The past twelve months haven’t exactly been the best Xbox has ever had in terms of first-party offerings. Geoff Keighley even suggested this when asking Phil Spencer about how 2018 went for Xbox at The Game Awards, drawing an interesting reaction from the head of Microsoft’s gaming division. However, despite the relative lack of outstanding first-party offerings from Microsoft, there were still a lot of great games released in 2018 to play on the Xbox One. This list will detail my top five games released in 2018 for the Xbox One.
5) Monster Hunter: World
Receiving an early 2018 release, Capcom’s Monster Hunter: World dominated my play time from January 26th through the first quarter of the year. This iteration in the franchise, after years away, provides a much more accessible experience that is inviting to new players while still providing the quality challenge and experience that fans of Monster Hunter are used to. Tracking and fighting monsters, particularly the bigger ones, was almost always a fun and rewarding experience – especially when doing it with a friend.
The only reason this game isn’t a little bit higher on my list is the system for having a friend join your hunt seemed somewhat cumbersome and outdated. Players have to enter the world themselves, begin tracking the monster, get to a cutscene, then their friend could join in. It all comes down to personal preference, but I much prefer the seamless experience with friends that games like Destiny offer, where you join up together once, then do everything together after that. It’s not necessarily a detractor, as many players didn’t mind or even liked the system that Monster Hunter: World has; it just wasn’t exactly for me.
Still, Capcom delivered with Monster Hunter: World, and it deserves a place in the Top 5.
4) Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Let me get this out of the way right away: I don’t think Shadow of the Tomb Raider is as good as 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider. I don’t think it’s even all that close. However, Rise of the Tomb Raider was, in my opinion, one of the most fun games of the generation, so comparing the two might be slightly unfair.
As a conclusion to Square Enix’s Tomb Raider trilogy, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a fun, action packed game that will give most fans a satisfying finish to Lara Croft’s story – at least as far as the Square Enix games are concerned.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, you are once again left in a position where you will have to rebuild and reacquire Lara’s abilities and weapons, as a plane crash has left you without your arsenal. The game opens two months after the end of Rise of the Tomb Raider, and leads players to the eventual showdown between Lara and the evil organization Trinity. Along the way, you’re still able to hunt wild animals and craft weapons in a very similar way to previous games.
Being able to explore and discover in the land of Paititi, a hidden city that plays a large role in the main story, is also fun and adds to the experience. Make sure to pet lots of llamas while there!
3) Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Some people had the opinion that Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey wasn’t as good as many of its predecessors because it was too different from the traditional Assassin’s Creed formula. For a player like me, however, that was the biggest reason I enjoyed it.
When you release games in a franchise almost every year for the past decade, change can be good. It definitely was in the case of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Many familiar elements of the Assassin’s Creed franchise are there, but there is enough change to bring in new players and provide a fun experience for existing fans of the franchise. You play as Alexios or Kassandra, and the game will take you through a fictional account of the Peloponnesian War as you travel across the Greek city-states.
You can still do plenty of the stealthy killing that previous Assassin’s Creed games offered, but Odyssey also offers the opportunity to play the game as more of an action-adventure game where you can rush in and take on all enemies, as well as give you the opportunity to take part in battles on the sea, which were very reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed IV. All in all, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey offers a great experience that can easily be enjoyed by both die-hard fans of the franchise and new players alike.
2) Forza Horizon 4
Normally, I would never put a racing game so high on a “best of the year” list, but Playground Games delivered in a huge way with Forza Horizon 4.
While exploring the map and travelling through the United Kingdom, it becomes more and more clear that Forza Horizon 4 is the culmination of all the efforts and innovations Playground Games have implemented throughout the Horizon series. There is something for everyone in Forza Horizon 4, whether you like the street races with more tight turns and a defined path, or the dirt races and cross-country series events that are much more wide open.
The cars you can use in Forza Horizon 4 are plentiful, and if the offerings you can earn in the base game aren’t enough for you, there are a lot of DLC packs to keep you surrounded with different types of cars to choose from. On top of that, there are cars located in hidden barns around the map that you can discover and fix up to use in the game. Additionally, the seasons in the game give each course or track a new and different feel every time the season changes – you can be racing the same track on the clear open roads of summer in one race, only to be driving on the same road in the snowy, icy roads of winter a couple of weeks later. This does a great deal in helping to keep Forza Horizon 4 feeling fresh and new on a consistent basis.
Finally, the graphics in Forza Horizon 4 are second to none as far as racing games go, and the 4K display on the Xbox One X alone makes the game a must-play.
1) Red Dead Redemption 2
Even if this had been a completely comprehensive “best of” list that included fantastic games from other consoles like God of War, Spider-Man, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Red Dead Redemption 2 would still hold the top position. In my opinion, there has not been as complete of a game in terms of story, character development, and overall world as Rockstar’s follow-up to their amazing 2010 Red Dead Redemption.
The journey of Arthur Morgan and, ultimately, John Marston is a story that will keep gamers engrossed and committed through all 65 or so hours of gameplay in the main story.
To be fair, the game does start fairly slowly, and the epilogue chapters can drag at times, but in the end they all contribute to a story that is impactful and amazing, making Red Dead Redemption 2 the best game from 2018 that you can play on Xbox One. In fact, in my opinion, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the best game of the current generation. I’m not even taking the experience of Read Dead Online into the equation – the story and characters of Read Dead Redemption 2’s campaign make this game THE must-play game of 2018 on the Xbox. I couldn’t put it down, and I regularly put 6-8 hours into the game in a single sitting, which is rare for me.
I’m not going to ruin the experience for anyone who hasn’t played it by talking about Arthur Morgan’s interesting and tragic story, Dutch’s descent into madness, or John Marston’s evolution – you’ll have to discover all of the details about that for yourself. All I will say is that if you haven’t played Red Dead Redemption 2 yet, buy it. Play it now. You won’t regret it.
That’s it. Those are the five best games of 2018 that you can play on the Xbox. Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments. Also, for more on each of these games, check out Episode 141 of The Gaming Hub podcast where we announce the community’s choices for each of our awards for 2018.