From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, 2018 saw PC gaming break new ground. Indie titles such as Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Subnautica started the year on the right foot. Meanwhile, triple-A disappointments such as Battlefield V and Fallout 76 closed it out. Indeed, each month seemed to have something new for every type of gamer. For this feature, we’ll highlight some notable PC game releases for their respective months.
January – Subnautica
It took five years for Subnautica to finally release as a full-fledged game. That long waiting period paid in dividends, becoming an instant-hit for Unknown Worlds and proving that patience is, indeed, a virtue. Free-roaming and survival in a harsh world and diving deep into the unknown has never looked so good. Subnautica definitely kicked off 2018 the right way.
February – Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Metal Gear Survive, Dynasty Warriors 9
Warhorse Studios crafted an ambitious epic set in medieval Bohemia, with your player character, Henry, facing off against Cuman and Hungarian troops. Kingdom Come: Deliverance was akin to a more grounded Skyrim, open-world yet more realistic, with your typical weaponry from the era.
Even though Kingdom Come: Deliverance delivered (pun intended) on all fronts, two titles from long-time developers ended up lambasted. Both Metal Gear Survive and Dynasty Warriors 9 released in February as well. The former was considered a repetitive and tedious grind that was Metal Gear in all but name. The latter, well, Koei Tecmo attempted to turn Dynasty Warriors 9 into an open-world adventure. The result was a buggy and monotonous mess.
March – Warhammer: Vermintide 2, Final Fantasy XV
March 2018 saw the PC/Windows release of the latest in the Final Fantasy series. The fifteenth installment was well-received by fans and critics alike. The open-world presentation and visuals made for a cinematic romp through grandiose worlds.
In the same month, Fatshark also followed up with their hack-and-slash co-op title, Vermintide 2. Similar to Left 4 Dead set in the Warhammer: End Times universe, Vermintide 2 saw huge success, selling a million copies in a short amount of time. Sadly, the developers couldn’t keep up with the demand as bugs and content droughts soured its reception weeks later.
April – Frostpunk
11 Bit Studios, the makers of This War of Mine, are experts when it comes to creating a bleak, barren, and hopeless scenario. Frostpunk embodies those themes after the world suffers an unprecedented calamity. Your task is to lead survivors in rebuilding your city, gathering supplies, and surviving everything that nature and your fellow man can throw at you. Frostpunk also offers moral dilemmas that allow you to decide the most efficient course of action at the expense of a disgruntled workforce.
May – Pillars Of Eternity 2: Deadfire, Dark Souls Remastered, Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia
From Software’s Dark Souls series and Bloodborne have kept hardcore players engaged — and more often than not also frustrated. The difficult challenges of these games and their art style have kickstarted their own aptly-named genre, “Souls-like.” It’s no wonder that the developers are remastering old classics with the original Dark Souls having made its way back to Steam in May.
The same month also saw the release of Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire. Although the sequel tried its best to surpass the original, it failed to meet expectations. Low sales would eventually lead to Microsoft acquiring the company along with inXile later in the year.
Speaking of not meeting expectations, Creative Assembly didn’t fare too well with Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia. The newest spin-off for the Total War brand received a lukewarm reception owing to streamlined mechanics and weak difficulty.
June – Vampyr, The Crew 2
Vampyr had everything going for it. It’s a third-person RPG, it’s got the trappings of a gothic classic, and gamers have been clamoring for something reminiscent of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Sadly, lengthy loading screens, barebones combat, and weak narrative led to a mixed reception. The Crew 2 also failed to impress even though it had a slew of vehicles. Your character could ride planes, bikes, motorboats, and more but these were hardly notable.
July – The Banner Saga 3
The Banner Saga franchise is what most would call an indie darling. Created by Stoic Studio (comprised of ex-Bioware developers), the series has captured the hearts of players eager for an adventure steeped in Viking lore. The Banner Saga 3 hit all the right notes, becoming another hit for the company.
August – Shenmue 1 & 2, Monster Hunter: World, World of Warcraft: Battle For Azeroth
In conversations pertaining to the Sega Dreamcast, one can’t help but mention the Shenmue duology. Crafted by Yu Suzuki, the two games became cult classics in their own right and their re-release for a new generation of PC players was very much welcome.
August also saw the arrival of Monster Hunter: World via Steam. Capcom’s action-packed game was released for consoles earlier in the year to critical acclaim, and its PC version pushed rigs to the limit. We also saw the launch of the latest expansion for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth — which brought the Alliance vs. Horde conflict closer to home than before.
September – Destiny 2: Forsaken, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, FIFA 19
Destiny 2 disappointed a number of players during its early months. It took the Warmind DLC and the Forsaken expansion to finally get things back on track. Throwing caution to the wind, Bungie decided to go all-out with a darker and grittier presentation, with the campaign highlighted by a revenge story. With numerous secrets, Forsaken showed what Destiny 2 could achieve.
Lara Croft’s latest adventure also arrived in stores in September. Shadow of the Tomb Raider wowed players and critics alike, although it was marred by controversy when it promptly went on sale weeks later. Elsewhere, the yearly iteration of “the beautiful game” kicked off with FIFA 19.
October – RimWorld, Forza Horizon 4, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Soulcalibur VI, Gwent/Thronebreaker
October was, bar none, the busiest month of 2018. With numerous AAA and indie goodness in store, gamers of various likes and dispositions had something that caught their eye. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey followed and expanded on what Origins brought to the table. Ancient Greece — with its history, myths, and mysteries — all came to life. Likewise, Activision’s juggernaut Call of Duty franchise was unstoppable with Black Ops 4. Treyarch and Beenox crafted a fantastic shooter, coupled with a gorgeous battle royale mode, that led to it becoming the best-selling game of 2018.
Geralt of Rivia also had a fairly busy October. The Witcher series’ protagonist featured in three games. Gwent, after months of development, officially launched on October 23. On the same day, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, the standalone RPG which uses Gwent as its battle mechanic also released. And yes, Geralt also found himself as a guest character in Bandai Namco’s Soulcalibur VI.
Big names and big corporations weren’t just the talks of the town this past October. That’s because RimWorld from Ludeon Studios also released after five years in Steam Early Access. The management sim/survival/RPG/sandbox hybrid gained strong support from fans over the years.
November – Fallout 76, Battlefield V, Hitman 2, Artifact, Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus, Total War Warhammer II: Curse of the Vampire Coast
We might as well call 2018 the year of Games Workshop and Warhammer due to a plethora of games based on Warhammer Fantasy Battles and 40K. For fantasy fans and the followers of Sigmar, they had the Curse of the Vampire Coast DLC to enjoy in Total War: Warhammer II. The DLC saw undead swashbucklers raiding and pillaging the coasts. As for the Tech Adepts and believers in the Omnissiah, all praise goes to Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus. The turn-based RPG from Bulwark Studios captured the quirks of the AdMech and the atmosphere of a grimdark future. Elsewhere, Agent 47 returned in fine form in Hitman 2. Assassinating your targets through flair and creativity has never been more engaging. Even Sean Bean himself embraced the meme wholeheartedly as an Elusive Target.
Unfortunately, November wasn’t all fun and rainbows. That’s because the month also saw two of the biggest disappointments in gaming — and no, we aren’t even talking about Diablo: Immortal and BlizzCon 2018 (which coincidentally also took place in early November). We’re talking about Battlefield V and Fallout 76.
Battlefield V, EA DICE’s latest offering, courted controversy when its trailers depicted female soldiers with prosthetic arms. The arcadey and somewhat unrealistic take left a sour taste in long-time fans. Although the entire depiction is negligible in a practical sense, the game also launched with additional features to follow. Its last campaign mission and practice range released earlier this month, and its battle royale mode won’t be out until next year.
Valve also suffered a setback. The developer/publisher/distribution giant released Artifact in late November. Although a number of CCGs provide cards as freebies, Artifact went against conventional wisdom with a pay-to-play business model. That’s led to around 80 percent of its initial player base disappearing in just a couple of weeks.
In terms of disappointments, however, nothing could top Bethesda’s Fallout 76. The MMO game was Fallout in name only, and many considered it a meandering, bland, repetitive, and buggy mess. It didn’t help matters that fiascos kept piling up for Bethesda from Fallout 76 canvas bags to refund issues.
December – Just Cause 4, Path of Exile: Betrayal
2018 closed with a bang — both literal and figurative — with the arrival of Just Cause 4. Dozens of explosions mark the fourth outing for Avalanche Studios. While we barely had any hiccups in our review, numerous players pointed out technical problems upon the game’s release.
While Just Cause 4 had some problems, Path of Exile and Grinding Gear Games are full steam ahead. Its Betrayal expansion is considered the biggest release so far for the company, adding previous expansion features as part of core content.
These are just some of the most noteworthy games that came out in 2018. Next year looks to be no different with exciting new IPs, long-awaited remasters, and promising sequels. We’ll see the remake of Resident Evil 2 along with Ace Combat 7. Two shared-world shooters — The Division 2 and Anthem — will also enter the fray hoping to take the mantle from Destiny. Creative Assembly will unleash its brand of strategy in a new frontier with Total War: Three Kingdoms. Of course, Shenmue 3 will also wrap up the classic series.
Who knows? We might even see Rockstar Games finally give PC players what we’ve been waiting for all this time: Red Dead Redemption 2.