The Best of the Rest: Games I Missed in 2018

The Backlog. It’s something most of us have to deal with and it never seems to get smaller. Being an adult means I just don’t have enough time in my day to play everything I want. Not only that, many games have moved to continuous updates or battle pass style content, which means I also feel obligated to continue playing over time to unlock new stuff.

If you managed to check out my annual Gamer Crash Awards (catch up with this handy link if you missed anything: HERE), it’s more than likely that you found yourself saying something along the lines of “but wait, why isn’t game x on this list?!” As unfortunate as that is, ‘Game X’ wasn’t left off by mistake. I pride myself on only including games that I’ve played during the year because frankly, how can I judge something if I haven’t played it? It wouldn’t make sense and frankly, I don’t want to betray your trust in me.

Gamer Crash Awards

Outside of the incredible Super Smash Bros Ultimate, December was, thankfully, pretty light in terms of new games. So with that extra time, I was actually able to check out some new stuff over the holiday break, or at least, catch up on some of the games I missed in 2018.

Naturally, discovering how great some of these games are, I would have absolutely added them to the various categories from the 2018 Gamer Crash Awards. While I don’t have a time machine, I still wanted to recognize them below by discussing the game and what category I would have nominated it to.

So without further adieu, here are my award amendments:

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Concerning News for Anthem?

I’m not shy in admitting that Anthem is a game I’m really interested in as it follows other games like The Division and Destiny by combining third-person action with some RPG style elements. So when I heard this bit of news back in December, I certainly raised an eyebrow in confusion.

For those who may have missed it, Anthem developer Thomas Singleton was interviewed by Official PlayStation Magazine about the upcoming shooter. What he said grabbed headlines from many of the big sites and everyone else in between. Here’s the line:

“This is launching a new IP for EA, for BioWare, and we’re super proud of it. We’re excited because we’re bringing connectivity and co-op environmental gameplay to the game along with great storytelling and that’s rarely done. We’re pushing team dynamics, that’s where the game really begins to sell. Where the product shines is playing as that squad, you’re working together as a unit to go and conquer various missions. If you want to play the experience solo that’s your option, it probably won’t be as rewarding, you won’t have that team dynamic. The game will scale based on whether you’re by yourself or playing with three other people.”

So yeah, that’s a bit interesting, especially for typical lone wolf players like myself. I mean, I get it. Anthem has been developed with a team dynamic in mind, but I can’t help wonder what he’s referring to by saying it won’t be as rewarding as a solo player. Is that just his opinion because he prefers playing with others or is the game really going to be not as great by yourself?

Anthem Logo

(Editor’s Note: This revelation is a little surprising as I felt like I knew what I was getting into having recently participated in the closed alpha. While I wish I could discuss it with you, I’m afraid I’m legally obligated not to. I mean, I don’t want to end up like that other guy after he posted content from the closed alpha online.

On some level, I think I understand the secrecy. EA may be a little gunshy about showing things off too soon, thanks in large part to the disastrous weekend that Mass Effect Andromeda had before its release, likely hurting sales and consumer impressions. Remember all the memes and screenshots that flooded the internet following that early access?

Thankfully, EA is planning on more pre-release tests as well as dedicated demos so players may be able to answer this question for themselves before having to plop down full asking price for the retail version.)

After seeing that line, I immediately thought back to the first year of Destiny 1, which is a perfect example of being two different games based on how you play. Playing that game by yourself ultimately felt a bit hollow as nearly every mission played the same way. Fight your way to a thing and then defend that thing against waves of enemies. If you died, you had to start that end segment all over again. Most missions lacked matchmaking so if you didn’t have a dedicated group, you were stuck by yourself. Needless to say, the game got frustrating at times and I guess you could make the argument that playing solo wasn’t as rewarding. Not having the option to call in backup like you could in games like Monster Hunter: World or The Division was certainly annoying. I like to think those games learned a thing or two from Destiny.

On the flip side, those complaints I had largely went away when playing with other people. While the mission structure stayed the same in a group, the game didn’t feel as tedious to play thanks to being able to be revived mid-mission by a teammate. Not only that, interacting with other people helped break up the monotony.

I have to imagine that Anthem won’t be following that archaic system and will be more forgiving with matchmaking made available if you do want to squad up. By and large, I enjoyed my time with The Division and both Destiny’s mainly playing by myself, so I have to imagine Anthem will likely follow suit as well. Still, seeing a comment like that by a developer before release is not typical.

If you’re a lone wolf style player, does seeing a comment like this give you pause?

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The GamerCast: Looking Ahead into 2019

Happy 2019 everyone! Last year gave us some real gems though if I’m being honest, 2019 is quickly shaping up to be potentially even better. How is that possible? Well, let’s take a look.

Just like those game industry analysts with their 2019 predictions, I also like to look ahead at what this year brings. So, as I do each and every year, I’m busting out the GamerCast. Basically, this is my not so subtle rebranding of the “FutureCast” segments that weathermen use to show you what the weather is going to be over the next few days.

crystal-ball-pic

I don’t actually have a degree in meteorology, however, so I prefer to deal in video games. Instead of looking at the weather for the next week, I’m putting together a forecast for all of the games confirmed to be launching and others hopefully arriving sometime in the next 12 months. Of course, if there’s something you’re excited about that I missed, let me know in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for quality games.

So, it’s time to dust off that crystal ball and have a sneak peek into the future to see what’s coming out in 2019. Full list after the jump…

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Now Arriving: Games of January 2019

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday. We’ve finally turned the calendar to 2019 and it’s time to find out how we’re starting the new year. Here’s what’s launching in January.

For many, January begins and ends with one game: Resident Evil 2. Using the updated engine established by Resident Evil 7, RE2 is a remake of the classic game only with stunning visuals and other modern enhancements. Come relive the adventures of Jill Valentine and a young Leon Kennedy as they go up against the horrors of the T-virus and Tyrant.

In what once was potential vaporware and the butt of many release style jokes, Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally launching. Originally teased all the way back in 2013, it’s been an incredibly long journey for the team at Square Enix. Hopefully, this journey ends with a strong finish.

We’re kicking January 2019 off in style, though wait until you see some of the names coming next month. But that’s a story for another day. As always, you can see the full January release schedule below the break. Enjoy!

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The Gamer Crash Awards 2018: My Game of the Year

Don’t forget to visit the awards hub for more information on each award, the winners, and the schedule of what’s next. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally here. The final award this year. The big one. What better way to end the 2018 year then by detailing my game of the year. So before we jump into the promise of 2019, let’s take a look back at what was awesome.

Gamer Crash Awards

This past year gave us a ton of great content to play. The list below features games that had the biggest impact on me, regardless of if it was something I was anticipating or ultimately came out of nowhere. As I always say, picking a winner out of this list was ridiculous and massively difficult.

Alright, let’s get to it then.

and the nominees are…

celeste box artCeleste
I thought I knew what I was getting into with this game when it launched but it kept revealing more and more as I played. It was a wonderful surprise and is still a game I think about on occasion, or at the very least hum some of the excellent music.

At its core, Celeste is a difficult platformer. You’re going to die a lot. Thankfully, it has a generous checkpoint system and respawns you very quickly so dying doesn’t feel like a penalty. The real draw here is the visuals, characters, and the surprisingly excellent story. You’re Madeline, a young woman dedicated to climbing Celeste Mountain, though the journey is a lot more difficult than she anticipated. Dealing with themes of anxiety, depression, and living up to expectations gives the game tons of heart as well. Whether playing for the challenging platforming or the story, Celeste offers something for everyone.

god of war box artGod of War
They did it, they actually did it. Sony Santa Monica, led by Cory Barlog, managed to take a relative one note (but very good) franchise and craft it into something greater. God of War, the latest entry in this violent series, has taken the formula and really evolve it in ways that didn’t seem possible. As a result, the experience is more well rounded and deeper than anything before it.

The game features an older and somewhat wiser Kratos, who has moved to the frigid northlands of the Vikings. Not only that, Kratos has been busy since we last saw him, settling down with a wife and having a son. The story involves Kratos and his son, fulfilling the dying wish of his wife, though the two quickly find that the journey isn’t as easy as first thought. The gameplay is rock solid, combat feels better than it has ever felt, the inclusion of minor RPG elements really adds a new layer to the action and combat, and the game is as gorgeous as you’d expect. It’s easily a must play for any PS4 owner.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate
I’ve written a lot about this game in the past few months, but all of it remains true: Super Smash Bros Ultimate may be the best deal in gaming. Nintendo has absolutely loaded the disk with an unbelievable amount of content, something unheard of these days with all the season passes, microtransactions, and everything else that costs money post-launch.

Not only does this game feature every single fighter from the previous games, but it also has a bunch of new fighters including fan-requested ones like King K. Rool and Ridley. An expansive World of Light campaign, endless hours of replayability and customizable settings, a ridiculous soundtrack, and tons of other playable modes easily make this game one of the best titles of 2018.

spider man box artMarvel’s Spider-Man
The new gold standard for superhero games? Insomniac certainly makes a strong case for it because Marvel’s Spider-Man is an absolute gem in every sense of the word. The biggest thing for this character is web swinging and Insomniac has nailed it. Swinging around a virtual New York City feels absolutely wonderful with speed and momentum making a big impact on movement.

Voice acting, led by Yuri Lowenthal as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, is spot on and really brings these characters to life. With such a wide array of personalities in the game like J. Jonah Jameson doing his best on-air personality, it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into the world and feel engaged with all these characters. Combat is another area where this game succeeds as it really taps into Spider-Man’s acrobatic nature and witty quips. You have access to plenty of gadgets, new suits, abilities, and an upgrade system to make you even deadlier. Honestly, it’s like you’re playing a living, breathing comic book.

dead cells logoDead Cells
Finally out of access and launching in full this year, Dead Cells is not only a great roguelike experience, but it nails the fast action combat while adding a tactical layer on top of it. Needless to say, it’s a game that is easy to pick up and suddenly lose an hour to in the blink of an eye.

Even though the story is a bit minimalistic, you’re essentially a prisoner stuck on a mysterious island. Honestly, story isn’t that important because it’s the gameplay and combat that will get its hooks in you. Combat is fast and upgradable in the fact that you’ll constantly find new abilities and weapons during your runs. You won’t be able to take everything with you though so it’s up to you to decide which ones are the best to bring with you and when you die, you’ll lose everything. Thankfully, you can buy permanent upgrades and unlock passive abilities that carry between playthroughs, so not all is lost when you die. Besides, you’ll likely want to say “one more run” after dying anyways that you’ll quickly be back on your feet anyway.

destiny 2 forsaken logoDestiny 2: Forsaken
A game I’ve put countless hours into since it launched in September, Forsaken is the expansion that the core game of Destiny 2 desperately needed. Bungie shook the franchise by killing off not only one of its main characters, but arguably it’s most popular. Taking that chance ultimately helped kick off a very cool tale of revenge and introduced two new destinations which continued to evolve over the months since the expansion launched.

And that’s partly why Forsaken has helped to revive Destiny 2. Bungie has been able to add tweaks and smaller content to the game post-launch. New exotics, new enemies, and new modes like Gambit has freshened up the game and managed to keep people coming back day after day.

and the winner is…

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The Gamer Crash Awards 2018: Biggest Surprise

Don’t forget to visit the awards hub for more information on each award, the winners, and the schedule of what’s next. 

I know it’s not for everyone, but I do love surprises, especially when it comes to the video game kind.

Gamer Crash Awards

It seems that surprises are harder to come by these days, with social media, videos, streaming, and pre-release information basically laying out everything that you and I need to know about this or that. Thankfully, there are still a few games that, for better or worse, fly under the radar and then seemingly launch out of nowhere.

This list below is comprised of many games that did just that for me as well as a few that I kinda expected to hate but actually turned out better than I thought. In the end, these games not only completely flew past my expectations, but they made me a believer in them.

and the nominees are…

red dead redemption 2 box artRed Dead Redemption 2
Okay, okay let’s hold on a second. I can see the look of confusion on your face. This is a game I’ve wanted to talk about for a while now, but to this day, I’m still having difficulty finding the right words. That’s a story for another day I think. So why is this here?

The biggest reason is that I had my doubt about it prior to launch, thoughts I’ve definitely discussed on here. Frankly, I was worried that it wouldn’t be able to live up to its predecessor. The biggest surprise for me is that the things I worried most about, actually aren’t that big of a deal. The world is meticulously detailed, the characters make me want to know more about them, and there’s simply nothing like riding your horse through the gorgeous landscapes of pre-20th century America. Sure, Red Dead Redemption 2 suffers from a few problems in my eyes, but for the most part, I’m enjoying the world Rockstar has put together. At the very least, much more than I figured.

far cry 5 bannerFar Cry 5
Like Red Dead Redemption 2, it took me a long time to come around on this game. Having invested a lot of time in its predecessors, I felt like I was done with the franchise. I felt like it didn’t have anything new to show me and that I was tired of that experience. I was eventually won over and boy, I’m glad I jumped in.

Far Cry 5 shook up the traditional formula established by its immediate predecessors and presented a game that felt different besides its setting. More than just a setting swap, this fifth version really embraces the crazy. Inspired villains like the aptly named Father lead a cult who is taking over Hope County, Montana by force and utilizing doomsday type propaganda. You join up with the resistance movement in an effort to take back territory and eventually bring The Father down. Ubisoft did a lot of shake up the core gameplay loops such as removing Towers, which ultimately helped the game much fresher than Far Cry 4 did.

monster hunter world box artMonster Hunter: World
I know how popular this franchise is, but I’m someone that has never played any of the previous games. I wasn’t nearly as hyped for World as some people were, but after reading a lot about it and seeing the pre-release trailers, I was interested.

I’ll admit, entering this new world was a bit overwhelming at first, but once I found a weapon that fit my playstyle and got used to the controls, I found myself getting very immersed in this world (and if you missed it, I wrote my impressions up as a diary of sorts here, here, and here!). What I also really enjoyed about this experience outside of the constant content updates and new events was the fact that you could seamlessly join other players as well as call for help during a mission. It’s a fantastic way to tackle difficult missions, learn new strategies, or being an asset to others.

pokemon lets go box artPokemon Let’s Go
Even though I’ve played various games in the past, I kinda scoffed at Let’s Go once it was announced because I felt like it’s target audience was young kids or Pokemon Go players, two things I am clearly not. Still, the charm of the visuals, as well as a chance to relive part of my childhood, was too strong of a pull to ignore.

Returning to Kanto has been a blast so far. I particularly am enjoying getting the remastered themes of classic music stuff in my head again, seeing all these pocket monsters rendered in 3D, and even seeing battles actually happen. Some of the new mechanics, like no more random pokemon battles and the Go motion catching mechanics aren’t as bad as I thought they’d be. I’m having a great time going back through the original story, battling the classic gym leaders like Lt Surge, and doing my best to catch them all.

call of duty black ops 4 box artCall of Duty: Black Ops 4
I had left the Call of Duty franchise for dead, long ago. I was done with it and satisfied with that decision. Then Black Ops 4 comes around, reviewers are loving it and players are singing its praises. So, I RedBoxed it for a night to see what the hype was about and now I’m hooked. I never thought I’d be back in this position.

I can’t put my finger on why that is, perhaps I just missed the lightning fast gameplay loop of multiplayer, or perhaps some of the changes (like the class-like operators) agree with me more. Zombies have never been a draw for me, but I appreciate that it has matchmaking if I ever want to dip my toes in. Blackout is something I’ve been meaning to try, but after burning out on Fortnite, my motivation is low. Whatever it is, it works and I’m having a blast, even if my K/D is trash. That says something.

onrush box artOnRush
Now, this is a game that really snuck up on me. I can remember seeing a video on YouTube about the beta that had just taken place and the game described as MotorStorm meets Burnout. Naturally, that got my attention.

The MotorStorm description definitely fits mainly because OnRush is a game developed by the former members of Evolution Studios who created that franchise for Sony as well as other racing titles like Driveclub. Unlike other racing games, OnRush doesn’t care about position. Instead, two racing teams battle through objective-based modes like hold the zone, crash the enemy team, or increase your time by going through gates. The cars are more offroad types like bikes, buggies, and hummers. It’s fast, furious, and a ton of fun. It’s like Mad Max meets a nightclub meets Burnout. It may not have taken off like other racing games, but I’m really glad I gave it a chance.

and the winner is…

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The Gamer Crash Awards 2018: Best Download/Indie Title

Don’t forget to visit the awards hub for more information on each award, the winners, and the schedule of what’s next. 

It’s time to show some love to the little guys. 2018 was another stellar year for Independent developers, and I’m thankful to have them around to create games for genres that the major studios have seemingly left behind. They take risks and it pays off.

Gamer Crash Awards

Each year, it seems these small studios continue to defy expectations and really push what people think of as an indie title. I feel like I say this every year, but 2018 was another great year for the smaller studios and downloadable content. Whether coming from a small team of independent developers, or perhaps an expansion to an already fantastic game, these are my favorites from 2018.

and the nominees are…

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