Far Cry is a series still struggling with that balance, between offering you the freedom to do what you want while enforcing the limitations to make what you want meaningful. I think it's also only a game away from needing a gritty, Bond-style reboot back to its Far Cry 2 roots.
The structure of the game helps, but GTAV's singleplayer is not simply a case of making the best of a bad situation. I've been surprised over the past week how much I've enjoyed revisiting these storylines and missions, after first playing them on XBox 360 at release.
Mankind Divided is a new version of one of my favourite games of all time and free from the execution problems that hampered that last iteration. The levels are bigger and prettier. There are no dumb boss fights. It gives you slightly more agency over its story. The new abilities are nice, even if they don't dramatically alter the flow of the game.
The Final Station is a simple game, which is always just compelling enough for its duration. I’ve come to think of it as an efficient, low budget horror movie: it has a high concept it can’t afford to show directly and so it wrings as much as it can from the mystery and the satisfaction of piecing the plot together from snippets. It’s only a shame that its action suffers more from never having a particularly interesting concept of its own.
By throwing out most of Spore's traditional mechanics in favour of a cross between Katamari Damacy and Nested, Everything gets closer to sublimity. And though I don't think it gets all the way there – not for me, not right now – the silliness is constant and delightful.
Brute introduces a few twists as you go along that I haven't mentioned here, but doesn't do enough to establish its own identity and step out from underneath the shadow of its inspirations. That doesn't make it any less fun. If you've tired of its inspirations and are looking for something new, then it'll scratch that same itch.