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2018’s Top 11 Game of the Year Contenders So Far (2018 GotY Contenders)

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While we’re progressing through the year, let’s look back at the best of the best so far and figure out which games will be in the discussion for Game of the Year 2018 later this year. Here are 2018’s Game of the Year Contenders. It was a hard choice with how many 2018 GotY contenders there are, but we’ve narrowed it down to these.

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2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Celeste by Matt Makes Games

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Celeste kicked off this year right, instantly becoming the indie favorite to win Game of the Year awards this year. While it certainly wasn’t a stretch to expect a game from the creator of Towerfall, a superb combat/party game, to be really really good, Celeste even exceeded those lofty expectations.

Celeste succeeds on two very important fronts. First and foremost, it’s one of the best platformers to come out in recent memory. It has airtight controls which are needed to clear all eight of its increasingly challenging chapters. Celeste can be brutally difficult at first, and every stage presents a new challenge that you haven’t seen before, but thankfully respawns are instant. When you die, you know exactly why, and the game doesn’t force you to wait through a loading screen to try again. You can jump right back to where you messed up and give it “one more try.”

Also, Celeste features a story that is simple in comparison to the other games on this list, but it hits you right in the feels as it deals with mental health and anxiety issues that effect millions of people. You’re not saving the world or anything, it’s just about a girl trying to prove to herself that she can do something in spite of inner demons that try to drag her down.

Celeste’s story is relatable and effective, and features top notch platforming gameplay. That combination is going to be formidable, making it a shoe-in as a 2018 Game of the Year contender.

Check out our review for the game over here.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Monster Hunter: World by Capcom

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When Destiny 2 struggled to recapture the spotlight for gamers looking for a online grind kind of game, Monster Hunter World slid into the proverbial DMs of people looking for a new cooperative RPG experience.

Yeah its story isn’t going to blow anyone away, and if wins anything, it won’t be off the back of anything related to its narrative. No, instead, Monster Hunter World’s bread is buttered through its fantastic and immersive hunting gameplay.

While others have tried over the years, Monster Hunter have been among the few series to retain and continue to refine the monster hunting gameplay loop, a genre that they almost have all to themselves at this point.

With MHW, Capcom finally decided to take advantage of current-gen hardware, and as a result, they pumped out the best looking and most fun to control and play entry to-date. It’s satisfying to find a build that you like, team up with others, and bring down a bad ass monster that probably didn’t deserve the beat down you’re handing it (seriously why are we hunting them again?) but you’re all going to give it to it anyway.

We simply had to include MHW as one of 2018’s game of the year contenders.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom by Level-5

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In a typical year, Ni No Kuni II might have the JRPG spotlight all to itself, but with last year’s NieR and Persona 5, the genre has been seeing a revival. This year doesn’t get any easier, but even still, NNKII has what it takes to rise above everyone else, and even grab some GOTY awards.

Features editor Alex Gibson was hooked-in hard by all of the improvements Revenant Kingdom made over the original. Notably, the kingdom building gave more purpose and life to activities that would have been reserved as filler content in most other JRPGs. Even small quests aid you in your goal of creating a kingdom that is able to defend and fend-off attackers.

Normal battles were switched up to be action-based, and Revenant Kingdom made strides to improve on that style of play too through ideas such as Tactical Tweaks and Higgledies, instead of just copying what has worked with other games.

There’s also a surprising number of new mechanics, and dramatic changes for a series that was quite well received in its first outing. Level-5 could have just given us another cutesy, anime romp with the same traditional JRPG mechanics and everyone would have probably be perfectly OK with that. Instead, they rolled the dice, cutting things people did like, to make room for features that they believed would drive the series forward, and they succeeded big time. It’s definitely among 2018’s game of the year contenders.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Far Cry 5 by Ubisoft

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While the ending might not have been the greatest, it didn’t stop the overall experience of Far Cry 5 from being a memorable one this year. It’s tough for action games to stand out, there’s just so many that’ll come out this year, but Ubisoft put themselves out there by moving the Far Cry series to modern day Montana of all places. The tone throughout the game is set by Eden’s Gate, a cult fearing for its survival, that uses extreme and dangerous tactics to hold onto their preferred way.

Their cult is born of distrust of their government, a real feeling that exists in many places around the United States, and exploring this topic hits on a nerve, especially now during a current political climate that could be classified as turbulent to say the least.

Although a lot of the gameplay is a bit familiar, Ubisoft did find ways to mix it up. Companions, both AI and human, were added in with FC5, an addition that is pretty much universally pleasing. Whether you’re taking advantage of having a giant Bear follow you around and maul people, or playing with an actual person, it needed something to mix up its tried and true gameplay, and those changes delivered.

It’s going to be a challenge for this game to stand out later this year, but there’s no doubt that it was one of the best games to come out this year so far.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Into the Breach by Subset Games

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Another indie darling that has ascended to the top of the heap of games so far in 2018, Into the Breach is a little more off the beaten path than Celeste, especially if you’re a console gamer, or someone who avoids strategy games. Still, it stands out for its ability to combine roguelike elements with turn-based strategy taking place on tiny grids about the size of an unused corner of a Final Fantasy Tactics map.

The game’s enemies, the Vek, show you exactly what they are going to do, it’s up to you to develop the perfect strategy to survive their assault and complete your objectives. There’s no RNG to mess with you either. You won’t be missing any “99%” chance to hit attacks or anything like that. If you mess up, you have no one to blame other than yourself, and your crappy strategy.

Unlike similar games, where your goal is to avoid death over the course of a long, drawn out battle, death in Into the Breach is assumed for most players, and because it happens on a more micro level, it’s an easier pill to swallow. It’s up to you to jump back in and adapt after failure. So not only is Into the Breach an excellent strategy game, it’s doing new and awesome things that might inspire future games as well. It’s truly one of 2018’s game of the year contenders.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Yakuza 6 by Sega

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Any time a storied franchise reaches its narrative end, people are going to take notice. Yakuza 6 is the final chapter of a saga that started all the way back in 2006. Twelve years is a long time, and over the years it has changed and evolved, but has never lost a grip on its identity. It’s just a bigger, badder, better version of itself.

That said, it certainly is one of the more daring games in the series. Right at the end, Sega decided to use a brand new engine, the Dragon Engine, which changed up the way the game’s combat and exploration looks and feels. This could have been a disaster. Think about how ill-fitting the Frostbite engine felt with Mass Effect Andromeda.

Luckily, not only did it work out, it elevated the gameplay to a new level. Everything in this game is seamless now. Visually, it is picked up thanks to the Dragon Engine, and the combat feels more like a legit street fight than ever before.

Like Far Cry 5, Yakuza 6 faces stiff competition from other action-oriented games, but give Sega credit for ending Kazuma Kiryu’s story on a high note. It’s absolutely among 2018’s game of the year contenders.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

God of War by SIE Santa Monica Studio

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If we’re forced to pick an early favorite to win most of the GOTY awards this year just based on hype alone, it probably has to be God of War right? It earned a 94 Metacritic score based on a whopping 117 critical reviews, and a 9.2 user score from 6853 people at the time of this writing.

Being a massive, polished, AAA exclusive from a popular series on the console that’s currently leading the pack on sales certainly gives a big head start, but it reached the level of acclaim that it got on its own merits.

The game shows fans a side of Kratos that they have never seen before. A side that is about as warm and cuddly as I think a god-killing maniac gets. He and the “boy” Atreus set out to scatter Kratos’ wife Faye’s ashes from the highest peak in this new Nordic realm. Along the way, Artreus will mess up, a lot, and players get to see Kratos try desperately to keep his cool, and show some affection for a change. Those that complete the game will be rewarded with one of the best character developments (Kratos) from one game to another ever, full stop.

What hasn’t changed as much is that GoW is still an incredible action game, although rather than stick with what has worked just fine for the first three or so games, this PS4 reboot of sorts goes for tighter, over the shoulder perspective. This perspective change had a dramatic impact on its gameplay, and like some of the other games on this list that took risks, it paid off ten-fold.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Detroit: Become Human by Quantic Dream

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Not to be out done by God of War, Sony had another exclusive that’s going to be in the mix for GOTY, and it was Detroit: Become Human. Luckily, the two games couldn’t be any less alike and they both strike very different chords.

Detroit is the latest effort from adventure game makers Quantic Dream. They have had hits and misses over the years, but here, we felt that this was the game that finally put everything together. The story about AIs wanting to be treated as humans have been done to death sure, but that’s more of a backdrop for the deep dive on three separate characters that steal the show from the overall narrative. In particular, Connor’s journey from robocop, AI hunter detective to potentially an ally in a fight for AI freedom will be considered among the best performances all year for sure.

Even better, on the gameplay side of things, Detroit does player-choice so well, and I hope Telltale Games took notes for all of the projects they have coming up. There are an insane amount of branching paths that stem from big, gut wrenching choices, whether or not you succeed in action sequences, and even just little butterfly-effect type of decisions, that don’t seem like much in the moment, but have big time consequences.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire by Obsidian Entertainment

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One of the criteria we use here at Twinfinte for reviewing games, and later, picking our GOTYs is where it stands among its peers in its own genre. Ever since Obsidian Entertainment decided to take up the mantle of reviving the iso-RPG, they have become the new owners of that genre. Pillars of Eternity II is the bar now for other future titles to try and clear.

It got there by perfectly balancing nostalgia with new innovations. There’s lots, and lots of dialogue to read like you would expect, but it infuses player choice in a way that hell, even gives Detroit on the page before a run for its money. In the game, your character’s personality and journey is shaped immensely by the decisions that you make and when combined with the deep class customization features, it combines to make the role-playing elements in the game second to none.

Also, the game has a perfect length to it, so that you’re getting your money’s worth, but it’s not so daunting that you would be scared away from trying out new characters, and making different choices.

There’s a ton of RPG competition this year, maybe the most we’ve seen this entire generation in a single year, but it’s charted its own path, doing something very different from the rest. That will be an important factor come GOTY season later this year, and this one’s no doubt among 2018’s Game of the Year contenders.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Octopath Traveler by Square Enix/Acquire

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What’s really intriguing/interesting about Octopath Traveler is that despite what you might have thought before this game came out, its strength isn’t wholly in its story. Classic JRPGs usually stand the test of time on the story the tell, rather than their gameplay. While it is a solid anthology of eight different tales, it’s actually its combat that steals the show and elevates it to the level of being a GOTY contender.

The game features a complex, and challenging combat system that forces you to plan and strategize way more than you’re probably used to for a game like this. You have way more to think about than just what skills to use and when, and what sword to equip (the strong one).

You’ll be putting careful consideration into what classes and secondary classes you’ll bring to battle, how to best manage your boost points, how to respond to enemy formations, weak points, and more. And while this level of strategy does exist in other games, OT forces you to understand it very intimately (or fail), and mastery of it is incredibly satisfying. It’s absolutely one of  2018’s Game of the Year contenders.

2018 Game of the Year Contenders

Marvel’s Spider-Man by Insomniac Games

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Finally, let’s wrap up with the most recent game on this list, Marvel’s Spider-Man. Any exclusive game is going to have a heaping of added pressure on top of it. Double that now for a game that stars arguably one of the most recognizable fictional characters. Period. Full stop. Spider-Man is absurdly popular, the MCU films have raised that affinity even more in recent years, and it’s been forever since gaming fans have experienced a really good Spider-Man game. Well this year, we finally got one.

Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4 was excellent. The one thing, probably more than anything, that fans really wanted, it delivered. It had a wonderful open world that Peter Parker could swing around and explore to his heart’s content. Insomniac absolutely nailed the game’s traversal.

It also doesn’t hurt that Insomniac borrowed a few pages from the Arkham games, and created a combat/upgrade system that was satisfying, loaded the game up with plenty of classic references to hero’s history, and had a story that skipped over all the backstory fluff, and instead went and told its own unique tale.


That does it for our list of 2018’s top 10 Game of the Year contenders (2018 GotY Contenders)! What’s your personal GOTY so far in 2018? Let us know below in the comments!

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Ed McGlone
Ed McGlone was with Twinfinite from 2014 to 2022. Playing games since 1991, Ed loved writing about RPGs, MMOs, sports games and shooters.