Over the next eight days, Hardcore Gamer will be revealing its Best of 2018 Awards leading up to our Game of the Year. Today we present you with the Best Action Game, RPG, Shooter, Platformer and Strategy Game.
God of War has always been an excellent action series, but the formula was getting old following the release of Ascension. Thankfully, Santa Monica Studios took the series back to the drawing board for an overhaul. While aspects of the gameplay may feel familiar (square, square, triangle is now R1, R1, R2), God of War feels extremely fresh to play. Simple on paper, but hard to master, God of War features a multi-faceted system featuring the new Levithan Axe, Kratos’ fists and a secret second weapon. Fast and furious, God of War is about masterfully dodging enemies, pulverizing them and utilizing Atreus to exploit weaknesses. It’s a flashy ordeal that’ll keep players on their toes as they collect and craft powerful armor, face off against imposing foes and take on the worst Norse mythology has to offer. There’s always a pulse-pounding moment and it all adds up to the best action game of 2018.
|Red Dead Redemption 2||Dead Cells||Marvel’s Spider-Man||Yakuza 6: The Song of Life|
While it may not be an RPG in the traditional sense, Monster Hunter: World draws players into a world of man versus beast and never stops bringing the fight. With no level to speak of, the only way to improve in combat is know the foe and hope there’s strong armor on the Hunter’s back to take big hits. The new world of Monster Hunter offered freedom in exploration and the classic freedom to take on fights in a multitude of different ways. With some of the best combat in the series coupled together with the wildest new areas to explore, there’s tons to hunt in Monster Hunter: World whether alone or teaming up with friends or allies online and around the world. As the biggest change the series has seen so far, it made a huge impact on players around the world and is our favorite RPG of the year.
|Dragon Quest XI||Octopath Traveler||Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire||Vampyr|
One of the nice things about the ’90s is that they’re over, but there were aspects that didn’t need to be abandoned. The dumb-as-a-stump shooter from the Doom/Quake/Duke3D days only looked simplistic on the surface, so while the enemies saw the player and simply ran towards them the levels were designed to pick up the slack. Dusk’s biggest strength isn’t so much that it’s a throwback but that it recreates the best of ’90s level design, including the basics like secrets, switches and monster closets, but also building its areas based on the strengths of its variety of weapons. It’s deeply satisfying to launch a grenade around a corner, or pull out the piercing crossbow to decimate a long hallway of enemies, or just tear through a wide open encounter at top speed while blasting with twin shotguns. The huge variety of enemies, encounters and a perfect recreation of how we’d like to remember the ’90s (there were far more Strifes than Quakes) makes Dusk the greatest FPS gibfest of the year.
|Call of Duty: Black Ops 4||Far Cry 5||Battlefield V||Mothergunship|
To say that 2018 was an amazing year for platformers would be an understatement. Heck, we could have easily stretched this category out to a good ten nominees! But less than a month into the year, the bar was already set as high as it could be by Celeste. Not only did it provide one of the most intense, challenging platformers in some time, while the death count per level can easily reach triple digits, but it provided something most hardcore platformers lack: optimism. Celeste encourages you to beat it, WANTS you to beat it. It almost cheers you on as it goes, outright saying that each death is a learning experience. The result is a game where clearing even one room feels like a monumental triumph, where you slowly but surely develop the reflexes needed for dashes across a high and varied amount of unique obstacles. It wants you to grow along with its lead character Madeline, to experience the same journey and make you feel like you’ve accomplished so much once you’ve made it to the titular mountain’s peak. The way it weaves together its emotional tale with its tough-as-nails yet fun and fair gameplay immediately solidified Celeste as not just the year’s best platformer, but also one of the genre’s all-time greats.
|The Messenger||GRIS||Forgotton Anne||Yoku’s Island Express|
Despite being released earlier in the year, Into the Breach has left a lasting impression on fans of the strategy genre. Utilizing time-traveling giant robots in their fight against kaiju-like creatures not only made for fantastic concept, but also makes sense from a gameplay point of view. Players take the role of desperate pilots attempting to save humanity’s future from complete extermination. The objective is simple enough: do all that’s possible to save a timeline or face defeat by returning to a different timeline to try again. The title incorporates rogue-like elements to keep gameplay going in a way that allows players to learn from their mistakes. While some loadouts from previous timelines can be retained, Into the Breach forces us to live with our successes and failures. Its turn-based, procedurally-generated rogue-like play echoes that of chess in more ways than one. While it may be possible to destroy every enemy on the field, the game is less about overpowering the opposing forces and instead about maintaining position control and sacrificing units to gain a larger advantage. The beauty of Into the Breach is that it’s easy to play, but challenging to master. Its overall gameplay design, artistic elements and strategic possibilities make Into the Breach a must play for any tactical fan out there.
|Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden||Two Point Hospital||Pit People||Frostpunk|