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The best video games released in 2018

These are the best video games you shouldn't leave 2018 without

Digital Trends writers pick game of the year
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This year at Digital Trends, we had the pleasure of enjoying a number of stellar video games. With the end of the year fast approaching, we decided to give our gaming-inclined staff a free pass to wax poetic about their favorite games. We then put together this list of what we consider to be the best video games of 2018.

There are certainly some trends in our picks, particularly with action-adventure games that capitalized on the open world design like Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War, but there are also a couple of titles that impressed us with their ingenuity as well, like Celeste and Florence.

Red Dead Redemption 2 won our award for the best product of the year. Make sure and check out all our other selections for Best Products of 2018.

At a glance

Product Category Rating
Red Dead Redemption 2 Game of the year 10 out of 10
Celeste Best Indie Game 10 out of 10
God of War  Best Game Direction 9 out of 10
Marvel’s Spider-Man Best Game Narrative 9 out of 10
Pokemon Let’s Go Best Remake 9 out of 10
Florence Best Mobile Game Not yet rated


Red Dead Redemption 2

Game of the year

Crunch Culture | Rockstar Games
Red Dead Redemption 2/Rockstar
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why should you buy this:
It’s Red Dead Redemption 2.

Who’s it for: Action-adventurists who enjoy western themes, detailed open worlds, and a moving story.

How much will it cost: $60

Why we picked Red Dead Redemption 2Red Dead Redemption 2 is the most stunning achievement in the AAA gaming space. From its otherworldly attention to detail to how it seamlessly segues from gameplay to cutscenes, to the way its beautiful open world dynamically changes based on your actions, Red Dead Redemption 2 endlessly shines.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is far more than a technical marvel, though. It’s the most thoroughly engaging open world game I’ve ever played. Each of the game’s missions brings something new to the rich heartland, and they consistently accomplish the rare feat of working hand-in-hand with the story. Set at the end of the 19th century, in the last days of the outlaws, the tale of Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang is expertly written and delivered through characters that feel like living, breathing people.

In many ways, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the antithesis of what we’ve come to expect from open world games. It has action, yes, but prolonged lulls exist in the middle to showcase the quiet moments. It’s a game that forces you to spend many hours simply riding across the countryside by horse. And yet, some of my favorite moments happened during these periods of calm. Red Dead Redemption 2 is endlessly fascinating.

Read our full Red Dead Redemption 2 review

Celeste

Best indie game

Image used with permission by copyright holder
Felicia-Miranda | Gaming Editor
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why should you buy this:
Celeste masterfully combines simple controls, challenging platforming, and a lovable story with a soundtrack that suits every intense moment.

Who’s it for: Fans of story-telling platforming games, regardless of skill level.

How much will it cost: $20

Why we picked CelesteIt’s not too often that you get to see an indie game on the list of nominees for Game of the Year but Celeste has achieved that and for good reason. 2D platformers aren’t exactly a unique concept to gaming but Celeste succeeds in staking its claim in the oversaturated genre by taking familiar ideas and executing them in a way that makes them remarkable.

Controls are simple and fluid, yet the perilous side-scrolling climb in Celeste is complex and demands creativity. But that isn’t to say that Celeste is unfair. Its elaborately constructed levels are speckled with plenty of checkpoints and limitless respawns, and the straightforward controls make completing levels possible and immensely satisfying with enough practice.

While the movement and platforming are masterful, what truly makes Celeste stand out is how it pairs refined gameplay with an adaptive soundtrack and a charming story. It’s not only a game about overcoming physical challenges but also mental and emotional obstacles as well. All of these ingredients mixed in with an abundance of content get you a game that’s hard to put down and even harder to forget.

Read our full Celeste Review

God of War

Best game direction

God of War New Game+
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Gabe Gurwin | Contributor
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why should you buy this:
God of War brings breathtaking visuals, engaging combat, and a more mature yet fascinating story filled with Nordic lore about a warrior father and his son.

Who’s it for: God of War fans and enthusiasts of lore-filled action-adventure games.

How much will it cost: $25

Why we picked God of WarYou can’t always fully appreciate a game by its trailers or footage in a YouTube video – that feeling of playing it can’t be replicated. God of War is one of those games, delivering the best third-person action of the year, and arguably of all time, against enemies both large and small.

From heaving Kratos’ ax toward a Draugr to pummeling a boss into submission with your bare hands, Sony Santa Monica simply gets action, despite the game taking a drastic turn away from its predecessor’s zoomed-out, combo-based system.

Where God of War has matured even more, however, is in its storytelling. No longer a gore-fest for the sake of shock value and fantasy fulfillment, God of War manages to feel grounded, despite still being a game about gods murdering other gods with magical abilities and sharp weapons. I can’t wait to see where the series goes next, as the stage is set for an even more ambitious follow-up.

Read our full God of War review

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Best game narrative

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Matt Smith | Senior Editor
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why should you buy this:
Marvel’s Spider-Man is the best superhero game since Batman: Arkham Asylum, a title that it takes clear inspiration from yet effortlessly improves upon.

Who’s it for: Spider-Man comic book fans and action game lovers.

How much will it cost: $60

Why we picked Marvel’s Spider-Man2018 was full of games seeking to become a lifestyle. They’re packed with content to promise 40, 60, 80, even 100 hours of distraction. Whether or not that time is well spent seems secondary. Thankfully, Spider-Man arrived to save me from the doldrums of repetitive blockbusters. I beat it in less than 20 hours, yet I could hardly tear myself away from the console.

The wonderfully fluid, highly praised web-swinging is part of the thrill, but credit is also due to the game’s writing, voice acting, and pacing. While many games feel designed to waste the player’s time, Marvel’s Spider-Man respects it, treating every minute like a precious resource that must be crammed with entertainment.

Playing to the end was a joy, not a chore, and unlike so many other blockbuster games, I often find myself returning to Spider-Man. Not because I need to check off an activity or beat a side-quest, but because I want to play, even if there’s nothing left to finish. That’s why it’s my game of the year.

Read our full Marvel’s Spider-Man review

Pokémon Let’s Go

Best remake

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Chris DeGraw | Content Specialist
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why should you buy this:
Pokémon Let’s Go is a modern yet authentic reimagining of Pokémon Yellow. It delightfully utilizes the Nintendo Switch motion control capabilities and adds just the right amount of newness to revitalize the concept.

Who’s it for: Let’s Go incorporates just the right amount of entry-level gameplay and classic features to appeal to new and old trainers alike.

How much will it cost: $60

Why we picked Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee!:

Pokémon Let’s Go needs a round of applause. It’s been a blast strolling down memory lane with an impressively familiar yet distinctly new experience. My hope is that the younger generation enjoys this game the same way I did all those years ago when I first toured Kanto, learning lessons about morals, friendship, and the importance of strategy along the way.

This game successfully rekindled the fondness I’d held for Pokémon Go when it launched two years ago. I’ve got all new reasons to get up and go outside with friends, like taking my monster friends for walks in a real-life Pokéball and transferring the new recruits to my Switch upon returning home.

With less importance on fighting and a much bigger focus on collecting, Pokémon Let’s Go is finally the relaxing, wholesome Pokémon game it was always meant to be.

Read our full Pokémon Let’s Go review

Florence

Best mobile game

Image used with permission by copyright holder
Diego Arguello | Contributor
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why should you buy this:
Florence is an interactive love story that fits in your pocket and demands less than an hour of your time. But during that period, it manages to deliver one of the most heartfelt experiences in recent memory, presenting light puzzles reminiscent of day-to-day moments.

Who’s it for: Mobile gamers who enjoy bite-size visual novels with charming stories and interactive gameplay.

How much will it cost: $3

Why we picked FlorenceFlorence is little indie that brings a distinctly clever and charming experience. It tells the story of a young woman stepping into a romance using a series of short interactive sequences that include brushing teeth, flirting at a party, or eating pizza with a partner. Everything is done with quick and well-thought-out interactions using a few simple taps on your smartphone’s screen. As the story unfolds, you’re treated to a soothing soundtrack that slowly works to immerse you into the story and steal you away from the outside world.

In less than an hour, this simple mobile game achieves what dozens of big-budget narrative-driven titles have been striving to accomplish for years. Instead of requiring the player to press different buttons simultaneously or think fast for quick-time events, Florence uses simple mechanics to tell each chapter of the relationship in an honest and almost innocent way.

By ditching overly complex puzzles and unnecessary sequences, Florence presents everyday moments that anyone can relate to and play with intuitively, all wrapped up in a tale that’s as moving as it is comforting. It’s an accessible game that can, and should, be experienced by everyone.

Digital Trends Staff
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