Jump into an online game and you'll have a great time, but with one or two friends at your side, Vermintide is a serious contender for the best multiplayer experience of the year. This one's going to stick around for a good, long while.
While the game never abandons its forgiving approach, increasingly ambitious and interesting level design and a steady drip of new items and skills continue to provide a satisfying new challenge throughout the game's accomplished story campaign. Crookz is a very enjoyable crime caper, and one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.
Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode One is a promising start to Telltale's latest venture. As someone with only a passing knowledge of Minecraft, the story and characters were interesting enough to pull me in, and the manner in which the first episode ends suggests that there's some fairly major diverging paths to be resolved in Episode Two. It's nothing particularly new, as Telltale games go, but I think that playing with a more family-friendly property has been good for the studio.
There's still work to be done – the end-game still fizzles out unspectacularly, and it's disappointing that each world's exotic alien lifeforms still act as little more than troublesome barbarians – but Rising Tide is an excellent first step on the road towards a better Beyond Earth.
Grand Ages: Medieval remains an acquired taste, but it's certainly the most accessible game in the series to date. The trading mechanics are intuitive enough to avoid confusion, while remaining complex enough to encourage micromanagement and enjoyable risk-reward tinkering. Simplistic combat and a lack of variety mean that it begins to run out of steam by the end-game, but if you're looking for a more relaxed approach to world domination, Grand Ages: Medieval is a perfectly solid option.
The diplomacy is well done, but without a robust battle system and satisfying nation-building to back it up, the game feels like it's missing something – it's all build-up with no pay-off. It's a shame, because Sphere of Influence does some interesting things with the standard grand strategy formula. The way it mixes historical storytelling with freeform play is commendable, as is its focus on the political, personal side of military campaigning. Unfortunately, it falls at the final hurdle. Much like Nobunaga himself, in fact.
Fortunately, a couple of interesting new faces to add to your party, some great loot, and a few truly brutal combat challenges are enough to make The White March Part One worth your while. It's not essential, and not close to the best that Obsidian is capable of, but it's another perfectly enjoyable few hours of looting and adventuring.
Though they demand the occasional spot of physics engine fudging to progress, puzzles are generally fun and challenging without being frustrating. It may not quite master its new perspective, but Trine 3 is still a charming, light-hearted romp that's well worth your time.
Smart, funny writing and some efficient world-building help avoid the self-important pomposity common to the fantasy genre. Some may miss the scale and strategic variety of other games in the same field, but if you're bored of the familiar fantasy 4X template and you're looking for something that feels fresh, Sorcerer King comes recommended.
There are some balance issues to tweak, and the game's performance could stand to be smoothed out a little – I occasionally experienced some odd end-of-map FPS stutter – but those are relatively minor imperfections. Dirty Bomb is well worth your time already, and I'm excited to see what Splash Damage has in store as the game continues to develop.
Magicka 2 offers a smoother, more comfortable experience than its predecessor, but that doesn't mean the series has lost its signature charm. It's still insane, madcap fun, that somehow manages to make an absolutely unintuitive control system into a strength rather than a weakness. Played as a drop-in multiplayer game, it's an entertaining, amusing hack and slash. With a group of friends, it's an absolute riot.
Block N Load offers an intelligent blend of tactical play and madcap carnage that hits the spot in a way that Ace of Spades never did. Despite some matchmaking issues and a couple of slightly underpowered classes, there's a thoroughly entertaining multiplayer game on offer here, and one that has bags of potential once the modders get their hands on it (there's no map creation tools out there at the moment, which is something I think Jagex needs to work on).
Galactic Civilizations 3 is a constantly rewarding experience, a colossal box of toys with which you can create some truly memorable stories. It's the embodiment of the 'just one more click' cliché, a game that can have you jumping on intending for a few turns, only for you to come to your senses hours later, eyes bleary and unfocused, but that new armada of elerium-shielded warships ready to roll over your unsuspecting enemies.
Even without the frequent sever issues, Shadowrun Chronicles : Boston Lockdown would be hard to recommended to anyone but the most rabid fans of the setting. Even they would be better served seeking out superior adaptations. Which do exist, so it's not like this is your only option. Lockdown commits the worst crime of all; not being terrible, but being boring
There's already a decent roster of maps, ready-made cities, building designs and more to download, and the game's not even hit the shelves yet. It's a sign that Colossal Order cottons on to the reason people like these city-building games; they want freedom, not restriction, streamlined, easy to use systems, not needless complexity. In that sense, Cities: Skylines is a resounding success. In summary - here's the city-builder you've been waiting for. Enjoy.