End of Year 2018: Favorite Game Feel


Favorite Game Feel

Feel. An enigma when it comes to talking about games. We often struggle for the right language to describe it and rely on overused terms like ‘visceral’ and ‘clunky’, but it’s such an important part of the overall experience that it’d be irresponsible to not try and talk about it. When you grip a controller or place your hands on a keyboard, you’re getting a sense for how a game feels. How do we describe this sensation, and more importantly, how do we quantify what makes a game feel good?

The truth is, when a game feels good, you just know it. It might be due to controls that feel tight and responsive, a button layout that feels natural, a difficulty curve that feels satisfying, or animations and sounds that make your actions feel weighty and real.

Or perhaps it’s something more - games that feel great can sometimes be the most immersive and captivating. The world melts away, we forget about our bodies, and are transported to a place where we can be who we want to be. Powerful, agile, intelligent, caring, with the agency to affect the world around us. The game becomes an extension of ourselves. The impact we have, and how that impact feels, are core to the experience that only games can deliver.

With all of that in mind, what were the 2018 games that had your favorite feel? And even though it may be difficult to explain, what is it about them that makes them feel so good?

Nomination Submissions

[click here for access to the submission form]

You will have until 5th January to nominate your games – this is our cut-off ahead of polling going live.

Remember: you can nominate up to three games, so be creative with your choices!

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: 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: How do I nominate a game?

A: To nominate a game, head on over to our google form and write down your submissions in the appropriate field. You may nominate up to three games and you will be able to edit this submission at any time by returning to the google form (before the nomination date closes).

As the nominations will be done externally, this thread will instead be the place to discuss what your favorites were and to make the case for them if you feel strongly. We welcome thoughtful posts about how you made your decision, as long as we keep it positive and respectful.

Q: When does the nomination process end?

A: The period of time to make your nominations will end January 5th, 2019.

Q: What games can I nominate?

A: For this category, we’re specifically looking for games that were released between 10th December 2017 - 15th December 2018.

Games that either entered Early Access or hit 1.0 during this period are eligible.

Ports, remakes, and remasters are not eligible.

Standalone games/expansions are eligible, however Downloadable Content (DLC) is not.

Mobile and browser games are eligible as long as they meet all other relevant criteria.

The moderation team reserves the right to remove any game from nomination if necessary.

  • Thank you to @Emily for the banner!

End of Year 2018: Vote for your favs!
End of Year 2018: Waypoint Community's Favorites

Ooooh baby, is there any better game feel than the perfectly smoothed edges on Wii U discs? The compact disc, it was thought, had been perfected. We had crammed as much data in as we could, they were small and durable, we had invented brand new lasers to shoot at them, who thought there was any room for improvement? Then you held your first Wii U disc. Like me, you probably were alarmed at first. You’d grown so accustomed to the touch of another that this felt wrong and perverse. But after moving past your initial fear, you realized what a fool you had been all along. You could never go back. You will never go back.

To slide your fingertip around its side is to touch god.

I’d say I’m sorry for this post, but the truth of the matter is I’m not. I’ll think of something relevant to contribute later.


A late contender but when you get to the point where you really start feeling the flow of the movement mechanics in warframe and start traversing the environments with any sort of proficiency, that moment is like communicating with a higher being.

It is the gaming equivalent of slicing through a block of creamy feta cheese with an extremely sharp santuko chef’s knife. It is perfection, it is bliss, it is as life is supposed to be.


Hitman 2 still remains top at making things feel like they have weight and like your actions really have follow through. Or, another way to put it: Wow this game sure sells Agent 47 throwing a fish like a dang baseball. Look at that fish go.

Donut County also felt perfectly tuned and endlessly polished in its hole mechanics. It could’ve easily felt mismatched or quickly churned out, but the hole and stick movements really matched up together.


Let’s just call this the Spider-Man award and be done with it already. There was nothing that felt as good as thwip-ing through Manhattan and laughing at the landlocked mortals stuck in traffic below. This single mechanic was so good that I kept doing repetitive, formulaic open-world activities until I got my first platinum trophy ever. And I’m still not feeling sick of it. A pile of other games got in the way, but you better believe I’m going to make time to play the DLCs this holiday. I :clap: just :clap: want :clap: more :clap: Spidey-swinging.


I’m not usually one for driving games, but Forza Horizon 4 felt brilliant from the first moment on. Not only does the moment-to-moment gameplay feel flowing and sublime, but the seasonal changes added another layer of depth to the ways its cars handle and move. I still jump in from time to time because that game just makes me feel so good.

In a completely different sphere, there’s Dead Cells. Which also has this incredible moment-to-moment flow to its platforming and combat. That game is at its best when you’re flying through its worlds and levels from enemy to enemy, point-to-point, not even thinking about how you’re going to get to the next one because you don’t need to, it’s just instinctive and twitchy and great.

And a shoutout to Tetris Effect too, for being a VR experience I didn’t know I wanted or needed, but somehow made a decades-old puzzle game about fitting colored blocks together a highly emotional experience.


Can I nominate just the feeling of KO’ing an opponent with King Dedede’s fully charged jet hammer attack in Smash Ultimate? What about landing that final spinning golfswing attack with the Hammer in Monster Hunter World?

Okay, in all seriousness (I was also being 100% above btw), I’ll nominate Beat Saber. Gosh, I feel like Beat Saber is the perfect embodiment of those “what I feel like…what think I look like…what I actually look like…” memes. Slicing through those blocks, timed with the music, and with the vibration feedback in the controllers is just…mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. It’s like beating your arch-nemesis + eating your favorite comfort food + starting a new season of your favorite show. Oh, multiplied by 7.


So, for serious consideration:

Dead Cells. Combat is completely smooth and relentless… right until it’s not and you’re dead. And then you’re right back in it.

Dragon Ball FighterZ. I have no idea what I did, or how I did it, but I just destroyed about half of the globe with a minor combo, and the enemy has lost maybe 10% of his health. No game makes you feel better for having the tiniest modicum of skill. You pressed a few buttons in a row, here’s an awesome visual display.

Celeste. It’s masocore platforming, without the masochism. Pixel perfect execution and puzzle solving, but only if you want it. You can scale it down to whatever you’re comfortable with, and even then it still feels snappy and rewarding.


Echoing Forza Horizon 4 because controlling those cars felt ascendent, trance-like even. I always switched to first person and sped along a road that never ended, feeling my heart pumping in my chest as I went faster and faster and my consciousness climbed higher and higher. This game was a fucking experience.


I second Dead Cells. At its best, it really does exemplify the concept of Flow.


Dead Cells is the first game to approximate the Skinnerian audio-visual rewards of games like Diablo 3 and Bejeweled. Everything just has a great crunch to it and makes the lights go off in my brain.


It feels very, very good to hit things with a large axe in God of War. Santa Monica Studio deserves a lot of credit for taking a series with a combat system that I could not care less about and totally revamping it into something with such weight and physicality that every strike feels important and critical, all while maintaining a sense of style, flow, and spectacle that I think a lot of people expect from these games (I have no investment in any of those other entries but can still appreciate some of its more bombastic moments in retrospect). It gives a lot of room for experimentation with different attacks (unarmed, shield strikes, axe hits, projectiles, etc.) and developing your own go-to combos, without overwhelming you with so many options that it becomes intimidating.

Also, the axe throwing/recalling is maybe the best mechanic of the year. It’s beyond satisfying.


There were times when GoW’s combat felt kinda floaty, not as impactful as I would have liked, and I feel like they still haven’t found a way to make the Blades of Chaos feel good, but I absolutely agree with the axe recall. That game is my number two in this category specifically because of that.


This is my favorite category.

I’m so torn between web-slinging and Leviathan Axe.

Although: I’m very tempted to add Yoku’s Island Express bumpers.


As someone whose soul apparently died between my childhood and now, I just don’t vibe with platformers the way I used to. Also, however, Celeste is probably my favorite game of the year. While part of that has to do with the work around the center, I wouldn’t have put, like, 30 hours into the game if Maddy’s movement didn’t feel so goddamn good. It’s the closest thing to skillful and natural joy that a platformer’s given me since Mario 3, and the fact that it keeps getting more and more complex while still feeling Just As Good is no easy feat.


Ah, the Gravity Rush Presents: Favorite Game Feel award.

+1 for the Axe throwing/catching in GoW. And also +1 for the rest of that game not feeling as good as that.


But how long do you manage to sustain that flow for? I liked Dead Cells, for a bit, but it’s definitely gotten too hard too fast in dev recently for me to be able to actually get any flow from it. (Which is why, I think, I’d basically forgotten I’d played it this year at all.)


I’d like to give Hitman 2 another shout out. Like @buriedingroves said, it does a great job making your actions feel weighty and purposeful. I think this is especially important to point out in a year where RDR2 tried similar things to lesser effect. Both games are intent on making traversal feel realistic, but while Red Dead’s controls are complicated and unwieldy, Hitman’s are simple and reliable. Hitman 2 is the game that stands out for me when it comes to game feel this year because it achieves a sense of realism in animations without sacrificing player intention.


Everyone always says that the new Assassin’s Creed gameplay style is too clunky, or is bad… And I’ve never understood that sentiment. It’s a very basic souls-like experience, but for me, that’s what is so good about it. I personally find the difficulty around souls games a non-rewarding experience. Ashen, for example, is doing NOTHING for me right now. The frustration I feel at not being able to progress in those games isn’t alleviated when I finally beat the difficult enemy. For me, I usually go, “That was not worth all this pent up anger I have with me now.” Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey changed that for me. It let me play a souls-like combat game with challenge that didn’t leave me feeling bad or overly frustrated. It’s constantly rewarding you with loot, XP, and interesting story that I can feel satisfied with when I just pick the game up for a few hours. I very rarely go, “NO, THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO PROTAGONIST.” I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened to me during Red Dead 2 or another Souls game.

I guess this kind of plays hand in hand with the ‘best timeout game’ for me. I like to feel comfortable when I’m playing games. I like to have fun. So, for me, AC:O had the best feel this year, and I still have a ton to do.


Yeah, have to agree with @Navster on Spider-Man here. It’s the first game in a long time that got me excited to boot it up right after work even after I’d finished the main story because I just wanted to swing around the city as a relaxer. For the same reason, this is the first time since I was too young to have summer obligations where I actually relished vacuuming up all the side quests/icons. They gave me some direction for my love of swinging, but I also genuinely enjoyed the combat in this game. I’m not one to demand people play games on any other difficulty than what they choose, and I usually tend toward medium or easy depending on the game to reduce grind. But I’ll say that playing this one on the hard difficulty (Spectacular; but not the extreme, Ultimate) was extremely gratifying in terms of feeling accomplished in learning the systems and being able to make split second reactions and decisions—I felt like f***ing Spider-Man. That’s game feel.