Brandon Wilson’s Top Ten Games of 2018

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brandon wilsonFor me, 2018 has been an amazing year for video games. From titles that I have eagerly anticipated for years to games that completely took me off guard, there have been so many experiences to enjoy this year.

10. Onrush

It’s been quite some time since I’ve played a vehicular combat game but I will always have very fond memories of playing Twisted Metal and the like in years passed. Unfortunately, this genre has undoubtedly been underrepresented in recent years. I had nearly given up on seeing another entry until Onrush exploded onto the scene. And boy, what an explosion!!

While some have mistaken Onrush for a traditional racing game, those folks are incredibly wrong. Onrush is the beautifully mangled carnage that remains when a colorful yet gritty racing game collides head on with the flavor of a heaping helping of class-based vehicular combat. Think Overwatch on wheels. Best of all, it’s fast and incredibly fun!

9. Sea of Thieves

When reflecting on my time with Sea of Thieve this year, I think of how very apt Rare’s marketing was for this game, particularly their hashtag #BeMorePirate. After all, in my humble opinion, there has been no recent gaming experience where you could #BeMorePirate than right here in Sea of Thieves. It has truly been a blast playing pirate with friends from all over the world.

One of the main things that I’ve found so charming about Sea of Thieves is not so much about the scripted missions and tasks but all of the unpredictably possible things that you can do. If you can think of the possibilities, Rare has likely given you the tools to make it happen. From firing yourself from a canon to overtake a fortified skeleton base to sneaking aboard a PvP opponent’s boat with a keg of gunpowder to blow their boat to smithereens, it’s all possible… and so much more!  

far cry 5

8. Far Cry 5

I’ve played the Far Cry series since Far Cry 2 but didn’t truly fall in love until Ubisoft Montreal turned the series on its ear in 2012 with Far Cry 3. Since then, I have been a big fan of the series (well… other than Primal… wtf!) so it was no surprise that I was ecstatic when Far Cry 5 was announced. Thankfully, my experience with Far Cry 5 this year has lived up to all of my expectations.

Ubisoft has done a phenomenal job crafting a quaint county that feels somewhat isolated but still very worthy of saving. And, what’s a town that needs saving without a fanatical antagonist or group thereof. Well, they’ve really nailed the cult of maniacal freaks with the Seed family in Far Cry 5… much like they did with Vaas and Pagan Min previously in the series. You bet I’m going to do everything that I can to pry this slice of America from Joseph Seed’s cold, dead hands!

7. No Man’s Sky

My eye has been on No Man’s Sky since its original launch in the summer of 2016. As we all know, however, it hasn’t exactly been a smooth intergalactic journey for Hello Games. Thankfully though, they’ve stayed their course and emerged through the other side of the wormhole with their NEXT update, delivering what is now a stellar space exploration experience.

Although I didn’t play No Man’s Sky prior to the NEXT update, I can say that I have played a couple hundred hours since and it’s been incredibly fun. I admit, however, that most of those hours were spent exploring with a friend… a concept that would not have been possible prior to the update. I believe that my time would not have been nearly as compelling if that multiplayer functionality was not possible. That said, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in this procedurally generated universe and I’m looking forward to diving back in regularly as Hello Games continues to add content.

6. Marvel’s Spider-Man

Growing up, Marvel comics were a frequent source of entertainment for me. Like millions of other kids (and adults too for that matter), Spider-Man was among my favorite heroes… always at the ready with a well-placed web or witty one-liner. Soon after my late entry into the PS4 ecosystem, I was stoked to hear that I would soon be playing as my favorite web-slinger.

Insomniac has brought us what truly feels like a breath of fresh air to the already captivating story of Spider-Man. In addition, they’ve reinvented common game mechanics to make the game play very much like you’d want a Spider-Man game to play. From the smile-inducing fun of simply web-slinging my way across town to intense acrobatic combat, Marvel’s Spider-Man has taken proven formulas and knocked them out of the park. It’s been a joy to slip into Spidey’s suit.

conan exiles

5. Conan Exiles

I have to admit. Conan Exiles definitely snuck up on me. While shopping around for a game that I could play with friends, I happened upon really good price on Conan Exiles and decided to give it a try. I had exactly zero expectations. Since then, I’ve played several hundred hours and am likely to play a bit more before I walk off into the sunset of the Exile Lands, never to be seen again.

Conan Exiles had a rough start when it released back in May of 2018 but, thankfully, by the time a stumbled into the deserts of the Exiled Lands, much of the issues had been ironed. What I for was a solid survival RPG experience with a robust building system that allowed me to construct and defend a fortress of my won. Conan Exiles takes things a step deeper as well with their unique thrall system, where you can capture peasants to help you craft unique items. The total package has become something that I have never experienced in a game to date and one that has kept me riveted for quite a long time.

4. Fortnite Battle Royale

After being graciously gifted a PS4 by an anonymous OK Beast community member, I latched onto free games initially to start building out my library. While I had played Fortnite Battle Royale a bit on Xbox One, I bounced off of it at the time because I was juggling multiple other games. With my sparkly new PS4, I decided to give it another go and I’m so glad that I did.

Epic Games has undoubtedly gone all in on what they know is a sure winner in Fortnite Battle Royale. With their ongoing content updates and epic community events, I’ve been compelled to return week after week to see what they’ve got up their sleeves next. While I admittedly still need quite a bit of practice on my building skills, Fortnite Battle Royale has become one of the rare games that I can’t get enough of… even when I’m getting my butt whooped.

3. Forza Horizon 4

There have been few recent games that give that exhilarating feeling of jumping behind the wheel of a super car; slinging it through hairpin corners as the guttural roar of its engine pierces the air. Of those recent games, however, the Forza series is almost assuredly worth mentioning in every discussion… whether we’re talking about Forza Motorsports or Forza Horizon. Forza Horizon 4 is no exception.

Forza Horizon 4 brings the familiar Horizon Festival to the United Kingdom. While I was admittedly a bit apprehensive about the choice of locales at first, the apprehension was soon gone when I experienced the vibrant cities and majestic countryside of the UK realized in 4 distinct seasons. I’ve enjoyed drifting precariously around snowy mountain roads and kicking up rooster tails on summer rain-soaked highways.

2. God of War

While I played and adored the first to entries in the God of War series back on the PlayStation 2, I took an unintended hiatus from Sony consoles until just recently. I had been following the news of a new entry into the series but, admittedly, was considerably concerned by the fact that the newest game would be departing from its roots in Greek mythology. Where would this path lead?

Well, it turns out that Kratos’ path through Norse mythology leads directly through a rich, vibrant story of fatherhood. While God of War (2018) channeled many of the blood red combative hues of the other games in the series, to me, it was much more intimate… about a family disrupted by a father’s past and that father’s quest to bring balance back to the world, at whatever the cost, for his son, Atreus. As a father myself, I deeply appreciate all of the care that went into building the bond between Kratos and Atreus. This story meant so much to me this year.

red dead redemption 2

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

As a huge fan of the Red Dead Redemption, I had incredibly high hopes for the latest entry into the series, Red Dead Redemption 2. With 8 years in development, Rockstar stayed tight-lipped for much of the dev cycle but anticipation continued to build despite the lack of information. Now, after years of baited breath, Red Dead Redemption 2 is finally here and I believe it’s every bit of the game that I’ve hoped for and, surprisingly, even more.

Rockstar is known for building living environments and there’s no better example of that than with RDR2. I love just moseying through any of the towns to see how townsfolk react to me and one another. I love when the weather suddenly changes; the dark clouds open up and drench everything, making dirt roads a muddy mess and painting passersby with a glistening sheen. Add a captivating storyline to this unprecedented level of detail and you’ve got an undeniable winner on your hands.

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