Like you, I am absolutely stoked about all the games coming up this year. But if I’m honest – I’m not ready to let go of 2018’s awesome slate just yet. I know. Why dwell in the past, Steph? Look forward! I will, BUT – hold-off on your ‘most anticipated games’ lists (I see you, Anthem, I’ve pre-ordered you… we’ll be together soon), I just wanna give a little more love to the games that made my year so great.
These titles are all games that brought pure joy to my life – some still do daily (thank you, never-ending DLC!)
Here we go!
1. SEA OF THIEVES
Like most people, I was a little confused by Sea of Thieves when it first launched. It didn’t seem like there was enough to do. But as we enter this post-MMO newer realm of ‘games as a service’, it’s becoming apparent to me that often we can’t judge games entirely by what is offered at launch.
Sea of Thieves is stunning, visually. It’s co-operative in the most wonderful, swash-buckling way, providing an exciting, fun, competitive multiplayer experience if I want one – or a more relaxed, meditative and pleasant session if I’m seeking that instead. As someone who has never been quick enough to excel at shooters, I feel like I suddenly have this game I can play online with my friends that produces those kinds of joyous multiplayer friendship stories I’ve been searching for.
Most importantly, though, Rare have relentlessly bombarded us with new content since launch. Update after update. New gear. New zones. New challenges. They listen to community feedback. They know how to have a laugh. I love Rare. I want to work at Rare.
I’m thinking about Sea of Thieves pretty much any moment I’m not obligated to be thinking about something else. I’m thinking about playing it right now.
2. GOD OF WAR
Confession – I have not finished God of War. I know. I KNOW! I started streaming it, but then I got caught up in my weird Sea of Thieves obsession (I WILL be Pirate Legend, I’m so freaking close) and then suddenly Red Dead came out and, you know how it is – I kept putting it off until I had ‘the perfect conditions to give it the time and attention it deserves’… or something.
Truthfully, in the past I never really liked Kratos. He was just angry and vengeful and smashed things and… okay, yeah – he had his reasons (tricked into killing his own family), but he just seemed super one-dimensional to me. NEW Kratos is worlds apart. He’s all nuanced and subtle and restrained – and there’s this beautiful relationship with his son that we get to see play out in every stunning action. Speaking of stunning, the game’s design will Take. Your. Breath. Away. From the challenging combat to the ancient Nordic landscapes.
And yet here I am, staring down a new year of games and God of War unfinished. Well, friend. That ends NOW. For tonight – I load it back up! And TONIGHT, I DINE WITH THE GODS!
3. RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
This was a straight up 10/10 across the board, there’s no question – it’s a masterpiece. I know it. You know it. My partner said to me, ‘There’s no way you won’t love this, it’s basically The Witcher 3 with guns’. For context – The Witcher 3 is my favourite game of all time. And while it is a very different world, he was right. Give me a luscious, open-world landscape, a compelling storyline and a horse to ride – and that’s pretty much all I need to fall head-over-heels in love with a video game.
Possibly the best thing to come out of RDR2, however, was the quivering, half-choked voices of anyone who played this and felt compelled to share stories of their beloved horses who were lost to the wild, wild west. We all did it. Got our horse bond to level 4. Hugged and patted our trusty companions. Brushed the steed til you could see actual love in the noble creature’s eyes. And then accidentally sprinted head first into a rock. Sunrise, sunset. Vale, Black Lightning, Chestnut Lightning and White Lightning, respectively.
4. MONSTER HUNTER: WORLD
The Monster Hunter games never really grabbed me. But Monster Hunter: World was designed to be a more accessible offering for newcomers. And it was!
I couldn’t really reconcile with myself why I was slaying some of the peaceful creatures I was tasked with culling – but I had this little pet Palico (basically a cat) thing with me, the landscape was incredible and teaming up with friends made the whole thing super fun. I still really love it. It’s quirky, continues its signature fixation with food (the cat-creatures are all former Masterchef contestants, apparently), and it was co-op, open-world fantasy adventuring at its best.
5. A WAY OUT
If you somehow missed this – download it immediately. It involves a style of co-op gameplay that sees both you and a friend working simultaneously – at times apart, but at times together when your field of view goes into a kind of reactive split screen (a bit like the Lego games when you play in co-op).
Your goal is to work together to escape a prison – but the story, oof. Prepare yourself for the unique, tense and emotional roller-coaster that is this surprise hit of the year.