What an incredible year for video games 2018 has been. There were long-awaited AAA blockbusters like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate which delivered like we expected they would, and there were big surprises from smaller games like Astro Bot: Rescue Mission and Dead Cells that weren’t on our radar but are nonetheless contenders at the end of the year.

Even though the two of us played a combined 40+ new releases this year, it feels like we didn’t get to all of the amazing games that we would have liked to play. This year probably more than any other has been difficult to pick out the 3 games to represent our favorite games of the year, but after much deliberation I think we’ve settled on our picks. These games were standouts in a year full of classics. We hope you enjoy our thoughts and you can listen to Mega Dads Live #58 for a more in-depth discussion on our picks!

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img_0067John: Katamari Damacy Reroll

While this rerelease of the PS2 classic didn’t receive much more than an upgrade to HD, it’s still one of the weirdest, goofiest, most fun games of that era and now you can play it while you poop. And the music is amazing too.

Adam: Shadow of the Colossus

Developer Bluepoint Games had huge shoes to fill when they were tasked with remaking this Team Ico classic, thankfully though they not only created a faithful rendition of the original but also added some meaningful improvements. Updated controls and performance were much appreciated and a fantastic photo mode was a nice little bonus, but the biggest improvement is definitely the visuals. This game is stunning to behold and does a great job of capturing the way you remember the game in your head from back in 2005.

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img_0071John: Nintendo Switch

Chalk this one up to personal tastes, but when you don’t care about Pokemon, Smash Bros or Kirby, and you have better places to play 3rd party titles, this has got to be one of the most disappointing sophomore years for a console in recent memory.  2019 looks amazing though.

Adam: Nintendo Switch

It would have been nearly impossible to match the incredible first year that the Nintendo Switch had, but even without the shadow of that freshman year looming over it this was a pretty disappointing year for the Nintendo console. Not that there wasn’t anything to play on it, but they were mostly ports of games that you can get better versions of elsewhere (and usually cheaper) and B level series like Kirby and Mario Tennis. The one bright spot was Super Smash Bros Ultimate, but even that game wasn’t enough to salvage a year in which the Switch mostly collected dust.

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img_0068John: Dutch van der Linde

The leader of the Van der Linde gang is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever seen in a game. He is both a father figure and your enemy, a deeply flawed man who is trying to do what he thinks is right for his ‘family’ but is tearing them apart in the process, and it’s heartbreaking to see how it all falls apart in the end.

Adam: Kratos

I don’t know how Sony Santa Monica did it, but they took a character who was mostly known for having orgies and tearing people in half and somehow made him a sympathetic and emotional character. A father trying to both protect his son from the ghosts of his past as well as teach him to be a man and prepare him for the ways of the world, Kratos’ journey was both relatable and touching. Plus, he’s still really good at ripping people apart.

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img_0070John: Spider-Man Opening Scene

No game in 2018 had a more exciting opening than the moment when Peter Parker throws on the spandex and jumps out of his apartment window, swinging through the beautifully recreated streets of New York City. It’s an intro that gets you into the action quick and shows you the best part of the game.

Adam: Spider-Man Final Boss

For a game that could have easily gotten away with being just an amazing superhero simulator, Insomniac went the extra mile and created a story that was touching, surprising, and thrilling, and the final battle at the end of Marvel’s Spider-Man is all three of those things. It’s tough to say exactly why without spoiling anything, but the finale packs an emotional punch that most boss fights don’t manage. It’s always tough for a big game like this to stick the landing and somehow they managed to do it in a way that both brought the story to a satisfying conclusion and also left you wanting more.

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img_0069John: Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead 2 is a story of family, honor, loyalty, and regret. It’s a brilliant tale of men coming to terms with the lives they’ve led and a country that no longer has a place for them. The slow, methodical pace of the early hours may be initially off-putting, but it’s essential to building relationships with the members of your gang. You’ll genuinely come to care about them, which makes it all the more impactful as the Van der Linde gang begins to crumbles apart.

Adam: God of War

Sony Santa Monica took a series that’s always been about giant monsters and over the top action, and created a sequel that delivers both that, as well as an absolutely fantastic story. The journey Kratos and Atreus go on is not only filled with perilous fights and danger, but real emotion and nuance. Kratos is a man who can kill a god, but can’t find the words to comfort his son. Atreus is a boy grieving for his mother and is both filled with rage towards his father while also wanting to build a relationship. It delivers the kind of story rarely seen in AAA action games and will stick with me for a long time.

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Honorable Mentions: Few games offered as much fun or as many thrills as Marvel’s Spider-Man. From swinging between the skyscrapers of New York City to epic battles with Spidey’s greatest foes, Insomniac created one of the greatest superhero games of all time.

Sea of Thieves has undeniably had a rocky start, with a limited number of missions types and very basic character progression, I didn’t spend nearly as much time with the game as I had thought I would. That being said, the building blocks are there for something truly special and I can’t deny that some of the most fun I had this year was when I was sailing the high seas with friends.

3. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

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I jumped into VR this year almost on a whim when a Target pricing error made it too cheap to resist. Well their mistake led me to play one of my favorite platformers in years. Loaded with polished gameplay, colorful visuals, and loads of charm, this is the showpiece for the PSVR and hopefully introduces more people to the hardware. Thanks Target.

2. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

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After over a decade and 10 games, Ubisoft seems to have finally perfected the Assassin’s Creed formula. The gameplay is fantastic blend of action and RPG progression, the world is the most beautiful and interesting open world since Skyrim, and the story follows the series best protagonist yet while also doing something interesting (if not ridiculous) with the “future” timeline. It’s worth returning to if you haven’t played an AC game in a while.

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

When I started out my time with Red Dead 2 I wasn’t sure if the game could live up to the amazing original. The slow pace was initially off-putting even though I was loving the world and characters. Thankfully though, that beginning was not only intentional, but critical to establishing the characters in the Van der Linde gang and the pay off is nothing short of one of the best stories ever told in gaming.

While the controls can feel rough at times and the shooting hasn’t changed much since the last game, everything else in the game is so outstanding that I was able to overlook those issues. The world is beautiful and ridiculously detailed, the voice acting and music are stellar, and the game does a brilliant job of both thrilling, intense action and subtle, nuanced character moments. It’s an absolute masterpiece that nobody should miss.

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Honorable Mentions: I had a ton of fun with Forza Horizon 4 with its free reign arcade racing experience through the English countryside. The seasons were a fantastic addition, the special events were thrilling and there’s no denying it’s visually stunning. Unfortunately the strange progression system and how the game fenced me off from the larger experience held its potential back.

I also had a lot of fun with Sea of Thieves. While it’s easy for people to pile on this game for lack of content, I had so much fun creating my own adventures with friends in this title. While ultimately there’s just not enough meat on its bones, for a casual gamer like me I found more than enough fun in taking to the high seas and doing things like avoiding becoming shark bait while firing myself out of a canon into the rolling waves.

3. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

img_0073The most innovative game experience I’ve had this generation. Astro Bot, with the help of PSVR, changes how you think about the 3D platformer formula by encouraging the player to explore the space created by the designers. You as the gamer are a secondary character in the world, helping Astro Bot on his mission giving you a sense of agency not possible in traditional gaming experiences. Add to that buckets of charm, a fantastically charming soundtrack, and some truly inspiring boss battles and it’s easy to see why this game made my Top 3. Please give us more Sony!

2. God of War

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God of War’s epic adventure grabbed me by the throat this year and didn’t let go until the very end. As a gamer who has no real history to speak of with this series I was caught off guard by how invested I quickly became in the story of Kratos and his son. With some of the most brilliant game direction, wonderful acting, combat that makes your knuckles sore and graphics that are indisputably unrivaled this year, God of War came so close to taking the top spot on my list. But it’s just not possible to unseat my pick for game of the year.

1. Marvel’s Spider-Man

Spider-Man is the kind of game that bursts onto the scene and instantly declares itself a force to be reckoned with. From the opening seconds of this game I was laughing and hollering like Peter Parker swinging through the city for the first time.

Insomniac has created the perfect super hero video game in Spider-Man. Not only have they nailed how it feels to be the web-slinger but they have created a universe all their own and put their stake into the landscape of some of the greatest superhero entertainment period.

I cannot property explain how much I love this game and how grateful I am to have had this experience of playing Insomniac’s Spider-Man with my son in 2018. This will always be one of my favorite gaming experiences of all time.

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