A year of revivals
This year, the Doublejump Management decided to use Game of the Year time to allow each of its writers to shine individually by producing a short article containing their Game of the Year selection for 2018 along with up to two honourable mentions and up to five things that they’re looking forward to seeing in gaming in 2019. As always, we more than welcome your thoughts and opinions as well; head on over to our Discord server or our newly-created Facebook Group to discuss gaming’s past year with our team and our community!
My Game of the Year: Vainglory 5v5
Released four years ago as a top-quality “MOBA perfected for touch,” Super Evil Mega Corp’s Vainglory had it all: some of the best graphics we’ve ever seen in a mobile game, fluid and intuitive controls, a range of balanced heroes, engaging lore, the desire and intention to move into esports, a quick development cycle consisting of monthly updates, and – most importantly – a novel approach to the MOBA genre in its 3v3 gameplay that was perfectly suited to mobile gaming.
Quite a lot has changed for Vainglory as we head into another big year of gaming, and although there have been quite a few less-than-positive developments, the overall grade is a net positive for one major reason: the introduction of its 5v5 mode. Vainglory 5v5 falls more in line with the more traditional MOBA offerings, boasting a three-lane map with two buffs in each team’s jungle and two major objectives in neutral territory, but with Super Evil Mega Corp’s unique aesthetic touches.
Although its current lack of a major esports scene – and the natural fatigue that comes after four years of playing a specific game – has a lot of players moving away from Vainglory, the recently-released cross-platform beta client indicates that Super Evil Mega Corp still has a few tricks up its sleeve. For now, though, Vainglory 5v5 breathed new life into the game and has managed to keep me interested every day since it was released; no other game has come close to doing that this year.
Honourable mention: Detroit: Become Human
Although my other commitments to Doublejump stopped me from releasing a proper review of Detroit: Become Human, I had – and still have – nothing but compliments for the game that could well go down as Quantic Dream’s best. Detroit has an incredibly well considered, well fleshed-out plot that raises very real questions; from beginning to end, I became so invested in Connor, Kara and Markus’ journeys that the relative lack of action didn’t concern me, and that’s how you know you’re playing a great video game.
Honourable mention: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Put simply, Black Ops 4 is the first Call of Duty title I’ve seriously enjoyed since Black Ops 2 back in 2012. It’s fluid, it’s smooth, it’s got a good variety of fun maps, and I love Blackout’s take on the battle royale formula (no matter how badly I suck at it). Bravo, Treyarch – you may just have saved the whole franchise.
What I’m Looking Forward to in 2019:
Seeing where the Nintendo Switch goes from here: In late 2017 and even early 2018, I was very seriously concerned about the Switch. The idea was great and I loved the indie offerings, but I thought the first-party release schedule was a little too slow. I’m glad I was wrong, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for the console.
Games made for the love of gaming: Over the past couple of years, titles like Assassin’s Creed, FIFA Ultimate Team and Star Wars Battlefront have exemplified a trend of games blatantly and obviously chasing extra money through in-game purchases. Of course, I’m not against the idea – if you can make more money, why wouldn’t you? – but the way in which it’s been implemented has become a little too deliberate for my tastes. I’d love to see 2019’s big releases make a statement by not blatantly chasing in-game purchases, because corporate greed is really starting to hurt the industry.
Innovation: We’ve seen a lot of fun, innovative independent titles over the past few years, and especially with the Switch taking its position in the landscape, I think there’s a lot of innovation still to come – I’d really like to see more indies in particular taking risks and developing titles and challenging that aforementioned notion that money is all that matters.
AAA Innovation: Unfortunately, while independent developers have been willing to innovate, the same can’t really be said for AAAs. We did see some new ideas in titles like A Way Out, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was a step in the right direction, but the Game of the Year lists were still filled with concepts that had largely been done before – I’d love to see AAA publishers put some more faith into innovation this year.
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Also published on Medium.