With Sifu, developer Sloclap is asking a lot from players. From the punishingly difficult combat that takes hours to learn and tens of hours to master, to the need to repeat and near-perfect levels to lower your starting age, this fighter can be an absolute slog. However, for those who can grit their teeth through the losses and frustration, you’ll come out smiling on the other side having played one of the best games of the year.
While Dying Light 2 does a lot right with its gameplay and new-gen presentation, it’s still a far cry from zombie gaming greatness. The weak story, uninspired mission design, limitations on initial player skills, and bugs let it down in a big way. Sure, a lot of this will be easy to ignore when fighting the undead as a four-man squad, but “it’s fun with friends” is an excuse that can only get you so far.
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition can be tolerable on the right system. Both PS5 and Xbox Series X offer users the best chance of brute-forcing past the performance barriers but, even then, occasional bugs and glitches can occur. Fun can be had on those current-gen systems, especially by those with some sentimental attachment to the original trilogy, but there’s still likely to be moments of frustration. When it comes to the Nintendo Switch version, as enjoyable as a portable version could be, the experience is heavily compromised and I can’t recommend players drop serious cash on this product.
Sledgehammer Games is no stranger to righting wrongs, as seen with its previous Call of Duty entries, but even with additional balance tweaks and new content, I’m certain five years from now that Vanguard will be looked down upon as one of the weakest games in the series.
In order to avoid the tedium organically produced by playing the same level over and over, Arkane has implemented a truly magical multiplayer component, one that has the potential to offer top-tier multiplayer moments. Unfortunately, the weak recon missions made too easy by the lack of challenge from AI enemies, the small number of maps that are quickly mastered, and the limited variety in gameplay burdened by uninspired upgrades, ultimately prevent Deathloop from reaching the highest of highs.
“Why pay $4.99 on Steam for something that’s free on your browser?” is a common question that’s popping up. For me, Cloud Save alone is worth the price of admission, as I no longer have to worry about cookies (the other type) and backing up my saves manually. This combined with the music from C418 and support for Steam Achievements makes Cookie Clicker Steam the definitive version that’s worth paying for.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite sits squarely in the middle of other Alien games. There’s certainly worse out there, but there is also much better. It’s an uninspired struggle through a tired gameplay loop that just happens to be slathered in Alien slime and plays like one of the older Gear of Wars.
While the value proposition is up for debate, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Ghost of Tsushima has evolved beyond anything we had expected. From the post-launch patches that included improvements based on community feedback, to the full-fledged online co-op mode that was released at no extra cost and with free updates, Ghost of Tsushima is a prime example of how video games should be launched and supported after release. It launched in an already superb state and now it is even better and bolder.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is the first PS5 exclusive that I can recommend everyone go out and buy. It’s a cutting-edge masterclass of what the PS5 is capable of, but with the soul of the original R&C games, packaged with a comprehensive set of accessibility options.
Outriders delivers satisfying combat but suffers from a lackluster story. For co-op players, there’s a lot to entertain you here and the banter will help fill in the duller moments. The grind is also less intense than in similar experiences. What’s more, a bonus nod has to be given for this title’s completeness at launch.
Little Nightmares 2 succeeds in building on the foundation that the original game laid out. The folks at Tarsier Studios have expanded on the story and lore with new characters and settings, added gameplay mechanics that don’t overcomplicate the action or bloat the pacing, and proven themselves worryingly imaginative when it comes to thinking up dastardly denizens of a perfectly grim world.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is yet another big win for Treyarch Studios. Despite the reduced development time between releases and the current state of the world, Treyarch has produced one of the better multiplayer/co-op/campaign combinations. If the devs stick to its roadmap for upcoming content, including the syncing of Cold War weapons to Warzone, then I’m confident players will be happy with this package.
For $50, players are getting 7-9 hours of story missions, combined with the optional 10+ hours of side content, much of which is collectible hunting. That doesn’t strike me as a great deal at launch, but the free upgrade from PS4 to PS5 does help soften the blow. When the price is right for you, this PlayStation exclusive comes with my recommendation, as it further bolsters Sony’s arsenal as we enter the next generation and beyond.
Spellbreak has launched with a foundation for greatness, with a fantastic combat system that I’m determined to master through many hours of play. However, to earn that attention post-launch support will be key. Proletariat already has a roadmap detailed and new modes like the 9v9 Clash game type sound promising. Here’s hoping the game gets enough attention from players and receives the support to make it truly shine.
Marvel’s Avengers is an identity crisis of a game. Moving from some excellent linear missions that capture Marvel fandom from the point of view of the fantastic Ms. Marvel, to a sudden smattering of seriously generic co-op missions featuring the most boring of enemies defending the most tedious of objectives, made me feel like I was moving between two entirely different games.