There’s no beating around the bush with Red Dead Redemption 2. It is the biggest game of 2018, when it comes to AAA gaming. This is not the first article you’re going to see on this site that points to it, and the next several who knows how many weeks will be dominated by Red Dead Discourse. That’s just how it’s going to be. Now, I say it like that, because this game isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Almost aggressively so, as people have come to realize, after playing it, that it’s even a different sort of experience compared to the first game.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a slow burn, it values its presentation over its “game feel,” and so on and so forth. People will bounce off of it, even people who weren’t expecting to. And, of course, there are gamers who just aren’t interested in the first place. So what are you playing, as we close out 2018, if you aren’t playing Red Dead Redemption 2? I grabbed a few choice titles from various sectors of gaming, to toss together a fun list for the readers. Some of these titles will be obvious, others not so much. Let’s have fun with it.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Yeah, here’s the obvious one. By now, you’ve probably already played and finished Marvel’s Spider-Man. It’s kind of a one and done deal, plus the DLC. But what other big, AAA game of the season could be a nice, long, stream of content and things to do? Easily, the answer is Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Even if you aren’t familiar with the series, possibly even if you weren’t into earlier entries, this game is a riot. It’s more The Witcher than Brotherhood, with dense exploration and loot collecting, skill tree filling, stats-y grinding fun. It’s also home to some endearing characters, a wackier tone than you’d normally get from AAA action/adventure titles, and it’s going to be more of a “traditional” open world situation, even if you opt for the more clue-based “Discovery Mode.” If you’re not into Red Dead Redemption 2 because of the slow pace, here’s something with a little more energy.
I’m going to be alternating this list between more obvious AAA games and some of the weirder stuff, because I know there are people out there looking for something a little different. Although, this one is proving to be pretty popular. Dragalia Lost is Nintendo’s newest IP, and its newest mobile game. It’s both mundane and fantastic, being a character-drawing, “gacha” style experience, but one with legitimate action chops and some incredibly high-fidelity visuals and a soundtrack that is literally Japanese pop music. It’s wild, it’s cute, it’s fun, it’s even a little weird. I’m not normally a mobile game evangelist, but this one has consistently eaten up my time since the day it launched.
Before Soulcalibur VI came out, I was a little worried about it. I’m still worried about Dead or Alive 6. It’s not that I’m worried they’ll be good or bad, but I’m worried they’ll be buried under the weight of all the other fighting games that are out and still being played. But Soulcalibur VI has landed quite gracefully, endearing people with its fresh, but familiar mechanics, classic roster designs which made their comebacks this time, cool guest character prospects, and of course all the zany custom character creations. Soulcalibur seems to be back, perhaps even for good. If fighters are your thing, you should definitely give this thing a whirl, especially since the series has taken so many years off.
My Hero One’s Justice
On the topic of fighting games, it feels appropriate to give the anime fans a bone. Released on the same day as Red Dead Redemption 2, My Hero One’s Justice has a weird title but you’re correct if you think it sounds familiar. This is an arena-style fighting game (think Capcom cult classic Power Stone) based on the ludicrously popular Shonen Jump property, My Hero Academia (original comic series by Kohei Horikoshi). This is straight up a casual-friendly anime fighter, with simple controls, easy to perform combos, a surprisingly high skill ceiling and of course, tons of bright colors, kinetic animations and voice acting straight from the anime adaptation. My Hero Academia has been a big deal for a few years now, and the video game version is arriving at the right time, in-between big seasons.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
This just barely came out before Red Dead Redemption 2, and it feels like a lot of its online discussion momentum has been cut short a bit. But make no mistake, the first-person shooter community is loving Black Ops 4. There was a lot of uncertainty leading up to this one, what with reports of development difficulties at Treyarch, and skepticism over the lack of a campaign and possible pivot-style move to Blackout, the game’s big attempt at the Battle Royale phenomenon. But as it turns out, the fans love Blackout, and are totally fine with the multiplayer-centric content offerings. From the Overwatch-inspired character spread in standard multiplayer to the over the top styles of multiple Zombies mode scenarios, Black Ops 4 seems to have a little something for everyone.