Every year the video game industry somehow seems to up the ante on the breadth and quality of experiences it provides to players, and 2018 was no exception. Fans of triple-A blockbusters were consumed with the massive open worlds of games like Red Dead Redemption II, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and Spider-Man. Multiplayer fans shot, slashed, and punched their way through the competition in Black Ops 4, Monster Hunter: World, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And perhaps most importantly, titles like Fortnite, Overwatch, Destiny 2, and many others continued to blur the line between old and new by offering a steady stream of game-changing updates and seasonal content to keep gamers playing well after launch.
While the latest issue of Game Informer contains the full rundown of our 50 favorite games of 2018 (plus a ton of Top 10 lists highlighting the best characters, moments, dorks, etc.), we’ve also got a host of year-end awards to share, which you can check out right here. From the best platform exclusives to genre leaders to the illustrious Game of the Year award, here is the best of the best that 2018 had to offer.
Check out all the award winners below, and then see how they stacked up to the results of the Reader’s Choice Awards.
Best Sony Exclusive – God of War
Sony had no shortage of hit exclusives this year, from a slew of Yakuza titles to the best Spider-Man game to date. However, none of them could fend off the legendary return of Kratos. Santa Monica Studio didn’t just stop at offering fans the most gorgeous visuals and polished combat of the series. Instead, they transformed Kratos into one of the most intriguing characters of the year by reframing him as a reluctant father, weaving a more meaningful and heartfelt story than anyone expected. In a year with plenty of must-plays for Sony fans, God of War still came out on top.
Best Microsoft Exclusive – Forza Horizon 4
Microsoft may not have the breadth of exclusives that Sony and Nintendo enjoy, but that doesn’t diminish the first-place finish Playground Games pulled off this year. Forza Horizon 4 turns Great Britain into an open-world racing nirvana for gearheads. With a nearly endless stream of cars, races, and customization options, racing fans may never wave the checkered flag on Forza’s latest entry.
Best Nintendo Exclusive – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Bookending your game title with “Super” and “Ultimate” is more than a little cocky, but damned if Nintendo and Bandai Namco didn’t pull it off. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate brings back every fighter from the series’ long and illustrious history, along with almost every stage, giving players a ridiculous amount of depth and replayability. The massive new World of Light mode also keeps solo players entertained for hours on end. If you’re a Switch owner who likes fun, SSBU is a no-brainer.
Best PC Exclusive – Return Of The Obra Dinn
PC has always been home to intriguing indie experiences, and 2018 was no different. Lucas Pope delivered the best of the best this year with his 1-bit hit, Return of the Obra Dinn. The monochromatic puzzler doesn’t just rely on its striking visuals to enchant players; the challenging puzzles and intriguing murder mystery will keep you enthralled from beginning to end.
Best Mobile/Handheld Exclusive – Florence
Every now and then a game stands out from the sea of free-to-play microtransaction traps that plague the mobile platform. What Florence lacks in gameplay it more than makes up for in its story; a simple but appealing art style brings Florence to life as players experience her everyday routine and navigate the highs and lows of love in a thoughtful and authentic way.
Best Action Game – God of War
A lot of the praise heaped on the new God of War has focused on the thoughtfulness and maturity of its storytelling – so much so that it’s easy to forget that Santa Monica Studio has still crafted one hell of an action game. From a shack-smashing encounter with a mysterious stranger to a dance with a dragon, Kratos undertakes some of his biggest and most memorable boss fights in 2018’s reboot. Even the lowliest Draugr provides a satisfying target for your magical axe thanks to the polished combat mechanics and an in-depth, RPG-style progression system.
Best Adventure Game – The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Captain Spirit may be a prelude for the latest Life Is Strange, but it stands just fine as its own adventure. Seeing the world through the eyes of an imaginative boy named Chris makes thoroughly exploring each environment worthwhile, as does learning more about his life and relationship with his troubled father.
Best Competitive Multiplayer – Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Call of Duty haters scoffed at the idea of Treyarch jumping on the battle-royale bandwagon, but the results promptly shut them up. The venerable series brings a silky-smooth framerate and a gigantic bucket of polish to the winner-takes-all genre, and incorporating fan-favorite areas into the larger map gives the mode its own identity. COD’s classic multiplayer options also don’t disappoint this year, snagging Black Ops 4 top honors for our competitive multiplayer award.
Best Cooperative Game – Monster Hunter: World
The only thing better than taking down a towering beast with a comically oversized melee weapon is doing it with three friends at your side. Monster Hunter: World takes the long-running series to new heights with its gorgeous open-world zones, complex creatures, and dizzying progression systems. The fact that it is all built with multiplayer in mind makes the monster-slaying co-op action more accessible and entertaining than ever.
Best Fighting Game – Dragon Ball FighterZ
One look at Dragon Ball FighterZ’s striking visuals makes it easy to forget the anime’s rocky history with video games. Thankfully, the beauty isn’t just skin deep – Arc System Works put its decades of experience to good use, striking the perfect balance between being newcomer-friendly and providing the strategic depth hardcore fighting fans demand. The ability to blow enemies to kingdom come doesn’t hurt either.
Best Racing Game – Forza Horizon 4
Playground Games’ open-world offshoot of the Forza series shows no signs of slowing down. Horizon 4 is the most impressive entry to date, boasting 400+ cars to collect, route-creation tools, and changing seasons that affect road conditions. The arcadey racing action is where the rubber truly meets the road, however, and has kept us coming back for one challenge after another.
Best Role-Playing Game – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
No, that’s not a typo: Ubisoft Quebec’s decision to double down on the RPG elements of Assassin’s Creed Origins has transformed Odyssey into a true role-playing adventure, and we couldn’t be happier with the evolution of the series. Whether hunting down elusive cult members, snagging rare and exotic loot, or childishly dangling from anatomically correct marble statues, Odyssey gives players a massive and fascinating rendition of ancient Greece to lose themselves in.
Best Platforming Game – Celeste
Tough-as-nails indie platformers are everywhere these days, but Celeste leaps to the head of the pack by constantly plying players with new ideas and gameplay twists along their adventure. An innovative assist mode ensures struggling gamers can still enjoy the experience, but those looking for a challenge will be kept busy with a boatload of devilishly hard level variations as they overcome Celeste’s inner demons on a mountain-climbing adventure that our thumbs won’t forget anytime soon.
Best Puzzle Game – Return of the Obra Dinn
Obra Dinn’s visuals may be simple, but the logic puzzles you’re tasked with solving are anything but. Deducing the identity and fate of each crew member on the doomed ship is no easy feat, but it is a fascinating one, plunging you further and further into the strange and fantastical world that Lucas Pope has crafted.
Best MMO – World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
World of Warcraft’s latest expansion may not clear the high bar Legion set in 2016, but it still gave fans plenty of reasons to return to the 14-year-old MMO. A wealth of new quests, dungeons, and warfronts have kept the battle between the Alliance and Horde raging all year. Even an “okay” expansion from Blizzard is still a great time.
Best Shooter – Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
We’ll be honest: We missed having a bombastic story campaign to blast our way through in this year’s COD. On the other hand, G.I. editors are still playing Black Ops 4’s myriad multiplayer offerings almost nightly. Treyarch’s ability to faithfully transplant COD’s rock-solid gunplay into 100-player battles on a humongous open-world island is a noteworthy achievement and blows the doors wide open for the future of the series.
Best Simulation Game – Frostpunk
Plenty of city-building sims task you with leading your own civilization – but rarely do they make you question your morality and competence as a leader. Frostpunk challenges players with an endless series of impossible choices as they try to survive a second ice age, sparking a level of self-reflection games rarely achieve.
Best Strategy Game – Into The Breach
Most mech-versus-kaiju showdowns favor brawn over brains, but not Into The Breach. Underneath the cutesy pixel-art aesthetic lies a serious strategy behemoth. Coordinating your crew’s unique abilities to beat down an onslaught of towering beasts is only half the battle – figuring out how to minimize casualties and manipulate your foes into attacking each other adds a whole new complex and satisfying layer to unravel. Basically, Into The Breach is like chess, only with way more explosions.
Best Sports Game – NBA 2K19
NBA 2K19’s microtransactions may still rub some fans the wrong way, but you can’t argue with the sheer amount of content and polish Visual Concepts offers would-be ballers. NBA 2K19’s MyCareer, Neighborhood, MyGM, MyLeague, and MyTeam modes all received meaningful improvements, giving fans an unprecedented number of avenues to interact with their favorite sport.
Best VR Game – Beat Saber
VR is still struggling to find a larger audience, but those who have already bought into the technology enjoyed an audio-visual experience like no other in 2018. Beat Saber transforms the rhythm/music genre into a full contact sport, as players slice their way through neon-hued blocks in time to the music. It may not quite rise to the level of killer app, but if you haven’t played Beat Saber yet, you’re missing out.
Best Rhythm/Music Game – Beat Saber
Seriously, were you not listening when we said Beat Saber was an “audio-visual experience like no other” and that it “transforms the rhythm/music genre into a full contact sport?” That’s high praise! Beat Saber players can also download thousands of user-made tracks to popular songs for free if you’re playing on PC, making it an easy recommendation if you’ve already got a VR rig that needs some more love.
Best Remaster/Remake – Yakuza Kiwami 2
Sega has offered series fans a criminal cornucopia of Yakuza titles over the past few years, but even the remakes have been chock full of new and entertaining content. Yakuza Kiwami 2 doesn’t just rehash the events of the second game in the series – it also adds a whole new story campaign focused on Goro Majima, an updated combat system, and fan-favorite mini-games from recent entries. If every remake turned out as good as Yakuza Kiwami 2, we wouldn’t even need new games anymore!
Best Games-As-Service – Fortnite
Regardless of the fact that it launched in 2017 or that it’s still technically an early access title, Fortnite was the defining game of 2018 for millions and millions of gamers. And we can’t blame them – from a mystery involving a giant purple cube to a celebrity cameo by Thanos(?!), Fortnite constantly surprised and delighted players with new content throughout the year. In the nuclear arms race of games-as-service titles, Fortnite remains an ambitious frontrunner.
Game of the Year – God of War
You know it’s been a good year for games when giving top honors to a title as flawlessly executed as God of War can be considered contentious. While G.I. has a posse of irate cowboys ready to declare mutiny over the decision, even they can’t argue against God of War being a modern-day masterpiece. Santa Monica Studio’s reinvention of the series has made Kratos relevant to new and old audiences alike, and is backed up by superb visuals, combat, writing, voice acting – the list goes on and on. Even for a god slayer, taking down this year’s phenomenal competition was a herculean task, but Kratos proved a worthy champion.
Author: Game Informer Staff
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