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Wam’s Top 5 Games of 2018

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2018 was quite the year, wasn’t it? Despite the constant soothsaying that “videogames are getting worse”, it seems like every year there’s great games coming out. Of course, that could just be the privilege of not having to play BIG AAA GAMES. But hey, to each their own.

With that in mind, here’s a look at my top games for 2018. If I had to make an observation, 2018 was a pretty good year when it comes to the field of genre improvements. Many games of big genres received tweaks or changes that although may rustle some purist jimmies, ended up for the better. These include things like God of War not blindly chasing the Souls formula and removing its stamina bar, as well as Spider-Man daring to be more than an Arkham brawler.

Seeing as neither of those games made my top five however, let’s get to the list (in no particular order):

5. Blazblue Cross Tag Battle

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Fighting games are a weird bunch. I inherently suck at them, I don’t often have friends to play them with and I don’t follow the scene closely enough to be considered a fan.

Blazblue Cross Tag Battle is a 2v2 crossover battle combining Arc System Work’s Blazblue, Under Night In-Birth, Persona 4 Arena as well as debuting RWBY characters. It’s a gorgeous sprite fighter and arcadey as hell. Considering this year also gave us Dragon Ball and Street Fighter, why this fighting game?

It’s accessible.

While not nearly Smash-levels of accessible, Blazblue makes it’s controls certainly still retain the feeling of a classic arcade fighter while also not requiring overly complex inputs. The sprite art is also gorgeous, which is something that’s becoming harder to find as more games move towards 3D graphics.

My only complaint is that early on I tried to escape from crossing fate, but the game informed me that such a feat was simply not possible.

4. Death’s Gambit

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It’s no secret I like Dark Souls. You know who else likes Dark Souls? The people who made this game. Death’s Gambit is a metroidvania-souls-like game that borrows heavily from the Dark Souls art style. Thematically, however, that’s where the similarities end. I talk about it more in my review of the game, but basically, this game scratches the itch left when I finished Dark Souls 3, and while not perfect, it’s a pretty good RPG on its own.

You play as Soren, a reincarnated soldier charged by Death to figure out why no one seems capable of dying anymore- and then immediately put an end to that nonsense. You fight plenty of cool bosses, some really annoying ones but all in all, it’s a pretty good standard-setter on fun souls-likes.

3. BattleTech

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“You dig giant robots. I dig giant robots. We dig giant robots. Chicks dig giant robots”. -Megas 1:01

BattleTech is a tactics game where you have to manage your own mecha-based mercenary squad as you have adventures across the galaxy. Many times, your mercenaries will die, your mechs will be destroyed or in the shop for repairs, and you will stress about not being able to afford your monthly expenses. There’s a plot about a royal coup or whatever, but let’s be real: this is the meat of the game.

While JRPGs are often lauded for their uniqueness compared to “mainstream” RPGs, I feel not enough praise is given to the CRPG. BattleTech is absolutely dripping in flavors of the genre from all the out-of-combat dialogue choices, resource management and grid based combat.

BattleTech is a nerdy game, let no one tell you otherwise, and that’s where it shines. You get to do things like targeting the back of a mech because it has less armor there, disabling ammo caches on the enemy mech so they can’t reload and even dropping your mech in a lake to help it cool off its overheated guns. Nowadays, too many games try to go the other way and appeal to more mainstream audiences by making things less nerdy. Not BattleTech. And that’s how it earns its spot.

2. Monster Prom

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Competitive. Dating. Sim.

I talk about it more in this review but basically, Monster Prom is one of the best executed ideas in an indie game in a while. Play with up to 4 of your fellow dating sim enthusiasts and watch as they try to murder each other IRL over the literal devil while you embrace your inner Guillermo Del Toro and try to romance the mermaid.

It’s got plenty of routes, charming side characters and is a perfectly serviceable plot for single player too. On top of it all, there’s an orgy ending. Instant classic.

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1. Monster Hunter: World

Again, my complete thoughts on the game were noted in review form here. Since its release last January, Monster Hunter World has added a plethora of new monsters, including two basically-raids.

Plenty of genre improvements like a quickbar and auto-crafting have made sure this game keeps you focused on the hunting and not superficial busywork.

The game’s ability to do drop-in co-op makes afternoon sessions capable of being as simple as helping newbies with difficult quests (because it doesn’t matter what game you’re playing, it is a Sunbro’s job to engage in jolly co-operation and help other people find glory).

The ability to do that proves Monster Hunter World’s thesis statement: make the gameplay fun enough, and people will keep playing even when there’s no loot to be gained. Despite the fact the game has plenty to grind for (RNG gems, materials for armor sets) that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy occasionally popping in to other monsters. The mix of the game’s varied weapons playing well and the bosses being designed to be fun makes this a genuinely good game.

Honorable Mentions:

Dead Cells- A truly fun dungeon crawler. Didn’t make the list more out of preference than quality, not a big fan of permadeath and restarting without my equipment.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate- Figured I didn’t qualify for adding to this list because I feel like I hadn’t played the whole game since I’ve only played the VS mode with friends at parties.

Deltarune: another victim of good-game-just-not-for-me, Deltarune is a surprise free demo (?) from Undertale creator Toby Fox. While not explicitly Undertale 2, it boasts party-based combat, a sick soundtrack and all the Undertale flavors that people love Undertale for.

So what next? 2019 is already looking to be an interesting year with Devil May Cry 5 coming back from the dead, Daemon Ex Machina carrying the banner of mech games and Love, Esquire also being on the horizon. Happy 2019 everybody!