First off, I’d like to publicly apologize, because I was wrong. No, Anthem is not the GOTY for 2018, but in my defense, it hasn’t been released yet. Regardless, the year has been an interesting one. Where 2017 was the year of the Switch, with Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey taking the first two slots, 2018 is a return to a more “traditional” top ten. Two PS4 exclusives took first and second place this time around, and there is no Switch exclusive in the top ten.
It was a very, very narrow race. In 2017, there was a gap of over 400 points between the Breath of the Wild and Mass Effect: Andromeda, number 10 on the list. This year, that gap is only 87 points. Breath of the Wild was 184 points ahead of Super Mario Odyssey, but this year, only 19 points lie between the two games at the top of the list. It certainly made things interesting and highlights how important each vote and the deadline is. A few days before New Year’s Eve, both Subnautica and Celeste had wrested spots in the top ten, and yet, by the time the dust settled they placed eleventh and twelfth, respectively. We very nearly didn’t have an Assassin’s Creed game in the top ten (hold on to your hats, I’ll tell you which in a bit).
There is one constant, though: the extremely diverse tastes of our community. Last year, nearly 160 goodjers voted for over 470 games. This year, we have 149 goodjers voting for 465 different games. Eight of the top ten games were released in 2018. Stick around after the credits roll for some more fun facts on score trends, game genres and platforms.
The top 10 of the Gamers With Jobs Community for 2018
#10… Assassin's Creed Odyssey (149 pts)
This is the eleventh major instalment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Twentieth, if you’re counting all the games (and I have to say those Chronicles spin-offs do have their moments). Odyssey is a bit of a different beast when you hold it up to previous games in the series. Placing more emphasis on role-playing elements, it boasts a gorgeous open world, dialog options, branching quests, multiple endings and even romantic relationships with NPCs! You can even kick enemies off mountains, a true selling point it seems!
“Kassandra is great.” (iaintgotnopants)
“The kicking, climbing, and FemShep is pretty good.” (Danjo Olivaw)
“It’s really long. Some parts are brilliant, and some parts don't make sense. It spends a ton of time on military equipment. Homer’s Odyssey may be all of these things, but it is also considered a classic. AC: Odyssey shares these traits, and is now my favorite in the series, encouraging me to play even after I’ve finished the main quests. The word is huge and the characters are fun. Stealth is strategic, but when it goes to hell, the combat is satisfying. Kicking people off cliffs does not get old.” (Aristophan)
“Odyssey is better by pretty much every measure I care about in a video game: characters, story, dialogue both comical and tragic, action on land and sea, breathtaking environments... you name it. For starters, the game goes all-in on its RPGness.” (BadKen)
“Possibly a contender versus The Witcher 3 for best game I have ever played.” (Infyrnos)
#9… Dead Cells (153 pts)
What do you get when you cross a roguelike with a metroidvania? A roguevania, of course! The premise might not seem all that appealing (you control a mass of cells which occupy and control the body of deceased prisoners), so perhaps the core mechanic of frequent player-character death will sell you on it. Still not convinced? Dead Cells gives you the opportunity to explore a series of procedurally-generated dungeons and fight the undead creatures within. Eventually, you gather permanent power-ups, collect weapons, armor, abilities, money, allowing you to face off against enemy bosses, called the “Keepers”. With over 50 different weapons, and over a year in early access to address balance issues, the gameplay is dialed in and you won’t lack for variety. Despite garnishing only a single #1 vote, Dead Cells still had folks talking.
“I like me some 2D platforming action. Fast-paced and predicated on a fail better fail faster philosophy, Dead Cells is some of the most fun I’ve had this year.” (brokenclavicle)
“The gameplay is tight, the abilities, weapons, and options you open up are all impactful based on the play style you choose for each run, and the pixelated world is gorgeous.” (WizardM0de)
“An amazing rogue like action game. Level design and game design is great. Difficult but fair.” (escher77)
“Tight gameplay and excellent upgrades.” (chooka1)
“Unique, stylish, brutal and packed to the gills with cool. The combat can be unforgiving and the grind tough. But there is a certain charm to it.” (Falchion)
#8… Red Dead Redemption 2 (176 pts)
If you’re anything like yours truly, you had no idea RDR2 was actually the prequel to the first action-adventure Western of its name. With a large and intricate interactive open world, the player can experience anything from heists to hunts, duels, ambushes and poker games. The terrain features diverse, vast, rugged landscapes, but also cities, towns and farmhouses. You can bathe, cut your hair and beard, clean and oil your weapons and change your clothing depending on the weather conditions. By all the accounts, the more delightful aspect of the game is the bond you forge with your horse. For some, all those activities and level of detail might be a bit much. One thing is for certain, it came at a heavy cost.
“Great characters, a story with an actual arc, and peerless voice acting.” (Mr Crinkle)
“The closest thing to Westworld we have. I am savoring just being in this world. Sure, sometimes you see cracks in the simulation but the characters, environment and mechanics draw you in to an almost meditative experience where every movement, every action feels like it has weight and consequences.” (TrashiDawa)
“The developers have very specific and ambitious ideas about the experience they want to create, and they had the confidence to pursue those ideas despite knowing full well it would limit the spectrum of appeal of the game they were making.” (zeroKFE)
“Almost absurdly detailed in its environment, open-world and wild west experience. A lot has to be said for the gang members and Arthur himself, carrying the main storyline, which come together to be greater as a whole than the parts that make it, which basically sums up the whole game itself.” (Falchion)
#7… Into the Breach (177 pts)
Ever watch Pacific Rim and think “sure, the good guys won, but look how they wrecked the place?” From the creators of FTL: Faster Than Light, Into The Breach also features writing by Chris Avellone and music by Ben Prunty. The aim was to focus on the impact of collateral damage, making defending buildings and assorted civilians structures a priority. In every skirmish, your mechs go up against giant aliens call the Vek. The battles are designed to be short, with a limited turn counter and the Veks’ actions clearly telegraphed. The result is a game which received high praise for simple but strategic gameplay, gorgeous art and lovely soundtrack.
“I lost myself in this game and loved the puzzle element.” (tuffalobuffalo)
“Such good bite-sized tactical battles with good faction variety. A unique twist is the game displays what the enemies are going to do on their next turn - which eliminates the guesswork and maximizes the tactical options.” (robc)
“It forces you to own your own failure in a way that FTL didn’t, where you could write off a bad run as ‘just a bad run’. (…) With the ‘perfect prescience’ of its UI telling you exactly what the consequences of your actions are, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself when it all goes tits up. A true indie gem.” (Jonman)
“Really fun tactical puzzle that is enhanced by its great style and light strategy elements.” (carrotpanic)
“It feels almost unfair how smartly designed this game is.” (4dSwissCheese)
#6… Hollow Knight (183 pts)
Another Metroidvania game made it in the top ten and this one partially funded by Kickstarter, too! The player inhabits a silent, nameless, insect-like knight who explores a gorgeous, intricate, underground world called Hallownest, armed only with a nail and a cone-shaped sword. From what I’ve read, Hollow Knight is brutally hard and yet very rewarding. With multiple endings as well as a simple yet nuanced and responsive combat system, the game has been called “ruthlessly tough, even occasionally unfair.” Its charms are sufficient to overcome that, however.
“I fell in a Hollow Knight-shaped hole for much of September and October. The hole was dark and slimy and full of bugs, some adorable, some terrifying. 10/10 would fall in hole again.” (benign1)
“Hollow Knight favors refinement over reinvention. It presents a sprawling world to explore filled with secrets to discover, friends to meet, and foes to defeat. It is the best Metroidvania I’ve ever played and my favorite game of the year.” (Dyni)
“Mechanically tight and balanced, Hollow Knight is also incredibly stylish, and achieves some solid world-building despite minimal exposition.” (WolverineJon)
“Perhaps the best Metroidvania I've ever played.” (halfwaywrong)
“A whisker off the top spot, this is one of the best worlds I've ever had the pleasure of exploring. (…) The game is also filled with secrets, has excellent lore & the characters both good and bad have an air of mystery about them, as well as being majestically written. Utter genius.” (Spikeout)
#5… BattleTech (185 pts)
Another game which secured part of its funding via Kickstarter, BattleTech comes from a long line of games set in the same world. Assuming the role of a mercenary, the player takes command of a team of four powerful battlemechs. After picking a side in the ongoing war between noble houses, you get to customize each mech, its armor, its pilot, armaments and skills – or not. Everything in the game is built to inspire awe of these mechs: their size, the ponderous movement, the shaking in-game camera. Quite the sight to behold. Plus, the devs included non-binary gender pronouns for the player character, so they get bonus points.
“I'm an old Mechwarrior fan who never had the financial chops as a teenager to delve into tabletop or the Mech Commander games. So to see huge mechs from my early gaming days come alive and be able to commandeer more than one mech at a time was glorious.” (Bfgp)
“As a former Battletech / Mechwarrior player this is the game I have wanted for 20 years. 250 hours in and I just want to roam the Inner Sphere and blow up other mechs.” (Granath)
“Giant stompy robots, turn based strategy, missile volleys to the face, what's not to like?” (MrDeVil909)
“Highly anticipated, kickstarted, and a the mech game I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid; Battletech did not disappoint me. There’s a huge campaign here with excellent turn-based combat. Mechs! Huge campaign! Loot! Turn-based combat! Come-on just hook it up to me directly. I lives off this.” (Vector)
“It's an engaging, brutal and deeply tactical experience that makes full use of maps, topography and weapon systems to make for a compelling experience. It presents its story well and makes full use of Battletech's Lore and stories to flesh it all out.” (Sorbicol)
“Big! Stompy! Robots! Smacking the sh*t out of each other! Forever and ever and ever!” (Alien Love Gardener)
#4…Monster Hunter: World (186 pts)
This was a bit of a surprise for yours truly, but not the way you think. Monster Hunter: World was at the top of no fewer than nine lists, more than any other game, and kept the first place until December 29th. However, with the last surge of votes, it placed fourth. Players and critics alike have sung the praises of the game which opens up to new players of the series without sacrificing the core formula. Despite game mechanics and a difficulty curve that can be daunting to new players, MHW draws people into its lush, seamlessly vast world. There’s no shortage of large beasts to hunt or kill to further research. Small wonder it was Capcom’s fastest-selling game with five million copies shipped in the first three days after its release.
“With Monster Hunter World, not only did the game get a much needed (and amazing) graphic update, but there were plenty of general quality of life upgrades that helped get you into the action a lot faster. Also, the fact that I was able to unlock armor that turns my hunter into Ryu from Street Fighter was pretty great.” (CptDomano)
“Some of the best PvE combat there is, super addictive and not at all as hard to get into as I had always been told.” (nako)
“Each weapon completely changes the feel and play of the game, the monsters are unique and fun to hunt, the world itself is beautiful and just walking around in it is enjoyable.” (WizardM0de)
“It’s an incredible game and easily the best MH for new players. The quality-of-life improvements are fantastic, and the battles can finally benefit from a real controller with two full analog sticks.” (Free)
“The greatest animations to ever grace video games. Stuff that happens in this game is so anime that it feels like you are playing a cut scene.” (Bnice)
#3… Slay the Spire (199 pts)
That’s right, folks: a deck-building card game grabbed bronze this year. With roguelike gameplay in the mix, you’ve got a perfectly addictive cocktail. The player starts off with one of three predetermined characters: health, gold, and… a deck of cards. Each spire features monsters to fight, campfire to heal beside and shopkeepers to sell cards and potions. Eventually, at the top of the spire, a boss. With the feedback of early access, the developers have managed to strike a delicate but strong balance, and it shows.
“Another clever, elegant, run-based game, this one with deck-building. Captures the joy of building and honing a machine to win combat in a nice one-hour chunk, and with enough options and randomness that you never quite know what sort of build you’re going to end up with. And it kept getting slicker and more refined as the year went on.” (4dSwissCheese)
“So much fun constantly trying to better yourself - to choose better cards, play better, find card combos you haven't played before, try to find combos that potentially "break" the game.” (Tscott)
“I love deckbuilder card games, and since you aren't playing a real opponent this one allows you to build decks which are completely, beautifully broken. In fact in order to win at the higher levels you need to break the game, create infinite decks, stack effects on top of effect, etc. It is hard to explain without playing it, but the sense of discovery you feel from finding and exploiting weird combos of cards and relics is just a joy.” (EriktheRed)
“I love the randomized nature of it and trying to adapt to the cards and relics that are available. The ascension levels are a great addition - a way to slowly bump up the difficulty by adding interesting modifiers to the game.” (robc)
“This deckbuilding battler continues to push a lot of my personal favorite buttons: Turn-based combat. Fast, punchy battles. The ability to optimize tactics on each individual turn (via a mechanic of seeing what the enemy is about to do). An FTL-like branching paths map system. Tough and meaningful strategic decisions.” (WolverineJon)
#2… God of War (217 pts)
Kratos, former Greek God of War, has hung up his signature double-chained blades, and become a father to young Atreus. With the mother dead and gone, it’s up to the two of them to spread her ashes at the highest peak of the nine realms. This eight instalment in the series is a true departure from what made the franchise. Not only is it set in ancient Norway, but it’s the first AAA game to use a single, continuous camera shot. The blades have been replaced with a magical axe. Kratos seems to have forgotten how to swim, but still needs to attend anger management classes, as his Spartan Rage ability still allows him to deal major damage to his foes with his bare fists. The game could’ve been even more different, as the studio had even contemplated a new protagonist. What really drew universal acclaim, however, was the characterization of Kratos as a father, his relationship with his young son, the older man’s curtness in sharp contrast with the younger boy’s naivety. Small wonder this PlayStation 4 exclusive did very well, selling five million copies in its first month. Here as well, it earned its place on 31 goodjers’ list.
“This game completely owned my soul from start to finish. The tight and empowered gameplay, the music from Bear McCreary (one of my favs in the biz), the Norse mythology, the RPG elements, the witty dialogue, the cinematography and sheer spectacle of it all. Put simply, it pushed all of my buttons, and it’s one of the finest experiences I’ve had playing video games. (WizardM0de)
“Without a doubt this is the game that sucked me in the most this year. When I wasn't playing it, I was thinking about it. When I finished it, I wanted to go through and get the things that I'd missed. It's a pretty long game and still I was sad that it was over.” (Phades)
“My #2 all-time game. I adore ancient mythology and the crafting of the Norse world and the characters was brilliant. The development of Kratos from pure rage bro-dude to having to play a father was one of the most deep and intelligent character portraits I have ever seen in any media form (Kratos makes Thanos look like a 1-dimensional wet noodle in comparison).” (staygold)
“To take a one dimensional character like Kratos, give him depth & actual feelings was a tough sell but to do it with this much care, attention to detail & restraint really is something else. To completely change perspective of the player & thus the games combat which is way more layered & nuanced is another masterstroke. The combat feels visceral, has a real skill to it. Dodging, parrying, blocking & rolling all feel weighty & tight. (…) What a game, one of the best of this console generation.” (Spikeout)
“God of War separates itself from the AAA crowd in many other ways. The uncompromising single take camera may look a bullet point to affix to the back of a box, but it grounds the action and pulled me into the presentation in a way that other action games have not. The way the world opens as you go is not only brilliant thematically, it is also perfectly paced to present the player with new paths to pursue without overwhelming.” (Dyni)
#1… Spider-Man (236 pts)
Another PlayStation 4 exclusive, Spider-Man has been heralded as one of the best superhero games ever made. The largest production team in Insomniac history has delivered a game with not just selfies, but delightful web-swinging mechanics, gorgeous graphics, a compelling narrative, great characters and a playground that stays true to New York City itself. The game broke several records, becoming the fastest-selling video game in the history of Sony Entertainment, selling 3.3 million copies in the first three days. Closer to home in our own community, no fewer than 31 goodjers voted for it (same number as God of War), placing first on eight of those lists. Though some critics lamented the tediousness of some side activities and lack of innovation in its open world design, the game’s success is undeniable.
“It has a fun open world filled with fun things to find and a fun way to traverse the world.” (UpToIsomorphism)
“The whole complete package. Voice acting, graphics, web-slinging, combat and even the mini-puzzles trying to simply get across the idea of what it feels to BE Spider-Man.” (Falchion)
“Traversing the incredible recreation of New York (well the streets are mostly there as are the landmarks) is a joy, the webslinging and walk running working smoothly and nearly effortless less, with greater speed and precision available as you level up and gain more practice with the mechanics.” (Mantid)
“The most fun I've had in years.” (Stele)
“What a wonderful surprise this was. All the way until release, I thought this might be a bad game. Just something about it looked to me like one of those games that looked pretty that you didn't really play. Instead it was just such a joy, in every aspect, Movement felt good, combat was intuitive. The characters and story was a brilliant mix of the familiar plot points and characters with smart new twists.” (mrlogical)
The ones who got pushed away
Five games used to be on someone’s list until that list got edited and those games were abandoned. Let their names be uttered lest they be forgotten! The Initiate, The Room: Old Sins, Q.U.B.E. 2, Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation and Pocket City.
Best VR game – Beat Saber
Whatever the reason, virtual reality hasn’t quite taken off the way people thought it would. Beat Saber however, was an instant hit with those who played it. Using a pair of energy blades which are often compared to lightsabers, the player slashes blocks in time to musical beats. Quite satisfying!
“Quite simply the best rhythm game I’ve ever played. And I’ve played a loooot of rhythm games over the years. Like, expert pro drums lots.” (Jonman)
“It’s saying something about this games popularity in my house when the £350 Oculus Rift is simply called ‘The Lightsaber Machine’. I’m fairly sure this game is what actual Jedi use to teach laser deflection.” (kergguz)
“Wow. Amazing family game. Unbelievably fun. The game is an instant hit at parties. One of my friends liked the game so much that he went out and bought a Rift the next day to play it.” (chooka1)
Best puzzle game – Return of the Obra Dinn
It’s hard to write about Return of the Obra Dinn when you want to avoid spoilers. By all accounts, Lucas Pope, the mastermind behind Papers, Please has created one of the most fascinating puzzle video games, using a 1-bit aesthetic in a 3D space rendered in the Unity engine. Set aboard a fictional ghost ship, it’s up to the player to figure out exactly what happened to its crew. And apparently, the less said, the better.
“The presentation and the way the mystery unfolds just did a great job of drawing me in and kept me intrigued during every play session.” (CptDomano)
“This is the first game I've played where I've felt like I'm solving a mystery. Actually solving, not just triggering story dumps, searching for highlighted objects. Wonderfully designed, with excellent attention to detail.” (halfwaywrong)
“I cannot remember the last time I stayed up too late playing a game. The presentation is designed to both be detached (simplistic looking graphics, scenes frozen in time) and at the same time completely enthralling.” (Aristophan)
Best mobile game – Donut County
While it is true that Donut County was simultaneously released on iOS, macOS, Windows and PlayStation4 with projected releases on the Switch and Xbox One, Donut County is the perfect mobile game in my opinion. Built to be the inverse of Katamari Damacy, the player controls a hole which swallow objects, increasing in size as you go. It’s playable in short, fun levels. Called a “whimsical physics toy” by its creator, Ben Esposito, the game has also been called “wholesome” by Amoebic on the GWJCC.
“Very few games are both fun and smart. Donut county is both. It has a great mechanic that is fun and assessible to most anyone (…). The story is humorous, and every bit of text — from dialogue to the trash-o-pedia, is filled with laughs that range from anti-capitalist sardonic sarcasm to silly garbage puns.” (UpToIsomorphism)
“It was like a bowl of Lucky Charms: amazing and sweet when you're eating it, and by supper you can't remember what you had for breakfast other than it made you smile. Just go play it. It's worth whatever money you spend on it.” (staygold)
“Enjoyable, great art, and doesn't overstay its welcome. This 2-3 hour mobile game was a breath of fresh air.” (LastSurprise)
Best JRPG – Dragon Quest XI
Placing 28th in the running, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age was released in July 2017 and has, at the time of writing, shipped over four million copies worldwide. With its beautiful visuals, traditional turn-based combat, intricate plot and compelling character, DQ11 has received high praise, with some critics calling it the best of the series. It is therefore unsurprising that it would be a hit within our community as well.
“What a joy! It's not overly complex, it's not trying to be anything it isn't. It's a traditional-style JRPG which highlights everything great about the genre.” (A_Unicycle)
“There is nothing novel about this game. Absolutely nothing. It's a 100 hour game that follows a formula established thirty years ago. But oh what an achievement. The pacing is about as close to perfect as you can get in a long form JRPG.” (garion333)
“Dragon Quest XI is like a fairy tale, or a bedtime story; it tells a classic "hero's journey" story while featuring beautiful graphics, interesting characters (especially Sylvando), and a lot of quality-of-life improvements.” (LastSurprise)
Franchise with most nominated games
With nominations for Odyssey, Origins, Syndicate, Black Flag and AC2, you might think the Assassin’s Creed games would win this special award. Well, you’d be half wrong. The world’s greatest detective also had five games nominated, with nods to both seasons of the Telltale adventure games as well as Arkham City, Arkham Origins and Arkham Knight. Some series, some characters will never cease to be popular.
Oldest nominated game– The Legend of Zelda (1986)
That’s right, folks, The Legend of Zelda, the first game, from 1986. After briefly seeing it played back in the day, SpacePPoliceman experienced this legendary game fully for the first time in 2018. Truly timeless indeed.
I want to also give a nod to Outlaws, the 1997 first-person shooter by LucasArts, which AUs_TBirD played for the very first time this year.
Lists, graphs and stats
Two PS4 exclusives take the cake with Spider-Man swinging to first, and it was a super close race.
The top 30
- Spider-Man (236 pts)
- God of War (217 pts)
- Slay the Spire (199 pts)
- Monster Hunter: World (186 pts)
- BattleTech (185 pts)
- Hollow Knight (183 pts)
- Into the Breach (177 pts)
- Red Dead Redemption 2 (176 pts)
- Dead Cells (153 pts)
- Assassin's Creed Odyssey (149 pts)
- Subnautica (144 pts)
- Celeste (140 pts)
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (130 pts)
- Return of the Obra Dinn (113 pts)
- Assassin's Creed: Origins (92 pts)
- Prey (81 pts)
- Destiny 2 (75 pts)
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (74 pts)
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (68 pts)
- What Remains of Edith Finch (65 pts)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (64 pts)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (59 pts)
- Magic: The Gathering Arena (56 pts)
- Life Is Strange: Before the Storm (54 pts)
- Beat Saber (52 pts)
- Tacoma (50 pts)
- Surviving Mars (49 pts)
- Dragon Quest XI (47 pts)
- Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (47 pts)
- Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden (44 pts)
Release year for the top 20
Genres for the top 20
You might notice they don’t add up to twenty. That’s because some games have been identified as belonging to more than one genre.
Platforms for the top 20
Again, total adds up to more than twenty because a game can be distributed on more than a single platform.
These different graphs show the number of points each game acquired as time passed and lists rolled in. I keep telling you folks that every list matters, and that it was a close finish this year. Each graph can be zoomed in if you open the image itself.
That’s all. Again, thanks to everyone who contributed, and see you folks next year!