The end of the year is the perfect time for reflection. For gamers this is commonly spent looking at what they have achieved this past year on their favourite consoles – have you 100% completed a game or unlocked a particularly taxing achievement? But the big question always boils down to… what was the best game? Settle down as we take you through our picks for TheXboxHub’s Xbox One Game of the Year 2018… from the obviously excellent, to the surprising but worthy additions.
With the news that PlatinumGames’ Scalebound was never going to see the light of day, us Xbox gamers quickly abandoned any hope that we will experience the slick hack’n slashing titles that Platinum are so good at. That is, until, we heard that NieR:Automata, formally a Playstation exclusive, was making its way over to Xbox. Very quickly we became extremely thankful!
Set on the strikingly desolate wasteland that is now Earth, when aliens from another planet had sent down mechanoids to banish humans from the lands, it lies upon you, an android soldier packed with the latest and greatest in weaponry, to fight back against the mechanical oppressors, and restore Earth to its previous state.
But how do you go about this? Well, in true Platinum fashion most of the time you will be engaging in some pretty satisfying and fluid hack’n slashing combat, chaining together light and heavy moves in combos to do rid of the numerous enemies that you will encounter. Aside from this, you will also be exploring the world and acquiring new weapons, skills and ‘Pods’ (which aid you both in combat and traversal) to better your character and quickly match up against the most hardened of mechanoid foes.
In the absence of any hope of Scalebound making a return, we will just have to make do with NieR:Automata… although perhaps we didn’t expect it to be as good as it is.
NieR:Automata is an excellent RPG that anyone looking for a multi-hour romp through a beautiful world and with crisp combat should look into.
9) Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Ah, good old Assassin’s Creed never fails to immerse us in the most beautiful of historical worlds, the most emotional of storytelling and generally some of the most well-polished gameplay you can find in modern gaming. But it’s no secret that the series had quickly become stale, resorting to extremely similar gameplay tropes that everyone quickly tired of.
Enter Assassin’s Creed Origins to shake up the AC formula and reinvigorate our love for the decade-old franchise (yes, a decade). By introducing in-depth RPG elements while retaining some of the best stealth mechanics seen in games, gamers were treated to a real return to form for the Assassins.
But we aren’t here to talk about Origins – we did that last year! It is arguable that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the newest title in the series which takes us to Ancient Greece in the heart of the Peloponnesian War, is the best AC has been for some while.
Managing to add to the detailed RPG elements while keeping the tried and tested mechanics of old was no mean feat, and this culminated in one of the biggest open worlds we have ever seen on Xbox, and the new dialog system created meaningful bonds between player and character. Hell, you can even decide to spend time romancing others, if that’s your idea of a perfect Assassin’s Creed!
Huge battles, an excellent plot, fluid combat, and a quite frankly ridiculous amount of content – Odyssey contains all that you will ever want from an Assassin’s Creed title. In fact, it could even be the best we have seen from the franchise, period.
8) A Way Out
Never before did many think that an entirely split-screen title in the choose-your-path mould would really take off. For local multiplayer gamers of course seeing both viewpoints is necessary, but for online? What need?!
How wrong the many were, as A Way Out blew our socks off with some of the most poignant and clever story-telling, as well as engaging decision-making, found in 2018.
Telling the tale of two prison inmates, Nico and Vincent, who quickly become ‘buddies’ after they both attempt to escape from jail, you and a couch or online coop friend will control one of the men each, and work together on separate screens in order to initially escape and then remain on the run from the authorities in the later portions of the game.
Both your communication and decision-making will be tested to breaking point, as one wrong move could spell disaster for either or both of the characters. But where A Way Out really exceeds is with its habit of fluently blending the two viewpoints of the players into one, at points where one player is controlling their character and the other is simply spectating, waiting for their time to assume control of the other character and help out.
A Way Out certainly brings a unique and clever way at approaching the narrative-driven genre, and what sweetens the deal is that only one player is required to own the game for another to hop on and join their session.
Go and check out A Way Out if you are in dire need of thrills accompanied with real heart-wrenching moments.
7) Shenmue 1 & 2 HD
Shenmue?! How on earth has Shenmue wriggled its way onto this list? This is supposed to be a list celebrating the best games from 2018, not those from decades past!
Well, yes, Shenmue 1 & 2 did release way back when, during times when we had never heard of an ‘Assassin’s Creed’, or become addicted to getting ‘Victory Royales’. No, this was a simpler time but, as shown by the success of the HD remasters of Shenmue 1 & 2, there is still a lot of love to give, and a place for these cult classics to call home.
Describing Shenmue to someone who has never played it is extremely hard – think of it as your standard revenge story set inside the life of a martial artist, determined to master his fighting and then set out to find his father’s killer. That is, whilst meeting new friends, exploring a beautifully created Japanese environment and somehow managing to play arcade games in amongst all of it.
Seriously, there is nothing quite like what you will find within Shenmue 1 & 2, but it is for this reason that the games are captivating from the offset. The fact that you can play both the titles with glorious HD remastered visuals makes Shenmue 1 & 2 HD a game (or bundle of games, if you will) that you simply must give a go.
6) Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
It may have originally released on Playstation but we are eternally grateful that Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice made its way over to Xbox this year, delivering gamers a thought-provoking adventure through the mind of a mental illness patient, attempting to get by in a time when mental disease was not understood.
For Senua, travelling across a world inspired by Norse mythology and Celtic culture while battling against her own mental demons, is a very traumatizing journey – and couple that with intense battles and tricky puzzles and things can quite quickly get overwhelming for Senua herself, as well as the player. During your time with Hellblade, immediately from the offset, Senua’s psychosis starts to take a hold of her, resulting in audible voices critiquing your every move, sometimes going as far as to trick you into taking the wrong path, or demotivating you while engaging in combat, combat of which is very satisfying, might I add.
Senua’s mental state makes for a completely unique take on the action adventure and puzzle genres, even incorporating psychological horror in places to really hammer home a link between Senua and you as the player. Props to developers Ninja Theory – it was never going to be easy to tackle the issue of mental health, least of all in an interactive video game, especially to do it in a way that was real and not patronising to sufferers of mental illness. But they did it extremely well, giving us both an exciting game on the surface while having deep undertones that explain the real world.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a game you would show to those that still question whether games are an art and are meaningful – I implore you to pick it up and experience this one of a kind title.
5) Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Spyro the lovable purple dragon hadn’t had a proper outing for a long old while now, save for the Skylanders line of games that, whilst providing a new way of playing to the table, certainly didn’t give original Spyro fans what they were looking for. However, when Crash Bandicoot returned to our consoles in all his typical platforming glory it surely could have not been long before the fire-breathing icon of yesteryear popped up also. And what a way he did!
Truth be told, there isn’t really much about the Spyro Reignited Trilogy that is any different from the older titles, in fact each and every enemy and collectible is exactly where it was all that time ago, making the title perfect for fans of classic Spyro. Coming with the first three Spyro titles to boot, many hours were had frolicking around beautifully recreated worlds, using Spyro’s dragony abilities to traverse the map, picking up those all-important collectibles, and experiencing arguably the best 3D platforming known to man.
But were the lack of modern features missed? Of course not! The Spyro Reignited Trilogy did what it set out to do in spectacular fashion, and that was to provide hardened Spyro veterans the warm nostalgic feel of re-playing their favourite games, all while updating the visuals to make the game more accessible to newcomers to the franchise.
Whether you hold Spyro close to heart or want to experience him and his friends for the first time, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy is the way to do so.
4) Monster Hunter: World
For literally years Xbox owners had been crying out for a Monster Hunter title to land on the shelves – we just needed some of that super in-depth, adrenaline pumping, unforgiving monster hunting to play for ourselves! Monster Hunter: World allowed us to do just this, and it delivered the quality of Monster Hunter very well indeed.
It goes without saying that the Monster Hunter series requires an incredible amount of willpower, patience and determination from the player to be really enjoyed, and World is no different. From near enough the very start you will be quickly overwhelmed – what does this item do? Why is this monster only here at certain times? Why do I have a time limit for this mission?! If you want to become invested into Monster Hunter: World then expect a challenge – but it is then when the real fun begins.
After getting to grips with the expansive crafting system, learning the ins and outs of how to track down each unique and frankly terrifying monster, and figuring out which weapons and items to use and when, the world of Monster Hunter: World is truly yours. Free reign is a big part of the series: it is really up to you which hunt you want to go on, how you want to go about it and, of course, you are left to your own devices (and that of a friend if you wish) to track down and take down your target. And then the whole thing happens again!
Monster Hunter: World, if you give it the time, can develop into one of the most in-depth titles around, as well as one of the most satisfying when you finally understand all the niches and systems.
It really is one of the best in the series – thank god they brought it to Xbox!
3) Shadow of the Tomb Raider
2018 saw the spectacular conclusion of the Tomb Raider reboot trilogy, a trilogy which has spanned a good few years and has given gamers some of the best in action set-pieces, survival elements and beautiful environments to take in. But it was the finale in particular that got so many excited, mostly due to the promise of seeing Lara Croft as the badass superhero-esque survival expert we had come to love. No more was she whimpering about her dire situation as in the first Tomb Raider – oh no, Lara was getting amongst it, using all manner of weapons and items to take down her enemies, and we were there for every single moment.
Initially you could see that Shadow of the Tomb Raider would be a pretty game, but throw in a luscious jungle to blend into and use in gameplay, gritty hidden tombs to explore, and the small matter of an ancient Mayan supernaturality coming to life, and the action and visuals exploded onto our screens.
But it may be the real return to form of the puzzles that really pushed Shadow of the Tomb Raider above the others – Square Enix really went to town on creating a multitude of tombs with a ton of loot to seize… if you could reach it. Dangerous traps, tricky platforming and, best of all, fiendish puzzles stood in our way, but many tombs were never forced upon us, adding to the idea that the player could play their way and enjoy the game as they wished.
It’s safe to say that Shadow of the Tomb Raider was the perfect way to see out Lara on Xbox One – a must-have for fans of the franchise.
2) Red Dead Redemption 2
Really? Red Dead Redemption 2 is on this list? That game was truly awful…
Said literally nobody lucky enough to have played the engaging and unique masterpiece that is Red Dead Redemption 2.
Our time with Arthur Morgan was typically spent wondering the expansive Wild West, and helping out the Van Der Linde Gang in their seemingly endless run from the authorities. You see, your cowboy crew are very, very bad – and you also may choose to be very, very bad.
But every element of RDR 2, whether little or large, is up to you to shape to your suiting. Everything from how Arthur was perceived in the community, what guns you wish to pack and how they operate, to even how your horse’s tail should appear could be customised, making Read Dead 2’s solo world something that you could bond with in every capacity. Your horse became your own, your guns were one of a kind, and of course your rendition of Arthur Morgan was different to any other, both in looks and personality.
The story of RDR 2 could not help being enthralling – a constantly twisting labyrinth of emotion and rollercoaster rides that we simply did not want to end. But when it finally did the plethora of side-quests, challenges and promise of more unique cowboy adventures had us coming back for more.
It really is hard to put into words just how good Red Dead Redemption 2 really is, and why so. But just understand that Rockstar well and truly pulled one out of the bag, and we could well be immersed into the world for months to come, especially with the online mode allowing us to live the renegade cowboy fantasy with friends.
1) Forza Horizon 4
For many the racer is something that is never dabbled into, but boy should every gamer spend some time experiencing the in-depth, colourful and well-crafted racing affair that is Forza Horizon 4.
No doubt it is one of the best games money can buy if you are looking for an exciting and content-full racer to get your hands on, and if you happen to be the proud owner of an Xbox One X then the already second-to-none visuals just get that little bit better.
As a Brit myself, I was ecstatic to find the Horizon Festival heading over to my home country, and was eager to burn rubber in the luscious countrysides and picturesque cities that make up FH4’s map. The dynamic changing of seasons that was focussed on in pre-release material brings an added layer of realism to the game, as well as forces you to switch up your racing style according to the weather in both solo and the expansive multiplayer mode that now is integrated into the entire world. Oh, and I was of course more than pleased to see the sun make more than the odd occurrence – trust the British to make a weather reference!
But seriously – if there is one thing you do in this forthcoming year then it should be to pick up and play Forza Horizon 4, preferably with a couple of online mates to share the jaw-dropping visuals, high-octane events and general joy of exploring the great outdoors.
It was close, but Forza Horizon 4 is officially TheXboxHub’s Game of the Year 2018!
And there we have it… 10 of the best Xbox One games of 2018. It really has been one of the greatest years for Xbox in a while, and we are looking to 2019 in great anticipation; Anthem, Crackdown 3, Cyberpunk 2077 – the list goes on. Are there any games that you think should have made the cut, and if so which should be replaced? Let us know in the comments section below and have a Happy New Year!