DualShockers’ Game of the Year 2018 Staff Lists — Steven’s Games of 2018 (and More)

As 2018 comes to a close, DualShockers and our staff are reflecting on this year’s batch of games and what were their personal highlights within the last year. Unlike the official Game of the Year 2018 awards for DualShockers, there are little-to-no-rules on our individual Top 10 posts. For instance, any game — not just 2018 releases — can be considered.

[Editor’s Note: Some spoilers may be present in the games discussed below, so we might suggest coming back to this list after finishing the games mentioned.]

Game I Started in 2015 and Finally Completed (Twice) This Year

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

This year was not a great game year for me personally. Playing the likes of Far Cry 5, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Red Dead Redemption 2 garnered no real emotion from me aside from an intense dislike of Far Cry 5 after wasting thirty-some-odd hours on that game. Apathy notwithstanding, I did manage to find some great games to play this year, including finally completing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt after three years of on-again/off-again play.

Unsurprisingly The Witcher 3 is really good, so good in fact that I’ve already read my way through the first three books upon which the video games are based on. CD Projekt Red did an excellent job capturing the spirit of Geralt and the general theme of choosing between the lesser of two evils. The Witcher 3 is not a happy game, as a large majority of the quests revolve around stories of tragedy, many of which made it onto my guide of essential quests to do in the game. That list is a good explanation for why this is my game of the year, with so many good little stories I’ll remember.

The main quest is also quite good, especially how the ending is determined by how you decide to act with Ciri, something I really thought upended the usual final decision being a binary choice made at the last minute. Upon wrapping credits on my first playthrough, I started a new game with the intent of taking the knowledge of that first playthrough to do a much more thorough look at everything that the game had to offer.

I succeeded in greying out every icon on the map, finishing every quest, and even earning the Platinum Trophy, despite the bulls*** crossbow headshot Trophy. I then went on to complete Hearts of Stone, an excellent expansion, and started Blood and Wine before finally being sidetracked by other releases.

Slaying monsters, counterattacking humans, watching the numbers go up, successfully creating the mastercrafted versions of every Witcher gear set, and solving moral quandaries are all excellent in The Witcher 3. While Skellige may have wasted my time with the huge number of treasure chests below the surface around the islands, I thoroughly enjoyed the 130 hours spent on my second save file and love the grumpy dad that is Geralt.

Old Game Catch Up

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

2018 was also the year I found the second good Zelda game after Breath of the Wild in Link’s Awakening. I played this on my childhood Game Boy Color that I dug up after attending the Portland Retro Game Show and purchasing it along with good old Tetris. Link’s Awakening has the same overall format as A Link to the Past with a major difference: the map is uncovered and as you clear areas, you are reminded of which areas might now be accessible when you retrieve a new item, Metroid-style. Link’s Awakening also has a more compelling anchor in Maron, whose simple island life nurtures a desire within her for something greater that is both relatable–as someone who always wants more–and tragic. The final revelation of the game is that she, as well as the entirety of the island and its inhabitants, don’t exist beyond Link’s sea-bogged dreams.

This was the year I realized that I love tragedy, as this, The Witcher 3, and an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (“The Offspring”) taught me that I find tragedies more compelling than other types of fiction. Often compared to Twin Peaks, it was fitting that my playthrough of Link’s Awakening would come in the same year of my initial viewing of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s strange but endearing television show.

The smaller scale and more intimate nature of Link’s Awakening was a greater motivation to stick around than the shallow and world-ending stakes of Ocarina of Time, a game that never kept me in beyond the first few temples. It also helps that the direction and pacing of Link’s Awakening seems so much better than other Zelda titles, as the acquisition of new items/abilities came consistently enough that I always had a location I could now access in the forefront of my mind. Despite its age and the limitations of the platform, Link’s Awakening is still immensely charming and one of the best games I played this year.

Hitman (2016)

Another game I came late to, Hitman (2016) is excellent. The year 2016 for me was dominated by DOOM, so I was a bit surprised when Giant Bomb ended up giving Best Game to Hitman, but, now having played it, I see why. Hitman is a game about solving puzzles, with the solution being your target’s death. Each map is a giant complex bundle of systems, NPC pathways, triggers, tools, and mechanics to help you find a solution. Maps begin nice and pristine at first, and in jumps Agent 47 to disrupt the entire proceeding. Your purpose is chaos: the degree to which you determine. You can kill your target without anyone noticing or cause an entire lighting fixture to fall on top of them and those around them.

Hitman is a game about a “World of Assassination” but you aren’t supposed to feel bad about your targets, as they are all terrible people. The game even penalizes you for killing those who are non-targets, emphasizing that although Agent 47 is a killer for hire, he’s a “good guy” who is rewarded only for taking out the awful pieces of shit that make the world a worse place. The game takes you through an assortment of these missions to take out terrible people, whether this is someone who trades information in order to sell it to terrorists, or an affluent banker cheating an entire country out of millions, or a rock star who probably killed his girlfriend. You are sent to kill these people and enjoy it. Many of the opportunities that the game presents are comical, whether it be the many impersonations you can make, or just the comedy of an exploding golf ball being set off and sending your target into the air and onto a small crater.

Challenges present questions and it’s up to the player to work their way to the answer whether by blind luck or by accurate predictions of how the puzzle will react to your actions. It’s so much fun to figure out how to achieve a certain kill and a joy to set up perfectly-executed scenarios. Failures will happen, but it never takes too long to load into a previous save and despite my worry, the opportunities proceed at a quicker-than-expected pace. Hitman is an excellent game about working out the many ways in which someone can die while feeling great about accomplishing it.

Assassin’s Creed Origins

assassin's creed Origins Pyramid

2018 was partially a year of catching up on games I didn’t make time for previously, with Assassin’s Creed Origins catching my eye last year as maybe a finally “good” entry in a dead-to-me franchise. And boy is it actually good, with a protagonist who isn’t a piece of s*** and someone genuinely interested in helping his people. Bayek is the best protagonist in recent memory whose motivation is cliche (the death of a family member, this time a child), but he doesn’t let that get in the way of his duty to help those around him. While his one goal is to kill those responsible for the death of his son, he still takes time to talk to random people in the street who have problems only he can solve.

Taking cues from The Witcher 3, many of these stories, both in side quests and as part of the open world’s many points of interest, are centered on tragedy. Whether it be the loss of parents, accidental deaths, or the oppression of the occupying forces, Origins has lots of tragic tales to tell you. It also has a large open world that equips the player with the tools to adequately explore it in a bearable amount of time. Your mount can automatically follow roads to your waypoint or objective, allowing you to move the camera freely to take in the sights or check your phone for texts. The eagle lets you locate a location’s objectives and you can even ping the surrounding area for lootable objects, breaking down time that would have been spent pixel hunting for the last trigger to check off the current world map icon.

The open world still reads like a traditional (and boring) Ubisoft checklist, but it gives you a compelling playable character, the tools to find what you need to move on to the next thing, and a world with some worthwhile stories to tell.

Actual 2018 Games

Marvel’s Spider-Man

spider-man tobey

Being basic, I too liked the everloving s*** out of Spider-Man 2 on the PlayStation 2 as both an early open world and a super-hero game centered on a character I loved. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies are endearing to me, even Tobey Maguire’s deadpan tone for most of his dialogue. Despite the highs of Spider-Man 2 the lightning was gone, never to be captured again in the many, many Spider-Man games to come after.

And yet, Insomniac Games took it upon themselves to make a Spider-Man game in the Year of our Lord 2018 and the people responded universally: “the swinging is good.” And the swinging was good, as was the open world and combat; but still, the lightning was gone.

Though the city was rendered with realism, Insomniac decided to interpret some of the problems plaguing that metropolis as fictional as the PMC that occupies it in the late-game. The one-button combat was surprising with how often I utilized all of its permeations, as the combat challenges and hideout challenges forced me to repeatedly use different moves.

Peter Parker is solid, as is the rest of the cast, though the game’s main plot never had me super motivated. As an open world, it falls into the trope of a pressing narrative moment occurring but still allowing the player to do whatever open world activity they want in the meantime. Marvel’s Spider-Man is probably the best Spider-Man game, but it proves that childhood endearment is not something that can be repeated, even if there is an awesome easter egg in the form of the much-beloved pizza delivery song.

Donut County

Donut County

A short but super sweet game about an asshole raccoon ruining everyone else’s life for his own benefit turning around and helping restore order. The theme of Donut County is a bit of self-reflection on the developer Ben Esposito, whose original game Kachina took aspects from the Native American tribe Hopi before realizing that he was not capable of actually representing them. Instead, we have a nice game about a version of Los Angeles in which a donut delivery app spawns a hole that gobbles up whatever “trash” it can as it grows bigger and bigger so that raccoons can move in and enjoy all the trash humans create.

It has a great sense of humor, from the duck emoticon you can tap during text conversations, to the item descriptions, to the gameplay mechanic of two rabbits devoured by the hole getting busy and making the hole bigger by their copulation. As many have noted, the main disappointment is that the game ends maybe too soon and with too few puzzles to solve to make it completely satisfying. With every other AAA game lasting five to ten hours longer than necessary though, I’ll happily accept a nice two-hour experience over sixty hours of Arthur Morgan saying, “I don’t know Dutch.”

Into the Breach

It has been a long time since I played chess regularly, and Into the Breach reminded me of the many times my father and I would face off. While some of the mechanics are very different, you know every move the enemy is going to take beforehand, and the importance of positioning is something I don’t think any other strategy games have accomplished quite like this one.

Every board is a puzzle to solve and all information is available to you, laying both success and failure at your feet. Resets for a turn are freely available once per board, the difficulties don’t restrict your unlocks, and each run lasts at most 45 minutes if all goes well. The scenario mixes time travel and kaiju killing together perfectly, with each failed run ending with a pilot being sent back in time to try again.

Games I Want to Talk About But Not in a “Best of” Category (Major Spoilers)

God of War (2018)

God of War

This year was so-so overall, as many games that people held up as great pieces of media had me unconvinced they were anything special. God of War is one many people feel strongly about one way or the other, and is a perfectly fine action-adventure game that goes on five hours too long. Kratos and Atreus’s relationship goes from rocky to both of them understanding each other better, which is nice but was never compelling. The only portion of God of War that interested me was when Atreus became a little shit upon learning that he was a god, as it was a change in their relationship I didn’t expect. At one point Kratos explains to his son that they have a responsibility as gods to be better than the others, but also shrugs off opportunities to help spirits find peace. Combat is too restrictive at the outset and takes awhile to get really good, though the callback for the axe always feels great. A late-game pivot towards world-ending stakes felt weird given the exceedingly empty world and small cast of characters and personal story, though makes sense in a post-Marvel world where things have to set up the next thing.

Having a one-take camera perspective was a waste, as it was never utilized outside of the dragon fight in an exciting way. Crafting and loot are worthless systems, and the game moves the goal post too often to artificially extend game time. God of War did make me want to read more about Norse mythology which is a pretty cool accomplishment.

The theme of children killing their parents is an interesting one, as Kratos is so against the cycle continuing that he kills Baldur despite Freya’s insistence on dying for her son. The reveal of Loki felt like a dumb end-game talking point at first, but then I realized it plays into the theme of Kratos attempting to disrupt cycles. However, that only led him to fulfill them, as Atreus still ended up in the Loki role of causing Baldur’s death and therefore the beginning of Ragnarok, albeit a bit early. Kratos was able to stop one cycle, but jump-started another one.

Although it was the game I argued for in DualShockers‘ Game of the Year podcast, it was only because the other choice was Red Dead Redemption 2. I don’t feel strongly for God of War, but just felt strongly against Rockstar taking home Game of the Year, which I’ll explain next.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2

No game was a bundle of conflicted emotions for me more than Red Dead Redemption 2. Arthur Morgan spouts about as many vain words as Dutch Van der Linde, and his devotion to a clearly compromised man makes the gang’s plight and eventual dissolution difficult to care for. Morgan claims to want to do good, but the terrible things he engages with throughout the campaign make that claim hard to believe. While his turn does eventually come, it’s only after he is confronted with death that it sets in fully, cheapening the act.

And yet, I liked the journal he kept, sketching pieces of the landscape and strange locations he comes across. I liked the way he talked to and comforted his horse, to the very end. Morgan can be charming, but I remain puzzled as to why Rockstar would give him a very clear narrative arc and yet include the capability to be dishonorable and even refute this arc in a final decision. Morgan is supposed to learn to be a good person, but can also choose to ditch John for money. The game is supposed to be about redemption (it’s in the title!), and yet you can throw it all away.

Leading this gang is Dutch, a piece of s*** from the outset, emotionally manipulating his followers with every complaint and a personal affront to both their shared love and trust for each other. Dutch is terrible and I was never sold on why these people would follow him as far as they do.

Dutch and the gang’s arc is supposed to be about their fall from grace, but we are only ever told about the part where they would rob the rich and give to the poor. At the beginning of the game, they are already on a downward spiral morally; I was never presented with the time they were all better people who helped others who weren’t capable of helping themselves. The game is far too long and repeats the same beats and dialogue until the very end. Then it went on even further with a two-part epilogue whose purpose I still question. John’s arc in the epilogue is a repeat of the first game, an outlaw who desires a simpler life but keeps getting dragged back into the past he tried to leave behind. The epilogue does at least gives some closure with the killing of the man responsible for Arthur’s death, but that didn’t require two chapters.

And yet despite these issues that I had with the game and Rockstar’s decisions, I still booted up a new save file, intentionally stalled out midway through Chapter 2, and started to cross off icons on a third party website whose map of Red Dead Redemption 2 guided me towards the interesting aspects of the open world. A UFO appearance, dead bodies bearing mysterious maps, a hermit’s shack, mysterious rock formations and obelisks: these are some of the best aspects of Red Dead Redemption 2‘s open world. Unfortunately the game does nothing to help you discover these locations on your own.

This was probably intentional, as are the complex controls, weighted movement, and animations, so that stumbling upon them is a Magical™ moment. However intentionality does not equate to quality, and other open worlds guide players towards their interesting aspects much better than this game does. A lack of direction would be fine if I had hundreds of hours to wander around the wilderness, but I don’t. And yet, I continued to ride through Red Dead Redemption 2 until the sheer weight of it all pushed me towards something else.

Check out the other DualShockers’ staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards:

December 17: DualShockers Game of the Year Awards 2018
December 18: Lou Contaldi, Editor in Chief // Logan Moore, Reviews Editor
December 19: Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor // Tomas Franzese, News Editor
December 20: 
Reinhold Hoffmann, Community Manager
December 21: 
 Scott Meaney, Community Director // Ben Bayliss, Staff Writer
December 22: 
Ben Walker, Staff Writer // Chris Compendio, Staff Writer
December 23: 
Grant Huff, Staff Writer
December 26: 
Iyane Agossah, Staff Writer // Jordan Boyd, Staff Writer
December 27: 
Max Roberts, Staff Writer // Michael Ruiz, Staff Writer 
December 28: 
Noah Buttner, Staff Writer // Rachael Fiddis, Staff Writer 
December 29: 
Steven Santana, Staff Writer // Tanner Pierce, Staff Writer
December 30: 
Travis Verbil, Staff Writer // Zack Potter, Staff Writer

The post DualShockers’ Game of the Year 2018 Staff Lists — Steven’s Games of 2018 (and More) by Steven Santana appeared first on DualShockers.

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DualShockers’ Game of the Year 2018 Awards — God of War Takes Home the Gold

Welcome back, everyone, to DualShockers’ annual Game of the Year awards selection! We are all one year wiser, and one year more excited than we were in 2017. Thankfully, 2018 has been a rather contentious year with mega-hits like God of WarRed Dead Redemption 2 and Monster Hunter: World having a strong showing — we are in no shortage of amazing hits to choose from.

To begin, a quick shoutout to everyone who has checked out DualShockers through the year. As we approach our tenth anniversary as a site, there is nothing that we appreciate more than the active community willing to read our hot takes, reviews, and uncut excitement. Even better, we appreciate the participation that everyone put in with helping decide the Readers’ Choice Game of the Year and Readers’ Choice Most Anticipated Game of 2019! As always, our community has impeccable taste, and we are looking forward to one of the strongest years in gaming.

As a quick note, for more information on the popular votes and how everything was determined, please check out the respective posts for GOTY and Most Anticipated.

Without further ado, here are DualShockers’ Game of the Year Awards for 2018!

DualShockers Game of the Year 2018: God of War

God of War Game of the Year 2018

For the past two years, we’ve coincidentally shared a tradition of agreeing with our readers on what Game of the Year is, with 2016 going to Final Fantasy XV and 2017 going to Persona 5. We’re happy to report that this happened again this year, with Sony Santa Monica’s God of War winning both DualShockers Game of the Year Award and our Readers’ Choice Game of the Year Award.

While there were many games in 2018 that will likely go down as some of the best of the generation, God of War was able to stand above the rest thanks to the masterful character building, a clever and engaging twist on an older franchise, and some of the tightest controls we have seen within the action-adventure genre.

In addition to DualShockers Game of the Year 2018 and Readers’ Choice Game of the Year AwardsGod of War also manages to bring home the following: Best First Party Game of the Year, Best PlayStation 4 Game, Best Action Adventure Game, Best Narrative, and Best Soundtrack. If you haven’t read it yet, take a moment to read our review of the game where DualShockers awarded it a perfect score.

Of course, the DualShockers staff was incredibly split on the decision — though our other votes were handled through a voting system, we chose to make our cases for all of our favorites of 2018 in a recorded debate. If you want to hear what that sounds like, make sure to check in on the latest episode of Drop In/Drop Out: GOTY 2018 Podcast coming later today.

As for the Readers’ Choice award, turnout heavily favored God of War with it nabbing over 50% of the votes — the largest win we’ve had in a Readers’ Choice award ever. Coming in second was Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2 with over 10% of the readers’ vote.

Outside of the top two games, Insomniac Games’ Marvel’s Spider-Man takes the third place with Square Enix’s Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age in fourth place and Capcom’s Monster Hunter World in fifth.

Below you can see a pie chart with the vote split, and the indication of the games that receive the most nods from our readers. Congratulations to Sony Santa Monica and God of War for reaching DualShockers’ top honor for 2018!

Most Anticipated Game of 2019: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

There were a lot of great looking games that were revealed at E3 2018, but none really captured our hopes as much as FromSoftwares Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. There are a lot of buzzwords and marketing spin that hits home for us — there are no microtransactions and the game will be similar in size to both Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne. More important to us, our E3 preview felt like everything we wanted from a Souls-like game but evolved.

Most Anticipated Game of 2019 (Readers’ Choice): Kingdom Hearts III

Kingdom Hearts III

In a funny enough twist, Kingdom Hearts III is taking home the same prize it won in 2017Readers’ Choice Most Anticipated Game of 2019. Pushed from its Winter 2018 release slot in an early-E3 announcement, it’s no wonder why people are so hyped for the game. It’s been over a decade since the last mainline series title, so do yourself a favor and keep well away from potential spoilers.

With that said, there was pretty hefty competition for every game that wasn’t Kingdom Hearts III with a broad range of diversity. Next on the list is Capcom’s Devil May Cry 5, a game similarly with a prestigious background and one set to blow away expectations.

Following that, readers on the site are similarly interested in the remaster of Resident Evil 2 that continues to look oh-so-juicy in trailers and screenshots. Rounding out the top four is FromSoftware’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, ultimately meshing well with the staff pick for Most Anticipated of 2019.

If you are interested in the breakdown from votes, check out the quick infographic below:

Hardware of the Year: Xbox Adaptive Controller

While this year was devoid of any major console hardware releases, there was still a ton of competition within this category. And while headphones, capture cards, and laptops blew us away, the easy choice among staff was to award Hardware of the Year to the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

Announced and released this year, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is an ambitious and inclusive project that brings many differently abled gamers into the fold, allowing them to play more games than ever before. Even better, Microsoft decided to keep the hardware accessible to anyone who is able to develop it further for more interesting ideas. The collaborative mindset behind this, as well as the message behind it, gives Microsoft and the Xbox Adaptive Controller the nod as the best gaming hardware out this year.

Indie Game of the Year: Celeste


While there is a good chance that Celeste may get a cold eye from other publications due to the fact it was one of the first games released this year, it is an indie game that demands your attention. With all of the sweet platforming mechanics of Super Meat Boy and the heart and wit of puzzle platformers like BraidCeleste is an unmistakable achievement in the already-competitive platforming and indie scene.

In addition to Best Indie Game of 2018Celeste also takes home the prize for Best Platformer Game. If this game slipped under your radar, feel free to check out the review from earlier this year.

Best Online Game: Monster Hunter: World

Monster Hunter: World

The Monster Hunter series has always been a powerhouse in the East, but never before has it had so much sway globally as it did in 2018. With the release of Monster Hunter: World the once dense and impenetrable meta of Monster Hunter opened its doors to the world, presenting a masterful online experience that required determination, cooperation, and strategy to overcome. With a good group of friends, this is the best time online you will have all year.

While there may be a few hiccups of the PC version of the game, don’t miss our original review of the PS4 version of Monster Hunter: World.

Best Developer: Santa Monica Studios

This may be no surprise given the awards that Santa Monica Studios received from us on God of War. However, this goes further than that.

While Santa Monica Studios has been helping and collaborating on a collection of Sony titles over the year like The Order: 1886 and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, we haven’t seen a fully-internally developed game for five years. Specifically, God of War: Ascension which released on the PlayStation 3.

Since that time, Santa Monica Studios (led by Shannon Studstill and key figures like Cory Barlog) have honed their crafts — arguably giving them the slot of Sony’s best first party studio. Time will tell how competitive that spot is with major releases next year, but Santa Monica Studio has cemented itself as more relevant than ever in 2018. We can only look forward to their next project.

Best Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

While it is easy enough to heap praise on Santa Monica Studios, it’s important to note that Sony Interactive Entertainment went above and beyond as a publisher this year. This year alone we got God of WarDetroit: Become HumanMarvel’s Spider-Man, and Shadow of the Colossus. And that is ignoring the VR space — Astro Bot Rescue Mission and Firewall: Zero Hour are amazing in their own right. As a publisher, there is no company that has been more consistent with high-quality releases.

Best PlayStation 4 Game: God of War

Best Xbox One Game: Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4

While the Xbox One was rather light on console exclusives this year, Forza Horizon 4 remains a gold star among the racing genre. In fact, we go as far as saying it is one of the best racing games this generation of consoles has to offer.

Along with Best Xbox One GameForza Horizon 4 picks up Best Racing Game this year. Feel free to check out our review of the game where we awarded it a 9.0 out of 10.

Best Nintendo Switch Game: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Meanwhile, on the relatively new Nintendo Switch, we saw a bit of a slower year for Nintendo compared to 2017 which produced The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Even with that said, the late-2018 release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the complete package. While other fighting games are looking to tweak, tune, and find a new hook to keep everyone and everything interesting, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate does exactly what it needs — adds everything from the series in. Add an eventual Persona 5 character and we are in the money.

Along with Best Nintendo Switch GameSuper Smash Bros. Ultimate takes home Best Fighting Game. We won’t dive into the deep conversation on whether Smash Bros. series is a “fighting game” — there was plenty of disagreement among staff. However, make sure you check out the new review that went up earlier this week for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Best PC Game: Hitman 2

Best PC game was a rather elusive mistress, with plenty of titles in hot contention. However, IO Interactive’s Hitman 2 takes the prize by offering one of the most satisfying gameplay loops that gaming has to offer. Even better, the Hitman series evolving into more of a “platform”-type release gives us a lot to look forward to moving into 2019.

If you haven’t read it yet, check out our review of Hitman 2 — a game that was so good that the writer couldn’t get it off his mind while writing it.

Best PlayStation Vita Game: Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight // Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight

Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight

The PlayStation Vita is starting to get long in the tooth, with the releases slowly waning in the West. And while that is something the whole DualShockers staff is mourning on, the dual release of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight are the must-grab games for Persona and PlayStation Vita fans this year. Make sure you check out our dual reviews on the game to see if they are games you can groove to.

Best Nintendo 3DS Game: WarioWare Gold

Similar to the PlayStation Vita, it seems like the Nintendo 3DS is starting to finally slow down from a long reign of releases. Even still, WarioWare Gold was able to offer a short-but-sweet experience packed with the series’ signature style, humor, and quick reflexes. If you have been keeping your Nintendo 3DS somewhere collecting dust, check out our review of the game and consider picking it back up for a brand new outing.

Best Mobile Game: Donut County

Another console that had a shining year was the mobile platform, including mobile ports of games like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds to flesh out the market. Even still, we come down that Ben Esposito’s Donut County is the Best Mobile Game of 2018. The hook of the game is charming and straightforward, but just as satisfying to pick up and play in short bursts as it is on consoles. Even if you typically avoid mobile games, check out our review for Donut County.

Best Action-Adventure Game: God of War

Best Battle Royale of 2018: Fortnite

Unlike other genre categories, Best Battle Royale of 2018 isn’t limited to games that release this year. Instead, we are looking at the meta development, evolving gameplay, and fanbase of the different Battle Royale games to choose the winner. With this in mind, Epic Games’ increasingly popular Fortnite takes home the gold, proving time and time again that they remain popular not just because of the excellent game design and free-to-play model, but also their approach to development and interacting with the community.

Alongside Best Battle Royale Game of 2018Fortnite also takes home the Best Ongoing Game award.

Best DLC or Expansion: Destiny 2: Forsaken

Destiny 2 Forsaken

Destiny has been on the scene for many a year now, and developer Bungie has really gotten around to perfecting the art of annualized releases. This year’s addition, Destiny 2: Forsaken is one of the best the series has ever seen and our choice for the best expansion of the year. The pièce de résistance is the newly-added Gambit Mode, a mixed cooperative and competitive multiplayer mode that really tests the bounds of what Destiny 2 does that other games simply can’t.

You can check out our review of Destiny 2: Forsaken where we go into more detail on those points.

Best Family Game: Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! // Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!

The Family Game genre had a relatively light year, though Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! are standouts. Not only does it remain a terrific way for you to introduce younger kids to Pokémon, but it shows the initial promise of what a Nintendo Switch core Pokémon RPG will look like in 2019. Our review of the game is available here if you were looking to grab a kid-friendly holiday game for Christmas.

Best Fighting Game: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Best Horror Game: State of Decay 2

Love it or hate it, State of Decay 2 can really do something right: catch you by surprise. While the world is filled with zombies, some of the best jumpscares you may get all year can come from Undead Labs’ third-person zombie survival game — whether it was intentional or not. Check out the review of State of Decay 2 for more info on the sequelized horror title.

Best Interactive Story Game: Detroit: Become Human

In a relatively bleak year for interactive story games (following the closure of Telltale Games), Quantic Dreams’ Detroit: Become Human is a standout in terms of the studios’ prior games and complex storytelling. With some of the best acting the industry has to offer and a terrific story, we go as far to say it is Quantic Dreams’ masterpiece.

If you are looking for a spoiler-free review of the game, DualShockers has you covered.

Best Metroidvania: Dead Cells

While Dead Cells has been a game everyone was talking about in Early Access, we finally saw the official release of the game this year. And it certainly lived up to the hype. Mixing equal points platformer, Metroidvania, and rogue-likes, Dead Cells is a complete pick-up and play package that should be giving you Spelunky vibes. Add in a lot of customization, and this is a game that was heavily vying for Indie Game of 2018. For more information on what you may be missing, check out our review on the game.

Best Platformer: Celeste

Best Puzzle Game: Tetris Effect

Tetris is a game series nearly as old as gaming itself, and it’s almost hard to believe that they can improve on the formula even more. Well… think again. This time placed within a VR space, developer Monstars Inc. and Resonair have molded Tetris VR into a must-buy experience for the PlayStation VR. This is a game with near-universal appeal thanks to the simplicity of the puzzle, stunning visuals, and hypnotic beats; all things perfect for virtual reality.

Along with Best Puzzle GameTetris Effect also wins the award for Best Virtual Reality Game. Make sure to check out our review of the game.

Best Racing Game: Forza Horizon 4

Best Remake or Remaster: Shadow of the Colossus

While there were many amazing remakes and remasters that came out in 2018, developer Bluepoint Games did something magical with Shadow of the Colossus. Feel free to check out the video above showing off the comparisons, but the new remaster of the game is a ground-up improvement of everything: textures, gameplay, framerate. It breathes life into one of the most important games in history and immediately makes me yearn for a The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time remaster.

Feel free to check out our review, where we called the game “one of the best remakes ever.”

Best Role-Playing Game: Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler

2018 was host to many premium JPRG’s — games like the Eastern Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom and the Western Kingdom Come: Deliverance. However, our pick of the year is developer Acquire and Square Enix’s Octopath Traveler. Not only is it a terrific game in its own right, but it shows how the traditional top-down JPRG can be evolved from both a storytelling and visual perspective. With definite room to grow, we hope the ambition that was thrown into this project will influence games both within and outside the RPG genre. For more takes on the game, check out our review where we noted it was “a new look for the legendary genre.

Best Shooter: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

For all the grief that Call of Duty gets as a series, it is undeniable that the game has one solid foundation: unmistakably tight shooting mechanics. This year’s iteration, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, is no exception, eeking ahead of games like Far Cry 5 for best shooter. Once again, if you missed our review in the busy Fall release schedule, you can check it out here.

Best Sports Game: Mario Tennis Aces

Mario Tennis Aces Waluigi

Sure, it may not be your “traditional” sports title like your FIFA’s or Madden, but Mario Tennis Aces is still at heart a sports game — and one that approaches tennis in a way no other game in the past few years has been able to do. With a (somehow) constantly evolving meta and frequent updates, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Nintendo is able to do with sports games. Now bring back Mario Superstar Baseball!

For a more detailed explanation on why Mario Tennis Aces had such a strong showing, check out our full review on the game.

Best Strategy Game: Valkyria Chronicles 4

One of our few contenders for Game of the Year 2018, Valkyria Chronicles 4 managed to be everything the fanbase wanted — and there were a lot of expectations. However, developer SEGA SC3 was able to show that the company is getting back in the game; SEGA is not to be messed with in 2018, or the upcoming years. If you were ever looking to jump into the Valkyria Chronicles series, there is no better time. For more information, check out the full review.

Best Virtual Reality Game: Tetris Effect

Tetris Effect

Best Art Direction: Return of the Obra Dinn

Leading the technical awards is The Return of the Obra Dinn, developer Lucas Pope’s adventure puzzle game. Without a major PR budget, this is a game that may have entirely sneaked by you in 2018. However, if you have any doubts in your head on why the game deserves the award for Best Art Direction, check out the video above and note the unique 1-bit aesthetic that the entire game is based in. In a world of bleeding edge graphics and experimentation, The Return of the Obra Dinn takes the gold.

Best Audio Design: Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Online Artwork Edited

Appearing for the first time on the list so far, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a technical marvel unparalleled within the industry — a fact that everyone at DualShockers agrees with. Whether we are talking graphics or audio direction, or the art of building a living, breathing world in-game, Red Dead Redemption 2 has raised the bar on game development in ways unseen since The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Alongside Best Audio DesignRed Dead Redemption 2 also wins Best Graphics and Best Open World. For a deep-dive into what makes Red Dead Redemption 2 so special, check out our review of the game.

Best Character: Kratos (God of War)

God of War

Kratos has been with gamers for over a decade, making his original appearance on the PlayStation 2 with the initial God of War. Thirteen years later, we see an evolved Kratos — one touched by misery, loss, and the grief of his burdens. Better yet, he is a father, yearning to develop his son into a better person– err… god, than he could ever hope to be. Since his last appearance, Kratos has evolved into a character that can evoke more than just anger — thanks to the intricate development of God of War‘s story, it is hard not to award him Best Character.

Best Graphics: Red Dead Redemption 2

Best Narrative: God of War

God of War

Best Open World: Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2

Best Ongoing Game: Fortnite


Best Performance: Christopher Judge (Kratos, God of War)

Christopher Judge isn’t Kratos’ first voice actor, but he is the one who is able to give the most depth to the god of war. With each “Boy!” or angry growl, there was a nuance that only Judge is able to add to the equation. Judge is a leader in the industry, showing how the voice acting work can play equal parts in developing a story and character — if not more so — than the script itself.

Best Soundtrack: God of War

If you are interested in listening to the Norse-inspired soundtrack of God of War, check out the spotify playlist below:

Biggest Shocker of 2018: Sony is Skipping E3?

Sony E3

Leading our two superlative awards, the Biggest Shocker or 2018 was the official announcement that Sony will be skipping out on E3 next year. Sure, Nintendo has done something similar in the past opting for Nintendo Directs instead of a major press conference. While we think this is far from an E3 killer, having the biggest game publisher step away from the biggest gaming conference is no small announcement and took us entirely by surprise.

Worst Game of 2018: Fallout 76

Meanwhile, Fallout 76 is managing to “win” our Worst Game of 2018 award. While there are more than a few big games that could have stolen this honor from Bethesda, little had as much promise or fan build-up behind it to propel it to the top. Even worse, the first few weeks of the game felt nearly-unplayable, even compared it Fallout 4.

On the bright side, Fallout 76 is another title meant to be a game as a service. Hopefully, we will see a big year for Fallout 76 in 2019 to win back a jaded community.

And there you have it! Those are the official picks for DualShockers’ 2018 Game of the Year Awards.

Over the next week or two, each individual staff member, editor, and community manager will be listing out their Top 10 games of 2018 — make sure to tune in to see where you fall in comparison. And as always, let us know how we did in the comments below.

Top 10 of 2018 Schedule:

December 18: Lou Contaldi, Editor in Chief // Logan Moore, Reviews Editor
December 19: Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor // Tomas Franzese, News Editor
December 20: 
Scott Meaney, Community Director
December 21: 
Reinhold Hoffmann, Community Manager // Ben Bayliss, Staff Writer
December 22: 
Ben Walker, Staff Writer // Chris Compendio, Staff Writer
December 23: 
Eoghan Murphy, Staff Writer // Grant Huff, Staff Writer
December 26: 
Iyane Agossah, Staff Writer // Jordan Boyd, Staff Writer
December 27: 
Max Roberts, Staff Writer // Michael Ruiz, Staff Writer 
December 28: 
Noah Buttner, Staff Writer // Rachael Fiddis, Staff Writer 
December 29: 
Steven Santana, Staff Writer // Tanner Pierce, Staff Writer
December 30: 
Travis Verbil, Staff Writer // Zack Potter, Staff Writer

The post DualShockers’ Game of the Year 2018 Awards — God of War Takes Home the Gold by Lou Contaldi appeared first on DualShockers.

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The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

E3 2018 has come and gone and hosted many great games: however, some smaller indie titles might have been overshadowed by some of the bigger budget games seen on stage. Despite the huge amount of games announced during the event, we here at DualShockers have put together a convenient list of great indie games that we tried out this year at E3 and don’t want to go under our readers’ radar.

So let’s get to it – here are the best indie games from E3 2018 that we don’t want you to miss:

Tomas Franzese: 

The Messenger – PC/Nintendo Switch (2018)

One of the best games I had the chance to try this year at E3 was The Messenger from Sabotage Studio. Fellow writer Michael Ruiz loved the game when he tried it out at PAX East earlier this year, and I agree with everything he said in his preview after playing. What starts as seemingly a homage to games like Ninja Gaiden quickly exposes itself as something much more interesting, bigger, and creative that I won’t spoil here. If you are a fan of retro style games that turn genre conventions on their head, you should definitely keep your eye on The Messenger, our favorite indie game from E3 2018.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Planet Alpha – PC/PS4/Xbox One/Nintendo Switch (Q3 2018)

Planet Alpha from Team17 was one of the best looking indie games that I had the chance to play this year. While the does technically use low-poly textures, the environments are expertly designed and colorful enough to really make the game pop. In addition, Planet Alpha features a mechanic where players can rotate the planet in order to change the time of day and move things in the environment, so fans of typical atmospheric platformers will have something new to look forward to here.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Noita – PC (Release Date TBA)

While many games feature pixel art, no game has done it the same as Nolla Games’ roguelike Noita, where every pixel is physically simulated. This means the environments can be become very reactive and dynamic, leading to some impressive visuals, whether you are cooling down lava to create a bridge, or setting some oil or poisonous gas on fire. While the game’s rougelike elements are fairly familiar, the physically simulated pixels give Noita a striking asethic that will allow it to stand out from the crowd.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Black Future ’88 – PC (2018)

On the surface, Black Future ‘88 seems like a typical run and gun indie game with a post-apocalyptic setting, but upon closer inspection it and ton of minor systems show themselves, and you only have 18 minutes to complete it. While each room and boss is handcrafted, the are randomly placed each run, giving every new one its own unique flair. On top of that, different weapons spawn in with unique mechanics, and players can choose to dabble in drug addiction in order to get a power boost. If you’ve been yearning for a unique take on the run and gun genre in recent, be sure to keep you eye on Black Future ’88.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Phantom Doctrine – PC/PS4/Xbox One (2018)

While many strategy games are inspired by the XCOM series, Phantom Doctrine stands out from the rest due to its Cold War setting and various other gameplay improvements. Players can go into each mission disguised, and stealth is encouraged. A breach tactical option allows multiple enemies to be taken out silently at once, and can counter overwatch, a much loathed bane for strategy game players. Between missions, players will have to manage their agents and create a network of spies. All of this combined looks like it will create a memorable strategy game experience that will please history buffs and strategy game fans alike.

Tanner Pierce

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Sleep Tight – PC/Nintendo Switch (July 26, 2018)

One of the first games I saw during my time in LA was Sleep Tight, an upcoming top-down shooter from the new studio We Are Fuzzy. At PAX East earlier this year, we got our hands on the PC version, however, this time around we got to play around with the Switch version, and it honestly feels right at home. The controls themselves feel great and the game itself runs smoothly. I didn’t run into any hiccups or stutters during my time with the game, although this shouldn’t be too surprising. All in all, I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on it at the end of the month.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Descent – PC (Fall 2018)

Another game I got to see at E3 was Descent, an upcoming remake of the 1995 classic of the same time. It feels like a first person shooter, however, you are in a spaceship in an asteroid, so you have completely unlimited movement, which allows for a ton of cool possibilities. During my time in the game’s wave based mode, I got to try a variety of different weapons and each one felt different enough to where the all have their own benefits, which is essential to a first-person shooter. Descent was an absolute blast to play and players should definitely keep an eye on the development and the release of this title.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Phantomgate – iOS/Android (Release Date TBA)

While I’m not a fan of RPG or mobile games, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Phantomgate from developer Level 9 and publisher Netmarble. While the game plays a bit like a 2D platformer when traversing levels, the game then goes to turn-based combat when fighting enemies. While I’m not typically entertained turn-based combat, but I can say it was genuinely fun. On top of that, Phantomgate is rooted in Norse mythology, so it was fun seeing different takes on Thor, Odin and other Norse gods. 

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Project 1v1 – PC (Release Date TBA)

After being announced last year, I finally got my hands on one of Gearbox Software’s next titles, which is tentatively titled Project 1v1. While I only went hands on for a few minutes, however, I can say that it’s a ton of fun. If you are a fan of Quake, this is definitely worth checking out. While it may be too early to tell how the Project 1v1 will ultimately shape up, I can say that I had a smile on my face the entire time I was playing it.


Earthfall – PC/PS4/Xbox One (July 15, 2018)

The final game I saw at E3, and probably the one that excited me the most, was Earthfall, an upcoming first-person shooter inspired by Left 4 Dead. Since we are so close to release, this title felt the most complete, as I was able to pick from a variety of different levels and characters. If you’ve been looking for a first-person co-op shooter, then you’ll want to pick up Earthfall because it definitely scratches that itch

Michael Ruiz:

Killer Queen Black

Killer Queen Black – PC/Nintendo Switch (Winter 2018)

On a whim, I got some hands-on time with Liquid Bit’s competitive platformer Killer Queen Black. In the same vein of games like iDarb and Towerfall, Killer Queen Black will be a great game to play with a few friends. The three different victory conditions gives it a bit more strategical gameplay that is absent in the majority of party games. It’s also coming to the Nintendo Switch, adding another great indie title to Nintendo’s portable console.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Donut County – PC/Mac/PS4/iOS (2018)

Sometimes I want to just sit down, relax, and play something simple. Donut County is exactly that. The whole game revolves around a jerk raccoon controlling a hole and swallowing a bunch of different things to make that hole bigger. There is an odd satisfaction to it that had me laughing throughout the demo. Donut County is goofy, interesting, and one of my favorite games I had the pleasure of playing at this year’s E3.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Outer Wilds –  PC/Mac/Linux/Xbox One (2018)

I am a sucker for anything sci-fi. If you tell me I can fly a spaceship through an open-galaxy, I’m all in. Mobius Digital’s Outer Wilds allows you to do just that but with an interesting loop. Every 20 minutes, a supernova destroys the galaxy you are exploring. Each time you die, your progress will carry into your next playthrough until you can stop the sun from exploding entirely. It took a bit of time to get used to Outer Wilds’ controls but once I did, I was having a pretty good time exploring each distinct planet.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Wattam – PC/PS4 (2018)

From the creator of Katamari Damacy, Keita Takahashi, Wattam is probably the oddest game I played at E3. The mixture of the physics and logic-based puzzles make for a satisfying experience that put a smile on my face. A somewhat discomforting smile as I watched a nose hold hands with a rock and a flower but a smile nonetheless.

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Ashen – PC/Xbox One (2018)

Aurora44’s action RPG, Ashen, goes into familiar territory with its stamina-based strategic gameplay and minimalistic art direction. Where it differentiates itself from similar games is with its interactive campsite. Bringing in certain NPCs will open up different portions of your camp, opening up new opportunities for you in the games dreary world. Ashen is one that I’m not quite sure how to feel after playing it but wanted to play more to see where the story goes.

Lou Contaldi: 

The Best Indie Games From E3 2018 That We Don’t Want You to Miss

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – PC/PS4/Switch/Vita/Xbox One (2018)

Without a doubt, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is one of the most anticipated titles coming out this year. On one hand, they are just coming off a tremendous prequel that played like a love-letter to the original Castlevania game. Meanwhile, Iga and his development team ArtPlay, have been meticulously building to the full release. And while the spiritual successor has a lot to live up to, my seemingly-quick 30-minute demo gave me a rush that I haven’t felt since Order of Ecclesia. Iga is back, and better than ever.

Creed Rise to Glory v2

Creed: Rise to Glory – PC/PS4 (2018)

The other major indie in my schedule was something a little — scratch that, a lot — more physical. Survios’ Creed: Rise to Glory is one of the many VR games I got to test out at E3, but there is so much more to execution than a Wii Boxing knock-off. Drawing from the Creed movie series, the game showcases a next-level understanding of what VR can accomplish. Despite the fact you are punching nothing but air, Survios plays into phantom exhaustion. While aiming for record-time knockouts, you can expect to leave the game worn out and oh-so-satisfied.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps – PC/Xbox One (2019)

I won’t be coy about this — including Ori and the Will of the Wisps is stretching the definition of “indie” game fairly thin. Moon Studios started out as an indie studio before getting picked up by Microsoft. However, in our 30-minute demo with the team, it is still clear that Microsoft is willing to give the prize-winning dev team all the creative freedom they need in their sequel. Thanks to a complete combat overhaul that only enhances mobility, Ori’s sequel is aiming to raise the bar for the series.

What are your thoughts on the indie games DualShockers saw at E3 2018? Are there any that we missed that you want to give a shoutout to? Comment down below to highlight some of the best indie games from E3 2018!

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