Earlier this year I intended to write an article breaking down how great the video game releases had been so far in 2018. This was around March, and even by then it was already clear that this would be an amazing year for video games. It wasn’t clear just how great it would be though. Now, with 2019 just a few short weeks away, the totality of 2018’s epic gaming release list has come into focus, and it’s totally obvious that 2018 really was one of the best years in video game history.
2018 saw a total of 24 games hit with a Metacritic score of 90 or above
This is even provable, as much as something like this can be. Taking Metacritic as a measure (which some would take issue with, but please bear with me on it), 2018 saw a total of 24 games hit with a Metacritic score of 90 or above. This includes re-releases, remakes, and alternative versions on other consoles. Even if we remove these though you end up with ten wholly original releases that score 90 or above. These include Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Forza Horizon 4, and many others that will surely become all-time greats.
For comparison, 2017 had 13 total 90+ games with 7 being original. 2016 rounded out at 13 total and 9 original (with some odd ones like Out of the Park Baseball 17 making the list). The highest rated titles are also interesting to compare with 2018’s Red Dead Redemption 2 sitting at 97 on both PS4 and Xbox One. There’s also Celeste and God of War at 94 and then Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at 93. 2017 had amazing Switch releases in Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, before a steep drop to 93 for Divinity: Original Sin 2. Uncharted 4 was 2016’s highest rated game at 93, with the top three consisting of INSIDE and Out of the Park Baseball 17.
Hell, some of the most talked about games this year didn’t even make it into the 90+ crowd, and yet they are clearly amazing experiences. Tetris Effect, Dragonball FighterZ, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Subnautica all scored in the 80’s, yet will surely be remembered fondly by players.
Why was 2018 so great for video games? There’s no single answer, but one thing that’s clear is that all three major consoles are in great positions to deliver solid releases. The Xbox One may be struggling to get great exclusives, but the release of the Xbox One X has made it the best place to play multi-platform titles, including Red Dead Redemption 2. PS4 probably should have changed their slogan from “Greatness Awaits” to “Greatness is Here” either this year or last, as they’ve been hitting players with fantastic exclusives over and over. And the Switch has become home to some of Nintendo’s best franchise releases in years, while also serving as a great indie gaming machine.
No matter how you look at it, 2018 was a fantastic year for video games, possibly one of the best ever. 2019 is looking pretty good as well, with games like Kingdom Hearts 3, Resident Evil 2 Remake, and Anthem just over the horizon. We’ll see if it can stack up to the epic year we just experienced though.