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Letters from the Front

2018 was a very strong year in gaming and it seemed to redeem the absolute shitshow that was 2017. A ton of good games releasing like Spiderman and Red Dead Redemption II and a great number of smaller indie games like Celeste that brings very good experiences that cannot be found in Triple A games.

Forming this list was a bit difficult since there were so many good games and I’m pretty sure everyone has difficulty with this so let’s just get into it.

#6: Life is Strange 2

When the original Life is Strange released back in 2015, I didn’t know that it would garner a following and it would become a cult classic so I decided to pick it up and give it a go a year later.

Three years later, Dotnod would release not only one game but two in the form of different games. One was Vampyr and the other was Life is Strange 2, both games are excellent but we’ll focus on Life is Strange 2 in this section of this list.

Life is Strange 2 follows a Mexican-American family in Seattle in a time that is quite difficult and the game’s plot is quite timely and a bit on the nose considering in the times that we live in. This family is in big shit and they have to criss-cross the western side of the country to Mexico where they’ll be safe after what I assume, the game’s secondary character, Daniel accidentally kills a police officer after he discovers that he has superpowers and the blame falls on Sean, the game’s main protagonist.

The first episode so far has been quite a journey and is quite good. I didn’t expect that Dotnod would make me care and make me root for the two brothers as they criss cross the country facing some of the issues that plague our time.

#5: Vampyr

Much like Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption II, Vampyr is set in a different era and an era that we often don’t see enough of in videogames.

Vampyr is set in 1918 London and follows a doctor who served on the Western Front during the Great War and has returned from the dead as a vampire. It is set amongst the outbreak of the Spanish Flu, a pandemic that broke out across the world and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million people which makes it one if not the deadliest outbreak in modern recorded history.

You might think that a game like Vampyr wouldn’t be made from the studio that did Life is Strange or Life is Strange 2,but being an RPG doesn’t disqualify it from telling a very good story with decent gameplay mechanics. The way how the game tells its story is up to you and what you want to do, certain plots can be locked off to you if you don’t listen or correctly identifying certain things that your patients want to hear.

The game itself leads heavily into the RPG genre with dialogue choices, gaining XP to level up, choosing perks, and a moral meter that depends on you entirely. Do you want to feast on the living to gain more XP and as a consequence, a district of the city will fall further into the abyss or do you want to play the game the legit way with gaining XP from kills and doing questlines. It’s all up to you and this is one of the reasons why Vampyr belongs on this list. Don’t miss it.

#4: Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was an interesting game, the final entry into Crystal Dynamic’s excellent reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. Shadow of the Tomb Raider wrapped up the tale that began in 2013’s Tomb Raider, this is the entry that we see Lara Croft turn into the famous and iconic character that we see now. 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider told the final tale in Lara Croft’s origin story. In Shadow, Lara Croft travels to South America in order to stop Trinity. After entering a cave, Lara discovers a temple containing warnings to a Mayan apocalypse that concludes with a permanent solar eclipse. She ignores the warning and leaves the temple with a dagger that triggers the apocalypse and from this point on, she is blamed for her actions. The biggest trait of Shadow of the Tomb Raider is that Lara has evolved into a much darker character who just happens to be narcissistic, selfish, and obsessive.

Shadow began with an interesting premise and it was just the beginning of an epic tale that concluded her story and the story told by Crystal Dynamics back in 2013. It definitely was one of 2018’s best games.

#3: Battlefield V

The Second World War feels impossibly large to create a game out of, especially starting at the beginning. Different battles, different theatres of war, and different stories to tell that brings to life mankind’s greatest conflict. Battlefield V is a unique World War II shooter. Unlike Activision’s portrayal of the war in 2017’s Call of Duty: WWII and frankly, every other attempt at World War II dating back to the 2000s. Unlike following other examples like the famous World War II games of the 2000s like Medal of Honor or the original Battlefield, DICE went back to the era and started from the very beginning, six months after Germany’s invasion of Poland.

Battlefield V is set in 1940, six months after the invasion of Poland and begins with the German invasion of Western Europe and it will build from there with Tides of War, the game’s live service that will take us on a journey through the Second World War. Battlefield V is a game that shows a lot of potential to be something quite good because DICE set the initial launch in 1940 with the redefined mechanics and the brand new fortification tool that allows you to build defenses to hold the objective from the enemy.

Battlefield V has suffered greatly from a bad reveal to even a worse marketing campaign that failed to communicate to the fanbase about the game and failed in general to gain the trust of consumers after Patrick Soderlund said “If you don’t like it then don’t buy it. Either is fine with me.” , a comment that you just don’t say to the fans of your franchise or new consumers who are looking to find something new to play. In the end, despite selling less than Battlefield 1, Battlefield V is a pretty good game and shows a lot of promise. It stands to say that EA ruined the game with their actions and DICE blundered it with a bad reveal trailer. Thanks a lot, guys, you blundered the launch but there is a saving grace in that this game can bring World War II to life as we progress through 2019 and 2020.

#2: Insomniac’s Spiderman

Much like Batman: Arkham Asylum did before it, Insomniac’s Spiderman makes you feel like Spiderman and it succeeds at making you feel like Spiderman. Most big licensed things like Spiderman aren’t a creative or a financial success because most of it is just a cash grab so imagine the risk that Insomniac had to pull off to create something compelling, original, and to overcome everything to pull this off.

Instead of a simple cash grab, Insomniac pulled the impossible in terms for Spiderman and the Spiderman videogame franchise and the best part about it is that it has very little to do with Spiderman.

Why do I say that? Because Insomniac’s Spiderman doesn’t necessarily focus alot of time on Spiderman but on Peter Parker himself and how Spiderman affects his daily life. Spiderman is more of a Peter Parker game than Spiderman himself, everything in the game revolves around Peter Parker. For example, his relationship with Mary Jane Watson. His relationship to her is very important to him but Spiderman begins after they go their separate ways and he spends most of the game trying to repair what’s broken and make up for whatever it was that ended their relationship before the game began. For me, that is good storytelling because you’re bringing humanity into this and the very real consequences of being a superhero. Instead of focusing on the superhero aspect but on who is behind the mask and what is their lives like makes this game a standout from what it looked like a very crowded year. Bravo, Insomniac.

#1: Red Dead Redemption 2

The American Frontier is one of intrigue and curiosity. The history and the folklore surrounding the Wild West is mainly focused on the conquest of the Indian nation and the famous outlaws, bounty hunters, soldiers, and the heroic cowboys that once rode the land west of the Mississippi in the years following the end of the Civil War. From Manifest Destiny to the sad and tragic history of the Indian nation, the American Frontier is a very unique aspect of American history. A history that intrigues every one across the globe, no other nation in the world has taken a specific era of its past and created an iconic image that is equal to the Wild West and the American cowboy.

Red Dead Redemption II begins in 1899, at a point in time that the West is beginning to fade into myth. The game chronicles the death of the American Frontier as everything from places like Philadelphia and Baltimore is now heading West. It tells an epic tale of loyalty, conviction, and the price of living as an Outlaw in the final days of the West.

From its ambitious narrative to its dynamic open world, Red Dead Redemption II is the game that everyone must play. It charts a new course and it represents the future of gaming as a whole. It stands shoulder and shoulder with not only the original Red Dead Redemption but with the best of what gaming has to offer. I am so proud of Rockstar Games of what they achieved here, I cannot wait to see how this game will influence video games as we enter a new generation.

What is your favorite games of 2018? Sound off in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter.

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