There have been a lot of great new releases in 2018, make no mistake, but it's also important to take a look at some of the games that have continued to flourish despite releasing in a different calendar year. We're talking big expansions, massive updates, and changing metas; these are the games that have continued to prove themselves this year in one way or another.
4. The Elder Scrolls Online / ZeniMax Online Studios
The Elder Scrolls Online is another one of those games that has grown and grown over the years, offering consistent updates and expansions for MMO fans to keep coming back to, and this year saw the release of major expansion Summerset. This one whisked us off to the land of the High Elves as we explored a mystery surrounding the Psijic Order, and the open borders meant we could finally explore an area not seen since Daggerfall.
Summerset isn't the only thing we were treated to this year though, as the Murkmire expansion also took us to the Argonian homeland, and the ESO Plus subscription service was introduced to give fans more rewards to claim on a regular basis, as well as exclusive benefits. There has been a lot to see this year, and with each major expansion standing alone as its own separate adventure too, it's not too intimidating for newbies to dive in either.
4. Rainbow Six: Siege / Ubisoft Montreal
At the end of 2017, there was already an established system for Rainbow Six: Siege updates, as they coincided with esports events so we'd get full reveals of quarterly content drops alongside competitive action, and this persisted into 2018. These four content drops weren't all the same though, as we got a limited-time event called Outbreak back in February on top of the usual mix of maps and Operators.
What's more is that Ubisoft has shown commitment to the health of the game by addressing existing elements. Smaller map changes called buffs, as well as full reworks, came this year too, and updates were pushed to make sure all elements were working smoothly as the game continued to grow. The meta is always changing, but with that comes an increased focus on how to keep the game balanced and fair, which is necessary considering the status it now holds as the cream of the crop for tactical shooters.
3. No Man's Sky / Hello Games
When Hello Games' No Man's Sky launched in August 2016 it received a ton of bad press, but since then the studio has kept their heads down to work on the game and improve it. This summer we got the Next update, which added a ton of features like multiplayer, enhanced base building, and graphical improvements among other things. This was just the latest in a long line of major content drops, following in the footsteps of Atlas Rises, Pathfinder, and Foundation.
This shaped No Man's Sky into something we originally expected two years ago and did an excellent job at restoring Hello's image in the public eye. With The Abyss underwater update also coming in recent months, and the developer still encouraging player feedback, it's in great shape as things stand, and the Visions update even dropped at the end of last month to throw even more content in there for fans.
2. Fortnite / Epic Games
Fortnite starting picking up pace before 2018 rolled around, but in the last 12 months it has hit new heights, both in terms of the player base which has now grown to over 200 million, but also the content that we've received in the game. Several seasons have come and gone in this time, for example, each of which has changed the map in drastic ways and added new mechanics and features, without unbalancing the game or tainting the core format.
From biplanes in Season 7 to meteors in Season 4, Epic Games has always revamped and refreshed Fortnite's content offering to keep people coming back for more, and the game is pretty much unrecognisable from this time last year as a result. The Battle Pass is another system that keeps rewarding players for their efforts, and with in-game tournaments being added and esports growing, the momentum doesn't look like it'll be stopping soon.
1. Overwatch / Blizzard
Overwatch was a beast even before launch, but this year it has just gone from strength to strength. This year we got three heroes - Brigitte, Wrecking Ball, and Ashe - and all three pumped new life into the community, whether that be from a story perspective or just the way that people played. Ashe, for example, is very skilled mechanically, while Wrecking Ball offered something a little more... chaotic, shall we say.
The heroes aren't the only ways in which Overwatch has developed, as we've also had new maps, animated shorts to give us more of the lore, Lego sets, and perhaps most importantly the Overwatch League. This competition has been focused around inclusivity and high production values, and the first season was incredibly well received, which bodes well for the second season coming in February. The upper echelons of the esports scene are usually a tough nut to crack, but Blizzard's excellent shooter and the company's careful event planning seems to have done the job, and Overwatch is clearly here to stay for the long haul.
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