GOTY 2018: Aaron's Honorable Mentions
While our list of the top ten games of the year is a collaborative effort, there are always some casualties. Our Honorable Mentions offer each staff member a chance to highlight some of their other personal favorite games of 2018 that simply didn't make the cut.
If last year was "total butt," then this year was slightly less...that.
Still, I spent 2018 navigating vast, uncharted waters—often in a state of confusion, anxiety, or isolation. Occasionally, I felt like I was sinking. That's when I felt all those emotions at once.
Even when I was lost in days-long inner-monologues vacillating between optimism and aimlessness, 2018 was the year I pushed myself toward one of my few, rewarding pastimes: photography.
Reading about photography, browsing gear reviews, and bookmarking lenses became daily rituals I'd return to when my mind wandered to the worst of it. The concept of photography was my worry stone, offering a welcome reprieve during the darker moments.
But despite my eagerness, I didn't actually take that many pictures last year. Not out there. I'd breakaway during vacations to take a few pictures, but at some point I'd become self-conscious about the naked visibility of being a dopey white guy holding a camera and a tripod, standing around trying to perfect a composition no one else can see while being in peoples’ way. Photography is an extremely rewarding pursuit, but in the moment it's hard not to be overly self-aware of how ridiculous I look "getting the shot." (Related: There's absolutely zero-percent chance I ever dabble in street photography.)
I perfected the art of holding myself back decades before I ever picked up a camera.
However, and despite myself, I managed to put out some decent work in 2018. I discovered that in-game photography was a low-pressure way to try new techniques and hone my eye. From the comfort of my home, I could explore photorealistic worlds and methodically snap pictures without feeling like I'm taking up space—or, sadly, competing with a hundred other tourists waiting in line to take the same fucking picture.
So I'm trying something new for this year's Honorable Mentions: photo galleries.
The games pictured below are mostly GOTY 2018 winners with one also-ran. The sections are broken up alphabetically by title and contain a rotating carousel of not more than 10 unedited (except the use of in-game tools), hand-selected images.
I hope this format inspires those of you who want to practice IRL photography but feel overwhelmed. Similarly, if you feel limited by your phone's camera but can't afford a separate DSLR or mirrorless camera, if you own Assassin's Creed Odyssey you already have a complete setup and an endless series of gorgeous subjects.
Instagram influencers and the extremely self-confident can boast about their effortless success to take what they want and "get shit done," but it's never been that easy for me. I have to work up to a meager form of confidence. I have to lick my wounds for awhile after failure before I dare try again. Admittedly, I'm not the most resilient person. It's why I find it hard to make the time to just drive somewhere and fuck up a few hundred photographs because I don't know what I'm doing. My brain—my heart—just doesn't operate that way. I need a less stressful creative outlet to facilitate incremental progress.
But you know what is really easy? Getting Kratos to do his best Popeye face in God of War. It makes for very satisfying portraiture.