Highest-Rated Games of 2018, According to Metacritic
Each year, hundreds and hundreds of games come out. Some fail to grab the limelight, sometimes due to what critics have to say and sometimes not, while others control the conversation around video games for the rest of the year. Often, those big releases (looking at you Red Dead Redemption 2) drown out smaller titles that still deserve your attention, like Ikaruga. Fortunately, it’s the end of the video game season, if you will, which means we all have some time to catch up on what we missed.
To help you trim out the fat, here are the games you must play before the year ends. While you’re free to play whatever you want, these are the highest ranked games of 2018, according to Metacritic, so if you have a game in your backlog on this list, start there.
In the meantime, check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 review. We agree with critics that it is one of the best games released this year. If you’re too busy playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate to get through your backlog, check out our Super Smash Bros Ultimate Guide Wiki.
20. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (PC) — 88
Extremely detailed character customization, a massive world map for exploration and a world that’s yours to control are just a few characteristics that landed Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire on this list. Praised for the amount of control the player is in when exploring this world on land and on sea, <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/pillars-of-eternity-ii-deadfire”>critics</a> quickly fell in love with what Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire accomplished on PC. It’s a DnD campaign that spans across one of 2018’s largest worlds put into video game form. Any fan of the RPG genre owes it to themselves to pick this game up.
19. Ikaruga (Switch) — 88
Ikaruga is a shoot ’em up that allows you to utilize your Switch in a way that most, if any at all, games won’t allow you to do. While most games have you playing horizontally, Ikaruga has the player hold their Switch vertically while shooting enemy ships. To do so effectively, you must master the use of your own ship’s polarity switch, which turns what otherwise would be a standard shoot ’em up into one of the year’s best rhythm games. <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/ikaruga”>critics</a> praised it for this perfect blend of genres and it’s just one of the many reasons why you should play it before the year is up.
18. Sonic Mania Plus (Multiplatform) — 89 (weighted average)
Sonic Mania Plus is the best version of the best Sonic game ever made, according to <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/sonic-mania-plus”>critics</a>. Released this year, it’s packed with tons of extras and the original, critically-acclaimed Sonic Mania. This game is everything Mario fans have feared for decades and everything Sonic fans have argued in favor of during those same decades. It’s the best Sonic has ever felt, looked, sounded and played, and a must-play this year.
17. Tetris Effect (PS4) — 89
Tetris Effect is the love child between Tetris and Lumines. That has a lot to do with the fact that Tetsuya Mizuguchi is the producer behind this masterclass in puzzle games, but it’s also because of the way it melds the classic gameplay of Tetris with the eye-melting visuals that only someone like the mastermind behind Lumines could imagine. On top of that, it features one of the best soundtracks of this year and a PSVR version that will blow your mind, according to the <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/tetris-effect”>critical reception</a> that the VR component has received. Fans of Tetris will adore this game and those who aren’t fans will learn to be.
16. Okami HD (Switch) — 89
Okami HD is an HD port of one of the best action-adventure games of the Xbox/PS2/Wii generation. It features a visual style that resembles a piece of art straight from the East and a story set somewhere in classical Japan that will keep you mesmerized with a unique combat/puzzle-solving mechanic that utilizes the Celestial Brush, a conduit for gameplay inspired by painting. It’s truly one-of-a-kind and this year is lucky to have seen it brought forward from the past. Don’t believe us? Let the <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/okami-hd”>critics</a> tell you.
15. Hollow Knight (Multiplatform) — 89.3 (weighted average)
Hollow Knight is one of this generation’s best metroidvania games and one of the best souls-that-isn’t-souls games ever made. Imagine a metroidvania as great as Shadow of the Night mixed with the storytelling and hard-as-nails combat of Dark Souls. What you come up (which sounds like a perfect game, right?) is Hollow Knight. The <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/hollow-knight”>critics</a> score speaks for itself.
14. Monster Hunter World (Multiplatform) — 90 (weighted average)
Recently named <a href=”https://thegameawards.com/awards/”>Best RPG</a> at The Game Awards, Monster Hunter: World is not only one of the best Monster Hunter games released, but it’s also one of the best games released in 2018, <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/monster-hunter-world”>critics</a> say. Featuring combat perfected over years and years of games, with some of the deepest RPG systems in any game ever, you will never stop learning in this game. And that’s what makes it easy to keep playing over 100 hours later — there’s always something more.
13. Into the Breach (Multiplatform) — 90 (weighted average)
Into the Breach is this year’s best turn-based strategy RPG, if the <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/into-the-breach”>critics reception</a> is anything to go off of, and sees players controlling giant mechs and more in an effort to defeat an alien race threatening your existence. A follow-up to FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breach takes all of the strategy elements of FTL and combines them with an engrossing world that will have you coming back for more eight-by-eight grid action for dozens and dozens of hours. A bit more niche than the other games on this list, Into the Breach is an excellent take on strategy games and simple enough (at first) for newcomers to understand what it’s all about.
12. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission (PSVR) — 90
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is without a doubt the killer app for PSVR and <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/astro-bot-rescue-mission”>critics</a> think so too. While it works as well as it does because of VR, it’s a shame that millions of players won’t ever get to experience the platforming greatness that Astro Bot is because of the way it must be played. If you own a PSVR, invite as many of your friends as you can to play the game and if you don’t own a PSVR, find a friend that does. This is not a game to miss.
11. NieR: Automata – Become as Gods Edition (Xbox One) — 90
NieR: Automata might be the strangest game this generation, but it’s also one of the best, at least according to <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-one/nier-automata—become-as-gods-edition”>Metacritic</a>. It has over 20 endings, trophies and achievements you can purchase with in-game currency (that you can’t acquire with real-world money fortunately), and multiple protagonists. On top of that, it’s a low-budget (comparatively) game that manages to excel to great heights in spite of that. Released this year to the Xbox One, and easy to find for cheap, NieR: Automata is a fantastic game in ways no other game can say.
10. INSIDE (Switch) — 91
Playdead’s Limbo was incredible, so when INSIDE was released, it was quite surprising that not only had it soared past its predecessors’ puzzle-platforming capabilities, but surpassed its storytelling achievement. Released for the Switch this year, it still has us pondering the questions the game’s narrative presented and reeling with this generation’s most strange and telling ending. It’s no wonder it received such high <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/inside”>praise</a> from critics.
9. Shadow of the Colossus (PS4) — 91
You played this game on PS2. It was fantastic. You played this game on PS3. It was fantastic. If you haven’t played this game yet somehow, it was remade from the ground up for PS4 and released earlier this year, and guess what? It’s <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/shadow-of-the-colossus”>fantastic</a>, at least that’s what critics have to say.
8. Celeste (Multiplatform) — 91 (weighted average)
Celeste is 2018’s best indie game and easily one of the year’s best. Its narrative is an important lesson in self-love and image, its platforming is addictive and well-designed, its visuals are pure 16-bit greatness, and surrounding all of that is one of this year’s best gaming soundtracks, both critics and fans alike agree. It’s no wonder it’s on this <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-one/celeste”>list</a>.
7. Divinity: Original Sin II (Multiplatform) — 92 (weighted average)
Divinity: Original Sin II takes everything incredible about its predecessor, which is virtually everything, and somehow makes it even better. <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/divinity-original-sin-ii—definitive-edition”>critics</a> say it’s Dungeons and Dragons in video game form and because of that, it’s one of this year’s best, if not best, traditional roleplaying experiences. If you love crunching RPG numbers and statistics while exploring an engrossingly rich world ripe with exploration, Divinity: Original Sin II is the game for you. Released this year on PS4 and Xbox One, pick this one up if you can.
6. Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox One) — 92
The best racing game this year, according to Metacritic, Forza Horizon 4 is a love letter to both the fans the series has cultivated over the past years and the art of racing. Featuring some of the most stunning visuals on Xbox One, visuals that make your eyes bleed on Xbox One X, and the best racing physics — it sits somewhere between sim and arcade — Forza Horizon 4 is not only the best Forza game ever made, but, according to critics, one of the <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-one/forza-horizon-4″>best</a> racing games released this generation.
5. Bayonetta 2 (Switch) — 92
Rereleased on Switch this year, and thank goodness because it is this generation’s best action RPG, Bayonetta 2 is sexy, aggressive, fluid, and witchy as hell. Nobody will argue with <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/bayonetta-2″>that</a>. Pick it up and play it before the release of Bayonetta 3, whenever that is (soon, Nintendo, please).
4. Undertale (Switch) — 93
Undertale is an extremely special game. Made by one man, Toby Fox, over 32 months of development, this game is a love letter to games of the past with an otherworld story that will keep you enthralled for all of its, admittedly few, hours. With one of this generation’s best soundtracks and most unique stories, Undertale, which was released on the Switch in 2018 (although it is available elsewhere too) is a game you cannot miss out on before this generation is over. The game’s critical <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/undertale”>reception</a> agrees, too.
3. Super Smash Bros Ultimate (Switch) — 93
One of the Nintendo Switch’s best exclusives, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, fighting games of all time. Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a fast-paced, visually stunning, Nintendo history book that feels so good to play that it will be impossible to wipe away the silly smile slathered across your face. Easily the best in the series — even <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/switch/super-smash-bros-ultimate”>Metacritic</a>agrees — and not just because it features more characters, stages and songs than ever before, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a must-play.
2. God of War (PS4) — 94
Recently named the <a href=”https://twinfinite.net/2018/12/game-awards-2018-list/”>Game of the Year</a> at The Game Awards, God of War is a treat for any PS4 owner and certainly a must-play. Featuring a heartfelt story about the relationship between a hardened and often cold father, and a warm son who simply wants to connect, this game will have you all up in your feels by the time you roll credits. It doubles as a fun “what if” story for fans of Norse mythology too. All of this together is likely why it is the second-highest rated game of the year, according to <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/god-of-war”>Metacritic</a>.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2 (Multiplatform) — 97 (weighted average)
If you pay any attention to the video game industry and the talk surrounding it, especially over the last month, you’ll know that Red Dead Redemption 2 is, in many ways, the number one game of 2018. It’s vast, sprawling, eerily lifelike, full of heart, and so much more. It is one of the <a href=”https://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/red-dead-redemption-2″>greatest</a> games of all time.