The best games of 2018

10. Far Cry 5

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Toronto
Formats: Ubisoft

What is it? A new entry in Ubisoft’s popular open-world shooter series set in a fictional version of the contemporary American midwest, where the Eden’s Gate doomsday cult run by religious demagogue The Father has taken control of the county.

Why should you play it? Let’s be straight: Far Cry 5 brings almost nothing new to the series - a mix of freeform outpost sieges, story missions and inventive weaponry (make sure to track down the body-imploding alien ray gun) - and has probably the worst ending(s) of any game in history; but there’s something irresistible about its moment-to-moment combat and equipment upgrade loop. The plot’s total hokum about a charismatic cult leader called Joseph Seed - as you dawdle across Montana’s open plains and winding hills, liberating outposts and battling a series of his (daft) family members - with the dippy-trippy battle against his sister Faith a tonal highlight, were it not a retread of an Metal Gear Solid 3 boss battle, handled with more panache by Hideo Kojima 14 years ago. Despite everything: it works. Gunfire is snappy, the range of vehicles a giddy delight (a haulage truck with twin machine guns, anyone?), and it’s hard to deny the glee of sending your pet grizzly bear, Cheeseburger, into the fray, making mincemeat patties of all who dare to oppose him. Dan Dawkins

9. Graveyard Keeper 

Developer: Lazy Bear Studios
Formats: PC and Xbox One

What is it? A gothic take on a farming simulation, complete with dead bodies, weird witches and your very own church to preach in. Craft, collect and resources and build your knowledge to become an all powerful corpse cuddled.

Why should you play it? One minute you’re just trying out this Stardew Valley with corpses out of morbid curiosity, the next it’s 3am and you’re unhealthily obsessed with the alignmentment of your gravestones and the profits to be found in cannibalism. This is a game that’s hard to learn - there’s so much to do, very little direction, and even the simplest of tasks will send you on a wild goose chase of resource collecting and crafting - but that just makes it all the more satisfying when you start to master the simulation. At its heart there’s a strange story about a man transported through time and space and dark magic, but the real delight is to be found in discovering strange combinations of resources or ways to help the very odd characters - like a talking communist donkey - that inhabit the world. Rachel Weber

8. Astro Bot Rescue Mission

Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Formats: PSVR (via PS4)

What is it? A virtual reality platformer that makes putting on the headset feel like submerging your noggin in a world of secrets, silliness, and happy dancing mascots.

Why should you play it? Astro Bot Rescue Mission is the best game ever made for PlayStation VR and quite possibly for virtual reality as a medium. Is it a bit sad to say that of something that feels more like the 3D platformers you've been playing since Super Mario 64 than some new paradigm of virtual interactivity? I dunno, maybe? I don't care because I can't imagine feeling anything but electric glee when discussing Astro Bot Rescue Mission. The way it combines comfy-cozy platforming mechanics for your remote control robot buddy with your physical presence in the world - turning your controller into a multitool for launching ziplines or shooting shurkin, and your cranium into both a target for enemy attacks and a headbutting blunt instrument - is sublime. The colorful environments you hop and hover through are just long enough to get their point across (more Mario comparisons are inevitable) and the music, especially the underground theme, is endless bops. If you have the means, put Astro Bot on your head ASAP. Connor Sheridan

7. Marvel's Spider-Man

Developer: Insomniac Games
Formats: PS4

What is it? One of the best superhero games of all time, nailing Spidey’s freedom of movement and characters in a take so well executed it’s now part of official Marvel canon. 

Why should you play it? Insomniac’s first venture into a licensed property sees the studio apply its slick movement and world building to a huge chunk of Spider-Man’s New York. As you’d hope, movement is a joy from start to finish, equipping you with a suite of web swinging abilities that see you hurtling through city streets on a mixture of web lines, skill and hope. Few games deliver traversal that’s so much of a rush - it’s possible to play Spider-Man PS4 for hours without actually doing anything, just perfecting those sidewalk skimming swings and needle threading arcs between buildings. When you do actually tackle the story there’s a great tale of evil villains, friendship and betrayal filled with warmth, humour and some some surprisingly dark turns. That’s all helped by some top tier animation and performance that brings Paker and gang alive in a way few games have managed before. Leon Hurley

6. Celeste

Developer: Matt Makes Games
Formats: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

What Is It? A hyper challenging and extremely beautiful 2D platformer from the creators of TowerFall.

Why Should You Play It? Madeline’s relentless attempt to reach the summit of Celeste mountain has stuck with me this year and I’m struggling to let it go. It isn’t because of the game’s exquisite level design or even the way it presents micro–level challenge – the kind that was revitalised by Meat Boy back in 2008, only to be perfected here a decade later. It isn’t Celeste’s perfectly–weighted jump and dash mechanics either, even if they are able to work in concert with Lena Raine’s hypnotic soundtrack, helping to craft an almost meditative rhythm of play. No, the reason why I just can’t get Celeste out of my head is because of its quiet, affecting rumination on mental health. Celeste expertly explores the hold that anxiety can have over us, and the release that can be found through embracing your fears rather than running from them. This is reflected all throughout Celeste. In its mechanics and its music; its difficulty and its design; and its structure and its story. Celeste is a true achievement, one that I’m sure I won’t soon forget. Josh West

5. Dead Cells

Developer: Motion Twin
Formats: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC

What is it? A fast-paced 2D platformer self-described as a 'roguevania,' combining the procedurally generated levels of a roguelike with the kinetic combat and gradually expanding exploration of the best Metroidvania games. 

Why should you play it? When you're playing in peak form, Dead Cells is all about achieving a nimble, violent flow state. But before we can run, we must walk - and your first few expeditions in Dead Cells will be humbling, as swarms of increasingly tough enemies overwhelm your ability to successfully dodge attacks and strike down your glowing assailants. Like Dead Cells' doggedly determined, definitely headless protagonist, you'll keep fighting the good fight, learning from your mistakes and slowly figuring out the playstyle, item loadout, and combat approach that best suits you. Within just a few hours, you'll be swiftly striking down enemies you once feared, as the buttery smooth controls allow you to dash, roll, and slice through levels like a bloodthirsty ninja who's running late to a clan meeting. There's always some enticing upgrade to strive for or a newly unlocked weapon to try out, making it all too easy to start another run just as soon as you've died a permadeath, determined to see everything this subtly shifting castle has in store. If you revel in the satisfaction of palpable increases in your own skill level, rather than a laundry list of completed quests, Dead Cells is always happy to serve you up another unpredictable, assuredly intense challenge. Lucas Sullivan

4. Florence 

Developer: Mountains
Formats: Android, iOS

What is it? An interactive story about love, finding out who you are as an evolving adult, and the perils of having all the emotions, told across a touchscreen that makes you feel like part of the journey. 

Why should you play it? There are usually a handful of mobile games that really make their presence known in a year, but for the GamesRadar team, it's Florence that's set itself as the best mobile game of 2018. It's one of the most beautiful, and utterly heartfelt games I've ever played in my entire life. The way it deals with the perils and wonderful moments of falling in love in just 40 minutes is one of the most powerful narratives in any kind of medium - even outside of games. By the time the credits rolled around, I was blinking away genuine tears at the sheer emotion of it all. There are some mini-games, some puzzles, but you're really here for the interactive storytelling at Florence's core, the way it plays with the mundanities of life that we've all been privy to, but also the beautiful, fluttering moments when you realise you're falling head over heels for someone, and the agonising brick walls you run into that suggest maybe this isn't The OneTM. I hope that not everyone knows what the latter feels like, but if you have (and I'm sorry), Florence captures the full spectrum of relationship emotions in under an hour better than most romcoms ever do. Combine that with a stunning visual style and ear soothing soundtrack and you have a masterpiece of storytelling. Sam Loveridge

3. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Developer: Ubisoft
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC

What is it? Ubisoft’s latest instalment in the stabby series takes the Creed into open world territory while introducing dense RPG systems, including dialogue options (at last!), warring factions, and a hefty chunk of naval gameplay. 

Why should you play it? Words can’t describe how big a step Odyssey is for Assassin’s Creed. Choose between Kassandra or Alexios and mould them as you see fit, whether that’s into a ruthless killer like my Kassandra, or a seductive mercenary with a heart of gold as they run, gallop, and even sail their way across the Greek islands. As well as fleshing out naval gameplay so you can battle on the high seas, there’s also the option to romance enough characters to exhaust Cupid himself, leading to branching storylines and some very tongue-in-cheek innuendos. Oh, and a scene involving three lovers and a goat. Ahem. Seriously, though, as well as being massive (completionists have around 100 hours of gameplay just waiting for them), there are three main storylines for you to explore, as well as dozens of sidequests that have just as much thought put into them as the central tale. You can be trying to find a lost lover one minute, and then hunting a Minotaur the next, or taking out the forts of Spartans and Athenians to influence the ongoing war, claim regions for either side in giant 50 v 50 battles, or hunting legendary animals, or upgrading your ship and ridding the ocean of pirates. It’s staggering how much there is to do and how none of it feels bloated. Prepare to lose yourself in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for hours on end, because you’ve never experienced the Creed like this. Zoe Delahunty-Light

2. Red Dead Redemption 2 

Developer: Rockstar Games
Formats: PS4, Xbox One

What is it? An open-world epic that serves as a prequel to the 2008 original. You play as Arthur Morgan, one of the top dogs in Dutch van der Linde’s gang of outlaws. It’s up to you if Arthur is honorable or dishonorable as you hunt and shoot your way through the American plains, and where his loyalties ultimately lie. 

Why should you play it? Rockstar’s western epic has left bullet holes in my soul that may never heal. It felt less like a game and more like my spirit left my body and possessed Arthur Morgan, the rough speaking, sharp shooting hero. The world and story of Red Dead Redemption 2 refuse to hurry you along, letting you luxuriate in the detailed dioramas of a dying Wild West, giving you the chance to make the experience, and Arthur, what you want it to be. Give it your time and attention and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most startling achievements of a decade of gaming, and memories of Arthur’s life that are so vivid they feel as real as those of your own. Rachel Weber

1. God of War

Developer: Sony Santa Monica
Formats: PS4

What is it? A return and a reboot for Kratos, the blade swinging PlayStation hero now relocated to Norse mythology and struggling to reform as a father. 

Why should you play it? While there was never any doubt that the return of God of War would be good, it was a surprise to all just how good. Part of that was because Kratos’ reboot smashed molds as much as expectations. The old games were built around central cores of rage and misogyny, building a character that became increasingly difficult to forgive, let alone like. This year however gave us a Kratos full of regret and a desire for redemption; still flawed and broken, but trying. For a game full of fantastic monsters, gods and incredible spectacle, Kratos’ relationship with his past and future - in the shape of his son Atreus - delivered a deeply human and wonderfully realised rebirth for the character. The moment, when in a one to one with his son, his voice cracking, he all but whispers “you must be... better than me” is an heartbreaking moment. And, even if that means nothing to you, you still had some absolute best in show combat, performances and characters. Whether taking down a troll, listening to Mimir tell stories, or realising Balder just as much a victim as a villain, this is a game that’s impact will last for years to come. Leon Hurley 

And if you want to see what our best games of 2018 were across each platform, check out these lists: