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HALL OF GAME

The 10 best games of the year so far – and why you’d be mad not to play them

We thought 2018 was good...

This year has seen some incredible game releases – and we’re only three months in.

Whether you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic RPGs, aerial dogfights or a battle royale (of every variety), there is something for everyone – and much more to come.

Here we go through the 10 best games of the year so far. We’ve played each one extensively to give you a detailed verdict of what to expect.

Let’s kick off with the battle royale everyone’s been talking about.

You won’t be short of games to play this year

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You won’t be short of games to play this year

Apex Legends

Need we say more?

With next-to-no marketing, Respawn Entertainment (the developers behind 2015’s brilliant Titanfall 2) alongside EA launched Apex Legends just over a month ago and the rest was history.

The fast-paced free-to-play BR game reached 50 million players in just under 30 days – unheard of these days in the games industry.

If you haven’t had a chance to choose a legend and drop into King’s Canyon yet, the game is free-to-play on Xbox One, PS4 and PC – 100 per cent worth checking out if you are a fan of FPS games or battle royales.

Gameplay wise it feels very much like a spiritual successor to Titanfall 2.

There’s plenty of sliding and while long-range rifles feature, most of the combat takes place at close quarters.

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Apex Legends features a number of playable specialists similar to Overwatch

Metro Exodus

Run in all guns blazing and the third entry in the brilliant Metro series will chew you up and spit you out.

No, Exodus is a ‘thinking person’s’ FPS, which blends RPG elements and sandbox style level design (think Crysis) with the tight shooting mechanics of the previous, more linear games.

The result? A unique and hugely rewarding playground of destruction – with just enough freedom to draw you into the world.

Set in 2036, the story takes place in Moscow – two years after the events of Metro: Last Light (well worth a play if you’re new to the series).

The world was ravaged by nuclear war 23 years ago, causing whatever life that remained to morph into terrifying creatures.

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The game takes place over four seasons – this summer level is reminiscent of the Mad Max movies

There are tons of weapons at your disposal, all of which can be customised and tweaked with items you salvage from the environment or fallen enemies.

Weapons range from the trusty crossbow, which is perfect to take down enemies silently – to an air-pressure powered rifle that needs to be pumped up before firing.

If you’re lucky enough to own an Nvidia GTX2080 graphics card, then you’re in for a treat.

Exodus supports Real Time Ray Tracing (which will think will soon become standard across most big titles) – making for truly breathtaking presentation.

Console owners don’t fret – Exodus looks amazing on here too.

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You might want to bring a spare magazine

Far Cry New Dawn

The last Far Cry was a very, very good game – offering a huge open world littered with side quests and challenges.

New Dawn doesn’t stray too far away from that formula.

The story takes you back to Hope County, 17 years after nukes were dropped leaving not just the US in chaos, but the world.

Co-op play, expeditions and building up your home base are the focus of Ubisoft’s latest title.

Add to the mix a vibrant open world and a new enemy damage system – encouraging you to level up weapons and search for loot, and you’ve got the most complete Far Cry experience to date.

Have no mates? (Like me) Don’t worry.

Timber the shiba inu (that’s a dog, for those not familiar with animals) or Horatio the giant wild boar can keep you company whilst traversing the land.

Just be sure to pack a shotgun.

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Who thought the apocalypse would be so colourful?

Resident Evil 2 Remake

It’s been 21 years since rookie police officer Leon S Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield first escaped the zombie-infested Racoon City.

The remake has had a serious facelift with Capcom using the RE Engine, which was created for Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.

It’s a joy to behold, with features such as ‘subsurface scattering’ and ‘dynamic shadows’ helping take RE2’s presentation well beyond most other AAA titles.

You play as both characters in the remake, with both stories intertwining – with Leon’s perhaps tenser than Claire’s more action-packed affair.

The remake of the 1998 classic has received universal acclaim from fans and reviewers alike, making it 100 per cent worth playing whether you are new to the franchise or just a fan of the original.

It scored an even higher Metacritic score than the original game with publications giving the thriller a whopping 91 compared to the original’s 89. We’re sold.

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Who thought this game would ever look this good?

Devil May Cry 5

Welcome back, Dante.

The long-haired monster slayer returns in Devil May Cry 5 alongside his nephew Nero and a new character called V.

You can play as all three characters throughout the campaign, all of whom have a unique style and flair that keeps combat interesting.

As a hack and slash title, combat is fast-paced combat with a focus on racking up high scores via stylish kills.

To help encourage you to improve, there’s an in-game ranking system that continually judges your style.

You’ll need all the tricks of the trade if you’re to beat the game’s many bosses, which are designed to challenge each character’s playstyle.

After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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Expect classic Devil May Cry humour

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

The F22 is the deadliest fighter jet on Earth – taking immense skill and training to pilot. You can fly it with a thumbstick.

Ace Combat newbies may be expecting a demanding flight simulator, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. With simple or complex controls, taking part in spectacular dogfights and pulling off daring manoeuvres has never been more accessible.

Add to the mix a detailed customisation tree, and a host of the world’s most iconic and impressive aircraft to fly, and you have a truly special game.

For those thinking it’s just meaningless, ‘samey’ missions, think again. The story is actually pretty engrossing (we won’t spoil this here) while weather systems and carefully thought out ‘sandboxes’ add a welcome level of unpredictability to each skirmish.

Away from the 15-or-so hour single player campaign, a fun online mode sees you join a squadron and take on a rival team. Be warned, you’ll be against some well-trained foes.

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This game is best played with a stick

Tetris 99

This Nintendo Switch exclusive free-to-play reimagining of the original Tetris has been a rather unsung hero of 2019.

the game was dropped on unsuspecting Switch players with no proper announcement or fanfare, swiftly becoming a favourite among Tetris enthusiasts and battle royale players alike.

You may be thinking ‘this is a gimmick it can’t actually be fun to play’, well you’re wrong – not only is Tetris 99 great fun, but it’s also challenging and (I can imagine) very satisfying when you manage to make it all the way.

The soundtrack is also brilliant.

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The battle royale we never knew we needed

Dirt Rally 2.0

Codemasters has once again delivered an incredible experience with Dirt Rally 2.0.

With its stunning attention to detail, incredible visuals and an unparalleled sense of speed, the latest entry to the acclaimed Dirt series is the closest thing you’ll get to being a real-life rally driver.

The real star of the show is the handling, which is nothing short of sublime. You’ll fear the tyres struggle to grip on to the dusty dirt track in Spain or spit up gravel as you slide around a hairpin bend in New Zealand.

It’s seriously tough, and with a lack of rewind function as well as damage that affects handling and performance, the margin for error is, rightfully, incredibly tight.

But it’s this that helps make Dirt Rally 2.0 stand out – in a time where racing games are tempted to ‘dumb down’ to garner mass appeal.

An exhilarating experience – even more so when playing with a wheel and pedals.

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A hyper-realistic sim racer that feels great played on a controller

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice

Although not technically out yet, From Software’s new death-dealing shinobi game is out this month – so we let it sneak in.

Oh boy! Has feudal-Japan has never looked so good yet so deadly.

Taking place in a reimagined late 16th-century, Sengoku period, Japan – you play a shinobi (a ninja/samurai/warrior hybrid) who was left for dead after his lord was kidnapped and his arm was severed by an enemy samurai of the Ashina clan.

The shinobi awakens to find that he is not only alive but his arm has been replaced with a prosthetic limb, crafted by an old wood sculptor who names him ‘Sekiro’.

Dubbing Sekiro ‘Dark Soul’s but with Ninjas!’ does the game an injustice.

Combat in Sekiro doesn’t focus on rolling and dodging hits from huge enemies. Instead, the focus is on deflecting, then timing attacks.

If you like a challenging game with plenty of customisation options and a rich lore filled storyline then Sekiro is for you.

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A tragic tale of revenge – haven’t heard that one before!

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

The Division 2 seems to have addressed nearly all of the negative features of its predecessor.

The result? A more well-rounded, balanced shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Gone are the dark, dreary streets replaced with lush greenery and a far brighter colour palette.

A lot of this is down to the setting, which takes place in Washington DC, some seven months after the viral outbreak in the first game.

The city has been taken over by three main factions – the Hyenas, the Outcasts and the True Sons. All of them are nasty pieces of work armed to the teeth.

In motion, The Division 2 is very impressive indeed. During most intense shootouts, framerates remained around 30FPS.

Gunfights are tense and tactical but a tad easier than the gruelling 2016 original

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Gunfights are tense and tactical but a tad easier than the gruelling 2016 original

Out on the 15th March, this looter-shooter has come out at the perfect time – looking likely to snap up the disaffected Anthem player base with its highly polished game.

A word of warning – enemy AI has been tweaked, meaning they will lob grenades and flank you should you remain behind cover for too long.

Customisation has also been greatly improved with a huge array of outfits, weapons and skins available to either purchase or claim.

The best thing about the 2016 original actually took place once you finished the campaign.

The Division 2 encourages teamwork but some missions can be tackled solo for those wanting to feel like John Wick

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The Division 2 encourages teamwork but some missions can be tackled solo for those wanting to feel like John Wick

Here, you’d be treated to various harder missions that would reward you with the best loot upon completion.

This returns in The Division 2 – which sees DC overrun by a highly skilled force called Black Tusk. They are essentially super-soldiers, trained to kill ruthlessly and are kitted out with the best gear.

We won’t give too much away, but if you’re to have any chance against them, you’ll need some serious firepower and a very, very good squad.