Now that we have officially reached September 2018 and have some of the biggest game releases of the year coming up, I thought it would be a good idea to have some of the writers and editors at Parallax write about what they consider to be their game of the year so far, as well as the games not yet released they think might take their place.
The only rules are that each game has to have been released in 2018 before July 1 (the halfway point of the year), and no remakes or remasters are allowed unless it was the first worldwide release of the game –such as Shining Resonance Refrain, which came out after the cutoff date, but is just an example. So without further to do, here are some of the staff picks.
Jon: Monster Hunter World
As someone who has never played a Monster Hunter game, I was pretty excited about jumping into it. I have a friend who played the previous installments religiously and they looked like fun. Get big weapons, hunt huge monsters, and make cool gear. It seems like a simple concept, but man was I surprised at the depth of this game. Monster Hunter World does a wonderful job of introducing new players and then opening up the game for a fantastic experience. Jumping into the super detailed environments and then embarking on these hunts to slay giant beasts is the best. The fights are tense and really make you work as a team. Having to make sure that you have the right items before you even go into a hunt, just creates a sense of actual preparation. The story is interesting and does bring the player along as it introduces monsters, characters and areas. The weapons are all pretty fun to use. I eventually settled on the sword and shield, because I love the mobility and unleashing a fury of attacks quickly. Monster Hunter World gets a good amount of extra content that keeps players around to do more stuff. It is definitely a game I recommend everyone try, especially with a friend. The only game I can think of that may change my mind would be Fallout 76. Multiplayer Fallout sounds like a winner, but only time will tell.
Before Into the Breach, strategy games weren’t really something was fond of, but somehow Subset Game’s mech versus monsters title provided the perfect starting point for me, mostly due to my love of Godzilla, Pacific Rim, and other similar franchises. Into the Breach features the last remnants of human civilization as they make their final stand against the Vek, giant insect creatures that come from underground. The goal is to use your deployed team of giant mechs to exterminate all the vek on the last four human-inhabited islands. But victory is never assured, and there will always be another timeline where the Vek are winning the battle. When unfamiliar with the mechanics, it can get a little aggravating, but once the gameplay has you hooked with the short turn limit and variety of pilot and mech team combinations, you’ll find yourself losing track of time and playing for at least another hour or so. Personally, I think there are very few games that could beat Into the Breach for my Game of The Year pick, especially now that it has been released on Nintendo Switch. At the moment, the only games that I think could dethrone it for me are Soul Calibur VI and Red Dead Redemption 2, but there could always be another surprise hit I’m not expecting that shows up between now and the end of the year.
Brandon Davis: God of War
Santa Monica Studios delivered a masterpiece with Kratos’ new adventure. The series first take on Norse mythology was a nice way to refresh the series and take it to a brand new world. The reason why it is my GOTY so far is how they made Kratos from a killing machine on a vengeance to kill all the gods in Greece into a vulnerable father with a fragile son in a harsh environment. The journey they take to send his wife and Atreus’ mother ashes to the highest peak is unforgetting. I haven’t even talked about the combat in the game. The Leviathan Axe is probably one of my favorite weapons I have ever had the chance to wield in any video game ever. The combinations you use with the axe, the throwing of the axe and calling it back just feels so satisfying. This is also the first time in the series where it introduces some RPG (role-playing-game) elements with upgrading your armor or skill trees. They revitalized the series without losing its core. It truly is a modern-day epic, and the best game ever on the PlayStation 4 (sorry Bloodborne). The only games I can see change my mind on this game not being Game of the Year would be Red Dead Redemption 2 and Fallout: 76.
Restraint. Consequence. Love. All words I’d previously never associate with Kratos, the God of War. Do I pummel an enemy to a pulp in front of my son? What hath wrath and vengeance made me? Will Atreus understand that despite my gruff exterior, curt answers and proclivity to call him “Boy”, that I do all of this out of love?
In other games, these choices would’ve been made through dialogue trees and branching narratives, but this? This was a guided experience, and purposefully so. For as much as we project our thoughts onto a protagonist, this time I could feel Kratos his thoughts and emotions. There aren’t enough words to describe how meaningful this experience was to me or how much I enjoyed seeing the side-missions and exploration add more to the story.
Looking towards the latter half of the year, I can’t see any game dethroning this experience.
After seeing my fellow Parallax team member’s choices, my pick has to be obvious. God of War blew me away. I never could’ve guessed that I’d actually grow to love the douchie rage monster that is Kratos, I’d always loved the God of War franchise and despised him. Which is quite odd considering that I had to look at his pasty bald head for ten to fifteen hours each installment. But seeing the way he interacts with Atreus and how he finally cares for others and not just himself, warmed my cold ginger heart. Not to mention the fact that the Leviathan Axe makes you feel like a… God. But the weirdest reason that I absolutely loved God of War, is that it gave me hope. Hope that other annoying protagonists could be eventually redeemed and hope that the new gimmick of making inanimate objects “characters” in video games could play out as well as the Leviathan Axe has. So here’s to hoping that the next entry in the Duke Nukem franchise follows Duke and his young son Nuke embarking on a journey of self-improvement and discovery.
When It comes to what I think might be GOTY contenders coming out later this year, I’d have to say Chasm and Death’s Gambit have to be close to the top of my list. Anyone who knows me and or has read any of my writing knows that I have a modest and definitely healthy obsession with pixel art. And damn do they have amazing pixel art, let alone their seemingly amazing gameplay.
Before you jump on me, I have to say: I haven’t played God of War yet. I know, I know. Once I do, it very well could be my GOTY. But honestly, I haven’t played anything that has blown my mind yet. I was very close to placing Dragonball FighterZ as my chosen game, but even then I was unsure. Although it is a fantastic game, a spectacular entry in the fighting genre, and quite possibly the best Dragonball game I’ve ever played, I’m not entirely sure it’s the best game of the year. There are still four months left in 2018, and many upcoming releases that could end up being my favorite game of the year. Red Dead Redemption 2 looks fantastic. The new Spider-Man game comes out next week, and I’m excited to try that out. So far though, there is no clear nominee that I would say is GOTY.
Well there you have it, all of our game of the year picks for the first half of 2018. Seems like God of War is the most popular for the time being, but it seems that Insomniac’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man could take its place. Red Dead Redemption 2 is another big contender, but we’ll have to wait and see if Rockstar will be able to outdo their previous titles released in the past few years. Even though it 2018 doesn’t have the same amount of strong first-party titles that 2017 did, and may end up looking much weaker than 2019, it has still been a pretty great year for video games so far.