Josh Di Falco
Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition may not be for everyone. It is a grind-based dungeon crawler that relies on the ability to endlessly run through dungeons, earn better loot, and repeat against harder and stronger enemies. For those looking for an enriching story in the world of Warhammer Fantasy there isn't much to see, which is a shame, but the enjoyment here is based on buying into the gameplay loop. It may wear thin for some, while being a treasure for those who seek nothing but the menial grind of repetitive dungeon-crawling and looting for that never-ending quest of creating the optimal build. While this won't earn any accolades on the PlayStation 5, this is hardly a title to gloss over, and is worth checking out at the least.
Ride 4 offers a tonne of content for those who itching for a deep dive into an expansive career mode. Race all across the world by winning licenses to open up access into better and more advanced events. Gain affinity with various bikes and manufacturers on the way to becoming the greatest rider. However, a weak online mode, a lack of other real features outside of the career mode and having a steep learning curve for beginners prevents Ride 4 from being the complete package. With plenty of bikes on offer, and upgrades on both the 'stock' and 'racing' side of things to allow for vast improvements over the troublesome AI, this is one of the better digital biking experiences out there.
Pacer is a delightful racer, filled with plenty of action-packed moments. It also has some of the more glorious drifting mechanics that are hard to find in most car-racing games. For those looking for the spiritual successor to the WipeOut series, look no further. While the vehicles are quite limited, and some of the tracks don't truly compliment the high-speed racing that this wants to be known for, when the right ingredients are in play, then the experience becomes quite memorable. If only the online community had more going for it, or at least if the offline modes had the option to increase the difficulty of the AI. Despite some of the setbacks, overall this is a very good racer that is worth jumping into and getting lost in.
Townsmen: A Kingdom Rebuilt is a fine experience to check out for those who wish to dabble in the fun and thoughtful process of setting up supply lines. While completing and overseeing a thriving supply line is quite a fulfilling process, and resource production becomes an automatic system, this is all that this seems to have going for it. Beyond ensuring that the cogs keep turning, there is a real lack of drive or motivation to keep progressing beyond keeping bandits and avalanches at bay. Despite the deep system that underlies the kingdom-building aspects, it's still missing a few ingredients that could've elevated this experience. However, for those searching for a new resource-management city-builder set in the medieval ages, this title is worth considering.
Children of Morta is a wonderful rogue-like ARPG, with a lot of deep layers in terms of gameplay mechanics, that does a terrific job of acting as an underlay to the simple, but dark, atmospheric story. Everything intertwines together splendidly, and seeing how each character can help to buff up their family members via their shared abilities, both in each characters unique skill trees, or the household's base stat upgrades, there are plenty of moving pieces here that all contribute towards the family's mission to end the Corruption. No run is ever wasted, with each failed attempt still rewarding the family with some positive enhancements for the next run, until that eventual stage boss is defeated. For those who are looking for a new rogue-like to jump into, this should definitely not be missed.
This year's iteration of UFC from EA Sports looks good, and feels good in parts - though the submission system just doesn't appear to be as much fun to play. The best parts of this game are the boxing and kickboxing elements, and the offline career mode is a fun mode to build and forge careers in. With really no other fighting titles to purchase this year, EA Sports UFC 4 will be unrivalled for those looking for another sports-like fighting game - and while UFC 4 is not a bad game, it doesn't do much to appeal to those who don't already have a love and appreciation for the sport or the brand.
Lancelot's Hangover: The Quest for the Holy Booze is a fun adventure that doesn't take things too seriously - with over-the-top humour and plenty of outrageous moments. It's a short trip (read: acid trip) down into wonderland, where nothing is taken too seriously, though some of the humour provides commentary on some issues in the real world. If experiencing a Monty Python classic sounds like a fun time, then Lancelot's Hangover may be worth jumping into. Of course, it's best to go in by leaving any offense at the door, and go with the flow of what this has to offer.
WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship does a fantastic job of filling the rally-racing void, despite the fact that it doesn't appear to have made many leaps forward from last year's title - but sometimes, making minimal changes is still better than making wrong calls. The Career mode is as fun and immersive as expected, and that's where the bulk of the offline hours will be lost. The updated visuals and extra attention to detail makes the races feel more alive, and the heart-stopping moments of avoiding a disaster on the track are as real as ever in here. Rally fans will enjoy Kylotonn's latest offering, while newcomers can jump in with an easy-to-learn control scheme. Whether offline or online, WRC 9 packs a punch with its many hours of content that will hopefully carry through to next year's title.
Tiny Racer is an extremely hard title to recommend to anyone. The non-contact racing is fine, and if there was an option in the settings to complete races without bumping into other cars or getting flung off the course by a ramp, then this might have had more going for it. Heck, even if it threw the racing out the window, and instead became a stunt-game that focused on accruing points for performing crazy and whimsical stunts, this would've been a more enjoyable experience - but alas, Tiny Racer takes the best parts of 'yeeting' toy cars in a bedroom, and turns it into a highly frustrating digital experience.
Codemasters has delivered a masterful racing experience with F1 2020. Despite the heavy jargon-filled opening, there are plenty of helpful tutorials that break down everything to make this easy-to-understand for those who may not necessarily be car enthusiasts. For those who are after a deep and engrossing racing experience, the My Team Career mode is a joy to play through, with plenty of features to deep-dive into that extends across many hours. Whether playing online or offline, the developer has put forth one of the best racing experiences that can be enjoyed by F1 fans or newcomers alike.