There were plenty of remasters in 2018, but this year’s best souped up not only the visuals and performance of the most iconic and critically acclaimed games but introduced additional features that elevated them past their original releases–a requirement for eligibility. In no particular order, these are the five best reissued games of 2018.
Shadow of the Colossus
Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most beautiful and emotionally captivating games ever created, and it has been made even better this year thanks to the work of developer Bluepoint Games. The 2018 remake of Team Ico’s masterpiece adds an awe-inspiring new level of detail; blades of grass appear crisper, mountains fill the horizon with a deeper presence, and Colossi fur looks more dense and luscious. It’s tough not to be enamored of the new visual and texture work, as a world you thought stunning initially has been made to look even better than ever before. All the while, improved stability pushes the remake far beyond the sub-30fps frame-rate issues of the original, with an optional performance mode on PS4 Pro that even runs at 60fps. Whether you’ve played the original or are a newcomer entirely, you owe it to yourself to play Shadow of the Colossus on PS4. From a visual and performance standpoint, it is the best version to play.
Yakuza Kiwami 2
Last year’s Yakuza Kiwami was a fantastic remake of the inaugural entry that started the long-running action-crime drama franchise. Yakuza Kiwami 2 refines its predecessor’s changes with a sweeping list of quality-of-life improvements that bring the original to entirely new standards. This is thanks in part to the Dragon Engine–the new engine that Yakuza 6 is built on. It helps that Yakuza 2 is one of the series’ best games and where the series began expanding the scope of its world and storytelling. The result is a remake that combines the best parts of past and present, simultaneously revisiting where the series hit its stride while offering the benefits of a seamless world and fluid combat system provided by the Dragon Engine.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
After the financial success of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, it was a no-brainer for Activision to offer the same treatment to the equally cherished Spyro the Dragon games. As a remastered collection, Spyro Reignited Trilogy does the expected and imbues the original games with increased graphical fidelity and reworked designs for familiar character and locales. The new visuals are a sight to behold, as if an otherworldly force motioned its hand to sprout an abundance of life and color across every inch of the original environments. However, Reignited Trilogy’s best aspects are what it introduces under the hood. The updated control scheme makes playing Spyro feel less floaty and more responsive in turn. Movement is faster and more exciting; it’s a joy to charge, glide, and breathe fire in rapid succession. In addition, an improved camera removes the navigational frustrations of the originals and allows you to better focus on the beautiful remastered sights. It’s no easy task to modernize 3D platformers from a bygone era when developers were still trying to find their footing, but developer Toys for Bob have accomplished just that, revitalizing the Spyro the Dragon games for both new and old audiences to enjoy.
SNK 40th Anniversary
Another part of what makes reissued games great is the chance to play fantastic games as they were. Sure, a new coat of paint is nice, but sometimes being able to play a classic game as it is can be just as remarkable. SNK 40th Anniversary is a substantial package compiling the famed developer’s most iconic games, which includes Ikari Warriors, Crystalis, Alpha Mission, and more. Each are well-emulated thanks to the work of developer Digital Eclipse, whose amazing track record (Mega Man Legacy Collection, Disney Afternoon Collection) continues here. New control schemes and the autoplay feature (something we never knew we wanted until now) further enhance the experience of playing each game. While not everything contained within is a gem, SNK 40th Anniversary’s biggest charm is in its reverence for the lesser-known beginnings of its titular developer. Bonus content offers substantial history lessons looking back at SNK’s formative years. And just for the sake of your reference, there are even scans of independent fan zines from the ’80s and arcade game guides included as well. SNK 40th Anniversary’s infectious passion for its subject matter and commitment to preserving its history is perhaps its most admirable trait, and one of the main reasons why it’s one of this year’s best reissued games–to say nothing of the 11 free DLC games added after launch.
Divinity Original Sin 2: Definitive Edition
Divinity: Original Sin 2 was already a phenomenal RPG when it launched on PC last year. With its immense scope, complex tactical combat, and compelling narrative, it remains one of the best RPGs out now. However, console players were out of luck if they wanted to experience developer Larian Studios’ masterpiece–until 2018, that is. Divinity: Original Sin 2 finally made its way to consoles this year in the form of the Definitive Edition, which introduced a plethora of improvements and additional features (and was made available on PC as a free update). Rewritten dialogue enhanced moment-to-moment interactions, balance changes made combat more fulfilling, and additional difficulty levels offered greater challenge and accessibility. But these are only a handful of the laundry list of changes made, all of which enhance what’s an already astounding 100-plus hour adventure. Divinity Original Sin 2 is a beast of an RPG that’s likely to intimidate those who don’t have experience handling its intricacies. But don’t let that deter you: Definitive Edition stands as the best version of an already exceptional game that you can’t afford to skip in 2018, regardless of whether you’ve played the original version or not.
GameSpot will be unveiling our picks for the best games and entertainment of 2018 throughout December. Head to our Best of 2018 hub to see all the winners so far.