. At the least, I hope developers recognize it for the best first-person combat I’ve ever experienced.


Forza Horizon 4 - Chris JarrardLives His Life A ¼ Mile At A Time

Forza Horizon 4 is the best racing game ever produced. It is the best Xbox One game ever released. It is the best-optimized PC game since Doom 2016. Despite the nonsense you will read on this site about the graphics in Red Dead Redemption 2, Forza Horizon 4 is the best-looking game of 2018. It has the best crossplay support of any videogame ever released. It would be worthy of GOTY honors for being any one of these things, but the fact that it is all of them makes it special. I wish my coworkers didn’t look down on racing games the way I look down on them when they keep recommending me anime.


Greg Burke, Has No Sony Bias (Ed. note: Great! Neither do the rest of us.) 

Sea of Thieves. It may have been met with heavy criticism at the start, and even the classic “There’s nothing to do” gamer rant. However I enjoyed the game immensely for long while. Sure, I’ll admit that the rewards weren't really worth the grind, but if you manage to shrug that off, getting on a boat with 4 of your friends to quest or pliage other players, there’s really nothing else like it. The Man with the Briefcase, Sam and other close friends sailed the high seas every night for a good long while, and we probably will again with the amount of free gameplay updates the game's been introducing.


Marvel's Spider-Man - Donovan Erskine, Intern

Marvel’s Spider-Man felt like the game I’d been waiting for since I was 6 years old. I’ve always been a huge Spider-Man fan, but none of his games truly captured the sense of wonder you got from reading his comics or watching the movies. Insomniac took a swing at this property and hit a homerun. Solid combat, spectacular web-swinging mechanics, and a story that beautifully captures the duality between Peter Parker and Spider-Man gave me more joy than any game has in a long time. Also, Spider-Man has one of the best uses of photo mode in any video game, that alone shoots it to the top of the Game of the Year race.


Celeste - David Craddock, Long Reads Editor

In 2018, when information floods in from so many digital channels like a perpetual avalanche burying everything that came before, Celeste remained my favorite game of 2018.

Celeste rolls everything I love about games into a tidy package. My favorite genre is 2D platforming, but with caveats: The controls must be tight, the challenge must gradually rise until my palms are sweaty and I’m always one lost life away from flinging my gamepad across the room, and the story should stay the hell out of my way.

Celeste checks all those boxes. The controls make Super Mario World look loose and sloppy in comparison. The challenge ascends just enough on each screen that I never feel unprepared for what I have to do next because what I learned from everything I did before. It also has incredible replay value. You can beat the game and look back on a job well done, or keep going for dozens of hours more to collect every hidden item and complete every if-JoyCon-weren’t-so-expensive-I’d-break-this-one-in-two challenge.

But the integration of story and theme into gameplay, graphics, and music deserves a mountain-sized heaping of praise. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression that too frequently leaves me debilitated for days, even weeks, the metaphor of climbing a mountain riddled with traps that make every step a challenge resonates with me.

Celeste has stuck with me for 11 months and counting. It will stay with me for a long time to come.


Disagree with our picks? Think we're a bunch of clowns? Let us know in the Chatty below.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    December 21, 2018 9:00 AM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: What is your Game of the Year 2018?

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 9:01 AM

      Smash Bros, but I really liked Deltarune a lot.

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 9:17 AM

      I knew David would choose Celeste. Mine is DQ11.

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      December 21, 2018 9:23 AM

      GOTY OF WAR!!

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 9:26 AM

      None IMO. Good year for games but no personal favorites (so far).

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 9:29 AM

      Is Tetris Effect Good with no VR?

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        December 21, 2018 9:36 AM

        Yes. It’s the primary way I play. I have a PSVR but haven’t had time to set it up yet. Don’t ask the man with the briefcase about TE in VR, though. He’s a recovering Tetris-aholic. To be that immersed in Tetris? We would lose him forever. I would have to adopt Lola so she would be cared for, and...

        Actually, he should play it. It will be fine.

      • reply
        December 21, 2018 9:49 AM

        It is wonderful in either mode.

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        December 21, 2018 11:41 AM

        Absolutely

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      December 21, 2018 9:30 AM

      I have to agree with Chris on this one. As much as I want to say Subnautica, I’ve been playing that game for years and this year I only played for maybe 6-7 hours total. Forza Horizon 4, on the other hand, I’ve played for hours every single day. It’s one of those games that I load up just to check dailies and end up playing for a couple of hours without even realizing it. Shit, it’s fun just driving aimlessly and that’s often what I do. The driving model (once you upgrade the car and switch to AWD) is so good that it is a joy to just blast across the countryside and level up your car. Based on my playtime this is definitely my game of the year and if I were to say anything else it would be disingenuous.

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 9:46 AM

      Red Dead 2. Fantastic story and the best prequel ever made. It even makes the story in the first game better which a prequel has never done before

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      December 21, 2018 9:49 AM

      RDR2 for me.

    • rms
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      December 21, 2018 10:17 AM

      Hellblade VR was released in 7/2018, does that count or not for this year

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      December 21, 2018 11:00 AM

      It's Dark Souls 3 again. Destiny 2 Forsaken if not.

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      December 21, 2018 11:36 AM

      No Subnautica = fail list

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      December 21, 2018 11:37 AM

      Rimworld! Game is freaking amazing, and officially hit 1.0 this year.

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 11:41 AM

      1) Hollow Knight
      2) Celeste
      3) Forza Horizon 4
      4) Tetris Effect
      5) God Of War

      Still need to play Subnautica

      • reply
        December 21, 2018 11:46 AM

        "Forever" multiplayer GOTY is Smash Bros Ultimate by miles. I was filming most of last week and didn't play much of anything, but I've still managed to clock about 50 hours so far. My Dota/Overwatch crew has been playing almost every night this week and its been difficult to keep the times below four or five hours. Fucking terrific game.

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      December 21, 2018 11:53 AM

      RDR2

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      December 21, 2018 11:53 AM

      Rimworld or far cry 5

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      December 21, 2018 11:55 AM

      There are a lot of big titles I didn’t play or haven’t finished yet, but no matter what, I’ve got to say Mutant Year Zero for being a perfect little jewel box of an indie game that just does everything right. I can’t wait to see what else this team will do.

      • reply
        December 21, 2018 11:58 AM

        And on the other end of the spectrum, Detroit: Become Human gets my pick for being the magnum opus branching adventure that will probably not be topped in scope, presentation or ideas for many years, if ever.

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          December 21, 2018 11:59 AM

          And Tetris Effect for pure awesome.

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 11:56 AM

      By hours this year it'd be Dragon Quest 8 followed by Hollow Knight.

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        December 21, 2018 12:32 PM

        Emotionally I'd agree, but there are niggles with DQ ... Wait why 8? You mean XI?
        DQ isn't probably mainstream enough to be considered GOTY worthy. I've really enjoyed the game certainly, but I'm pretty sure a game like Smash will get the nod over a DQ title.

        Also, I'd almost have to disqualify it for not having the full orchestral score. The music doesn't bother me all that much. But, just knowing what the orchestra version sounds leaves me knowing they didn't make the best product possible. Graphics were awesome. Environment should get an artistic award for sure.

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          December 21, 2018 1:07 PM

          Yeah, 11. I did also play the 3ds version of 8 this year. It was good.

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      December 21, 2018 12:06 PM

      COD: Black Ops got me and the buds gaming again. God of War was my single player GOTY

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      December 21, 2018 12:08 PM

      LiS1 Ep 1 :/

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      December 21, 2018 12:09 PM

      Factorio, again.

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        December 21, 2018 12:33 PM

        Oh hey, ya, technically Factorio can finally qualify since it's actually at 1.0 release now. Oh, that does give me pause. Where would I rank it? hmmmmm

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          December 21, 2018 12:53 PM

          I think they pushed back 1.0 to after .17 now, but Idgaf. More news on the revamped fluid engine today! https://www.factorio.com/blog/post/fff-274

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            December 21, 2018 1:11 PM

            Oh? I thought they finally hit 1.0. I stopped following their Friday posts a few months back.

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            December 21, 2018 1:37 PM

            Yes, .017 is supposed to be late Jan / early Feb., with 0.18 coming sometime around the summer with the final high resolution graphics and final changes, which will become 1.0 once it is declared stable.

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 12:20 PM

      The only game I bought this year was RDR2, so it’s going to be RDR2 for me.

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 12:28 PM

      Just wanted to inform you all that this isn't just a question you can reply to. They have their own answers you can read every time they post one of these. It's in the thread title, but just in case.

      https://www.shacknews.com/article/109137/shack-chat-what-is-your-game-of-the-year-2018

      https://www.shacknews.com/chatty?id=38116117#item_38116117

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 12:57 PM

      Quake Champions

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        December 21, 2018 1:11 PM

        Even after yesterdays patch?!

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 1:40 PM

      P-p-path of Exile. Other games came out this year?

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 1:40 PM

      motherfucking pillars deadfire!!

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      December 21, 2018 2:09 PM

      Hitman 2

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      December 21, 2018 2:22 PM

      Pillars of Eternity 2

    • reply
      December 21, 2018 3:10 PM

      Rocket League GOTYEY

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      December 21, 2018 10:32 PM

      Return of the Obra Dinn for me.

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      December 21, 2018 11:57 PM

      RDR2

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      December 22, 2018 12:47 AM

      Hmmm I don't know.... maybe God Of War... I just don't know... picking only one seems criminal.

      Too many good games dropped in 2018 \m/ a lot of firm hand shakes need to be given out, not just one.

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      January 9, 2019 3:42 PM

      Subnautica!