There's no denying that 2018 has been a strong year for games, as Xbox One and PS4 enter their twilight years, with titles like God of War, Forza Horizon 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2 showcasing developers' mastery of the current console hardware. As December draws to a close, it's time to pick our 25 best games of 2018 - the GamesRadar Game of the Year Awards. And with the likes of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Celeste, Florence, and Marvel's Spider-Man PS4, it's no easy task to narrow the list of the best games of 2018 to just 25; so it's important to explain our rationale and criteria.
How did we do it? Firstly, we set some baseline rules. Only games that came out in 2018 were eligible, (although Fortnite was a cause of much debate, originally debuting in late 2017, but not hitting its stride until early 2018. TLDR: we included it, since the game underwent significant retooling during 2018 via regular updates, and - let's be frank - excluding gaming's biggest cultural phenomenon felt absurd) and anything that was a remaster or a re-release didn't count. Sorry Spyro: The Reignited Trilogy and Diablo 3 on Switch.
The GamesRadar team then submitted every, single, game they thought should be on the long list, which eventually was filled with around 50 games. Every member of the team then voted on their top 25 of that list, ranked from 25th best all the way down to their ultimate number one (so your #1 game received a score of 1, your #25 game received a score of 25 etc). We added up all the scores, and the game with the most overall votes, but lowest average score became our number one. The process was applied to all games in the long list, allowing us to create a focus-group-style average ranking. That's how we got to this ultimate 25 best games of 2018.
So without any further ado, here's our final list of the best games of 2018. How many of these beauties have you played?
25. Two Point Hospital
Developer: Two Point Studios
What is it? A hospital management simulation with a cheeky sense of humor
Why should you play it? Cleaning up vomit has never been so entertaining. The team behind the classic Theme Hospital made a comeback with a bigger and better spiritual successor - one that transplants all the charm and mechanics of the original into a new body called Two Point Hospital. The diseases and afflictions are funny enough to stop the odd death or accident ever making you melancholy, and the actual nuts and bolts of getting your hospitals to run smoothly are addictively nuanced. Just when you’ve managed to actual start curing people it’ll add something new - a monobrow infestation, a plague of Jogger’s Ripple, a rain of flaming rocks - to keep you on your hospital administrator toes. Rachel Weber
24. Forza Horizon 4
Developer: Playground Games
Formats: Xbox One, PC
What is it? The latest Xbox One exclusive open-world racer, with stunning graphics and tracks set across the British Isles.
Why should you play it? It's not very often that a game is really selling just how beautiful the British Isles really are, but here comes Playground Games in some bright yellow super car to show you exactly how it's done. The Xbox One exclusives this year have been a little thin on the ground, and yet you can always guarantee that if a Forza game arrives, it'll be appearing in our pick of the top games. Playground Games has smashed it again with Forza Horizon 4, bringing the car-themed festival to the UK complete with a stunning seasonal cycle, raft of amazing cars to race, and a banging soundtrack that you'll want blasting through your ears at all time. If you love racing and want to see what the Xbox One X can really do, get this speedy little number in your library. Sam Loveridge
Developer: Digital Sun
Formats: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
What is it? An isometric action game where you spend your days running a shop in a small village, and your nights as an adventurer crawling through randomly generated dungeons.
Why should you play it? Moonlighter is two games in one - a shopkeeping sim and a Zelda-esque action RPG - and both are exceptional. The cycle of exploring dungeons to get loot, selling that loot back at your store, and using the profits to upgrade your gear and your store to get even better at looting and selling is incredibly engrossing. Everything leads into everything else, so you're constantly hungry for more. Moonlighter controls well, looks and sounds great, and I found myself surprisingly invested in its story. There's something about Will, the unassuming main character who moonlights as an adventure, that makes you want to root for him. Plus it's only gotten better with age thanks to free DLC like a New Game+ mode, more items and weapons, and store improvements. I'll be playing this game on and off for years. Austin Wood
22. Into the Breach
Developer: Subset Games
Formats: PC, Switch
What is it? A turn-based tactical roguelike from the developers of FTL that sets brief mecha-versus-kaiju battles on chessboard playing fields.
Why should you play it? Tactics and strategy games often take a "more is better" approach, with huge battles, tons of combatants, and stats stats stats everywhere. Into the Breach does the opposite. Each battle unfolds on an 8x8 sized grid, lasts five turns, and - with only occasional exception - gives you control of no more than three basic units. Oh, and you can always see what your enemies will do on their next turn. But as the insectoid Vek emerge, the variables compound. You may spend minutes plotting out the perfect move, blasting your enemies around so their pincers and acid spit will ensconce each other rather than civilian-packed high rises… only to realize you've accidentally left one of your pilots to (permanently) die in a forest fire you started two turns ago. No problem. You also happen to be a dimension hopper, so you can effectively reset the world once per battle. Just make sure you get it right next time. Connor Sheridan
21. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
What is it? The latest and greatest 2D platform fighter in the Super Smash Bros. series.
Why should you play it? Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would be worth it for the roster and presentation alone. With a whopping 74 characters - including 11 totally new characters, and more to come in DLC - Ultimate offers staggering diversity. You could spend dozens of hours just learning the ins and outs of each character and playing through their classic modes. Being on the Switch, Ultimate is also the best-looking Smash ever. Stages are detailed and animated, fighters move naturally and with striking flare, and those punchy KO animations are more satisfying than ever. That would've been enough, but Ultimate also has a lengthy single-player mode called World of Light which uses light RPG elements to craft an unexpected - and unexpectedly compelling - campaign. Ultimate is the definitive Smash game, and quite possibly the best party game of 2018. Austin Wood
Turn to page two for our the rest of our best games of 2018...