New(ish) year, new roundup of the year’s best games (updated monthly)! The many games that debuted this past January kicked off 2018 right, with our two Game of the Month picks sure to delight players for many weeks to come. Adventurers with a soft spot for Team Ico’s The Last Guardian will fall in love all over again with the spruced-up remake of Shadow of the Colossus for PS4, and those with a penchant for 2D platforming will love the soaring jumps and emotional depth of Celeste. If you’ve got a PS VR headset and don’t mind being disturbed to your core, The Inpatient will treat you right. And if you can grapple with some rough edges on your mixed martial arts, UFC 3 offers some pretty gratifying beatdowns.
At the end of every month, we comb through all our recent reviews to find the two games that qualify as must-plays. Consider these games to be the highlights of the year thus far – and if you’re looking for something to play while you wait for the rest of the new games of 2018, these standout titles are a sure bet.
January Game of the Month (Runner-up): Dragon Ball FighterZ
Dragon Ball FighterZ accomplishes what so few games based on the Dragon Ball franchise have: it makes you feel powerful. That sounds like a pretty simple thing, but when we’re talking “I can blow up a planet by pointing my finger at the ground” levels of power, it’s actually quite a daunting task. Developer Arc System Works has mixed equal parts fan service and fighting game expertise, whipping up a lightning-fast and surprisingly brutal 2D fighter that plays as good as it looks (and it looks really damn good). If anything could get you to start practicing your Kamehameha form again, FighterZ is it. Sam Prell
January Game of the Month (Winner): Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter World has done one of those incredible things. It’s taken a series that’s been well known for being impenetrable to new players, and made it much more accessible. It’s still not the best for clarity or ease of use – just check out our Monster Hunter World guide and the video above for some examples – but it makes the hunt much more fun and welcoming for new players to jump in. And boy, will you want to. Each area is lush and vibrant, teeming with monster life, and every fight will feel you leaving exhilarated – if you win, that is. It’s an absolute triumph. Sam Loveridge