The editor writes: Although we've presented our games of the year in different ways over the years, the Eurogamer team has always compiled the list and chosen the ultimate game of the year by voting among ourselves, as this seemed the fairest way of doing it. But this year, we decided that approach wasn't working any more.

As our personal gaming habits and the video game landscape have changed, several flaws have appeared in the voting system. One was that it would over-represent games that we enjoyed playing in the office together, like FIFA or Overwatch. Another was that it would under-represent certain genres, like PC strategy games or racing games, that were only played by one or two members of the team. The most serious was that it got muddled between the games that were our personal favourites, and the games we, collectively as Eurogamer, thought were best.

This year, curation was the keyword. We compiled the list through discussion instead of voting, with the editor's decision being final on what made the cut, and with the focus being on building a well-rounded picture of the year rather than picking personal favourites. The list was shortened from 50 games to 30 games to increase its focus and make the choices more meaningful. And the list isn't ranked any more. The ranking was a natural byproduct of the voting system, but trying to impose one after the fact exposed how arbitrary it is in such a diverse medium: how do you choose which should be ranked higher of two excellent games of entirely different species - say Return of the Obra Dinn and Super Smash. Bros? It seemed meaningless.

We have still chosen a single game of the year from the 30 on this list, though - again, through a process of discussion (not to say argument), with the editor's decision being final - and we'll publish our choice tomorrow.

One final note on eligibility: restricting the choice to games that were released this calendar year no longer reflects the way people make and play games, so we have allowed games that were released earlier but received very significant updates, were released on new platforms, or otherwise made a major impact (such as Fortnite and Hollow Knight). We've been quite strict on this, as a list that consisted of the same old perennials every year would be boring. The list is still about contemporary games, though - remasters, remakes and back catalogue reissues, an increasingly important part of the gaming year, have been compiled in a separate top 10.

Oh, and don't be downcast, democracy fans - the truly democratic (and fully ranked) list of Eurogamer readers' games of the year will still be published, as per tradition, on 1st January.

Compiled by the Eurogamer team and written by Robert Purchese, Chris Tapsell, Christian Donlan, Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, Martin Robinson, Matt Wales and Oli Welsh.

aco

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

After its triumphant return from a short hiatus with last year's Origins, it was a matter of some concern that Assassin's Creed was back to the yearly grind this year - but in fact, Odyssey felt more like a holiday and less like a job than ever. With its sunny ancient Greek setting, likably insouciant lead and embrace of magic and myth over history, it's almost a carefree game, while the systems and structure completed the series' smooth transformation into a mainstream role-playing game in the style of Mass Effect or The Witcher. With its smart monetisation and endless quest system, you can feel Ubisoft straining to bridge the gap between crafted single-player experiences and endless live games - and, whisper it, they're getting close.

astrobot

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

  • PlayStation 4 (PlayStation VR only)

VR's promise has never seemed as bright and immediate as it does in this toybox platformer in which the slight blandness of the central character belies a world of richness, imagination and charm. The secret to all of this is that you exist, as a presence, in the centre of each of Astro Bot's stages, and as he moves through the world, he moves around you, scampering up behind you one second and dropping overhead the next. Throw in some creative twists and a truly brilliant use of the in-game controller and you have a bit of a classic. Mario tier? This gets surprisingly close.

blops

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

Did you miss the single-player story? Will we ever catch up with Soap, or whoever he was, ever again? Luckily, thanks to the all-conquering Battle Royale mania that has gripped video games, we won't have to worry about these things for at least a few more months. Blackout, Call of Duty's battle royale mode, is a bit of a triumph, confident and characterful and possessed of a great map in which dazzling things can happen. There's a question over what happens to this particular battleground in the long term, and the monetisation is typically grasping, wrong-headed and tone deaf - but COD survives for another year and in extremely enjoyable form.

celeste

Celeste

  • Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

Murderous difficulty meets a story of unmatched sweetness and empathy in Celeste, a game about climbing a mountain and getting a handful of simple platforming inputs to allow you to do the seemingly impossible. Even if you're truly wretched at platformers, there are assists to allow you to see all that Celeste has to offer, while speedrunners will be able to spend hundreds of happy hours whittling their best times down to almost nothing. Celeste wraps a vital narrative inside brilliant mechanics, and the result is a game that's as kind as it is gorgeously cruel.

deadcells

Dead Cells

  • Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

This hip, ruthless action platformer splices two fashionable genres with arcane names - roguelike and Metroidvania. In layman's terms, that means die and you start again, but learn and unlock the shortcuts of its branching warren of levels as you go. Its procedural equipment and level generation are the usual alchemist's workshop of possibilities, but all of that comes second to the sheer joy of moving and fighting - landing a trio of slices on a hulking knight, tumbling out of reach and finishing him off with an enchanted arrow. The sumptuous animation and elaborate Gothic artwork are also conspicuous pleasures.

dragonball

Dragon Ball FighterZ

  • Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

Arc System Works, that most industrious of studios, had already pioneered the 3D-as-2D trick with its latter Guilty Gear games, but that all felt like a prototype for the main event: a take on one of Japan's most beloved manga and anime properties. It most certainly did not disappoint, Akira Toriyama's distinctive artwork being brought to life in the most impressive fashion, and let's not forget the game lying underneath all of that splendour. Flashy yet accessible, it's the perfect entry point to fighting games, with depths that the hardcore have enjoyed uncovering ever since its launch.

far

Far: Lone Sails

  • PC

Forget similarities to side-scrollers like Limbo or Inside, Far: Lone Sails is its own beast, a game in which the journey matters far more than any individual puzzle or set-piece. This is a game about travelling in the company of the huge, needy vessel that transports you - keeping it stocked with fuel, putting out fires and repairing damage and occasionally bolting on a new component. Like the best sort of trip, it's the moments in which very little is actually happening that feel most transformative. Chances are good that you will be a slightly different person by the end than you were at the start. Magic.

firewall

Firewall Zero Hour

  • PlayStation 4 (PlayStation VR only)

First-person shooters don't tend to work that well in virtual reality, for fairly obvious reasons. The motion sickness can be overwhelming, and if you dare strafe you'd better hope you either only had a light lunch or that your carpet cleans easily. Firewall Zero Hour's solution is ingenious, taking the template of one of the more static shooters - Ubisoft's excellent Rainbow Six Siege - and leaning into the strategic elements of it all. The result is an incredibly immersive, neatly detailed shooter that shows that, with a little lateral thinking, you can improve anything with a sprinkling of VR magic.

florence

Florence

  • iOS and Android

There are a handful of games about falling in love, but here is something new: into love and out again, as Dorothy Parker once put it. Cute art disguises the fact that this is a surprisingly brutal game about the realities of romance, and the tensions are beautifully observed from the moment the two leads move in together and there's not quite enough room for both of them to have their stuff where they want it. A series of inventive quick-changes see you sliding, tapping, and getting the most out of your touchscreen, but this is really a game about story, and the story is ultimately one of self-discovery.

fortnite

Fortnite

  • Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, iOS and Android

Fortnite is a victory for process in the making of games. If you're able to move quickly enough, to react with speed and imagination, you can turn a bit of a botch into the biggest game in the world with, um, a bit of creative theft and a surprising amount of wit and taste. Is Fortnite a better game that PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds? It certainly, and this is somewhat cruel to say, feels like a game that's in better hands. Epic has proved that second acts exist - but they're still dauntingly hard to pull off, and it helps if you own the engine.

forza

Forza Horizon 4

  • Xbox One and PC

Forza Horizon comes home, and to brilliant effect. It helps that, by the time this particular homecoming had come about, Playground Games had pretty much perfected its formula; open world games don't come much slicker, and driving games don't often come with this much imagination and character squeezed in. Combine that with an outrageously gorgeous take on the Highlands and the Cotswolds, where country lanes give way to grand vistas in this condensed take on this fair island, and you've got something that's truly special. Britain has never looked better, really.

frostpunk

Frostpunk

  • PC

By marrying the usually pensive charms of city-building to the bitter bite of a survival game, 11 bit studios, makers of This War of Mine, created something thrilling and even morally challenging. The premise is an alternate history in which the player must attempt to keep a population alive on a freezing, dying Earth. It's delicious to look at, all twisted, frozen iron and smoggy chimney air, and it's also a very pacy and tense. It constantly asks, "How far will you go to survive?" - and your answer will change a lot, which is fascinating in itself. The abrupt, impassable ending was an issue at launch, but an endless mode and new scenarios have since been added that flesh it out nicely.

gow

God of War

  • PlayStation 4

Toxic masculinity gets a half-hearted prodding in a game that also delivers on the thrill of whacking someone with an axe and then summoning it back to your hand through the sheer intensity of your heroic gurning. If that sounds like a project built on contradictions, it certainly is, but the sheer heft and luxury of God of War is impossible to ignore. These have always been games that have been willing to match both the pomposity and Mantovanian excesses of the ancient myths, and the switch to an intricate new structure has done little to dim that. God of War is ridiculous, self-conscious and kind of brilliant.

hollow

Hollow Knight

  • Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC (released 2017)

There is nothing about Team Cherry's sprawling action adventure that isn't utterly glorious: its beautiful visuals, its haunting soundtrack, its mournful atmosphere, its memorable boss encounters, its incredible sense of place - even its enormously rich lore. That it also nails the pacing and personal progression instrumental to the Metroidvania genre, not to mention its crisp movement and combat, is even more impressive. A classic of the form.

intothebreach

Into the Breach

  • Nintendo Switch and PC

Oft-described as chess-meets-something, this mechs-vs-monsters strategy game is more like eating great food: small levels, of intense complexity and depth, served one at a time, like you've just wandered into some top chef's secret side-project. It's also a bit like moving house, shuffling your old, pre-existing furniture around an awkward room over and over in your head until you find the catharsis of a perfect fit - only with cool robots. Either way, it's a masterly, dazzling miniature, and more proof of the peerless craft of FTL maker Subset Games.

labo

Labo

  • Nintendo Switch

Perhaps Nintendo's cardboard building system is a bit of a category error here - it's got more in common with, say, Lego Technic than any of the video games in this list, and the interactive 'game' components of each build can be pretty throwaway. But the builds themselves are magical journeys of invention and discovery that can absorb you for hours and leave you richly satisfied. Experienced with a curious child of the right age, they're even more precious. With Labo, Nintendo, always video gaming's toymaker, let the toymaker be you.

laserleague

Laser League

  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

If you've played OlliOlli or Not a Hero, you'll know that developers roll7 are a bit special. Laser League, the team's most ambitious game yet, provides further proof. Here's what happens when you take a boisterous, roughly sketched multiplayer sports game that's been the star of any show floor it's ended up on and then went away to fine tune everything, while lavishing it all with some serious production values. The end result is slick yet remains utterly pure: a future sports game with one foot in the arcade classics of yesteryear.

minit

Minit

  • Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

Minit is Zelda without the waiting - a game that has the good grace to kill you every 60 seconds in order to prod you into the realisation that each 60 seconds counts and will contain something that is worth doing in order to move the story forward. Many games these days are about moving a lens of focus across a complex, interconnected world. Few make that so thrillingly apparent as this one does. Minit is a marvel.

monsterboy

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom

  • Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

30 years late, the spiritual sequel to a Master System gem turns out to be one of the great games of the year, a colourful and endlessly cheery blend of platforming and puzzling that makes brilliant design seem both effortless and quietly timeless. The thrill of an RPG that behaves like a platformer may have dimmed somewhat, but Monster Boy takes players to wonderful places and empowers them to do improbably skilful things. What a treat.

monsterhunter

Monster Hunter World

  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

Capcom's behemoth series about slaying behemoths has always threatened to break the west but never quite managed it; even with the full weight of Nintendo behind it at the peak of the 3DS' popularity, it could never quite be more than a cult favourite over here. Monster Hunter World changed all that while changing a fair few other things about the formula; more accessible, more coherent and more spectacular than what had gone before, it offered up the perfect gateway while going on to deliver the same depth the series is beloved for.

octopath

Octopath Traveler

  • Nintendo Switch

This witty tribute to the early-90s golden age of Japanese role-playing games is both sincere and a little bit sly, comforting and subversive. The gorgeous artwork combines chibi pixel art, opulent illustration, blocky polygons and hazy, shimmering lighting effects in a dreamlike diorama, as if Final Fantasy 6 or Chrono Trigger had opened like a pop-up book. The writing pulls these games' personalities apart into discrete strands, running the gamut from earnest and twee to saucy and dark. But it's the razor-sharp rhythm of the brilliant battle system that pulls you along as you stack your characters' skills up into devastating, incapacitating breaks.

pokemon

Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!

  • Nintendo Switch

Let's Go is a weird hybrid, joining traditional Pokémon and mobile sensation Pokémon Go in a move that somehow feels like a natural evolution instead of the Frankenstein's monster many had expected. Having wild Pokémon appear in the overworld is inspired, replacing the admittedly missed melancholy of the classic Game Boy versions with a life and colour they've also admittedly been lacking. It's a little plasticky on the big screen, but rather gorgeous on the go, and dusted with just the right sprinkling of knowing nods and surprises. It's a joyous game, a soothing one even. There's also no better Pokémon jumping-on point for young, curious or lapsed players.

reddead

Red Dead Redemption 2

  • PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Forget the story: Rockstar delivers the old west through textures and light, through the mists in the early-morning fields and the button it gives you to pick up your hat after a fight. Gunplay is awkward and movement is unsatisfying, and if you think the story is doing something new it's often because you haven't seen the Tarantino film that is being plundered. But there is pure video game magic in the evocation of a vanished place and time. And on this outing, at least, the human cost of such a staggering endeavor was unignorable.

obradinn

Return of the Obra Dinn

  • PC

If you've ever spent an idle commute picking away at the Metro's Sudoku you are pretty much prepared to tackle this game of strange disaster on the high seas. As Sudoku players slice away using both rows and columns to focus in on their targets, this is a game in which everything from job, accent, physical appearance and location can be used to tease out the identities of murder victims and perpetrators. An accounting romance for the ages, this is ingenious and memorable stuff. A classic.

seaofthieves

Sea of Thieves

  • Xbox One and PC

The worry with Sea of Thieves prior to its release was that Rare's all-encompassing pirate-'em-up was a bit of a mess. The genius of it, however, is that it is a bit of a mess: a bawdy, knockabout open-world chemistry set in which some players will be bored and isolated and others will find hours of theme-pub happiness. The charm and sense of palpable enthusiasm cannot be faulted, and the hidden details allow for a surprising richness of experiences. If you long for the crack and snap of a sail catching the wind and the creak of a sturdy old sloop, Sea of Thieves is a wonder.

spiderman

Spider-Man

  • PlayStation 4

Sony's other big game of 2018 after God of War is a wonderful study in the power of charm. Peter Parker's adventures in a beautifully realised New York may not redefine open-world games, but they highlight the power of the form when the developer really gets the material and sweats the details. This is a blockbuster delivered in an extremely likable way, full of drama and twists and fan-friendly cameos, but also shot through with wit and style and kindness.

subnautica

Subnautica

  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

With its marvellously unreal water and lavish submarines, its light ecological commentary and its exquisitely balanced mood sheet of fear, patience and curiosity, this undersea survival game really creeps under your skin. It's brilliantly designed too, deftly marrying open-world survival tropes to an excellent story, full of memorable moments of discovery, that never once impedes your freedom to explore one the most exotic and inspiring open world of the year.

smash

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

  • Nintendo Switch

The ultimate Smash Bros.? Who knows - creator Masahiro Sakurai seems to make that same promise with every iteration - but you can say for certain that this is the most definitive series entry yet. For a game that's known for its fastidiousness, that means an exhaustive, almost exhausting festival of not just Nintendo's history but also the entire video gaming medium, with cameos and guest roles coming in thick and fast. Beneath all that, it's easy to forget that - counter to a common perception about Smash - there's a decent fighting game here, with some effective fundamentals being called to service and stretched in all manner of directions in the myriad tributes being made here.

tetris

Tetris Effect

  • PlayStation 4 (PlayStation VR supported)

This dazzling reinvention of the puzzle classic is almost without precedent - although it does bear comparison with 2007's Pac-Man: Championship Edition, which similarly remixed a timeless arcade game to the kick of a bass drum, with similarly inspired results. Tetris is the perfect vehicle for Tetsuya Mizuguchi's obsession with synaesthesia - previously pursued in Rez and Lumines - because the game is so universal, its rhythms so innate, that you are eased into its enveloping playscape without a second's thought. The VR visuals are a trip and the tunes are excellent, but Miz didn't stop there - with the Zone system, Tetris Effect makes exciting and fundamental changes to Tetris itself.

thronebreaker

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales

  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC

This card-combat RPG is a spin-off of a spin-off; it started life as the single-player component of card game Gwent, which started life as a distraction in CD Projekt Red's 2015 epic The Witcher 3. That's an unpromising start, but out of it CDPR's writers wove one of the year's most sophisticated and provocative storylines, while its designers drew great satisfaction from making everything work coherently as a card game. The end result was, surprisingly, one of the year's very best RPGs.


Want to know how we decided Eurogamer's best game of 2018? Give our podcast a listen through iTunes, Spotify, RSS, and SoundCloud:

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Jump to comments (305)

About the author

Comments (305)

Hide low-scoring comments
Order
Threading

Related