Borderlands 3, if it works well at launch, is a competent game that feels like a passable continuation of the franchise instead of an evolution. It’s the same general idea with new vault hunters, but with little of the joy and danger that I fell in love with in earlier entries.
Youngblood is a meat-and-potatoes first-person shooter where all the systems work well, the enemies provide a brutal challenge, and a friend can come along with you through the whole thing. It seems like it was designed as a relatively inexpensive crowd-pleaser of an FPS, and I will admit that I was very entertained.
It's like being handed a gigantic box of tools of all shapes and sizes before being asked to replace a lightbulb. Sure, I can always build a step stool by hand before knocking the lightbulb out of the socket with a hammer, use a potato to remove the now-broken pieces of glass from the light fixture, knit a glove to keep my hand safe while I install the new lightbulb, and screw that bulb in using a custom attachment on a power drill so it goes in with a single pump of the trigger … but why wouldn't I just stand on my tiptoes, unscrew the old bulb, and put the new one in?
I don't know whether the lack of conversation about the game is due to the chilled reception of VR in 2018 or too many other big games launching this month. Don't let either distract you from this gem. Astro Bot is a beautiful world and I encourage everybody to visit.
Perhaps my favorite part of the experience is how mastering the different systems let you slip into a state of flow. The game is never relaxing, but like driving in the real world you'll often find yourself zoning out with your thoughts as you use a variety of skills that begin to feel like second nature.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus thrives on the Nintendo Switch
What's left if you have the stomach to ignore the story? A very enjoyable game with an immense number of things to do, a beautifully recreated portion of the United States, and a collection of missions with wildly varying tones and structure. It's a finely tuned open-world game stapled onto a story that's insultingly bad.
And that's the strength of this sequel. It balances a steady stream of suffering and hurt with exuberant humanity. It deals with our darkest impulses and our best, and plays them both up to a ridiculous degree. There's nothing subtle about Wolfenstein 2, but it's all affecting in a way that makes the game feel special and coherent. There are moments in the game that made my heart swell, while others were so grisly I had to look away.
If you can judge a game based on the moments that make you put it down for the night, Just Cause 3 is hard to criticize: I only stopped when I needed to sleep, not because I wanted to put the game down. The "did you see that?!" factor seems unlimited here, and it kept me coming back to discover what unexpected domino of explosions I could start next with a single grenade. The formula of the Just Cause series hasn't been expanded, but it has been improved. And it's rare that a game is so comfortable in its own skin.