The answer for what is Game of The Year will depend on who you ask, their preferences and what they’ve played all year. During the year of 2018 we at The Buttonsmashers covered numerous games spanning almost every genre, and though some were terrible others completely blew us away. The games on this list are among the best titles we’ve covered this year, and each of them earned their spot on our Game of the Year 2018 List. This year we’ll be doing things a bit differently and separating the games via genre and ultimately choosing a set few for the illustrious GOTY title.
BEST Fighting Game: DRAGON BALL FIGHTERZ
Runner-up: SNK HEROINES: TAG TEAM FRENZY
During 2018 we covered numerous fighting games including, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Soul Calibur VI, and SNK HEROINES: TAG TEAM FRENZY. For the most part they were all solid games, but one stood out among the rest as the best fighting game we’ve covered all year, and that was Dragon Ball FighterZ. In our review we praised it for being “easy to pick up and play” as well as for being “Visually stunning”. It did have some shortcomings but none that would place any other fighter released in 2018 above it.
BEST Sports Game: PES 2019
Runner-up: Pilot Sports
2018 wasn’t a year for much innovation in the sports genre. Most of the mainstream releases were basically just updates of their previous releases, which PES 2019 also happens to be, but where PES 2019 wins is in its microtransactions. It doesn’t bring me great pleasure to say this, but pretty much every sports title in 2018 had severely aggressive microtransactions. PES 2019 did not. It has the dreading monetary practice, but due to the generous distribution of their virtual currency and drop rate of quality players, it isn’t as bad as the competition. Yes, “isn’t as bad” is sadly how we praise titles these days. That aside, PES 2019 is a great game, and with the launch of PES 2019 Lite it has become even better.
BEST Indie Game: THE GARDENS BETWEEN
Indie titles continue to dominate an industry with declining returns on triple-A releases. These titles allow for players to have a fun experiences in innovative worlds without the grind or tedium associated with triple-A titles. Games like the wonderful co-op adventure, Pode, and Metropolis: Lux Obscura offered short rewarding experiences. If this were not a best all list then we’d have them all on it, but alas there can only be one #1, and that for us was The Gardens Between. Praised for being “relaxing in small doses”. It captured the nostalgia of childhood memories in a way that was both brilliant and unique. Though there were many other great titles in this genre , it was the best.
BEST JRPG: Ni No Kuni 2
Runner-up: The Lost Child
Many will have forgotten about Ni No Kuni II in 2018 because it released early in the year between other big titles, but it was in fact released during 2018, and it was amazing. This modern JRPG featured visuals similar to Studio Ghibli and gameplay that improves on its predecessor in numerous ways. Yes we had other great JRPGs like The Lost Child, and Ys: Memories of Celceta, two brilliant games in this space, however Ni No Kuni II was miles ahead in both gameplay and visual presentation than any other JRPG released in 2018.
BEST Western RPG: STEVEN UNIVERSE: SAVE THE LIGHT
Runner-up: Hand of Fate 2
When we first covered Steven Universe Save the Light, it was clear that it was going to be among our GOTY choices for 2018. A Cartoon Network licensed title is not usually what you’d assume to be high calabar gaming, but like the series it is based on, it’s much deeper than it appears at first. The game captures the charm of the cartoon to great effect, and only suffers from understanding its welcome. Yes titles like Nine Parchments, and Hand of Fate 2 wowed us, but Save the light’s charm eclipses all of them combined.
BEST Strategy Game: VALKYRIA CHRONICLES 4
Runner-up: The Banner Saga Trilogy
The SRPG scene has had a resurgence since the popularity of the X-COM games, and 2018 saw lots of releases in the genre including: Banner Saga 3, Disgaea 5 Complete, Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics, and City of the Shroud. Many of these titles have gone unnoticed by the majority of players, but It’d be unfair if we recommend checking them all out. Among them was the spectacular 4th entry in the Valkyria Chronicles franchise. Many had high expectations for this title, and SEGA delivered. The game is easily one of the best titles in this genre without a doubt. With it’s great characters, story and gameplay, it’s a must own for every SRPG fan.
BEST Action Adventure: YAKUZA 6: THE SONG OF LIFE
Runner-up: Assault Spy
Every now and then a game comes along that doesn’t fail to live up to the hype. Usually those tend to be first party titles, but some third-parties like the Persona and Yakuza games don’t fail to impress. Yakuza 6 offers a great almost authentic Japanese experience. Yes its exaggerated in places, but it’s authentic in the ways that matter most. This replication of some iconic Japanese locations is so dense and filled to the brim with recognizable landmarks that it should please any fan of Japan, and with gameplay that should satisfy fans of the franchise, and newcomers alike, it’s hard not to recommend.
BEST Racing Game: Trailblazers
Runner-up: Riptide GP: Renegade
Racing games kinda took a back seat for us during 2018, but that is not to say that there weren’t any great one, it’s just that the year was packed with a mindblowing amount of games. Among those games were racers like MotoGP18, GRIP and TrailBlazers. This unique racer used what can only be described as a splatoon styled aesthetic and applied it to a Mario Kart style racing setting. Add in a popping soundtrack, local multiplayer, along with interesting characters and you have a recipe for a good time with family and friends.
BEST Platformer: MEGA MAN 11
Runner-up: Hidden Dragon: Legend
Mega Man 11 is an extremely-solid platforming experience that should appeal both to longtime fans of the franchise and those who are new to the series and enjoy games of this variety. The presentation is very polished, the gameplay feels fresh and exciting, and you get a pretty solid value for your investment here. What more can you ask for from a platformer?
Best Multiplayer Game: Dead By Daylight
Runner-up: Nine Parchments
Multiplayer focused games are probably the least covered genre on our site, however there are a few that we have had the pleasure of playing during 2018. We’ve certainly had some good times with Paladins on the Switch, the odd battle royal match or two, but at the top of the list is Dead By Daylight. The multiplayer cooperative horror survival game has evolved over the year, but for the most part it has remained an enjoyable experience.
Best First Party Games Released in 2018
- BEST PS4 EXCLUSIVE: God Of War
- BEST NINTENDO SWITCH EXCLUSIVE: Super Smash Bros Ultimate
- BEST XBOX ONE EXCLUSIVE: FORZA HORIZON 4
GAME OF THE YEAR
- Subnautica/ THE GARDENS BETWEEN (Third Runner-up)
- MEGA MAN 11 (Second Runner-up)
- VALKYRIA CHRONICLES 4 (First Runner-up)
YAKUZA 6: THE SONG OF LIFE (Winner)
Most of the games we’ve covered in 2018 were liked by individual members of our team, but then there are those that were universally liked. On the top of that pile was the unforgettable Yakuza 6. The final chapter in Kazuma Kiryu’s story does not disappoint in the slightest. With the spectacular combat system, ever changing Japanese cities, along with lots of familiar characters, yakuza 6 is the perfect package, and our Game of the Year for 2018.