Shank’s Best and Worst of 2018

2018 was an interesting year in the industry. While we saw excellent titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, we also saw utterly broken products like Fallout 76, deceptive marketing, and the proliferation of terrible anti consumer business practices.

While many people may make a “Best Of” list, it’s important to recognize the worst of this industry. This is not to “not let people enjoy things,” rather, it’s important for consumers and media to recognize the bad in order for us to inoculate ourselves against a repeat of such practices.

(It’s called pragmatism, folks).

So then, let’s get to the best and worst of 2018. One final thing to note, my list below won’t necessarily be games that released in 2018, rather, games I played in 2018. Take that for what it’s worth (which is admittedly very little).

Best Indie

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

What an absolutely phenomenal game. When you recall that this is the first game from fledgling developer Warhorse Studios, it’s all the more impressive. This game is a true RPG through and through. It’s an absolute technical tour de force, leveraging one of the most powerful engines around in CryEngine to craft something beyond what many “AAA” studios have achieved. I absolutely love this game, and when you remember that this is really just Part 1 of a three part tale, the prospect of these future games makes me excited indeed. (Full disclosure, I Kickstarted this game).

Kingdom Come Deliverance

Best RTS/Strategy/4x

Mario Party

Ok, I didn’t play any this year. I listed the first game that came to mind.

MARIO PARTY 11

Best Fighting Game

Atlas

The struggle is real simply trying to run this game at an acceptable framerate on a 2080 Ti.

Best Shooter

Overwatch

My friends and I got back into this game and boy, has it been so fun. A personal goal of mine was to get to Level 100 before the year ended, a feat I managed only in the last few days. I love the tactics this game demands, the hilarity with my friends, and the ensuing panic and chaos. Our crew play pretty heavy and we’re quite defensive in our comp, so it’s always fascinating to see how we adapt to more skilled teams. I love this game.

Best Action Game

God Of War

BOY!

Best Racing Game

Forza Horizon 4

If you recall, I was very critical of the technical state of this game in my review. They did manage to fix the tech issues and I was able to enjoy this game much more. Playground Games have crafted a masterpiece here which will be exceedingly difficult to top in their next Horizon outing.

Forza Horizon 4

Best RPG

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

A true RPG made in the mold of PC games of yesteryear, I love this game so much. The slow pace, the lack of magic, the soundtrack, the world, everything.

Best Multiplayer

Overwatch

Mei sucks. Hanzo Mains suck. Ballz Meta ftw.

Best Single Player

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Literally everything I’ve said before.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Best Narrative

Red Dead Redemption 2

Wow. Just wow. This was tough to pick because of all the amazing stories in games we’ve been treated to this year, but RDR2 does stand out above the pack for it’s amazing execution, writing, performance, and mood. Incredible.

Best Art Style

God Of War

I’m very partial to photorealism, and I think God Of War mixes a surreal quality into its photoreal elements beautifully to create something fantastic yet grounded. It’s difficult to pull off, but my god, it’s stunning.

Best Soundtrack

God Of War

I listen to this every week when I write my editorials. Absolutely epic. I love everything about it, especially Eivør’s vocals. It conveys such an immense sense of ancient grandeur with just the perfect amount of foreboding.

God of War

Best Sound Design

Battlefield V

Damn, this game sounds amazing. This is one of those few games that places me perfectly into the world in an acoustic sense. The bullets whizzing by, the planes screaming overhead, the building collapsing to my left, all of this is conveyed so damn well. I really love the sound design here.

Worse Performance

  • Todd Howard mocking people complaining about bugs during E3…only for his game to be the buggiest, least stable $60 launch of the year
  • Pete Hines for…literally everything he said this year

Best Performance

I couldn’t pick one, so all of these win:

  • Tom McKay and Victoria Hogan (Henry and Theresa in Kingdom Come: Deliverance)
  • Chris Judge and Sunny Suljic (Kratos and Atreus in God Of War)
  • Melissanthi Mahut (Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey)
  • Literally everyone in RDR 2
  • Brian Theodore Armstrong as Miserable Brian

Best Engine

Frostbite, Battlefield V

This wins for one very simple reason. It’s the only engine and game to have real-time ray tracing, the literal Holy Grail of PC graphics. This is not a trivial achievement and must be recognized.

Best Technology/Innovation

Ray Tracing

See my reasons above.

Battlefield V Single Player War Stories

Best Graphics

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Wait so I lose my mind about ray tracing, yet award best graphics to a totally different game? Yes. Put simply, Battlefield V pulls off an astonishing feat in their lighting, but Kingdom Come Deliverance is the more rounded package on the technical front with its insanely photorealistic forests, not-ray-tracing-but-still-incredible lighting, water, PBR, etc. It is the best looking game I’ve ever seen.

Worst Developer

Bethesda Game Studios and Bethesda Austin, Fallout 76

This saga is seemingly unending. From a broken beta to an equally broken launch, to deceptively marketing a $200 collector’s edition, to leaking consumer data, to fans defending this game in the face of overwhelming evidence — all of this is down to the incompetence of Bethesda.

Worst Publisher

Bethesda Softworks, Fallout 76

See above. The reasons are the exact same.

Best Developer

Warhorse Studios, Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Like I mentioned above, this game was Warhorse’s first outing. It wasn’t flawless, but they pulled it off. I love this game, and am impressed with what Warhorse did. I can’t wait for Parts 2 and 3.

Best Publisher

Deep Silver, Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Picking a best publisher is really like choosing the least awful publisher. But I’ll give this one to Deep Silver for taking a very real risk on an unproven fledgling studio. Just don’t publish another Agents of Mayhem.

Biggest Disappointment

There are a few here:

  • Mainstream games media for excusing away microtransactions, missing the bigger picture by pedantically explaining what a game engine is, and fueling corrosive hype.
  • The normalization of “Games as a service” being used to justify empty (and often broken) shells for a $60 premium with “free” updates down the line, and consumers and media actually buying into this bullshit. 2019 looks to be a doubling down on this with games like Anthem and The Division 2.
  • Literally anything David Cage says or does

Worst Game

Fallout 76

I’ve written extensively about this. If you still defend this game in the face of the overwhelming evidence, you’re simply wrong to do so. I urge you to think more critically.

Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition Canvas Nylon Bag

Game of the Year

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Prior to this year, there were only two games I’ve played that have really changed my outlook of games. The first is Oblivion, and the second is Witcher 3. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is now part of that list. An incredible experience through and through, it is unquestionably my Game Of The Year for 2018.

And now, onwards to 2019.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Written by
A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.

3 Comments

  1. Hmmm interesting..I would have never guessed Kingdom Come: Deliverance, I have watched several videos on it and just cant seem to get past the combat, may have to pick it up on a deep sale..

  2. Best Fighting Game:
    Atlas

    Too funny!

    Good read, thanks!

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