End of Year 2018: Beyond Keys and Control Sticks; Your Favorite VR, Mobile & Tabletop Games


#1

End of Year 2018: Beyond Keys and Control Sticks; Your Favorite VR, Mobile & Tabletop Games

Console and computer-based video games, in a way, are simple. They often allow us to jump right into the action and provide a variety of systems at our relatively immediate access. Talking about them as a whole for the purpose of awards is easy too, due to their shared technological basis. But there are worlds of games and play out there (even in video games) that use different means of engagement, or even operate in fundamentally different ways. It is impossible to do them total justice, but this category is a place to discuss and highlight your favorite VR, mobile, tabletop, pen and paper and board games.

Did you find something worth putting on the headset for? Or maybe a mobile game made you ignore your console? Or perhaps you had a killer campaign, or played a session of a storytelling game that brought you to tears? This is the place to discuss those games and your experiences and also to discover new games that expand the possibilities games as a whole.


Discussion Thread

This category is not involved in our nomination/voting process and instead is all about discussing your favs!

Be sure to check the Q&A section below if you have questions, otherwise feel free to reach out to one of us! We hope you enjoy this event and we’re excited to see what sorts of discussion each category inspires!


Q&A

Q: End of Year? What's that?

A: I’m glad you asked! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the event here.

Q: What is eligible to be discussed?

A: Though we’re still largely looking for discussion of things that released in 2018, given that this is a discussion thread separate from the nomination process we’re happy to be a little more lax on items that might fall into a grey area. You’re free to use your own judgement with that, and to reach out to us if there’s anything you’re not sure of.

Credits
  • Thank you to @Emily for the banner!

End of Year 2018: Waypoint Community's Favorites
#4

While I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, I finally got my hands on Dialect: https://thornygames.com/pages/dialect

A gorgeous tabletop storytelling game about building the language of an isolated community with its end on the horizon. What staggered me was the mindfulness and grounded nature of the game. It could have easily been about aliens or fantasy kingdoms and still been as heartbreaking but the scenarios given are real, varied, politically charged. From an English boarding school to an abandoned mars base to an island nation of slaves liberated from the British after a revolution. There’s a huge range. There’s chapters on how real languages die and how to engage in language preservation in the book. That and the clear love of linguistics on show that this game shares with you makes this game truly one of a kind.

One that is much better known that also really took my breath away was Inhuman Conditions (Inhuman Conditions: A Game of Cops and Robots, via @Kickstarter https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tommy-maranges/inhuman-conditions-a-game-of-cops-and-robots). What I found so cool about this one was how it draws a connecting line between role based games (e.g. werewolf) and freeform storytelling games. Instead of being a conversation about a fiction it is a conversation within a fiction and is closer to a LARP. It’s really cool


#5

I can’t really say that Job Simulator was released for the first time in 2018. With that said, November 2018 was my first VR experience – there’s a shop in Cardiff that will let you play around in VR for 15-20 minutes for £5 and it was my first VR experience. It was great – I really found myself caught by it.

I didn’t know how much it had impacted me until I reached out for a door a few minutes later and found myself briefly puzzled about how to ‘interact’ with it – a sign of a good first VR experience, I hope.


#6

I have two VR picks.

First off is Wipeout Omega Collection. Now the game itself technically released last year, but a VR patch was added earlier this year. And boy howdy…is it impressive. Upon hearing last year that VR would be coming to Wipeout, I was skeptical–no, worried. Not because I thought it wouldn’t be a good fit for the medium, but rather because I was concerned about the effect it would have on users’ bodies. If people (myself included) were feeling dizzy and nauseated by more traditional racers like Driveclub VR I could only imagine what an anti-gravity racer with vehicles zipping around a track at speeds of 300+ mph might do. And that answer, surprisingly, is essentially nothing. While I haven’t put a substantial amount of time into the game (I’d say less than 10 hours), I haven’t once started to feel sick while playing. I don’t know what kind of forbidden magic they used when putting this together, but it just works. Not to mention, the virtual reality perspective doesn’t get in the way of the gameplay either, as I found myself in VR performing as well as, and sometimes even better than, I do in ‘regular 2D’. The visual aesthetic is a huge part of Wipeout’s identity, and once again, the shift to VR does not disappoint. It’s a joy to marvel at the insides of the futuristic cockpits of the racing machines you’re piloting, and that awe is multiplied when you stop (actually, don’t stop, you’re in the middle of a race!) to see the locales you’re racing in. All in all, it’s a very impressive showcase for what VR can do, and hey, there’s even a free VR playable demo on the Playstation store!

My next pick is Beat Saber. “Fun” is both the perfect word to describe this game and yet, somehow doesn’t do it justice. For those not in the know, Beat Saber is a VR rhythm game played with motion controllers (I’m playing the PS4 version which uses the wand-like Playstation Move controllers). I guess it’s kind of like, what if Dance Dance Revolution, but also Fruit Ninja??? The game is played standing up, and the basic pitch is that a stream of blocks comes from the background toward the player, and you use the controllers to ‘slash’ the blocks in half (in-game, your controllers are represented as lightsaber-looking beam swords). The difficulty comes in the fact that each block has an arrow and a color, meaning that you have to cut it in a certain direction (based on the arrow) and with either your left or right saber (based on the color). And all of this block slashing goodness is timed to some pretty cool electronic music. Of course, the difficulty can get ramped up even more with streams of successive blocks all of one color, or slicing multiple blocks simultaneously. Now, as someone who has rhythm games as one of their favorite genres, I came into this thinking I’d like it. But I LOVE it. For me, it does that rare and difficult thing of feeling like a different kind of rhythm game than anything else I’ve ever played. The only other games from memory that capture this feeling are when I first tried Dance Dance Revloution and DJ Hero. And what this manages to accomplish that those two don’t, is that it is very intuitive and easy to pick up and play. Beat Saber is such a blast (even if you look kinda ridiculous while playing it) and has now been added to my list of must-play VR experiences.


#7

Dialect is absolutely incredible. I’ve only been able to play it once, and our session had to end early, but it was super engaging. I have the opportunity to meet the Thorny Games team soon, and I am pumped!


#8

My favourite mobile game of the year has to be Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. Like a lot of people, the Potter books were really important to me growing up and seeing the state of the franchise in the decade since the last book came out has been pretty depressing, so i didn’t really have high expectations for this game going in. i thought Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts both felt like bad fanfics, so this one surely would be no different. But i was wrong; not about Hogwarts Mystery, but about the rest of the franchise. They don’t really feel like fanfics, they feel more like the desperate flailings of a low-sales Batman comic, all desperately promising “HUGE SHOCKING REVELATIONS” about the world and the characters which make no sense and are just there to get people to look at it. Hogwarts Mystery, on the other hand, does feel like a fanfic. It uses the original work and setting as a basis to explore elements it is interested in, doesn’t get too bogged down in canon, and is far more concerned with telling its story and developing its characters than with big shocking revelations. The story might be a little derivative (specifically of the second book) but the characters are genuinely great and interesting to the point that some of them might be among my favourite characters in the whole franchise.
It also works hard to be way more diverse than the other works; while the original books had maybe 10 characters of colour with speaking roles, none of whom are really important to the plot, literally the first character in this you meet is a character of colour, who becomes your best friend and stays relevant throughout the game - and they’re not alone, as almost half of your potential friendship group are characters of colour - including a visibly Muslim character, where the original books and movies had no known speaking non-Christian characters - and most of them are genuinely important plot drivers. The original books and movies had no queer characters (no Dumbledore doesn’t count just because she claimed it in interviews later), and while dating and romance aren’t actually in the game yet, the first hints of them are your character being able to admit to same-sex attraction.
There’s certainly problems and missteps on the gameplay side (early chapters try to trick you into spending premium currency, and some of the weekly Events are badly designed and again work really hard to make you spend money), and some of the canon characters act a bit out of character, but ultimately those issues are all pretty easy to ignore because i’m just so glad to finally have something about Harry Potter that doesn’t entirely suck.


#11

In 2018 I found Shut up and Sit Down, the blissful board game review site that had directed me to a lot of good games. The top of the heap is INIS, which is a celtic game about picking a new king by fighting and throwing parties. It is a beautiful game that looks nice on a table and is quick to play. And it isn’t about war, but fighting and living in the same space.(fighting is terrible, but you also need to do it).

And of course, Gloomhaven, which my wife and I have been excited about getting for Christmas all year. A game which is all the promise of Hero Quest that has so much you will never get through it.


#12

Board Games are a little weird because people tend to find out about games that have come out in previous years. But I’m glad the hobby is getting bigger and bigger. I decided to focus on games that came out in 2018 and these are my favorites:

The Mind - I’ve talked about this game before in the forum. 2-4 player game in which you need to play cards numbered 1-100 without talking. Sounds dumb but it has been so successful in bringing joy to both my gamer/non-gamer friends.

Decrypto - This is the next level Codenames for me. Great party game in which you need to get your team to get a code based on certain words. But the other team has a chance to figure out the code before yours. Its has a bit of a learning curve but once players have played a couple of rounds they get really into it.

Welcome To - Roll and Write games are a hot genre in the hobby. This is probably one of the more strategic ones. Really enjoy all the possible choices and strategy and its quick to play. It also has a bit of interaction with common objectives everyone is racing for.

Menara - Its cooperative Jenga and it works so well. The team needs to meet a height requirement and needs to finish all the challenges given. If you can’t do a challenge, it adds to the height requirement so you have to build the structure even taller. The game always comes down to the wire and structure looks amazing in the end.

Cryptid - Probably my favorite 2018 game. Set up a board and everyone is trying to find the monster who only lives on one space of the board. But everyone has only one clue and it’s a race learn what others people clues are and in turn figure out where the monster is located. Super clean design and it can be really thinky. But after a game or 2 you really understand the flow. It’s simple to learn, easy to teach but really engaging.

Happy Holidays to everyone here on Waypoint and enjoy playing some games with your family and friends!


#13

Root was undeniably charming, enough to overcome its flaws. If tabletop games were split up here into the same categories as video games, it’d certainly win my vote for Art Direction/Aesthetic.

I am so interested in Dialect but haven’t had a chance to play it yet.


#14

I was going to post about Root but got distracted. I agree completely about the art and design of the game making up for its flaws.

Root came along at exactly the right time for me. I had fallen away from board games for years, but learned about and became fascinating by GMT’s COIN games earlier this fall (from an episode of 3MA). I ended up playing Leder Games’ Vast a little while after that, and from there found out about Root.

Ultimately the COIN games are much more interesting to me, in part because their asymmetry is essential to the conflicts they depict, and the combination of their fiddly mechanics and historical flavor just really works for me. But the experience of playing Root bridged a gap between wargaming and board gaming for me, and made me feel like there was a place for me in both parts of the hobby. While playing Root I’ve met wargame nerds who told me about Supply Lines of the American Revolution, but I’ve also convinced friends who typically play Eurogames to try Cuba Libre and Colonial Twilight.

There’s nothing that revelatory about the fact that there are all kinds of people out there playing all kinds of tabletop games, and the lines between genres are blurry. But Root was the game that opened those doors for me, and that made me feel more welcome in the hobby.


#15

My favorite mobile game of this year has to be Tokyo Afterschool Summoners. The way I would pitch it is ‘imagine relative standard shonen but made to appeal to gay guys’.

It is not solely gay & bi men focused but it will especialy appeal to you if you like men. It falls into standard shonen trapings, just genderflipped this time but it’s such a joy to have a game full of shonen bullshit that was made for someone like me for once.

While the battle system is pretty allright I genuinly real like the plot that they have going on in there (also the sesonal events are great the first one that got translated recently is about an anthor reindeer attending the santa school who wants to become a santa himself) and I can’t wait for translations. Plus, you can choose neither as a gender option and apperence is not locked to any gender.