Your Video Game of the Year - 2018 Edition
Simon Woodward
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For the second year running, here is a community geeklist to celebrate our most beloved games this year. Your choice does not have to be a new game, or even new to you, it could be as old and preloved as Adam. But you must have played it this year. You only get one geeklist item, although you may also list some "honourable mentions" within your item.

RULES:

1. Add an item for your top video game played in this year. You can add this item any time, and are free to change it as you wish. You can even use it to keep track of your nominations until you've made your final decision. But it ultimately should display your Game of the Year.

2. Tell us why you chose this video game, when it was released, what platform you played it on, how you acquired it, how much you played, what you achieved, whether you have played it before, etc. You can write a mini review if you like or post a link to your entry in the "Games Beaten" geeklist.

3. You may also list some honourable mentions; other games you played and liked this year.

Let the celebrations begin!

OTHER LISTS:

Your Video Game of the Year - Master List

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1. Video Game: Horizon Zero Dawn [Average Rating:8.75 Overall Rank:98] [Average Rating:8.75 Unranked]
Video Game: Horizon Zero Dawn
Simon Woodward
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Surprisingly Horizon Zero Dawn didn't make the list last year. I started playing it rather late in the year and got a bit burned out, taking a break in December. Then I thought I lost my save for a while, and only came back to it in February. I bumped it down to Easy, and perhaps that was the sweet spot, because I ended up loving the game. I even got the "dynamic theme" for my PS4 and purchased the original soundtrack on iTunes! Apart from the lush graphics, the combat is fun and dynamic, and always dangerous, but not punishing. It's just fun to wander in the gorgeous wilderness. I miss playing it already.

Edit: I got the Frozen Wilds DLC when it came down in price, and it is excellent too!

My second pick would be finishing the B,C,D endings of Nier, wow that was powerful.

Notables:

Horizon Zero Dawn
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Nier Automata
Nier
God of War
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2. Video Game: Amphora [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Amphora
Jørgen K
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Copenhagen S
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Amphora is one of the most beautiful games I have been playing! And it have many great puzzles that makes you think and wonder. Often I realized I had the right idea, I just couldn't get it to work!
The shadow play and amazing music gives a very special feeling - both for the eyes, ears and soul.

I believe this was given to me by another VGG user, and played on Steam.
Item for Geeklist "Videogames Beaten by VGGers in 2018"

Other nominees in the Top 5 (that didn't quite make it):
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Far Cry 3
NEKOPARA Vol. 2
Veteran Combat
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3. Video Game: Kingdom Hearts II [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:237]
Video Game: Kingdom Hearts II
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Kingdom Hearts II - Final Fantasy + Disney = Am I in heaven? Loved the game and functional improvements over the first game. The story had me keep pushing forward to the end.

Honorable mentions:
Kingdom Hearts
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy XIII
Portal 2
Mass Effect
Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director's Cut
Star Ocean: The Second Story
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

I know that's a long list, but I played a lot of great games this year.

Definitely the year of me finishing what I started whistle
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4. Video Game: Guacamelee! [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:615]
Video Game: Guacamelee!
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This game is really fun to play and so much more forgiving than the Mega Man games on NES.

Having access to armor and sub tanks makes a big difference.

As long as you do some research to find the best path to defeat the entry levels they are pretty easy. The Sigma castle has some difficulties but nothing unsurpassable.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship is going to give Mega Man X a serious run.

Mega Man X yeah, I think I give the edge to Guacamelee.

Pikmin 2 I like some of the advancements over Pikmin.

Tomb Raider (2013): I liked this overall, but darker tone than necessary.

Chrono Trigger: I bet I'd have liked this way more in the 90s.

Super Mario Run: Really good for a mobile game.

Inside: It's alright. Nowhere near as good as Limbo.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: I'm not sure I even liked this game. Man did it get ponderous. -A few months out and I'm forgetting I disliked playing it so much. Though I do recall the abysmal sailing all over the whole world and back collecting things.

SUPERHOT: Preferred it as a browser game. Maybe nostalgia?

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: Disliked

Dust: An Elysian Tail: There are so many great metroidvanias, there is no reason to waste your time on this.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons: very missable.
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5. Video Game: Headlander [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:4776]
Video Game: Headlander
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Metroidvania with a retro-sci-fi aesthetic, piles of humor, and a reasonable playtime. Double Fine does it again.


Hon. mentions:

Evoland II

Torment: Tides of Numenera
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
Professor McLogic Saves the Day

Shadowrun Returns
Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Director's Cut
Shadowrun: Hong Kong
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6. Video Game: Super Mario Odyssey [Average Rating:8.58 Overall Rank:64]
Video Game: Super Mario Odyssey
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What can I say? I'm a sucker for Mario games, and this game is no exception. It's not my favorite Mario game but it's my favorite new-to-me game I've played so far in 2018.
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7. Video Game: Subnautica [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:765]
Video Game: Subnautica
Pieter
Netherlands
Tilburg
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As I state on my geeklist A lifetime of games, my game of the year 2018 is undoubtedly Subnautica. This game is an unparalleled experience of exploration, claustrophobia, and discovery. It starts out as a nice-looking though bog-standard survival game, but after a few hours turns into a fascinating journey into surprising unknowns. The preparations I made for the final trek in this game made me feel like a small Columbus, not knowing what to expect, where I would travel, and whether I would ever find my way back home. This is a game I think everybody should at least try.
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8. Video Game: Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:335]
Video Game: Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
Caroline Berg
United States
Washington
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Honorable mention: Up until I played through Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers it would have been Transistor. So beautiful. So tragic. Reminded me of an Art Nouveau version of the manga Clover which also includes a tragic tale about a singer, and some magic, but the manga does not include a talking sword, or a world dissolving. I plan on going back through Transistor in the future to get all the achievements.

However, now that I have played Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, it wins, hands down. Nothing else I play this year will top it - especially since I'm not likely to start any new games (I have enough I need to finish!)

There are many reasons why: the story, the voice acting, the way the game is structured by adding or removing various locations based on what day it is in game. The difficulty of the puzzles, and the way the game gripped me and kept me playing to where I would schedule in an hour here or there even when I really didn't have time to play it.

I miss old school adventure games, and playing this really filled the adventure game craving I have. This was my first time playing Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers too, so it was nice to have a "new" game to go through.
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9. Video Game: Grand Theft Auto V [Average Rating:8.33 Overall Rank:58]
Video Game: Grand Theft Auto V
Raymond Haaken
Netherlands
Maastricht
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We're only halfway through 2018, but so far, this one is my favourite.

I just love the scale of the game, the open world, the cars, the missions, the whole story is fantastic!
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10. Video Game: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:125]
Video Game: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Andrew Hodkinson
Canada
Owen Sound
Ontario
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I was hoping to play more recent games, especially Into the Breach and Obra Dinn, but I was sidetracked by other games: Clicker Heroes, but also because of GTA V, I started to play the GTA games from the GTA 1 through to GTA 3.

Video Game: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City


While all of the GTA 3 games were good, for some reason I like the second one, Vice City, the best. I thought I would prefer San Andreas; maybe I liked the portrayal of Miami more that LA/San Fran/Vegas. It could be all the funky pastel colours from the 1980s.
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11. Video Game: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt [Average Rating:8.93 Overall Rank:6] [Average Rating:8.93 Unranked]
Video Game: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
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I think I can safely say at this point that my favourite game of the year is The Witcher 3. It was engaging, massive, and thought-provoking. So much to do and explore, mostly well written with some excellent quest plots... Just excellent.

There were some other remarkable games I played, including (in rough order of preference):
Siralim 2
Age of Wonders III
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Broforce
Dragon Age: Origins
Transformers: Devastation
and Dragon Age: Inquisition

But The Witcher 3 was the best of the bunch.
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12. Video Game: Dark Souls III [Average Rating:8.59 Overall Rank:176] [Average Rating:8.59 Unranked]
Video Game: Dark Souls III
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Very tough to name a single Game of the Year for me.

Dark Souls III deserves the honor but there are larger experiences as well, like the fact I played through six different games in the Metal Gear series. Everything finally clicked for me with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, an excellent game I had tried playing a couple of times over the years. I also discovered Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, an improbably overlooked classic.

There was a whole stretch of the year where I Final Fantasy VI, VII, and IX - and also experienced the inimitable EarthBound for the first time.

I replayed many classics on the SNES mini, including The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which I think I appreciated more now than I ever have.

I spent weeks playing The World Ends with You, an amazing achievement in game design on the Nintendo DS.

2018 is even the year that I discovered Dying Light, a AAA-party-crasher that is among the better games in the PS4 library and up there with The Last of Us and Left 4 Dead in terms of zombie games. Feels like that was last year but it was early this year.

Heck, this was even the year that I got to play the text adventure tour de force Counterfeit Monkey, succumbed to the charms of Undertale, and lost myself in Axiom Verge.

This is the year that I played the original Shining Force, a trailblazer in one of my favorite genres.

Can't stress enough what a great year it has been.
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13. Video Game: Into the Breach [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:789]
Video Game: Into the Breach
Kevin J
Canada
Toronto
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Into the Breach is a very simple, streamlined turn-based strategy game that scratches just the right part of my brain. It has great replay-ability (to a point).


Honorable Mention:
Monster Hunter World - it's got that addictive "just ONE more thing, then I'll go to bed" thing going for it. Part of me knows that it's very repetitive, and I'm not even playing that smart when I'm hunting, but it's just so damn satisfying to whomp on a big monster with a giant weapon!

(both are games released in 2018, even!)
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14. Video Game: HITMAN 2 [Average Rating:8.40 Overall Rank:2055]
Video Game: HITMAN 2
Aaron Tubb
United States
Fuquay Varina
NC
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I played a good amount of Hitman, and some Hitman 2 this year. I'll go with Hitman 2 as my favorite for the year, since it contains all the missions and stuff from the previous game, with some gameplay/mechanics improvements. It's great. I'm really looking forward to really diving into the new missions next year.

Other games new to me this year that I really like:
Redout
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Mad Max
Dungeons 2



Old classics that I got to enjoy again this year:
Doom/Doom II/Final Doom
Civilization IV
Chrono Trigger
SimCity 4
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15. Video Game: Age of Wonders III: Eternal Lords [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
Video Game: Age of Wonders III: Eternal Lords
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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Upgrading my laptop PC last year enabled me to try some newer games this year. I've enjoyed the Age of Wonders series since the first game came out (in 1999, I think), and I'd heard this latest version was especially good. Indeed, I'd say it's the crowning glory of the series, though the earlier games are all worth playing too.

Of course, sequels invite comparison. AoW3 lacks some things I liked in earlier versions, and it also has some new features I'm not crazy about. But all in all, it's a wonderful game to play. Now if I could only get the hang of playing it reasonably well. Right now I win too easily on Knight level but lose too badly on Lord level.

Honorable mentions:
Darkest Dungeon It surprised me that I took to this game right away and liked it so much. My purchase of AoW3 is all that pulled me away from it, and I plan to get back into DD again.

Civilization IV: The Complete Edition I seem to have an eternal love-hate relationship with this series, which I've been playing since about 1991. There's a lot of joy in playing, but the game also has extremes of boredom and frustration. Anyway, this year Civ IV pretty much killed Civ V for me (I got into them in reverse order).

Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares For years I was happy with the original MOO. But this year I decided to go "all in" with MOO2 and get the full experience of it. So I played numerous games, trying all the different races as well as customized races. I also played on all difficulty levels, until I finally won a game on Impossible level. Indeed it's a very good game. I think people overrate the custom-race feature, though, and I personally prefer the simpler tactical combat in the original MOO.
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16. Video Game: Prey (2017) [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:645]
Video Game: Prey (2017)
Chris McDermott
United Kingdom
Belfast
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Prey is my game of the year for 2018. The atmosphere, story, and choices all made for a brilliant game. The only thing wrong with it were the frequent crashes but that might have been my laptop so I'll let it off.

Honorable mention to Tyranny, an excellent RPG that left me wanting more.
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17. Video Game: Outside the Scope of VGG [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Outside the Scope of VGG
From gallery of wytefang


Since the database (annoyingly) doesn't have an entry for this, even though it's PUBG's chief competitor and has hit the top 3 games being played list a few times since launch, I'll have to use the goofy placeholder for this. Sigh.

Anyway, Ring of Elysium is a 1 to 4-player (Solo, Duo, or Squads) Battle Royale created by TenCent (makers of the PUBG mobile game, go figure!) with a few twists that make it feel fresh compared to it competition AND it has tighter movement and gunplay than PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, as well.

Graphics are surprisingly sharp and the slightly futuristic look of weapons and items adds to the feel of the game.

Players are in snow-covered region that's soon to be hit by a monstrous snowstorm, called Ymir. As the storm hits each region, the outer sections of the map randomly close off and if you're cut in those regions, your health drops over time, forcing you to seek the safe zones further in. This is the primary twist of most Battle Royale games. That a large number of players start out in the game and little by little are whittled down to the final player or players who win the game by virtue of being the last player standing.

One twist that makes Ring of Elysium both great and user-friendly for genre newcomers is that it's a much smaller starting group - compared to PUBG's massive starting group of 100 players, Rings smaller size of 60 starting players means that you have a much greater chance of being in the final 10 players, where the stakes get higher and higher, as your chance to win the game grows larger.

Another twist is that in a normal Battle Royale (and even in an earlier incarnation of Ring of Elysium) it came down to being the last-person standing at the end, to win, as players try to wipe each other out with a wide variety of guns and/or grenades. Even a car can run you over, if you're so unlucky. HOWEVER, in Ring of Elysium, the end-game has been significantly tweaked to something a bit different. Once players reach the final small safe zone a rescue Helicopter will appear and move to a designated spot shown on the map. Once it hits that location, it hovers in place, dropping a rope ladder for players to climb up to safety. If you can successfully get into the chopper without being blasted off it by enemies, you secure your win for the match and a one-way ticket away from the snow-fueled horror of Ymir. The Helo has seats for up to four players. So rather than a simple shoot-em-up at the end to see who survived, there are elements of tactics, movement, stealth, luck, and gunplay at work.

The famous game designer Sid Meier once said that "good games are a series of interesting decisions" and nowhere is that better exemplified than in this new end-game crafted for Ring of Elysium. At first I missed the original, scorched-earth style of a BR ending, but now that I've had more time with Ring of Elysium, I'm seeing how it really works to live up to Sid's famous maxim. Do I sit and wait for everyone else to either try to climb the ladder (so I can maybe shoot them) before trying to get on it? But if I do that, then when the storm inevitably ramps up during the end-game, it can obscure vision which could possibly help someone climb the ladder without me seeing them if I'm too far away.

From gallery of wytefang


But if I sit and wait but don't have enough medical supplies, I may not be able to keep up with the health-loss that happens while the storm start raging at the end. Do I rush the Helo right when it lands in the hopes that no one has scoped into that ladder yet? (This has probably been the most successful strategy for me, overall.) But if I (or my teammate or mates) rush it, we're giving up the option to do valuable intel of the surrounding area, first. OR instead of hiding and trying to snipe the ladder, do I rush around trying to find the last few people to fight? Normally that would be risky, due to not knowing where your enemies are, but the game gives you an intermittent radar/sonar pulse of where enemies are around the Helo area, to prevent everyone from just camping it, though people still sometimes do camp it successfully. The game provides what it calls an "Adrenaline Boost" for players who get kills, making them briefly immune to the storms damage effects, as an incentive to encourage combat more than camping. Either way, as you can see, ROE offers lots of interesting choices in the end-game compared to just kill everyone to win.

This is a Third-person Perspective (TPP) Shooter but when you aim down your weapon sights, you go into First-person briefly. You can also toggle into a First-Person Perspective (FPP) during the match though that may put you at a disadvantage to players using the third-person camera to have a better view around corners and such. There's always lively debate on which is better. (For me, TPP is more enjoyable - I already have enough FPP type of games, I don't need more.)

From gallery of wytefang


There are a couple of other surprises that ROE offers to the genre as well and both work well. In a normal BR, players start the game by parachuting into the map to various locations. While this does leverage a measure of player skill at the start, many players find it annoying or slow. Ring of Elysium just said, "Screw it, let's ditch that entire opening." Instead, players simply select an open slot on the map to spawn into. If an enemy has already selected a spot, you can't spawn there but you have nearly 45 seconds to find a good spot for yourself or a teammate to start the game. If enemies are at a spot you like that offers good loot and weapons, do you choose to start near them, knowing combat will be inevitable OR do you forego a favored starting position for a place offering more peace and quiet at the start while you gear up?

Another big gameplay twist is that players start with a one of three different types of movement gear: a Snowboard, a Glider, or Rappelling Gear. The Snowboard lets you glide more quickly across slopes, assuming you can leverage some hills to boost your speed. The Glider is considered the most useful for getting around and/or on top of buildings. It also lets you escape the storm faster by jumping off high points or mountain tops. Finally, the rappelling gear allows you to climb certain mountain faces OR ride up and down various rappelling wires that run across the game's map. The catch is that the better movement choice (ostensibly the Glider) only comes with a TINY backpack for storage of items, where the Snowboard has a larger backpack and the Rappelling gear comes with the most storage. Unfortunately, the Rappelling Gear, despite the greatest storage size, isn't considered that viable as the wires aren't very universal and the mountainous areas where it could be useful are very small in number AND you end up being a sitting duck on the wall if you use them. Hopefully the devs can find a better way to make all types of movement useful in the future. Interestingly, you can use Sub-machine guns (only) when gliding or snowboarding but not on the rappelling line.

The only complaints I have right now are a lack of new content, as I'd like more weapon variety and more attachments AND a new map. Supposedly the devs are working on an entirely new map but it's a smaller team so I'm guessing we won't see it until next summer at the earliest, sadly.

Overall, this game has been consistently addictive for me as I tend to do WAY better than I do in PUBG when it comes to fighting and gunplay, since they're less wonky and feel better, overall.

It's been a blast so far and even though I'm not entirely convinced that every new change was necessary or even an improvement to the genre, it feels fresh and fun and in many, many ways is superior to PUBG, it's big competitor.
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18. Video Game: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild [Average Rating:9.21 Overall Rank:3]
Video Game: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Anne Skelding
United States
Connecticut
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I can spend hours just wandering around in this game. Don't know what it is that speaks to me--I'm usually a person who wants lots of plot. But it's beautiful and soothing. Nothing like it.
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