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The best games of 2018

20. Hitman 2

Developer: IO Interactive
Formats: PC, PS4, Xbox One

What is it? Hitman 2 ditches the episodic approach of Hitman 2016 to offer even more razor sharp (yet often slapstick) assassination scheming and action in one package.

Why should you play it? The worst thing that can be said about Hitman 2 is that it's just more Hitman. But if you played the game that came before it, you know Hitman 2016 was IO Interactive at its best: the culmination of a decade and a half spent honing its contract killing formula. So yeah, Hitman 2 is more Hitman. More elaborate ways to kill your targets. More approachable options for newcomers. More ways to screw up when, say, somebody spots you lurking behind them in the mirror, and more ways to get the situation back under control. The story that threads all of the contracts together remains disappointingly half-baked, but it still accomplishes the most important goal of all: giving you new places to kill bad people in interesting ways. Connor Sheridan

19. Jurassic World Evolution

Developer: Frontier Developments
Formats: PC, Xbox One, PS4

What is it? A management sim that lets you live out your dream of building the world's best dinosaur zoo / theme park, complete with danger, drama and a whole lot of dinos.

Why should you play it? There's something about hopping into your very own Jeep and driving around an enclosure to refill feeders and fix a fence while trying to avoid the giant feet of a Diplodocus you've named Clive. Jurassic World Evolution knows that and puts you right in the driver's seat from the moment you place your very first fence, birthed a Struthiomimus from your magical incubator and begun your journey to building the dinosaur theme park of your dreams. It might lack some of the minutiae of regular management sims, like monitoring the needs of your actual visitors, but looking after swathes of dinosaur breeds each with their own wants, needs, and, let's face it, demands, there's plenty to be getting on with. Carnivores will be carnivores and they will regularly think Dirk and Jenny on their holiday to Dinosaur island would make great aperitifs, so actually getting your park up and running constantly leaves you feeling like you're on the brink of disaster. But, overall this is a seriously impressive management sim, with more Jurassic Park Easter eggs than you can shake a mauled guest at. Sam Loveridge

18. Battlefield 5

Developer: DICE
Formats: PC, PS4, Xbox One

What is it? The 16th instalment in the famed shooter series, Battlefield 5 takes us back to World War 2, featuring both a full single player campaign and classic multiplayer modes

Why should you play it? Battlefield 5 does little to push the FPS genre, or indeed the franchise, forward in any major ways, but DICE’s piecemeal approach to sequel iteration can and will be appreciated by longtime fans of the military shooter series. Thoughtful updates to Squads and Classes rebalance the skill gap that was muddled by Battlefield 1’s more ostentatious multiplayer, while additive ideas like the Fortifications and Attrition systems go a long way in making firefights feel as intense as ever. Battlefield 5 won’t be remembered as an all time great in the series’ distinguished history, but it is a slick and sound multiplayer shooter that, with DICE’s impressive plans for post-launch content, will only get better over time. Alex Avard

17. Tetris Effect

Developer: Enhance Games
Formats: PS4

What is it? An artfully trippy take on the classic game of Tetris, with each level transporting you to a Fantasia-grade mindscape of enchanting sights and catchy sounds. 

Why should you play it? Tetris is, by some measures, the perfect game: easy to grasp, endlessly replayable, and rewarding with a nigh-limitless skill ceiling. Tetris Effect takes the block-stacking, line-clearing structure you love and uses it as a conduit to transport you to a state of euphoric concentration. From the minds behind Rez Infinite and Lumines Remastered, Tetris Effect plays off those same elements of synaesthesia, imbuing your every action with a distinct noise and visual effect that whirls together in a symphony for the visual and auditory senses. Each stage presents a new, wondrous theme that pulls you in, takes you to climactic heights, then gently sends you along to the next fantastical round of Tetris. Experiencing Tetris Effect within the cloistered, head-mounted theater of PlayStation VR is a must, and as the name would suggest, you'll be happily hallucinating those iconic tetrominos whenever you close your eyes. Lucas Sullivan 

16. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Developer: Treyarch
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC

What is it? The latest entry in the Call of Duty series, and the first to abandon a single-player campaign altogether.

Why should you play it? Treyarch did something rather brave with Black Ops 4, the latest in the annually released Call of Duty series, and abandoned the single-player campaign altogether. Instead the team delivered a game that was solely focused on multiplayer, both in the traditional Call of Duty sensibilities, and the Zombies too, but also with a brand new battle royale mode called Blackout. The dialling down on hidden challenges, a plethora of ridiculously complicated Easter eggs, a swathe of unlockable characters and more surprised the industry both on a critic and player level to the point it's been a rather runaway success. This is a game with its reticle aimed squarely at the people who play Call of Duty as much as they can, with regular updates and a tonne of content to keep them all going for months - if not years - to come. And it's utterly brilliant. Sam Loveridge

15. Detroit: Become Human

Developer: Quantic Dream
Formats: PS4

What is it? The latest interactive narrative adventure from David Cage (Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls), Detroit: Become Human takes place in a future where androids and humans live in uneasy cohabitation

Why should you play it? Despite the richness of their stories, adventure games too often fail to truly deliver on the promise of offering real choice and consequence tailored to each player‘s experience. Detroit: Become Human is no such game. Depending on how you play, characters will live or die, revolutions will change the course of history or peter out in tragedy, and the very identity of its three protagonists will be moulded in your image. It’s a titanic, labyrinthian epic of a tale that proves few can rival David Cage’s appreciation for branching narratives in interactive entertainment, even if his hokey, on the nose script justifiably attracts mockery. Entangle yourself in Detroit’s moody and thrilling sci-fi saga, and you’ll emerge the other side with a thirst to play it all over again. Alex Avard

14. Subnautica

Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Formats: PC, PS4, Xbox One

What is it? An open world survival horror game set almost entirely under the sea, after your spaceship crash lands on an oceanic planet of aquatic wonder and terror.

Why should you play it? Forget what you know and hate about underwater levels. Subnautica takes video games’ most notoriously bastardised biome and turns it into an aquatic paradise of charm and horror. Resultantly, exploring, surviving, and building your ultimate sci-fi sea base is thoroughly captivating stuff in Subnautica. There’s just one problem: almost everything in this deep blue ocean wants to kill you. If you’re the sort of person to recoil at the very thought of stepping on a sea cucumber when paddling in the rock pools, Subnautica will scare the bathing pants right off you, but indie developer Unknown Worlds proves mightily adept at rendering a watery world that feels strangely familiar yet starkly alien. Don’t let this one float past you before 2018 is up. Alex Avard

13. Pokemon Let's Go

Developer: GameFreak
Formats: Nintendo Switch

What is it? The latest entry in the Pokemon series, and also the first on home console, walking a wonderful line between nostalgia and a fresh take on the Pokemon formula. 

Why should you play it? Okay, okay, so Pokemon Let's Go (which comes in Pikachu or Eevee flavour) might not be the main, Generation 8-themed, Pokemon Switch entry we've all been waiting for, but it is something rather interesting indeed. Aimed initially at converting the Pokemon Go players to cross over to Switch Land, Pokemon Let's Go actually delivers something much deeper, and also rather fresh. It manages to mix key elements of the Pokemon Go gameplay like seeing wild Pokemon appear in the world, with the traditional Pokemon RPG elements like battling and Gyms, reinvigorate the graphics to ensure this is the best looking Pokemon game yet, while also retaining everything that core players demand from a Pokemon game. In essence it's both a remake of the classic 1998 Pokemon Yellow Game Boy Colour Game, but also something that gives us a glimpse of what a next-generation Pokemon game can be. If you have any interest at all in Pokemon, this is a great place to start, and it lays a fantastic foundation for super exciting things to come in the Pokemon universe. Plus, you can change Pikachu and Eevee's hair, pet them, and they ride on your shoulder as you move around the world. Sold, right? Sam Loveridge

12. Fortnite

Developer: Epic
Formats: PS4, PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android

What is it? A lively, constantly evolving battle royale building game with hundreds of millions of players all fighting 1v99 battles to be the last one standing. 

Why should you play it? Few games have penetrated the public consciousness in the same way as Fortnite did in 2018. Everyone knows what flossing is whether they understand it or not. It’s a phenomenon on par with things like Pac-Man, Sonic and Mario, and GTA for historical relevance - games the most non-non-gamers have heard off, from grandmas to remote rainforest tribes. And it shows no sign of stopping anytime soon with 200 million registered users at this point. What’s made its 100 player Battle Royale a success this year is a range of things. Its fast, colourful gunplay and tower building has been bolstered by a refusal to stagnate - refreshing itself every season to keep things interesting. Guns, gear and mechanics regularly change as the game evolves. While the map is constantly progressing, adding in new areas and reworking those that fall from favour. There aren’t many games in a GOTY list that are likely to be around for next year’s GOTY round ups but Fortnite is doing everything it needs to stick around. Leon Hurley

11. Monster Hunter World

Developer: Capcom
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC

What is it? Guess. Seriously, guess. That’s right, you hunt monsters in this latest instalment of Capcom’s beast-killing game. Hunt deadlier creatures, get better body parts, so you can craft stronger armor, so you can hunt deadlier creatures, so you can get better body parts...you get the idea. 

Why should you play it? With a gameplay cycle that admittedly sounds simple comes a dense, endlessly satisfying series of interlocking skills that might be bewildering at first, but they won’t remain so for long. Monsters themselves require careful tracking by investigating footprints left behind by the creatures, but it’s fighting them that’s the real meat of Monster Hunter World. Each monster has a different approach to fighting, meaning it’s perfectly normal for it to take a handful of tries before you successfully vanquish your foe, especially as their attacks change depending on the weather, if it’s night or day, and how low their health is. Some will become more aggressive as it dwindles whereas others might flee to their den to recover, making you feel like a horrendous human being for pursuing them as they cry in alarm. Then there’s the fact that the environment is at your disposal too: breaking a dam might flood a monster out of hiding, and if you lead your quarry to other monsters they’ll duke it out and kill each other while you (try to) stay out of the way. If you’re the kind of person who happily spends hours tweaking loadouts and perfecting combat, good god this is the game for you. Zoe Delahunty-Light

Continue to page three for our ultimate top 10 best games of 2018...