With 2018 now behind us, we wanted to pause and look back on what was another stellar year in video games. This year saw the release of a number of highly-anticipated titles across all major platforms, and a number of big surprises as well. In no particular order, here’s Scoop’s 2018 Games of the Year.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Nintendo Switch

Though it really snuck in at the end of 2018, only releasing just in time for the holiday season at the start of December, it was clear from day one that Smash Ultimate is truly the greatest Smash Bros. experience that’s ever been made. With an honestly astounding number of stages to choose from and characters to play, the possibilities are seemingly endless. A unique single-player mode helps to keep things interesting and also pays homage to other Nintendo and third-party properties that aren’t otherwise represented in the playable character roster. With the ability to customize matches to your liking and with plenty of downloadable content on the way in 2019, Smash Ultimate is bound to be the go-to fighting game for Switch users for years to come.

You can read our full review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for more details.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!
Nintendo Switch

Though this game limits the amount of catchable creatures to the original 151 and takes place in the original game’s region of Kanto, it still manages to feel like a fresh experience. By blending the gameplay of the classic Pokémon games with that of the mobile title, Pokémon Go, the Let’s Go games create a unique experience that somehow manages to be the best of both worlds. Banking on the nostalgia of the Kanto region for those of us who have been playing the games from this franchise for the last two decades doesn’t hurt at all, either. It ends up being just a genuinely fun experience and I hope we see more games like this in the future!

Our full review can be found on Scoop.

PlayStation 4

It’s always seemed that truly great video game adaptations of superhero stories have been hard to come by over the years, despite what would seem like an easy and massive catalog of material to pull from. Thankfully, the folks at Insomniac Games finally seemed to figure out the formula for success, with their release of Spider-Man exclusively for the PS4 this year. The smoothness of the web-slinging action, going from swinging around Manhattan to dropping in to break up a robbery – it just feels so, so good. The story feels like something straight out of a contemporary comic book, too, with Spider-Man’s nemesis Doctor Octopus on the rise to power, and some of his familiar foes like the Vulture, Shocker, and Electro also showing up to fight. While the DLC has been somewhat disappointing, this is a game that honors the past, present, and future of one of Marvel’s greatest characters, and it’s genuinely some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing a video game.

Check out our full review on Scoop.

Fallout 76
Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows

There’s likely a lot of people who would scoff at the idea of Fallout 76 being on any “Game of the Year” list, and that’s fair. The game has a ton of problems. It’s glitchy, the servers crash, the game itself will implode upon itself periodically, the story is lacking, the endgame missions end up being kind of lame, and eventually a lot of people run out of things to do. Even outside of the game itself, it’s had a ton of issues, especially with regards to its marketing campaign and the canvas bag that was supposed to be included in the Power Armor edition. Objectively, this game’s launch has been a mess. But for whatever reason, I can’t stop playing Fallout 76. I love the environmental storytelling. I love exploring a West Virginia that’s full of weird cryptids that are out to kill me (I mean, more so than West Virginia normally is). I love the base-building aspect of this game, which is so far improved from what it was in Fallout 4. I love being able to roll around Appalachia with my husband and our friends and discover all sorts of crazy new things. I love the idea of this game, maybe, and I hope that the folks at Bethesda eventually turn it into something that’s worth revisiting.

My first impressions of Fallout 76 can be found elsewhere on Scoop.

Octopath Traveler
Nintendo Switch

I’m such a sucker for a good Japanese-style, turn-based role-playing game, and Octopath is a love letter to the 1990s era of that genre that brought us so many classics. The stories of the world are told through the eight different playable characters, and the overlap of their stories that connect them at the very end of the tale (through an admittedly pain-in-the-rear sidequest line that requires some tracking down) is satisfying to discover. The battle system is great and easy to pick up while being difficult to master, and the visual style of this game – with 16-bit sprites overlaid on a high-definition world – is so strikingly beautiful at times. Octopath Traveler easily has the best soundtrack of the year, as well. This is an absolute must-play for anyone with a Switch, and will likely be looked back on as a classic in much the same fashion as the games that inspired it to begin with.

The full review can be found online.

Obviously, a ton of other games came out this year that are totally deserving of top-tier recognition, such as Red Dead Redemption, God of War, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Celeste, Monster Hunter: World, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and others. But it felt disingenuous to put any of those on my list here, as I didn’t have much of an opportunity to play any of them. I hope to spend some time catching up on these games and more in 2019… though with huge titles looming in the new year like Kingdom Hearts III, Anthem, Devil May Cry V, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and many more, who knows if I’ll ever get to all of them? Here’s hoping for another great year of gaming!

-Carrie Wood