2018 was a fairly strong year for PC gaming. Recently, we highlighted some of the noteworthy releases this year. This time around, our staff are providing their personal picks for the top PC games (and expansions) of 2018. As the unofficial racing/sim guy for PCI, my list is made up of only titles from those genres.
Forza Horizon 4
I haven’t been shy about showing my love for Forza Horizon 4. I paid absolutely no attention to Forza until Microsoft finally brought it to PC in 2016 with Horizon 3. Looking back at it now, I wish this had happened sooner.
Forza Horizon 4 takes everything good about its predecessor (which was most of the game) and somehow enhances it. With hundreds of cars spanning several decades and types, along with a constantly changing map thanks to the dynamic seasons mechanic, Horizon 4 is arguably the best open-world racer of all time. Honestly, I’m not sure how Playground Games can push the needle any further, but I’m intrigued to see them try.
Pure Farming 2018
Anytime something becomes popular, it’s only a matter of time before it’s imitated. Ten years ago, Giants Software made the farming simulation genre popular, so many copy-cats have sprouted up. You could write the vast majority off as a poor-man’s attempt, but Ice Flames threw a curveball with Pure Farming 2018.
While it feels similar to the most recent Farming Simulator titles, Pure Farming improves upon many of the mechanics, to the point where it feels better than FS in a lot of areas. The developers also seem keen to please the masses. Many of the complaints that beta testers (such as myself) had were addressed before the full release, and the game has seen steady improvement since. Ice Flames appears determined to take on Giants, and that’s a good thing—competition breeds creativity. Pure Farming 2018 may not have generated anywhere the same amount of buzz as FS19. But if you’re like me and FS19‘s modest ‘improvements’ have disappointed you, then I highly suggest giving PF a look.
The Crew 2
As I just said, competition breeds creativity. That’s exactly what happened with Ubisoft Ivory Tower’s The Crew 2 releasing in the same year as Forza Horizon 4. Both titles are major entries in the relatively small open-world racing genre, but they each take wildly different approaches to advance the genre forward. Ubisoft’s Ivory Tower team has arguably done more in terms of uniqueness.
The Crew 2‘s key feature of letting players swap instantly between land, sea, and air vehicles is an absolute joy. You can exploit this mechanic to create your own unique, fun moments in the game’s sprawling, simplified rendition of the USA. While the driving/flying/sailing mechanics don’t feel all that refined, they’re just good enough to still be enjoyable. The Crew 2 has proven to be a much better show than its predecessor. I truly hope the developers expand upon this formula in the future rather than trying to compete with Horizon head-on.
Bus Simulator 18
Literally just before this arrived on the scene, I was fantasizing about taking the worlds of American Truck Simulator and/or Euro Truck Simulator 2 and transforming them into a bus driving simulator. Then, low and behold, Astragon released this.
Bus Simulator 18 is an incredibly laid-back simulator that’s even less tense than the two aforementioned big-rig sims. It certainly lives up to its name, but it does so in an interactive way. You can not only drive buses, but also sell tickets to passengers, pick up trash after them, return lost items, and fine straddlers that try to get on without paying. The team has been making steady improvements to the game since launch, along with providing content updates.
While I do thoroughly enjoy the freedom of open-world racers, it’s still nice to dive into a more traditional title. Kylotonn blew me away in this regard with V-Rally 4. Basically every aspect of it impressed me far more than I originally expected.
The game boasts some pretty nice off-roading mechanics, along with highly detailed tracks that will have you exploring a variety of different real-world locales. The sound design is also great. With the lack of race music, all you can do is appreciate the roars of these powerful dirt machines. Considering that the gap between V-Rally 4 and its predecessor spans well over a decade, this turned out to be well worth the wait.