It certainly wasn’t the finest year of PC gaming we’ve ever had, at least where big budget series are concerned. We found ourselves dissatisfied with iterative updates to annual franchises and many of the most outstanding experiences failed to make their way to the hallowed halls of PC. Yes, Arthur Morgan, we’re looking at you.
That said, while few of our best PC games of 2018 fell under the triple-A banner, indie games stepped in to save our free time. Matt Makes Games used platforming to weave an arresting yarn about overcoming depression in Celeste. Return of the Obra Dinn sees you take on the role of an insurance agent investigating the eponymous vessel in one of the most innovative detective games in 2018.
That’s just the tip of the indie games iceberg and speaking of Titanic-bothering lumps, Fortnite went from PUBG pretender to the biggest game in the world in 2018. Season 7 of Epic’s institution of a battle royale game saw out the year in style as the iceberg biome smothered the south-west of the map in snow. It might have technically come out in 2017, but 2018 was undoubtedly the year of Fortnite. But that’s not all, we still have plenty to choose from: here are the best PC games of 2018.
These are the best PC games of 2018:
There’s never been a finer marriage of narrative and design than Celeste. Matt Makes Games took the retro styling of 8-bit graphics and poured meaning into every pixel. Playing as Madeline, you ascend to the peak of the titular mountain, but it’s her depression and self-doubt that pose the true challenge. Celeste is one of the best games of 2018 – and our PCGamesN game of the year, no less – because it turns the platformer into a powerful metaphor for anxiety.
Madeline isn’t the only one with seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her way: there will be times when Celeste’s demanding difficulty can appear too much. But, with instant reloads and fair checkpointing, there’s little stopping you having another go. Like Madeline and her efforts to face her mental state, with persistence and determination, you will reach the summit of Mt. Celeste and amaze yourself with what you can achieve in this moving masterpiece.
Epic Games may have launched their battle royale mode in September 2017, but it was 2018 when its rise became stratospheric. At the start of the year, when it came to Fortnite vs. PUBG, most would’ve tucked into another chicken dinner. Now, with a gargantuan Fortnite player count, a Marvel tie-in, and streamers becoming millionaire celebrities as they play alongside footballers and pop stars, Epic’s experiment is now the undisputed Victory Royale king.
Fortnite went through several seasons with weekly challenges that proved as much fun as the wider game, but it was its seventh that stamped its authority on videogames as a whole. With the introduction of Fortnite Creative mode, players can make their own mini games with Epic’s powerful tools. The videogame even your nan has heard of is as important to gaming as Minecraft in 2018. It might not have released this year, but no best PC games of 2018 list would feel complete without Fortnite.
Monster Hunter: World
Speaking of being a monster slayer, one of the best RPGs of 2018 was certainly that. With Monster Hunter: World Capcom gave us a gameplay loop from which we struggled to wriggle out: fight monsters and collect cool gear to increase in strength to take on even bigger beasts. Monster Hunter: World is one of the best PC games of 2018 not only for its gorgeously wild world and intimidating foes, but it’s also a triumph for proper female body representation.
The New World feels refreshingly alive compared to other open worlds. As you trace the tracks of the demonic Nergigante or the Great Jagras, you’ll see them fighting each other for territory and preying on smaller critters. The environment feels like it would carry on without you as the creatures that make up its many biomes follow their own quotidian routines. It’s an intoxicating feeling when you do make your mark on this lavishly realised environment, combining your honed playstyle with that of your friends to take down a skyscraper-sized beast.
If you’re struggling to navigate the treacherous flora and fauna of Capcom’s epic, flick through our Monster Hunter: World guide before you set out on your next sortie. However, if you’re a seasoned monster slaying veteran, you’ll be carrying on 2019 in style when the Monster Hunter: World Iceborne release date comes around.
Return of the Obra Dinn
Gaming gives you the opportunity to play out some amazing roles, whether that’s a monster slayer, a soldier landing on the blood-soaked sands of Normandy, or a secret agent. Return of the Obra Dinn lets you be an, er, insurance agent? Lucas Pope’s follow up to the politically nuanced Papers, Please is much more beguiling than that sounds as you explore the monochromatic remains of the ghost ship Obra Dinn. The titular vessel drifted back to Blighty without a crew, and you need to work out what transpired. Spoilers: they didn’t go for a nice holiday.
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Its sheer inventiveness sails Return of the Obra Dinn into our best PC games of 2018 roundup. There’s a lot of reading and rifling through papers, and you need to pay attention to every last detail, but it’s a game that has faith in your abilities to solve its mysteries. Flashbacks are gloriously gruesome but the biggest thrill, as with any puzzle game, is that exquisite Eureka moment Return of the Obra Dinn delivers time and time again. It’s ambitious, intricately constructed, and absolutely one-of-a-kind.
Into the Breach
Into the Breach is strategy gaming distilled into its purest and most potent form. From Subset Games, the developers behind FTL, Into The Breach is a minimalistic turn-based gem with the aesthetic of Advance Wars that changes the rules every round on its tiny grid. As you struggle to fight off an apocalyptic alien invasion with massive mechs, you’ll realise that Into the Breach is one of the best games of 2018 because it teaches you to be a hero.
This is tied to Into the Breach’s permadeath mechanic. Your power grid is your most important resource and it acts as a persistent health bar. Allow your key infrastructure to take damage and you could lose everything and be booted back to the beginning. All lives count and it’ll have you agonising over every Rubik’s Cube of a turn until you flawlessly beat back your otherworldly enemy.
It doesn’t happen every year, but 2018 saw the release of a new Valve game – no, not that one. Artifact is the card game everyone wished was something else, until they got their hands on it. Based on Dota 2, you can take the tactical fight to your opponent on three lanes, but it’s the cavernous depth of Artifact that makes it one of the best PC games of 2018.
From spells and creeps to Hero cards, there are endless combinations and strategies that can be employed in your Artifact deck. While that might make this card game seem impenetrable – with which our how to play Artifact guide will certainly help – Valve’s elegant design makes it a treat to look at and accessible.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 isn’t just one of the best PC games of 2018, but three. Without a single-player campaign, 2018’s COD outing is a pure multiplayer game that boasts some of the best FPS modes you can play on PC: Zombies, bread-and-butter Multiplayer, and Treyarch’s take on battle royale, Blackout.
The standard Multiplayer you’ve lost countless hours to in previous years has been expanded and refined, pushing the boundaries of COD PvP with crucial pacing, mobility, and healing changes. Fans of bashing the undead will relish the chance to hunt for easter eggs amid waves of ravenous shufflers in a Roman Coliseum and aboard the Titanic.
That said, Blackout is the real star of this package. It might liberally borrow from PUBG, but Treyarch have taken the best from Brendan and put its own zany, zombie-infested spin on the last man standing genre. You’ll have your posterior handed to you when you start, but our Call of Duty Blackout tips will help you get a Victory – or just have an exhilarating time trying.
Destiny 2: Forsaken
Many waited patiently for Bungie’s sci-fi shooter to make its way to PC, but Destiny 2 failed to live up to lofty expectations at launch. However, Forsaken has transformed the experience into one of the best PC games of 2018. Bungie’s sweeping changes for year 2 are even more important than The Taken King was for the original.
Fans had their share of grievances with Destiny 2, but the vast majority were addressed with Forsaken in one fell swoop. The endgame offers plenty more for hardcore players to grind. The story is much stronger with sharper writing and a more accessible means of exploring the game’s rich lore. The Dreaming City is a glorious setting that even manages to stand out in a universe full of gorgeous planets.
Few service games have improved so much and so quickly. With the new Gambit PvPvE Crucible mode and the Last Wish raid – both of which are easier to tackle with our Destiny 2 guide – Forsaken has successfully persuaded lapsed players to return before the release of upcoming challengers Anthem and The Division 2.
As you’d expect from any game featuring massive robots, BattleTech does a great job of producing explosive, high-octane set pieces as imposing mechs go toe-to-toe. But that’s only part of why Harebrained Schemes’ strategy game is up there among the best games of 2018: amid the metallic carnage, BattleTech is a management game that places you in the role of a small business owner where making financial ends meet is just as important as being victorious on the battlefield.
Every single one of your BattleMechs count, and every move you make has weight. Skirmishes can be as harmful to your pilots as it is to your business’ bottom line. But, while that and the reams of stats that flood your battle screen can seem daunting, BattleTech still manages to be approachable to newcomers and numerophobes.
Harebrained excel in their execution of both systems, and memorable emergent narratives unravel as you play since each one is so neatly woven together. It’s why, of the few titles that have adapted the MechCommander board game, BattleTech’s rules set it apart from the rest because they do not merely mimic their source, but use it as inspiration to create something new.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
2018 saw Assassin’s Creed complete its transition from the stealth game to RPG, and that’s no bad thing. Placing you at the centre of the ancient Greek Peloponnesian war, this fully-fledged action-adventure RPG sees you play as a mercenary slicing and dicing through the bloody execution of battle to track down your long-lost family. On the way you’ll travel through a stupendously beautiful archipelago that boasts plenty of room for eccentric missions and stories that you can lose countless hours to.
From refined ship combat to 300-esque Conquest battles, there are plenty of systems to wrap your head around. But Odyssey manages to still be exciting whether going in quietly with a hidden blade or swinging a sword at every living thing in sight. Of course, all the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey abilities at your disposal helps keep combat feel fresh. Having the freedom to swap these many diverse perks in and out is merely one of many reasons why Ubisoft’s mythological stab-a-thon is one of the best PC games of 2018.
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And that’s your lot, the best PC games of 2018. It was a testing time for mouse and keyboard loyalists at times, but we still conquered worlds, slew monsters, and tried our hand at the vibrant world of insurance. If you’re looking for more of the finest experiences that will live just as long in the memory, here are the best PC games of the moment. Naturally we’re always looking forward, so here are the upcoming PC games still on their way to monitors everywhere. For now, we hope you had a wonderful 2018 full of joyful gaming goodness.