The Best List of the Best Games of 2018

Fun fact about me: I am not a fan of making best-of lists. Games. Movies. Shows. Music. Whatever. Doesn't matter. I don't know if I just wholly lack the conviction to drive an opinion stake into the ground and declare, "This is the definitive order for these things, and my infallible opinion on the subject is beyond reproach," but it's never something with which I feel comfortable. Honestly, I find it's an exercise in futility to pick my favorite anything, as I will invariably decide a day later that my current mood completely retcons my previous opinions. And even if I manage to determine what, exactly, was my favorite X of whatever date range, if I'm making a list I have to repeat the process with my second, third, fourth, etc. favorite, which is often even more difficult. Yeah, this thing I liked a lot definitely wasn't my favorite, but how much wasn't it my favorite?

I think my downfall here is that I love things too much, and I love loving things so much that I possess a lot of love for certain things for very different reasons than I love other things, and that dichotomy often makes it feel unfair to try and compare the things I love.

Look, my brain just decided that was a worthwhile thought to put down on the page, so we're gonna roll with it.

Suffice to say, as much as I enjoy popular media (and consume an inordinate amount of it), I rarely have a desire to partake in the end-of-the-year tradition of summarizing the things I loved and trying to organize them in some arbitrary hierarchy.

Also, the last thing I want is for someone to decide that because my list doesn't match their list, that my rightful place in life is to be the receptacle of their unbridled ire.

That doesn't stop me from reading the shit out of other people's lists, though, and of course experience the self-righteous indignation to which I am entitled when the author's opinion inevitably diverges from my own. Oh, you thought Shakespeare in Love was the superior film to Saving Private Ryan, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? Literally go fuck yourself. I find myself in awe of other people's abilities to arrange related things with some semblance of objectivity. I don't know how they manage it.

So here are my favorite video games of 2018, in an order that I have—as of the moment of writing this (specifically, 12:13 PM CST on Wednesday, December 26 2018)—deemed satisfactory with regards to my overall enjoyment of them and their importance to me as a representation of the medium:

  1. God of War (PS4)
  2. RimWorld (PC)
  3. Spider-Man (PS4)
  4. Dead Cells (PC)
  5. Assassin's Creed Odyssey (PS4)
  6. Destiny 2: Forsaken (PC)
  7. Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
  8. Celeste (Switch)

Eight games? I played way more than eight games released this year. Some of them were great. Hell, I can basically hear someone uncontrollably filling their pants at the omission of Hollow Knight (which I played after its release on the Switch; it's delightful. Highly recommended). I even put, like, I don't know, 15 hours or so into Monster Hunter: World (it was fine). What gives?

Is this a mix of laziness, a complete lack of desire to write about any of the other games, and/or some lame attempt to play with the word "Octothorpe?"

...

So, yeah. That's the list. Eight solitary wanderers. Naked. Alone. Lost within a barren wasteland of whitespace and contextlessness. What could I possibly do to justify their existence?

As I see it, there are four ways in which I could go about this. Here they are in the order of my desire to accomplish them:

  1. Write an actual, thoughtful piece for each game I chose, and explain my reasoning for its selection and placement on the list, giving me ample fodder for writing creatively about things that brought me an immense amount of joy this year and also (possibly) made me reconsider what video games mean to me.
  2. Begin #1 and find that my motivation dwindles before I finish writing about Spider-Man and completely abandon the project altogether.
  3. Declare that only God of War is truly worth writing about and just do that one.
  4. Conclude this piece with a promise to you all that I will write about each game, but for reasons only known to me, I never quite get there. Later, I'll edit this to make it seem as though I never intended to write the follow-ups, which only serves as a disingenuous veil to pull over my own face and make me feel better about my gross inadequacies. Maybe chalk my failure up to, "You know, I'm just so busy lately." Sometime in mid-2019, I'll tweet about how I never finished this thing, with a lighthearted-yet-poignant jab at my inability to accomplish anything anymore. Two people will like it after my personal account retweets it, and we'll have a good chuckle about how hilariously self-aware I am before that awkward pause in the conversation, because we know, we know.

So my goal over the next couple weeks is to take this list as inspiration. Each and every one of these games meant a great deal to me in different ways, and I feel strongly enough about each one to write at least a couple hundred words or so about what makes them so important. Keep an eye out on this post, as I'll update the list with links to the corresponding post about each game. And at some point, you'll have well-reasoned and clever explanations for all eight choices. We'll all be very proud of me.

I promise.