7 Best Video Games of 2018

2018 had its ups and downs with video games. Disappointing releases sprinkled throughout with some gold shining through the dirt. The year felt lackluster regarding the quantity of excellent games, but enough to make for a solid year for the industry.

#7: Shadow of the Colossus 

Yes, a remaster finds its way on the list of the best games of the year. Bluepoint Games rebuilt this iconic masterpiece for old-school fans and newcomers like myself who were too young and lacked the skill to play. The heart of the best remains the same, but a facelift and new controls fit for the modern landscape of this medium.

Buy now: Shadow of the Colossus

#6: A Way Out 

While I had issues with the feeling of the gameplay, A Way Out stands tall with a compelling narrative that tore my heart out and a unique cooperative mechanic that works wonderfully. The innovative experience and brilliant storytelling make up for the obvious flaws.

Buy now: A Way Out – Xbox One

Buy now: A Way Out – PlayStation 4

#5: Detroit: Become Human

Quantic Dream cannot shake its flaws in storytelling and clunky gameplay, but they grow with each title.

Detroit takes themes that have been beaten to death with a nice twist full of gripping choices and three-dimensional characters. Like their previous game, Heavy Rain, the dynamic of playing three separate androids whose stories weave together brought up some of the hardest choices I have ever had to make. The immense amount of times I had to pause to gather my thoughts for the right choice felt overwhelming but satisfying in the end.

Buy now: Detroit Become Human

#4: Hitman 2

Another bloodbath adventure with the iconic assassin, Agent 47 never disappoints. While feeling more like DLC with its lack of innovation than a fully fleshed out title, the sequel to the 2016 hit still lands on its feet.

No matter how much the series cannot get its storytelling and voice acting to a decent quality, the gameplay continues to be the most crucial aspect. A vastly open area with each level having plenty of diversity, Hitman 2 still provides the perfect playground for murder.

Buy now: Hitman 2 – PlayStation 4

Buy now: Hitman 2 – Xbox One

#3: Marvel’s Spider-Man

Ever since the old Spider-Man 2 released, I have wanted a Spidey game to recapture that magic I had as a kid. Insomniac Games getting the chance to put their stamp on the iconic hero is a match made in heaven.

While Spider-Man suffers from its fun, but redundant side activities, the satisfying gameplay and standout story makes for one of the greatest games ever created. I feel sorry for anyone missing out because they do not own a PlayStation 4.

Buy now: Marvel’s Spider-Man

#2: Red Dead Redemption 2 

Rockstar did not just make a sequel to the masterfully crafted Red Dead Redemption. The company developed a technological masterpiece that outshines every open-world title. The developers know how to blend a wide variety of activities along with its exciting Western story. Nobody can consistently tell some of the best narratives while putting together something that will change the industry forever unless their company is called Rockstar Games.

Buy now: Red Dead Redemption 2 – PlayStation 4

Buy now: Red Dead Redemption 2 – Xbox One

#1: God of War

I cannot believe that God of War outdid Red Dead and Spider-Man. Going into the fourth main title of a long-running series sounds insane, but Sony Santa Monica made the perfect balance for newcomers and longtime fans.

Only a handful of games in my life have made me cry, and God of War is one of them. An emotional journey about a man and his son that ties together with Greek and Norse mythology.

Taking the series away from its Greek roots sounds insane, but what happens is the universe has been built upon. A man going into a foreign land full of threats that can kill him, even if he is Kratos.

The satisfying gameplay and the genius writing to make every “gamey” aspect into something meaningful to the world around the characters makes for an immersive experience that only a few have achieved.

Buy now: God of War

Image via Hazelight Studios/EA, Insomniac Games/Marvel Games/SIE, Sony Santa Monica/SIE

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Ranking the Netflix Marvel Series From Worst to Best

Daredevil has been the latest Netflix Marvel series to get axed. With only The Punisher and Jessica Jones still floating in limbo, waiting for a new season or a cancelation, Netflix’s side of the MCU will die soon enough. The shows have had an unstable quality from excellence to redundant trash. As a send-off for one of the best superhero adaptions, Daredevil, here are the rankings of the series from worst to best.

#11: Jessica Jones (Season 2)

Painfully, the worst of the bunch comes from one of the best characters. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) contains a mix of powerful female superhero and traumatized victim. However, going from one of the best villains in the comic book adaption genre with Killgrave (David Tennant) to a more personal story about Jessica’s mother sounds compelling on paper, until you sit down to watch this god-awful mess.

The story consistently feels bland with one of the most annoying side stories in Netflix/Marvel history. Seriously, Trish (Rachael Taylor) creates unnecessary drama which is bad enough because all of Jessica’s mother drama feels just as bad.

#10: The Defenders (Season 1)

The MCU built up to AvengersAge of UltronCivil War, and Infinity War. Each being the perfect climax as new and old favorites join up to battle evil, with Civil War being in a weird grey area on the “fighting evil” part. Netflix’s version with The Defenders had a lot of promise but ultimately left me with a disgusting taste in my mouth.

The two main aspects that got me an excellent were these heroes coming together and Sigourney Weaver playing the mysterious villain. I won’t say, but I was disappointed in the direction for the antagonist. Then everything between the heroes felt anti-climatic.

While some good came out of it with some great interactions from heroes and supporting cast members, The Defenders feels more on par with Justice League on a smaller scale.

#9: Iron Fist (Season 1)

Critics and fans decimated Iron Fist. Unpopular opinion: the show does not suck that bad. Okay, the first season is not good, but not the worst thing ever (I am looking at you The Defenders).

Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones) felt incomplete and childish. His motives were repeated like a child not getting his way. For a man who trained for so long, he did not look like he knew how to fight. That is not the fault of Jones, but the choreography needed to feel real, sadly nobody decided to direct the action differently. Instead, we got slow paced martial arts.

While every storyline with The Hand, the mysterious evil organization that threatens Danny and even The Defenders, felt weak compared to other excellent villains seen in the other series.

If it weren’t for an excellent supporting cast of characters from Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup), and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey), then the show would be an utter disaster.

#8: Luke Cage (Season 1)

Without such a weaker second half with a villain that comes out of nowhere, Luke Cage could have had a spectacular first season. Due to a less enticing few episodes, the series ranks a lot lower than I want.

Each performance shines brightly without anyone being overshadowed. Full of complex bad guys/girls and loveable good guys/girls, the show has some of the best cast of characters out of any of the series on this list.

#7: Iron Fist (Season 2)

A great redemption that I did not see coming. I was quite close to skipping this one, but I am glad I did not. Danny Rand has a personality that leaves behind the whiny little boy, while a charismatic man enters.

The Hand continues to be a titular storyline, but with some new twists to make for a more interesting narrative for an otherwise dull enemy.

What holds the second season so high in quality, yet preventing the show from being in the top five is the ending. On the positive side, Iron Fist has ten episodes, opposed to the normal thirteen that every other series has had. The story feels more concise due to the shorter length; however, the ending comes out of nowhere and tries too hard to set up the next adventure.

#6: Luke Cage (Season 2)

While the second outing with Luke feels more consistent and concise, the pacing kills me at times. Mostly with the musical guests who take put too long of portions of episodes. Some episodes focus several minute long scenes on showing someone playing music with some touches of the narrative moving forward. If the music was placed in the background and keep taking steps forward to get the audience through the season.

#5: Daredevil (Season 2)

Sometimes a mess can be fun, but no matter what, the quality declines to some degree.

The second season of Daredevil splits itself between Frank Castle/The Punisher (John Bernthal) and Elektra (Elodie Yung). The two separate narratives feel out of place and cause the show to spin in too many different directions. Franks’s side of the season explodes with drama and gore that drives ferociously. While Elektra had her compelling side but compared to Frank, she feels in the way and unnecessary.

#4: The Punisher (Season 1)

Why can’t these series get their pacing right? If The Punisher had fewer episodes, the show would reach greatness; instead, we get an inconsistent, but still gripping ride with a man who has nothing to lose. Bernthal captures Frank’s pain and rage so perfectly, it is daunting to watch his suffering.

#3: Jessica Jones (Season 1)

I am a broken record, because if Jessica Jones had two or three fewer episodes then maybe it would grab second place.

Killgrave remains to be one of the most sinister villains from any comic book adaption. Tennant’s portrayal of the mind-controlling antagonist projects fear and brutality throughout the season.

#2: Daredevil (Season 1)

A genius masterpiece of television. The first season of Daredevil shows that these series will not shine with comedy and lightheartedness like the rest of the MCU. Here we see gruesome murders and torture along with a dark narrative.

While Charlies Cox (Daredevil) and his costars have incredible chemistry along with strong characters that stand tall alone, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin crushes every other villain seen in the MCU, sorry Loki and Thanos. The most complex, sympathetic baddie we have seen so far from Marvel, and sadly he does not show up in any movie.

Please, Marvel, do the world and favor and put Kingpin in the film side of the MCU.

#1: Daredevil (Season 3)

How could the first season get topped? With higher stakes and a relentless beating. Daredevil ends on a bang with its best season. I will miss this show greatly because this season was brilliant.

Image via Netflix/Marvel

Interview: Kurt Riley

#1. Competition is rough in the music industry, what is your band doing to grow and continue to reach for success?

When everyone is behaving as if crabs in a bucket – jump out of the bucket altogether. I differentiate myself by offering a sound, a style, and an ethos that listeners will not find in any other contemporary artist. For those who wonder just what the hell happened to music – I’m your man.

#2: If someone goes to one of your concerts, what do you think they should know going in?

They’re in for a high-concept experience and one hell of a good time. Libations are recommended; hip-shaking is irresistible.

#3: What is your dream tour or festival?

Opening for Mr. Bryan Ferry across Europe, Oceania, and the United States.

#4: If you could collaborate with any musician, who would you choose?

Ionnalee.

#5: Out of every concert you have been to, who are the best live bands?

Billy Idol, Bryan Ferry, and Postmodern Jukebox have all given magnificent performances when I’ve seen them.

#6: Who are some of your biggest influences?

The Rolling Stones, Vangelis, T.Rex, Brian Eno, Jimmy Reed, Queen, Gary Numan, Bo Diddley, Roxy Music, Frank Sinatra, and Buddy Holly.
#7: When did you first start playing music and how did that come together to lead you to where you are today?

My infatuation with music began at a very young age; I recall dancing along to broadcasts on MTV as a small child, listening to Philadelphia soul on the radio as my mother drove me to school…but the damn thing really hit me over the head as a teenager. That was when I first heard The Rolling Stones. Suddenly, I knew why I’d been born.

Over the years, I’ve worked with a few bands, but the latest is most certainly the greatest. I’m blessed to be joined by Mr. Rick Kline on bass guitar and bass synthesizer, Mr. Charlie Jones on keyboard and synthesizer, and Mr. Sesu Coleman on drums and percussion. They’re my three Musketeers, my inseperables.

As a recording artist, I’ve released three albums and two singles so far, with about twice that amount stored away in my vault. My debut album was produced by Beyoncé collaborator BOOTS, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with Grammy Award-winning engineer Will Russell. My music has been broadcast on radio stations across the United States, in Canada, and internationally via Sirius/XM Radio.

Currently, I’m recording at New Vine Media in Central New York, with the delightful John Carter, who is decidedly not from Mars. The fellas and I are having a ball working with John, and we look forward to collaborating with him extensively throughout the new year.

#8: What are your plans for the rest of the year for the band?

In December 2018, my band & I are releasing the single Be Cool, which is the final release in the first chapter of my career. It is a propulsive, effusive, vivifying anthem – a celebration of being oneself in the face of peer and societal pressures. (And it will be accompanied by a hilarious music video.)

After Be Cool, a brand new chapter will begin in 2019, a period that I’m calling Chrome Empire. The sound will be rock and roll music, remade and remodeled for the 21st Century. (Think Blade Runner with guitars by Keith Richards.) The Chrome Empire singles will address everything from the effects of climate change to artificial intelligence, from virtual erotica to corporate megacities. It will be a vision of the future to come.

 

News: Red Dead Online Beta Details

Red Dead Redemption 2’s online mode arrives tomorrow. The beta will be launched in waves for a small number of players then slowly come out to all players of the open-world western.

Owners of the Ultimate Edition will be the first to play on Nov. 27 at 8:30 a.m. ET. Players who booted the game up on the launch day will be the next to be let in on Nov. 28. On Nov. 29, anyone who played within the first three days will get access. By Friday, Nov. 30, everyone who owns RDR2 will be able to play the beta.

Despite no marketing for the online mode besides a confirmation, this is how Rockstar explains the multiplayer experience in Red Dead Online:

“With the gameplay of Red Dead Redemption 2 as its foundation, Red Dead Online transforms the vast and deeply detailed landscapes, cities, towns, and habitats of Red Dead Redemption 2 into a new, living online world ready to be shared by multiple players. Create and customize your character, tailor your abilities to suit your play style, and head out into a new frontier full of things to experience.

Explore this huge world solo or with friends. Form or join a posse to ride with up to seven players; gather around the fire at your camp; head out hunting or fishing; visit bustling towns; battle enemy gangs and attack their hideouts; hunt for treasure; take on missions and interact with familiar characters from across the five states; or fight against other outlaws in both spontaneous skirmishes and pitched set-piece battles; compete with other players or whole posses in open world challenges and much more.”

Red Dead Redemption 2 launched on Oct. 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Image via screenshot captured on PlayStation 4 Pro from my review.

Song Impression: Thy Art is Murder – Death Perception

The Australian deathcore group Thy Art is Murder is back with a brand new track. I have such a love-hate relationship with their music. A part of me wants to like them more, but as their last record, they continue to churn out uninspired work.

Right from the first click, an explosive opening of too familiar sounding riffs and drumming along with singer CJ McMahon’s distinct ferocious screams. Try blindfolding people and having them listen to the guitars then they would probably not be able to tell between Death Perception or any other song in the band’s catalog due to the uninspired riffs and generic breakdowns. Even McMahon’s vocals have no variety except for some brief moments of going lower, but nothing caught my ear as interesting.

One of the few moments the short, rapid-fire track delivers something different is in the solo. A fast and generic delivery that could be mistaken for a million other songs by extreme metal artists.

The best aspect is the lyrics. McMahon is back with the same themes as always, centering around religion, but he seemed more passionate and determined with his message than the dull Dear Desolation. I am brought back to the all-powerful Holy War. He screams, “Bring forth the lamb of the sacrifice / One more heretic to crucify / Stained with the blood, the mark of the three.”

Not much can be said for the new song besides how disappointed I feel. Thy Art is Murder showed real promise despite the flaws in their third record, Holy War. Then I could not stand the emptiness of Dear Desolation. All I can do is hope for the new album to get better.

Check out the song below:

Image via Thy Art is Murder/Nuclear Blast Records

Video Game Review: Fallout 76

To no surprise, the online-only game with the game as a service model has a disastrous launch. While I knew Fallout 76 would be rough with glitches and needing additional content, I did not realize how boring and lonely this open-world title would feel.

Set in the earliest time period in the Fallout series, you wake up in Vault 76 to see an empty vault where the overseer has left. You follow her pointless guidance into the dangerous outside world of West Virginia.

Once launching the game, it is time to create a vault dweller. The character customization is precisely the same from Fallout 4. Despite its lack of innovation on the mechanic, there are plenty of options to make an interesting looking person, for better or for worse.

The main difference that sets this game apart is the online portion. A server holds up to 24 players. The experience feels lonely since there are no interactable NPCs except for vendors, some quest giving robots, and enemies to kill. My experience was spent seeing other players run past me as they go on their adventure.

PVP happened only a few times but was fun every time. The game’s balancing system works quite well. If someone is higher than you, you can still kill them. The combat is dependent on skill, teamwork (if you are playing with anyone), and what weapons you are using. The other balancing mechanic is that if someone attacks you, little damage is done. If you fight back, then the full damage is enabled. Killing a nonconsenting player will mark you as “wanted” which notifies everyone in the server about the player with a price on their head. The only consequence of dying, by player or NPC, is losing your junk. You can pick it up, but any other player can pick it up for themselves. The scraps will be used to craft, customize, and repair items and camps. Out of the many dull mechanics, PVP almost makes 76 worth playing.

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Playing with friends makes the game complete. I would play with friends and have a blast, despite crashing, glitches, and other technical issues. However, similar to Elder Scrolls Online, playing with friends does not carry much weight. Combat becomes easier with a party, but I never felt I was in a team. The teaming up system is only meant to see your friends from far away and to fast travel for free to their locations. If a friend completes an objective in a quest, then you will not get credit unless you do your part separately. Completing quests feels like playing a single player game and looking to your buddy’s screen to see where they are in their progress.

Playing alone is a grueling and punishing experience. The game’s difficulty does not allow people to be alone. Since I cannot socialize with NPCs, the lonely feelings mix with boredom to make for an atrocious time in the wasteland.

Survival in the wasteland of West Virginia consistently feels tedious, brutal, and rarely fun. Players must eat and drink to survive. The meter for hunger or thirst running too low will drop AP (action points, the bar for VATS and stamina) and diminish health. Foods and drinks have a variety of stats such as how much the hunger/thirst will increase or how much radiation is in the product. Getting a disease is another factor, creatures or food/drinks can give the player a disease. Diseases and radiation poisoning have a variety of positive and negative attributes. The lottery of the conditions on the health of the character can have some creative and fun effects.

Base building returns with features for a more user-friendly system. Now a lot of the map allows for base building instead of designated areas. Once anything is built, making a blueprint for convenience in case any equipment gets destroyed or if the owner gets the urge to move to a new location. While the system will not be for everyone (we all remember the polarizing feelings fans had during Fallout 4, right?) but for the constructive survivors of the nuclear holocaust, this is perfect for you.

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Crafting for weapons, food, armor, and other items are tasking, but not overly burdensome. Scrap items to get materials to repair, upgrade, and build what you want. Going around the world to scavenge is the most fun I had, especially when grouped up with friends. Learning what to craft comes from scrapping gear or finding plans or recipes. The main problem is someone else crafting on a workbench; one player can work at a time. If someone works for a long time, you might have to wait quite a while. I understand due to the animation of crafting takes up space so only one person can create their items, but the efficiency is atrocious for a multiplayer title.

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Stashing your gear and junk is easy. Stash boxes can be found or crafted at the camp to store anything. If you deposit a gun in your stash at a gas station then go to your base, the weapon will be in the container. The universal system transfers your gear where ever you are located. As of writing, the limit of weight the trunk holds makes for a frustrating experience. With how much junk, armor, and weapons you will need to store, the system breaks entirely by how little you can stock up.

Combat remains satisfying, but the new system for VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) feels inconsistent. Now the targeting system does not stop or slow down time; it goes in real time. Trying to shoot in VATS feels weird at first, but you might get used to it. The hardest aspect is your weapon does not track the target. If the ghoul you are shooting at moves in a particular direction, and you mistime pulling the trigger, you will miss your shot. Also, you can only target body parts with a perk. Without the right perk, you will shoot at the enemy as a whole. While I like the system in some ways, with some necessary tweaking then combat with the aiming system will feel more user-friendly.

Quest distribution comes from either holotapes, robots, and discovering locations or items. A feeling of constant apathy comes from the lack of interesting stories or characters to drive the narrative. With the population full of actual players and the only storytelling comes from notes or recordings, I feel a lot less invested in what is happening.

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Caps have a new purpose in the world. While they are still used to trade with vendors, both players, and robots, the currency is used to fast travel. You can travel to any location you have discovered for a fee. The fee differs depending on how far away you are. Getting to your camp, friends, or Vault 76 is free. Since I did not barter much, the travel system worked quite well.

The massive world has plenty of interesting places to explore, but not much to do. Outside of crafting, killing, scavenging, and quests, there are not many activities available. Events are always happening around the map for bonus rewards, but mark they are generic waves of enemies or mundane missions like escorting a robot to one location. The most fun comes out of walking around to look for new items and to kill things, not much game of the year material right here.

Leveling up for the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system is a brilliant innovation to keep a core mechanic fresh. When you level up, you can distribute one point to any of the following attributes: strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck. Once you put your mark in, a series of cards appear. Each card has a unique ability with several tiers that can be leveled up to improve the perk. Every five levels give a card pack to build up your collection. At any point cards can be swapped out for a difference perk, allowing for free customization for any situation. Smart players can utilize this to adapt to different challenges for combat, exploration, and more.

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I have never seen a game so inconsistent with graphics. At times 76 looks beautiful, and most of the time quite ugly. The world is full of poorly rendered textures, pop-ins, and some of the worst dynamic weather in recent years. The weather lacks any variety. When rain happens, nothing looks wet and enhances how unattractive everything seems.

Photo mode as a feature in any game is usually awesome due to how beautiful graphics have become. In the appalling Fallout 76, not so much. Talented photographers can bring out the beauty, but many players, like myself, might struggle to take a nice picture. Due to the constant threat of players or enemy NPCs, then you may feel discouraged to stop to take a selfie in case of getting mauled by a deathclaw.

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The dreaded microtransaction that plague the industry have made their way into Fallout. Before anyone brings out torches and pitchforks, the way Bethesda handles the despised monetization system works quite well. Everything bought is cosmetic for power armors, Pip-Boys, and more. Avoiding spending your hard earned money is easy. Gaining automatic points by completing challenges like killing X amount of enemies or collecting items makes for an easy way to earn cosmetics without paying real money.

The amount of small and big issues that fester inside of Bethesda’s online survival adventure bring down what could be a great title. With updates, 76 could be fantastic. However, due to moronic AI, crashes, and other bugs, the experience is tainted as of now. Long loading screens are a staple in Bethesda games which add insult to injury once the game crashes and you must sit through the process of the never-ending screens. Somehow they messed up so bad that there is no border option. Therefore a part of my screen has been cut off during my entire time so far. Silly mistakes from a AAA title like these are not acceptable. Along with how dull it is to play makes for one of the year’s biggest disappointments. Keep an eye out for the future because this trainwreck could reach greatness, but buying right now would be foolish.

Score: 3/10

All images and videos captured on a PS4 Pro

Want the game? Buy it below:

Buy now: Fallout 76 – PlayStation 4

Buy now: Fallout 76 – Xbox One

 

Video Game Awards 2018 Predictions

The Video Game Awards are coming December 6. With Geoff Keighley’s big show coming, I will be giving my predictions to what I think will win. I will base my choices on my own experience and what I genuinely believe will win. Some will be wild guesses and others will be my own love for a title.

Before going in, I will skip some categories due to my lack of knowledge like anything to do with esports or not having certain consoles to play this year’s biggest exclusives.

Game of the Year

#1: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Ubisoft Quebec/Ubisoft)

#2: Celeste (Matt Makes Games)

#3: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)

#4: Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games/SIE)

#5: Monster Hunter: World (Capcom)

#6: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)

Winner: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)

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Image via Sony Santa Monica

I was blown away by the latest God of War. What wins for me is the game’s ability to balance satisfying combat and a gripping story that left me an emotional wreck. I came in as a newcomer, and now I need my fix for more adventures with Kratos and Atreus.

Buy now: God of War – PlayStation 4

Best Ongoing Game

#1: Destiny 2: Forsaken (Bungie/Activision)

#2: Fortnite (Epic Games)

#3: No Man’s Sky (Hello Games)

#4: Overwatch (Blizzard)

#5: Rainbow Six Siege (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

Winner: Fortnite (Epic Games)

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Image via Epic Games

Despite my feelings or anyone else’s, Fortnite still controls the lives of millions. The juggernaut of a game came in at the right time to claim the throne after PUBG.

Best Game Direction

#1: A Way Out (Hazelight Studios/EA)

#2: Detroit: Become Human (Quantic Dream/SIE)

#3: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)

#4: Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games/SIE)

#5: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)

Winner: A Way Out (Hazelight Studios/EA)

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Image via Hazelight Studios

While I may have had issues with A Way Outthe game’s unique split-screen mechanic will be one of the most brilliant choices in gaming history. The perfection of playing with a friend on the couch or online while maintaining the same feeling will is unlike anything the world has seen. The perfect emotional rollercoaster to play through with a friend or loved one.

Buy now: A Way Out – Xbox One

Buy now: A Way Out – PlayStation 4

Best Narrative

#1: Detroit: Become Human  (Quantic Dream/SIE)

#2: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)

#3: Life is Stranger 2: Episode 1 (Dotnod Entertainment/Square Enix)

#4: Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games)

#5: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)

Winner: Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games)

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Image via Insomniac Games

Despite some fierce competition for best narrative, Spider-Man wins due to its perfect pacing. A sweet, short story that pulls out every emotion you can imagine. I laughed at the hilarity of Spidey, I teared up throughout the final act, and I was full of joy when things got better for New York.

Buy now: Marvel’s Spider-Man – PlayStation 4

Best Art Direction

#1: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Ubisoft Quebec/Ubisoft)

#2: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)

#3: Octopath Traveler (Square Enix/Acquire/Nintendo)

#4: Return of the Obra Dinn (3909 LLC)

#5: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)

Winner: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)

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Image via Rockstar Games

2018 was full of games that I kept saying, “This is the best looking game ever.” Then Rockstar showed up everyone with the gorgeous look of Red Dead Redemption 2. The amount of detail with the mindblowing textures and a wide variety of locations that have a unique feel brought the world to life. When developers say they have made a living open world, nothing compares to what Rockstar has created.

Buy now: Red Dead Redemption 2 – PlayStation 4

Buy now: Red Dead Redemption 2 – Xbox One

Best Score/Music

#1: Celeste (Lena Raine)

#2: God of War (Bear McCreary)

#3: Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (Joe Hisaishi)

#4: Octopath Traveler (Yasunori Nishiki)

#5: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Woody Jackson/Daniel Lanois)

#6: Marvel’s Spider-Man (John Paesano)

Winner: Marvel’s Spider-Man (John Paesano)

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Image via Insomniac Games

John Paesano captured the right music to go alongside Spidey. An epic score that feels heroic and that you are inside of a movie from the MCU. Paesano captures the fun, heroism, and emotion that comes into Peter Parker’s life.

Buy now: Marvel’s Spider-Man – PlayStation 4

Best Audio Design

#1: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (Treyarch/Activision)

#2: Forza Horizon 4 (Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios)

#3: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)

#4: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)

#5: Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games)

Winner: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)

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Image via Rockstar Games

Besides being the best looking, the sound design in Rockstar’s open world western delivers that extra level of detail for a fully immersive experience.

Buy now: Red Dead Redemption 2 – PlayStation 4

Buy now: Red Dead Redemption 2 – Xbox One

Best Performance

#1: Bryan Dechart as Connor (Detroit: Become Human)

#2: Christopher Judge as Kratos (God of War)

#3: Melissanthi Mahut as Kassandra (Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey)

#4: Roger Clark as Arthur Morgan (Red Dead Redemption 2)

#5: Yuri Lowenthal (Marvel’s Spider-Man)

Winner: Yuri Lowenthal (Marvel’s Spider-Man)

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Image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore

While Tom Holland remains to be not only the best Spider-Man/Peter Parker, he is Spider-Man/Peter Parker. Yuri Lowenthal gets mighty close. He captures the witty hero while maintaining his personal life as the kind, nerdy young guy doing his best for his Aunt May. If we need an older Spider-Man in a future movie, then the man for the job is right here.

Buy now: Marvel’s Spider-Man – PlayStation 4

Best Action Game

#1: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (Treyarch/Activision)

#2: Dead Cells (Motion Twin)

#3: Destiny 2: Forsaken (Bungie/Activision)

#4: Far Cry 5 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

#5: Mega Man 11 (Capcom)

Winner: Dead Cells (Motion Twin)

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Image via Motion Twin

The most unique title out of the nominated games with its gameplay and visual style. Without the major controversy behind it, this indie title could have gone unnoticed by most of the world.

The difficulty action game is full of challenges to accompany its highly stylized visuals.

Buy now: Dead Cells – Nintendo Switch

Buy now: Dead Cells – PlayStation 4

Buy now: Dead Cells – Xbox One

Best Role Playing Game

#1: Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (Square Enix)

#2: Monster Hunter: World (Capcom)

#3: Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (Level 5/Bandai Namco Entertainment)

#4: Octopath Traveler (Square Enix/Acquire/Nintendo)

#5: Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (Obsidian Entertainment/Versus Evil)

Winner: Monster Hunter: World (Capcom)

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Image via Capcom

Monster Hunter took the world by storm with its fifth main entry. The most popular tend to win, especially with how much people still talk about hunting monsters after the release.

Buy now: Monster Hunter: World – PlayStation 4 Standard Edition

Buy now: Monster Hunter World – Xbox One

Best Action/Adventure Game

#1: Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)

#2: Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games)

#3: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)

#4:  Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Ubisoft Quebec/Ubisoft)

#5: Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Eidos Montreal/Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix)

Winner: God of War (Sony Santa Monica/SIE)

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Image via Sony Santa Monica

The category calls for the game with the best mix of traversal, combat, and puzzle solving. God of War has that and more. Every mechanic has a purpose. Rowing a boat across the water allows the characters to share stories or discuss events that recently happened. Some of the best combat I have ever experienced comes from an evolving system that delivers new moves and teaches new methods to handle the vast variety of enemies. The puzzles might be simple, but they maintain interest throughout the lengthy adventure.

Buy now: God of War – PlayStation 4

Best Fighting Game

#1: Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle (Arc System Works)

#2: Dragon Ball FighterZ (Arc System Works/Bandai Namco Entertainment)

#3: Soul Calibur VI (Bandai Namco Studios/Bandai Namco Entertainment)

#4: Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition (Capcom)

Winner: Soul Calibur VI (Bandai Namco Studios/Bandai Namco Entertainment)

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Image via Bandai Namco Studios/Bandai Namco Entertainment

The classic fighter series is back and making a killing with new characters and stages. Plus, the character customizations I have seen on Twitter are insane. When a game allows you to make Thanos, then it must be incredible.

Buy now: SOULCALIBUR VI: Standard Edition – PlayStation 4

Buy now: SOULCALIBUR VI: Standard Edition – Xbox One

Best Family Game

#1: Mario Tennis Aces (Camelot Software Planning/Nintendo)

#2: Nintendo Labo (Nintendo EPD/Nintendo)

#3: Overcooked 2 (Ghost Town Games/Team 17)

#4: Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft)

#5: Super Mario Party (NDCube/Nintendo)

Winner: Super Mario Party (NDCube/Nintendo)

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Image via Nintendo

Nintendo’s reputation for family-friendly games continues to this day. However, the Mario Party series shows a different side of the Japanese juggernaut. A fun way to tear friends and family apart as you utilize cutthroat strategies to earn the most stars. What is more family friendly?

Buy now: Super Mario Party

Best Sports/Racing Game

#1: Fifa 19 (EA Vancouver/EA Sports)

#2: Forza Horizon 4 (Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios)

#3: Mario Tennis Aces (Camelot Software Planning/Nintendo)

#4: NBA 2K19 (Visual Concepts/2K Sports)

#5: Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 (PES Productions/Konami)

Winner: Forza Horizon 4 (Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios)

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Image via Playground games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios

The Forza games always push boundaries for the genre. With stunning graphics and superb gameplay, it is hard to find a better racing game. Taking itself to the UK to deliver a new dynamic weather mechanic, Forza manages to push further into being one of the most spectacular games around.

Buy now: Forza Horizon 4 – Xbox One / Windows 10

Best Multiplayer Game

#1: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (Treyarch/Activision)

#2: Destiny 2: Forsaken (Bungie/Activision)

#3: Fortnite (Epic Games)

#4: Monster Hunter: World (Capcom)

#5: Sea of Thieves (Rare/Microsoft Studios)

Winner: Fortnite (Epic Games)

 

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Image via Epic Games

 

If Fortnite appears on a category, then the masses will vote for the free-to-play shooter to victory. Full of players who can enjoy the game’s PVP or the zombie survival mode that was the initial intention for Fortnite before all of the fame and glory.

You can catch the Video Game Awards on December 6. Vote here to see your favorite games win.

Header image via Video Game Awards/GameSlice