Pokémon: Lets Go Pikachu
So, alright, it isn’t a ‘proper’ Pokémon game, one of those is on the way in the near future (due to be announced sometime in 2019), but I still really enjoyed it. I enjoyed revisiting Kanto for the first time since 2004’s FireRed and LeafGreen, catching those original 151 Pokémon, and trouncing those 8 original gym leaders. It added a few new features such as an ever-present Pikachu companion, and the opportunity to walk with and ride certain Pokémon (a feature not seen since 2010’s HeartGold). The updated graphical style refreshes the same basic gameplay enough to make it a new experience, and it more than fills the Pokémon void until the next one comes along. – Ben Vickers
Divinity: Original Sin 2
First of all, this game is hard. There are no giant arrows pointing towards the next quest or objective here. It’s good old-fashioned journal action. You have to pay attention to what people say, read up on the lore of the land, and be very aware of your environment. In Divinity: Original Sin 2 you spend a great deal of time thinking about what to do; even in combat you must be aware of your surroundings. Elemental magic is a big part of Divinity Original Sin, and depending on where characters stand you can get easy kills by using the elements. Another part of this game that I love is the humour, which is often darkly funny and outright ridiculous in places. A particular highlight for me was a conversation with an undead skeleton, where one of my party was able to make him explode with existential angst. This played no part in a quest and was merely incidental. If you like a challenge, and a laugh then look up this game. It’s divine! (Sorry). -Ben Vickers
My top pick for this year is Subnautica, an open-world survival-adventure of glorious proportions. Unlike most Minecraft wannabes, Subnautica changes up the formula and actually brings something new to the resource grinding that is most Minecraft mimics. Literally and metaphorically it throws you into the deep end and it’s up to you to figure out what the hell to do. The massive ocean with unknown depths, hundreds of creatures and plant life is both daunting and beautiful. For those that don’t enjoy the make your own adventure of Minecraft, never fear, Subnautica has its own story. In Subnautica you are a survivor of a star ship that crashed, you are trying to survive on an uncharted planet that 100% water and the objective to escape. With a focused path and the water exploration sets Subnautica apart from most other survival games and I would highly recommend. – Joe Worthington
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
I have followed and loved the new Tomb Raider series, the third instalment may not be its best, but the story is intriguing and for the graphical design alone the game deserves a mention. There was many moments I found myself lost staring at a new tomb or gazing out over the jungle from a high point. The gameplay is solid and the puzzle element is a fun break from the action, though sometimes the transition between puzzle gaming and combat is a bit jarring. If you love Tomb Raider this a must play. – Joe Worthington
I couldn’t have had a better game come out in 2018 than Hitman 2 – so excuse my bias. Agent 47’s latest outing was nothing short of outstanding. If you aren’t yet familiar with it, Hitman 2 is a stealth game where you travel the world – taking out high profile figures in the subtlest ways possible. Of course, that doesn’t often work. But messing up can be the most entertaining parts, as I have experienced many times, attempting to disappear from the hoard of armed guards.
What I love about this entry in the series is how IO interactive have iterated on an already great formula. The new maps are big yet are dense in possibility. From American suburbia, to gothic castle islands. This is the Hitman that I love, dialled up to 100. – Rowan Evans
The Sims 4: Seasons
I bought The Sims 4 in 2018. At last. And while this may not have been released in 2018 – it’s latest expansion sure was.
The Sims 4: Seasons follows on from some of my favourite expansions in the series, in that the best bits are in the subtleties. Little things like holidays, changes in temperature, being able to set dates for birthdays; these are all made possible through the addition of the calendar. What this expansion is great at doing is adding a much-needed sense of rhythm to the game. (And now there’s no excuse to miss your Sim’s birthday). – Rowan Evans