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22 incredible games you absolutely need to play before 2018

Some of them can be picked up for less than £20

Whether you’re after galactic battles, high-octane racing or sensational football, there’s something for every gamer this year.

With that in mind, we’ve picked out the very best games, spanning a host of genres – along with the average RRP.

If you’re looking for gaming stocking fillers, then this is for you. Oh, and be sure to check out our best games of 2018 piece, too.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Best price: £44.84

After taking a break following a lukewarm reception to Unity and Syndicate, Ubisoft knew they needed to deliver with Origins.

And thankfully, they’ve delivered – creating the best Assassin’s Creed game for years.

Origins is a welcome return to form for the series – plus, it looks incredible

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Origins is a welcome return to form for the series – plus, it looks incredible

Set in Egypt during the Ptolemaic period, you play Bayek, a young, agile assassin who becomes Caesar’s blade for hire.

As expected in an AC game, it’s stunning to look at. Townspeople wade through rivers, vultures circle in the skies – it’s easily the most convincing open world in the series.

Combat has been overhauled, too. It’s far more active, with the onus on the player to chain together attacks rather than defend and parry.

Clubs, swords and knives all come in handy, while the bow allows you to take down enemies from afar.

There’s even a trusty eagle you can use to scout ahead and plan attacks – extraordinary.

Call of Duty: WWII

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Best price: £44.85

Call of Duty WWII returns to the harrowing battles tackled in the original 2007 game.

You play as private Ronald “Red” Daniels of the 1st Infantry Division, who is fighting on the Western Front.

The COD WWII Normandy beach assault is particularly harrowing

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The COD WWII Normandy beach assault is particularly harrowing

Sledgehammer Games were behind the brilliant Advanced Warfare – which boasted some seriously impressive visuals.

This time, though, they’ve cranked it up a few notches.

Perhaps the most impressive use of the graphics engine comes in the opening sequence, a stunning Normandy beach assault reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s epic, Saving Private Ryan.

Bodies get cut down by machine gun fire, the sea turns red with blood – it’s all disturbingly impressive stuff, which has been tackled with care and accuracy.

Single-player gameplay is as expected – fast, frantic and with an emphasis on picking up and scavenging weapons and ammo.

However, for many people, it’s multiplayer that holds the greatest appeal – and thankfully COD WWII really delivers.

To round things off, zombies returns with a stand-alone cooperative campaign, which sees you embark on a chilling journey through a snowy Bavarian village in Germany.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Best price: £38.95

The new Mario Rabbids game is a step in a new direction for the infamous plummer

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The new Mario Rabbids game is a step in a new direction for the infamous plummer

Super Mario Odyssey may have had most of the attention, but don’t let this Mario game go under the radar.

Mario and Rabbits Kingdom Battle takes the plumber and co. in a completely new, and welcome, direction.

Rather than platforming elements, gameplay is far more strategic and requires you to guide teams of three through combat areas. Think a child-friendly XCOM and you’ll get the idea.

You can play as eight characters – including Yoshi, Princess Peach and four different Rabbids.

It features two-player co-operative play and a host of up-gradable weapons – from laser beams and shotguns to yo-yo blasters.

If you’ve collected all of Odyssey’s Power Moons, this could hold some serious appeal.

PES 2018

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Best price: £31.34

PES 2018 was overshadowed by FIFA 18 this year but it’s still an incredible football game

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PES 2018 was overshadowed by FIFA 18 this year but it’s still an incredible football game

Addictive, responsive and most importantly of all, fun, PES 2018 is everything you’ve ever wanted from a football game.

FIFA 18 may have Frostbite, but don’t write off PES when it comes to visuals.

Animation and player models have been overhauled – making everything look and feel more realistic than ever.

Improved lighting effects, motion blur and depth of field help add a TV-style gloss to replays, while realistic crowds generate a real sense of occasion to every match.


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Passing is crisp and responsive, while through balls and crosses are easy to pull off but hard to master.

Thankfully, there’s a decent skills training section where you can hone everything from lofted through balls to free kicks and penalties.

PES only has a handful of licensed teams – but they do have the Champions and Europa League licenses.

Marvel versus Capcom: Infinite 

Platform(s): Xbox, PS4, PC
Best price: £24.99

The latest Marvel versus Capcom is surprisingly easy to pick up and play

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The latest Marvel versus Capcom is surprisingly easy to pick up and play

One of the cheaper, bigger games out there right now – and worth every penny.

This surprisingly accessible brawler packs a serious punch – with frenetic, chained-combos and a relentless framerate.

Combat has been refined, so even rookies can chain up impressive looking moves with a tap of single button.

There’s loads of characters to choose from – including Capcom favourites, Nemesis, Ryu and Chris Redfield – plus a host of Marvel heroes – such as Iron Man, Thor and Rocket Raccoon.

They’re all captured perfectly and have special moves that complement their unique abilities perfectly.

As is the craze for beat-em-ups these days, there’s even a story mode – great to hone your skills before battling the pros online.

Cuphead

Platform(s): Xbox, PC
Best price: £15.99

Don’t let Cuphead’s hand-drawn visuals trick you – it’s a very challenging game

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Don’t let Cuphead’s hand-drawn visuals trick you – it’s a very challenging game

Cuphead is a classic run-and-gun action game inspired by cartoons of the 1930’s.

In fact, the visuals and audio are painstakingly created using the same techniques of the era.

These include traditional cel animation (hand drawn & hand inked), watercolour backgrounds and original jazz recordings.

Don’t let its charming looks fool you, though – underneath the surface lies a very difficult game, so you’re sure to get plenty of bang for your buck.

Speaking of which…

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Best price: £24.99 (free trial also available)

Without doubt, Wolfenstein is the most violent game of the year.

Whether you’re smashing someone’s face into a wall, or unloading a magazine of bullets into their chest – developers Machine Games have captured death in a frighteningly-realistic way.

Wolfenstein II is easily the most violent game of the year

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Wolfenstein II is easily the most violent game of the year

Bodies convulse and shake when bullets rip through them – leaving blood-soaked stains on their uniforms. Explosions send limbs flying. You get the idea.

You reprise the role of William ‘B.J.’ Blazkowicz who’s on a mission to liberate America from the Nazis. To make matters worse, they’ve spent their time building an army of robotic super soldiers.

It’s powered the iD Tech 6 engine, the same powerhouse behind Bethesda’s ultra-violent Doom remake.

The result is a stunning-looking game that, if you can handle the blood, makes for utterly-compelling gaming.

Oh, and you can try it for free right now – just search for it in the Xbox / PS4 stores.

Sniper Elite 4

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Best price: £17.99

It may have arrived earlier in the year, but there’s still plenty to recommend in Sniper Elite 4.

Stunning visuals, well-thought-out sandbox level design and a sophisticated bullet physics system make this a must for sniper fans.

Sniper Elite 4 takes you around the world on a variety of fun missions – planning is essential

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Sniper Elite 4 takes you around the world on a variety of fun missions – planning is essential

Its crown jewel is the ultra-graphic X-Ray camera – which treats you to body parts exploding in grisly detail. There’s a brilliant co-op mode, too.

Plus, what other game allows you to blast Adolf Hitler’s testicle off?

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Best price: £29.99

Picking up from where the last game left off, you continue the story of ranger Talion and the spirit of the elf lord Celebrimbor, who shares his body.

They’re trying to forge a new Ring of Power to build an army to fight the evil Sauron.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War is one of the best open-world games of the year

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Middle Earth: Shadow of War is one of the best open-world games of the year

Shadow of War is a seriously good looking game – whether you’re playing on Xbox or PS4.

The world is brighter and more diverse compared with the last game – with lusher landscapes, pin-sharp foliage and plenty of light.

The Nemesis system also returns, allowing you to build an army of Captains, Warchiefs, and Overlords to help you take down Sauron.

A detailed ability tree, which lets you tinker with finishing moves and upgrade weapons, helps you negotiate the steep difficulty curve.

Need for Speed: Payback

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Best Price: £47.99

If you’re looking for incredible car chases and Hollywood production values, Need for Speed: Payback races ahead of the pack.

Payback uses the Frostbite engine, the same powerhouse behind FIFA 18. And, boy, does it look spectacular.

Need For Speed: Payback is powered by the Frostbite Engine – which delivers stunning visuals at 4K

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Need For Speed: Payback is powered by the Frostbite Engine – which delivers stunning visuals at 4K

The main plot sees a team of young drivers try and take down The House, a criminal organisation with an obsession for fast cars.

The acting is nothing to write home about (it’s horrendous), and there is a fair bit of grinding, but Payback’s worth picking up for the car chases alone.

One of the most memorable missions sees you harried across the desert by sinister-looking SUVs as you chase down a huge truck.

Add to the mix a spectacular slow-motion crash camera and you won’t want to get out of the driving seat.

Rainbow 6: Siege 

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Best Price: £16.50

Ubisoft’s brilliant tactical shooter may have been out for three years, but it just keeps getting better and better.

More than 25 million players are currently getting stuck into its varied maps and game modes.

Rainbow 6 has been a surprise hit for developers Ubisoft, who keep updating the game every few months

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Rainbow 6 has been a surprise hit for developers Ubisoft, who keep updating the game every few months

As well as Terrorist Hunt and standard four-v-four modes, there’s a FREE zombies expansion called ‘Outbreak’ on the way.

Ubisoft continually add new operators too – ranging from snipers to close-quarters specialists.

Maps range from favelas to mansions and stranded ships. All for less than £20.

FIFA 18

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Best Price: £36.95

FIFA players no doubt already have the game on Xbox, PS4 or PC – but the Switch version isn’t to be ignored.

There’s no fancy motion blur or hyper-detailed players – rather simple, clean gameplay that runs at a silky smooth 1080p 60FPS when hooked up to a TV.

fifa 18

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FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch is shaping up to be the best handheld version to date

FIFA on the Switch is at its best, though, when played in handheld mode.

Gameplay is sleek and smooth – especially when using the standard controller. It’s ever-so-slightly faster than the Xbox One, PS4, PC versions of the game – with less emphasis on passing the ball around. Instead, it’s all about perfectly timed through balls – and bombing down the wings.

Plus, you can play Ultimate Team on the go!

Super Mario Odyssey 

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Best Price: £39.99

Bowser has kidnapped Princess – and shredded Mario’s hat in the process.

Our hero then bumps into a charming, shape-shifting creature, called Cappy who – unsurprisingly, takes the form of a cap.

Together, they set off in Mario’s hat-shaped space ship on an unforgettable adventure – packed full of genius touches and inspired level design.

Mario’s vessel is a charming hat-shaped space ship – you can even explore the interior

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Mario’s vessel is a charming hat-shaped space ship – you can even explore the interior

Between voyages, Cappy will feed you intel and reveal new moves and abilities. Plus, you’re able to change Mario’s appearance on the fly, so to speak.

The Switch may not have the grunt of a PS4 but Odyssey really shows what the console is capable of.

One second you’ll be exploring vast, sandy deserts and the bustling streets of New Donk City, the other, you’ll be swimming in deep lakes and dodging a T Rex in deep, dark forests.

The biggest change to the game comes thanks to Cappy. Mario can throw it at enemies – and later, use it as a platform to reach higher areas.

But the most fun ability is introduced early on – the ability to ‘posses’ other creatures. Just super.

Doom 

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Best Price: £40.00

With enough blood to re-float the Titanic – Doom has finally made its way on to the Switch.

It’s incredible just how well Nintendo’s console handles the game – with stunning HD visuals and decent framerates.

Doom’s visuals will blow you away on the Switch – it’s a credit to the iD Tech Engine

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Doom’s visuals will blow you away on the Switch – it’s a credit to the iD Tech Engine

Combat is fast and furious, seeing you locked in areas wiping out baddies in the most brutal ways possible.

Weapons vary from shotguns to chainsaws and rocket launchers, so there’s plenty to get stuck into.

If you’re yet to give Doom a blast, now’s your chance.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Platform(s): PS4

Best Price: £34.99

Horizon Zero Dawn is easily one of the best looking games ever made

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Horizon Zero Dawn is easily one of the best looking games ever made

This PS4 masterpiece is another smash hit that’s utterly essential.

The plot revolves around Aloy, a hunter and archer living in a world overrun by robots.

If you’ve ever thought about investing in a PS4 Pro, then this game will swing it for you. It looks absolutely stunning.

The world is packed full of life – from harmless deer-like robots that scare easily, to enormous predators that’ll rip you to shreds.

Fast-paced combat and an engaging storyline help make this the best PS4 game of the year so far.

Be sure to check out the new The Frozen Wilds DLC, too.

Observer

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

Best Price: £19.99

This cyberpunk horror game from Bloober Team, the creators of Layers of Fear, would have gone under most people’s radars – but it’s still an incredibly interesting game.

Observer is the closet thing you’re going to get to Blade Runner

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Observer is the closet thing you’re going to get to Blade Runner

Played from a first-person perspective, you’re thrust into 2084 Poland following a “digital plague” that’s led to war and rampant drug use.
You play a detective called an Observer – capable of hacking into people’s memories and fears.

It’s a chilling, Blade-Runner-esque adventure.

Nier: Automata

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC

Best Price: £26.99

This sci-fi adventure is like nothing you will ever play – and at less than £30, offers plenty of bang for your buck.

You play an android called 2B, who’s sent to Earth to rid the planet of a robot invasion.

You play 2B an android who’s especially handy with a sword

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You play 2B an android who’s especially handy with a sword

It blends a variety of genres – from top-down action, to Devil May Cry hack and slash combat.

Add to the mix a stunning soundtrack and incredible story – with multiple endings – and you’ve got something very special indeed.

Mario Kart 8: Deluxe 

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Best Price: £41.99

Need we say more?

There’s a ton of tracks, races, characters and karts to choose from – not to mention a new ‘Battle Mode’.

Simply a must-buy for all Switch gamers.

Mario Kart is one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch right now

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Mario Kart is one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch right now

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 

Platform(s): Xbox, PS4, PC

Best Price: £17.99

This breathtaking adventure needs to be seen to be believed.

Arguably the greatest game of all time, you play a Witcher called Geralt of Rivia as he tracks down his lost daughter.

The Blood and Wine expansion is arguably better than the main game

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The Blood and Wine expansion is arguably better than the main game

An incredibly detailed world, gorgeous visuals and multiple endings make this a story you won’t want to end.

It’s now available for next to nothing – so be sure to pick up the Blood and Wine / Hearts of Stone Expansions.

Project Cars 2

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Best Price: £44.99

You no doubt enjoyed 2015’s Project Cars, but the sequel ramps it up a notch.

There are now more tracks – 46 in total, a majority of which have been laser scanned for pin-point accuracy.

Not only that, but cars are almost photo-realistic thanks to the brilliant Madness engine – which, amazingly, powered 2009’s Need for Speed: Shift.

Project Cars 2 is one of the year’s best racing games – for those after pure realism

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Project Cars 2 is one of the year’s best racing games – for those after pure realism

There’s even a brilliant photo mode allowing you to capture every little detail.

The real ace in Project Cars’ sleeve, though, is dynamic weather. In fact, Bandai Namco’s masterpiece could well boast the most realistic weather system ever created in a game.

Multiplayer wise, online mode has been refined to better cater for esports. This includes an online ranking system, online championships, and better functionality in matchmaking.

Add to the mix full VR support, not to mention triple-monitor displays (for hardcore PC gamers) and you’ve got an incredible racing package.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands PVP

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Best Price: £28.85

Wildlands has been out for a few months – but it’s been saving its best feature for last.

The long awaited PVP mode has arrived, so you can play four versus four competitive multiplayer across a selection of maps.

PVP is the most fun you can have in the brilliant Ghost recon Wildlands

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PVP is the most fun you can have in the brilliant Ghost recon Wildlands

Gunplay was always solid in Wildlands but really comes alive when playing against friends. Maps are large, but not big enough to get lost – keeping you on your toes.

When teammates are down, you can revive them but if you’re quick enough the enemy will home in your location.

To make matters worse, there’s a radio beacon that, when activated, pings your location to the enemy.

It’s such a shame it didn’t launch with the game – it’s the most fun we’ve had in months.

Oh, and for a limited time, there’s The Predator challenge, that sees you team up and take on the iconic alien. Great fun.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice 

Platform(s): PS4, PC

Best Price: £24.99

With so many games fighting for attention, it’s not surprising that some will slip under your radar.

But ignoring Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – the latest game from Cambridge-based Ninja Theory – could be the worst thing you do all year.

Hellblade is easily one of the best games of the year – and boasts incredible graphics

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Hellblade is easily one of the best games of the year – and boasts incredible graphics

The game, developed by a team of just 13 people, follows a young woman called Senua as she journeys through a hellish underworld on her way to ‘Helhaim’.

To make matters worse, she’s constantly fighting against psychosis – a barrage of creepy voices in her head.

The underworld has been painstakingly recreated – from dank, oppressive woods to eerily-quiet streams with flayed corpses on spikes lining the banks.

Add to the mix some incredibly brutal combat and you’ve got something very special indeed.


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