Jason Oestreicher is a Senior Video Producer for the site Giant Bomb. He really likes being that. He also ranks fighting games scientifically, has gotta play God Hand, and liked Monster Hunter before it was cool. You can see him infrequently tweeting on Twitter.
2018, huh? 20. 18.
Oh! I quit smoking.
10. Earth Defense Force 5
Everything you loved (and hated) about EDF, but now with frogs.
Honestly, that could be the back-of-the-box quote and I’d still buy it. Gleefully.
It’s easy to write-off EDF as a schlocky sci-fi shooter. But for me, that’s part of the charm. EDF knows what it is, embraces it, and then turns up the goofy melodrama and bombastic action. One of your squad-mates loudly pledges that he’d lay down his life for EDF. In response, another earnestly shouts back, “COOL!”. Chatter like that is near constant and really is the best the series has had.
Action sequences can range anywhere from silly to genuinely hectic and tense. When the ragdoll physics aren’t freaking out on that gigantic bipedal frog you just shot, you can probably see a spectacularly explosive war waging overhead against an alien mothership.
It’s all wonderfully ridiculous, with a sense of scale to match, and you can have a hell of a time with EDF if you let it do its thing.
9. Soulcalibur VI
You’ve likely seen some of the impressive (and often horrifying) creations that have spawned from the character creator. But freaky-deeky furry fighting aside, this is the best the series has been in some time.
And speaking of spawn, this time Soulcalibur’s guest characters have been great additions and really fit in the world instead of distracting from it.
8. God of War
The softer side of Kratos is still a bit prickly.
I’d often had an OK enough time with previous God of War titles. Generally, they were a fun spectacle, albeit played out in a button-mashy male power fantasy. Whatever. Dumb fun.
This time around we get to see a kinder, gentler Kratos as he struggles with feelings other than RAAAAAAAGEEEE. It’s somewhat compelling–rather, interesting that they chose to portray him in this light. Again, whatever. Enough ragging on Kratos.
The game’s pretty damn fun. It’s far less button-mashy and there’s some decent nuance to combat. That axe return feels really good, but, boy(!), those braindead enemies…
Again. Sorry. I’ll leave Kratos alone.
I had a good time with GoW. Fantastic characters, great writing, and, as always, top-notch spectacle. It was risky pushing Kratos in this direction, but it was the right call and I am so glad they did.
7. Tetris Effect
You know… sometimes in order to chill the fuck out, a guy’s just gotta strap on a VR helmet, shut out the world, and tetris some tetriminos. You know what I mean?
I did the the Journey Mode (which, sadly, doesn’t have any Journey in it), but what has kept me coming back has been Chill-Out. It’s intensely therapeutic and has brought me back down from some high-anxiety ledges.
6. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Listen, I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between all the Gokus besides their hair color. This game didn’t change that, but I respect that Dragon Ball fans finally have a fighting game to be proud of. Also, to have a game that out-Marveled Marvel is pretty spectacular.
Why is it on MY list though? Have you seen this game in motion? It is hands down the best looking fighting game this year. Also, kind of a fucking blast to play! You can auto-combo with damn near every button, meaning that it’s easy to just get in, mash, and do cool stuff.
5. BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle
As a fighting game fan, I tend to at least check out most of what’s released. Anime fighters don’t tend to stick–they’re mechanics-heavy and oftentimes hard to follow. Tag fighters often go over my head too. Which is why I was surprised to end up liking BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle so damn much.
I guess, out of the gate, it’s very straightforward. There are only a few attack buttons, a couple meters to worry about, and the tag mechanics are easy to grasp. Everything seemingly is pretty easy to wrap my head around and I’m a big ‘ol dummy when it comes to games like this.
Making things easy for dumb people is smart and there’s lots of smart stuff going on here. Couple that with fun gameplay, cool characters, bangin’ tracks, and… wow… you’ve got a damn good anime, tag, fighting game.
I’m serious. Those RWBY tracks f’n rock.
Oh, man. Onrush. I had such a great time with this racing game. Why? Partly because it’s not really a racing game at all. Onrush wants to keep you in the mix and wrecking other cars. So much, in fact, that if you start lagging behind the pack, you’ll be teleported right back up into the action. It’s all very video-gamey and a hell of an innovative and fun take on traditional racing gameplay.
Onrush has a lot to offer. The single player campaign has a lot of variety and individual challenges. And playing with friends has lad to some spectacularly satisfying moments.
While it may be unlikely we’ll see a sequel due to the developer losing a good portion of its staff, I really would love to see some iteration and refinement on this new genre.
3. Dead Cells
I wrote about this game on my GotY list last year when it was in Early Access. Hell, it took the number one spot. Not much has changed between us besides it officially releasing and playing it for another hundred or so hours. Dead Cells is still just as good if not better than it was then.
2. Marvel’s Spider-Man
What a solid-ass video game from start to finish. Sure, those stealth sequences were dumb and to hell with chasing pigeons. But, overall, as a comic book game, Spider-Man was so much better than I had expected it to be. Its story had some impactful moments and a strong cast of characters. The Octavius arc, in particular, was well told and went way farther then expected.
None of that would have mattered if Spidey wasn’t fun to control. Thankfully, *mwah*, he is all kinds of fun to control. Web swinging, air juggling, sneaking around in rafters… doing whatever a Spider-Man can, feels great and looks good while you’re doing it.
I legit want to go and play it right now.
1. Monster Hunter: World
Being the lone Monster Hunter fan on staff finally became a little easier this year. I held my head a bit higher. There was a spring in my step. A ‘lil bounce in my boogie.
Capcom could have kept making the same old obtuse Monster Hunter and living off of Monster Hunter bucks for years to come. But they shook things up. It was a bit of a risk. But the end result resonated positively with veterans and removed a lot of barriers to entry for newcomers. I’ve poured thousands of hours into Monster Hunter over the years and even I can’t imagine going back to how things used to be. Also, did you see those cats cooking?
I don’t often invoke sales figures, but Monster Hunter: World sold something like 17 billion copies… two for every hater in the world. Welcome to the new era where Monster Hunter is beloved by everybody except for those dummies who refuse to play multiplayer because it was kind of confusing that one time… Braaaaaaad.