We here at Culture of Gaming have played many role-playing games over the course of 2018. Some were good, some were great, and others were absolutely fabulous. But only a handful could make it into our GOTY selections, and after careful deliberation, we have chosen our top three RPGs of 2018!

1. Ni no Kuni II

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Ni no Kuni II is pure magic. While there was originally hesitation in whether Studio Ghibli’s absence this time around would be felt, thankfully, those fears were wrong. This game is every bit as magical as the first one, with some gameplay refinements making it even more engaging to play.

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There wasn’t a moment while playing Ni no Kuni II where I didn’t have a sense of joy or a sense of wonder. The cell-shaded artwork is absolutely gorgeous, and although Studio Ghibli proper didn’t stick around, the Ghibli influence is always felt. The battle system is even more streamlined this time around, foregoing the Pokémon-esque mechanics for more action-focused combat. The introduction of the Higgledies more than make up for the loss of the familiars of the original game, offering a new strategic element while not making things too convoluted. The kingdom-building seems like an odd inclusion at first, but after a few minutes of building up my town, I knew I was hooked.

It’s deep enough to not feel superfluous, while also not being anywhere close to overwhelming. With a sweet, heartfelt story, and offering enough deep RPG mechanics without making it off-putting, Ni no Kuni II is a magical, joyous game that’s accessible to everyone.

Written By Aidan Simmonds

2. Monster Hunter World

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As crazy as it seems thinking back on the fact that Monster Hunter World came out in January of 2018, we couldn’t have been happier to receive this beautiful entry in the series. Nominated as one of Culture of Gaming’s top picks in the RPG category, Monster Hunter World not only gives you the ability to slay a variety of nasty looking monsters but allows you to do it in a variety of ways and playstyles, too.

While this entry in the series has opted to try out newer, subtle changes in mechanics that vary from other core titles, it has made arguably made Monster Hunter more appealing to wider audiences. Loading times between areas are gone, and the visuals make for a beautiful, fluid experience that can truly only be defined by this current generation of gaming.  

The character customization in this game is greater than it has ever been, and that element alone will appeal to a wide variety of RPG gamers. If you have an itch to take on the role of a 70-year-old man, with a strange niche for anime girl hair and a flamboyantly bright pink beard, then that’s A-OK. You can create and customize your characters to your heart’s content, and that’s always awesome.

The classes offer up a wide variety of gameplay styles and abilities that are sure to keep you busy as well. Are you a speed player, looking to get in and out fast with your dual blades, or are you the slow methodical tank who likes to plan your strikes and hit hard with a greatsword? Regardless of your preference, Monster Hunter World has a style that’s sure to appeal to you, and the ability to work with others online and build the ultimate team further drives home the concept that this is, without question, one of the greatest role-playing games in recent history.

Deep, methodical, and sometimes wacky as all get out, Monster Hunter World was one of the best RPGs of 2018 and is sure to have a strong following for years to come.

Written By Stephen Till

3. Octopath Traveler

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Square Enix is the undisputed king of RPGs (or JRPGS at the very least), so expectations were high for Octopath Traveler. Thankfully, the team delivered, making Octopath Traveler the latest in a long-line of beloved RPGs from the publisher. While on the surface it looks like a tribute to the iconic 16-bit RPGs of the 90s, it does much more than that. Just look at the art style. While featuring 16-bit character sprites (or, at the very least, highly-detailed recreations of them), they live in a high-definition world.

The juxtaposition of the spirtes and the modern-day lighting and particle effects immediately make Octopath Traveler an absolute visual treat. But that’s not the only way it attempts to modernize the 16-bit RPG. The battle system is set up in a way where every monster has weaknesses to certain weapons and elements. Break down its defences enough, and it’s stunning. It’s designed so that every party member, and every piece of equipment, can make-or-break a battle.

No, that staff probably won’t bring down a boss, but if it breaks its defences, it can turn the tide, for sure. It definitely creates a new layer of strategy to one of the most strategy-heavy genres out there, but doesn’t make it overwhelming. What Square Enix attempted to do with Octopath Traveler was ambitious, and in some ways, it makes good on that promise. Sure, there are definite narrative problems, but Octopath Traveler has eight well-crafted narratives. It would’ve been nice to have them overlap in some way, but on their own, the character development and story beats are fantastic. With Octopath Traveler being a huge success both critically and commercially, hopefully, we see more games in this vein. Just please remove random encounters.

Written By Aidan Simmonds

So there you have it: Culture of Gaming’s top three RPGs of 2018! What were your top picks for RPG of 2018? Do you agree with our choices? Follow us here at CoG for more content like this, for more GOTY content is on the way!

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