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The Most Important Games of 2018

VO: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
Most of the big games of 2018 have already come and gone. Of course there is still Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty, etc... and those games, at least Red Dead Redemption 2 anyway, have already made a huge impact on the year. So join MojoPlays in our discussion about the biggest releases and upcoming games of 2018.
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The Most Important Games of 2018

2018 has made for another monumental year of gaming, with popular AAA franchises churning out powerful entries and indie darlings commanding the attention of the masses. There have been titles that have proven video games as an undeniable art form, while others have unfortunately turned into examples of what not to do. Welcome to Mojoplays, and today we’re looking at the most important games of 2018.

To be clear, this isn’t a ranking of the best games to come out this year so far or a ranking at all. Rather, these are the games that have shaped or will shape, the gaming industry as it stands this year. For better or for worse.

“God of War” (2018)

This reboot took the anger-filled Kratos and threw him into the world of Norse mythology, but the biggest change came in the form of Atreus. By giving Kratos a companion (more importantly a son), Sony Santa Monica found a new way to explore Kratos’s characterization. It forced him, for the first time in the series, to care about something else outside of his vendetta. Sure, Kratos had a family in the original games who provided him with motivation, but Atreus gave him something to care about in the present, and the strained dynamic between the two gave the story depth that wasn’t seen in the original series.

In a time where many have claimed that single player games are dead, “God of War” stands in staunch opposition as both a critically and financially successful title. “God of War” is how single-player adventures should be approached. It made positive changes to nearly every aspect while still retaining elements that made Kratos popular to begin with. The combat was still addictively fun, but the addition of new weapons and progressive RPG features made it even more so. The story between father and son in this brutal world is what holds it all together.

“Fortnite: Battle Royale” (2017)

While the discussion goes on about whether or not single-player adventures are dead, the online multiplayer scene is thriving. And nowhere is that more obvious than Epic Games’ battle royale behemoth, “Fortnite.” The Battle Royale mode launched in 2017, yet it continues to affect the gaming world to a greater degree this year. 2018 saw the title grow to reach new audiences by its inclusion on the Nintendo Switch. Within 24 hours of release, it was downloaded over 2 million times.

Whether or not “Fortnite” will continue to be as prevalent in 2019 is anyone’s guess, but 2018 has seen it grow from game to pop-culture phenomenon. “Fortnite addiction” has become a common talking piece in mainstream media, while insanely popular streamers like Ninja have rocketed the game to more success. Whether you like it or not, there is no denying just how big of a game “Fortnite” is.

“Sea of Thieves” (2018)

Not every online multiplayer experience can reach the heights of “Fortnite,” however. “Sea of Thieves” was developed by Rare, and those hoping for a return to form not seen since their “Banjo-Kazooie” days were sadly disappointed. The game was supposed to give players the experience of living as a pirate; roaming the open seas, searching for treasure, and the like. And while many thought it had a solid foundation for this experience, it was sadly lacking the content to drive it home.

Many players and critics alike felt there wasn’t enough variety in the missions or the way you progressed or even in the enemies. By no means was it close to the disaster that was “No Man’s Sky” at launch, but it felt exceptionally empty for a full-price release. This is an example of how not to make a game in 2018. While it has received an expansion with plans for another, the lack of content at launch made many players drop off. This is really a shame considering the enticing premise. Here’s hoping that Rare’s “Battletoads” reboot turns out better.

“Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” (2018)

When one looks at the sheer amount of fan service being put into the latest edition of Nintendo’s popular brawler, it’s hard not to get excited. With the Switch, Nintendo has shown they are listening to the desires of their loyal fans. We’ve already seen how they’ve improved on the formula of Zelda and Mario in the console’s first year. And “Ultimate” really does look to be the Ultimate Smash.

Every character from past entries will be playable, as well as some exciting new ones. But it will also feature a treasure trove of references to Nintendo in the forms of stages, music, assist trophies and other items. Series creator and director Masahiro Sakurai has also been vocal about how much of a strain producing these games can be. If this were to be his last, it looks like he’s going out on top by including as much content as he can to please Nintendo’s diverse fanbase. All in all, this looks to be one of the most important fighting games ever released. Being able to take it on the go is just the cherry on top.

“Hollow Knight” (2017)

Another way in which Nintendo’s Switch is an improvement over the Wii-U is its celebration of indie developers. This charmingly macabre hand-drawn side-scroller may have released on PC in 2017, but 2018 saw it come out for the Switch, introducing it to a new audience in the process. The story, about a knight exploring a desolate underground kingdom, lent itself well to the Metroidvania gameplay, but what makes it an important game for 2018 is linked to how popular the Switch is right now.

Since the system’s release, it has seen a parade of beloved indie games come through its e-shop. And because the Switch has sold so well, this has allowed for many indie games to earn a second wind. Nowhere is this more apparent than with “Hollow Knight.” On PC, the title sold a million copies within a year and a half. But just two weeks after being on Switch, it had sold 250,000 copies. It just goes to show that if you put something on Switch, there’s a good chance it’ll sell.

“Radical Heights” (2018)

While “Sea of Thieves” was one of the more disappointing releases of the year, it was not the biggest failure. That award will most likely be given to Boss Key Productions and their Battle Royale game, “Radical Heights.” In order to make up losses from “LawBreakers,” their 2017 multiplayer FPS title, Boss Key rushed production on their next release. And they did that by looking at what the most popular game was.

As you can tell, “Radical Heights” included many aspects from “Fortnite.” Except for the fun. They forgot to include that. The title only made it to Steam Early Access, where it was harshly criticized for being a cash-in of the latest big craze. Combined with the failure that was “LawBreakers,” “Radical Heights’” less-than-stellar reception actually led to Boss Key Productions shutting down in May 2018. It’s never a good thing to see a studio shut its doors, but if you’re going to imitate the biggest game on the planet, you should at least include something new or interesting. Hopefully, this serves as a cautionary tale for future developers.

“Red Dead Redemption 2” (2018)

Rockstar Games haven’t had a major release since 2013’s “Grand Theft Auto V,” which is still one of the most popular games on the planet. 2010’s “Red Dead Redemption” was one of the best-selling and most respected games of its generation. So, to say that there is hype for their next release, a prequel to “Red Dead,” is about as lightly as we could put it. Rockstar’s newest will take players back to the land of the American Old West and focus on a protagonist that is part of the Dutch Van der Linde gang.

Rockstar has proven on multiple occasions they know how to build an engaging world for gamers to play around in. And that they know how to fill those worlds with flawed, fascinating characters. “Red Dead Redemption II” won’t just offer a satisfying single-player experience. The game also promises to deliver an exciting multiplayer option, though it is still shrouded in mystery. With the respect that Rockstar justifiably receives, it looks like their latest will be just as big of a hit as its predecessor.

“Celeste” (2018)

Over the past decade or so, indie developers have been proving they don’t need the funding or big development teams of AAA titles to tell their stories. In fact, some of them have proven they can stand alongside the best games of the year. 2018 has seen another wonderful display of indie games, and of the best of those sits “Celeste.” But to many, it’s so much more than a well-done platformer.

The story revolves around the young Madeline climbing Mount Celeste as a way for her to deal with the problems going on in her life back home. The task is a metaphor for her depression, as she encounters an evil version of herself trying to bring her down. The game may have deservedly been lauded for its precise and difficult gameplay, as well as Lena Raine’s heartfelt score. Crucial to the game’s existence, however, was how it approached the topic of mental illness. By using video game mechanics and logic, “Celeste” delicately handled a difficult topic. It’s a testament to what video games can be as an art form.

Like any year, 2018 has had its ups and downs. But, for the most part, the ways in which the medium is evolving are all incredibly exciting. Many of this year’s releases have raised the bar for both single-player experiences as well as those for online multiplayer. New stories have been told, new mechanics have been introduced, and new experiences have been had. And we can’t wait to see how 2019 measures up.
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