Looking Back, 2018 Was A Legendary Year For Gaming

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Massive Games, Day-One Game Pass Titles, Rise of Battle Royale, Ray Tracing, And More!

Story Highlight
  • This year marked the arrival of games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War.
  • Xbox began its massive Game Pass push, introducing day-one releases.
  • Gamers rose against the oppressive loot box model.
  • Fortnite also exploded in popularity and numerous battle royale games followed.

The industry has come a long way in the last six years. 60FPS gaming is huge on consoles, ray tracing has improved in leaps and bounds, and 2023 showed the AAA industry at its best.

However, looking back, it is hard to ignore the sheer brilliance on display in 2018’s gaming lineup. Much like 2023’s onslaught of blockbuster releases, this year saw the AAA industry firing on all cylinders, releasing one hit after another.

In fact, many of the biggest games from 2018 are still talked about today. In my opinion, the gaming industry was truly blessed with greatness six years ago.

Why it matters: The gaming industry rarely goes through this many changes in a single year. From new technologies like ray tracing to major AAA games, 2018 had it all.

Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 Achieved Legendary Status As Another Rockstar Games Hit

The Big Hitters

The year kicked off with perhaps PlayStation’s most important first-party launch of the last decade. In March, Santa Monica Studio boldly presented its new vision for God of War, immediately creating a cult classic.

A mature take on Kratos, a revamped combat system that incorporated RPG elements, and a narrative that set up an epic clash against Thor meant that millions immediately became fans of a franchise that had just returned from a near-death experience.

If this wasn’t enough, Insomniac Games launched Spider-Man in August, saving him from the shackles of licensed adaptations. This entry celebrated everything great about Marvel’s famous Web-Slinger, putting him back in the limelight.

God of War
God of War 2018 Was Santa Monica’s Redemption Just As Much As Kratos’

Just two months later, Rockstar Games released a modern masterpiece in the form of Red Dead Redemption 2. Still revered for its characters, open world, and narrative, the game’s popularity today speaks for itself.

Three big releases of this scale alone would be enough to entrench 2018 as a monumental year for gaming in everyone’s minds. However, Nintendo and Microsoft were not willing to be left behind either.

The former released Super Smash Bros Ultimate that year, while the latter launched Sea of Thieves, a live-service project that rakes in millions to this day.

Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass Came Into Its Own In 2018

The Game Pass Moment

2018 was a major year for Microsoft in multiple ways.

The gaming giant picked up Ninja Theory, launched Forza Horizon 4, and Game Pass entered its second year on the market. However, one Microsoft announcement changed the industry forever.

In January, the gaming giant spearheaded a new era of day-and-date releases. This is now key to Game Pass’ identity, helping the service climb up to 34 million subscribers. In the years to follow, the likes of Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and more would launch on the subscription.

This model has even encouraged rivals like Sony to step up their own subscriptions, leading to the creation of PS Plus Extra and Premium.

Fortnite
Fortnite Challenged The Idea of Traditional Multiplayer Gameplay Through The Battle Royale Concept

Fortnite, Fight Against Loot Boxes, And Epic Games Store

While major studios were releasing one hit after another, audiences rose up against predatory microtransactions, leading to the modern live service model as we know it today.

Fortnite rose to new heights in the same year, popularizing the battle royale genre and the infamous Battle Pass. For better or for worse, this model is now the foundation of all live service games.

One of my fondest memories of the year was the fight against loot boxes. This form of monetization, having plagued the industry for a few years at that point, was eradicated after gamers rose against publishers in droves.

Following the launch of Star Wars Battlefront 2, gamers unanimously agreed that they had had enough. This was also the beginning of an unexpected redemption arc for EA, with the publisher reigniting a focus on single-player games.

Star Wars Battlefront 2
Star Wars Battlefront 2 Was The Last Straw And Resulted In Outrage Against Loot Boxes

As someone who could never stand loot boxes, I was glad to part ways with this form of monetization. Though microtransactions persist, at least I don’t have to spend on surprise mechanics today.

2018 also saw Epic Games creating its own storefront for PC. This was then followed by waves of free games for newcomers. While I’m more than satisfied with Steam on PC, once can never go wrong with free games, especially when they include the likes of GTA 5 and Batman Arkham Knight.

Games launched In 2018
Third-Party Games Were Equally Great Six Years Ago

Everything Else

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Monster Hunter World, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and more were launched in the same year.

I, for one, had too much on my plate to enjoy everything 2018 had to offer.

However, looking back at it, I can appreciate everything the industry was doing to push itself forward, even if it led to the modern Battle Pass system that I eventually grew tired of.

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